Sunday, 18 April 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 16th & 17th April, 2021

 Even though Jon always gets up first on a Saturday I was wide awake so made tea and brought it back to bed. I read and he snoozed until 8am when he got up and I stripped and changed the bed. Leaving him misting the seedlings, I loaded the washing machine and after a coffee pegged the laundry out on the line. Even though there had been a frost when I got up there was already some heat in the sun. We had toast for breakfast and then got cracking on our respective tasks.

Since I'd cleared the area next to the Kinky Shed the mess behind was visible so I got to work clearing it, digging out brambles and more bam-bastard-boo. Using old builder's sacks I covered my work and weighed it down with bricks. Years ago the area had been edged by a rockery, I prised the stones out of the undergrowth to use elsewhere and also managed to dig out nine ferns.


I dug this figurine out from the undergrowth. Do I need to take it to The Antiques Roadshow?

After a break for noodles, I transplanted the ferns, moved a hydrangea, a nepeta and a clump of forget-me-nots and then lay in the sunshine and slept for an hour. After spending the last 21 years wintering in India I'm appalled at how pale my skin is. Come on Summer, get a shift on!

Jon, meanwhile, had been spray-painting Gilbert's bodywork. If he'd paid to have him done professionally it would have cost in excess of £4000 as opposed to buying three cans of £15 automotive spray paint and spending half a day applying it. He'd also attached some more retro lights to Gilbert's front grille.

As it had been two months since I'd last done my roots I sorted them out then joined Jon in the kitchen for a homemade paneer curry and a bottle of beer. The evening was spent with rum and Waking The Dead.

On Sunday I was up first, had a wander around the garden in my dressing gown and slippers and took mugs of tea back to bed. I'd run out of books but remembered I'd downloaded The Silence of the Girls before we visited Crete in September. Described as a feminist Iliad, it's Pat Barker's retelling of Homer's epic poem and is utterly compelling. I'd reached chapter seven before I got up. I had to translate The Iliad from Latin for my Classical Studies A Level - this is a lot easier to read!

Breakfast was sausage sandwiches accompanied by the Andrew Marr Show. I pegged some washing on the line and put the seedlings outside for some sunshine after Jon had watered them. We'd had an email to say that our roses were out for delivery and, as luck would have it, they arrived dead on time. As we needed some rose food from Wilkos we thought we'd combine the trip with a visit to the clearance charity shop. We'd not been since December 2020, when the rules of lockdown led to the closure of all non-essential retail. Since Monday frivolous shopping is now allowed!


Don't leave me, Dad! Jon's all dressed up with somewhere to go.


Me, too! Roots refreshed and everything! Vintage Indian block printed midi dress (my mates at Old's Cool Traders), Mjus boots & Radley bag (charity shop), huge sunnies (car boot sale, 2015)


There have been loads of reports on the news about charity shops being inundated since they reopened. There were only five other shoppers in ours! Top of the list were books and at two for 99p we filled our basket.


Jon found a very smart pure new wool Italian gents' overcoat and two 1980s cotton shirts (all three far too big for him but perfect for the stockroom) and a pair of shorts. I bought a Nine West leather belt, a French Connection ivory leather belt and this gorgeous vintage tooled leather purse, a souvenir from Malta, a place I know well (I've visited four times and nearly ended up living there!) I had to giggle when I found a receipt from John Menzies dated 1993 tucked inside it - it's been lying in someone's cupboard for almost thirty years.  The women's clothes weren't particularly inspiring although it was lovely to handle different things - the vintage was of the synthetic, shoulder-padded 1980s variety and the rest was the usual bland high street fashion. 


Of course, we couldn't visit Wilko and just buy rose food!

Back at home, we had a bowl of noodles (Tess - lovely to read your comment & virtually meet you - they're spicy Chinese noodles. Lunch is fuel rather than a meal to savour and noodles are quick and tasty!) and spent three hours shredding garden waste (me), chopping down a tree and raking leaves (Jon). After leaving them soaking for 2 hours we planted our roses and retreated to the house for a mug of tea followed by salad and a Greek feta and roasted red pepper quiche. I'm already excited about Line of Duty at 9pm.

Jon was watching the motor racing (yawn) so I had another look at my tree. Blog reader Amanda had left a comment on my last post, she'd managed to discover the name of my great-grandmother as well as the location of her grave. I popped Eliza Martin (b.1874) into my family tree and was able to discover that she'd died in 1899 at the age of 25. From that information, I was able to trace her mother's side of the family back to my 5x great grandfather James Bubb (1805 - 1871) who lived in Hereford and was a master carpenter by profession. On Eliza's father's side, I traced the lineage back to my 11 x great grandmother, the wonderfully named Tabatha Garret, born in 1595 in Norfolk. Thanks so much, Amanda! I owe you a beer!

Get me, I've even got a coat of arms!


Huge thanks & a virtual beer to Elizabeth, as well. She left me a link to the origins of my surname, Brearley, in the comments. I had no idea that it was the most ancient of Anglo-Saxon surnames. The article also mentioned one of my ancestors so lots to investigate there.

I'm so lucky to have such amazing people visit my blog. Please accept my apologies for falling behind on replying to your comments here and on Facebook, I promise I will very soon. 

47 comments:

  1. What fabulous names you've been unearthing during your research. We had an Emily Shuttleworth-Bagley in ours....sounded like a character from a novel! Arilx

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    1. That's a fab name! I still think Fanny Wildblood, my great-grandparents' maid is my favourite. xxx

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  2. Your weather looks great. We're back to grey and cloudy with threatened snow!

    I love your book selection! A Jo Nesbo is always a hit for me. Husband says for the amount of crime fiction I read, I must have been a serial killer in a previous life.

    I've checked your ebay link and I keep seeing the same two items, so either the link is broken or those two items are totally unsellable, lol.

    If the Malta purse is being listed, let me have the details, please?

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    1. Oh dear! It's grey and cloudy here today, a good excuse to be lazy.
      I love dark thrillers and crime, I think I must have a serial killer streak, too.
      I think my eBay listings are only visible to people in the UK, I used to post overseas but it's impossible to track once its left these shores and I'm not covered if anything goes AWOL.
      I'm keeping that purse - sorry! The zip on the other one is broken. Not that I ever use cash these days! xxx

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  3. Your research is getting curious and curiouser-I'm lovng it Vix-and that ornament looks old x

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    1. Geneaolgy is really addictive, I'm doing a couple of hours research this morning waiting for the drizzle to stop. xxx

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  4. Both your ancestry and your garden are coming along wonderfully! I had always wondered about your afternoon noodles too, don't know why I didn't ask, but nice to know now and it seems perfectly fitting for your eating style. Enjoy all the awesome books and enjoy the last of the weekend too!

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  5. All this garden-work is going to pay off for you bigtime in the coming years, once "real life" resumes for you. Gilbert is looking brand new with that fancy new paint job and new lights! Well done, Jon! I'm intrigued by your little Japanese gent figurine - any marks on him?

    How exciting that you got to go to a thrift shop again! Bummer that there weren't any ladies' clothes (so many synthetics!) but good scores on the overcoat and shirts. I need to find L some shorts, so might pop into my local here. Your hair looks wonderful (I really like the warmer brown on you), and both dresses are lovely. Pfft, whatever, pale skin...it's better than getting skin cancer!

    Your family history is so cool! Even a coat of arms. Shall we refer to you as Baroness von Vixen? ;-P

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    1. Ha, ha! Baroness Von Vixen, I like it!
      I'm hoping that if we can conquer the garden this year it will look after itself in yeras to come when life finally does return to normal. We do (hopefully) have a festival booked for September, I'm keeping everything crossed it really does happen! xxx

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  6. I was happy to do the search. It's my quiet time hobby instead of watching tv and I can't resist a challenge.
    Your garden is coming along so well, we're in autumn now so it's mountains of leaf raking for us and just waiting for our first pomegranates to fully ripen

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    1. I'm so grateful, Amanda. I'd hit a brick wall. Thank you! xxx
      Ps Envious of your pomegranates!

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  7. I've been in a few charity shops this week and they haven't been busy but haven't had anything exciting to buy either. It's just been nice to be out browsing again and have so many more shops open.

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    1. It is exciting to have a browse & a change of scene. x

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  8. Its just mind boggling the things you are unearthing on your family tree and the help along the way from fellow bloggers - brilliant! Jon has done a very professional job on Gilbert's paintwork and you have both achieved so much in the garden :) I think your figurine is called a Mudman, so he is a wiseman and should be holding something mystical .. and is worth researching - could be one of those Antiques Roadshow surprises!

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    1. Jon's family tree gets even more exciting, there's so much to share I'm not sure where to start!
      I've never heard of a mudman but I'm off to google it! xxx

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  9. I love your going out outfits. It must feel strange to be heading out to shops after so long. I've a stash of books now just in case things get locked down again.i do use the library though to supply the 50-100 books i read each year.

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    1. Hi Poppy Q. What is the chance out of the whole world. Just after I posted my comment there you were above me. 🐭

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    2. Hello New Zealand! How funny that you're online and reading at exactly the same time!
      I haven't been to the library in years, I really struggle with the choice, I'm far better grabbing the limited books I fancy at the chazza - although I do have a habit of buying the same book twice! xxx

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  10. Of course you had to come away with more plants. That’s how I used to love gardening. Buy what you love and then find a place to put them. 😊 How Great you are out of lockdown. New Zealand has been tight with its borders and we have been able to have shopping and sports. Now we are letting Australians in I don’t know how that will work out. It’s to save our tourism. Fingers crossed.

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    1. I'm such a sucker for a pretty plant. I never seem to have my glasses with me either so have no idea where I should plant them until i gte home and can read the label properly.
      It was wonderful watching the news reports of your borders reopening on Monday and seeing families reunited aftre so long. I hope your lovely country remains virus-free. xxx

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  11. Dig you with your coat of arms , Paul’s family has one, but the tartan is yuck! or I would have had a kilt made up in it, I am so glad you managed to get out to the chazzas . We have them here and they stock some banging stuff and some weird stuff as well. I sent a message to my mum asking for more books so she is out on the hunt for me again.
    We watched the funeral I even shed a tear, it just seemed so sad. The gardeners are in but I wouldn’t like their job there must be 2 tons of grey slate to move, how I got slate and pea gravel mixed up I will never know!,
    You should take that figure to a dealer it might be worth something you never know. Take care and keep safe

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    1. I've not got any ancestors from Scotland so no family tartan for me, just a snazzy Brearley coat of arms!
      It was lovely to have a rummage and stock up on books. The women's clothes are rarely much cop at the big chazza although I've never seen so many small sizes, I'd have been in muy element if I liked high street fashion!
      Good luck with the gardeners! xxx

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  12. Yes you should get that figurine checked out on Antiques Roadshow, Vix!

    Love that you've learnt more about your family history- always very interesting. X

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    1. Thanks, Jess! I don't think he's anything valuable, but I do love digging things up! xxx

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  13. So many items ticked off your "To Do" lists! Jon's paint job on Gilbert is impressive not only for the visible results but also for the financial savings. Years ago I drove an Army green Dodge whose maintenance routine included an annual touch-up on the quarter panels with sandpaper and Rustoleum. (No, it wasn't a perfect match but after one trip down a country road, dust masked the blend lines.)
    Your beautifully maintained manicures amaze us all, Vix. How do you manage to unearth rocks without destroying those turquoise jewels? * I agree with Allie that the Chinese figurine might be a "mudman". Definitely worth investigating!
    And when shall you begin working the tapestry panel of the Brearley family arms? Perhaps a fire shield on a stand? Do hope your research turns up more portraits and photographs -- faces to match with the names shortens the distance between them and us in time and space.

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    1. Good on you for touching up your army green dodge! Jon was delighted to find the exact vintage orange colour paint, I couldn't believe how quickly it dried either. It seems a terrible expense to have a car sprayed professionally when there's so many more exciting things to spend your cash on - like stickers!
      Sally Hanson Hard as Nails, builders gloves and plenty of handcream. It works!
      I've found some wonderful portriats of some of Jon's ancestors including one by Hans Holbein, no less! Watch this space. xxx

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  14. Oh, look how smart Gilbert is looking and at such a minimal cost too :-)

    It's nice to be able to get out to the charity shops again isn't it, but ours seem to have very little in them worth buying, where is all this lovely and very cheap stuff everyone online seems to be raving about ... not in my area for sure. You did get some good books there though, they should keep you busy for a couple of weeks.

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    1. Thanks, Sue - he's looking good with his new coat!
      The news I watched about the rush on charity shops and all the amazing bargains seems at odds with what we found - the same old rails of Primark and other washed-out fast fashion. Lovely to have a rummage, though! xxx

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  15. Gilbert is looking luxuriously Orange and rocking its new paint and retro lights!. He's getting a lot of attention!
    And love to see the way your garden is changing and keeping you busy!, lots of things happening there!.
    Looking fab in your colourful maxi dress in the garden, no worries about being pale, you look beautiful! (and for sure you'll have plenty of summer sunshine to enjoy!, take it easy please!). Lovely indigo midi-dress and lovely that you payed a visit to a charity and get these books and cool shirts!. Lots of interesting readings. As a note, I also have a Kobo (bought during our first lockdown) and happy with it!.
    Your family tree is looking more and more interesting and you even have a coat of arms!
    besos

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    1. Gilbert is looking better than he has for a long time. He's getting another trip out tomorrow, yay!
      You are kind. I much prefer myself with a tan but I'm far too lazy to bother with the fake stuff. I'm having a lazy morning as it's raining here. We've been spoilt recently with the Spring sunshine. xxx

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  16. Thank you so much, Vix, for answering my question about the noodles. I immediately went on line to find recipes! They appear simple to prepare and delicious to eat.

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  17. exiting news in the family tree research! i´m totally amazed about how deep you have come - 16. century!
    you really turned your garden up side down - what sorts of roses did you buy?? cant wait to see it all in full glory.
    you both look cool and chic for your shopping trip!
    enjoy the warmer weather - i will too - a lot after this late winter we had......
    xxxxx

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    1. I've gone even firther now, it's quite staggering how far records go back!
      Jon insisted we had roses that weren't pink so he's chosen some called Cuba Dance in a really vibrant orange, they looked lovely on the website. xxx

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  18. Wow, am impressed you have a coat of arms, and that you have been able to did so far back into your family history.

    I envy you being able to visit a thrift store - the case numbers are going crazy over here in Ontario and we still have about 4 weeks to go in yet another Stay-At-Home order. I did get my first short of the AstraZeneca this week though, so there's hope!

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    1. It's astonishing how much information is out there, I've gone back to 1066 with Jon's family tree now, my head's reeling!
      Welcome to the AZ club! xx

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  19. I'd need a week to do what you did on one day, and quite back-breaking work at that, what with digging out brambles and bamboo and prising out stones. In fact, I think I need to go and lie down just reading this! That figurine made me smile. Poor little thing, though, surely you need to find him his own proper place in the garden! And you've been shopping, too! Can't wait for the charity shops to re-open next week as my stash of books is getting low too. I do like to have a bit of choice. Isn't it lovely to be all dressed up with somewhere to go? I'm so amazed at what you were able to dig up about your family's history in such a short space of time. Fascinating stuff! xxx

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    1. I certainly slept well after shifting those rocks and clearing the area!
      He is a poor old chap, half his face is missing and I'm not very keen on the position of his fist....I shall embed him in with the houseleeks, I think.
      It was lovely to have a browse around the charity shop and stock up the dwindling book pile!
      I can't believe how much imformation is out there, I've gone back to the 11th Century this morning. Jon wants to make a paper version of his tree, we'll need to fell a forest! xxx

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  20. Jon did a fantastic job of spray-painting. Seriously, that looks professionally done. I've seen some bad home-paint jobs, but that really looks great.
    I'm still waiting for my 2nd vaccine before going anywhere, but I'm really excited at the thought of looking around a thrift store.

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    1. Thank you! I'll pass it on, he's his own worst critic but I think it looks fabulous, too.
      Our big chazza is the only one I'd consider visiting, it's huge, there's never more than a handful of customers and everyone wears masks! xxx

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  21. That's very cool about Elizabeth's knowledge about your family and name! I did think that Brearley was a very ancient-sounding name!
    The charity clearance shop sounds great. I did pay a few visits to the charity shops last week when I was in town(s) for other reasons. I did break my 'one item a month' rule- oops! Still, I think they (and Debenhams) were glad for the business!
    Love that blockprint dress!x

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    1. I'd never thought of researching my name, which sounds a bit daft now. What interesting informayion Elizabeth discovered.
      Our clearance chazza is fab, the clothes are rarely my kind of thing but it's a huge ,the soundtrack is usually really good and an hour can pass without you even noticing! xxx

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  22. So nice to see your pictures without a coat on, Vix. The weather is changing and I know you're glad. I am too. Even though snow is in our forecast this week, I know it won't last. ~Andrea xoxo

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    1. It's been a lovely few days here, Andrea. We're having a day of cloud and drizzle now butI'm rather enjoying a lazy morning. x

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  23. How nice to have a trip out to the shops. Did I tell you I went down to Rochdale for the first time in 18months. It’ll be a long time before I go again it’s horrendous. They’ve opened a new centre, making the other two redundant. I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. I’ll stick to Todmorden & Bacup. I’m not mentioning the people but I think you can guess.
    Gilbert looks fab. Well done Jon.xx

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    1. I don't blame you for sticking to the lovely places you know and love. I'd rather go naked thn shop in one of those soulless shopping centres. xxx

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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