Friday 31 December 2021

The Nutcracker

 Final day of the year and a trip to the ballet.

We caught the train to Marylebone Station and then walked the scenic route through Regents Park and along the canal for about four miles to Sadler's Wells Theatre.

We met up with Susan and Paul for a pre show drink and then we were in.

It's a bit difficult to spot Paul, but I promise that he is there, which is a good effort seeing as he doesn't like ballets at all. 

It was a great show, but not the standard Nutcracker plot so we all got our phones out in the interval to try and understand what was happening.

Strangely in the second half most of the cast turned into giant sweeties including licorice allsorts, and one that I thought was a Walnut Whip, but was actually a knickerbocker glory. It all ended happily I think, but to be honest I am not sure. 

Saturday 25 December 2021

Return of the Santa outfits

Up early Christmas morning and my first meeting with Harry Styles. I didn't know that he was still famous, but Darren's niece got a present of a life sized cardboard cutout.

A few minutes later a rival Santa turned up for a quick pose in front of the Christmas tree.

After having a laugh with the family we set off to the parkrun, and the real reason for dressing up.

We were among the best dressed at Ipswich parkrun and after negotiating a very muddy course, Darren was the first finisher in a full Santa outfits.

No prize unfortunately, but a good accomplishment nonetheless.

Friday 24 December 2021

Pleached hornbeam

A busy day for us yesterday. We are at Darren's sister's house where we had the task of planting ten, three metre high pleached hornbeam trees.

It took quite a lot of thought and calculations before we actually started digging holes, and each tree and it's rootball was quite heavy. We had to line them all up in a straight line and then get them all to the same height. We did have to dig up a few and replant them, then put in stakes and then tie the trellis together with bamboo canes, but we got there in the end.

No one is very impressed with them at the moment and they do look just like big twigs, but it should be a different story once their leaves start to appear.

We also had a nice walk around Ipswich Marina which in the bright sunshine managed to briefly look more like Nice or Monaco.

It is now raining really heavily so at least we don't have to worry too much about watering the trees in.

Monday 20 December 2021

Santa fun run

 Back again after a break last year, yes, it's the Santa fun run!

Looking good in our costumes and raring to go. From the left Darren, me, Paul and Susan. 

I learned a lot from last time when the outfit kept trying to self destruct on the run, and this year I safety pinned the jacket together and wore my own belt, which was a lot more heavy duty than the little one supplied. We also put the trousers on once we arrived at the start as last time we had ripped them quite badly during the cycle ride over.

Here are all of the Santa's on the start line and I have circled the four who I think are us.

Definitely not as many as last time, but still a good turnout. Seconds later we were off on a 4 kilometre route through the town, and it was nice to see lots of people on the pavements cheering us on and taking photos.

Darren bravely kept his beard and moustache on the whole way round, but I found it difficult to breathe so wimped out and dangled it under my chin instead.

At the end we all got a medal, a bacon butty and a coffee, so smiles all round.

Thursday 16 December 2021

Out and about

After ten days isolation, I am back in the real world again.

I did consider getting up really just to go for a walk around the estate in the fresh air. However, the sun doesn't rise today until 8.06am, so a six o'clock start in the dark would not be great.

Also, I sensed that Darren wouldn't be keen, and I wanted to walk with him. In the end we went at around sun rise, but it was very cloudy so we didn't see it, but at least it was light. 

Next item on the list was a trip to the Garden Centre. My sister had bought me a lovely plant pot for my birthday, my mum and dad had given me some money, and Margs and Dave gave me a voucher and I put it all together to create this.

It's a witch hazel tree that should soon have acid yellow spiky flowers, surrounded by snowdrops and miniature daffodils. It will look less like a dead twig in a few weeks so if I remember then I will post another photo. 

And I forgot to say that Darren also got creative last week and has made a bug house for the garden, in the shape of our own house!

Apparently all of the bugs are already hibernating this year, but once they wake up then I am certain that they will be eyeing it up as a good place to sleep next year. I am a bit unsure about the holes drilled in a piece of insulation, but it should certainly be nice and toasty. 

Tuesday 14 December 2021

Giant fishing rod?

 Oh no, what's going on today?

It looks as if a machine with a giant fishing rod is going to catch our fish and take it away.

Or maybe this quarantine time on the top floor is getting to my brain, although there is only tomorrow to go now. 

It has been an exciting day by my current standards, because as well as watching the telly I have been able to watch people working. 

The ground was completely flat at 8am, but within a couple of hours huge trenches had appeared, and by lunchtime things were getting a bit closer than expected. 

It's all gone quiet now though, the poor machine looks exhausted and has gone to sleep. 

I am feeling quite tired too, and I have only been watching the action. 

Saturday 11 December 2021

Keeping busy in the time of Covid

So, last Sunday we got to Southampton to board our cruise to the Med. Both feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed, we headed to the covid test area, collected our little wrist band to prove that we had taken the test and started to check in.

Ten minutes later we got the text results, and just like that, our holiday was over! 

The doctor said that my test was positive, I asked if I could do another test, or even best of three, but the answer was no. We had to wait for our luggage to be disembarked and we were out.

Fast forward nearly a week and I am fine, to be honest I was not really ill at all, although my sense of smell has not returned yet. 

To pass the time I have watched a lot of telly, Darren has made me dozens of cappuccinos and whipped up some lovely dinners, and I have painted the house. 

It's not as hard work as it sounds, and I have really enjoyed doing it. 

I think it gives the illusion that we live in Palm Springs. The sun is shining brightly, but I can't draw shadows or shading so my style is pretty limited. However, I am stuck inside for the next four days so I can do commissions if anyone is interested!

Ps, I can't draw people or animals either, but I am keen to try another house. 

Saturday 4 December 2021

Royal Tunbridge Wells and Cycling

We stayed overnight at RTW yesterday and woke up to a rather wet day. However, we weren't disheartened and set off from our hotel to see the Wellington Rocks, which had been recommended to us by a lady who we met while walking home from the Opera pub. 

They were very nice as rocks go, quite smooth but not slippery with foot sized steps up to the top. 

We then walked to an area called the Pantiles. It was a bit similar to the Shambles in York and was a beautiful area of original buildings and for some unexplained reason, a statue of a person balancing on what looked like a polar bear.

We were very impressed with RTW, lots of history, lovely looking shops and cafes, and we didn't do it justice. I have made a mental note to go again and do a better job next time. 

In the evening we went to the velodrome at Stratford to see part three of the UCI Track Champions League. Basically, it was all of the best track cyclists in the world whizzing around the banking on the velodrome just a few feet from our seats.

It had a great atmosphere and amazing lighting effects.

We saw some great races, particularly Katie Archibald who had a fantastic win in the elimination race, as the crowd screamed and cheered her on.

In the terrifying sprint races the cyclists reached 70kms an hour and I was relieved that only two people crashed throughout the whole evening, and even they got up straight away.

Thursday 2 December 2021

Sunny Hastings

A couple of days ago Darren won an eBay auction and bought some new tools. I don't know exactly what they do, but there is a lot of them, and so we drove to Hastings to collect them.

Never one to miss an opportunity to see the sea, we turned it in to a day out, and the sun even shone on us too.

We got there about an hour early and headed straight for the pier. Although much better than the one last week in Skegness, there was not that much on it.

We did find a nice little coffee shed, and then a dog walking lady suggested that walked further down the pier to shelter from the wind behind a disused building.

It was a lovely sun trap and we finished our coffee and cakes, and then went our separate ways.

I went for a sightseeing walk along the seafront.

Darren drove up to the seller's house to collect the tools. This is a true story, but the guy does not use them because he chopped some of his fingers off and although they have been reattached, they aren't as good as they used to be.

Ps, I don't know if it happened with the things that Darren bought or if it was using something else.

Wednesday 1 December 2021

Dark skies at Blenheim Palace

Just before 4pm we were standing near the front of a queue, in the cold, Christmas carols blaring out of loudspeakers and then the rain started pouring down. Moments later we were waved forward and we dashed up the steps of Blenheim Palace and into a crazy wonderland. 

The Christmas tree in the grand entrance hall was at least 20 feet high the whole house was full of trees and toy soldiers, giant sweets and rats. We were there to see 'The story of the Nutcracker'. 

The toymaker brought the toy soldier to life, only to find a strange burglar standing next to him. 

After recovering from the shock the toy soldier fought with the rat King, and I think that he won, but I am not sure. We then walked into a room with shiny peacocks that I would have liked in my garden, and then best of all, the library had been turned into a giant room full of sweets. 

The very last room was the chapel, filled with with angels and lights, and lots of tourists who were sitting in every pew and standing in the aisles. It wasn't a sudden keen interest in religion, but outside the rain was still pouring down and everyone was trying to take shelter. 

We were crowded out, so decided to dash back to our car and wait  there for the storm to pass. 

Our second event was the Light Trail and by the time we emerged from the car the rain had stopped. 

It was very good and also quite long with more carols and we even met Santa Claus. 

He was quite jolly, but he had to stay behind his rope so no sitting on his knee this year. 

The whole of the Palace was lit up and its displays danced in time to the music which was difficult to photograph, so instead I will sign off with a photo of me. 

Monday 29 November 2021

Snowy morning

Yesterday we went to see Tina and Matt in Derbyshire for lunch, and before we started on the roast, we were really surprised to see a few snowflakes falling. By the time we got to the apple strudel and custard there were giant flakes falling and the ground was white over.

We cut our visit a bit short, and it was a difficult drive home. Last night I went to bed hoping that the snow was still hanging around this morning.

Yes, I was in luck, although I think that the fish probably weren't so keen on being iced in. 

We wanted to make the most of it, so set off on a long walk, and I stopped to take a photo of our street.

The Millennium Pond at Langford was looking lovely.....

.... and as soon as they saw us a flock of ducks started running towards us across the ice. 

I felt very guilty that we had nothing to give them, but fortunately a lady turned up with a bag full of goodies and they all turned back and headed towards her.

It was still freezing when we got home, but within an hour the sun was starting to melt the snow and by lunchtime most of it had gone. 

Saturday 27 November 2021

Victoria Dock parkrun

After a very later night I woke up at 7.40am and whispered to Darren, 'do you still want to go'. Half hoping for a 'no', he said that he would still quite like to, so after a couple of minutes hesitation, I got up and put the kettle on.

By quarter past eight we were on our way to Southwark underground station, we caught the train for about five stops, then I tried to navigate the final walk on my phone. After a false start due to coming out of the wrong tube station exit we were back on track and then at Victoria Docks.

Amazingly when we got there a couple of ladies were getting undressed down to bathing costumes, and later we saw them swimming in the water.

They aren't in the water in this picture, but what a crazy place for a swim.

Just around the corner was the start of the parkrun, and we had to run two laps along the left hand side of the photo.

It was a very cold and windy day, and not a huge turnout, but Darren was 32nd and I was 59th.

Finally we just had to reverse the journey, get some breakfast, then the train back to Bicester, walk home from the station and then put our feet up. 

Ps, nice run with great views of the docks, the cable car and the Millennium Dome. 

Build It awards 2021

Such an exciting night last night. The Graven Hill development company entered our house into the Build It magazine awards for 2021. A couple of months ago they sent round their photographer to get some good shots and filled in the application form for us.

A few weeks ago we found out that we had been shortlisted, and that the winners would be announced at an Oscar style event in the Bankside Hilton in London!

Graven Hill had a table for ten that was paid for by the architects who design the groundworks for the development.

Everyone on our table was lovely and was there to cheer us on, as well as Dave, another resident entered into a different category to us.

All of the drinks were paid for and lots to go round, and the dinner was great too.

Half of the awards were announced before the dinner, but we were on afterwards. The room had definitely got more rowdy by the time our Best Brick House category was announced....... 

....... Drum roll...... And we won๐Ÿพ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿฅ‚๐Ÿฅ‚๐Ÿฅ‚

We went up to collect our prize, and to have many photographs taken by the official photographer that I am guessing will appear in the Build It magazine's next issue. 

Back home now and we are not cool enough to put our trophy in the downstairs toilet which is I think what a lot of Oscar winners do, and it already has pride of place on the bookshelf in our living room. 

The magazine have issued a full list of the winners on line, and it's not that I am not pleased for them too, but here is our photo. 

Prepare yourselves as I might go on about this for quite a while.