Welcome to my blog

This is my diary blog which I started when I retired from the Civil Service in April 2010. I like to include some of the things that I see and do with as many photographs as possible. Thank you for visiting my blog I hope you enjoyed it and will return to see what I have been doing. Or you could always join and be one of my followers.

If you would like to use one of my photographs then please ask me first, as they are all subject to copyright.

If you are interested in my crafts then I have added these to my crafting blog -


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A good read

I have just finished reading this trilogy by Stieg Larsson, it is violent in places but the story is exceedingly good and could probably be referred to as a page turner.

I won a Hot Air Balloon Flight

I came home yesterday to find an email telling that I had won a hot air balloon flight.  I was chosen as a winner for completing an online survey for M&S.   I confirmed I was happy to accept the prize and within a few minutes I had a call from Virgin asking for my details so they could send me the tickets. 

I told Kirsty, from Virgin, that I had been on a hot air balloon flight earlier in the year.  It had  been purchase in January 2009 and it took nearly 18 months to take the flight, but I am very happy to go on another one.  Kirsty asked if I would mind taking a photo while on the flight so Virgin could included me in their corporate blog.  As  I know how long it takes to get booked up and for the weather to be ok to take-off this flight will probably take place in the middle of 2011.  Now that is something to look forward to. 

Tickets arrived !!!!

I won a butterdish

I actually won this butterdish before I won the £10 (earlier post on the blog). But now decided to put it on the blog because my next prize is even bigger and I wanted to prove good things come in 3's.  This butterdish is a limited edition Anchor butterdish and I won it through Morrisons. 

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Digital Photography Course - Week 2

After a brief recap of last weeks modes (Portait and Landscape) we moved on to look at some of the other modes on the camera.  For example; night, indoor, snow, beach, kids and pets (or sports) and macro.

The Night mode has a much slower shutter so the camera needs to be kept very still, so a tripod or placing the camera on a flat surface.  Using the timer is a good idea too. 

The Kids and Pets (or Sports - depending on your camera) has a much faster shutter and is good for taking photos of movement or shaky hands and running water.    Also if a flash is used in this mode when taking a photo of a moving object the picture can be much sharper.

The Macro mode is good for documents, flowers, jewellery and miniatures etc.

Homework this week is to take some photos of water using the kids and pets mode and also of fast moving objects outside.   I think I will have to have ago at the macro too.

Photo taken on night mode and using the self timer

Photo taken in my dolls house on macro mode

Monday, 27 September 2010

I won a tenner

I have not won anything for some time, apart from a china Anchor butter dish that turned up about 2 weeks ago.   But today I received a letter from the St Raphael's Hospice to tell me I had won £10.  St Raphael's has a weekly lottery and I have been quite lucky with it in the past.  Today's prize is very welcome.

Saturday, 25 September 2010


Val and I went to Cambridge for the day, we took the train from Kings Cross, platform 7 (not platform 9 3/4).  The journey was fairly quick about 50 minutes enough time to enjoy a coffee and a pastry. 

We had a city map and on arrival made our way to the shops (of course!).  We found the shop, Pia, which was the reason for going to Cambridge in the first place, but also found other favourites like; East, Monsoon, Lakeland, etc.   We also found some unusual shops like Steamer Trading Co., Sandra Jane and Ark, to name a few.

We had a very nice lunch in the Vaults Restaurant, an independent restaurant which makes a change from all the chain restaurants and cafes.

I did manage to get a couple of photographs of the colleges.

As you can imagine the city is full of bikes
And managed to get one photo of one of my favourites - a weather vane.  

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Digital Photography Course - Week 1

I started a digital photography course at the Smitham Centre today.   We had a "get to know you camera" session and we were able to get answers to the questions about some of the knobs and buttons we had come across on our cameras that we did not have a clue about.

We moved on to look at the different modes and concentrated on the "Portrait" and "Landscape" modes.

Our homework for this week is to take some photos using both of these modes.   So hopefully I will have some portrait and landscape pictures to add at a later date. 

Pictures taken in Portait mode

Pictures taken in Landscape mode

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Chocolate tarts

I made some seriously scrummy chocolate tarts.  Found a recipe for 4 but reduced by half and there was more than enough for 2.

The recipe was 100g of plain chocolate (I used Green and Blacks), 25g plain flour, 2 eggs, 35g butter, 50g golden caster sugar.  Melt the chocolate then mix with the eggs, flour, butter and sugar and place in the pastry tartlet cases (I didn't make the pastry cases - after all who makes pastry!)  and cooked them for about 7 minutes on 160C.   Leave to cool and decorate with melted chocolate and/or cocoa.

The tarts are delicious with raspberries.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Friends from Down Under

My friends Narelle and John, from Sydney, Australia, are on a tour of Scandinavia and Europe which meant that I had an opportunity to catch up with them while they are in London.

We met at Notting Hill Gate and did a stroll through the stalls of Portobello Market, before stopping off for a coffee and long long chat.  



Narelle and I are also meeting up again so she can visit the new Hobbycraft shop in Croydon as we both love craft shops.  I think John will opt out of that visit!

As usual I had to get a photo of a lamp.   It was not that exciting but the flower baskets underneath are very beautiful.

Friday, 17 September 2010

A very sad day

I heard today that Maria lost her fight for life.  I am pleased I managed to see her and say my goodbyes.  She will be greatly missed by all her friends and family.

This poem was given to me and I think is appropriate.

Death is nothing at all

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped away
into the next room.

I am I,
and you are you;
whatever we were to each other,
that, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used,
put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air
of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we shared together.
Let my name ever be
the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all
that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

All is well.

Henry Scott Holland
1847 -1918

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Swan Lake

Rochelle and I managed to get tickets to see this evenings performance of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, at Wimbledon Theatre.   But it nearly didn't happen!  The tickets were ordered last night and were collected just before this evenings performance but, then we found out the tickets were for the performance that had taken place 5 hours earlier.   The box office eventually agreed to give us different seats (which were better than the original ones), and we settled down to see the performance.

The ballet was absolutely fantastic and is known for the all male ballet de corps.  I have been wanting to see this ballet for years and now I can cross it off my "must do before I die" list.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Spain for the weekend

I flew off to Spain last Thursday,  and I must have had one of the worst seats on the plane in the back row next to the loos.  I know I do not need very much leg room but even I had the seat in front against my knees.  Not very impressed by Vueling airlines!

I spent the weekend in Galicia, Spain, with my lovely nieces, Laura and Amber, and all the rest of the family, Maria, Neil and the grandparents in the family home. 

On the Friday we took the dogs out for a walk, but unfortunately when they were let off the leads they headed for a muddy area and had to be washed down when we got back to the house.  Laura and her granddad took care of dog washing. 

Saturday morning was a little foggy but the sun soon broke through and the fog cleared and it was a beautiful sunny day.  I decided to go for a walk to take a photograph of the lake.  

The afternoon was spent helping Laura with the scrapbooking of her graduation photos and some of her other scrapbook pages, which was really good fun.  

Maria has some lovely orchids around the house and I had take some pictures to capture these beautiful flowers.


Sunday we just chilled out and it was back to the UK for me on the Monday.  A really pleasant relaxing weekend and I look forward to my next visit. 

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

My herb garden

Since having new windows and doing away with net curtains I have decided to grow some herbs on my kitchen windowsill.   They are all coming along nicely, the mint, greek basil, thyme and chilli were all bought as plants and I have managed to keep them alive.   I have also grown another basil and chives from seed and although they are not as established as the others they are slowing getting there.

Red Sky in the morning

There have been some lovely sunsets over the last few weeks but there have also been some red skies in the morning.  This was the sky early on Monday morning and as the saying goes "Red sky in the morning shepherds warning" it was certainly right that day.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Spa day in Tunbridge Wells

My friend, Val and I had a wonderful day relaxing and being pampered at the Royal Tunbridge Wells Day Spa.   We had the lastminute.com vouchers which meant the day was very reasonably priced and we added a pedicure treatment and lunch to our day.   Then it was off to have a wonder around the Pantiles before heading for home.     Great way to spend a Monday.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Swimming lessons start

Back to swimming lessons today at the Aberdour School with the Aquacademy http://www.aquademy-swimming.co.uk/index.html

The school has this intriguing little cubby hole in the wall, which I think it is quite cute.

Camber, Lydd, Dungeness, Hythe and Folkstone

After leaving Rye we drove down to Camber, both Rob and I had spent holidays there as children. But I cannot image how we got to Camber in those days or even where we stayed.  The beach was looking very quiet and peaceful. 

We then drove through Lydd, where once upon a time many years ago I did some marshalling at a motor race meeting, did not find the circuit on this visit.    We went on to Dungeness to admire the power station (or perhaps not), we did see the lighthouse which was prepared for a wedding but managed to miss the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway.
We went on to Hythe on our quest to find somewhere for an afternoon tea and ended up at Folkestone.   Folkestone, however, is not worthy of any pictures, harsh but true.  

All in all a very pleasant couple of days.

Couple of days in Rye

Rob and I went down to Rye for a couple of days, we stayed in a very pleasant bed and breakfast guest house called the Willow Tree. http://www.willow-tree-house.com/index.html
I would definitely recommend this place, the rooms were nicely decorated and the breakfast was really good and the Willow Tree is only a short walk from the town centre.  

We spent some of Friday and Saturday strolling around the town and taking in all the sights of historical interest.

Rye is very picturesque and there is always time for a cream tea, which Rob is enjoying here.

There are always some interesting things to see around and about, such as the wind farm

< Cannonballs

                                             Sweets >

We had a walk down to Webbe's for a meal  and we enjoyed the local fish dishes and saw a lovely sunset.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Sunny afternoon in Cheam Park

It was such a beautiful sunny day today, this afternoon I went down to Cheam to do some shopping in the charity shops.  Bought some classical CD's that I can use when treating my reflexology clients, just need to download them on to my ipod and they will be ready to use.   I then went into Cheam Park, sat and read and enjoyed the sun.   The park looked lovely and green and was so peaceful.