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!










One way to spend Saturday morning


The doorbell went as I was in the kitchen, so it was my Hero who greeted the two men in casual uniform who were standing outside.  I heard him say “Come in” and wondered who we were welcoming into our home for a cup of tea.

“We have visitors from the Fire Service”.

Now, I knew the Fire Service had been given additional responsibilities to visit elderly people from time to time, to extend community links and to promote safety at home, but surely, we were not quite elderly enough to receive a call?  Being tactful gentlemen, they made no comment on that score, but introduced themselves and asked if we could spend some time with them discussing a few things and in particular, to do a check of our smoke alarms.




Of course.  My hero and I are receptive to any professional advice, especially when it comes delivered to our door, free of charge and with no sales pitch.  Over cups of tea, we answered a few questions about health and general well being and as Lee swapped our smoke alarms (free of charge!) for new, modern  replacements, we chatted to his colleague, Tim, noticing his casual observation of our kitchen.

“Does your hob light up when it’s switched on?”   Well, yes, it does.  Clearly, his remit went beyond mere fire safety and extended to more general guidance, such as closing the kitchen doors at night, just as my parents always did.

“Do either of you have any hearing loss?”  Tim apologised for such questions, but explained that if we did, they could supply us with additional “pillow” smoke alarms.  Full service here!




Our two woodburners were given the once over and a clean bill of health as a result of a good, straight chimney and advice was offered in the unlikely case of a chimney fire and the candles on our dining table were given attention.  “Don’t light them near curtains, will you?”

I was impressed.  Far from feeling any intrusion, I appreciated the opportunity to have two experienced and knowledgeable professionals give us the benefit of their advice, especially when the subject of “escape routes” was mentioned.  Living in a three storey house and sleeping on the top floor has meant both of us considering what we would do if ever there was the nightmare of a fire.  Thanks to Tim’s survey, we now know exactly what to do and where we should go and shout “Fire!” as we awaited the arrival of the emergency services.  Scary stuff and hopefully never needed, Tim was quick to reassure us that house fires are very rare.




Three replacement smoke alarms fitted (with ten year internal batteries!) there was just one final question.

“Where is your tumble drier?”   I showed Tim the laundry room downstairs and watched as he considered the location.

“One more smoke alarm needed here, Lee!” and sure enough, Lee was back, screwdriver in hand to fit a fourth alarm by the laundry room door.  “Better safe than sorry”.

Well yes indeed.  We waved them goodbye and thanked them for their service.  We assured them that we would indeed encourage any friends or relatives to contact them for a similar visit, because such things are very important indeed.

It’s just not quite how we planned to spend a Saturday morning at home!


with love




(The Sofitel always has amazing flowers)




We each had an appointment at the Embassy today.




It’s been a long time coming and there were times when we didn’t think we’d make it at all.

We completed all the forms months ago, submitting them first to the UK authorities and having received their approval, applied to the US Customs and Border Protection agency for “trusted traveler status”.  Having passed that round of checks, we each had to book an interview.

Except there were no available appointments in London before Christmas.  Oh, and the booking had to be made within a very tight timescale. 

How about Los Angeles in January?  No appointments available.

Miami in February?  No appointments available.

We randomly selected two adjacent slots in Boston in June knowing full well we wouldn’t be there then, but at least we’d hold our application open.  Then, in late December, we each had an email with a list of dates in February for London interviews.  Phew.  We snagged two as quickly as we could, before they were all booked up too.




So this morning, we made our way to Grosvenor Square where we presented ourselves and all the necessary papers to a couple of immigration officers in adjacent cubicles.  Though we were asked broadly the same questions, my officer showed a little more interest in one particular page of my passport.

“What’s this?”

It was the arabic translation of my passport details we needed for Edward’s birthday jolly to Libya a few years ago.

“Why did you go there?”   

I answered that our son was an historian with a love of Roman history and we went to see Leptis Magna.

“Have you seen since then?”


“Will you be going again?”


“I’ve approved your application.” 


Having had our fingerprints and mugshot recorded on their system, we each have a Global Entry membership number which will not only allow us to skip the lengthy immigration and customs queues when we next visit the USA, but also pass swiftly through the pre boarding security process without taking off our shoes, belts and so on.

I am a trusted traveler!    (Well, I prefer to think of myself as a traveller of course Winking smile )




Mind you, on the way there we’d passed some pretty clever window displays on Piccadilly, in Waterstone’s bookshop.




They are actually promoting a book written in the 1930s, though anyone passing by could be forgiven for mistakenly taking this as a marketing campaign for a new publication.  For sure, it caught our attention and will surely have the same effect on others passing by.

Of course, bearing in mind our destination, we were on our best behaviour and were passing no comment!




A day in London is always a great opportunity to spot small curiosities, though.  Like this sign.  I wonder how long it has been there and if it is still in use?  If it rings, do you think someone will call the police?  I hope so!




I liked this surprisingly wordy sign in a window nearby.




Whilst in Selfridges, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that my eye was caught by the title of this magazine.  At £10 a copy, I felt it was rather more than “lagom” so left it there, with those incredibly ugly coffee cups.  Ugh.  Who on earth would want to drink from those?




Best of all was the sight of this gentleman stepping out on what was a very chilly morning indeed, dressed in this gloriously coloured coat.  My photograph doesn’t do him – or his coat – justice because by the time I got my camera out of my pocket, he was almost gone.  But on a Winter morning, who could not be cheered by wearing such a colour?

Brave man though!


We need a bigger basket




By the computer in our music room, there’s a basket of stuff.  Not just any old stuff, you understand, but treasured stuff. 


You know how much I treasure those.




This morning, I finished transferring all the photographs from our most recent adventure to a USB stick, tied it to a few bits and pieces (our suite card from the cruise, an hotel key card, the top from a bottle of Nicaraguan beer and a bag of Guatemalan worry dolls) and took it upstairs to the basket, where I balanced it carefully on the top.




As I did, I thought of the cartoon I shared in the previous blog post, of the last hippo joining a small and already overcrowded boat, because as I picked the basket up, a couple of things fell off the carefully balanced arrangement.




So I tipped out the whole basketful and as I replaced it all, I took another look though.  There are little rings and bundles of all kinds of stuff.  Some, like this one, are crammed full of tickets and cards, happy memories of lovely days in Ireland in this case. 




Some simply have a label and a few ribbons.




This one doesn’t even have a label, but I know immediately where it came from.  The tell tale signs of a Japanese trip are there on the single common feature of every one of those bundles.  A USB stick of photos.  A little stick that fits neatly into the PC right beside it to provide a couple of hours entertainment in the form of a slide show.  If I’m home alone, or at a loose end, it’s fun to pull a random ribbon from the basket, plug it in and to be transported to some fun times again.  It’s a rather more passive way of enjoying the stories than looking through journals and it’s a much more efficient way of storing all those photographs than the boxes (and boxes) of prints we keep meaning to go through and sort out.




It used to be that a 2mB stick would suffice.  Then, I began to find that I needed a bit more capacity and began to buy 8mB sticks for the purpose.  This time, I could only squeeze everything onto a 16mB stick by omitting a few things here and there.  I think I’d better buy 32mB sticks next time.

And a bigger basket.




When I began my blog and was looking for a name, I hit upon the phrase frequently used by my Hero’s Grandpy.  After a meal, he’d sit back in his chair, release some imaginary air from each cuff (not well explained but no matter) and declare that he had enjoyed “an elegant sufficiency”.  A few years previously we had been through a life-changing experience which caused us to reflect on our priorities and one word seemed to crop up frequently.





Whenever I thought of the word, I remembered a poster which hung on the wall at a school where I taught and thanks to the wonders of Google, I did a quick search and bingo!  there it was here!  More is most certainly not always better and then, as now, enough sums it up nicely.




Can I ever have enough ice cream though?  Winking smile  (photo taken in Azugar last week)

This morning, I came across the word Lagom.

I appreciate, I’m behind a bit here.  I wasn’t reading the papers last month when lagom was declared as the Scandi trend taking over from but not as much fun as hygge.  So forgive me when I explain that I just came across this blog post here this morning

Yes!  An Elegant Sufficiency! 

Is it time to embrace the newest, latest trend then and rename my blog Lagom?

I don’t think so.  I’ll just continue to live my life in the same elegantly sufficient style as I always have done.  It’s good to think that the rest of the world is catching on, though Winking smile

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