I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










A little sunshine


The hospital-related activities of last week together with a funeral left me feeling in need of some light relief by the time Thursday came around.  Thankfully, it was a WI week, so a fun evening promised to lift the spirits and a lunch date with an old friend on Friday followed through nicely.




Such things are a reminder of the important things in life, for as I listened to the eulogy at the funeral I wished I could chat to Margaret once again, about some of the things I didn’t know about her life and to get to know her a little better.  It’s not the first time I’ve left a funeral and felt sad that it was too late to learn more: a useful reminder to spend more time with friends whose company I cherish.




More fun on Saturday too, with a fish and chip date before going to the opera at the cinema in Cheltenham to see La Traviata live from the Met in New York.





We loved it – and were not alone.  A fantastic set design and marvellous performances from the whole cast.  Even if we thought Alfredo was a bit wet, at least he had a great voice!  Of course, it’s not a story with the happiest of endings (!) but at least in this production Violetta held her own until the very last gasp and left the audience similarly breathless.  Only on the way home did we realise that Ellis and Mary were at the cinema in Thousand Oaks watching the same live production and feeling equally positive, even without the benefit of haddock and chips to sustain them Winking smile




Oh and another little ray of sunshine dropped through my letterbox yesterday.  I have plans to install the update this afternoon and am trusting for no unexpected changes in the weather.

Fingers crossed.


New vocabulary


It wasn’t quite how I’d planned to spend the morning, but wee-small-hour worries unsettled me and I simply had to resolve them.




Back in time then, to New Years Eve, more than two months ago, when I stupidly stepped on the hem of my skirt whilst hurrying back up this flight of (very hard) stairs and fell heavily on my right knee. The two bottles of wine I was carrying were unharmed, but since that night, I have hobbled about from time to time because whatever I did to my knee was (still) incredibly painful from time to time.  Regular readers might recall how I had further knee troubles when in Miami compounding the issue somewhat.

Since then I have been “getting better”.  Well, that’s what I told myself.  Except that it still wasn’t right and I was wondering if I should seek professional help.

(Yes, I know, it’s more than two months ago…about time, I hear you say)

Fast forward to around 2.43am this morning, when I awoke with a horrible pain in my right calf.  My mind was working overdrive and, in exactly the same way as it’s impossible to go on holiday until you’ve checked that yes, you really did turn off the gas, I just had to get my suspicions checked out.  You see I’ve been reading about causes of lower leg pain and since this one was a new development and seemingly nothing to do with my knee – I wasn’t moving about, after all – three letters sprang to mind.  D V and T.




Which is how I came to be admiring the blossom in the garden of our local Minor Injuries and Illness unit this morning.  Three hours of expert care, detailed questioning and careful diagnosis.  First things first: measurements and and an examination of my leg indicated that it was unlikely to be the deep vein thrombosis I feared and as I grabbed my coat and bag to leave, I realised that Sister Pauline was not going to let me off quite so lightly.  After all, she had identified considerable crepitus in the joint and wanted to investigate what was happening.  (new word #1)




An X ray revealed nothing sinister and thankfully, no damage to my tibial tuberosity (what? new words #2 and #3!)   Armed with a recommendation to consult a physiotherapist for further treatment, my apologies for being a nuisance were met with a wave of Pauline’s hand. 

The National Health Service.  What would we do without it?


Creative days like these


I have a new post on the Bernina English language blog today about the inspiring demonstration of some new Bernina accessories and software I went to last week.




I took my amazing machine to Frank’s with me, because of late it’s been misbehaving and not responding to my gentle touches as it usually does.  I left it for his technician to investigate and learned that the bobbin sensor was not working as it should.  A new replacement part was ordered, arrived within 24 hours and hopefully, my machine will be home again in a couple of days, complete with a firmware update and refreshed from a little TLC!




I keep looking at the large space where it normally sits in my studio and feel quite bereft, even though I know I could get my older, Bernina 1630 out to play…or the even older still, Bernina 1030 (do you see a pattern here?)  I know, however, I am not in the same league as many when it comes to collecting sewing machines!  (You know who you are Winking smile )




Speaking of Maggie (!)  who came with me on Thursday and shared all the Quilting Ruler fun, on the way home we had a small errand to run for our dear friend Jordi, who had seen a couple of things online which she liked the look of.  I immediately followed the link to Sue Brown’s blog and discovered that she’s just up the road from me, in Cheltenham.  No need for mail order there, then!




So on the way home, Maggie and I spent a fascinating half hour looking around the yard ARTspace and just knew that we’ll be back there before long.  There’s an interesting programme of workshops and classes, right up our alley, and Sue herself creates some amazing work.




So much inspiration on our doorstep and lovely friends to share it with. 

Now, if only I could stop being bothered by that bird up there…


Leaving my fingerprints behind


I’d completed a visa application form, answering questions such as the purpose of my visit (tourism) and the details of my passport.   I’d been waiting to complete the form for a while, but had to wait for confirmation from our hotel with a reference number to be quoted on the application.  The hotel confirmation had to bear the seal and signature of a certified person and was unique to me: my Hero, Edward and Amy each needed a similar document to accompany their applications.

Just whose idea was it to go to St Petersburg for the weekend anyway?  (He has owned up).

Having completed all the necessary questions about my background, where and when I went to college, where I have worked and who was in charge there, I then needed to find three bank statements to support my application and prove that I have enough funds for the days I will be in the country.


No problem.

But “Have you travelled to any other countries in the last ten years?”


“Please give details and use a separate entry for each visit”.




Starting with the most recent entry on my list (because, yes, of course, I have a record of such things) I took a deep breath and began with “USA Jan 30 – 4 Feb 2017”, adding a new box after each entry. After 20 visits and half way down the first page of my list, it fell over. 

I took the print out with me when we presented ourselves at the visa application office last Monday morning.




These appointments in London are getting to be a bit of a habit, aren’t they?  Though this one did not offer the facility of an appointment – merely a queue.  The office opens daily at 8.30am so in true Heroic fashion, we turned up at about 7.50am, to find ourselves 5th and 6th in line.

The process was actually quite slick and involved a five minute “interview” at a counter in post-office-like surroundings.  We’d been given numbered tickets on arrival, so were called to the counter almost immediately and documents checked, fingerprints taken and money paid (oh yes…) this part was remarkably easy, except for one thing.

Have you ever tried putting both thumbs down, side by side (for fingerprinting) in the middle of a flat surface?




Our reward for an early start was a visit to the Royal Academy, where there were two exhibitions we fancied.  Being in a Russian frame of mind, we began with the Revolution, a wonderfully designed exhibit where the layout and staging of the works on show was so very much in keeping with the art itself.  Some of the art was familiar – in style and tone if not as a specific piece.  The political posters and propaganda were so much of their time, though reading the details alongside individual pieces gave enough background information to provoke another look and further consideration.

Some work was rather brutal, other rooms appeared more hopeful at first, though once more the awful truth was not far away.  In fact, there was very little to warm the soul or to inspire optimism, which doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the art itself. 




It’s just that the reality isn’t always as much fun as it might appear, is it?


american gothic


I’m not altogether sure that America After the Fall offered a vision of fun either!  We’d seen Grant Wood’s American Gothic a couple of times in its home in the Chicago Art Institute and I believe I’d seen some of the other works on show in other locations as well: the Georgia O’Keefe and Edward Hopper pieces in particular.  I hadn’t realised that this was the first time American Gothic had travelled outside North America, though, which could explain why this gallery was so crowded.  The number of people in these small gallery rooms made it tricky to really appreciate some of the work on show and we didn’t stay long.  Three faces remained with us long after we left though – again, painted by Grant Wood




Though I’ve never seen the painting before, I feel as if I know those women so well.  I wonder which WI they belong to?  Winking smile


A night at the Old Havana Cafe


Havana Cafe copy


February can be a dreary month and so usually, we try to get a bunch of friends together for some fun, even though finding a suitable date for eight busy people is a challenge.  This year, they sorted it out between them and when we arrived home from our travels, I knew where we’d be going.

The Old Havana Cafe.  (It bears a passing resemblance to our garden room btw)

We’d enjoyed the spirit and atmosphere of Little Havana whilst in Miami, so with the aid of a few Pinterest boards (what did we do without it!?) I began the planning.  To begin with, I knew how much we all like a bright invitation to put up somewhere, so did a bit of Photoshopping to an old travel poster and hopefully set the scene.




I came across this website and remembering the online class I took to make these I made something similar for the menu.  I’m not sure it’s *that* authentic but for a February evening in Gloucestershire, it was good enough.

Lagom, people Winking smile




We had a few things tucked up our sleeve from our journey – not from Cuba of course, but from “that part of the world”.  Well, Costa Rica is near enough, isn’t it?  (Don’t answer that question)




The cooking was fairly straightforward too, once I’d sourced my ingredients.  Plantains in Gloucestershire?  No problem!  Dulce de Leche ?  A piece of cake!  (or make that two..)




With few bright colours around and a great Spotify playlist on the Sonos, the scene was set.




Fuelled by a few Mojitos (and Nojitos for the drivers) we had a great evening.  I was having far too much fun to remember to take photos, so you’ll just have to believe me when I say how delicious the Lechon Asado was, but the star of the show were the (mexican style) corn cobs which we will forever associate with the Calle Ocho restaurant where we had them first.  Really easy to make,  it was only when we ordered them in Miami that we remembered how much we love to eat corn that way!  We just had to try making them at home and share them with our friends.




Plus, I kept a little surprise to have with coffee Winking smile

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