beach cottage, bEAching, general chit chat

bEAching…a weekend escape

We escaped to our cottage in Scotland for a few days this last weekend – for those of you who are new readers we are camping out now in a static caravan in the garden of our cottage since the flood in 2014 made it impossible for us to use the cottage.

We had already been warned of bad weather up and down the country so went with no expectations of getting in the garden and instead I went prepared with a few indoor jobs and a pile of books and magazines to read.   I actually like this time of year – the place is deserted and kind of bleak looking but it has a beauty of its own in the greyness.

Unexpectedly Friday was dry and sunny, although bitterly cold, and we decided to make the best of the weather and have lunch out and then drive over to Portpatrick and Stranraer and have a wander around before the weather turned.  The shops are well stocked with Christmas gifts and trimmings so much so that I actually wondered who will buy it all.  Many of the smaller gift shops and cafes in the area are only opening at the weekend even over the Christmas season as trade appears to be very slow this year – it is such a shame for these small businesses who rely very much on the extra boost to trade that tourism brings.  We always try to support these shops where we can buying locally and not buying goods down here to take up there.

We stayed indoors on Saturday as the heavy rain forecasted had set in and continued through the night so it was like sleeping in a tin box and because we are so close to the sea the constant roar of the waves crashing around made it even harder to sleep through the noise.

I filled my time trawling through old family photos that, once edited, will be part of a photo book we are compiling to have printed by Blurb books for my mum’s Christmas present.  We did the same for my mum in law some years ago capturing a snapshot of her life and she was really pleased with it.

With hundreds of photos I found it quite hard deciding what to put in or leave out – some of the older photos bring back very happy memories for me as we had so much fun as a family especially in the 1950’s and 1960’s when I was growing up so it was quite a slow job.  I can even remember all the dresses that I am wearing as they were made by my grandma and the cardigans and jumpers knitted by my mum.  Here are just a few of my favourites –

1954 – This is me with my family when I was only a week or two old – note the old-fashioned dustbin and air raid shelter in the background – granddad had turned it into a garden shed…

1957 – Does anyone out there recognise this Lion – could it be in Skegness or Scarborough?

1957 – somewhere in Torquay – Dad (on the right of the picture) used the automatic setting on the camera and we are all laughing as he only just made it into the picture – an early form of selfie!  Wonderful bathing costumes though…

Great Gran (back left) always had her Sunday best hat on even on a picnic – mum in the centre looking glamorous as ever…

1958 – The Promenade at Blackpool – mum and my Aunt in their very fashionable headscarves and me in my knitted Pixie hat!

1958 – One of my favourite pictures my Aunt and Uncle improvising when camping by washing up in the cake tin – we went everywhere with that tent – hardly a deluxe model it looks like it is about to collapse and I think it often did but all added to the fun…

1958 – me again with Spot the dog picking wild flowers (certainly not allowed now) – always into mischief, we did everything together…

1964 – I am 10 years old here and we are collecting the tiny four berth caravan that was going to be our home for over 6 months on the site where Dad built his own house…

and this is the house – quite an achievement – dad had the help of  3 brickies / joiners and laid all the drains himself – whenever we wondered where dad was he would be mixing concrete or digging trenches.  During this time mum fell unexpectedly pregnant with my sister and she was born just after we managed to move in…

1966 – me with my mum and little sister – anyone remember these pushchairs? – pre buggy days – you could sit either way round but it was hard work heaving them on and off a bus.

Ah well enough of the ‘Good old days’ and back to the Christmas preparations – I also began the Advent calendars on Saturday but found they are not as quick to do as I thought and getting the photos for mum sorted has to take priority so we can meet the Blurb book deadline.  I am thinking now that I may have to abandon the calendars until next year.

 

On the positive side we now have our family get together date fixed and it only took about 100 messages to one another via Messenger (what did we do before Facebook) until at last everyone is able to agree on a time, a date and a place which is just as well because there is very few weekends left and I now have only one free weekend to get everything done – the cake, the nut roast and the cards and gifts.

On the decorating side the new bed arrived Monday and the wardrobe doors Tuesday, so now it is just the finishing touches.  The old bed that is to go to my daughter’s house is proving difficult to transport – too big for our estate and the little van my daughter can have loan of is just that…too little!  So we have to find a creative way of squeezing it into our estate – I will leave that job to OH.  If we cannot move it I have visions of it being part of our living room decorations over Christmas so I will just drape some tinsel over it!

This week I am looking to bake the cake and start the Christmas cards.  How are your plans going?

Back soon x

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drEAming, random thoughts

drEAming…we shall remember

Most of the men in our family came back from the war but my granddad’s elder brother William Henry was not so lucky he died in the First World war at the battle of the Somme.  He joined up as a volunteer into the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales own) and was sent to the front in France with many other young lads.  The battle of the Somme began on the 1st July 1916 and went on until 18th November of the same year.  By the end of the first day almost 20,000 young men had lost their lives after being mowed down by a barrage of machine gun and rifle fire.  Such a huge loss of life.

William was killed on the 10th day of the battle, only twelve days after his 20th birthday.  My granddad always kept a picture of William in full uniform on the wall above the fireplace – pride of place – and he would fix a fresh poppy to the frame every November like a sprig of holly at Christmas.  I wear my poppy in remembrance of William and on behalf of his mother Flo (my great gran) and his brother Ernest (my granddad) who are no longer here to put a poppy on his picture.

William Henry had a short life and a hard life.  He was born in 1896 and his younger brother, my granddad Ernest, followed nine years later in February 1905.  It is only recently through researching our family history that my brother discovered by accident that by the October of 1905 the family were seeking refuge in the local Workhouse in Sheffield.  We are not sure if it was having a second mouth to feed that led my great grandma and granddad and their two children into such extreme poverty and despair to the extent that they needed the help of the workhouse to avoid starvation.  By this date both my great grandma’s parents had died so she could not call on them for help and we do not know much about my great granddad and his family only that he died in 1926 at the age of 53.

The workhouse records only log their date of entry but obviously they got over their difficulties at some point but no one in our family ever mentioned the ordeal.

Intrigued by this discovery I wanted to know more about the conditions in the workhouse and so I did some research of my own and came across an account of a visit to the same Sheffield workhouse in 1896 by a professor of Surgery at Sheffield University when he was investigating the workhouse system.  They admitted casual paupers (as they were called) at the rate of a dozen a day – some came and went as they needed help.  The men were expected to break stones and pick oakum apart and the women had to do nine hours work washing, scrubbing and needlework.  I have the impression that even married couples did not lodge together unless they were over 60 and children were also separated from their parents and only allowed a Sunday visit.

My great gran was a wonderful person everyone loved her – she led a very contented life looking after the family and must have been devastated to end up in the workhouse and not be able to provide for her family as she would like.  I never knew my great granddad – he died a few days after my mum was born and my great gran went to live with her daughter (my grandma) and my granddad until she died at the ripe old age of 98.  Maybe the short time in the workhouse gave her the strength of character to survive to such an old age.

Thank goodness though that the workhouse is a thing of the past – it is hard to believe that members of my own family had to endure such hardship and how we perhaps do not appreciate everything we have today and more!

In memory of you William and my great gran Flo. xx

 

 

 

 

drEAming, mEAndering, out and about, random thoughts

autumn journeys…

Fond memories of times past.

On our way to Edinburgh last weekend we took a detour off the A702 to visit the pretty historic conservation village of West Linton.  Fifteen miles outside Edinburgh and at the foothills of the Pentland Hills this tiny village, steeped in history, with evidence of pre-historic occupation is one of the oldest market settlements in Scotland.

In 1974, a mere twenty years of age and studying Fashion and Textiles at Cheltenham Art college I stayed here for a weeks holiday with my then to be husband (with his long curly hair) in this tiny caravan that we had hired.  The same caravan site we found is now a housing estate!

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To say all the other vans on the site were larger than this is no lie – we booked the caravan through an advert in the local Cheltenham paper and had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for other than it was affordable for two ‘impoverished’ students.  On arrival at the site we wandered around every caravan looking for the right number and kept disregarding this one until after eliminating all the others it finally dawned on us that yes this tiny 2 berth was our home for the week!!

We had no transport of our own as we had been ‘dropped off’ by my parents who were on their way to Pitlochry for a holiday in their own touring caravan.   To get anywhere we had to rely on the local bus service going either north to Edinburgh or south to the little town of Biggar.

Each morning we would walk into the village of West Linton and wander round taking in the history and scenery and always ending with a coffee in the Old Bakehouse where the waitresses all dressed in long Victorian styled Laura Ashley print dresses complete with white mop caps and aprons.

 

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It is now a Bistro and looking more like a pub inside than a tea room.

We could still recognise most of the shops – the post office, the chemist and especially the newsagent where we bought a jigsaw to do during the evenings and had to sleep on top of it when we made the bed up at night as there was no other table top.

 

 

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We remembered the quaint cottages and unusual street names…

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the intricate wall plaques and historic artefacts dotted around…

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and the curious central clock tower…

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We had a pleasant walk around reminiscing about those few wonderful days – going back after so many years  was quite emotional.

Before we left we had a final look at this little building in the square, today it is used as the Village Centre – but back then it was a registry office for births, deaths and marriages.

 

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This tiny building evoked such strong memories for us tinged slightly with sadness of what might have been.  We were young, in love, and like many, full of hopes and dreams for our future and each day as we walked past we were so tempted to go and get married – just the two of us with no fuss.  The only thing that stopped us in the end was the fact that my mum would never have forgiven us!

This is the same building in 1974 with me stood in the doorway.

West Linton 1974

We finally married in 1976 during the July heat wave a church wedding with sit down reception of ham salad and trifle for 60 guests with disco afterwards.  We had the full works – wedding dress and veil, bridesmaids, cake and all the trimmings (which pleased my mum) and although so far it has been happy ever after we do wonder what course our lives would have taken had we married in West Linton.

decluttering, decorating, drEAming, general chit chat, homestEAding, rEArranging, simplifying

slow progress…

As you can tell I have been having a bit of a play around on my blog and fancied a bit of a change – a bit like decorating.  I will be updating my blogroll as a lot of the sites I used to follow are sadly no more or do not blog anymore.  There seems to be quite a few people who have given up recently and I really enjoyed their blogs but I can understand the time pressures of life get in the way and I think once you have a gap it is hard to get back into the routine of blogging – I know this from experience having had a good year off in 2016.  One of the hardest parts is not so much writing on your own blog but having to catch up with the news on everyone else’s.  So much had happened in that year.

I am continuing my quest for a simplified life and continuing the good sort out at home – and I am loving it every time I declutter a space I feel a sense of the whole place feeling lighter and more manageable.  I even felt I needed to do my blog as well and perhaps get rid of any clutter that has collected here so you may see things disappearing along the tabs as these have never worked for me  – I may keep the craft tab as it is a record of the few things I manage to make at Christmas.

As I am simplifying and trying to pare down to the bare minimum we need (or really want to keep in the case of items that are more sentimental than useful) I am starting to ‘beautify’ each area.  I am not sure this is the right descriptive word for what I am doing but it is close enough.  In essence I am looking at each space I clear and the decorative quality of how my possessions are displayed and how it makes me and the room feel.

Rather than going out shopping for anything new I am firstly shopping at home – reviewing what I already have then swapping things around a bit, putting decorative items together in different rooms.

Our new ‘guest room’ is coming along slowly but progress is being made and we are still planning that it will be ready in November for my mum’s visit to go Christmas shopping.  OH has now dismantled the 1980’s MFI mirrored sliding wardrobes and a very nice man has been to measure up to fit new ones which will also have sliding doors because of the tight space.

I was amazed at how much bigger the room looks without the wardrobes but wardrobes are a bit of a necessity and this is the only place that is suitable to put them.  They will be slightly shorter in width but slightly deeper in-depth and so we have had to move the double socket a bit more to the right and then repair the wall.  Whilst doing this a new double socket has been added on the other end of the same wall and the bed will fit comfortably between them.  We have also had the single socket on the window wall made into a double.  Six sockets should surely be enough for anyone and any amount of technology/electrical appliances in the future.

Sockets

With that job done we are now moving on to filling the holes and cracks.  There is, I can assure you, a Polyfilla for any job – fine cracks, big holes, cracks that have movement – I think we have got the whole Pollyfilla range in the garage!

Decorator's Caulk

I had been undecided on the colours I would have for this room – the base colour will be the same soft pale grey of the previous room.  The wardrobes are also grey but slightly deeper than the walls and the accent colour I first thought of was a blue probably duck egg maybe turquoise or teal, however, I have had a big change of heart and I have now settled on a soft vintage pale blush colour and natural linen.

I still intend to keep the room in a Scandinavian style but with a tiny bit of blingy metallic added here and there.  Sparkle is not my usual style but will suit my mum – she is not a blue fan either but loves that dusky pink colour so I think she will like the room when it is finished.  Whilst in TK Max the other day I came across some pretty pink and grey patterned storage boxes which have a silver strip across the lid closure and go perfectly with my chosen colour palette.  I also came away with a candle in a pink tinged silver jar.

I am now looking for a bedside table of modest price – I came across a rather unusual Scandinavian style retro ones on the Sue Ryder site but they are not the right colours.

So I continue to browse around.

Have a good week everyone x

 

drEAming, fEAsible, general chit chat, taking stock, trEAsury

expanding time, expanding work…

Even though I have four days off work now I seem to struggle to get everything done in the house that I would normally have done in the 3 days I had before.

This suggests to me that Parkinson’s Law “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” has some truth in it!

It may be down to the fact that having more time has allowed me to do each task in some depth – whether it is the mountain of paperwork or the dusting each job now is being done very thoroughly and at last I can see the paperwork pile reducing to the point where I will be working on the ‘stuff’ that I receive during the week – rather than working on last week’s, or last months or longer.

I have been doing more than my set 2 hours recently on the financial tasks and what I term ‘paperwork’ as we have got a few important items to attend to which require careful reading and even more careful decisions – ones that will affect us financially long-term – I don’t know about you but I find these quite difficult.  If I say the word Pensions you will probably know what I mean.

Gradually I have cleared out a lot of old papers from the files and I have reached the point where I am completely up to date with the filing and can now do it as I go along.  I have also spent quite a few hours entering receipts and logging our spending on our Money Program on the computer.  Every account is now fully balanced and the advantage of this program is that I can run reports that will tell me how much I am spending each week in any given category – it would even tell me in which shops I spend the most money – the possibilities are endless!

When I have gathered all the information I can begin to look at making any reductions and adjustments. I am expecting a few shocks when I see the totals so far for the year.  Spending the odd fiver a week on something can add up to quite a lot over the year.  Items like magazines are typical of this kind of spending (even though I believe I have been very good recently and picked them up and then put them back on the shelf again one or two have accidentally fallen into my trolley!).  And then there are birthday cards and gifts this is always a category where the figures creep up but I have managed to buy some nice gifts at very reasonable bargain prices.

I know our food spending is working out at about £50 a week – we eat well usually in the sense that we buy as much organic food as we can and a lot of fruit and vegetables and make a good many of our meals from scratch (though this does not necessarily mean we always make healthy meals!).  When pushed for time we will often compromise and buy the main bit of the meal ready-made like Nut Cutlets and add a plateful of vegetables.

With more attention to our menu planning I know I could reduce this by another £10 easily.  I have noticed that the price for having a drink or lunch out is creeping up and although it is a nice treat now and again it does add up to quite an amount over the year.

I have some additional points vouchers for Sainsbury’s for items that I would usually buy which is good and I was handed another 5 x points voucher this evening to put towards my full shop next week.  So my total rewards value now stands at £101.44 which I am saving towards Christmas or one of their double up events if they run it again this year in November.

Stay tuned for my next update. x

drEAming, general chit chat, getting things done, managEAble, rEArranging, simplifying

decluttering my inbox…

My intention today was to have a really good clean in the house but by the time we had seen the man who came to measure up for our new sliding wardrobes in what will be the guest room, when we have decorated it, the urge to get scrubbing had waned and I became sidetracked by checking my emails.

Then somehow I have managed to spend most of the afternoon clearing out old emails from my inbox all 755 and doing a bit of reorganising of folders.  I now have zero emails in my inbox (but that won’t last long) and anything that needs some further consideration is in a follow-up folder at the top of the folder list.  I have fifteen follow-up items to deal with, some of which require an email answer.  Anything I need to keep goes into an appropriate folder.

I have also unsubscribed from a number of those emails that arrive in my inbox and I find that I never open them – just delete them – but often they begin to stack up if I don’t log in to read my emails everyday and especially when we are at the cottage and do not have an internet connection.

I actually feel much better in myself for doing this task – it was prompted by something I read yesterday in the book How to Get Things Done by Richard Templar

Basically he suggests that you don’t work a week behind and gave emails as a prime example.  You can deal with today’s emails or last Wednesday’s emails it takes the same amount of time but one keeps you on top of the game and is more efficient.

 

This made absolute sense to me as I find I am often reading last weeks emails and sometimes last months.  In the big clear out I unexpectedly found an email received in August and still unread from my insurance company which had got lost amongst the many subscription emails that come in daily.

So now with less junk I should be able to spot the requests for the meter readings or the insurance renewal more easily.

Yes, I definitely feel good tonight after that major declutter- all I need to do now is make sure I leave 10 to 15 minutes a day to check on my inbox and read and deal with the new items.

I am looking at other areas of my life where I might be working a week behind – do you have this problem?

Have a good weekend. x

 

 

 

 

crEAting, drEAming, general chit chat, getting things done, managEAble

the best things come in small packages…

I have quite a few birthdays in October – all friends –  and we give each other gifts that are modest in price about £5 to £8.  I usually find bits and pieces in some of the gift shops in Scotland and buy them as I see them and stash them away.

On Sunday I had a mammoth wrapping session it felt a bit like Christmas.  I like to make my modest gifts look tempting and I wrap them with care taking time to choose the paper and ribbons I think appropriate.  I often use printed tissue paper for those awkward shaped items.

I have one of those paper punch shape cutters that produces a tiny label.  I decorate these in different ways in this picture I have used some little rubber stamp pictures.  I also cut up cards for labels as it is such a shame to throw old birthday cards away.

I found the coffee coloured spotty paper in Sainsbury’s it comes on a roll and is good to keep on hand as it is useful for any occasion.

 

Here they are all ready to go with the appropriate cards.

It always feels good to have things organised and I feel quite pleased with myself that this month at least I won’t have to think about rushing around getting gifts and cards sorted out at the last minute.  Oh… if all my life was like this!