Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Things are different...

I'm now well and truly back to my 'normal' life and it prompted me to think about some differences that I noticed between here and Ireland and to tell you about some differences I am making in my life...
First, it gets darker later in Donegal. When I first arrived in early July it wasn't getting dark until 11pm; then 10pm and the week we left it was dark by 9pm. I notice it's dark here by 8pm.

This is known as a boreen in Ireland - a little narrow country road often with grass growing up the middle of it!
The second thing is the difference in the country side between here and Ireland. Of course, there are similarities, too. The fields in Ireland seem larger but I think this is due to the lack of hedgerows dividing the fields. I don't think Ireland was affected by the Enclosures Act of the eighteenth century in the same way as England was. Some fields in Ireland have dry stone walls as enclosures and some have wire fences but mostly there seems to be little in the way of hedgerows except those that abut the roads.

 And that brings me to the next difference. Whilst the hedgerows by the roads are in many cases very similar to those here; what is beautiful and different about the ones in Ireland is that frequently they are made up of Fuchsia bushes (see above and below). Also in Donegal, in August,  orange Monbretia/Crocosmia flowers are everywhere in the hedgerows, and I do mean everywhere.

Purple loosesrife
And then still on the subject of hedgerows; add in the Purple Loose strife that flowers everywhere too, and the hedgerows are an absolute riot of colour; fuchsia pink, bright orange and purple; like a 1960s psychedelic dress! Groovy hedges baby!

Interestingly, fuchsia originates from China and Monbretia from South Africa so I am assuming that these were originally garden plants that became wild and then rampant in Ireland.

There are many, many other wildflowers in the hedgerows and one of the things I did was to photograph them and try to identify them using a wildflower book. I did have a lot of time on my hands and I do like to learn new things. It's good for the ageing brain...

While I was in Ireland I did, of course, go charity shopping and in a variety of places. I went to Donegal town, Killybegs, Ballyboffy, Stranorlar, Sligo, Strabane, Derry, Castle Island and Tralee in  Co.Kerry. I was trying to be restrained as to what I bought as I have lots and lots of clothes already, but here's the list of what I bought while I was there:

A black linen Gudrun Sjoden coat for 6.00 euros. My best bargain!
Three tunics - 1 Anthropologie and 1 other seen in previous post and 1 pictured below
Two pairs of trousers - 1 of which I left in the caravan

3 pairs of shoes; I pink, 1 yellow and 1 patterned - the patterned ones were 1.00 euro in the St Vincent De Paul in Donegal town. The other two were 3.00 euros in the Killybegs charity shop.

1 plain black shirt -  Jumble sale 1.00 euro - I needed this!
I handbag - Jumble sale - 1.00 euro

1 green patterned dress - Animal charity shop in Donegal;  3.00 euros.

A silver matching dress and coat - £8.00 in St. Vincent De Paul, Strabane.

I night dress
1 pair of summer PJs
4 kimonos (Yes, I'm afraid I bought 4)
A couple of necklaces; 3 brooches at a car boot sale and a couple of bangles

I expect you're saying if that's how she shows restraint what does non restraint look like!!

This is was what I wore on Monday to the Red Cross.

The tunic is one of the two I bought in Ireland in a Donegal charity shop for 3.00 euros. The trousers and top underneath the tunic are charity shopped; trousers by Oasis and top by Primarni. Shoes from PJ shoes in Kempston now on their third year of wear...

Now the weather has turned cooler it was a good opportunity to wear the red sleeveless jacket that my cousin Linda bought me in April - from a charity shop of course!

All jewellery charity shopped except earrings; present from grandson's mum and watch; Christmas present

When I began to unpack from my stay in Ireland, I was quite horrified at how many clothes I do have and here I was adding more with my purchases from Ireland. I did clear out quite a few items and as I transition my wardrobe over to more autumnal (read warmer) clothes; I will be clearing out more. But I am definitely going to reduce what I buy. I know I have said this several times before but I am determined this time. Another difference! I will no longer go to charity shops on a weekly basis as I have been doing although it doesn't help when you volunteer in two charity shops...I was very good on Monday and only bought one dress and it wasn't even for me! I shall go for a rummage about once a month with OH and will buy only what is an absolute bargain or what I absolutely love. Watch this space...

I will put what I would have spent in the charity shops towards more cultural things. I'm determined to make more use of my National railcard (one third off) and go to more exhibitions, museums and art galleries in London. I want to go to the theatre more often and I want to go to more live gigs. This week I  am making a start as I am going to a local exhibition of Edward Bawden's work; 'Bawden by the Sea' on Thursday.

Tuesday's outfit  worn to the Guild House - everything charity shopped.

I bought the cardigan at the Red Cross for £1.00. The gold pumps were 99p in Barnardo's in Great Denham. Can't remember where I got the tunic and trousers from.

All jewellery charity shop except earrings donated by my daughter and the watch.

This leads quite nicely into the volunteering developments or more accurately difference I mentioned in my previous post.

 I found out last week that the Red Cross shop in Bedford is to close; probably at the end of October when the lease is up. Once again the raised cost of rents is proving to be unaffordable; on top of that there have been problems with the premises for several years. Flooding, leaks, electrical issues and flooring problems; the repair bills have been huge. I shall have to move on. Only this time I've decided I won't look for a replacement charity shop but just continue with my other volunteering activities on a Tuesday and leave Mondays for the school run and after school care for my youngest grandson.  Then this Tuesday I found out that my colleague at the Guild House will be leaving at Christmas and I've decided I will as well. There isn't that much to do there; the shop  only opens on a Saturday and I do quite a lot of ironing when I'm there on alternate Tuesdays which I won't miss at all!

I've had two weeks of volunteering at our local library shelving books which I've enjoyed. I've also answered quite a few queries from the public which is very satisfying.  I shall stick with volunteering at the library every Tuesday afternoon and the food bank on alternate Tuesday mornings and spend the extra time I will have from not volunteering in the charity shops doing more reading, walking and crocheting.

I got a lot of crocheting done in Ireland.

There are 100 hexagons like this needing the tails sewn in, then they have to be sewn together and a border made.

I started and finished this V stitch blanket. Hilary helped me sew the tails in on this one.

I finished this Lazy Waves blanket but now I still have sew all the tails in...

This was my first 'Knit for Peace' blanket finished earlier this year.

The final difference is that I've decided to blog less often. I've been blogging for almost two years now. I love it and love reading your blogs, but oh my goodness it's time consuming! I am spending an awful lot of time on the laptop which means I read less than I like - I read 25 books when I was in Ireland. I also have to rely on OH to take photos and it's usually quite late in the day when that happens. The ideal time would be in the morning when I am dressed and made up but OH is usually long gone by then! Weekend photos will be fine and I may ask for a tripod for Christmas so I can take my own photos when I want. I am planning to post about twice a month rather than weekly. So after this post you won't hear from me for about a fortnight but I'll do my best to keep up with your blogs and comment when I can.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Back to life, back to reality...

Hello again everyone! I hope you've had a wonderful summer.

Back to life, back to reality is the title of a song by Soul II Soul and it perfectly sums up how I felt on my return to the UK last weekend! After eight weeks of holidaying in Ireland with no responsibilities, no commitments and just the need to amuse myself, it was back to household chores; volunteering, grand parenting, school runs, Lidl and Sainsbury's shopping, child minding etc etc. As you can tell I had the most marvellous time in Ireland and I really didn't want to leave. I did miss the children and grandchildren terribly, though...

The photo above was taken on our last day in Donegal and it turned out to be a lovely sunny day. I'm wearing my (charity shopped) Primarni kimono over charity shopped green top and trousers. I bought the necklace in a Derry charity shop for £3.00.

Here I am with my cousin Doirin and her husband, John. We went out for a farewell meal on our last evening.  That's Bundoran, Co. Donegal in the background. Doirin is a fashionista with a love for bright colours, sparkle and glitter. All my cousins are tiny and I always feel like a giant next to them even though I'm only five foot three inches!

The first few weeks in July were very pleasant weather wise. It was sunny and there wasn't much rain. I managed to sit out on the decking and enjoy the weather which is not always possible in Ireland...

Everything is charity shopped; necklace a present from OH bought on a Kettering charity shop rummage earlier this year.

A selfie in Killybegs.
Jumper by Marisoto bought for 4 euros in a Donegal town charity shop - it  must have been a cooler day.

Another sunny day -  again in Killybegs. Purple top by Monsoon; charity shopped in the UK for 1.00.

I spent the first fortnight on my own in Ireland and then Hilary came and spent a week with me. We had a great time walking, sightseeing, eating out, talking, reading...

We went to visit Slieve League cliffs (Sliabh Liag in Gaelic) - the highest in Europe, apparently. Here's Hilary looking very relaxed on our ascent to the cliff top.

Here's a view from further up the climb.


We also visited Glencolumcille Folk Park which I discovered last year. See here for photos. This switchboard was in one of the cottages in the folk park as an example of how things used to be. My second job in 1970 aged sixteen and a half involved the use of a very similar switchboard - a 'Dolls Eye' PMBX switchboard; so called because the extensions flipped up and down like a doll's eye! 

We visited Donegal castle.

There were some lovely sunsets.

When Hilary went back to the UK I was on my own until OH came out for the last two weeks. In the meantime I met up with a range of cousins and attended a family christening and a couple of the cousins came to visit me...

This is Martina and Caroline - we went to Slieve League and Glencolumkille again.

Here's me and Caroline. Tunic bought in a Donegal town charity for 3 euros.

Martina is a hairdresser and she cut my hair for me.

I bought the pink suede shoes in a Donkey Sanctuary charity shop in Ballyboffey, Co. Donegal. Purple shirt from the £1.00 rail at the Red Cross.

I visited my maternal aunts in Leitrim along with cousins Doirin and Linda and we stopped at a tiny little chapel in Carrick on Shannon on the way. This tiny chapel was built by one man for his wife and it is rather beautiful - as are the cousins!

When OH arrived in Ireland we went to Galway and stayed over night and explored Galway town and Galway Bay. This is the Spanish Arch at Galway Bay. 

I saw Dunlins and Oystercatchers at Galway Bay and got very excited as I always do when I see a species of bird I've not seen before - or in the case of Oystercatchers, not for a while.

I'm wearing an Anthropologie tunic I bought in a Donegal town charity shop for 7.00 euros and I bought my handbag at a jumble sale in Sligo for 1.00 euro! I was on my way to my cousin's in Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo (below) when I spotted the sign and popped in....

Here's himself with Galway Bay in the background.

We then set off to stay with cousin Linda, in Co. Kerry for a few days. We drove round the Ring of Kerry and on the way visited Kells Bay Gardens.

The gardens were beautiful and some trees had been carved into 7 different dinosaurs for the children to find. This is me, Linda and one of the dinosaurs. 
I bought the kimono in a charity shop in Galway for 4.00 euros. 

The gardens were filled with tropical trees and plants which seemed weird in south west Ireland but no different, I suppose, to tropical trees and plants in parts of Cornwall in the UK.

We also stopped at Torc Waterfall as part of our drive around the Ring of Kerry.

And of course no trip to Ireland could be complete without a donkey. This beauty was seen on the Ring of Kerry drive and we just had to stop and say hello.

We had a relaxed week back in Donegal. We went out and about visiting relatives in Leitrim and Offaly, but stayed local the rest of the time. We had a walk around Eske Castle grounds in Co. Donegal. 

A friend from my Bedford walking group; the Ivel Valley Walkers, came to spend a day with us. He was in Ballymena in Northern Ireland visiting his niece. We went out for a five mile walk - naturally - and then went to have something to eat. It was lovely to see a visitor from the UK.

We visited Coral Beach at St. John's Point. I only managed one swim here this summer but it was wonderful.

We found this cave at St. John's Point and went exploring...we've been coming here for four years now and this is the first time we noticed it! We found several other caves but exploring those will have to wait for next year.

On another day we went to see the newly renovated St. John's Point Lighthouse cottages which are now open for holiday lets. They are rather lovely but very pricey - nearly 400 euros for a 2 night stay...

 Information about the lighthouse on St. John's Point:
A harbour light designed to guide sailors from Donegal Bay, St. John’s Point exhibited its first light in November 1831, almost 250 years after more than twenty doomed Spanish Armada ships sent by Philip II of Spain to invade England washed up on Irish shores – three of them across the bay on Streedagh Strand. With two light-keepers’ cottages, this lighthouse is set on one of the longest peninsulas in the country, looking towards Mullaghmore and the County Sligo coast, and out into the North Atlantic. 
See here for source.

 So that was my eight weeks in Ireland. I'm back to reality and back in the groove. There's been some developments on the volunteering front and I'll tell you all about them in my next post.

It's good to be back!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Good bye....for now

All jewellery charity shopped.
Our heatwave finally departed last Thursday. On Wednesday it was 31 degrees and by Thursday it was much cooler at around 20 -21 degrees, cloudier and with a slight breeze. Thank God, I said.

This was last Tuesday's outfit. I just wore the jacket to and from my volunteering and stayed sleeveless the rest of the time - bingo wings and all!

Everything charity shopped except the watch (present) and sandals which I bought in the Clark's sale about six or even seven summers ago. Note I'm not wearing any bangles in these photos but see below...

The cotton trousers are by F&F, the jacket is by M&S and charity shopped in Kettering just before Christmas 2016. I've had this sleeveless navy top for donkey's years...

On Monday and Tuesday I volunteered as usual at the Red Cross and the Food Bank. When I was at the Red Cross on Tuesday afternoon I finally began my training on the till. Whilst the manager was training me, my colleague; who had been previously been on the till went out to the sorting area and took over from me. I'd been sorting the jewellery. 

When I got home from the shop I realised I wasn't wearing my bangles. The last time I'd seen them they were on the sorting table at the shop; I always take them off as they get in the way when I'm writing the price labels. Yes, you've guessed it - my colleague had priced them up and put them out on display! Luckily, they weren't sold and I picked them up the next day.

I had my hair cut and eyebrows done on Wednesday and ran a few errands in town which included a visit to the 3:16 shop. I bought a tunic and a couple of winter items for 1.00 each. When I finished I came home and stayed in the coolest room in the house reading.  I didn't do the Weds evening Summer Solstice walk as it was still too hot at 8.30 pm.

 I've relegated these trousers to the charity shop bag. They always wrinkle around my calves
I don't know why...

I managed to get out for a walk on Thursday and walked almost 6 miles in a much cooler temperature. 

This was Thursday's outfit - everything charity shopped except the shoes which are from local retailer PJ shoes. Trousers; H & M; t shirt; 1.00 rail somewhere; green kimono jacket from a 50 p bin in a charity shop. What a bugger it was to iron - I can see why someone donated it! I've donated it too...

All jewellery charity shopped.

I passed this colourful front garden on my walk and had to take a picture of it.

On Friday the weather was cool again so I went for another walk after the school run. I started out from Great Denham; having had a look in Barnardo's first, then walked to Kempston Mill: along the river Great Ouse to the Queen's Park area of Bedford. From there I walked back to Great Denham along the the other side of the river; 6.42 miles in total. Queens Park has a beautiful Hindu temple:

And on the return journey I saw these magnificent, huge willow trees:

Everything charity shopped. The yellow tunic is from the 3:16 shop on Wednesday and I bought the beads in Barnardo's. Jeans from Red Cross charity shop.

I can't remember where I got the white lace top but I bought earlier this year somewhere. Sandals also charity shopped.

All jewellery charity shopped.

On Saturday OH wanted to go for a rummage. We had thought of going to London where we could fit in a visit to his mum but we ended up going to Luton and Dunstable instead!

Everything I'm wearing above is charity shopped except the sandals - my comfortable Clarks. The kimono is from Primarni; the top is a M&S one and white jeans are from Matalan.

All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings - from Sainsbury's.

My jacket was much admired by total strangers. They were very surprised when I told them where it came from. When I was last in Devon visiting Hilary I found another similar one - also by Primarni;  it had a beautiful print on it and Hilary bought it.

Of course you want to know if I bought anything. I did. I bought some interesting mustard colour cotton trousers in the Red Cross for 1.99; a blue kimono jacket from the 1.00 rail in Keech Hospice and some padded hangers; a pair of earrings and a yellow sleeveless top for 2.00 in Age Concern. (The earrings seem to have disappeared. I remember taking them out of the bag at home but haven't found them since - they'll turn up somewhere). There were only six charity shops in Luton town centre which I found surprising. Bedford is a smaller town and has twelve. Dunstable had about five charity shops and I din't buy anything in them. I don't think I will be rushing back to Luton or Dunstable for some rummaging any time soon...

On Monday I stayed at the Red Cross until it was time to pick the grandchildren up from school. Two of the volunteers were off to celebrate Eid and the manager had a day off leaving just myself and the assistant manager. There were so many donations to sort and I served at the till, too.

This is what I wore. Everything is charity shopped except my underwear - and you're not seeing that! Jacket; Next, 1.00 Red Cross, zebra print trousers from Barnardo's last week: 2.49. Next top; charity shopped last summer.

Sandals; charity shopped.

All jewellery; charity shopped.

This is going to be my last post for a while. On Saturday I'm going to drive to Holyhead and catch the ferry to Ireland on Sunday morning. I should reach the van about 4 pm having stopped off at Lidl to do some shopping. As I've said before the internet connection at the site is both weak and intermittent so I doubt that I'll be able to post more than once every couple of weeks and then only when I'm somewhere with free wifi.

I'm so looking forward to the next couple of months where I will just be chilling out; reading, crocheting, walking; visiting family, sight seeing and a bit of charity shopping of course! I'm looking forward to having a few visitors to stay. I shall miss my children and grandchildren and OH but I will see them in Ireland. Whatever transpires I'll be back in September so I hope you all have a wonderful summer.