Day 101

Well according to the recording in my diary.

101 days since the 17th March. 101 days of altered life.

Lockdown didn’t begin then. It started the following week, on Monday 23rd. But on the 17th I wrote in my diary , “Odd day. Sort of day one” .  The day before there’d been  a press conference discouraging us from all non essential social contact, recommending against visits to cafes, bars, theatres etc.

It wasn’t an order, not at that point.

On the 17th I had my hair done, by the 18th I began to hear of friends self isolating. Our walking group met for the last time on the 19th.  Instead of the usual groups of two or three people of the same pace chatting together, we were a long straggly line.  Friday the 20th we returned from the shops to find signs warning of Covid in the area*

And so it’s continued, through an often glorious Spring.

 

My May blogathon. Horrible word. Sorry.

Lots of baking

Many,

many,

photos of DogS.

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“you can never have too many photos of me”

And now things are beginning to change.

We’ve had drinks with friends in their and our garden.

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And we have plans to take our fortnightly quiz** “live” next time.

But it’s still baby steps, as it should be. And always with fingers crossed and touching wood. Though it’s science and hygiene that will guard against a second wave.

I’m looking forward to lots of things: travelling beyond the town to take DogS to the beach,  enjoying tea and a scone at the outdoor cafe afterwards, visiting a garden.               MasterS being able to visit. Meeting family and friends. Conversations that’s aren’t yelled.

I wish I could honestly say it’s all the simple things. But that’s not me.

I want to be able to travel further.  To sit with a drink as the sun sets***, hearing a language that’s not my own.

But I’ll wait. Keep with the baby steps. Appreciate what I’ve got.

Resist the temptation to rearrange the acceptance mantra  “it is like this”.

And now I’m off to bake.

Until next time.

Marina xx

 

 

* Yes, I have documented this before.

**We do this online with two other households, each writing a round of questions. For big money prizes. So weather permitting we’ll all meet up outside. And yell the questions at each other.

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sometimes it’s veg from the garden 

***we’re just past the solstice, the sun sets at around 10pm.

 

the 31st May

Well, it’ s not that I have any particular fondness for this date. It’s not my birthday or anything.  But today I’ve completed the challenge I set myself.  Or will do as long as I get this finished and posted before midnight UK time.

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“yoo don’t look verry busy to me”

 

Earlier today an email  took me to this post.  And that set me thinking.

Have my posts managed to either “Entertain”, “Teach” or “Inspire” ?

Right then, entertain? Well if you like pictures of dogs or baking, then yes.

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“there be peoples who don’t like pictures of dogs???”

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Oops!, Guess who bought the wrong type of cream?

Perhaps that’s not your thing and you’d prefer some photos of nature?

Or a lovely travel shot?

 

Educate? Well I learned something from a blog I read today.  Two words “poop tube” .

Go and read it yourself.

But that doesn’t count. I have to do the educating.

So, here goes, some facts about May 31st.

On this day in 2017 a new word entered our world – “Covfefe”,

in 1911 the Titanic was launched in Belfast,

and in 1669 Samuel Pepys made the last entry in his diary.

He stopped due to his bad eyesight.    Insert your own joke here*

Inspire? Nope, I don’t think so.

But I was inspired to do this by my friend’s more physical challenge. She’s been successful and I so have I. Well I got here.

And now as it’s a lovely sunny evening, I’m going to enjoy a nice cool drink.

Cheers until next time,

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Marina xx

 

*perhaps only UK readers.

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Ile de Re

I must start with an apology, I’m getting a strong sense of Deja-vu with this post. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about Ile deRe before, but on a quick scan back through old posts couldn’t find one. It’s possibly on my old blog? If it does turn up it would be interesting to see if I’ve written the same things and used the same photos? A pretty high chance I think.

Why today? Well quite often on sunny days, and today had been very sunny, I’m struck by the similarities between  it, and “my” island.

We have the same sort of small white cottages, though ours were built to house slate miners. There aren’t miners anymore but you can find  fishermen (yes it is always men), here. We even have oyster beds, Ile de Re is famous for oysters.  But lobsters, crab and langoustines are dominate here.

Both islands have lots of lovely summer flowers.

And both  are on the Atlantic coast, connected to the mainland  by a bridge.

Our trip to Ile de Re was quite a while ago, 2013 and it was our first trip abroad with DogS. And because of that, also the first time we crossed the channel using Le Shuttle.

First impressions weren’t great. We couldn’t even see the island as we drove onto the bridge . There was a fog worthy of an Edinburgh haar*

Luckily the weather improved, most days were nice and sunny.   We had a lovely time exploring, eating seafood, shopping in the market, even the odd drink.

Oh and cycling. Well sort of I had a tricycle.

And though she wasn’t keen at first, DogS came to love the box. Specially when  I picked up speed, and she could enjoy the wind through her fur.

She made friends too

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DogS is the very hairy one on the right

but was less keen on “Les Chats”.

We were based in St Martin de Re which is the capital, and that’s where the differences start. There’s a fabulous local shop here,  but not the kind of designer boutiques you find in Ile de Re. None of our three villages could be called the “capital”.

And we don’t have donkeys, and certainly no donkeys in stripy pyjamas.

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this one is “au naturel” but traditionally they wear stripy PJs to protect their legs from salt and beasties when they work in the marshes

There’s no point in my giving names of bars or restaurants that we liked, seven years on so much may have changed. Even without Covid-19.

One recommendation, we visited in June and our accommodation was almost 50%  cheaper  than it would have been in the peak months (mostlyAugust when Parisians visit). And it was still a nice buzzy place in the slightly off season. It would be interesting to visit in the off season, but I imagine a very different experience.

Oh and a warning, it was the place I took this photograph.  While it was easy to eat out, visit the shops and even some of the monuments, many of the beaches were off limits for dogs

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So on  a lovely sunny day at home it’s been  nice to remember another pretty island and a happy holiday.

Until tomorrow

Marina xx

*Haar – a sea fog common on Scotland’s east coast, usually in Spring.

Feeling slightly sad at seeing my former favourite Sonia Rykiel top. Repurposed last year when it became too holey to wear or repair.

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Baking 3

But with a difference, I’m baking dog biscuits.

MasterS gave us this book for Christmas

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it’s full of recipes for dishes you can share with your dog. Now we have a rule that DogS is not fed at the table while we’re eating. Ok, except for occasional* bits of cheese when she looks specially hungry.

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But I thought it would be nice for her to have some nice tasty homemade treats. Although I have to balance that with the knowledge that she will happily graze on rabbit poo**

I found a recipe that a) required only ingredients I had to hand and b) included some of her favourite things. No, not rabbit poo, tho’ I’ve access to a plentiful supply of that. Cheese and carrots. And had the added attraction of parsley, for fresh breath. DogS is mostly pescatarian which gives her a certain, piquancy around the mouth area.

Here’s the ingredients and the rolled out dough.

 

Now the book said to use a bone shaped cutter, but I don’t have one of those.

So I tried free hand

ready to bake

but quickly swapped to the star shaped cutter

And here they are all baked and ready to eat

all baked

that’s the most bonelike one at the front 

But as they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

So I’ll leave you with DogS,

Who I think approves.

Until tomorrow

Marina xx

 

*quite often

**and on one memorable occasion sheep poo. The outcome was not pretty, and smelled worse.

inspiration.

And today that is something I am most definitely lacking.

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Aaaargh!

I wondered about another baking post, they’ve been popular. But the problem with that is I’ll end up with cake. And I like cake. A lot.  Here’s one I “rescued” from the shops on Thursday. And ok  I haven’t eaten all of it, just most of it.

Never mind “The VeryHungry Caterpillar”  I’m the “always hungry and can usually manage a little something even when I’m not, Marina”

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he once had lots of segments and three more feet.

Compounded with that,  MrS made another batch of ice-cream and these!

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I’m pretty jealous, I’ve always failed with meringues

So so no baking for me, well unless it’s doggy biscuits

very cute Bramble pic

“sounds good to me”

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“fink we have all the ‘gredients”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know it probably only matters to me but I don’t want to repeat myself too much. And I haven’t been further than the shops since the middle  of March. So no travel nor days out inspiration for posts. At least last time I challenged myself,  I gave myself a theme. Although with 31 days perhaps I didn’t really think that one out…..

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I just went  off piste after “z”.

We’ve had horrible wet weather for the past few days too. So even though I’ve had my usual walks they haven’t been as productive.

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“Mmm, can’t say we’re too impressed either”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I’ve spent far too much time fuming at the news. Scrolling through Twitter, liking, re tweeting and searching for a pithy comment to make in my own tweets.  But mostly just sinking into an incoherent spluttering “Whaaaat???”, “Buuuttt” .

It’s all here.

As  I write it seems that our Prime Minister’s chief adviser remains in post.

Those incoherent splutters are threatening to overtake me again.

It’s such arrogance and disdain; for all the people who have died, have lost  family and friends, and have simply obeyed the rules to try and keep others safe.

I think I’m going to take DogS’s example,

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find myself a comfy chair, and my book.

 

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Until tomorrow,

Marina xx

 

 

 

Salamanca

I’d intended documenting my walk today, but the weather was against me. It’s really wet and windy, more Autumn than Spring. So I’ve decided to focus on another city from our October trip.

Salamanca in Spain’s Castilla y Leon region. We treated ourselves in this city and stayed at the plush Hospes Palacio de San Esteban , converted from part of a Dominican convent and right in the old heart of the city.

outof windowThis is the view from our room, into the cloister. Opposite is still a religious building.

We all had comfy beds, 

and treats too but we ate ours up before I could take picture of them.  DogS was made very welcome and we were allowed to leave her in the room while we enjoyed our dinner.

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We had an afternoon and one full day to explore. For our afternoon we just wandered around getting a feel for the city. Next day we headed out for breakfast , where DogS made a friend.

meeting a daxieHe was a lovely wire haired dachshund.

We  gave her a good walk along the river Tormes, where we met another dachshund! A smooth, black and tan one this time*.  We’d decided that we wanted to visit the Casa Lis a gorgeous Art Nouveau, or Modernista as it’s known in Spain,  building housing the museum of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. So once DogS was happily tired we took her back to the hotel where she could enjoy her luxury bed.

Now, when I was choosing my photos for this post I was convinced that there must be some I’d not loaded from my camera, or accidentally deleted. I mean I don’t have any of the Plaza Mayor**, one of the main sights of Salamanca. But there’s a good reason why I have none of the Casa Lis collections, photography isn’t allowed inside. You’re encouraged to just look at and enjoy the exhibits.  To be in the moment with them.

There’s a cafe inside but we didn’t want to leave DogS alone for too long.   We collected her from the hotel and looked around for a nice place for lunch. 

Then it was time for more exploring. We spent a long time looking for the stone frog on the facade of the university , before we realised we were looking at the wrong building! MrS eventually spotted it with a little help from the guidebook 

exterior universityWe had time for one more visit and decided on the old Cathedral. So we followed the map and walked round and round looking for the way in.  No luck, we could only find the entrance to the “New” Cathedral***.  I can’t remember how we found out the truth, it’s a “Russian doll” type set up. The old Cathedral is inside the new one.  And we’d only had a glass of wine with our lunch. We had planned on taking turns on going in, while the other stayed outside with DogS. I went in first, it was about fifteen minutes before last entry. But then it took a while to find the old Romanesque parts. And I didn’t want to be scurrying through not looking at anything else. By the time I reached the old parts I realised that there wouldn’t be time for me to get out, again,  find MrS,  and for him to buy a ticket and visit. So I stayed until closing time, and it was one place where I did take lots of  photos. 

We only touched the surface of a lovely city and would like to go back some day.

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Until tomorrow,

Marina xx

*DogS has a “fur-cousin” Lemmy who is a mini longhaired dachshund – there’s picture of him here.

**It’s beautiful, with cafes and shops at street level and balconies above. Like many Spanish plazas it was once the site of bullfights. When we visited, the centre of it was full of stalls  being prepared for a fair or exhibition,  but it didn’t open while we were there. 

***the “New” one is pretty old too 

 

Gardens

I’m not much of a gardener but love visiting and being in gardens. My mother filled her small terraced garden with blooms

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and my sister has inherited Mum’s green fingers and has a lovely garden,

but I’m usually having too much fun to take photos which do it justice.

I’m lucky to have two beautiful open gardens right on the doorstep and another just a short drive away.

 

We can’t visit them at the moment but will be back before too long.

I’ve enjoyed the cool of beautiful gardens in hot places, like these in the Philippines

 

and the Jardin Botanico  and Parque del Drago in Tenerife.

 

And then there’s the formal  French splendour of Villandry in the Loire valley.

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“I be a bit worried ’bout what he’s planning”

Or this at the Casa de Mateus  in Portugal.

 

This French garden at Varengeville- sur Mer in Normandy was less formal.

As were these glorious borders at Dyffryn gardens in South Wales

 

But there then there are places that have it all…..

Dumfries House in Ayrshire, possibly my favourite garden ever*.  All my favourite flowers, delphiniums, cornflowers, poppies, lavender, it was absolutely gorgeous. The house is beautiful too, it’s a great day out.  But the joy of visiting gardens is that DogS can come too**. That’s why we chose Villandry as our Loire chateau.

Like many others we’ve been spending quite a lot of lockdown time in the garden. But it’s still very much a work in progress.  And of course at the mercy of bambi and the  bunnies.

Until tomorrow,

Marina xx

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Bringing the garden indoors***

 

*to visit.

**all the gardens mentioned in the UK or mainland Europe were dog friendly at the time of visiting

***that’s from last year, the sweet peas are at least a month away from flowering

Beaches

I love going to the beach. It’s top of my list of places to go once we can make non essential journeys. We live beside the sea

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and it’s beautiful, but we don’t have a typical sandy beach.

We don’t have to drive very far to find one, just the other side of our nearest town. Simply out of bounds for us for now.

But it will be our first trip, because if there’s “someone” who likes a beach more than me, then it’s DogS.

Particularly if there’s a tennis ball around, the scruffier the better.

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this was not a welcome sign

Although  I’m not a sunbather my favourite travel destinations are beside the sea.

sunset looking east

 

Home

and away,

wild and urban.

On a hot sunny beach you’ll find me under an umbrella with a book, not stretched out soaking up the rays. I like paddling though, and swimming when it’s warm enough. I learned to swim in the sea (the Bristol Channel) and love the feeling of the waves.  I’m not so hardy these days and prefer warmer seas so don’t get a dip as often. I’m not a particular thrill seeker and hate the term “bucket list” but I’d love to try waterskiing.

I like a seaside cafe

or sometimes, something grander.

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I try to leave only

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but pick up the occasional

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and can get quite obsessive about clearing up

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One of my favourite films was set not too far away.  Here I am acting out one of the scenes.

 

 

I’m looking forward to feeling the sand between my toes again.

Version 2

Until tomorrow

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Having fun with my sister

I’ve been having fun with her all my life.

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that’s me with the ears (and bonnet)

It might have been less fun for her. After all I just appeared one day, a surprise when she got home from school. No careful preparation for new siblings back then. And I certainly didn’t bring her a gift. I was more likely to trash her toys. Not deliberately,  I was just a little *enthusiastic* Although she did once get her own back with a certain Sindy hairdressing incident.

We live hundreds of miles apart and both hate the telephone but manage to stay close.

Usually  we manage to meet up a few times a year. And pick up where we left off.

Whether  it’s Christmas

a birthday.

Or just to have fun.

Which often involves eating,

and drinking.

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Mmmm, I think this might have been mine

She’s a cat lover

and Mum to one.

Then there are  the men in her life.

 

She’a a scientist, crafter, gardener….

And who else could supply one of these?

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it starred in our panto this year

Doing my yoga this morning I found this on my mat

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It’s a few years old now and came with this

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I’m not sure how it got there, I haven’t used that bag since Christmas.

I hope it’s not too long before I use it again.

And can send one of these, to say we’re not far away.

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Until tomorrow

Marina xx

Stopping for lunch

These days I start thinking about lunch pretty much right after breakfast, certainly no later than mid morning.

Who am I trying to kid?  This is normal , not lockdown behaviour for me.

I have to be very, very busy or ill,  not to have at least part of my mind on my next meal.

That’s today’s lunch by the way, cheesy beans on toast. Nothing fancy but quite delicious.

Anyway, lunch at home might be important, but lunch on the road?       Well…….

On our October trip, yes that again,  I planned our pitstops around nice breaks for lunch. And the chance of a bit of sightseeing. We were doing far too many miles to rely solely on the delights of the motorway service station*  And  they are rarely dog friendly**

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“Dunno why. I has luvverly table manners”

So,  on the road in October. Our first stop was  The Fleece Inn in Lancashire. Not only a pub and place to stay, it was also a shop and community hub. I hope it’s surviving the lockdown.

The book has been great way to find off motorway stops but it’s not infallible. We once drove miles along twisty car filled roads in Surrey to find a place that was dog friendly only on its very small terrace. Luckily it was a sunny day.

On the way  to Saumur we stopped off in Angers, to view the Tapestry and eat crepes in a cone. And in a damp Pamplona,  with MrS feeling a bit ill back at the hotel, I trudged around trying to find somewhere I could get a waiter to serve a crazy lady outside***

Street scene in Angers, my lunch in Pamplona.

On our return through France, away from the motorways we found a couple of towns that would have been fun to explore.

We made a planned stop in Rodez as it was convenient for our route between Albi and Le Puy . It looked interesting with a fine church and a fancy new museum****. But we just stopped for a quick lunch in a tiny cafe and filed it away for “future visit”.

We stopped a bit longer in Laon, unplanned this time. It  happened along conveniently at lunchtime. It was a bit like Le Puy, though not so far off the beaten track. Obviously hugely important in the past,  a stop for pilgrims along  the Camino.  As so many of our stops had been, though mostly by chance.

Its fine Cathedral was visible for miles, high above the otherwise flat countryside.

The empty streets were being prepared for Christmas and there seemed to be a municipal rollercoaster. This turned out to be a funicular, which like too many of the shops, had been closed for a few years.  Our first choice restaurant wasn’t dog friendly, not common in France, but we didn’t go hungry.

Rainbow drops and our robust lunch

It had a melancholy air.

Wandering about, eating lunch in a cafe, being among people.

Life enriching things.

Missing things.

Things I hope will return.

Until tomorrow

Marina xx

 

*there are some really good ones, check out the Westmorland group

**Cairn Lodge on the M74 is an exception, there is an indoor dog friendly eating area. Best if you are travelling with someone as you can’t take them into the food service area.

***we found very few places where DogS was allowed inside in Spain, so it was tricky alone on a wet day.

****where we parked, it seemed secure and I’m quite paranoid about parking when we have a fully laden car.