Thursday, 7 December 2017


Just a quick hello from me as I have been reading all your blogs but not had much time to comment or do a post myself.  December is such a busy month for us all.   Hubby has gone off to find a Christmas tree (there is an elderly man near us who digs rooted trees on his own land at a good price so we are going for one of his as we can plant it afterwards.

I just wanted to show you my lovely cup and saucer from fellow blogger Bristow Mum who had the idea of sending spare cups from her set to her pen pals so we can all sort of have tea together, it's such a friendly idea and I have my morning tea in it often.

The book was really good by the way; a bookseller opens a shop on a barge to fulfill her ambition to travel the UK canals by boat, she advertised herself on local media and people came to support her along the journey by buying the books, sometimes she traded with things like a haircut or a cooked dinner, it was fun to read.

This week I am reading Susan Branch 'Martha's Vineyard' for the second time.  I like reading her descriptions of the little cottage she bought and how she made it homely, the interesting things she found in the attic belonging to the previous owner and her walks through the woods to the beach.

The UK is expecting a storm so I won't be in the woods for a while, but am keen to get out and pick holly and ivy to decorate the front door.  I like to hang it on 21 December (a tradition as my mother observed Yule), there is plenty of time yet.  I showed my neighbour how to make a twine circular base a few weeks back and we put aside to dry,   we will be foraging for decorative bits and pieces to finish off.  Last year I didn't do a circle for my own door, but this swag.

 When we took our Christmas decorations out this weekend we found quite a few had broken so I have been looking out for replacements.  I prefer old and pre-loved things where possible and was lucky to find this boxed set of baubles in a charity shop for £1.50.

 The label, Winfield, is the old brand name Woolworth's sold their goods under.  Similar ones sell well as 'Vintage Baubles'  on EBay but I am keeping mine.  Woolworth's ceased trading in the UK in 2009.  It became such a household name, everyone called the stores Woollies and during my 60s childhood no Saturday was complete without a trip to the shop for sweets, to look at toys or to buy household goods - you always went there first as it was affordable.

My post is a bit disjointed and rushed, sorry, we have a couple of days away now so am busy packing and preparing.  Back soon. 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Travelling lighter next time!

 I found this quote, sometimes attributed to Audrey Hepburn because she quoted it, but written by Sam Levenson, Comedian:  I have heard bits of it many times but here in it's entirety it's a good reminder that whilst we all love to look our best and there's nothing wrong with a bit of indulgence either, it's good to keep things in perspective, this verse does that I think. 

"For attractive lips, Speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, Seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, Share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, Let a child run their fingers through it once a day. For poise, Walk with the knowledge you'll NEVER walk alone. PEOPLE, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw-out ANYbody. Remember, If you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of YOUR arm. As you grow older,you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others. The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, The figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, Because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, But true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, And the beauty of a woman with passing years-only grows!
 What made me think about and seek out this quote was that I took too many things on my Costa Rica trip, mainly because of the climate changes from mountain to beach but also because I didn't think about mixing and matching, making do and most of all travelling lighter.  I know on my next holiday I can manage with far less and so have made a list of favourites.

All my clothes were bought in sales or charity shops/Ebay, are washable and even the silk dress could have gone without ironing.  The dress was a present from hubby for 35th wedding anniversary and a bit of a treat which he found  in the sales.

I took a stripey Tesco cool bag and used for the beach as it was waterproof and cool and also handy used to pack toiletries when in the suitcase... it was 5 years old and the zip broke so I will look for a replacement. 

Peach pashmina, wore it every evening
Beads and bangles from charity shops for 99p each collected over the year
Beaded purses for evenings (Primark £3 each)
Hand luggage was my gym bag, fitted under seat/held laptop and was very light
Leather thongs for beach/pool .. Primark eight pounds, comfy
Leather slip on trainers for serious walking
Sparkly heels for evenings (Pep £5)
Undies - seven pairs will do as much time is spent in bikinis
Bikinis - 3
Sarongs - 3 (also make great wraps/scarves and can be tied as a dress too.
Silk dress/removable lining - wear without lining next time as it's hot and makes me look huge!
Cotton lined shift dress
Split leg trousers,very comfy and versatile
Assorted coloured vest tops x 4
White Cotton top x 1 ***I regret not taking a leather belt for this!
Denim shorts
White cotton shorts

East sale silk dress, washable

dress and pashmina Jaba Yard, Primark thongs

split leg trousers (monsoon 50% sale)

Sorry, bit out of focus - my kaftans  were all bought in sales over the last two years and got worn daily ... with bikinis and in the evening with shorts.  I could never have too many but there seem hard to find.

I took a lot of medications 'just in case', insect repellant, sun cream, shampoo/conditioner and moisturiser, nail varnish/remover, toothpaste as it would have been expensive to buy in the resort.  7 days of the holiday was spent with a throat infection so I was glad I brought antiseptic spray and ibuprofen!  I would only pack all these things if they are cheaper at home though.  it was forty pounds for sunscreen at our hotel, seven pounds from home for example.

I downloaded library books and magazines free to my tablet and read offline to save weight but prefer paperbacks to be honest so might get a few charity shop books I can leave behind next time.

I noticed plenty of shapely, stylish  ladies who wore tight clothing and looked fabulous, I think their secret is confidence and good posture.  The gold bikini is impressive, don't you think?

Hope they didn't mind me taking snaps - in the unlikely event anyone objects I would, of course, remove immediately!

There was some lovely 70s feel art around the hotel riu Sardinal which I would like to have taken home...  would love the orange one for my wall!

Hope you enjoyed my post, feel free to share your travel and packing tips in the comments as I really appreciate it.   Which are your most versatile items of clothing that always go on holiday with you?

Friday, 3 November 2017

Trip to Costa Rica

We travelled from Liberia to the Monte Verde cloud forest of Costa Rica.  The country is land locked and has no army, only police.  The Government therefore puts its funds into education and hospitals/health care, to which everyone has access.  Every Costa Rican we met values their beautiful resources and is very environmentally aware, they are undoubtedly very proud of the beautiful forests and wildlife and clearly see themselves as caretakers and ambassadors.

  After a 10 hour flight into Liberia our journey continued by van (4 hours) along bumpy, potholed tracks, up and down twisting, narrow roads with sheer drops along cliffs with fabulous views over Lake Arenal. 

Only hubby and I were on this trip so we had the guides and drivers to ourselves for the majority of our excursions, unexpected and very lucky. Some others had cancelled due to concerns of Hurricane Nate aftermath - there was an impact, roads were closed and minor roads had to be used, we encountered fallen trees and bits of road that had been washed away, but nothing sufficient to stop us getting there safely and having a fabulous trip.  The country has a good infrastructure and things were getting back to normal very quickly in the regions we visited.

We watched the sun set over the active volcano at Arenal from our lodge veranda and swam by starlight in beautiful natural hot springs whilst listening to the sounds of night insects.  The waters are the result of the volcanic heat and are a pleasant bathtime temperature of up to 40 degrees fahrenheit.

Arenal natural hot springs 

Despite some disruption locally, our drivers never failed to turn up for us or get us to our next step of the journey. Approximately half of the public area of the Monte Verde National Park was closed to tourists due to storm damage and some of the hanging bridges were not safe to walk, but we saw plenty and walked 6 of the hanging bridges and also took the cable car.   We were told the monkies had moved away two days before the hurricane and were only gradually returning so I think we were lucky to see this one on a river trip.

This is one of the hanging bridges, they are quite wobbly and sway a lot, especially if you have several people walking across them at once!  I found them a bit scary as you can see right through their mesh floors and it's a long way down.

Monte Verde Cloud Forest, hanging bridge
Every Costa Rican we met had great interest and pride in the animals and forest.  The week before we arrived the Government had passed a new rule that animals cannot be captive/used for tourist photography any longer, we were very pleased to know the only animals we were likely to see were free to roam their natural habitat, in fact they were hard to spot at all sometimes!

We saw cayman gliding alongside our river boat, gekkos and bats,  the weather could change suddenly  from torrential rain that lasts for days to steamy tropical heat and sunshine within a few hours so rain jackets and bikinis were the most suitable attire!

I liked seeing the little villages with their brightly coloured houses, some had the tiniest gardens bursting with fruit and flowers.

Costa Rican men both sound asleep on the road side, Monte Verde

Our guide on the river trip took us to a little cafĂ© where they prepared  salad for us and fresh pineapple picked by the driver that morning from the surrounding fields, honestly the best pineapple I have ever tasted.


entrance to the Tree House restaurant

We ate dinner at the Tree House in Monte Verde which has a mature tree growing inside it - no roof, so when it rains (which it did), you just get wet (or find a better table!), so much fun and delicious food, so fun we came back and had lunch! (pizza, pasta, beer, great meringue music from live band).

After two nights at Arenal Springs, we movedon to Monte Verde and spent two nights at El Establo, a family run guest house of Quaker origin.  Quakers who, due to their pacifist beliefs, wanted to escape war/national service in the U.S. came to start a new life farming in Monte Verde in the earlly 1950s.  Don Juan Cruz, now in his 90s (and sometimes seen overseeing his plantation even today, was among the 44 families that settled, his sons now run the family business, Don Juan coffee plantation.  We went on a tour and learned how the coffee is grown, harvested and roasted on a small scale.  This plantation is different because it has resisted mass producing/modern methods and much of the work is done by hand with basic, hand operated machinery.

These carts are not used much these days, although a few are around, the wheels (I think) would make the most fabulous coffee table tops!

The beans are still gathered by hand in these baskets and the pickers are paid by weight but also by quality as they must be picked without damage to the product or to the plant. When full this is a 12kg load.

We finished our holiday at Sardinal, Guanacaste, with a mixture of heavy rain and sunshine, enjoying cocktails at the bar, walks on the beach (volcanic sand) and searching out seashells.

I only wore half the clothes I took with me and will do a post about travelling lighter as I have certainly learned that less is more where suitcases are concerned!

Hope you enjoyed having a taste of my trip and that the post wasnt too long (I could go on but you might nod off!).. I'm off to fight jet lag and laundry now!

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Catching up on your blogs whilst waiting out a tropical storm in Costa Rica...

Sardinal, guanacaste, costa rica

No sunbathing but plenty of wild life, just spent four days at monteverde cloud forest.   We saw the damage left by hurricane Nate but it didnt stop us doing everything, there were some mudslides, half the National park was closed due to trees down, the country had declared state of emergency before we arrived but everyone has given us the best possible fabulous experience.   We were only people on the tour so had drivers and guides all for us as others didnt come... pics of fluffy animals and pretty scenery on our return...Our pictures were taken on a new camera so fingers crossed I can work out how to do a blog post with them when eventually make it home!

This  is now the beach part of the holiday but sunbathing is cancelled... it is very wet and windy but very tropical! So I am not complaining despite  being currently confined to our room.

Monday, 2 October 2017


It's important to remember we all have magic inside us
JK Rowling
I have read every Harry Potter book and seen every film
her stories fire the imagination
I decided to watch the films again throughout October

Hello folks, I am going to bombard you with Autumnal colour today.  In the woods and in our little garden we had some fabulous fallen leaves, too good to leave on the ground, they had to come home.  I could have taken sacks full, there were so many to choose from.  In the house we have brought out our green and red throws, our green squashy cushions and our homely lamps for darker evenings.

Isn't this lovely, a little peak into the field on our walk, Sunday.

We have had this pretty glass bowl a long time, we bought it in France, I like it full of bright green prickly chestnuts - must go and find some :).....

We brought out our gingerbread man mugs and teapot and my little wooden 
toadstools that I was gifted some years ago but treasure (thank you) ...

Remember that swap? a loooong time ago, hosted by Floss over in France, all about appreciating the things we already had around us ... I think that's what's going on here,a bit of gratitude.

Here's my little leaf brooch, beautifully hand dyed and stitched, I was a lucky winner of a blog giveaway.  Still treasure it.....

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers"
L M Montgomery
(Author of Anne of Green Gables, who probably almost invented Thankfulness!)

"I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself
than be crowded on a velvet cushion"
Henry David Thoreaux
(philosopher, environmentalist and woodland dweller)

By the way, Pompom has started a nature journal and some other bloggers  have joined in, you might enjoy a visit.  I am joining  in, each Season I will do some painting... this is my little something for October, still adding to it as October has only just begun (in fact,I would like it to last much longer than a month) ....

I do like natural things, a tree made from real wood, what else?

 Whatever it is that stirs your soul, listen to that. Everything else is just noise.
 ~Nicole Lyons (poet)

 I do listen to things that stir my soul, don't you? my family, my cat, trees.
These hawthorn bushes needed further investigation, underneath, just out of sight and far too dark to show you, was a small and perfect space for a fairy grotto, or a den, or a fox to make his home... I wanted to be Alice and shrink so I could creep in, I was too big.

The little house below is on one of my regular walks, it's right in the woods, empty, I would quite like to have it.  I would call it Pumpkin Cottage, paint the door orange and fill that garden with vegetables and flowers - I hope someone does some day soon.

P.s. Today I went to the dentist and it struck me that having admired the lovely library I use, I had totally neglected the beauty of the dentists! I'm not kidding - it's really old with original wood beams, writing on the ceiling with numbers (that was how they put places together in the old days each piece cut by hand and numbered to help put it together), Number 13 was written on the post next to my seat in the waiting room and I thought, how very Halloween!  I am not superstitious, but my mother was, I feel another post coming on!......

original Tudor houses, history of town is here:

It has the most delightful name too - Slipshoe Surgery .. you just image someone rushing out of there so fast their shoe slipped off!  Here's a picture displayed in the waiting room of what it was like 'in the old days'

and my seat in the waiting room with all that lovely wood and some old church pews to sit on:

I will leave you with one of my old silk paintings, I know it's years old, in a drawer somewhere languishing, but despite the ill treatment, it's my favourite.....

Footnote, I mention who the authors I quote are because before I use a quote I think I had better check that they are good people, then I get distracted and read more about them, before I know it time has slipped away! but I have learned something new so it wasn't wasted methinks.