Old But New

Saturday was a gloriously sunny and warm day here as, I expect,  it was for the UK too.

Usually at this time of year we are hunkered down at home, not because of the virus but because of the masses of bikers out and about on our roads having a whale of a time at the races.

A friend suggested that we meet up at their house, about 20 minutes drive along the  west coast, at 5;30 for drinks in the garden. We met up with them and the rest of our group of friends, all seated at a safe distance with our cool bags of beers and bubbles, glasses and nibbles.

We spent a wonderful hour and a half chatting, drinking and enjoying each other's company before each setting off back home. Along quiet roads with views of the hills and sun reflected on the sparkling sea.

We used to meet up on a regular basis and took it for granted. Saturday evening's get together was almost like old times, but not quite. No hugs or getting too close, but still getting closer to how life should be.


What To Do On A Sunny Saturday?

Obviously, you dress up as a dog and do a lap of the TT course in temperatures of 22C.

Image taken from Manx Radio

Today should have been the first Practice Day for this year's TT races, which have been cancelled for obvious reasons, so the course should have been thronged with bikes, bikers and all manner of petrol heads.  In this year of COVID19 however, all is quiet so a local teacher decided to dress up in a rather warm costume and walk a lap of the course to raise money for Rebecca House, the children's hospice.

Good for him.  I hope he manages to raise lots of money for a good cause but I bet he wishes that the weather was more typical of TT fortnight with grey skies and cool breezes.


Getting Better

We have had no new cases of the virus recorded here for more than a week. There are no COVID19 patients now in hospital and only 3 confirmed cases currently self isolating in the community.

More restrictions are due to be relaxed within the next week or two and things are slowly getting back to a more normal footing, but it is early days still.

There is no date yet for the reopening of our border, thankfully, as the situation across the water is not so stable.  We can't afford to open the gates to a second wave which would swamp our very limited resources.

Onwards and upwards.

No photo description available.

Pretty Things

After several days of cool, grey, overcast weather we now have warm, hazy sunshine.

I have ventured out into the garden today wearing my homemade face mask for my hay fever.  Strange to think that if I had done so this time last year I would have been considered very peculiar (well  more than usual that is), but now many people are wearing them and it seems commonplace.

The trees, shrubs and flowers have moved on from the gentle spring blooms to the start of the more colourful offerings of early summer.

The veg patch is starting to show promise with our first strawberries already picked and everything else filling out nicely.

There is a song thrush perched at the top of our highest tree, singing his little heart out.  It must be loud if I can hear him without my hearing aids.

I couldn't resist capturing some of it with my 'phone camera. Not great pictures but the flowers make me happy.
















Food Again

Being confined to base for much of the time means that I seem to think about food more than is good for my waistline.  As a follower of Good Housekeeping Magazine on Instagram, I  was interested in a quick and easy recipe video that cropped up on my feed yesterday and thought that I would give it a try, with a few tweaks.  Here it is for anyone that may be interested.


  1. Cut salmon fillets into cubes
  2. Cut courgette into coin shape slices
  3. Mix curry paste (I didn't have any so I mixed curry powder with a squeeze of tomato puree and a squirt of lemon juice) with yogurt (I used a 0% fat Greek yogurt called Fage)
  4. Coat the salmon cubes with the curry mix
  5. Thread alternate salmon cubes and courgette slices onto skewers
  6. Grill for around 15 minutes, until salmon is cooked and crispy on the outside


I served this with a hot lemon, chive, potato and broad bean salad.

It was rated a hit by my lord and master.




What's That Funny Smell?

I awoke sometime between 12 - 1 a.m. and noticed a very peculiar smell in the room.  It was very much like the aroma of stale cigarettes that clings to the clothing and hair of a heavy smoker.

Neither P nor I have ever been smokers so it would definitely not have come from one of us, and it wasn't there when we went to bed.

I have often woken and noticed the distinctive smell of mice when they have once again infiltrated our loft, but this was something different.

It had disappeared by this morning and I thought that perhaps it was just something to do with my hay fever allergy, however, when I mentiuoned it to P he said that he had noticed it too.

Very strange.

Another Lazy Bank Holiday

After yesterday's long walk I feel quite lazy today so another very boring post from me.

It is a public holiday today, not that it makes much difference at the moment, so I suppose there will be quite a few people out and about.  We have no plans to go anywhere or do anything much today.

I don't know what the weather is like across the water but it is still very windy here with low cloud and only 15C so not very appealing.  P has finished all his outdoor chores for today and is braving the cool winds, sitting outside with his book and a cup of tea.

My niece's little boy is two years old today and they are having a lockdown party at home for him.  I suppose he is too young to miss having lots of friends and family to celebrate with.  I think my sister will be watching the festivities via Messenger video.

Next week the gift shop plans to reopen so I shall be back volunteering there each Friday.  It will give me something to look forward to each week, and motivation to get dressed before midday.  (Slovenly;  me?)

Get Moving

As our lockdown restrictions have been eased a little more this week, our group of 6 "girls"  (aged between 63 - 70+) arranged to resume our Sunday morning walks, albeit following social distancing guidelines by keeping 2 metres apart.

We met at a breezy Fenella Beach in Peel this morning and set off along the promenade, then out of town, along the lanes to join the old railway trail and back into Peel. Somehow we missed the correct turning (talking too much?) So instead of leaving the trail at the final bridge we had carried on until we met the main road, adding an extra 2 miles to our intended route.

I was already fading fast by this point and had started to feel a blister forming on the ball of my foot so another 25 minutes was quite daunting.  Still, I managed to keep up and at the end of our two and a half hour walk we finally made it back to the beach, where we retrieved our flasks of coffee from our cars and sat at a picnic bench to chat and recover. Two of our group had brought folding chairs so that we could all remain the correct distance apart.

Back home to shower, have lunch and now I feel like a snooze.



At Last

Our local library reopens today.  We were able to take a stack of books on the day that they closed for lockdown and have just finished the last one this week, so that was good timing.

Our lovely librarian rang this morning to let us know that they were now open, on a limited basis.

We are not allowed to enter the library to browse but we can request books and then go to collect them at the door.

She is putting together a selection of half a dozen books for us, based on our usual preferences, and we can call on Tuesday to collect them.  They will be passed to us in a plastic bag.  The books to be returned are to be put into a bag and placed in a wheelie bin by the library door.

Not quite back to normal just yet but we are getting there.


Blowing In The Wind

Gale force winds here today and forecast to continue into tomorrow.

The ferry is cancelled so no food deliveries to the supermarkets.

This very short little video was taken just now from my sofa. You can see a few leaves that have been ripped from the trees and are swirling around outside the door.  A couple of the garden chairs have been blown over, but no point in picking them up yet. They will just end up on the floor again.

Back to my sewing then



Not Much

... happening today.

P was gardening. I was sewing.

The Great British Heatwave eventually crept up here by mid afternoon so it is now pleasantly warm but not too hot.  Just right for sitting outside with a G&T.

I have taken one of the tubs of local crab from the freezer and we are having a crab, lime and chilli risotto for supper.

Cheers.
Great ways to make a superior G&T - Telegraph

Moving On

This week sees the next phase of reducing some of our lockdown measures over here.  The number of virus cases has fallen and our government is cautiously testing the water by loosening the restrictions a little more.

Non-essential retail outlets are now allowed to open, provided they follow the distancing guidelines, and we are now allowed to meet in groups of up to 10 people, as long as we each keep at least 2 metres apart and don't enter anyone else's home.

I still can't get my hair cut as hairdressers and "lifestyle" businesses are still not allowed to reopen but I have taken to wearing hairbands and clips now to keep it all off my face.

I had a call from the volunteer coordinator at the Wildlife Trust to say that they are planning on reopening the gift shop and would I be willing to go back.  It seems that they are not happy for the over-70s amongst us to resume volunteering so that just leaves 4 of us youngsters to (wo)man the shop.  The shop has already been fitted with a plexiglass screen around the till and I am assured that there will be santising equipment provided.  If they can get a rota organised with enough volunteers they may be able to open with restricted days and hours.  Perhaps as early as next week I could be returning to some kind of pre-lockdown normality.

Watch this space.


A Handsome Chap

My sister shared this photo with me recently.

It is Dad as a teenager just before he was called up to do his National Service.

I may be biased(!) but I think he was a handsome chap.

He would have been 86 this year if unfortunate circumstances hadn't  taken him away too early, aged 71.  At least he is no longer around to experience this latest threat .

I still miss him.

Funerals


I woke up around 1 a.m.  and couldn't get back to sleep. My brain was just fizzing with a jumble of abstract, totally meaningless rubbish.

As I lay there in the dark I began to think about funerals of all things. Earlier in the day I had read an article in the Saturday newspaper supplement where the writer described the funeral held for their father who had recently died from COVID 19.  I was thinking about what I had read and, from there, my brain moved on to all the funerals I had attended over the past 14 years, starting with that of my own father.  All of them were different in some ways (mostly humanist and some church services)  but essentially still the same, if that makes sense?

That led me to consider what sort of funeral I would like.  After musing on things such as readings and music it struck me that it was all a waste of time.   I certainly wouldn't be able to appreciate it and, if it happens to take place in the near future, P is likely to be the only person there.

With that happy thought I eventually drifted off to sleep.







A Happy Bunny

That's me... now that our essential supplies have arrived, courtesy of the giant Amazon.


A whole freezer drawer dedicated to coffee.


I even sneaked in a little present for myself when ordering ...


A Wasted Journey

Wednesday is Old Fogies' Discount Day at B&Q so, as we apparently are in need of some more woodstain for our decking, P decided to venture into Douglas to do all the errands that he has been saving up.

He wanted to:

  1. go to the bank to deposit a Premium Bond prize -  a whole £25!!!  (our local bank branch has closed down temporarily so we have to go into town now)
  2. visit B&Q to buy some green woodstain
  3. stock up on some of the foodstuffs that we can only get at Tesco
  4. fill the petrol can for the lawn mower

The bank wasn't even open, but there was already a queue outside of around 10 people so he gave up.

B&Q was open, but they didn't have any woodstain on the shelves.

The queue to get into Tesco was out of the car park and around the road towards the bus station so he didn't bother with that either.  We don't need anything quite that desperately.

But - he managed to fill the petrol can!

A 20 mile round trip and 1 out of 4 errands completed.   Marvellous!





Another Wednesday

Each week now seems to merge into another and, as others have said on other blogs, we are trying to establish some sort of routine to make sense of the time passing.

At the moment, this appears to centre around the once a week shopping day and what to have for supper.

P has been keeping himself occupied by giving his basement workshop a thorough overhaul. All his junk was moved into the storeroom, the walls re-rendered and painted and the cracks in the concrete floor have been filled in.  The shelves have been moved against another wall and the winter log pile has been cleaned up and rearranged.  He is now moving the ride on mower and other assosrted man-stuff back into the now tidy space.  Recently, a large branch fell from one of the sycamore trees behind the house so he has dragged that down into the garden and is happily sawing that up into logs for next winter.

I thought that I would occupy myself with some more sewing.  I had enough fabric left over from my dress to make a top or sleeveless blouse but, in the absence of a suitable paper pattern, I thought that I would make it up as I go along, using a top that I already have for the outline.   Not too sure that this was a good idea but I am halfway there.    It keeps me busy anyway.

So, if it's Wednesday then it must be sardine pasta tonight. 


Canned Sardine | Tinned Sardines | Sardine in Oil - Indofish

My "Cheats" Spanish Supper

Monday. What to cook tonight?  Fed up with the same old, same old, and trying to think of something different.

I took a pack of fish pie mix from the freezer. It is produced by our local fish market and generally consists of various offcuts of salmon, white and smoked fish.  Good quality and good value too.

I decided to try a Spanish theme but used several shortcuts.

For the fish "cocido"  I just put the fish pie mix into a chef's pan along with a selection of frozen veg - baby broad beans, spinach and sliced mixed peppers - added three generous teaspoons of a red pesto sauce from Sainsburys and a good slug of white wine. Brought to a boil, put the lid on then simmered gently for 15-20  minutes.  The sauce was still a little too runny for my liking so I stirred in a generous spoonful of oat bran, stirred and let that thicken it.

At the same time I had cooked some "Papas Bravas" to go with it.  Just scrubbed two large potatoes. Microwaved them until just done in the centre, then cubed them and tossed them in a bowl with some olive oil, dried chilli flakes, ground cumin and coriander, mixed herbs and some mixed seeds.  Spread them onto a metal tray then grilled them for 15-20 minutes while the fish was cooking.  They became nicely toasted and crunchy.

Just like being back in Spain(!)     Buen provecho.


FOR YP:






Prepare To Be Underwhelmed....

.... by the fruits of my weekend's activity.

I don't think I'll be winning any awards on The Great British Sewing Bee.


Coffee

I am extremely partial to a large mug or two of freshly brewed coffee every morning.  We get through a fair amount of the stuff each week. It's one of the things that keeps me going.

My preferred brand is Lavazza Rossa ground coffee, which we brew in our old drip feed machine, using (unbleached) paper filters.  I am not keen on the Nespresso pod type coffees.

For the past week or so we have noticed that there has been none of the Lavazza coffee, nor the paper filters, on the local supermarket  shelves.  Shock, horror!  We may run out of the stuff!

This week we have had to resort to ordering it online from Amazon,  the only place that will deliver it here at a reasonable cost. 

I hope this is not a sign of an imminent worldwide coffee shortage.  I shall be forced to resort to gin.







My Excitement For The Day

The postman delivered a parcel for me on Thursday.

It was the inexpensive fabric I had ordered to kickstart my sewing hobby again.

The last outfit I made for myself was back in the late 1980s so my sewing skills are now quite rusty  - as are my old pins and needles.

I have been watching a few YouTube tutorials,  something we didn't have back then, so I am hoping I don't make too much of a mess.  I have two different fabric designs and two dress patterns to try.

If all goes well I may order some better quality fabric and try something different next time. 

I fancy a red dress perhaps.


Visitors

Over here, we are now in the cautious first stage of a slight easing of the lockdown restrictions.

Certain sectors, such as construction and fishing, have been allowed to go back to work with the obvious precautions enforced. 

We are also now allowed to have visitors to our homes.  A maximum of two visitors - NOT allowed to enter the house but can meet over the gate/wall/fence or in the garden, maintaining a minimum distance of 2 metres at all times.

Yesterday was a beautiful, warm sunny day and two friends sent a text message to say that they would be passing our house in the afternoon on their cycle ride and would we be happy for them to stop for a distance chat?   I immediately replied YES!   I haven't seen anyone apart from P for the past few weeks .

They parked their bikes in the drive and we invited them to walk around the path at the side of the house and meet us in the back garden, where we had set up two tables and chairs the required distance apart.  We chatted for an hour and a half in the sun.

I felt so stupidly excited just to see and speak with friends, even though it was not quite a normal situation.


A Taxing Time

Rachel has inspired me to make a start on something that I have been putting off for some time now.  Completing our tax return.

We now do this online so it is meant to be simple, however, this year I seem to be struggling.  I can't concentrate and don't seem able to find all the necessary documents.  I get half way through before I realise that there is something missing and then lose interest and give up.

In previous years this particular task, although tedious, has only taken me half a day but somehow it has been dragging on for days now.  It's not even as if we have a particularly complicated financial situation.  Just a few small pensions, savings, and our casual B&B income.

P has just started on a project out in the garden so I am forcing myself to get stuck into sorting out all the paperwork.

Hope to see you all on the other side.

Painful Piles of Paperwork | KMT Partners

Leftovers

During these unusual times, I seem to be thinking more and more about food.  And eating  more of it than is usual.  Must be the incipient boredom.

Sunday evening we had leftovers.  I dug around in the freezer to examine what was in all those plastic tubs. Was there anything that would be enough for two?  Was there anything that both of us would fancy eating?

One of the tubs had venison casserole written on the lid so that was duly defrosted ready for supper.  On opening the lid, I discovered the contents had only 4 small pieces of meat left; the rest was the thick broth.  So, I opened a tin of butter beans and added that to the mix. Then I thought about perhaps cooking some potatoes to go with it, so I scrubbed two spuds and cut them into thick slices, added a tablespoon of olive oil, some mixed seeds and dried herbs and gave it all a good shake, then cooked them in the oven while the venison and bean mix was reheating.

Perhaps I overdid it.

Full Stomach Clipart





Yum


This day in 2018 we were on holiday in Kuala Lumpur.  Walking around the food court looking for something for lunch we spied these delicacies on offer.

Fried intestines anyone?





Blooming Saturday

Now that the showers have blown away it is a lovely sunny morning today.

It is bluebell season and our garden and tiny patch of woodland is now a sea of blue.  The rhododendrons are also in full, blowsy flower, looking like huge wedding bouquets.

Yorkshire Pudding beat me to it with his lovely bluebell pictures here.  I can't compete with his photos but these are mine  taken right outside the kitchen door just now.