Hello Everyone! It’s two weeks since my last blog and what a busy couple of weeks they’ve been. After working the whole weekend, I had Monday off and Miss F and I went grocery shopping for food for the week. Miss C, her girlfriend, was arriving on the 6:30pm train and we needed more supplies. Miss C is a vegetarian so after the carnivore binge of the previous week, I was quite looking forward to having a few meat-free meals – although they were eating out a lot so I wouldn’t be cooking many meals at home.
The rest of Monday was taken up with laundry, making beds, and tidying the house. In anticipation of Miss C’s arrival, I made a creamy garlicky potato gratin for dinner, which I cooked veggie sausages to go with plus veg.
After a very long train journey from Wales, Miss C arrived safely, and we all had dinner together. For dessert, Miss F had bought a Cadburys cream egg ice cream dessert which they ate. I’m not keen on cream eggs – I find them very sickly – and besides, I was full, so I didn’t have any.
The rest of the week was rather full-on, perhaps a little too full-on. I honestly can’t remember what happened on Tuesday. Something did, I’ve no doubt, and looking at my calendar I can see it wasn’t a workday, but as for what we did, I am clueless. It must be old age creeping up on me that’s making me so forgetful.
On Wednesday we were going to visit a stately home called Kentwell Hall which is about a 40-minute drive away. However, confusion about whether the house was open as well as the gardens, plus concerns over using that much petrol, and a weather forecast of rain that afternoon, had us staying closer to home and visiting Ickworth Park instead.
A beautiful regency building with a glorious rotunda, Ickworth is only a 10-minute drive away, so we collected my friend on route and arrived there just before eleven. Wandering around the beautiful grounds, it was a lovely day. The sun was shining and there were lots of others out enjoying the fine spring weather.
After exhausting the grounds, we joined the long queue to have lunch, which was nice, but like most of these kinds of places, very pricey for what it was. After lunch, we viewed the parts of the house the public is allowed into. Lots of red and gold abounded in every room and eventually, we found ourselves in the little second-hand bookshop they have. To my great surprise, a copy of The Book of Eve was on the shelves! I have no idea how it got there and sadly it was the old edition. Now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t contact them and offer to swap it with a copy of the newest edition with its gorgeous new cover.
Driving back into town, the skies were darkening and as I dropped my friend off it began to rain. Undaunted, we then went to the next village along and visited some antique and vintage barns there which are fun to wander about and look at all the old things for sale. I didn’t buy anything, but Miss F bought some books.
That evening, Miss F’s godmother dropped in for a drink and a chat. Normally, we’d pop open a bottle of Prosecco, but as she was driving and I was exhausted and had work the next day, we decided to stick to coffee.
The following day I had to work until 6pm and Miss F and Miss C caught the bus to the restaurant Miss F used to work at and treated themselves to lunch there. Afterwards, they caught the bus to the village where my parents live and visited with them until I collected them after I’d finished work.
The next day was Good Friday but of course, I had to work. Since the other part-timer left I’ve had to work all the bank holidays as we used to share the minor ones between us. Luckily, it was only until 4:30pm and rushing home for a quick turnaround, we were standing out on the road having a drink with my neighbours at 6:30pm when my parents, my brother, my niece, and her boyfriend turned up ready to go out for dinner.
I’d chosen where we were going and decided the pub that my friend and I always have dinner at before going to the theatre would be best. I’ve always had great meals there and the menu is extensive enough to please even the pickiest of eaters in our group.
Have you ever eaten somewhere and it’s really good, so you recommend it, and then when you go back in a bigger group it’s not so good? This was what happened Friday. The pub was crowded and noisy – Covid, what Covid is that then? Our food was brought out promptly enough, but it was cold. I’d chosen the roast chicken, but it was so dry I could barely choke it down. My mother had gone for lasagne which came with a watercress garnish that looked like it had been out of the bag and dead for a week!
My brother offered to pay on his card, get the receipt, then we’d all figure out what we owed him later. So, I didn’t see the receipt until we were drinking coffee back at mine when it was too late to do anything about it. We’d pre-ordered our meals, and they were all listed correctly on the receipt, along with all our drinks. But, on the bottom of the receipt, it listed six extra portions of fries at £3.19 each which we hadn’t had.
Don’t worry about it, my brother said, but I did worry about it. It was almost £20 extra we’d been charged for food we didn’t have, add that to the general dissatisfaction with our meals, and I was not a happy bunny.
I was working again the next day so couldn’t do anything about it. Getting home at almost five and expecting guests at 6:30pm, I was annoyed to find the two things I’d messaged Miss F to do – namely, empty all the bins and get the washing in – had not been done. The kitchen was trashed with their pizza things from lunch, the place needed a vacuum, and, to add insult to injury, Miss F and Miss C sloped off back to bed for a nap because they were tired.
Fuming angrily at the general unfairness of life, I changed out of my uniform and set to with a vengeance.
It’s amazing what one woman can do when she’s up against the clock and spitting feathers mad. By the time our guests arrived at 6:30pm, I’d not only got the laundry in, folded it, and put it away, but I’d emptied all the bins, tidied and cleaned the kitchen, scrubbed the bathroom, vacuumed the whole ground floor, and put on the dishwasher.
Miss F’s excuse for her laziness? She didn’t see my message. Hmm, funny that. Given that she’d answered the message.
Our guests were another niece and her new boyfriend. We had a rather raucous evening of games complete with gin, wine, and an enormous Chinese takeaway. Thank heavens I had Easter Sunday off!
Although the forecast had said the Sunday wouldn’t be a great day, it dawned bright and sunny and I stripped my bed, did a whites wash and got it all out on the line before Miss F and Miss C even poked their noses out of the bedroom. I’d bought bags of mini chocolate eggs which I hid all around the garden, and then I prepared a picnic of all the veggie snacks and nibbles left in the fridge and freezer, which we took to Nowton Park which is a lovely big country park a short drive away.
Being such a lovely day and Easter, the park was packed with families having picnics and lots of people walking dogs of every size, shape, and colour. Being animal lovers, of course, we had to say hello to every single dog we encountered.
It was so nice being out in the fresh air. I don’t do it nearly enough. I ambled along behind the others, enjoying the feeling of the sun on my face, and looking at the plants and the birds. I should get out more, but there never seems the time, and it all feels a bit of an effort when there’s only me.
Mind you, it felt like we were on a route march the speed at which those two went! They were constantly having to stop and wait for me.
Returning home, I made a coffee and took it into the garden, then watched in amusement as they scurried about trying to find all the eggs. Then we chilled out for the rest of day watching old films and I made cheeseburgers and fries for dinner – veggie and otherwise.
It was a nice relaxing day which I hadn’t realised I needed as badly as I did. What with all the overtime I’ve been doing, plus the stress and full-on intensity of having Miss F home, I was in danger of overdoing things.
Monday being another bank holiday, of course, I was back to work, but it was a short shift of six hours which meant I only got a twenty-minute lunch break – not long enough to phone the pub about the extra fries. There had been enough Chinese left to make one lunchtime portion which I took to work on Monday and heated in the microwave. It made a tasty change from sandwiches but stank the staffroom out. Sorry, everyone.
Miss F and Miss C made burritos for dinner, and they were delicious, but of course, they hadn’t bothered to pack a single thing during the day, so I didn’t get to spend the last evening with them. Instead, they were frantically trying to fit everything into their cases, and stomping all over the house searching for things they’d lost or forgotten about.
Early start Tuesday. I dropped them both at the station to catch the 10:20am train and then went straight to work for an 11-7 shift. Arriving at work almost thirty minutes before my shift started meant I was able to phone the pub. I spoke to the manager himself and he was horrified that we’d been charged for food we hadn’t had. But was the meal okay, he asked, and I hesitated. I hate complaining about things, but, he had asked, so I told him the truth. It was cold, my chicken was dry, and the watercress garnish was dead.
He couldn’t have been more apologetic. He would, of course, refund the money for the fries with a little extra for our disappointment. The only problem was as it was my brother who had paid, he needed my brother’s card to refund back onto. Would my brother be going to the pub any time soon? Knowing the answer to this was probably no, I suggested a gift card. This pub is part of a local brewery chain with pubs everywhere, including the pub in the village where my brother lives.
Of course, the manager agreed happily. A card for £30 would be behind the bar waiting for someone to collect it – that someone being me. At least the pub was obliging about the issue and this way my brother can use the card at his local pub for drinks and food.
Now I have to find the time and energy to walk all the way down there myself to collect the card.
Miss F texted that they’d arrived safely home after a smooth and uneventful train journey, and I came home to an empty and quiet house. Which was quite nice. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s been lovely having them here, but it was so frantic and full-on and so very peoply that it’s a relief to have some time alone.
I also worked Wednesday and Thursday, and by the time I crawled home Thursday evening I was exhausted and completely drained, and very much looking forward to my six days off.
Friday I allowed myself to have a lazy start to the day. Oh, I didn’t sleep in. That is too much to ask of my body and bladder, but I did make myself a cup of tea and take it back to bed. Lolling about like a sloth, I picked up my book Black Ice and began to read it. I’d forgotten how good it is and how much I enjoy the story. The rest of the day was taken up with shopping, laundry, more resting and a lot more reading. Later in the afternoon I popped out onto the street for a drink with the neighbours, then fixed myself a delicious dinner and had an early night.
And now it’s Saturday. I’ve been writing for most of the day and am very happy with the 5800 words I’ve managed to get down of my new project. Book five of the Blackwood Family Saga, this will be my fourteenth book published and I’m hoping to get a solid chunk of it written over the next few days.
Today has also been the first day of my renewed diet. Whilst Miss F was home it seemed pointless even trying to diet. There were so many nice meals at home and meals out planned I knew I wouldn’t be able to stick to the diet, so called a hiatus on it for the three weeks of the visit.
With trepidation, I stepped onto the scales this morning. I knew I’d put weight on, I could feel it in the way my clothes were fitting, but the question was – how much damage had I done to myself? Luckily, not too much. I’ve only put back on 4lbs. Not good, but so much better than it could have been.
So today, it’s back to yoghurt and fruit for breakfast, a big salad for lunch, and soup for dinner. Hopefully, a week of this might be enough to shift those rapidly gained few pounds and then I can seriously diet to get the weight off before summer.
And that’s it, you’re up to date with all my news, I think. Take care of yourselves, and I look forward to chatting with you next time.