November Antics

Well, contrary to my predictions at the end of last months blog, November turned out to be quite a busy month for us and the calendar quickly got filled up! We ended up getting out and about quite a lot and even managed a trip away for two nights…but more of that later.

The month started off well with a surprise visit by our friends Gill and Charles who came to have lunch with us at the flat when their original plans for a visit to family got cancelled at the last minute. It was lovely to see them of course and a nice chance to catch up with family news on both sides. I was able too to take them along to the Op shop in the afternoon as I headed off to do my Monday shift…although I didnt persuade them to buy anything! My Op shop shifts have continued all month as usual and I still really enjoy working there. I even sometimes manage to get out of the shop without buying anything…but that doesn’t happen very often in reality! So far this month I have bought a bargain leather jacket, a couple of really nice jumpers and numerous bits and pieces which were just begging to come home with me! I have also become very adept at smuggling things home in my handbag so that Geoff doesnt always notice their arrival for a while!

We have continued to lunch out most Wednesdays. So far, we have visited The Trout in Cockermouth (one of our favourite places) where we met up with our friends Linda and Mike and enjoyed both their company and the food of course! We went to eat in Brampton the next week where I rekindled happy memories of my youth, by eating in The Howard Arms. We had intended to follow this meal with a walk beside the River Gelt, but having got hopelessly lost (and driving round in circles foe quite a while) we decided to give up on that idea! The next Wednesday we were away on our little break, where of course we did have a couple of nice lunches but Ill leave that for now. Last week found us trying a new place for us, The Metal Bridge Inn near Gretna, as we were heading to the Gretna Gateway Outlet shops for some retail therapy. The meal we had at The Metal Bridge was really great, especially for me, as they had a “Light Bites” menu which allowed me to have a lovely roast dinner with just the right amount of food for my dietary restrictions, without having to leave a lot of food on my plate, which I hate doing. We will definitely go back there as the staff were lovely too and the prices very reasonable. We had another lunch out at the beginning of the month when we met up with Matthew, Susie and the grandchildren at Archers Café near Carnforth to give them Hadleys birthday presents. In fact, this was a full family gathering as Hazel and Phil came too, not to mention Xena! Its not often these days that we all get together, so it was a real treat for me. It was flipping freezing though so although we did have a bit of a walk and played with the dog and the kids for a while in the sea pools there, we didn`t linger too long after lunch! Ethan, of course, fell in the water (as always!) and that was the end of that, as we needed to get him some dry clothes and warmed up!

Much to my delight, Ive also been able to get to a few Christmas fairs and craft fairs this month. I so missed all that last year. We went to a nice craft fair at Netherby Hall and another at Lanercost this weekend but although there were some nice things there, I didnt get to tempted to buy anything. A nice little craft fair at the Cornerstone Café one Saturday, did get me interested in the local craft group who meet there on alternative Monday evenings and I did go along to their next meeting which I enjoyed very much. The ladies there made me very welcome -even if I declined to make a sock monkey that night -too much sewing for me – I dont sew remember! I will definitely go back though. We also enjoyed the coffee morning and craft stalls at our church one Saturday too. I ended up winning a lovely toy dog, there, in the raffle…which has since been donated to a local collection of toys for needy children for Christmas. My own craft making has continued with me knitting more small toys and characters and now Im on a mission to knit little angels to give away as we get nearer to Christmas. I have also made a few Christmas cards but I must admit to not really enjoying this activity quite so much as I did in France, I have to clear up after each session here – in France I used the gite and left everything where it was! Also cards here are so easy to buy and I really like supporting the charities here.

We really enjoyed a quiz night at long last too last week. This was another of the activities I really wanted to get back to when we came back to the UK. I love quizzes! This one was in Cornerstone again and was raising money for the TearFund. Our wonder team consisting of Geoff, Hazel, Phil and myself won, but to my disappointment (but the delight of my team members) the prize was a big tub of chocolates! PAH! It was great fun though and we all enjoyed it very much.

My swimming sessions have continued too this month and although Linda and I do quite a bit of chatting as we swim, we do get a few lengths in too! I had to go with Geoff last week as Linda was not available and although it was good, he doesn`t talk! Nor would he go for the usual cup of tea and scone which Linda and I do afterwards. He was a bit boring really!

Our trip away was to Glasgow. We had intended to visit Glasgow at the end of our Scottish holiday earlier this year but cancelled that visit because of Covid restrictions in the end. We decided to have a couple of nights there as neither of us have really visited before. We went by train (I love having a senior rail card again!) and had a very nice trip. Our hotel wasn`t wonderful (the heating in our room was not working and so we froze until heaters were supplied when we complained) but it was very central and so we were able to walk or take a bus or subway to the places we wanted to visit without any problems. We took the city bus tour, and hopped off at visit the Hunterian and Kelvingrove galleries which we really enjoyed. We went to the Willow Tea Rooms (where of course, we had to have tea and a scone!) as I love all the Rennie Mackintosh stuff there. We also went to the Botanic gardens and loved the glass houses there. Geoff was in his element, up close and personal with the magnificent tree ferns. We did a bit of shopping too of course. All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed Glasgow and were glad we had made the effort to go there.

In other news we have both been good and have had our flu vaccinations and our Covid booster vaccinations. We had the latter jab done at a drop-in centre in Carlisle where we were impressed by the efficiency of all the volunteers. Apart from a sore arm again for me, we didnt suffer any side effects again. I am very distressed by the new restrictions being imposed on us all again because of this new variant though. As you all know by now, I am not a fan of wearing masks (in fact I hate it) and I am heartily sick of the prospect of having to don them yet again if we go out shopping etc. Also, the new travel restrictions will only bring more misery to everyone who was enjoying a bit of freedom…not to mention putting more money into the coffers of those who supply the tests. This variant, as far as I can see, is a fast spreader but doesnt seem to be causing many health problems. I am just so fed up with all these restrictions to our freedom and ability to make our own decisions now. I know a lot of you will disagree with me, but I am entitled to my own opinion, remember!

The weather has taken a very wintery turn over the last few days here in Carlisle. We even had a fairly decent snowfall on Sunday. I am still very amused by the way folk react to snow here in the UK, having experienced many episodes of “over the welly tops” depths of snow whilst living on our hill in France. Mind you, I also have to say that having snow tyres on our car was a blessing -and a necessity where we lived. Our feeble attempt to go to church on Sunday resulted in the car being put back into its garage toute suite as the roads were very slippery. In France, the communes and authorities are very good at keeping the roads ploughed and gritted and so most folk can travel about safely if they have the right equipment. Here, even the pavements get treacherous very quickly.

The snow on Sunday did bring an unusual visitor to our garden too. A sparrowhawk dropped in and stayed for ages enjoying its meal of one of “my” birdies! As you all know, I love all the birds who visit my feeders, which are being well stocked every day now as the weather gets colder. We are still not sure which bird this intruder got, and while it was fascinating to watch it, at close range, in our garden, I am hoping it doesn`t make a habit of eating my feathered friends!

And so, we head off into December now. Im afraid Im not feeling very festive just yet, despite knitting numerous little Santas and angels to give to people as presents! We will get round to putting up a tree…but not yet. We do have a few things planned in December though, including a very posh reunion dinner at Geoff`s old college in Cambridge, to mark 50 years since he and his friends started their studies there. I have spent the last week assembling a suitable outfit for that as I got rid of most of my posh clothes when we moved here and any that remain do not fit anymore. My dress is on loan from Hazel (who would ever have thought that a few years ago…that I would be borrowing her clothes??), I have bought a sparkly fine bolero (from the Op Shop of course!) and treated myself to a pair of high heeled shoes (yes you read that right!) last week. So, Cinderella can now go to the ball…even if she might not be able to walk there! We are both looking forward to this dinner very much…and spending a couple of nights in Cambridge will be nice too. We have more Christmas fairs and events to go to as the month goes on too…but that is all for next months blog. For now…

A bientot mes amis