Saturday 30 May 2020

The Distancing Diaries - Day 70 & 71

Yesterday (day 70) would have been my Dad's 91st birthday, he was born on 29th May 1929 and died five years ago, in 2015. A man of mystery & intrigue, he wasn't one for idle chit chat and kept himself very much to himself. Only when we were clearing the parental home did my brother & I discover that, in 1957, he attempted to sail from the UK to New Zealand, was shipwrecked off the Spanish coast and ended up making the front page of The Times. You can read more about him HERE.

 The day got off to another early start and, after putting the free book chair outside (with a couple of further additions) I was watering the patio plants at just gone 6am, noticing that a couple more Oriental poppies had graced us with their presence. 

After my final Wii Fit session of the week, I dyed my eyelashes & brows and had just caught up with Blogland when Jon got up. We ate breakfast and we sat outside in the sunshine with a mug of coffee.

Is it just me or, after ten weeks of being surrounded by familiar things, something new seems rather a novelty? Like the soap I opened yesterday, I'd bought in Goa back in the days when we could travel freely.

Jon's plan for the weekend was to make Jacob a new pen and, as we also needed compost and, as a certain someone who shall remain nameless, had trodden on our ancient watering can & wrecked it, a replacement watering can were added to the list. Today would be the first time in over two months that I'd been in the car and six weeks since I'd set foot in a shop - how exciting! I thought I'd wear my repaired dress by way of celebration.

We drove to B&Q (a DIY superstore on the outskirts of town) but saw that there was a long queue snaking along the side of the building. While we're not exactly short of time neither of us really wanted to spend an hour standing in a queue on a bleak retail park next to the motorway so we drove to the small garden centre up the road from us. Mercifully there was no queue and the shoppers were adhering to the designated route marked out on the floor. I'd considered buying a few plants for Jacob's enclosure but they didn't look very inspiring and, as it would involve picking each pot up to read the planting labels (something we're not supposed to do), I decided it would be easier to make do with what I already had at home. We managed to tick the wooden fencing and compost off the list but there was a distinct lack of watering cans - so we paid and drove back arriving home to discover that all the books had been taken and the chair was empty.

While Jon drew up a plan for the tortoise pen I went online and searched for watering cans, stumbling across one on a builder's website (I've no idea how I ended up there) for just shy of £12 and, as they also stocked something else we needed, we qualified for free delivery. Hooray! I stripped off to my bikini, slapped on some sun cream, grabbed the kitchen knife and weeded between the cracks in the patio, then moved all the pots and swept the whole lot.

After a break for noodles, I got out the bedspread and my book and prostrated myself on the lawn .
The Alienist - if, like me, you loved the BBC's Ripper Street then you'll enjoy this!
Like the crazy fool he is, Jon set to work on building the new tortoise enclosure, in the heat of the midday sun.

Once the enclosure was up and secure, Jon took apart the old tortoise run and moved Jacob in. The planting could wait until tomorrow.

We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing in the sunshine with the lads and a couple of bottles of beer for company. 

Jon prepared tea - salad with his homemade spelt bread....

I watered the plants again and browsed eBay, as luck would have it, this gorgeous 5metre length of Anokhi block printed fabric had just been listed for an absurdly low Buy-It-Now price. Of course, I had to have it. 

We visited the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing on our travels last year HERE, I still get palpitations when I look back at our photos.

Later we drank rum, watched a couple of Antiques Roadtrips we hadn't seen before and a programme where Mark Tully travels by train across Pakistan to the Afghanistan border.

On Saturday (day 71)  I got up at 6am and saw a handsome fox the size of a German Shephard running around the lawn hotly pursued by Stephen. I swear he gets dafter the older he gets. I made tea and brought it back to bed. I read, Jon dozed. When we got up at 8am I stripped the bed and threw everything in the washing machine and put the houseplants in the bath for their weekly soak while Jon made sausage sandwiches.

Lockdown nail paint of the week is Barry M's Pistachio.

After breakfast, I pegged out the washing, watered the patio plants and sorted out some plants to go into Jacob's new pen whilst Jon went out for supplies (namely prawns, Frank's run out). Once he returned and he'd had to coffee to get over the trauma of a trip to Farmfoods and the dodgy clientele it seems to attract, we started to plant out Jacob's enclosure. 

 Jacob is a Hermann's tortoise, a species that hails from the rocky hillsides and beech forests of the Mediterranean so any plants we've seen growing in the wild on our travels in Greece are perfect for his new home. 

Luckily for him (and us!) we'd got plenty of suitable plants already growing in the garden, no need to splash the cash in the garden centre.

To simulate the rocky terrain we moved a few rocks from various parts of the garden and the old washing up bowl we used to take camping with us before we upgraded to a fancy pop-up one was filled with rocks and gravel and sunk into the enclosure so he can immerse himself when he gets the urge.

To imitate the forest floor I shredded the trimmings we couldn't fit into the garden waste bin from Jon's epic hedge cutting session earlier in the week.

When I sold the parental home the first thing I treated myself to wasn't an it-bag, a mini-break or a pair of designer shoes, it was a garden shredder. I'm never right, am I?


Here's to the next 45 years, Jacob!

After an hour spent dozing in the late afternoon sunshine, I brought in the washing and made the bed whilst Jon prepared tea, cheese & jalapeno bites from Farmfoods, a salad of green peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumber and some potato fairies (is that just a Walsall thing or does anyone else call them that?) It was soon demolished, we hadn't eaten since 8.30am.

Tonight's plan involves several cheeky glasses of rum. We've bloody earnt it. I thought we'd be watching Canadian crime series Cardinal but it doesn't start till next week, instead, we've watched part one of a two-part documentary on the Jonestown Massacre. 

Stay safe, stay fabulous and see you soon!

Thursday 28 May 2020

Livin' The Lockdown Life - Day 68 & 69

On Wednesday (day 68) I was awake ridiculously early, I stayed in bed as long as I could but unable to stay still any longer got up, threw a few things in the washing machine and went outside to harvest the rhubarb.

While the rhubarb was simmering away I sorted out the cupboard under the sink, then pegged out the washing and did my Wii Fit session.

After catching up with blogs and our fruit, yoghurt & stewed rhubarb breakfast I diluted the OceanSaver wood floor cleaner I'd bought from &Keep a couple of weeks ago and cleaned every wooden floor in the house. I usually make my own floor cleaner with white vinegar, lemon juice & olive oil and was impressed with the ready-made one. The floors shone and the almond fragrance made the house smell wonderful. £1.50 well spent (and I've still got half left!)

Jon spent the morning working through Gilbert's to-do list.

After my weekly telephone catch-up with Liz, I watered the veg plot, greenhouse and patio pots - a task that seems to take longer by the day.

The olive trees Jon had bought me from Lidl last year are blossoming as is the Yukka, even spiky bastard is covered in flowers since I liberated it from its pot.

Leaving Jon under Gilbert, I lay on the lawn and finished my Alan Furst novel. While Jon made noodles I put a pile of books on a chair outside the gate for passers-by to help themselves to.

After lunch I started another book, my third this week, I'm a solar-powered reader!

Tasks complete, Jon joined me to bask in the sunshine.

Where we participated in a cheeky beer...

Tea was veggie sausages, potato lattices from the depths of the freezer, a poached egg and some peas.

After we'd wheeled the bins out and showered we cracked open the rum (and a bag of popcorn!) and spent the evening watching an old episode of the Antiques Road Trip and The Great British Sewing Bee, which had a fantastic theme this time, making new clothes from old ones.

On Thursday (day 69) I awoke to yet another glorious morning, I taped thank you notes to the wheelie bins, dragged out the free book chair and exchanged pleasantries with an elderly chap out on his (very) early morning walk.

Today would have been Reg, my Grandpa's, birthday, born on 28th May 1913. He bought Stonecroft in 1951.

I deadheaded the pansies and fuschias and noticed than yet more Oriental poppies had burst open - normally our appreciation of their beauty is shortlived as, inevitably, it pees down within hours of them blooming and their petals are cruelly ripped from them.

I'd managed to spill cola down my kaftan last night so, to fill up the washing machine, I removed the cushion covers in the lounge and threw them in as well. After my Wii Fit session, I pegged everything out on the line and had just about caught up with blogland before Jon got up. After our fruit and yoghurt, we took our coffee outside and sat in the sunshine until Jon got the urge to go into the kitchen and knock up a spelt loaf.

I watered the patio pots and, with his loaf proving, Jon created a squirrel-proof bird feeding station using our festival hat stand, safe in the knowledge that it won't be required for the rest of the year.

With my work for the day done I grabbed my bedcover and my book and lay in the sunshine on the lawn with a break for noodles at 1pm. Jon's loaf turned out beautifully but unfortunately, he cut it in two and froze half of it without taking a photo.

After lunch, Jon did the weekly grocery run, this time remembering to take a photo. Before you ask, we've got enough rum for the weekend so don't worry.

While he was out my new bucket arrived. Hooray! The mop bucket, which I'd ordered at the same time, had been delivered last week, you might have spotted it in yesterday's photos.

Another glorious day. I know there's loads of awful stuff going on in the world but away from the TV and in our lockdown bubble, life is beautiful.

I feel like I've not worn clothes for ages, it's been bikinis at dawn for days now. 

WEARING: Vintage 70s Anokhi maxi skirt (eBay), red bikini (Goa, 2018), vintage Indian silk screen printed scarf (charity shop)

Long may it last, I live for the sunshine.

 Tea was the rest of the pizza with salad again containing homegrown radishes and lettuce.

It's been so warm I've just given the pot plants another watering.

Tonight after the final Clap for our Carers, we'll be watching The Real Marigold Hotel and whatever else takes our fancy.

Take care & see you soon!