Friday, 31 July 2020

The Distancing Diaries - Day 132 & 133


On Thursday (day 132) I was up at 6am. After letting the lads out I caught up with blog comments and did my daily Wii Fit session. Jon joined me in the kitchen for our fruit & yogurt breakfast and before getting dressed I cleaned the inside and outside of the glass in the back door as I'd missed it when I did the rest of windows on Sunday morning. 




 With a lovely day forecast I threw a load of washing into the machine and while waiting for the cycle to finish I swept the downstairs rugs and got dressed. 
WEARING: Vintage Interlinks Indian block printed skirt & Afghan Kuchi earrings (both eBay), cheesecloth blouse & 1970s sunglasses (charity clearance shop)

I pegged everything out on the line and sat outside in the sunshine with a mug of tea & Frank at my feet watching Jon waterproofing the coal house roof.


The plants, veg patch and greenhouse were due their weekly liquid seaweed feed which took an hour and a half. I lost count of the number of times I filled the watering can but the tomatoes are starting to develop as are the cucumbers and peppers so it's worth all the effort.


Jon ended up repairing two of the sheds as well as the coal house and by the time he'd finished it was noodle time. After we'd eaten I stripped off to my bikini and finished A Fine Balance on the lawn - what a phenomenal book, if you haven't read it I strongly urge you to track a copy down, it's both utterly devastating and totally wonderful.


Jon joined me on the lawn for a late afternoon beer. We had some posh butternut squash & sage pasta for tea. We leafed through the National Trust guidebook for ideas of where to visit for Jon's birthday next week, coming up with a shortlist of four. I set my alarm just in case I didn't wake up early and missed out on the booking slots.

SOURCE

After our tea we started watching the three-part BBC documentary series, The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty, which was a real eye-opener. Before bed I decided to give the upstairs plants a thorough soaking in the bath a day earlier than usual, confusing Jon who never knows what day of the week it is.


Jon had a restless night (as he occasionally does), got up to make himself a cup of tea and woke me in the early hours with the news that Manchester & parts of West Yorkshire were in semi-lockdown. I got up at 6am, saw to the lads and went on-line to book next week's birthday adventure, successfully securing our first choice. As it was hot and gloriously sunny I did a load of washing and pegged it out on the line, took Jon a mug of tea up to bed and gave the garden a thorough watering. 



After our fruit & yogurt breakfast Jon set off for supplies. With Sandwell (Walsall's neighbouring borough) experiencing a spike in Covid cases we needed to stock up just in case our area was next to have restrictions imposed. After I'd sorted out the plants I'd left soaking in the bath overnight I replaced them with the ones from downstairs also giving them their fortnightly feed. I decided to leave them in the bathroom all day as the kitchen windowsill is south-facing and I didn't want to fry them to death.


Jon returned with all the essentials - rum, cola, toilet roll, fresh fruit, vegetarian sausages, teabags, two olive trees and a New Zealand Flax the lady on the supermarket check-out had given him for free as it needed repotting (it was originally priced at £19.99). Lock down? We're ready for you!

WEARING: Vintage Papillion block printed midi skirt, 1970s rope bikini (both eBay), 1970s Polaroid sunglasses (car boot sale, 2013)

After we'd sanitised the shopping and put it away the postman arrived bearing treats, a booklet on Highgate Brewery (the derelict building at the end of our avenue) which our dear vintage trader friend Pat, who lives in Cheshire, had found in a vintage job lot she'd acquired and a card with a seed bomb inside from photographer friend Claire, currently on holiday in Devon.


I spent the day in the garden in my bikini, only interrupted for a midday noodle break. At 34°C, it was the hottest day of the year so far although having been lucky enough to travel before lockdown we'd experienced much hotter when we were in Mumbai in February, a glorious 39°C!


After the sheer brilliance of A Fine Balance, my next read is pretty dreadful. I shall persevere with it though, books are in short supply in this house.


We'd seen neither hide nor hair of the lads all day but, by 4pm, the sun had started to vanish behind the trees and they emerged from their hiding places.




A glorious day calls for an ice cold beer, served by Jon in the swim shorts he bought from the clearance charity shop last week.


Tea was a tribute to our two favourite countries, India & Greece. Jon cooked rice-stuffed peppers and mango-spiced potatoes with a Feta & olive salad. Yum!


The plan for tonight? Gardener's World with lashings of rum & cola!

Stay safe, keep fabulous & see you soon!

58 comments:

  1. Evening Vix! Love both skirts so beautiful. Glad you secured a NT adventure for Jon's birthday. Just came in from giving the garden an evening soaking in case we do not get this predicted storm. My eldest son said today that he could tell I am giving the garden more care because even i todays heat your plants aren't wilting(I'll take that compliment) Love the close ups of your feline friends they are lovely creatures. Bobby our cat was rescued the sametime as Phil she had a sad tale and took years to be friendly now she is all over us. i say to her you forgot you are supposed to be vicious lol Love the shot of the hydrangeas! glad you got your bikini day and I hope that the dreaded covid stays away from your area! had to giggle love the fact Jon came back with olive trees why not. Enjoy your rum Shazxx ps tonights tea looked scrummy!

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    1. Hello, Shaz! I'm holding back from watering this morning, the sky is almost black, something's on it's way! You are doing something right if the plants aren't wilting even in Friday's heat. Can we keep it up? Our new normal has made gardeners out of us!
      I'm glad Bobby is tamed, both our lads are as soft as butter - until you dare spend too long in bed and you get the devil stare!
      Did you cave in and buy the skirt you had your eye on?
      Hope you're having a fab weekend. xxx


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    2. Morning Vix, no it went over my limit but I will feel so good in a few months time if I can say I did not buy anything for a year, bet I go crazy then lol good weather here today hope you have too. Let's hope A Suitable Boy improves ?xx

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    3. Hello Shaz! Well done for having a spend limit and not getting carried away. It seems like the rest of the day might be dry and sunny, the black cloud departed. Here's to A Suitable Boy being a vast improvement on last week's fluff! xxx

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  2. The lads are smaet little guys, find shade and stick to it. I fear there will be more setbacks withthe virus befor eit gets better. I'm slowly restocking wihtout being hoarderish. Tonight we wll have some hard leonades or vodka/lemonade/te blends for cocktails and leftover pizza and vegetables. I'm trying to thinkg if I have any occasins ot dress up, but then I remember every day should be a day right?

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    1. I agree, until there's a vaccine we'll be getting these lockdowns and spikes. It's not going to vanish into thin air, sadly.
      Your vodka and lemonade cocktails sound like just the job as does leftover pizza, it's like curry, always better the next day.
      That's my girl, every day is an excuse to dress up! xxx

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  3. Hi, Vix. I haven't been commenting due to the distractions of having a DH with rapidly worsening Alzheimer's, but your posts have been a great help in keeping my chin off the floor. Thanks a million from Upstate NY.

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    1. (((( )))) from Shoshi in the UK. You are in my thoughts and prayers. My bro-in-law is rapidly deteriorating with vascular dementia. I hope you have adequate support so that you can take care of yourself as well as your hubby. I am so sorry.

      Shoshi x

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    2. Oh dear A.Marie, I'm so desperately sorry to read of your husband's Alzheimer's diagnosis, as something that blighted my family for over fifteen years I know how cruel a disease it is. I'm thinking of you and sending love to both of you. xxx

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    3. Shoshi, I'm so sorry to hear that like A.Marie's husband, your brother-in-law is also affected. That you for your kindness is leaving such a thoughtful message. xxx

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    4. Thank you Vix. My hubby goes over every week to spend a day with his brother so our sis-in-law can have a bit of freedom to go out and do what she wants for a few hours. Our nephews live away but the youngest is very good and comes down and helps his mum when he can. It is very, very hard for her and his deterioration has been very rapid.

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  4. Your lovely garden and as usual your fabulous clothes! Jon does look hot... and the lads too! I managed to get 2 loads of washing out today but it started to spot with rain as soon as I'd finished but I decided to leave it out. The sun came out again but then more spots of rain so it's all a bit damper than expected. We had 2 lots of visitors today (coffee and tea time) and after all that lot I am worn out this evening! I told my hubby I wasn't doing anything tomorrow but resting. The kitties were out with us in the garden all day - look out for a funny photo of Lily when I blog next week, the shameless hussy showing everything!!

    Thank you for visiting my blog this week. It's really funny what you say about me looking the same in the two photos - in between you wouldn't have recognised me! If you don't believe me, take a look at this: https://www.flickr.com/photos/12780076@N05/50066022402/in/album-72157714931690126/ - horrifying, isn't it!! I can't believe I looked like that. I've lost nearly 5 stone since then. My hair is now natural grey too so that's a bit different! I'm glad I stopped colouring it - I saw a frightening YouTube video this evening about toxins in cosmetics and household products etc. and they said that there's a higher risk of breast cancer if you use permanent hair colouring... I think I'll continue to go au naturelle and hope that eventually I'll go beautifully silver, or snowy white like my beautiful grandmother!!

    I'm glad you like my tiny carpets. I'm coming to the end of the second one and really like how it's turned out. I've got some little charms on order to embellish the needle books when the time comes and it will be fun to make them up. The head magnifier is brilliant and really helps with this fine work. Where we used to live (in a Devon village) there were no street lights and lots of people used head lamps to get around. We all had torches. Where we are now, in the town, there are street lights, of course. I do miss seeing the stars with all the light pollution.

    Have a great weekend!
    Shoshi x

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    1. Hello Shoshi! Like you, I leave the washing pegged out despite the rain, it gets there in the end, doesn't it? Nothing beats the smell (or delightfully crispness) of line-dried washing.
      You have been busy with your entertaining. How lovely though to have two lots of guests.
      I can't wait to see the latest photos of your lovely girls, they're gorgeous.
      That old photo! Don't be harsh on yourself you were still beautiful with the extra weight but much lovelier without it - you look so much more confident now, too.
      As you know, I'm still a slave to the hair dye although I never use permanent, I was sacred off that before I ever started dying my hair.
      Have a wonderful week! xxx

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  5. Just off a two hour phone chat with my sister, looks like plans for her coming home have gone for a burton as we and mum are under the new lockdown rules. We’re not happy. It makes no sense that Angela can come in our house and do my hair but I cant go in Mum’s house. We can’t even sit in each others gardens now. I’m having to readjust again now.
    Anyway, back to what you’ve been upto. Everything is looking lush with the garden and indoor plants at your house and the lads look happy enough. I’m lookong forward to seeing you your plans for Jon’s birthday and what you’ve bought him.
    I guess mine won’t be it’s usual marathon one this year. I may have to do some plotting of my own. Only another year now and I’ll be a fully fledged pensioner.
    I’m going to have a look and see if I can find the book you’ve recommended. Hope you’ve had a good evening with Monty. I’ll go and do a bit of catch up tv now before I nod off xxx

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    1. I am very sad I haven't seen my sister in the UK since last year and no knowing when I shall be able to.

      On the other side of the channel we had a very strict confinement but now cases are rising, which we put down to the holiday season.... However, I have somewhat more confidence in our government. As to England's response - your comment 'it makes no sense' sums it up very succinctly!

      Thank you to you and Vix for helping us through these difficult times.

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    2. Hello Lynn! You were the first person I thought of when Jon told me the news. If your Mum's in your bubble I think you're still okay with visiting and going into each other's houses - at least that's the impression I got when BoJo was waffling on on Friday.
      Jon's birthday definitely won't be the usual pub & curry extravaganza, neither of us has any appetite for eating out and what's the fun of a pub if you have to distance? The whole point of them is the random conversations you strike up with strangers. This year it's presents bought on-line and a bit of culture and no doubt a drink or two at home. Hopefully we can all make up for it next year! xxx

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    3. Hello Julia! Thanks so much for commenting & for your kind words. It must be awful not being able to see your sister at the moment.
      I'm glad you've got some confidence in your government. I wish ours would show some strength and tell us clearly what we can and cannot do, instead of issuing all these contradictory messages. Most people aren't idiots and are happy to follow the rules, if only they knew what they were!
      Stay safe. xxx

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  6. We live in the latest covid restricted area, it is so confusing, you can't see your folks after you've done their shopping but you can go to the pub and mingle(ish) with friends and strangers... ummm. Eid is cancelled but you can go and eat out in a restaurant.
    On a better note, our girls (cats) melted in to the garden and found a cool spot to wait out today's heat and the washing hanging on the line smells amazing!

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    1. It makes no sense, does it? No wonder people are confused. Can you imagine the furore if Xmas had been cancelled at 10pm on Xmas Eve? Do stay safe.
      Melted is a great word to describe the cats on a hot day, often a pool of fur spotted beneath a bush. I was hoping for the same today but it seems to be getting progressively darker and cloudier by the minute. xxx

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  7. Good you stocked up and hopefully your area will not go back into lockdown. Garden looks fab, house looks fantastic, and as usual... so does your food.

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    1. Thanks so much, Ratnamurti. I'm glad we've barely changed our routine despite the easing of lockdown a few weeks ago, we won't really notice a difference if we do go back to stricter measures. xxx

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  8. If ever you decide to offer B and B I am booking just to sample Jon's cooking.

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  9. thanks to parties and vacations the cases rising here too..... the BW has his shopping instructions already.
    congrats to catching the favourite NT booking, i´m already exited and can´t wait to see the pictures!
    meanwhile your garden fills the gap fabulously - wonderful blooms and greenery thanks to your labour and the glorious weather. we had a hot day yesterday too, lisbeth was not seen until 17:00 - i guess she slept in a shady woodpile somewhere - dusty fur and spiderweb on her wiskers......
    where will you plant the olive trees?
    xxxxx

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    1. The Covid spike here seems to have come from poor working conditions in factories & food processing plants and overcrowded housing conditions, it seems to be picking on the disadvantaged and poor in our post-industrial area rather than the young & feckless. Thank goodness for having willing menfolk who can drive!
      One of the olive trees is destined for our friend's garden, the other will stay in a pot near the front door so we can keep it safe.
      Isn't it funny, there's always clues at to where our cats have been hiding themselves - cobwebs, dried leaves and sticky buds! xxx

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  10. Hello Vix,

    Lou here from Mizzly Cornwall. I haven't commented yet, but just wanted to say how much I've been enjoying your blog! I have been following it for the past couple of months (I stumbled across it on a garden related search, as I am garden mad) and it has inspired me to start blogging again. Your style is fabulous and your garden looks beautiful.

    'and two olive trees' as part of essential supplies made me laugh out loud!
    I completely agree... most essential! :)

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    1. Hello Lulu! It's lovely to make your acquaintance. Your About Me page had me in stitches (Fine Art Wank), I hope you start blogging soon as I have a feeling we'll get along like a house on fire.
      Plants are an essential, aren't they? I've written a list of stuff I sort of need from Wilko this week, I don't really, it's just a pretext to have a look at their gardening section! xxx

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  11. wasn't it fabulous yesterday! I closed my eyes and pretended I was lying in my hammock at Kerala, like last year - just the cocktail was missing! Love that skirt - I could never have too many of these, although they wrap I do need a very long one as I have ample hips, but they are so comfy. Love seeing all your houseplants, I can't imagine a home without plants (or pets - we are thinking about another little cat maybe)… more sunshine today have a fabulous weekend x

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    1. It was utter perfection! When it's hot & sunny I like to pretend that we've bought the house we'd seen for sale in that Greek mountain village last year and that we're there and not in the UK, it's easy when the weather's good.
      Wraparounds are the best, aren't they? Just like wearing a sarong only they stay put!
      Here's hoping that a little cat makes an appearance before too long, every home needs one. xxx

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  12. I loved yesterday's weather so much, it was properly hot wasn't it!
    Your papillon skirt is gorgeous and Jon scored two fantastic olive trees, lovely and tall they will look fab in your garden. I'm off to the garden centre to hunt for plants today.
    The kitty head shot showing the striking green eyes is mesmerising, what a beauty.
    I hope your area isnt affected by worsening cases, the latest spikes are worrying. I don't get why people think they're point scoring by not wearing a mask, its cutting off the nose to spite the face! Stay safe and have a great weekend Vix. xxx

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    1. Wasn't it absolutely perfect? If only we could have a few weeks of Friday's weather instead of a teasing glimpse every ten days or so.
      I hope you had success with your plant hunt. Jon always goes off-piste when he goes shopping.
      I suppose that even if we do have a lockdown imposed if it's like the one up North it won't make an iota of difference to how we're living already. xxx

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  13. I did smile that rum was first on the list of essentials. Let’s just say I’ve run out of a few things between shops since all this began, but never, ever, have I run out of gin!
    I love finding a really good book but the one you read after is always up against it in comparison, sometimes I have to wait a few days before I can even choose another book to read…
    I love a bit of Gardener’s World!
    xx

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    1. Priorities! Cat food & booze at all times.
      I think you're right about starting a new book so soon after a brilliant one. I did persevere and finish it and now I'm reading a William Boyd novel, I adore his style of writing.
      Gardener's World is rapidly becoming a weekend highlight! xxx

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  14. Hello from Canada! I have enjoyed your blog for a long time, and really love seeing your garden and day trips. I hope I can visit some National Trust properties at some in the future. I don't know if the person who suggested moving your tomato plants outside gave a reason, but I just read in a gardening book that crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and corn are wind-pollinated. So in a greenhouse without airflow, you have to shake them a few times a day to dislodge the pollen. But moving them outside is easier, of course!

    Thanks for your posts--I always look forward to them.

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    1. Hello, Brenda! How lovely to hear from you. I hope you achieve your wish of visiting some National Trust properties in the future, they are really struggling at the moment and have had to make over 1,500 employees redundant this week, they need all the visitors they can get.
      Thank you so much for your tip about shaking the plants to encourage pollination. Since we moved most of our tomato plants outside a lot more have started flowering. We'll definitely follow your advice next year.
      Stay safe & much love to Canada! xxx

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  15. UGH, our cases are rising again but they still can't order people to wear masks. I'll e stocking up on essentials as well because who knows what's ahead?

    I'm glad to hear you finally warmed up there. I was feeling terrible for you knowing how much you love the hot temperatures.

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    1. It drives you mad, doesn't it? What's a bit of cloth over the face anyway?
      If only we could have 6 weeks of the heat we had on Friday. Why on earth did I have have to be born in the UK and not a gorgeous Greek island? xxx

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  16. Love the close ups of the furry duo. Is Jon practising for the new DIY Calendar 2021? lol I can't believe we had one really hot day then back to almost normal today again. I love the not-too-hot air and don't like to wander far from home while it's here. Reminds me of my heatstroke times in Sicily, Portugal and Paris, when I thought they'd have to bring me home in a box! Must be because of my chilled Viking blood!Wow, those olive trees and the flax looks anything but almost dead to me! What a bargain. Have the rest of a good weekend, both.xxx

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    1. I reckon I could do a half-naked DIY calendar at this rate, he's currently topless up a stepladder!
      The only time I ever had heatstroke was in Wales in 1976. I should have been born a lizard. Friday was just glorious, the sun's shining today but there's some ominous-looking black clouds lurking behind the trees.
      I think the ladies in Morrisons have a soft spot for Jon. I couldn't believe that free flax, it's gorgeous! xxx

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  17. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't read A Fine Balance, in spite of having come across the book in charity shops. Must remedy that, if we ever go charity shopping again! I still have plenty of reading matter - stockpiling in UK charity shops every year does have its advantages - but still I often stubbornly persevere, even if a book is hard going. I'm hearing you on the filling of watering cans, as I'm doing all my watering by hand, and have to pump up the water too! Well done Jon for repairing not just one but three sheds. I really envy the energy you two seem to have in abundance. I think I've lost mine sometime at the end of June! What horrible news on the semi-lockdown, I do hope you guys are spared. Can't wait to see which NT property you will be visiting next week. Phoebe was out for the count yesterday too, but we - silly as we are - insisted on going on nature walk at +35°C. Stay safe, you two! xxx

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    1. I thought I already had but was confusing it with Family Matters, which is also excellent. I usually abandon books I'm struggling with as, in "normal" times, it's so easy just to grab another pile on our thrice-weekly charity shop visits. Now I have to grit my teeth and plough through them although I think I might have a browse on the internet later and see if I can download some freebies for my Ereader.
      Jon's off to visit Tony in a bit - he works in a shop in Smethwick, the epicentre of Sandwell's Covid spike - they'll be sitting at either end of the garden just to be on the safe side.
      You crazy people going rambling in 35°C, you should have listened to Phoebe!
      I wouldn't fancy having to pump 30 gallons of water, it's bad enough using the tap! xxx

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  18. We get a hot sunny day and cats disappear for hours. Mog certainly does. I was beginning to get worried when she had been gone all day, but then I heard her come through the cat flap at 10.30p.m., only for her to go straight back out again after having something to eat. She didn't even come to see me!
    That pasta looks amazing and I'm excited to see which National Trust property you decide to visit. X

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    1. Aren't they naughty when you worry about them for ages and they just appear, eat and go again?
      We hadn't had pasta in months, it was a delicious change! x

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  19. I was up little before five this morning. All of your plants look lovely.
    Coffee is on

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    1. I quite enjoy an early start every so often. x

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  20. That butternut squash & sage pasta looks delicious - my kind of dinner!

    And what a perfect way to enjoy the sunshine, reading in your bikini.

    Stuffed peppers must be my FAVOURITE food - Macedonians love cooking them too. X

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    1. Thanks, Jess! I rarely have pasta but really enjoy it when I do! Stuffed peppers and tomatoes are some of my favourite dishes to eat when we're in Greece. The Indians do them stuffed with spiced mashed potato and cashew nuts, they're a wonderful winter dish! xxx

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  21. Your getting as hot as over here LOL! It never lasts as long as it does in japan though. Made it Sendai, with only one sick accident and Paul needing to stretch his bad knee. I am glad of a change of scenery. Even if she did wake me at 7 to walk with her. I told you she was nuts!! I did tell her off.
    Yes I heard about Manchester and thought of my twin who lives in Leeds, who made the point of there is nothing stopping them from getting on a train and comming to Leeds. Bonkers!!! Still we are off for kebab tonight there is an awesome kebab house here and it’s our favourite. So I can’t wait!!! Take care and keep safe xxx

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    1. I wish it would get hot and stay hot, whoever is in chrage of this weather is such a tease!
      Your friend sounds as mad as I am, I'm always trying to get Jon up and out at 7am but he never complies.I'm glad you're having a break and enjoying yourselves, you deserve it.
      It's a weird lockdown that still allows you to go to the pub, go shopping and travel, isn't it?
      Stay safe! xxx

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  22. Found myself thinking, "Those two pix sum up 'Summer at Home 2020' for Vix and Jon: You, in maxi skirt and bikini top, with braids, enjoying life in am imagined Greek olive grove; Jon, fit but knackered, celebrating projects completed with an icy cold beer on the lawn. You've set a shining example of not only getting on with life, but making the most of it!

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    1. You're right there, Beth! In normal times it's all about parading around in our vintage finery at festivals and now it's half-naked and barefoot. xxx

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  23. You are taking such magnificent care of your garden and I'm sure your new olive trees will be bearing fruit in no time. I'm glad you were able to get an NT booking for Jon's B-day. I'm at the point where I would give anything to be able to go for a drive out in the country just to get out of my apartment. Things have been rather stressful here this week - my mom had another fall (surprisingly enough, she never breaks anything) but ended up in the hospital and her speech has been a bit wonky for the last couple of months. Nothing has shown up in tests, and it's hard trying to be helpful and supportive from a distance. Don't feel much like posting photos at the moment.

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    1. Oh Shelley, I'm so sorry to hear about your Mum, I remember the number of times over the years the phone would ring and Dad would have had an accident and we'd have to rush to the hospital and spend hours in corridors. You feel so helpless especially with you being at a distance. I wish we could drive over and take you out, an escape would do you the power of good.
      Take care and blog when you're ready. xxx

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  24. Your lads have a wonderful life with you x

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  25. Hmmmm, your dinner looks amazing!!! Mango-spiced? How do you make it?
    I do enjoy your outfits, garden shots and food! I hope that you can still get supplies.
    The plants are looking amazing!

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  26. I love your hula with olive trees! :) The portrait of Jon is wonderful as well. You guys keep yourself busy even on a hot day! Poor kitties though, it must be uncomfortable in those furry jackets - thank goodness for shady garden! Speaking of which, yours is gorgeous! You and Beate are my garden heroes! Beautiful outfits, as always! Good to see you happy as a lark!

    Much love!

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  27. Lovely to see you looking so fabulous in your midi skirts, both have such beautiful colors and prints!, you Rock in them!
    Also lovely to have a look at your garden and the lads!, these photos always put a smile on my face!. Hope those olive trees bring you some mediterranean atmosphere!.

    And totally amazed by those stuffed peppers, yummy!. I have to cook more stuffed vegetables, particularly tomatoes (it's tomatoes season here!). Lovely idea!
    besos

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Thank you for leaving a comment. If you have a blog I'll pop over and return the favour.

Lots of love, Vix