Sunday, 28 September 2014

52 Lists / Thirty Seven

Joining in with Emma at Made In Hunters and her 52 Lists project.

This week: List the things that bring you comfort

A slightly overdue post written on a morning when I have a sore throat, blocked nose and am in need of lots of comfort. Children's germs have already started to take hold!

Roast dinners with roast potatoes and parsnips

Sitting with Brina on my lap or beside me and stroking or brushing her

Snuggling up in my cashmere mix blanket on the sofa

Cards or letters received in the post

Hot blackcurrant squash or Vimto 
(or even hot lemon, honey and ginger which I'm drinking right now)


Watching costume dramas, Countryfile or the Antiques Roadshow

Crawling into bed for an early night

The sound of raindrops on the windows

Clothes warmed up on the radiator, especially socks and pyjamas

The scent of Olbus Oil

Christmas carols

Any food or drink containing cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg

Picture books by Shirley Hughes



Listening to Radio 4

Isn't it funny how the things which bring the most comfort are those linked to childhood or home. It must be because they bring about a feeling of safeness and reassurance, or alternatively of happy times such as Christmas. Most are related to warmth and being cosied up at home rather than being out and about enjoying the big wide world. I'm such a homebody that these are the things I look for quite regularly if I'm feeling down or unwell. The just help to perk me up a little. (Yes, I've even been known to listen to Christmas carols in July!) 

What are the things which bring you comfort?

Saturday, 6 September 2014

52 Lists / Thirty Six

Joining in with Emma at Made In Hunters and her 52 Lists project.

This week: List your weekly morning routine

Emma had perfect timing with this one as I've gone back to work/school this week and once again. I've had to get used to early mornings and getting up and out of the house as quickly as possible. It hasn't been easy and by Friday afternoon I definitely felt exhausted by the earlier starts.

6.15am - Alarm goes off and I get up

Feed Brina and open the back door so she can go out for a little while before Andy goes to work

Put BBC Breakfast News on the kitchen TV so I can watch the time and find out what's happening in the world

Daily weigh-in

Make the bed


Dry hair, dress and attempt to do my make-up

Into kitchen, empty dishwasher

Make and eat breakfast

Prepare lunch for myself and Andy (we try to take turns to do this or if possible have leftovers so it's ready the night before)

Put dishes in the dishwasher

Fill the washing machine

Check I've got my phone, iPad, glasses and keys

Out the house, in the car, off to school.

I try and do follow the same routine every morning as it means that I should hopefully not forget to do anything. I try to get my clothes and bag ready the night before to save myself time in the morning. Although this doesn't always happen, especially this week when the weather has promised warm, sunny days but I've woken up to cloudy mornings with a chill in the air, thus forcing me to pick something that has long sleeves and can be worn with a cardigan.

I always thought of myself as a morning person as I can usually jump straight out of bed without having to take my time to stir (unlike Andy!), although in more recent years I have found myself wanting to lie in bed for just a little bit longer. Is it because I'm getting older or is it a sign of getting lazy? Hmm!

Do you have a morning routine to do everything in super quick time or do you have the luxury of having a relaxed morning where you can take your time and enjoy the start of the new day?

Sunday, 31 August 2014

A Transitioning Tag From Shannon

On this final day of the school holidays, I woke to both sunshine and a tag from my dear friend Shannon inviting me to join her in a Transition Tag reflecting on the summer and looking ahead to the autumn. 

I decided to get on with it immediately, accompanied by my final early morning cup of tea and biscuit (there never seems any time for this during the school day weeks). It's been a lovely opportunity to think back over what has been a really great and fun-filled summer and also start to get excited over what is coming in the next couple of months.

Top Ten Thoughts While Transitioning

1. Favourite memory from June
The day we hired bikes and cycled around East London to and around the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park - it was such a change from the norm and so much fun. Also, the relief at completing all 78 school reports and getting my Nursery Data in on time - phew!

2. Favourite memory from July
Is it wrong to have 3? Our visit to wonderful Wimbledon; going to the Moomin Show with my best friends and their wee ones; and of course, Nicki & Gianni's beautiful wedding followed by those camping days in Whitstable.

3. Favourite memory from August
So many from our holiday, particularly the evening we cooked a three course meal in the campervan beside a beautiful beach, our awesome stay at Cromlix and seeing beautiful Aira Falls in the Lake District. But I also cannot forget the incredible Friday Night Is Disco Night, Mum's birthday and our visit to Buckingham Palace.

4. Best thing you ate over the Summer holidays
We had some outstanding seafood suppers in Whitsable and I loved all the meals we made in the campervan using local Hebridian and Scottish produce. Our last night fish supper at the little restaurant on Scalpay was delicious but I will never forget the Porridge Brûlée I had for breakfast at Cromlix. Porridge made with cream and whisky with blowtorch blasted demerara sugar on top. Mmm!

5. Something you wish you did, but never got around to
Meeting up with more people. This summer I didn't have the energy to rush around and do lots of visiting. It's been lovely to meet up with the big and little people when we have and see lots of family at the wedding and family party and now I have a bit more go in me to keep meeting up with people into the autumn. I already can't wait for my afternoon with Sam in a few weeks time!

6. Favourite song right now
Hard one! I've really enjoyed my summer playlist and have mostly listed to the same 40 tunes in the last few months. In the past week I've been enjoying lots of Amy MacDonald, the new Kate Rusby album Ghost and, along with everyone else, Kate Bush's back catalogue. I've been singing Babooshka in my head for the last few days!

7. Favourite autumn fashion item
I need to lose a bit of excess weight in the next month or so and then I'll get some new clothes for the season. I'm looking forward to getting out my red Gloverall duffle coat again - it's so cosy.

8. Favourite thing to do with your family in the autumn
A nice walk in the countryside, admiring colour-changing trees and stomping in leaves - followed by a warming stew or roast.

Autumn memories from 2013 - Day out at Stourhead wearing that red duffle coat!
Looking forward to making lots of new memories in Autumn 2013
9. What you can't wait to cook/eat this autumn
I keep thinking a chicken and leek pie would be lovely.

10. A goal you have for this school year
To achieve a better work-life balance - to work hard but also really enjoy life both in and out of school. Also, I need to start writing lists again. I work best when I keep lists to help me prioritise, allocate time and give myself the satisfaction of ticking things off. This lapsed last year so I want to make it part of my routine again.

What did you enjoy most this summer? 
What can't you wait for this autumn?
I'm not nominating anyone in particular but do feel free to join in with reflecting and anticipating.

Oh, To Be Another National Trust Cat!

You may remember my post earlier this month about Gina, the National Trust cat I met at the Wimpole Estate; well yesterday I discovered another.

We were visiting Nuffield Place in Oxfordshire. It's only a stone's throw away from Grey's Court in Henley-on-Thames one of our favourite NT properties but Andy and I have been keen to visit this house and garden which has only opened to the public in recent years and headed there on Saturday afternoon.

It's the former home of William Morris, but nothing to do with the Arts & Craft Movement. Instead he was the founder of Morris Motors in 1913, known more frequently as Lord Nuffield. As well as being one of the founding fathers of the British motor industry, he was a philanthropist who gave money to both medical and educational charities. Ever heard of the Nuffield Foundation and Nuffield Collage in Oxford? - he was the founder of those.

The house is modest in size but fascinating - a time capsule of inter-war life. Viscount Nuffield moved in with his wife in 1933 and the property is found very much exactly the same as it was when they lived there. As we walked around the attractive rooms, we spoke to some truly informative guides who explained that this quiet, man who was one of the richest men in the world at the time, was very unextravagant and chose to spend his money on good causes rather than himself. He even brought home scraps of carpet from his factories to sew together for his bedroom carpet!

Anyway back to the cat - here it is!

As we were leaving the house and wandering around the vegetable garden (where they have an iron lung in a potting shed!), I turned a corner and bumped into this beauty. Isn't she lovely?

She came straight up to me and as I bent down to stroke her she jumped straight up onto my lap and nuzzled me, looking for lots of fuss. Of course, I was more than happy to give the required attention for several minutes. 

Then as I started to get a dead leg, Andy crouched down and she moved over to him for more cuddles. 

She was delightful, so relaxed and friendly! She had a beautiful coat, a sort of grey-brown colour and her fur was soft and downy. I have a feeling she must belong to the Property Manager as what I assume is the live-in cottage was not far away.

I had a feeling that if it hadn't been closing time we would have spent a lot longer talking to her. Alas we don't know her name; I have tried to Google her but unlike Gina I sadly can't find anything about her online.

Nuffield Place is a real treasure. Small but beautiful. Well worth an afternoon visit if you're in the area. Don't forget to look out for the resident feline!

And so I've met another NT cat. I most definitely think it would be the alternative life for me! x

If you want to find out more about Nuffield Place and Lord Nuffield, have a look at this interesting article from The Independent in August 2013.