Sunday 31 October 2021

Week 43 One Daily Positive and Project 365. Spa weekend and Pumpkin patch.

Another busy week for me anyway out and about with family and friends, still spending as much time outside as possible and LFT testing and mask wearing.

Have you seen the price of petrol after the imaginary shortage? It's not just fuel, but the cost of building materials etc. I guess it's down to the shortage of drivers and being in higher demand so people can just charge what they like. It's certainly not down to increased head count in the work place or pay rises. I can imagine with the new raise in the minimum wage that it will be passed down the chain to the customers. 

296 Collected my friend and off to Warwick for last years birthday present treat from Peter. The Spa was great, everything explained on arrival, treatment, lunch, pool and saunas, one two many cocktails and dinner.

297 Had breakfast, packed and drove home via a coffee stop in Stratford upon Avon. The rest of the day was spent doing nothing other than watching TV.

298 Our conservatory is too cold now for me to sit in and the dining room is being used as storage waiting for the kitchen and extension to be started as well as us storing stuff for my mum before she moves into her new home in the next few weeks. I decided to move the dining room table into the conservatory and pack everything else up. We've got an oil fire we can use to warm the conservatory when we want to use it and there's now some space in the dining room for me to be able to still use my pod chair.

299 Our 19th wedding anniversary, we sort of don't bother celebrating, I got Peter a card and we walked the dog into town and went for a breakfast. The rest of the day was spent with me organising my dressing table items as Peter is making me a new one (current one from Ikea) I sorted through the Halloween decorations and laminated last years.

300 Up early to collect MIL and off to Avon Valley to visit the Pumpkin patch with Bob, meeting up with SIL, 2 nieces and our great nephew, we had lunch and I dropped some Halloween treats off for my friends twins on my way home. Behind the scenes with MIL and SIL at Great Nephews photo shoot.

301 Collected child 1 and off to Cheltenham to the Christmas fair, tickets courtesy of our next door neighbour, my new Christmas tree arrived so I put it up to check it out and evening spent in front of the TV and blogging. I spotted this on the way to the post office.

302 Day spent in my pjs. Peter walked the dog and did the food shopping while I decorated the house for Halloween and wrapped Christmas presents that I am posting to Australia, South Africa, America, Canada, Dubai and Germany. I like to get them off early as the postal systems differ worldwide.

I ordered a new Christmas tree, set it up to check the branches opened fully. It's now back in it's box waiting for December 1st.

On the blog this week:

Happy Halloween A visit to the Pumpkin Patch.

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Friday 29 October 2021

29th-31st October - Post Comment Love. Happy Halloween

Hope you've all had a good half term, that is if you're in the UK and have children or are a teacher and to the rest of you, hope you've had a good week and welcome back and to #PoCoLo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I.

It 's been a busy week from visiting a Pumpkin patch to going to a Christmas fair.

The tree is up in lounge.....too early I hear you say.....I bought a new one this year, it arrived yesterday so I set it up just to check it was the same as the description online, which it is (I just need to bend all the branches out properly) I'm decorating it for Halloween then it'll go back in the box and return with Christmas decorations on it on December 1st.

Do you decorate for Halloween? When do your decorations for Christmas go up?

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Thursday 28 October 2021

A trip to the Pumpkin Patch - Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park

Last year Bob and I visited a Pumpkin Patch in Ledbury. Just the two of us and why not? We also decorated the house (AD)

I love Halloween. I've always decorated the house, me, the dog and even the kids when they were still interested.

I was disappointed to discover they don't do Halloween in South Africa, but I still decorated the table with a more autumnal theme.

On moving to Dubai, I was super excited to see that Halloween in Dubai was done in full swing. 

This years plan involved a trip to the Pumpkin Patch at Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park with Bob of course, decorating the house and a Halloween party over the weekend for our 2 year old grandchild and the neighbours children, pumpkin carving and answering the door to trick or treaters on Sunday evening.

Do you do Halloween?

Next up I'm getting ready for Christmas, but won't be decorating the house until December 1st. Do your decorations go up earlier?

Saturday 23 October 2021

Week 42 One Daily Positive and Project 365 A return to flying.

A busy week for me with travel again. Felt so good to be back in the air outside of a lock down. It was back to normal other than mask wearing, but if I'm honest, flying through lockdowns in the height of the pandemic was a lot calmer, less stressful and no where near as busy, however I really don't miss all the need for PCR's, additional documentation and ever changing complicated and expensive rules.

289 Up early for my flight to Belfast for DIL's baby shower. Baby due November 9th. I caught the bus from the airport into the City to do some shopping, then I was collected by the Parent in Laws where I'm staying for the night. We put up the decorations and had a lovely evening.

290 A lie in and lazy morning, off for a pub lunch then some shopping for son and DIL to pick up some last minute essentials. Son dropped me off at the airport and Peter picked me up, getting home around 10pm. Straight to bed.

291 Woke with a migraine. A lazy morning, had a long hot bath. I watched TV, read, finished my Santa Sleigh (won't be displayed until December 1st) did some blogging and walked the dog to the GP for our booster jabs. Tea and an early night.

292 Slept well but migraine still present on waking. Off to Newent to choose the colour of the new kitchen we're ordering, stopped in Ledbury on the way home for a coffee under the market hall for shelter.

293 Off to Plymouth for a couple of days with Bob to visit our South African friend Jacques who lives in Germany and is visiting his relatives. The rain and wind was horrendous and driving was the worst I've experienced in a long time. Out for dinner and back to our amazing Air B&B for a few drinks.

294 Out for breakfast with Jacques then off to Plymouth for the day, the weather was lovely, if a little cold, but the sun shone. The dog was an absolute twat all day, jumping in the sea, barking at pigeons and generally getting under our feet with excitement, back to the accommodation for dinner, we lit the wood burner and decided for sure that we'll be getting one in our new extension.

295 Set off mid morning for the drive home. Took us 5 hours due to accidents and just sheer volume of traffic. Unpacked and repacked for my spa trip tomorrow with my friend. A rearranged birthday present from Peter from last year.

On the blog this week:

Flying during a pandemic

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Friday 22 October 2021

22nd-24th October 2021 - One Daily Positive

Welcome back to #pocolo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I. Thanks to all who link up each week and to the people who pop in and out when they can.

It’s been a busy week I flew over to Belfast for Son and DIL's baby shower, staying the night with the out laws or to give them their proper title 'parent in laws' for the baby shower. Baby due in just a week or two, so will back her again shortly.

We drove down to Plymouth on Wednesday and making our way back home today. We went to visit our South African frined who now lives in Germany. Last seen in person in 2019 in Dubai. It's been 3 years since I visited Germany and saw his husband also.

Tomorrow I'm off on a rearranged Birthday present from Peter from last year, a Spa break with my Friday night chip and wine friend. I've seen her weekly since the pandemic started, rules and regulations permitted from door step visits, to garden ones and now going away for a night.

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Thursday 21 October 2021

Flying during a pandemic out of lockdown.

I flew to Belfast on the weekend with Easy Jet.

Easy Jet kept me informed via email about all the regulations and rules and tests and paperwork I would need if flying from outside the Travel Corridor.

Having flown regularly during Covid and in lock downs, I'm more than fully aware and prepared for anything and everything when travelling these days and whilst my flight was within the UK, I took with me my passport, proof of vaccine and letter from Doctor as it was administered outside of the UK, my NHS covid pass on the app via a recent LFT, spare LFT kit for my flight home, printed my tickets in case my phone failed and was just grateful I wasn't having to privately PCR test at the cost of £150 via a lab in Bristol or book a quarantine hotel at the cost of around £2000 as I've had to do with flights during the pandemic.

For many people flying just stopped for a year and when the Government said they could fly again they went off on their holidays complaining about the additional charges and the inconvieneces and the extra time they had to take off work as borders opened/closed and traffic light systems moved around.

I personally have no desire to spend a week or two on a beach in the sun, especially with the announcement of Morocco suspending direct flights from Germany, Netherlands and UK this week.

During the pandemic I've only flown between England and Dubai and to Northern Ireland, places where I can stay without additional costs, should borders close, which they did do when I made it back to Dubai last December and Peter got shut in Saudi as the borders closed overnight and it was 2 weeks before he got home, thankfully he was travelling with work so all his costs were met, but imagine the costs involved with finding accommodation or having to pay medical bills or for hotel quarantine if testing positive for covid prior to departure?

For these reasons I've turned down an opportunity to return to Dubai in November, but we're making plans for visiting our son in Australia as soon as we are allowed to travel. We'll also travel to Germany soon where we have friends to stay with.

Deserted arrivals hall Dubai T1 March 2020.

 Seeing T3 Heathrow closed makes you realise just how serious this pandemic is. 

An empty arrivals hall and closed departure hall at Birmingham International when it reopened was also startling.

Like I said almost back to normal now, apart from the mask wearing. 

Flights are increasing in terms of frequency and destinations. Seeing a departure board cover 4 days of flights in an International airport, is not something I ever want to see again. If I'm honest, I'd be happy if I never had to fly again either, but with kids and close friends living overseas, it's going to have to happen.

November 2020
49 flights over 63 hours

October 2021
41 flights over 14 hours


Monday 18 October 2021

Week 41 - One Daily Positive & Project 365.

Had a migraine on and off all week. Am due a blood test soon to check on my iron levels, will ask then about going back on the beta blockers. 

We've decided on the new kitchen and work will start in December, the extension will start in the spring, so garden plans for the new shed and allotment style design will be put on hold until the summer when the building work is finished.

282 We walked into town to get stuff for tea, I then walked down to the other shopping area of the town to buy some cinnamon powder, a 5 mile trek.

283 Woke with a migraine, managed a food shop in Worcester and spent time out in the garden.

284 Dropped the car off and walked the dog home, did some painting, watched TV, had my hair cut and walked to the Doctors for our booster jabs to discover it's actually next week. An evening of nothing dealing with a Migraine Hangover. Sorted my inflatables out for pulling Santa's Sleigh.

285 A lazy morning, some painting and letter writing, a call from the bank about our off shore account. We have to go through all this palaver of 'let me introduce myself and tell me something about you?' all a load of rubbish if you ask me. 'No we don't want to invest, we have that all done and no we don't want you to look at our investments to see if you can do better' Peter collected the car, just short of £400.

286 I woke in a foul mood (migraine related) so Bob and I went out for a 2 hour walk. I did some more work on my halloween and Christmas decorations. Peter went to the Cheltenham Lit Fest to listen to Jimmy Paige. He dropped me at the retail park and I walked home. I watched TV and had an early night.

287 I received an email late the previous evening to invite me to my volunteer interview in Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games 2022. It was a really good experience but 25,000 people are being interviewed for 13,000 roles. I'm hopeful with my European Golf experience in Dubai and Abu Dhabi over the previous 3-4 years. I wasn't happy with my hair, after washing and styling myself it's all different lengths, so I went back to get it sorted. 

I've found a new building project I can follow and photograph.

288 Off to Worcester to get my nails done and eyebrows threaded. In the afternoon I packed for my trip to Northern Ireland and had chips and wine in the evening with my friend.

The cat wants to know where it's manky water is.

On the blog recently:

Why repatriation has been good for us

Life is hard enough without having to deal with disability prejudices 

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Tuesday 12 October 2021

Why repatriating has been good for us

I hear so much negativity about repatriation, I can't help but think we've done it wrong and we're still waiting for the negativity to kick in or because it's different for us as we always planned to return to the UK when my husband retired.

Becoming expats was never our plan either and at the time of leaving the UK, my husband had 25 years service with the company so we weren't going on on contracts that could come to an abrupt end.

When we left the UK in January 2011 and headed off to South Africa, we honestly thought it was going to be for the inevitable future, but after 4 years, it was not to be with the government refusing to extend our visas, so not ready to move back to the UK, we went to Dubai, where I never thought we'd end up living for 6 years.

Our move to SA was based on a load of lies. Work for Peter wasn't too bad, other than dealing with different cultures and ways of working and pressure from abroad to work the same way as other countries did. If you've ever lived in SA you'll know that things are done very differently to back home. In fact EVERYTHING is done very differently to back home and it took me up to 18 months to settle in fully, after giving up the battle to be allowed to work or even study and I threw myself head first into volunteering and exploring such a wonderful country, with day trips and weekends away camping. We were adopted by a cat and adopted a dog.

Like our move to SA which was a huge adventure, we were only given 3 months notice to leave and after the rug was literally pulled from under our feet and we departed for Dubai, I never dreamt we'd be there for 6 years. I just envisioned we'd be moving on again soon, so I never put down any routes and although I was able to work, my return to teaching lasted only 18 months, I quit my job and was due to start another teaching post when my father died suddenly and I had to turn the job down in order to help my mother get her life sorted so I could return to Dubai to rejoin Peter.

In SA I was only in the UK for 2-3 weeks, once or twice a year. Then my father had a heart attack and we had dodgy tenants that took me 4 months to evict through the courts, so in 2016 we decided to purchase a flat in Wales to give us somewhere to stay for longer visits and for the youngest child to live in while he was applying for jobs after leaving school, for another to stay in on his visit back from his home in Australia and for our other son and his wife to stay when they visited the mainland from Northern Ireland.

I started to spend more time in the flat and just before covid hit, we'd already decided to get our house back from the current tenants and move the cat and dog to the UK, get house sitters and for me to travel back and forth to Dubai to see Peter whilst he finished his career over the next 2-3 years.

Having been locked out of Dubai for 4 months, we decided to bring his retirement forward to May 2021 and I spent lockdown getting the house ready for our permanent return and on a trip to Dubai in September 2020, we had most of the furniture and our belongings shipped, followed by the rest in May this year. This involved my son coming over to collect the dog for 2 months so I could return to Dubai, which turned into 3 months as Dubai was put onto the red list and there were no flights out. After an expensive and painful mandatory hotel quarantine in the UK, we were finally home, just to go to Belfast to collect the dog and unpack the rest of our belongings that arrived in July.

We're now settled back in the UK, unpacked and put away. We have a new kitchen and shed to look forward to and we're having an extension built at the back of the house to give us more downstairs space for when the family come to visit.

I only hear/read about the negatives of repatriation online and I can't be the only person who has planned our return and is happy to be back, can I?

15th-17th October 2021 - Post Comment Love

Welcome back to #pocolo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I. It's great to see so many people joining in each week with a variety of topics.

I've linked up with a positive post this week about why repatriating has been good for my husband and I. We're really enjoying life in the UK, although not looking forward to the winter so much.

I've spent several parts of winter in the UK over the past few years, but Peter hasn't other than February 2018, for 2 weeks. He's always left Dubai in the middle of summer to get some respite from the heat.

We're hoping we will be able to sort out someone to look after our cat and dog early next year so we can travel to Australia to see our son (borders/covid permitting). In the meantime we're making the most of seeing the UK family, a few short breaks away with the dog (our lovely neighbour looks out for the cat) and days out and as much time in the garden as the weather will allow.

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Saturday 9 October 2021

Week 40 - One Daily Positive, Project 365.

Although we've been spending a lot of time with family, we're all double vaccinated, son and DIL test regularly due to their jobs and we LFT at least weekly. We also don't hug and we spend as much time outside as possible. When they stay over, we have two ensuite bedrooms and a separate bathroom so it's easier to maintain hygiene and social distancing.

After hitting a badger on Friday night, I asked in the local facebook group for assistance getting repairs for the car. Most made stupid jokes, a few offered recommendations and one woman decided to go on about the poor animal lying in a ditch that I failed to rescue. Having pointed out I was a lone female, at dusk, on a country lane with fast moving traffic and that I did turn round when I could and drove back, I was scolded for not rescuing a potentially dangerous and aggressive animal. 

275 Up early to take the car to the garage for an assessment. it can all be repaired but will be several hundred pounds. Need a new light fitting and the crack in the bumper needs welding and re spraying. Did some food shopping, walked the dog in the rain, did some more Christmas and Halloween crafts and chilled out watching TV and blogging in between helping Peter with the headboard he's making.

276 Facebook down, but that's all I can remember about the day.

277 Took Bob for a walk and found a dog friendly cafe doing Gluten Free food so we stopped for lunch. Moved the cacti into the bathroom for the winter.

278 Off to Gloucester to visit child 1 for the day.

279 Peter's birthday. We caught the train to Worcester, watched No Time To Die, had a meal out and a few drinks, some shopping and train home.

280 Coffee in Monmouth, a picnic in the woods and a visit to see child 2, his wife and our grandchild.

281 A day at home, tided up the craft room after finish my Christmas sleigh and did some gardening.

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Friday 8 October 2021

8th -10th October 2021 - Post Comment Love

Welcome back to #pocolo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I. It's lovely to see so many people joining in each week. Everyone is welcome and on any topic.

The winter bedding is now on and the electric blankets are ready to be fired up when needed. My husband is a northerner, he actually pout the heating on. After 10 years living in hot climates, the colder weather is a bit of a shock. We can't seem to dress right for the weather.

We celebrated my husband's birthday this week. For the first time in 21 years we've spent both our birthdays in the same year together. We went to see No Time To Die, had a meal afterwards and a few drinks as we'd gone by train.

I'll not spoil it if you haven't seen it, but it has a twist as all good movies do at the end, leaving us wanting more.

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Thursday 7 October 2021

Life is hard enough without having to deal with prejudices around disability

Some background for context.

We have 5 kids, all adults now. Eldest is profoundly disabled and lives in a care home near by. Up until 2011 when we left the UK, she would come home for visits, alternate weekends and we'd visit and take her out with us, the alternate weeks. Back then with 4 other kids and full time carers we mostly took her with us to do a food shop, have a drink out and home visits.

For the past 10 years whilst we've been abroad, taking her out has only been possible when either both of us are together, 2-3 times a year or when I've been able to get one of the adult children or a friend to come with me. We can't manage her and her needs on a 1:1 basis anymore.

So visits have been in her home, taking her for a walk around the block, time in the garden or with both of us and/or help, we've been out for lunch or a drink and cake.

Since we've been back in the UK our visits have been fortnightly, just a couple of hours at a time, but we've been exploring further a field, spending more time out in the community.

Normally after a visit, it would be a couple of months before we saw her again, so we focused on different aspects of our visits. Now we're back in the UK, time is less precious and we are enjoying spending more time with her, however we've noticed just how uncomfortable other people can feel around her and us.

We had issues with the neighbours , which is now being dealt with by Social Services, but we can't deal with people's prejudices, it makes us upset and it spoils the visit.

This week we went out to the shops and for tea and cake. Our daughter doesn't do waiting, queuing, sitting still, she likes to be on the go and is happy to wander. However this wandering can lead her to other people, she'll steady herself on the back of a chair, with a shopping trolley, on someones arm. We don't let her grab at people, she is under full supervision, but sometimes she can get up and move quicker than we can respond.

In general people are caring and understanding, their reaction when grabbed can be quite alarming but when they look round they can see it's not intentional and will accept our apology, tell us not to worry. Other times people will baulk as she walks towards them. She has no speech, no social awareness and no way of expressing any distress (you can see an example here)

So while I stood in the queue in the coffee shop, my husband sat at a table, she climbed and crawled over him, she walked between the chair and me in the queue several times, then on her way back she went to steady herself on a chair, an empty chair where a woman and her daughter had just sat down. The woman recoiled, tutted, shook her head and promptly moved seats. Whilst the woman in the queue behind me raised her eyebrows, her friend seated at another table smiled at my husband and our daughter, in almost a sort of apology on behalf of the other woman.

We shouldn't have to deal with any of us, but unfortunately we do. We're usually too busy sorting her out to have to deal with these attitudes and always think of a comeback later on when we've calmed down.

Staring and looking is something we can cope with, as my husband says anything that looks outside someones norm always raises a second glance.

We're determined that the next time someone responds like this we're going to ask them just what part of the situation makes them feel uncomfortable?

Do you any experiences of this? How would you react in this situation, both sides?

Saturday 2 October 2021

Week 39 One Daily Positive and Project 365

Wow, autumn hit hard, temps dropped dramatically and we discussed putting the heating on, but just layered up instead.

Cat and dog have been miserable as they can no longer sunbathe all day.

I dedicated Thursday afternoon to queue for fuel. We have 4 garages within 3 miles, I drove the loop. Out of diesel, closed, out of diesel and no queue, straight in, filled up and home within 20 mins.

Having costed the move, stamp duty, sales fees, solicitors, refurbishment and purchase price, plus the inconvenience of moving twice as we'd have to factor in rental costs while the work is carried out, we've decided we quite like the more simpler life where we go out, come home, potter around or just get on with making and doing things, so we're staying put. However there will be a new kitchen, bathroom and shower rooms as well as an extension and landscaping the garden. But the rest of the house is more than liveable with plenty of room for visitors while we have that work done.

268 A food shop and lazy calm before the storm, son and his wife with grandchild arrived for the night, we had a roast dinner and chilled out watching TV.

269 Off to the RHS Malvern Show for the day, sun shone and lots of fun was had, absolutely exhausted at the end of the day.

270 Some tidying up and generally chilling, TV, dog walk, time outside.

271 Second house viewing with builder, then him and Peter went off to play golf. I was dropped in town and walked home. The house has all it's original Edwardian features, sadly to make the house liveable and warm, a lot of them would be lost.

272 I popped down the retail park, did some gardening, moving plants around for winter, did the ironing, hoovering, cleaned the guest room and ensuite, walked the dog and cooked dinner.

The cart was waiting for me to come home, all it does is wait for me to feed it.

273 PJs all morning, then off for fuel. Hubby is finishing off a head board he's making. As the weather has turned it involves a lot of me helping him lift it in and out the house while he sands and paints. In between I started making some Christmas decorations.

274 Off to Ikea with a friend, then DIL and grandchild joined us in the afternoon to play with the twins. On the way home I hit a badger, lost the front light casing and cracked the bumper.

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Friday 1 October 2021

Post Comment Love 1st -3rd October. Turning plans into reality

Welcome to Octobers #pocolo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I. If you're new here welcome, and for all the regulars it's great to have you on board each week.

We've been looking at buying another property, a do-er upper. On a second visit with our friend who is a builder, we decided we didn't want to sink all our capitol in it, whilst renting, meaning two moves and disruption to our lives and being tied to a property. We've spent the last 10 years on the move and not settling so decision made and we'll be in full swing with our current home with a new kitchen (fitted early November) and will be starting work on an extension and new out buildings.

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