Tuesday, 7 October 2014


This is our last month here before we decamp to sunnier climes so it just gets filled with various kinds of farewells.

Visits and lunches with friends all back up at the end of the month so we see them as close as we can to leaving.  Among all this we try to get 'stuff' sorted so we aren't leaving problems behind.  That, of course, never works.  

This time we left in the middle of trying to arrange for someone to take my aunt out once a week from her care home (been here in Naples a week so far and heard nothing!).  This is fraught enough back in the UK but trying to contact all the various agencies from the States isn't to be contemplated.

I have also left in the middle of the doctor trying to determine if I have Fibromyalgia or Polymyalgia rheumatica.  As I have been presenting with various problems for four years now(!!!) I don't feel there is a rush on this ...... but it doesn't help in terms of continuity to have the 'conversation' and tests separated with a five month gap.

All kinds of mini domestic issues get snagged by absence.  One example is that we are part of a group who are trying to get the Lotty up and running properly.  Quite literally while in transit from UK to Naples via Orlando Ken was trying help with a funding application.

None of this is to be interpreted as my complaining about my lot but I hope it helps you to understand why the peripatetic life we live drives me nuts.  That is complaining isn't it?

Back to September and the good stuff.

The second week of the month we were in Leswalt, near Stranraer, Scotland with my daughter and her partner.  This is on a peninsular I sort of didn't even know existed let alone turning out to be the most southerly point of Scotland and benefitting from the Gulf Stream.  All in all it was a very unexpected bit of Scotland full of exotic plants.  it is not straightforward to get to and certainly not an area you would be 'passing' en route to any where else.

We visited a lighthouse at the Mull of Galloway.......... well three made it to the top........ I wandered off to the shop and museum.

view from the top

As you can see we had some lovely weather - Scotland was very kind to us.

As fully-fledged intrepids we then went on to Logan Botanical Gardens - pretty well-known on the planet of gardeners.

very tropical for Scotland
I understand why gardens like these are lovely and unusual but they are not to my taste - I don't get on with 'tropicals' outside the Tropics.  I am a decided traditionalist when it comes to gardens.  I can appreciate them all but the only thing that sings to my soul is the soft fluffy English variety.

This was a very short break for S and S and they left us the next day and Ken and I went to Castle Kennedy - primarily for lunch!  That went well as this was the venue....

That said we had a good hike and it was all very pretty in a wild and woody way.


If you want to see more photos click here Galloway Gardens

I am flicking through my diary as I do when I write this and it is crammed with 'chores' of various sorts so clearly it was a busy month - just nothing worth sharing unless you want to hear about hair appointments and chasing up snagging et al.

Lunch and farewell with my best mate mid-month and then S & S returned to visit us and my daughter's lifetime friend.  It was a lovely visit and felt like they were just living round the corner with them bobbing in and out between doing other stuff.  I so wish that was true.  It is always hard to say goodbye, even it it is only for a couple of months.

Lucky us!  they left us with a giant bear to take to the States for my grand-daughter.  My daughter won it!

Here is Ted on his first leg of a several thousand mile journey from S in Scotland to L in Canada via Naples, (and Orlando) Florida.

We became the weird old couple with a bear in the car.  I won't share the photo of him in the suitcase on the 29th as he looks decidedly uncomfortable.

Here comes the 29th and we left for Orlando.

We had a Premium Economy Upgrade which really does make the journey so much better - the advantages being - better service, smaller section of the cabin, deplane first without the rugby scrum and - being really snotty - the Orlando flight gets more than its fair share of Children passengers but not so much in this section.  Not that I am anti-children per se but, having had a couple of VERY long journeys with a child behind driving me bonkers - think feet in back of seat for nine hours, they are best avoided.  So there we were smugly settled in our 'posh' seats and the barbie family arrive across the aisle - Barbie mom and two teenage Barbie's - though to be fair they had so much work they could have been thirty-five.  The one nearest me - just across the aisle had a nasal high pitched squeak which barely let up for the whole trip.

I have reached the inevitable conclusion that the next step for me is a cave somewhere with my own juniper bush.  I just basically hate the human race.  This was confirmed some days later when we were in a half empty Naples and I realised it was a lovely place to be.

As we were flying backwards in time we arrived in Orlando for an all-you-can-eat-until-you fall-over buffet for 'dinner' at 5.30pm (!) with a body clock ticking at 10.30 pm.  Such fun this travel lark!

The next day was the last of the month and we used it driving down to Naples.... we were there by lunchtime (Cracker Barrel) and by bedtime we were well and truly, unpacked, tidied up, basic shopped and sorted out ready to begin the winter.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

July and August - Lost a month again

Oh my goodness whatever happened to July and August - all I did was blink and they are gone.


I suppose losing a month here in writing is not so bad as I don't have much to share.  Our time was spent with much of the same thing being repeated - building work and visiting my daughter seem to be the main events.

We had the conservatory put up in June so we would have somewhere to microwave meals and decamp in relative 'comfort' while the kitchen got ripped out and replaced with the all new singing version.

It arrived in its flat-pack glory on the 11th by the 14th the fitter was here.  He became a member of the family for the next two weeks and we learned to live without simple commodities like sink and cooker.  There seemed to be a never-ending flurry of follow up jobs going on through to the end of the month (and the next).

We managed to squeeze in a visit to Wales to visit Ken's daughter around her birthday.

lovely seat at the mill in Talgarth

Before that, in the middle of the kitchen fit we had a busy weekend dashing up to Edinburgh to help my daughter and her partner with their new move to their first house.  We had two men and a van carting stuff from here to there and us going to help sort it.  Nice to be needed still and even nicer to see them getting settled in (what will be) a lovely new home.

So, with the usual lots of eating out and seeing friends the month departed.


Another Edinburgh visit this month where we didn't get as much done, so it was nice to catch our breath and just visit.

This was the month I gave up on my latest 1/12th project and sold it on.  An interesting lady who was organising her first show bought it, so several mini related things came out of that.

I then spent a lot of time selling all my 1/12ths stuff as I was not only quitting on The Willows but was also quitting on 1/12ths.  this is the mountain I have to get through - remember those boxes are full of very small items - I listed over 600!

 Minis have not left me yet though as I am now into Quarter Scale (1/48ths) in a big way (!).

Made by me - Not bad for just over an inch long

We took a nice short break in a hotel we knew with our mates P and S.  It is becoming a tradition this short break over my husband's birthday.  It makes for an easy gift on my part for the man who has everything.  This year it was Lytham - so a suitable oldies break!  We squeezed in a couple of National Trust properties and a ton of food.

Park in Lytham

Middle of the month we got the kitchen painted, so nearly there.... by the 26th the up-stands went in and we were finished.  Three months upheaval is enough for anyone.  There is an album here (it will stay up for a couple of months) if you want a look - The Kitchen

one half of the kitchen

The end of the month we organised a birthday tea for the aged-Aunt that we (sort of) take care of.  Her Nursing Home made her a lovely tea and a birthday cake and five of her old friends/neighbours turned up to wish her well.  It was a very nice couple of hours.  We even managed to Skype my sister and her husband in Vancouver; although Aunty J insisted they were only just round the corner and not in Canada.  I wouldn't mind but they have never 'lived just round the corner' even when they were in the UK.

Hey ho, here comes September....... and the countdown begins.....

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 (for a short while) :  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!