Saturday, 31 October 2020

The Distancing Diaries - 30th & 31st October, 2020

On Friday morning my first task was to turn on the PC and book next week's National Trust adventure.Before I went to bed I'd put some of my houseplants in the bath to soak overnight and left a few more in the utility room sink, as the central heating was starting to dry them out. This confused Jon immensely as it's a job I usually do on a Friday night. After my final Wii Fit workout of the week I gave them all a misting and put them back, replacing them with the rest of the collection. I mopped the utility room floor and wrapped the latest eBay sales before joining Jon in the kitchen for fruit & yogurt.

Mindful of extra restrictions Jon popped to Pets at Home on the way back from the Post Office for another bag of cat litter whilst I caught up with blog comments as I waited for the washing machine cycle to finish so I could hang it up in the utility room.

Friday's outfit was a 1970s embroidered kaftan by Ayesha's and a vintage Kashmiri wool work waistcoat (both eBay buys). We'd been warned that today would be the calm before the storm, mostly dry, overcast and unseasonably warm day and, at 17°C it was warmer than most of August. 

Jon came back, having got to the post office and realising he'd left the parcels in the lounge. He decided to kill two birds with one stone, buy us a printer from PC World using click and collect and pick it up on the way to the post office after lunch.

While he got the noodles on I ironed some stock and photographed it after lunch. I spent the afternoon measuring, writing descriptions and saving my work as a draft. Jon successfully dropped off the parcels and picked up the printer but left the job of setting it up until Saturday.

Tea was a sweet potato, spinach and chana curry with half a nan bread and a bottle of pale ale. Later we watched a couple of episodes of Spooks, accompanied by lashings of rum and coke.

On Saturday Jon was up first, made tea and brought it back to bed where we lay and read until 8.30am. The predictions for strong wind and torrential rain in the form of Storm Aiden were spot on and the lime tree was all but stripped bare of leaves when we opened the curtains. Jon made a start on breakfast whilst I changed the bed & loaded the washing machine. I ate my veggie sausage sandwich whilst watching BBC Breakfast, the big story was of a leaked government report of a four-week lockdown in England starting next week. Was it true? We'd have to wait and see.

I pickled the nasturtium seed pods I'd been soaking since Wednesday and Jon decided to set up the new printer so I made myself scarce, heading upstairs and repairing both the patchwork bed cover, which was starting to come apart at the seams and patching the vintage eiderdown which was hemorrhaging feathers at an alarming rate.

I'm running dangerously low on thread. Normally I'd have topped up my supplies with tins of vintage sewing notions bought for pennies at car boot sales, sadly all cancelled due to the pandemic.

The reviews for our new printer had mentioned it took a while to set up so I stayed upstairs for a while longer, epilating my legs, deep-conditioning & plaiting my hair and stripping off last week's nail paint.

SATURDAY: Vintage Alpnani kaftan (eBay), Hindu deity belt buckle (present from Liz)

Ta-dah! The new printer all set up and ready to go. I can't believe how quickly it prints compared to the previous dinosaur or how small it is. 

Our very bedraggled postman, Izzy, turned up with a parcel (there were two but Jon whisked the other one away and said that I wasn't allowed to look at it, he's obviously starting my birthday present shopping early). It's another ex-M&S Heatgen to add to my winter repertoire. Who knew thermals could be sexy?

We didn't watch the final Gardener's World of 2020 last night, we saw it on catch-up this afternoon instead, accompanied by a packet of crisps. Daytime telly & snacks - such decadence! As the rain had finally stopped we decided to walk around the block, something we hadn't done in ages. Two more neighbourhood front gardens were in the process of being dug up and replaced by ugly paving. There were several skips on people's drives, although it looked like they were following our lead and getting rid of garden rubbish rather than anything interesting.

It looks like we'll have to phone the council for help with our London Plane tree, a passing lorry must have clipped it and there's a large branch hanging at a very awkward angle. With a preservation order on it, we can't touch it unless we want to risk a £2000 fine.

BoJo was due to address the nation at 4pm which was put back to 5pm and it's now gone 5.30 and there's still no news. We're expecting non-essential shops to close so I'm hoping we can squeeze in a trip to the chazza tomorrow, forget stockpiling loo roll & pasta, if I'm in lockdown for the next four weeks I'm going to need books!

Tea was half a posh pizza with salad, including the last of our homegrown tomatoes and a liberal sprinkling of poor man's capers. Tonight we'll be cracking open the rum and catching up with BBC 4's Danish drama, DNA (thanks for the heads up, Annie)

Stay safe and see you soon!

Thursday, 29 October 2020

The Distancing Diaries - 28th & 29th October, 2020

On Wednesday morning, after my Wii Fit workout, I wrapped my latest ebay sales & put away the laundry I'd left hanging in the utility room the previous day before joining Jon for breakfast. While he popped out to the Post Office and to pick up a few essentials from Morrison's (rum, oranges and yogurt) I took advantage of a rare dry day and set to work sweeping up the leaves.

As soon as Jon was home he joined me and a couple of hours later it was looking a lot better. It didn't last, as the strong winds brought down another motherload, but it felt good to be leaf-free for a little while. I found a few more geraniums I'd forgotten to transfer to the greenhouse which I pruned and repotted & cut back the nasturtiums, gathering a few more seed pods to make into Poor Man's Capers (HERE'S the recipe).

All this rain is doing my winter window boxes the power of good.

After I rinsed my nasturtium pods and left them to soak for 48 hours in salted water, we had a noodle break then Jon did some work on Gilbert while I took a few more stock photos, wrote ebay descriptions and caught up with blog comments.

WEDNESDAY: Vintage 1970s Rumak cheesecloth dress & tooled leather belt (both charity shop finds), Clarks' Orinoco Club boots, thermal polo neck & leggings (eBay), vintage brass bangles (inherited from Mum)

It might have been dry but it was bitterly cold but thanks to my Heatgen thermal polo neck & leggings I was toasty warm even without a coat. I decided to invest in more, finding a new & detagged Marks & Sparks bodysuit and another pair of leggings on Ebay for a fraction of the retail price. 

Tea was roasted halloumi with vegetables. Check out my homegrown aubergine - small but perfectly formed! Jon hates them (he's a freak) so I had it all to myself.

Wednesday night means rum, which we enjoyed accompanied by Spooks (on the i-Player) and Ambulance on BBC One.

After a brief respite yesterday from the rain, it was back to torrential downpours on Thursday. I did my Wii Fit Workout, wheeled out the recycling & household waste bins ready for their fortnightly collection and Jon joined me for breakfast shortly afterwards. Between showers I managed to pose in the dresses I'd photographed yesterday to add to the eBay listings. The eagle-eyed amongst you will recognise several of these maxis, they've been in my personal collection for years. I still love them but it's time to move them on. 

As I'd reached my maximum listings limit on eBay I found a way around it by amending some of my existing listings and saving the older ones to draft. By the time I'd uploaded my photos and messed around with my shop it was time for lunch, a Roquefort and salad sandwich on Jon's spelt bread with some of the green tomato chutney I'd made last week. It was delicious even if I do say so myself.  I used this recipe HERE.

The postman came bearing gifts...or should I say, online purchases. I was wearing one of the dresses I'd posed in for the eBay photos but just had to try on my new-to-me gear. The Indian cotton gauze block printed midi dress was bought from our friends, Old's Cool Traders, who'd picked it up on their travels and being the ace people they are, messaged me to see if I'd like first dibs on it....I'm sure you know my answer!

Funnily enough Amanda was kind enough to leave a comment on my last post, pointing me in the direction of Dilli Grey, an amazing ethical lifestyle store with block printed dresses to die for. My indigo dress looks remarkably similar to the Ginnie Midi Dress (although I wouldn't mind one in each colour).


I said purchases, didn't I? After my fabulous clog boot find last week I couldn't believe my eyes when I spotted these Maguba of Sweden beauties which I'd lusted over on the Lotta of Stockholm site a couple of years ago. They were unworn and came in their original box and, of course, I had to have them. Apparently they come up on the narrow side, perfect for my thin feet and skinny ankles!

 The rest of the afternoon was spent creating music (Jon) and researching garden planting schemes (me) before a tea of spinach and ricotta pasta, a couple of vegan meatballs, Jon's homemade tomato sauce and a sprinkling of vegetarian cheddar cheese.

We ate whilst watching the news. Apparently Walsall and our neighbours in Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Solihull & Birmingham are likely to move into tier 3, the highest level, from next weekend. Walsall's Covid cases are now the highest in the West Midlands. Jon's already booked a supermarket delivery slot in readiness, although the shops should remain open there's no sense in exposing yourself if there's an alternative. 

Stay safe & see you soon!

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

The Distancing Diaries - 26th & 27th October, 2020

 Despite the clocks going back it was still dark when I got up at 6.15am on Monday morning and the rain hammered down whilst I did my Wii Fit workout, which didn't bode well for our planned National Trust day out. After our fruit and yogurt breakfast and armed with macs, umbrella and our packed lunch, we set off for The Cotswolds

It's been a couple of months since our last visit to Hidcote Manor Gardens (HERE) and, as we'd loved them so much in the height of summer, we were keen to see how they were looking in their Autumnal glory. 

As the UK's best known and most celebrated Arts and Crafts gardens, visitor slots at Hidcote are like gold dust, possibly even more so since Gardener's World filmed there a fortnight ago, so I was thrilled to go online at 6am on Friday and secure a booking.

As you can see from the photos, Walsall's torrential rain didn't follow us down the M5 and The Cotswolds, a mere hour's drive away, were glorious. I'm sure they must have their own micro climate.

Although our visit to Attingham last week was gorgeous, I think Hidcote may have had the edge, they were so beautiful bathed in golden sunshine that it took our breath away. It's the half term holiday this week and we were expecting it to be busy but, the car park was surprisingly quiet and, with a strict one way system in place, we shared the gardens with only a handful of others.

Although we were blessed with a dry day, there was a real Autumnal nip in the air. I don't think it will be long before we're swapping our hats for ones of  the ear-covering variety and digging out the gloves. 

I was delighted with the abundance of colour still in evidence at Hidcote and as usual, I came back with even more planting ideas to add to my endless wish list. 

I love coming across plants that grow in abundance in our garden, like the ferns and wild geraniums, then seeing what grows alongside them. I was rather enamoured with the Hart's Tongue Fern I saw on Lulu's last post, hopefully it should be okay in Stonecroft's garden if the other plants are.  

I fancied a Jade Plant after seeing this beauty in the glasshouse at Hidcote back in the Summer, although mine's a fraction of the size. I don't know what the amazing thing is in the photo above but I want one! (I've since been reliably informed by my friend Anna that it's a Haemanthus Albiflos.)

Back in the days BC (before Covid), Monday's were often boozy all-dayers spent in 'Spoons. Although we've always loved our hedonistic pub marathons, we're just as happy wandering around gorgeous gardens and drinking in their beauty.

Is this year's Autumn more beautiful than ever or is it just because we've got time to enjoy it?

 After a life-affirming stroll around Hidcote we ate our sandwiches in the car whilst enjoying a Black Metal special on 6music ( I wonder how many other National Trust members can say that?) before driving back to Walsall where, judging by the puddles, the rain had hammered it down the whole time we were out.

Tea was a chana masala with rice. We watched another episode of Spooks before tuning into the latest Who Do You Think You Are? with the brilliant Ruth Jones (a 1966 baby, like Jon & I). It was lovely to see Newquay in South Wales, where I'd spent our family summers from 1967 until 1976. Afterwards I went to bed and continued with the book I'd started on Sunday night, the sequel to Snow Blind which I'd read at the beginning of lockdown. From hedonistic 1960s summers in Ibiza to Icelandic serial killers, I've definitely got eclectic taste in books.

Tuesday was yet another damp and dismal day. After my Wii Fit session I wrapped up the latest eBay sales, swept the downstairs rugs and threw a load of washing in the machine, hanging it up in the utility room fifteen minutes later. After breakfast Jon did a post office run while I caught up with blog comments.

Anything that involved being outside was out of the question, although The Lads managed an hour before giving up and retiring to their respective chairs for a nap. 

 What's a girl to do when the weather's grim and she can't go outside and play? F*ck it and frock up! 
(Jon took these photos at 3pm when we had half-an-hour of hazy sunshine).

Wearing my Afghan dresses always make me feel on top of the world. 

Click on the photo to enlarge it

If you've visited Sheila's blog today (and if not, why not?) you'll have noticed that we're both wearing the same turquoise pendant. While she bought hers from a vintage fair, mine has always been a part of my life and I was amazed to see another. Both the copper cuff and pendant were coming home gifts given to my Mum by her then-boyfriend, Bob, after he went travelling in 1965. That's them busking in the Scilly Isles in 1964 - Mum's the exotic brunette on the right. Mum ended up marrying Bob's flatmate (my Dad) in 1966, poor old Bob!

There's nothing I love more on a miserable day than switching 6Music on and doing a bit of hand-sewing and with a few of my clothes in need of repair, that's exactly what I did, with a break for noodles in between.

The hem on my lilac Dollyrockers maxi needed a stitch, yesterday's Janet Wood for Monsoon Afghan dress had lost a press stud from the cuff, Friday's Treacy Lowe silk maxi needed a side seam repair and the Phool block printed jacket had a wonky toggle and a pocket in need of attention. Vintage clothes, like old houses, need lots of TLC, just as well I've got plenty of time to lavish on them.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

My friend Beth had asked about the garment adorning my dress form. Here's a few more photos. It's part of a vintage Afghan dress from the nomadic Kuchi tribe, a glorious mix of bead work, mirrored insets, embroidery and patchwork. One of these days I'll turn it into a dress.

Jon had a day of playing around with some music gear and baking spelt bread...the kitchen smells most inviting. 

Talking of which, that's what we had for tea, along with Greek salad, some cocktail veggie spring rolls from the depths of the freezer, pickled cucumber and olives. We even had a beer, too. After such a dreary day we thought we'd earned it.

Stay safe and see you soon!