Friday, 5 March 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 4th & 5th March, 2021

On Thursday morning after my Wii Fit workout I watered the plants in the lounge and polished the floorboards. I was just finishing replying to blog comments when Jon got up and we had breakfast. Once dressed we took our grabsticks, sacks and gloves and headed out for some litter picking. 

Last time we'd cut through the Georgian alleyway, Dandys Walk, we'd been disgusted by the amount of litter so had decided to do something about it.

By the time we'd reached the top we were loaded down with fag packets, vodka bottles and beer cans, not to mention the ubiquitous nitreous oxide cannisters. Sadly we couldn't do anything about the piles of dog sh*t, which have increased a hundredfold since last year. It's bad enough having to pick up bags of the stuff that owners have helpfully hung from trees and suspended from gate posts. 

We deposited our two sacks next to the council bins on Church Hill pleasantly surprised that the area had remained litter-free since our epic pick last Sunday.

Next was Sandwell Street, the main road that links Highgate (where we live) to Church Hill. A crew of Bangladeshi workers from the tandoori oven factory stopped what they were doing to watch us in astonishment, back at home cleaning the streets is a job for dalits, not priviledged Westerners. We were thanked profusely by both the employees and their boss - now they can sit outside during breaktime without being surrounded by discarded takeaway wrappers and empty cans of lager.

We usually have to dodge old fridges, stained matresses and knackered furniture along this stretch of pavement but today all we encountered was a solitary armchair. As we were carrying our sacks home the binmen spotted us, stopped their wagon and took our rubbish from us, saving us having to pile it in the garden for a fortnight. Back at home I emailed the Clean & Green team at the council to let them know about the chair and the location of our two sacks of rubbish.

After our lunchtime noodles Jon cleared the greenhouse & surrounding patch of ground ready for planting whilst I baked a beer and chilli loaf. It was such a dismal day I thought I'd cheer myself up by ironing, photographing and listing some colourful shirts on eBay. A charity collection bag had been dropped into the postbox earlier so I had a bit of a clear-out of the stockroom, donating a pile of items that were okay but didn't photograph well.

Wear:Sleep:Repeat meant another outing for the India Imports of Rhode Island maxi dress I'd worn on Wednesday, this time with an embroidered poloneck from East (new, retail), a me-made pompom hat and a 1960s leather jerkin from Cheryl's clearout. 

Back in the 1980s I had a near identical jerkin which I'd fasten up and wear over black fishnets and fetish boots to go out clubbing in. I suppose I could still wear it as a dress if I wanted to (I'm the same size) but my aethetic has changed, it's nothing to do with age or body confidence, it's just that I no longer feel like "me" in a mini. 

The details: Moroccan pendant (present from a friend), selection of cuffs and tribal bangles, Frida earrings (friends & festival neighbours, Shilpa Silver), suede clog boots (Clarks' clearance outlet)

The vet called with Stephen's results, she's very pleased with his thyroid count and other than a bit of tartar build-up on his teeth he's in great shape for almost 16 year old cat. I also had an email confirming I was booked into the hairdressers with Keri on 23rd April...a date for the calendar.....yipee! 

Tea was a califlower and broccoli balti served with some oven-roasted sweet potatoes. We watched the rest of the BBC's Finnish Noir, Man in Room 301. I'd guessed the true identity of Ellias, the wronged child, in episode one. As a series it was okay but nothing to write home about.

On Friday morning I did a load of washing which I hung to dry in the utility room, dragged the sack of charity donations to the kerbside ready for collection (it was, 30 minutes later), did the last Wii Fit workout of the week and wrapped the overnight eBay sales ready for Jon's twice-weekly post office run.

After breakfast I swept out the hearth in the middle room before getting dressed and heading outside to take stock photos (the theme being polo shirts). Meanwhile Jon did the post office run, dropped half of the beer and chilli loaf I'd made yesterday off at Tony's, called at the vet to pick up Stephen's prescription and did a grocery shop on the way home. I'd just finished uploaded my listings to eBay when he got back.

Izzy (Richard's on holiday this week) delivered some parcels, hoops for our litter picking and this vintage 1980s block printed Anokhi jacket I spotted listed at a bargain Buy-It-Now price earlier in the week. The seller had described it as a blouse but my suspicions were correct, its definitely a jacket. I did agree with her description of it being jewel toned though, I couldn't have put it better myself.

After noodles, keen to test out my new hoop, I left Jon sorting out the washing line in the garden whilst I went on a solitary litter pick. I only intended to do our avenue but got carried away and ended up doing three neighbouring streets and two alleyways. Some scutter had left an almost empty whisky bottle on the kerb, the dregs of which splattered on my sheepskin coat, I smell like a distillery.

It might not look exciting but I'm thrilled with my new washing line Jon's managed to attach to the garden wall using some wood from his stash. Let's hope it's a good drying day tomorrow.

I showed you our mizuna leaves last week, here's a few more edibles we've got growing....purple sprouting broccoli, chives, leeks and some rather impressive looking Reine des Glaces lettuce.

 Wear:Sleep:Repeat saw another outing for both the leather jerkin & embroidered poloneck I'd worn on Thursday, this time with a me-made crochet hat and an Anokhi dress bought in Mumbai last's me leaving the Chowpatti boutique and Jon looking after my goodies while we explored our favourite city.

 The details: Indian earrings (charity shop), silver coated brass bangle (inherited from Mum), 1960s-does-Edwardian boots (car boot sale) worn with Kingfisher Blue opaques from Marks & Spencer (bought in 2005), Rajasthani pendant on a Lamani dowry coin necklace.

Much excitement in the house as the new series of Deutschland 89 kicks off at 9pm tonight.

We've got rum & cola, there's a bowl of monkey nuts with my name on them and I've even printed off the lyrics so we can sing along to the theme tune, Major Tom (Coming Home) by Peter Schilling. 

Tea was cheese salad with chilli and beer bread, olives & gherkins, my homemade potato salad (with chives from the garden),  and Reine des Glaces lettuce from the cloche. We had the government briefing on in the background but were too absorbed in our food (and the accompanying bottle of beer) to take much notice.

I'm now 54 days into my Wear:Sleep:Repeat challenge. Doesn't time fly?

Stay safe, enjoy your weekend (if you still have one) and see you soon! 

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 2nd & 3rd March, 2021

Yet again, Tuesday got off to a bitterly cold, frosty start. After I'd put away the previous day's laundry and done my Wii Fit workout I caught up with blogland before joining Jon for breakfast and then hurredly getting dressed. We'd arranged for the joinery company who made our windows to measure up for a replacement front door as ours is so rotten that it's beyond repair. Living in a conservation area we have to have a like-for-like replacement not that any conventional ready-made door would ever fit our oddly shaped house.

We drove up to the local garden centre, which had just reopened following refurbishment, as Jon wanted to get some wood chippings (we'd used our stash of twigs we'd normally mulch ourselves in the woodburner) and I needed some cactus & succulent compost. A pot sale! Don't all rush to Walsall in the hope of getting stoned, these are  pots of the ceramic variety reduced to half price which I could do with as my olive tree needs repotting soon but decided to go back once we'd worked out the exact size, hopefully they'll still be there.

 Back at home Jon cleaned out Jacob's enclosure, added the mulch and, despite the temperature, the tortoise, too as he was stomping around the house and getting under everyone's feet. 

I potted up a couple of aloe vera cuttings I'd managed to root from my mummy plant. 

After our noodles we went for a walk around the block via the post box and posted These Demented Lands to a friend. The sun had finally broken through the clouds and although still cold it was nowhere near as damp & oppresive as it had been. Jon had another bash at digging up the bamboo roots from the area we'd started to clear last September and I took stock photos of sportswear and uploaded my listings to ebay.

Wear:Sleep:Repeat continued with another outing for Monday's India Imports of Rhode Island maxi dress, topped off with my latest crocheted pom pom hat. 

After excitedly rummaging through the clothes my friend Cheryl had given me on Monday, I decided to take this German-made sheepskin coat on a trip out. It is so cosy and soft & I love the toggles.

The details: Doc Martens Darcy boots (Facebook selling page), Indian jhumka earrings & vintage pendant (part of Cheryl's clear-out)

Tea was a Quorn, mozzarella & pesto escalope with some peas and mashed potato (which photographed really badly) and we spent the evening watching the final of the Can't Get You Out of My Head documentares, Are we Pigeon? Or Are We Dancer? with a break halfway through for Interior Design Masters. 

Wednesday was another chilly day. After my Wii Fit workout I caught up with blog comments before breakfast. Stephen and Jon went on a road trip to the vets for Stephen's regular thyroid check. After the strict social distancing rules of the first lockdown the surgery had started to allow owners to enter the treatment rooms with their pets but after numerous incidents of entire families turning up without masks it's back to handing your pet over at the front door and chatting to the vet on the phone outside. Stephen has put weight on and she's pleased with his progress. As usual they'll call with the results of his blood test within the next 24 hours.

I'd just got back from emptying the composting bin at the top of the garden when the heavens opened and we were subjected to a couple of hours of torrential rain which scuppered any plans I had for photographing more of the stock in the garden. Instead I wrapped the ebay sales and, using a too-small Kuchi tribal bangle Cheryl had given me and a disassembled Lamani dowry necklace from my stash, made myself a new pendant.

How nice for the rain to stop in time for an outfit photo! Wear:Sleep:Repeat saw the return of Tuesday's sheepskin coat, worn over the near-twin of the previous day's dress and, underneath that, my Armor Lux Breton top.

The details: Me-made pendant, Afghan earrings (eBay), tribal bangles and coin bracelet (part of the collection Cheryl had given me), Mjus leather boots (charity shop)

After a break for noodles we planted some red and traditional green basil seeds as the plant I'd grown last summer was staring to look a bit long and leggy and pasta and pizza just isn't the same without a generous handful of fresh basil. The rain seemed to have eased off so, needing to post a parcel to a friend, we went for a walk around the block via the postbox. Needless to say, we took a rubbish sack and a grabstick along with us. 

According to the team co-ordinator, on Sunday, the Shine A Light on Litter day, Jon, me and a hundred other volunteers collected 402 sacks of litter from around Walsall. What a team! Although litter louts make me angry I'm also annoyed by people who ignore the rubbish right outside their homes. When we'd walked around the block yesterday we'd noticed another pile of McD's trash dumped on the pavement in a neighbouring road (not ours). Neither of us had our gloves or a bag with us and thought that one of the residents would pick it up and put it in their own bin but no, 24 hours later it was still there.

Back at home I spent the rest of the afternoon sweeping and tidying the spare room. Look! Jon's managed to mend the flying puffin...don't look too closely, he's more crack than pottery.

It's Wednesday which means that it's not only rum & cola night but it's also Bin Eve. In these strange new times it's quite the event dragging the wheelie bins out and getting our litter picking sacks labelled up and ready for Thursday's 7.30am fortnightly collection. We even wave at the binmen, after all it's been months since we've been allowed visitors!

 Tea was grilled halloumi with roasted vegetables. Until Vronni mentioned it on her blog, I'd not heard about BBC4's latest Nordic Noir, The Man in Room 301. We'll be catching up with that later. 


That's after I've sorted out tomorrow's outfit. In these stay-at-home Covid times even a trip out litter picking requires a fabulous frock!

Stay safe & see you soon!

Monday, 1 March 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 28th February & 1st March, 2021

 I was up at 6.30am on Sunday and swept and mopped the kitchen and utility room floors whilst the tea was brewing. I brought mugs back up to bed and we lay and read until just after 8am. After replacing the plants from soaking in the utility room sink we had a mug of coffee & a slice of toast.

Once dressed we made our way to Church Hill, litter picking the area surrounding St Matthew's Church as well as the main road opposite the Asda superstore. In addition to the usual takeaway wrappers, drug paraphinalia, beer cans, crisp wrappers and vodka & pop bottles we were appalled by the amount of black bags stuffed with household waste which people, rather than use their own bins, will carry into town and leave for someone else to deal with.

Six sackfuls later and the area was looking a lot better although there's still a lot more work to be done - something we'll probably go back and tackle later in the week. 

If you're fed up with the litter & fly-tipping in your area of the UK stop bitching and get picking, become community volunteers like we have. There's a list of regional projects HERE on the Keep Britain Tidy website.

 Back at home we rewarded ourselves with an al fresco coffee in the sunshine. I put away yesterday's laundry and swept the landing whilst Jon rummaged through the woodpile for something suitable to attach the washing line to.

Wear:Sleep:Repeat saw the return of the Rumak cheesecloth dress, an Amor Lux Breton Top (eBay) and my me-made pompom hat accessoried with my Walsall council official litter picking grabstick.

The details: Ilse Jacobsen handmade rubber boots (retail buy, 2018), a 1970s vintage tooled leather belt (charity shop), assorted tribal bangles (India and ebay), this week's nail paint of choice, Barry M's Damson.

After a bowl of noodles I spent the rest of the afternoon emptying pots, sweeping the patio and sorting out the borders in front of the house whilst Jon worked on Gilbert, which was interrupted by a lovely chat with friends who were passing by. I wrapped my weekend eBay sales, placed an order for some more wool as a friend had requested a hat and then had a bath to ease my aching limbs.

Tea was a veggie burger with some jacket wedges and salad. We watched The Great Pottery Throwdown and after a mug of tea retired to bed where I managed to finish These Demented Lands by Alan Warner which I'd started earlier in the day (verdict: very trippy, disjointed and odd). My next book is ready and waiting....

Monday 1st March heralded the start of meterological spring and somewhat ironically, I awoke to frost, dense fog and freezing temperatures.

 After loading the washing machine I did my first Wii Fit workout of the week, hung the laundry to dry in the utility room and wrapped the ebay items I'd sold overnight. After breakfast Jon nipped round the the post office and did a grocery shop on the way back.

Liz had bought me a pot making kit for my birthday and, using some old newspaper, I set to work moulding them whilst Jon repotted some Mother of Thousands cuttings and sewed two varieties of tomato seeds, some sweet peppers and cucumber seeds which we've put on the utility room & landing windowsills.

My Wear:Sleep:Repeat challenge continued with me wearing Sunday's Breton top beneath a vintage India Imports of Rhode Island block printed maxi dress (eBay).

The details: Indian earrings and Guess woven belt (both charity shopped), Lotta from Stockholm clogs and Nordic socks (eBay)

After a break for noodles I photographed and listed a few things on eBay although it was a bit of a challenge as it was absolutely freezing outside. A dear friend who'd been having a clearout called round and dropped a few things off that she thought I might like. This is just a sneak peak. Aren't I lucky to have vintage loving friends who share the same size and tastes as me?

We watched the government press conference accompanied by a beer. My Chocolate Orange Pastry Stout was gorgeous, tangy and not at all sweet - it was a bit lively though, check out that head!

Jon found the goat's cheese cheese marinaded in basil and tomato quiche in the reduced to clear section in the supermarket this morning, combined with my home-made cauliflower and broccoli cheese it was the perfect tea for such a cold day.

Tonight we'll be watching another Can't Get You Out of My Head documentary and episode two of The Unforgotten and hopefully I'll stay awake later than 10pm!

As I mentioned in my last post, Kezzie, a dear blogging pal, turns 40 today and, in the midst of lockdown, parties are banned so she's invited us to a virtual celebration with a Doctor Who themed dress code. It's not too late to join in or send her a birthday message HERE.

The Doctor Who I grew up with was Tom Baker, the fourth doctor and the longest lasting, playing him from 1974 - 1981. After a bit of a Google I discovered an episode from 1977 called The Mask of Mandragora. In it, his assistant, the lovely Sarah-Jane, is wearing what looks suspiciously like an Anokhi pinafore dress. A rummage in my wardrobe revealed something similar, a vintage '70s Anokhi sundress which, with an Ayesha Davar blouse underneath and a bit of ribbon snaffled from my trimmings stash and tied in a bow, I think makes a passable imitation.

Happy Birthday, Kezzie!!

Apologies for not yet replying to your messages or visiting your blogs, the epic litter pick wiped us out. I promise to catch up in the next day or so.

Stay safe and fabulous & see you soon!