Sunday, 13 July 2014

June is truly bustin' out all over

Not so much bustin' out as bashing and hammering and clonking.

Looks like it has always been there

The core of this month was taken up with the conservatory build.  We were so impressed by the company that did it.  Absolutely hitch free, bang on time, almost everything done and dusted as promised.  We really have no complaints and would recommend Clearview to anyone for a good price, great people to deal with and a good result.  By the end of the month we were still hanging around for some exterior work to be completed but the delays on that have had more to do with 'misunderstandings' about what is and isn't part of the original contract.  So I recommend if you do this sort of thing you make sure you are clear what it includes down to the finest detail. So, with a start date of 9th and pretty much done by 20th,  it wasn't bad going.  

If you want to take a look, here's the album:  Conservatory

These are 1/48th scale

My Doll's House trip of the month was to the York show.  This is probably my favourite show for being the right size to take a day but not overwhelming like Miniatura can be.  I didn't buy a lot but what I did get were little gems.  I was also 'working' so that's fun as I get to go in early and I can natter to lots of the vendors.

We took my finished Chocolat project to the show to give to the magazine to use as a prize or raffle or whatever at the York Show in November - sadly I won't be here to see it happen.

Not sure I mentioned one of the freaky medical issues I had as a by-product of 'the leg' - wish I could type those words in cross stitch - feels like the leg's earned it.  I had some sort of allergic reaction which decided to take its form as an all-over and I mean all-over itchy rash.  It was hell on earth and lasted sixty days (and nights!).  I am telling you this because, looking through my June diary,  I saw the appointment the NHS finally managed to get me with a dermatologist (six days after the rash cleared up.  "Hello what can I do for you?"  Me: prattle, prattle.  Her: "Well you don't have anything now so there's nothing I can treat, come and see me if it returns"  Me:  I have photos and can describe it and show 'scars' and I was promised patch testing to see if there is anything I should avoid so I don't get it again.   She:  "Nothing I can treat - here's an open appointment for the next six months"  I was in her room less than five minutes - literally.

Don't ya just love it!

Though that is decidedly small beer in comparison to the shock event of the month.

Sadly, a friend of Ken's (and therefore mine) died whilst on a diving holiday on the Isle of Man so that was all a bit of a mess for the diving club.  To date the inquest remains open as they haven't yet worked out what happened to him.  Attending the funeral of someone younger (and probably fitter) than yourself is always a salutatory experience as well as a sad one.

In happier vein, my daughter and her chap came for a flying visit which was lovely as always.  Her poor fella got the 'meet the aged aunt treat' but he was compensated with the world's best fish and chips - the Metro - if you don't know it.

Finally, after eight months, we picked up our Deputyship papers so we can act on behalf of my aunt - long drawn out process and expensive one.  It is still not over as we are now embroiled getting the banks to  sort themselves out.  Hey Ho.  I heartily recommend you have your life sorted out in terms of wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney (if you can afford it!!) you have no idea what a mess you leave for other people to deal with if you don't.

We managed not one but two trips to Ikea this month and I can't for the life of me remember why I used to just love doing that stuff.  It was such a treat to wander round there for hours.  After our first extended tour one day I was ready to kill myself or anyone within a ten foot radius.  Now I know I am getting old.  Too true!   I was also absolutely physically shattered.  Talk about having to lie down with a sick head ache.

organised mess

And so the last day of the month rolled round with Ken out to lunch, my gardener working here for two hours, the electrician coming for a final fit and the cleaners due to clean the whole posh greenhouse aka conservatory - not bad for someone who is retired and doesn't have much to do!  A least I can retire to the peace of my deliberately scruffy garden.  I love this time of year when everything is just a tangled 'mess'.

if you want to take a look, here's the link:  Garden 2014

Sunday, 11 May 2014

April - where did it go?

Yet another month has disappeared without trace.  Only Mother Nature seems to have made an impact during these four weeks.  it is lovely to watch the garden change from twigs to leaf.

The cherry blossom is doing its thing, following on the heels of the lovely amelanchier (June berry)..... 

Then the crab apple catches up.
 Meanwhile the narcissi follow the daffs.  They come in all shapes and sizes so there is something for everyone.  I favour fairly simple ones and white in the back garden and yellow in the front.  I don't like to mix them; I have no idea why.

In addition to these two I have a third white variety which has just come out called Poeticus - you really must try it.  It is so dainty and has a lovely perfume so grow it in pots or near the house.  It is just the best! 

I have decided to quit my garden blog - lack of time and even worse lack of commitment to my garden any more.  

I had a willow that I had been sold as the small and unusual and hard to get cuprea variety - in two years this has grown from about three feet to over ten!  It has even spawned a six foot baby in that time.  Methinks it is not the small variety!  I had to hire someone to take them out.  The someone is a lady who seems to have enough knowledge to be able to take care of the garden for me so that's the path I am now on.

It is very frustrating to watch someone do a job you have done (and loved) for sixty years.  I am itching to step in and say do this or that but I have resisted and try to just shrug and say I don't have to weed and dig and work hard - and walk away.

So, unless I wanted to do an imitation Lady Penelope and report on my gardener's activities the blog seemed pretty pointless.  Hence these photos here I have no doubt I will thrust more garden stuff at you as the year progresses.

I have started the Garden album for this year if you want a look - might not be worth it just yet as there is very little other than weeds!  Garden 2014

Free of garden chores I should have been able to do other stuff but  as to how much I've achieved this month - probably not a lot.

Usual meals with friends and visits to 'aged aunt' fill a couple (or more) slots each week.

We did have an evening out in the first week of the month like proper 'growed-ups'.  A friend gave us tickets for Much Ado About Nothing at the Royal Exchange.  Being me, I did the mental chunnering about - I am 68, seen it a zillion times and used to virtually live at the Exchange so why bother????  So glad we did - it was an excellent production with a great cast and a I had a lovely time.  Thanks D.

I am still backing and forthing to the doctors with the ongoing ramifications of the minor accident to my leg back in October (!)  Incredible something so minor can turn out this way.  It is also pretty exhausting doing battle with something or other non-stop for six months - however minor.  Non-stop=no respite so it wears you out physically and gets you down.

To be fair to me, Ken and I did manage to finish the clearing out of my aunt's flat.  When I tell you it took two men and a van two days to take the stuff to the tip and that was after we had put a load in a storage facility and taken stuff to the charity shop, you may forgive me for being idle the rest of the month.  The chaps that came had been to the flat previously to move a chair to her care home for us and said they had no idea that amount of stuff was there - and wondered how could it be (very small flat).  It is truly incredible what you can squirrel away in a spare bedroom and two tiny box rooms over thirty years if you really try.  You begin by bringing a lot of it with you and never touching it again.

My kids are so lucky - we live like Spartans - devoid of 'trinklements' as my mom would call them and no collections of anything and neat and tidy and organised.  Indeed my mother once described my chosen style as 'prison cell'.

She says this sitting a doll's house workroom!  It would still only take an hour to empty!

My dolls house show of the month was Pudsey at Leeds which is one of my favourites so I had a great day there, nattering to everyone and his brother (or sister in this case) and buying a few bits and bobs for my latest project.  Ken bedded in in the cafeteria with his laptop and endless cake and coffee and a nice chatty companion for lunch (me!)  Win, win.

At the end of the month there was good news from my daughter and her chap - they have finally found their new home.  So a whole other chapter begins for them and, therefore, me.

The following day we had our house valued.  We think we would like a bit more room so played with the notion of moving up a notch - three to four bedrooms.  When we realised we were talking about a huge gap between ours and the sort of house we want where we want it, we decided to stay put and add on.  More of this to come over the next few months I think....  but for now....

Thursday, 24 April 2014

March - a month of two halves

Sarasota seems to have had its draw this season we were back there again on the first of the month for a Flea market.  Not the usual sort, but one related to minis.  What a great idea.  As always my nattering about that is in my Shows blog.

We started the month by putting the condo back to rights following our visitors.  We move furniture around between the bedrooms because we use the guest room for our office when we are on our own.  We wondered whether to bother as we only had a couple of weeks left in Naples but my theory was that we would have several more weeks on our own when we come back - just watch that not happen, now I've said it.

Ken did loads of Conservancy stints - he does more than the full-timers do! 

On the 6th we had a torrential rainstorm - odd for the time of year.  It gave us a good idea of how our lanai must look most of the summer.  We were awash.  I swept it out!  It was hardly surprising as the rain was horizontal along with the trees.  It also gave us a three and a half-hour power cut - the joy of cables being above ground!  This picture is our romantic lunch by candlelight.  I was about to make the gravy when the power went out - talk about great timing on my part - must be psychic. (stuffed pork chop incidentally)

While I was looking for this photo I came across this one.... this is what Spring looks like in Naples - if you look carefully you might notice new growth on some trees, such as the larches outside the apartment.  Not quite a plethora of spring bulbs or blossom is it?

Soon it was all about packing and getting in our last 'treat' meals at places like Bone Fish before we decamped.  The 12th duly arrived and so did the plane.  The flight delivered a lovely sunset as we left Florida......

The 13th followed, as it does, and we were safely back in Manchester.  Safely being the operative word.  We came into thick fog in Manchester and were borderline diversion to somewhere without fog but, fortunately, as our pilot said we had fuel (good to know) so we'll go round for a while and wait for it to lift a little.  It looked like this on landing.

Yes, you do hear yippees from me.  So good to be back to the grey dismal skies and cold.  No, really - at least we have seasons.

By four o' clock my Tesco order had arrived (how I miss that too in Naples) and we were firmly settled in sorting our stack of mail.

By day three I had caught up with my best little chum and a bunch of other folk and it was like we'd never been gone.

My issues from the original accident to my leg back in October are still grinding on - won't bore you with the details but it is all pretty miserable and relentless and so much of my time was taken up with back and forth doctor visits only to be made worse and better and worse and better and .... you get the picture....  believe me reactions to various drugs are less fun than the underlying problem.  My other half's notion of you only need a doctor when you can't sew your own arm back on has a lot of merit.

We had a flying visit from my daughter in March too which was great.  Always lovely to see her little chops and her chap's chops and hear how they are pootling along - why that is better face to face and not Skype to Skype is a mystery!  Nah, its not, you can't hug a Skype.

We succeeded in getting my aunt's electric chair ensconced in her room at the care home which was a comedy sketch worth seeing.  To begin with 'electric chair' as she calls it conjures images that are not quite correct as it is pale creamy pink leather and will just about wiggle itself into any comfortable position you like at the push of a button.  It also transpires - some days later - it will slowly and carefully slide you off it if you have dementia and muddle up the buttons.  Truly our encounters with my aunt would make a great (dark) comedy series!

On the 27th we bought a new (to us) car.  A something or other Prius - good with cars.......I can tell you it is red and I like it.

The very last day of March sent us scurrying to Scarborough to pick up dolls house I had 'won' courtesy of EBay.  Not a huge bargain cost wise, but one I have wanted for a while.  Go visit if you are interested:  The Willow

To end, as I pretty much began, with my favourite topic - food!  I had just about the best meal since I can't remember when.  Don't go uuugghh when I tell you it was cold pork pie and chips and peas.  Home made pork pie was on offer served hot, but being from the Midlands - we don't do that sort of thing (!), so I asked for it cold.  It was a delight and especially appreciated by me as I have made the little beggars.  The chips were also perfectly normal, like your mom made, home-made chips - just glorious.  I am not precious about good food - food is good when its good - it never needs to be fancy schmantzy to make it good.   This was one to remember.  If you can find an excuse to go that way here's the link to the place:  The Forge Tea Rooms

27th bought new car

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The best of Februarys

As my last post said, February 1st saw the arrival of our grandchild number two.  That must be a pretty good way to start any month.  Matilda is now thirty days old and a happy and thriving tot.  Her big sister, Lucy - all of three and a half - is already mothering her nicely.

The family had another piece of lovely news this month, but like mushrooms on my breakfast plate, I'll save the best until last.

Just in passing...  do we have machines like this at home?  Seriously, I never go to a main post office in the UK so I wouldn't know.........  if not, isn't this just a great idea?  They are always open even when the post office is closed and you can mail anything from them - just answer all the questions and slide your credit card and Bob's your whatnot.

Oh yes, the other joy is 'free' boxes and envelopes if you use Priority shipping - just pack and go.

Did I mention the alternative leg therapy last month? - that's alternative to usual medicine therapy not therapy on my alternative leg.  As you might know I got whacked in the leg last October and I am still suffering from it even after seeing every doctor under the sun in the UK and here.  Someone I met in the walk-in clinic over here suggested a lady who had done wonders for her... I saw her at the end of last month and again, a week or so later, this month and I must admit in two one-hour sessions she made a huge difference.  She uses a TENS machine, heat treatment lasers, massage, vibrating bed and essential oils.  I am especially fond of the essential oils (this was a mix of lavender, rosemary, helichrysum and frankincense).  As someone who had eschewed such stuff before I can only say, don't knock it until you've tried it.

On the second of the month our usual February guests arrived for a four week (less one week?) stay with us.  They are always in Florida for six weeks in the winter and we usually spend five of them together, but this year was slightly different.  We went away a for three days and they went away for a few days on a cruise.  Also, we didn't do our usual trip up to Orlando with them at the end of their stay, so we ended up with something like three weeks together this year.  It is always nice to have company. P & S have been 'here' as long as we have so, like us, they just 'live here' when they visit and we don't do much touristy stuff.  It does seem to involve a lot of meals out and shopping though, which isn't a great hardship on our part!  We did squeeze in a concert in the park, a dinner and movie deal at our 'posh' cinema (Silverspot) and a trip round the bay on the Naples Princess to see how the other half live.

In true old person style, for something to do one day, we even opted for a barrage of heart tests.....  Ken and I thought it was a company that had 'done' us five years before and it was interesting to get thoroughly checked over and have a stack of results to confirm we were still alive.  It turned out not to be the same company and I am still waiting for the results (three weeks later).  It does put a terrible strain on the old ticker all this suspense.

Middle of the month - Valentine's Day, in fact - Ken and I took off for a couple of nights in Orlando for the usual Molly Cromwell Dolls House Show.  We had added in an extra day this time as I wanted to do my first workshop.  As always, if you want to know all about my mini-nuttery, you can follow this part of it here:  Dolls House Shows blog.

For our Orlando trip Ken decided to hire a Mustang rather than just using our (wonderfully comfortable all-singing, all-dancing, Lincoln Continental) car ....  what can I say?.... other than I spent three days trying to convince him that cars having evolved into vehicles with climate controlled interiors and utterly wind-free, seemed, to me, a huge improvement on the open buggy .

We had some hours to kill on Saturday before the show so we decided to bomb over to the East Coast and Cocoa Beach.  Thirteen years ago (last time we did it)  'bombing over' might have been possible, now it is a good deal heavier on the traffic.  Still better than driving in the UK though.

The beach was pretty much deserted which seemed very odd for such a nice day.

Mind you, the three notices tacked on the boardwalk didn't instill confidence.

What idiot needs to be told to "Run!"?

Might be wise to check for rocks anytime you fancy diving in the sea?  What were they doing being submerged - its just not cricket!

Our drive home on Sunday was as entertaining as it always is when off the beaten track in Florida.  Just to share a couple of signs with you...

  • Ring Crime Line!  We pay cash for crooks.   If only I had one I didn't need I could EBay it.
  • Huge shop labelled: Discount Bakery Store - what in heavens name is discounted bakery goods - three-day-old bread?
  • There are many gun shops pretty much everywhere but, on this occasion, we passed a massive supermarket-size store with an armoured vehicle parked outside.  Decidedly more terrifying than it was impressive.  Incidentally it was incongruously next door to the 'Pets and Farm Animals' shop.
When my daughter's partner was visiting, he was amused by stores just simply saying what they did rather than having fancy names - note:  Gun Shop/Discount bakery Store/Pets and Farm Animals....  wonder what they all sell...

If you wonder how so many gun shops thrive here - don't.  Right now they are in the process of changing the law to allow people to get their concealed weapon permit from their local tax office.  Apparently there is such a demand for them that the Division of Licensing offices can't cope.  Scary country.

To top it all, as we drove home, we watched this take shape in the sky:

This is how you know it is Sunday and you are in Florida - someone in a plane, sky-writes: U +  GOD = smiley face!

While we were away, our friends had run away to sea so we were without them a few days until eventually they jumped ship in Lauderdale and arrived home (via Jamaica). Then, in what seemed like a blink of the eye, the end of the month rushed in and it was time for them to go.

I started February's tale with a huge family announcement and promised you a similar ending..... 

My daughter Sally got engaged this month.  We are so pleased for them both.  They are house-hunting right now and want to settle that before setting a date for their (quiet) wedding.  Watch this space.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

We are a grandmother

1st February 2014:  Welcome to Matilda Elizabeth, weighed in at about seven and a half pounds in old money!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Time does fly...

Time does fly..... when you are doing nothing, in my case.

I last wrote to you properly on Christmas Day, which speaks volumes about my festivities.  

The LEG (as it has now become) carried on being a pain - no pun intended.  The next lot of antibiotics gave me an incredible rash all over (literally!)  As someone said I looked as though I'd been pebble-dashed.  It did do me a favour though as this time I got to see someone who was appalled by all the antibiotics and said they needed to find out the underlying cause of the problem - so off for an MRI.  Unlike in the UK, even though this is a walk-in clinic it all gets done same day - admittedly we spent six hours there but I was done and dusted and an appointment booked with a surgeon before I left.

A week later we were off to see the surgeon.  He basically said surgery was an option but it might not speedup the healing process all that much.  He tactfully said I was old and healing takes time.  He left the choice to me- have it done which then gives you the residual initial problem plus a gash (his word not mine) in the leg which also needs to heal or I could leave well alone and let it takes the months (!) it needs to get better.  I put it back to him and said I'd go with his best judgement - quote:  if it was me I wouldn't have it done.

The plus side is we are not bankrupted by paying up front for any more medical stuff until the insurance coughs up.  $1,487.74 so far.  When you pay something like $125 for one lot of antibiotics it racks up pretty quickly.  The down side the LEG remains a LEG.

December bucked up immediately after Christmas with a visit from my daughter and her chap.   We all had a lovely time together and had fun showing Naples to a first-timer.  Whenever we have visitors we never seem to cover all we have planned.  They will insist that holidays are for R & R, whereas in my tender care there is a huge checklist to be got through.  They were kind enough to co-operate and let me tick off things like.......... 

Swift visit to the beach - they had some mixed weather - look at the breakers!

We did the concert in the park, some art on Fifth, a boat trip, a zillion eateries including a diner and a New Year's Eve dinner on 5th, endless ice cream, shopping and 

A trip to a 'neighborhood' where they do their Christmas lights in a big way.

They had a mini break in the middle of their stay and hired an open top to bomb down to a luxury resort on the Keys.  Back to the old folk and we finished with a lovely meal in one of our favourite spots - Bonefish restaurant and soaked up a Florida sunset. (before getting the 'last' ice cream from Regina's)

In a blink of an eye they were gone and we were back to ourselves for company.

On the weekend of 18th/19th January Ken and I were in Sarasota for what is fast becoming our regular Molly Cromwell doll's house show.  This is my third year of going to Sarasota and it is just as much fun.  As with all things mini related you need to chase up that weekend in my other blogs if you are interested.

Since then I have been trying to do writing and resting (the LEG) in an attempt to get ahead of the game before our next visitors arrive.  We have friends staying for February so much to do ..... can't sit here doing this ...............

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Bit of Miniatures sneaking in

I make no apologies for letting a bit of my mini madness sneak into the Clavering Blog.  I defy you not to like these wonderful window displays at Tiffany's here in Naples this year.

Click on each photo to get a look at just how lovely they are.

There were several more, but you get the idea.  Simply beautiful.  They look to be 1/12th scale so even sweeter.  Imagine one of those in your own window at Christmas - how utterly gorgeous.

I thought I might get an article out of it so I tried to get to speak to someone about how they are made, what happens to them after Christmas etc etc but got the usual - write to head office - they suggested write to local store - write to local store - they suggested I write to head office - all of them VERY Tiffany nice (Remember how kind they were to Audrey Hepburn!) but not fussed enough to pursue it.

Meanwhile just enjoy.