Catherine’s Diary (40): 9 to 17 January 2021

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So who would have thought when we started this project of ‘Catherine’s Diary’ that she would still be going, after 40 entries. It may have occupied her time but it has also given a lot of pleasure to Readers and enabled her to keep in touch with family. Keep on going!!

9 January 2021

Testing new writing paper out, smaller than the other sort. I have had too much fresh air today, reason being, I put chocolate powder on my frozen strawberries, instead of in my mug, as I was having a milky drink. Washed the powder off with cold water, can’t waste my frozen fruit. Went down the road for a paper and bought some leeks (making leek and potato soup again), really foggy and cold this morning. When I arrived home, on the spur of the moment, went and posted my Diary. As luck would have it, I met a Postman and he offered to take it.

Amanda came round with my print-offs; tea towel excellent choice. I could relate to a few of the words (from ‘Oldies’ Text Code’). Amanda didn’t come in; we should keep apart for a while, this virus is rife. Amanda brought more tins for Tilly. I’m running out of cupboard space! I’m now stacking them half way up the stairs. Janine, a friend of Amanda’s, texted to see if I was still writing my Diary. I said I seem to talk about mostly cats, cat food, cat sick, birds, food deliveries, cooking. New skills abound. (Let’s face it, that is what Lockdown is all about)

10 January 2021

Cod steak treat today for everyone (except me); I’m having Chicken Kiev. Amanda phoned, exhausted from doing Zoom classes. She ordered more litter for me. Now doing three trays as Blackie is in, most of the time.

Jenny came round for a chat, at a social distance, for half an hour, as it’s still really cold here. She has a good walk before she comes. I look forward to it as it breaks my afternoon up. Had an unexpected call from Pam, nice to hear from her. Christopher, who doesn’t normally cook, is making Pam a Spanish Omelette. I wonder how it will turn out. Pam said she would text later with the results.

11 January 2021

Update text from Pam: Omelette was very tasty but Christopher couldn’t flip it as it was stuck in the pan. Still, Christopher, you made an effort to cook a meal. Back to blanching: I did more parsnips and carrots, good vegetable variety in the freezer again, and no sprouts. Can’t believe I’ve eaten them all.

Yesterday, I ate a lot of York Fruit jellies. I think the sugar gave my body a boost today. I vacuumed the living room, did a lot of hand washing and I made a vegetable soup, all before 10.30am then I had a shower. Time has gone fast today. I had a good giggle tonight when I texted Barbara to say that I had answered a question on University Challenge about ‘bricklaying’. She texted back “So when did you become an expert on bricks?”

12 January 2021

Due to boost of work yesterday morning, while trying to watch Professor Brian Cox on the Planets, I crashed out. All I remember is in 500 billion years there will be no Sun, and Venus is the hottest planet. I am interested in the sky, but not deeply. I used to watch school programmes years ago, but then I was a lot brighter!. Today, I caught the end of a science lesson, about how animals keep cool. Afterwards it was the Planets again; Mars this time. Professor Brian Cox says we could, in time, live there and we would be the Martians, but the air is very thin. That is all I can recall. Jupiter tomorrow. I’ll try and stay awake properly, no more excessive sugar for me. One more snippet I’ve remembered, the ‘Moon’ was named ‘Moon’ in 1919 by the IAU; in the past it had other names like ‘Lunar’ and ‘Selene’.

How about that? I have found, in an old dictionary, about a brick called a ‘stretcher’. It’s a brick or stone laid with length in direction of the wall. It’s not in my newer dictionaries, so pleased to see the meaning. I had a phone call from Amanda, telling me the order of litter was due at her house today. We had a chat about other things then she was resuming work (at home). It was nice to talk to her, passes the time. This morning I received a postcard from Barbara, Liz and Isabella, so nice to receive some mail. How lucky they are to have a Nature Reserve behind their home. Is there deer and foxes in there? (Answer: No). What really interested me is how Isabella gets her picture on the stamp (Answer: By using TouchNote). After the shower tonight, I had a chat with Tilly. We discussed our day and Bruce listens in. Tilly had a good comb. I wonder where fur comes from, so much fur comes out when I comb her hair.

13 January 2021

Though I haven’t done much, I feel more active today, or should I say ‘alert’! Yesterday, I was thinking of what I was going to do today, but it’s completely gone out of the window. Managed to take part part of the hoover upstairs though, cooked a roast dinner; we all had roast chicken. Got the Wheelie and Food Bins ready for tomorrow. We are back to normal collection day next week. Phone call from Vivienne and one from Amanda. Amanda has got me a ‘Sainsbury’s Pass’ for a year so I don’t pay the delivery fee, which is expensive when we are in Lockdown.

2pm was Jupiter. I’m afraid I found it hard to follow and I fell into a deep sleep. Will try again tomorrow.

14 January 2021

Up early, not my idea. Tinker jumping up and down on my bedside table, her idea! Blackie yowling, so shoved him in the garden, can’t have that noise first thing. Kettle on and started the feeding process. Blackie is now in, all cats fed, peace at last. Barbara beat me this morning with a “Good morning/how are you?/weather forecast” text. Well, its miserable weather here, but I’m fine and that’s what counts!

Cleaned cat trays, fresh litter then I cut the perforations on a roll of white bin bags. It’s so annoying when they don’t come apart cleanly. I did about 50 bags! All before 9am. Checked my diary to see what I did today. Food delivery is all I remembered

15 January 2021

Christine’s funeral. Up early, walked to the Crematorium slowly. Seven of us altogether. The service was warm and Christine’s life was interesting. In the eulogy, we were all mentioned, even down to my Diary and cats; it was nice to be included. Slow walk home, glass of Glenfiddich and two coffee Black Magic chocolates to Christine’s memory. I don’t know if I feel closure or not.

16 January 2021

Snow today. Amanda came round with flowers, tulips and irises, newspaper, Fruit Pastilles, French Fancies, three homemade Brownies and two bags of litter. I’m feeling better, Amanda!

Treated myself to a Curry Takeaway, no cooking tonight

17 January 2021

Hectic morning. Late afternoon I was going back to bed but Tinker had taken up residence on my bed, didn’t have the heart to shove her off!

Had shower, dressed, went to the shop and bought a paper plus a Word Search and magazine for Sue as she is self-isolating and is fed up. Thought the magazines might cheer her up (which they did). Two Crosswords to do; sent Christopher the ‘down’ clues, give his brain something to do, though he did ask me to give him ‘how many letters in each answer’. I ask you, you can’t have it easy Christopher! Isabella had the ‘across’ clues. This cat is so clever, though I expect she had some help from Barbara. £2000 split three ways, plenty of cat food for you Isabella and a meal for the rest of us when we meet again. Can’t wait to see you all!!

The tea towel that I have chosen for today is the ‘Solar System’ since Catherine seems to be spending her life with Professor Brian Cox!

Catherine’s Diary (39): 4 to 8 January 2021

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I hope that Readers of this Diary have read previous ones, lets face it we are on Number 39, so that I don’t have to do a complete re-run of who Catherine is and how it came about. The thing that I will say is that (a) Catherine is my aunt (b) she hand writes every diary (c) she posts them to me, with a note on the back of her envelope for the Postal Workers (d) Amanda is her daughter, Wade her son-in-law and Bruce her late husband (e) Catherine lives with Tilly, Tinker and Blackie (cats) and Rupert (the bear) (f) my cat is called Isabella. Up to date? On the back of today’s envelope: “Ate 16 sprouts in two days, going down fast. How unusual, not much to say. I still love my pen (a four coloured one with each letter in a different colour)

Still 4 January 2021

Posted my Diary at 12pm, my goodness it is so cold, couldn’t wait to get indoors. Fame at last for Isabella. She has sent another postcard of herself. I got my magnifying glass out and Isabella is on the stamp as well (this is a TouchNote card). Billboards next. Barbara and Liz will you be her agent?

Not looking forward to 8pm. I feel we are going into another Lockdown, though I think I am already in one. Haddock three-ways for the cats. Tinker checked the plates to see if anyone had left any fish, no chance. Luckily enough Amanda had booked a Sainsbury slot for Thursday. Because of Lockdown we are adding a few more essentials. Having an early night for a change. It’s been a good day!

5 January 2021

Up 7am, did the usual things, breakfast for us all. Robin, starling and two blackbirds came in the garden for seeds and mealy worms, and a drink of water. After a shower, cleaned the shower plug hole and put Bathroom Buster down the hole. Sue popped round with homemade cake. I put my coat on, as it was freezing standing at the door. I hadn’t seen her for a long while, had quite a lot to talk about, it passed some time. Phone call from Amanda. Good news. From tomorrow she can work from home, so pleased for her. The other news was that Amanda was getting more tins for Tilly.

Quiet afternoon, took myself to bed for a nap, didn’t sleep, just thinking about Lockdown. Had dinner, steak tonight, did mashed potato, a bit bland because I forgot to salt them, broccoli and carrots with cheese on top the grilled, a bit more variety. Later on, I did my recycling and I fed the birds ready for the morning. It was really chilly out there. Showered then watched ‘Death in Paradise’, missed most of it as a long-time friend, Emmie, who lives in Felixstowe phoned. I enjoyed our long chat. She lives right by the seaside. Me, I’d be in for a paddle every day; mind you, its a very long steep hill you have to go down to get there. After I hung up, suddenly felt very hungry, raided my stores upstairs and found some Stollen slices, had two with my ‘Bullit’ fruit drink. Just realised it’s 12.05am, I’m off to bed.

6 January 2021

Late getting up, 8am this morning. Blackie eager to come in. He ‘ummed and aahed’ last night in deciding whether to stay in, so in the end he stayed out. I had his food ready, only as he steps over the door, he’s miaowing, impatient cat!! Now on his chair for his nap. Two doves, one robin and a blue tit visited this morning. (I hope Catherine is signing up for the RSPB annual Bird Watch at the end of the month!!). After shower, went to the local shop for a paper and TV Magazine, not that I needed them. They had no milk or eggs. I personally think that they are keeping them back. On Sunday, there were stacks of eggs and milk, can’t all have gone in 3 days. Arrived back, took the secateurs and managed to cut back the clematis. As I was doing the gardening, the truck arrived. I said nothing today but “Hold on I have something for you” so I gave them their Christmas sweets which they thanked me for, wished me a happy new year. While I was outside, another friend passed, Helen from up the road. We chatted for about half an hour. Came in for warmth and tea, read my paper then I took my hoover for a spin. The cats fled upstairs! Took my Christmas tree off the bookcase and I went upstairs with it so Bruce could see it. And I’m sure that Bruce would find the Sprout decoration amusing. After my shower, checked the front door and it had been unlocked since 11am. Anyone could have walked in, lucky this time. I’ve had a good day, been busy for a change. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

7 January 2021

On the ball again today. Up at 8am. We all had breakfast, cat trays cleaned, recycling cleared from the kitchen, fruit in the ‘Bullet’ has been spun, ready for tonight, bit of cleaning done. Resting now until 1pm when the delivery arrives.

In a huggable mood with my Kitchen roll, my old friend ‘Plenty’ is back again. It came last week as well, plenty of cat food. Amanda has ordered a lot of different things which was a nice surprise. It doesn’t happen very often but the delivery driver wore a mask. I felt really tired this afternoon. I think it is to do with my new routine, so I packed myself off to bed, putting my electric blanket on, then Tinker decided to keep me company. We went out like a light! Had another odd dream which actually woke me up. The house I lived in before I left home had a large double garage. Bruce asked me to put his car in the garage but I couldn’t find his car key. Amanda also asked me to put her car in the garage but I was too scared in case I damaged it. The odd thing is that I don’t drive!

Fed the birds for the morning with seed. I treated them to some halved grapes and I grated them some cheese. Leaving the heating on tonight. It’s cold outside. Blackie’s in on his chair and Tinker, Tilly and I are off to bed.

8 January 2021

Good news, non-recycling gets taken away today. My bin weighs a ton, mostly to do with all the cat litter I get rid of.

I texted some people ‘Good morning, how are you?’ And gave a weather forecast. I got an answer from everyone almost straight away, most unusual. (That’s what Lockdown does for you, makes you want to keep in touch with people more than usual, if only by text). I prepared my dinner for tonight, Chicken Stirfry (and yes it was delicious). Sue popped round, to collect some chocolates, nuts and hard chocolate that I can’t eat, on the footpath. She was with Eddie (the dog) who was having a nice walk. Took Amanda’s advice and attempted to do the ‘Brussel Sprout’ jigsaw this afternoon, afternoons are really slow. How hard can this jigsaw be? (1) it’s for 8+ (2) only has 100 pieces but I didn’t realise it’s double-sided. Can’t make out whether its going to be round, square, triangular, oblong etc. One side is darkish green, the other side medium green. Talk about time passing, I did 10 pieces in two hours!!!

Today’s tea towel will be of Felixstowe since Catherine mentions Felixstowe and Amanda bought it for me, a family affair!

Umaynah’s Tea Towel Story

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First Guest Tea Towel of 2021. Exciting. I have only met Umaynah once, (and she is now 12) when she was about two months old, maybe younger. Her mother worked for me and she proudly brought her in to show the whole staff team. That was the end of work for that day. I have followed her progress during the years and seen photos. When Lockdown Number 1 came, I offered some children the chance to write a Diary for a week, about their experience of Lockdown. Umaynah took up the challenge and it was published in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum, under ‘We’re all in this together’. As part of those early days of Homeschooling, I also offered her a Fact Finding Challenge, ending with writing a Tea Towel Blog and she undertook those tasks. She wrote two Blogs, published on http://www.myteatowels.wordpress.com

At Christmas, I asked her if she would like to be the first Guest Tea Towel of 2021, choosing her own tea towel to write about, and she took up this challenge. So here is Umaynah’s Tea Towel Story:

“When I was asked to write about my favourite tea towel, I went through my Mum’s ‘Tea Towel Collection’. My Mum doesn’t have too many. She only has ‘Three in a Pack’ sets. This mint green one caught my eye and has to be my favourite from them all.

I like this tea towel because it is covered in writing of different styles and fonts and I really enjoy to write in different styles. I also like the positive messages written and the pictures are a fun addition to the writing”

Thank you Umaynah for that Tea Towel Story. Your Mum has always said that her tea towels were “boring” but I didn’t realise she bought ‘Three in a Pack’. You’ll have to teach her about more stylish tea towels!!

Catherine’s Diary (38): 28 December 2020 to 4 January 2021

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On the back of the envelope, from Harlow, which has the fourth highest Coronavirus infection rate in the country, Catherine says “Happy New Year to the Postal Workers, and Barbara’s Postman”. A kind and generous thought in this world of horrid acts and violence.

I’ve read Catherine’s 38th diary, looking for inspiration for a tea towel to use. There’s a lot about sleeping, going to bed, waking up early, I decided that ‘Goodnight’ would be appropriate.

28 January 2021

I have discovered a new kitchen skill, blanching. I mentioned to Mary about all the vegetables I had and she suggested blanching and freezing them, so I asked for the recipe. I did three parsnips, four carrots. On Sunday, I roasted a parsnip and it was tasty, so from now on I’m doing more blanching. Thank you Mary.

Sunday, a bad day for TV, I don’t know how I did it but I survived 8 hours, on and off, of ‘Lewis’. I’m not a great fan, and at one point, I went comatose, missed a couple of endings, nothing worse than not knowing whodunnit.

Jennie texted this morning: was I free for a visit?, always free I am. She was coming about 2pm so at 1.40pm I donned my coat, swept the footpath to acclimatise myself to the cold weather. I stood at the front door, Jennie at the end of the path. We chatted for half an hour, showed her my sprout Christmas decoration and sprout jigsaw and she had a good laugh over them.

I phoned Boots to order my medication as I don’t want to keep going up the town. With New Year looming it will probably take over a week. There is no rush as I’m well in advance.

29 December 2020

I had a tantrum this afternoon. Blackie more or less stays in the dining room, day and night with his own cat tray. I wanted to plug my small oven in. Instead of moving the cat tray, I squeezed past and somehow my foot caught the tray, it upended, litter everywhere, so cross was I. I then kicked it, bad move! Carpet got a good hoover, after I shooed Blackie outside, hoovered the kitchen, living room, hallway. I had done a good job, turned round to put the vacuum away and there was one piece of litter I’d missed, so irritating!!!. When I had sorted Blackie and his tray again, fed him. I rewarded myself with a large Snowball (the drink), no snow yet, maybe Friday or Saturday.

30 December 2020

Ventured out to the local shop for a paper, milk, eggs and TV Magazine. I needed a bit of exercise. I was going to pop a Thank You letter through Carol and Joan’s door but there are three steps and no rail to hold on to, so I didn’t chance it.

Delivery at 12.45pm, Amanda had put in Hagen Daas salted caramel ice lollies and frozen haddock for Tilly, Tinker and Blackie. They seem to like haddock more than cod.

1.45pm the Chiropodist arrived, feet comfortable once more. I had some left-over batter mix from yesterday so tonight I had pancakes with double cream and maple syrup. Delicious!

31 December 2020

Amanda was coming over between 11.30pm and 12.30am but circumstances changed. She offered to stand on the front path instead but I said no, much too cold to be doing that. I asked Amanda to sing with me, on the phone, two verses of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, which we did. It was for us, her Dad, Bruce and Christine. I had a couple of glasses of Prosecco then decided to have half a pizza, watched a bit of Jools Holland, bed at 1.20am.

1 January 2021

Happy New Year from Catherine, Tilly, Tinker, Blackie and Rupert. Early up, prepared my vegetables, a treat today, roast beef. The only problem is that I’m not very good at carving. Bruce was an expert; he could carve paper thin and thin is what I like. Never mind, did my best and it was very tasty. Vivienne and Wendy phoned to wish me a Happy New Year. I got gum ache as I had eaten too many salted caramel truffles. Ended up putting loads of Bonjela on; if you put it on the wrong bit of mouth, it stings like hell.

2 January 2021

Odd day with agitation. Up early at 6.30am, came downstairs to find the door into the kitchen open. I thought ‘where had Blackie got to?’, sigh of relief, remembered he stayed outside all night. Fed all the cats, made tea, put bins to edge of the path, yes, Barbara, why don’t I do it at night? I don’t know, it’s something Bruce always did and I have just carried on. Tea, Weetabix and LBC, shower then down to the shop for a paper and a lettuce (fancied a big Prawn Cocktail). On the way back, I discovered that someone had reversed into my garden, tyre treads on the mud. Yes, I know I have a broken fence which some part of it has been removed but they went over a Peony root. It was from my father-in-law’s garden, mostly white with a touch of maroon colouring. It’s little things that get to me. Then Tilly was eating but hasn’t ‘performed’ for four days. I did shout at her but then felt guilty and apologised. As Amanda said it’s not her fault. I’ve given her medicine but it doesn’t seem to be working. Calmed myself down, started on the crossword. Mary helped on the last few questions. During the morning I had a flying, non-seeing visit from Amanda: cat food, print-offs, a rake and a spade which I hope I can pick up the Peony with, if the ground’s not too hard. Blackie’s in tonight as it’s really cold outside. My electric blanket awaits me, see you tomorrow, sorry it’s tomorrow now. 1.10am off to bed.

3 January 2021

In some of my diaries Barbara has written about routines and I think since Christmas I have been out of sync and have been more agitated. Late getting up, haven’t had a shower to midday, chores got behind. Normally, I get my cereal out the night before, not been doing it, going to bed extremely late. So today is a fresh start, back almost in a routine, it can only get better. Amanda ordered envelopes on Friday, run right out, they came today. Down to local shop and bought Sunday Express, milk, potatoes and carrots. Arrived home and tested out new spade. Tried to dig the mud round the Peony but was too hard and I was worried I might topple over, a sight to behold!! I did some vacuuming then I made a milky hot chocolate and had the last two slices of Mr Kipling Christmas Cake. Finished at last. My other problem I was given some M&S mince pies for a present, no way can I eat 6 by tomorrow (out of date 4 January) and I’m not freezing, what I don’t like. Perhaps the birds might like them!

This afternoon Barbara answered most of the General Knowledge Quiz. We are still after the £1000 prize for our celebratory meal when the virus has gone. As I posted the Quiz, I said ‘good luck, break a leg’. It might help us to win. Treated all the cats to a chicken breast, not each, they shared one and I had half a pizza and homemade chips.

Last week I made two soups. Leek and Potato was Mary’s recipe. John Torode did one today and put lemon zest, lemon juice and loads of parsley in it. The other one I made was Leek (it was dying a death by the front door) and this time added green/grey lentils, very nice and freezed two bags of it. Last day tomorrow for the Sony Christmas Films. I have really enjoyed them.

4 January 2021

Fancy a change of colour (pen colour that is). Routine almost back to normal. Up at 7am, everyone, including myself, fed. I then decided to do a load of hand-washing, am up-to-date now. Frozen fruit out, ready for the ‘Bullet’, haddock for the trio, prawns for me, fancied another Prawn Cocktail. Pleased to say that Diary is also up-to-date, as I had lapsed there.

Best news today, Tilly, after five days, has ‘performed’ (too much information, Catherine). Amanda asked this morning. How do I know who does what? Will not explain in my Diary, might put you off but after 12 years I must be an expert.

I keep forgetting to tell you, I have a new pink bottom sheet, courtesy of Amazon. It goes with my nightwear and quilt. As I am now up-to-date, I am closing now.

Catherine is right about routines. these last few weeks have been very confusing with the ‘Rules’ changing, one day in Tier 2, next in Tier 4, break for Christmas and building up to a national Lockdown again. If the ‘Rules’ outside are changing all the time then it is difficult to keep to a routine indoors. Keep safe!!

Catherine’s Diary (37): 16 to 25 December 2020

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It seems ages since I typed out a Diary of Catherine’s. Post has taken a long time, events have taken over and who knows which Tier we are in‽ The tea towel I am using today, arrived as a ‘surprise present’ from Amanda, Catherine’s daughter, and it is so appropriate!

16 December 2020

I managed to catch the Food Bin men, to give them their Christmas sweets, and they opened my two bleach bottles as well. If I need letters posting, they would also do it, which I thought was kind. Amanda and Wade came round with cat food, 30 tins for Tilly and 16 boxes for Tinker and Blackie, plus my Number 34 print-off. Should last them until January at least. I have exhausted all the films on the Christmas channel. Channel 5 is keeping me in good stead, though today they were a bit rubbishy.

17 December 2020

Quiet morning. This evening I went to Amanda’s to watch a ‘Virtual Carol Concert’ for the Alzheimer’s Society. In an hour, over sixty thousand pounds was raised which I thought was great. On the way home, Amanda did a detour through Woodcroft. A gentleman, who does one of Amanda’s classes, has decked his house out with Christmas decorations. All lit up, it was brilliant. I felt emotional and you can donate as he does it every year for charity. When I arrived home the ‘Gang’ appeared out of nowhere with their mouths open! What’s new!

18 December 2020

Up very early to feed the cats. 4.30am madness, put the heating on, made a cup of tea, went back to bed. Up again at 7am, shower, breakfast. Amanda arrived at 8.30am for an expedition to Tesco and Pet Smart. My first encounter with the ‘Traffic Light System’ in Tesco: green light go straight through. Overspent again. A Christmas film I watched said traditions connect you with the past so I bought Bruce a little bottle of Glenfiddich, which I will drink for him (his favourite drink). I also bought Mr Kipling Christmas Cake Slices, Bruce loved Christmas cake. After I got home, I took most of the Christmas items upstairs but Mr Kipling only made it half way, so I brought them down again, made a cup of tea and ate two slices! Delicious. Will the rest last til next Friday? Who knows? (No, they didn’t)

In Pet Smart I bought two bags of cat litter, new cat tray for Blackie and a big bag of bird seed. The two best parts were being out with Amanda and NO CAT FOOD IN THE TROLLY. I felt really happy today and this afternoon I thought it felt like Christmas Day!

19 December 2020

Up early again. I try to feed the cats late at night but they still wake me up early, perhaps I should put a drop of wine in their food and knock them out! (Only joking). Made myself tea, breakfast, washed two cat trays, put in fresh litter, shower, went to the shop for a paper, met spaced apart (or socially distanced as we say) three people on route. Great talking to real people. Home to do crosswords. Went mad. I made a Vegetable Soup, pleased with myself. Had a phone call from Christine. She should be out of hospital next Wednesday. They are going to give her a Hospital Bed and a hoist in her flat. She will be glad to get home.

Had a visit from Jennie (Amanda’s friend). She stood at the end of the footpath; we chatted for about half an hour, really cold it was. At 2.15pm there was a knock at the door and it was Vivienne and Michael, checking to see if I was alright. So I thought it was a good day. The news at 3.30pm saying we were probably going into Tier 4 which I hadn’t heard about before. Good news!! Bill Bailey won ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. I personally didn’t know much about him. He deserved to win. I clapped my hands and Tinker looked up and asked what that was all about. It made a change for an older person to win.

I was going to skip Sunday but then I remembered what I did. Bought the Sunday Express, normally the Christmas one has a big crossword but I think now must be on the day after Boxing Day. I texted Barbara for help. She did 39 questions (a record). £1000 at stake. If we win it will go to a celebration. How lovely that would be. We need something to look forward to.

21 December 2020

Shortest day of the year; summer is on it’s way. I was going to town this week but because of the variant, now not going to risk it. People are panic-buying again. Where are they putting it all? Christopher (brother) phoned. What a surprise to hear from him. He seemed to be in fine fettle.

22 December 2020

A lay-in today. A big mistake. On the way to the bathroom, I trod in sick (cat), went down the stairs and trod in cat fur ball sick! (Just tell it as it is!). There I am at 8 am, scrubbing the carpets, not a ‘happy bunny’. Had tea, pills, breakfast, shower then I watched the last ‘Jeremy Vine programme’. I will miss him and Dr Sarah Jarvis. I found him to be a ‘lifeline’. He gave us information and frivolity. Still, he is back on January 4th. I’m getting into ‘The Yorkshire Vet’ on Channel 5. The only problem being that I don’t like watching operations (humans or animals) so I cover my yes till its over. I am missing the Christmas films on Channel 5, do find the odd one but that’s it.

24 December 2020

A knock at the door, there stood two ladies (Joan and Carol) and handed me a bag of Christmas presents. I burst into tears. I was so surprised. Bruce and I knew them from parking the cars in the same garage area. We always said ‘hello, how are you?’ They didn’t know about Bruce until the beginning of the year but now when I see them, they will stop for a chat (at a social distance) which I like. Another unexpected present was from the next door neighbour (the one who put his concrete in my bin without asking). A bottle of wine and some biscuits, a nice surprise.

25 December 2020

I was going to treat myself to a smoked salmon and cream cheese croissant and Bucks Fizz for breakfast but ended up having my 365 day breakfast, one and a half Weetabix and a mug of tea! I went upstairs, sat on the bed and opened Barbara and Liz’s presents: lined notepaper with a beautiful pen, so smooth and four colours in it. I will have to meter it out as it won’t last forever (Dear Reader, you do not appreciate the weirdness of reading a letter that is randomly written in red, blue, green and black, sometimes every other word, sometimes different lines). I love it. I opened another present, a fridge magnet with a boy posting a letter into a letter box, a big red one. Already on my fridge. The biggest shock was to come. OMG, a bloody Christmas decoration in the shape of a sprout with a hat on. Are you and Liz bonkers? Barbara sent a text saying it would remind me of the joys of 2020!!! I suppose the thought was there.

Amanda phoned to say she would pick me up at 11.30am. Had shower, dressed, did cat trays, recycling then got lunch for the cats ready as I was going to be out. It was an early lunch; as I put it on their mats I said “don’t eat it all at once, it has to last the whole day”. Well, they didn’t take a blind bit of notice of me (I wonder where the phrase ‘blind bit of notice’ originates), whoosh and it was gone.

Arrived at Amanda’s, glass of wine before we opened our presents. We had our starter, prawns in batter with a spicy dip. I enjoyed it. I received two calendars, one of them had Amanda’s cats on it, plus photos of Amanda, Wade, Bruce and myself. I got two diaries; I do love a diary, and a box of moorish salted caramel truffles. More tortured punishment to come in the shape of a green square box, a jigsaw of Brussel Sprouts, 100 pieces and it says on the box that it was hard to do. I ask you, why me Amanda?? Wade did a superb dinner. I had so much turkey that I couldn’t eat my roast potatoes so I brought them home. Wade is a marvellous cook. BTW, we were sprout-free!

After watching ‘Home Alone 2’, which I had never seen before (you must be the only person who hasn’t), it was really funny, Amanda put on a DVD of Bruce’s 60th birthday which she had taped. It was really funny to watch again. I remember packing Bruce off to bed early, then Amanda and a family friend, John, arrived and they decorated all downstairs with banners and balloons. They bought a ‘Bob the Builder’ cake with 60 on it. The best bit was Amanda, with the lit candles, going upstairs. I was behind with a tray of champagne-filled glasses. John was filming. Amanda said “Hurry up, my hands are getting hot from the candles”. You can imagine what a shock her Dad got when we went into the bedroom. It brought back great memories.

I had a great day with Amanda and Wade. Thank you.

Sounds like a really good Christmas, even in these uncertain times, creating great memories!

Night night Christine, love Catherine

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In Diary Number 37, Catherine asked if I could use the ‘Lakeland Peaks’ tea towel. “The tea towel for next time, could we have the ‘Lakeland Peaks’; I’ve not seen it yet” However, I was determined that I would use the latest from Amanda. At the end of her Diary, on a separate piece of paper was this addendum. I felt it needed a page of it’s own because Christine was very important to Catherine so it is much more appropriate that ‘Lakeland Peaks’ is used here.

“On Boxing Day, I received a phone call saying my friend Christine has passed away. Christine has featured in my Diary. She was a very close friend, to both me and Bruce. I could talk to her about anything and everything. Before the Pandemic, we would share a schooner of sherry or two, putting the world to rights. Christine was always at the end of the phone for me, even more so when Bruce passed away. I will miss you, Christine, so very much. When we ended our call, we always said “Night night, God Bless”, day or night. Night night Christine. God Bless

We all need friends like Christine, people to rely on, come hell or high water. Through Catherine’s Diary I felt the connection they both had. I think it is difficult when people tell you that you still have the memories, it’s true but still not the same.

Catherine’s Diary (36): 2 to 15 December 2020

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Today’s choice of tea towel is ‘Mr Gee’s Family’. I thought this might bring cheer to Catherine at a difficult Christmas.

On the back of the envelope “Thank you to the Postal Workers for delivering my letters this year to Nottingham. You have done a great job. Give yourselves a pat on the back”. I entirely agree, without them Catherine’s Diary would not be published.

2 December 2020

I was telling Bruce how lucky we were this afternoon. We had Blue Tits in and a Robin, two Doves and I assume four Starlings. In my delivery today I ordered a carton of lactose-free milk. I love milky coffee and hot chocolate but I find semi-skimmed milk doesn’t agree with me now. I was surprised it tasted like milk. I thought there might be a ‘tang’ to it.

I’ve noticed that nearly all the Christmas movies are made in Canada but I wish they wouldn’t roll the cast so fast. It doesn’t give me a chance to find out who’s who. On the Drama Channel they squash the cast to one side and it’s so irritating.

3 December 2020

Day 3 (of the Advent Calendar): Rose Wine (I don’t know how to put one of those accents on the ‘e’ and make it the correct sort of wine. Sorry). Lay in until 7.30am, watched a good film yesterday, ‘The Christmas Miracle’, kept me awake to 12am. Pouring with rain here, no birds yet. I had a text from Brian saying they had floods in Bognor. I told him to stop sending me doom and gloom texts about floods. i don’t want to hear about it.

I watched three good movies this afternoon and at 3.58pm my Robin appeared on the bush, chirping away. As it was so cloudy, I could only just make his outline out. New experience at 4.30pm and 5pm: two power cuts, admittedly it only lasted 10 seconds but I didn’t like it. Now, whenever I’m moving about I’m taking the torch with me.

I phoned Christine up, who is still in hospital, and she sounded ok. I asked her what she had for tea. She said she couldn’t remember but I heard a lady in the background shout out “Cheese salad sandwich”.

4 to 7 December 2020

Please pick a date Barbara. I can’t remember what happened when!! Life is very slow in my house, not a lot happening and its so cold. Have three layers on, hot water bottle and my coat over my legs. I have plenty of ventilation in my porch, considering I have a new front door, new roof and cladding. It’s like the Arctic out there! Could be because I have no carpet out there, only newspapers at the moment. On the glass door, near the porch, I have managed to put a blanket up, hammering a few drawing pins in to keep it up

Other highlights, opening my Advent Calendar: two white wines, 2 roses and three red wines to date. I shaved my three-hair beard with Bruce’s razor, getting good at this!

I think I have conquered the coldness by the front door. I pulled a rug, or most of it, into the porch. I brought down a convector heater, put it near the meter cupboard; it all helps. Plus its raining tonight and the temperature is rising and I am now minus a cardigan.

Have you noticed in these Christmas films, they don’t wear slippers. It’s high heels and when they have hot chocolate, they don’t hold the handle; yes, I know, its only pretend.

When Amanda and Wade cleared the loft, we found a black sack with old birthday and Christmas cards, possibly dating back to when Amanda was 3 or 4 years old. We transferred them all to a plastic box (large one). When I put up my Christmas tree on the bookcase, I also put up some Christmas cards from Amanda to her Daddy, and Daddy to Amanda. The cards look a bit old fashioned but my bookcase looks Christmassy and I love it.

Last night I received two laminated posters from Barbara and Liz, thanking the Wheelie Bin men and Postal Workers during the Pandemic. I am putting them up tomorrow. It’s nice to receive some mail. I only get a bank statement once a month, something to look forward to!!

I was thinking about not talking about cats, but I’m missing it already. Monday, Wade bought Tilly fifty cans of cat food. Tinker is off her food (most unusual); this is because I’ve let Blackie stay in all night in the kitchen as the weather has been so cold. Perhaps she doesn’t think I love her any more. But this cat, and my first dog, a toy poodle called Peppy, I will love forever.

9 December 2020

Amanda took me to Sainsbury and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I wasn’t too bad using the scanner, forgotten what its like to use a trolley, so much to see. As Amanda remarked, when we came out, that we had been an hour in there, the longest she’s been in a supermarket!! When we got home, Amanda helped with the unpacking. I’d overdone it a bit, and then she put the tinsel on my tree, which is looking a lot better now.

The Postman brought a card from Barbara and Liz; the picture on the front was Ealing Town Hall, ‘a blast from the past’, my home town. I had a postcard from Isabella (Barbara’s cat), with her picture on the front and she is now sitting on my bookcase. I know I talk about cats and Christmas movies a lot but I wanted to say when Bruce and I were married, our first Christmas was in a flat over a car showroom, off the Greenford Road. We had a real Christmas tree, the top touched the ceiling. It was beautiful with the lights , baubles, tinsel and I can still see it now.

13 December 2020

Do you know it is 5.30pm and I have birds outside singing? Will put out food for them tonight.

14 December 2020

Glad the weekend is over. It’s so long. Best thing to happen this afternoon, I had Tilly on my lap for an hour. In 13 years, it’s the longest she has sat on my lap. I felt special.

15 December 2020

I wasn’t sure whether to write about my ‘melt down’ yesterday evening , but Harlow is in Tier 3. I had a text from Barbara about being in the Tier 3, and how scary it is. I’m not scared for myself but I am for my daughter and her husband. It’s never ending, will it end? The rules chop and change, no set pattern, gyms open but no classes taught, shops open, people don’t social distance, it doesn’t make sense. I’m, expect like other people, fed up with it all. I hate being in the house on my own. My husband was a bit of a grumpy git, always falling asleep in the chair especially in the last few months of his life, but by God, I would give anything to have him in that chair now. I’m sure I wasn’t easy to get along with, must take the rough with the smooth. I’m saying sorry to Barbara as most of this was in a text to her, though her reply was “we all deserve a moan” which made me feel better. And I feel a lot calmer today. I have to feel more positive. What will be, will be.

On a lighter note, is there any ideas on how to wrap a Christmas present easily? Sellotape sticks to my hands, or the table top and the ends of the parcel are different folds!! One day, I want to go to America at Christmas time. They really go ‘over the top’. The best part of flying there, you are right above the clouds, a wonderous sight.

I’m hoping for a happier year, next year.

Take care, be safe everyone love from Catherine, Tilly, Tinker, Blackie and Rupert

How to Survive ‘Lockdown’ by Catherine

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I’ve been thinking about the way different people have worked their way through ‘Lockdown’, that is Lockdown Number 1, Lockdown Number 2 and Tier 3. For Catherine, my aunt, this has not been easy. She hadn’t finished going through the grieving process, her husband having died in October 2019 and suddenly she was faced being on her own. The clubs she had joined, for company, closed down; the trips out with her daughter, to remember ‘special places’, were not possible. She has, however, taken her own route through the pandemic.

I have talked about the fact that Catherine doesn’t have a computer or iPad, she doesn’t have a fancy phone that can take and receive pictures. I had hoped that she would encompass improved technology. But I think I was wrong. It was my own personal convenience that I was talking about. She had her own way of dealing with things, as she always has.

Having invited her to write a ‘Diary’ for the Virtual Tea Towel Museum, she did the first ‘episode’ and then another and then another……. The last one was Number 35. She has a lot of ‘followers’, people who enjoy hearing about the every day life of someone living in Essex, everything from getting a new Garden Waste Bin to birds in the garden, from Tesco/Sainsbury delivery order to key workers, from Brussel Sprouts in the freezer to learning to bake new cakes.

Each ‘Diary’ Catherine writes is accompanied by a message on the back of an envelope. Writing is therapy for Catherine, as for many people, but it provides a ‘routine’ that isn’t there for those of us using a computer. She hand-writes between 8 and 10 pages every week, has to ensure that she has a stamp, walks to the Post Box to post it and sends messages to the Post Man and my cat.

Dear Barbara,

Please could you buy your regular, delightful and friendly Postman some sweets from me to thank him for delivering my letters to you. He is a Key Worker who has helped us through the year, to keep in touch

Love Catherine, Tilly, Tinker, Blackie and Rupert.

Catherine enclosed some money and off I went to buy the Postman a present and a card. However, when the present was wrapped and the card written, I put a note on the door asking the Postman to knock, which he did. Sadly, this was not the regular Postman. I had a long chat with the man on the doorstep who was a ‘Christmas Worker’, while the regular man was delivering parcels. He said he would put a note on the notice board at the delivery office. For two weeks the parcel sat on my desk. I had decided that it was going to be after Christmas when he got it; better late than never. Today, Christmas Eve, the regular Postman knocked on the door; I explained the situation and the man was in tears, touched by an act of kindness from someone he didn’t know.

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A week after Catherine’s note to get a present for the Postman, came a note for Isabella (the cat).

This is the last Quiz, Isabella, for you to answer as you are so clever, and you are so photogenic. You need to be on Tea Towels, Stamps, Posters, Billboards and star in your own film, with Tilly as producer, Tinker as Director (who knows her way to the kitchen by heart), Blackie as gaffer and Rupert as Key Grip (whatever that means)”.

Inside the envelope was a ‘Christmas Riddle’ Quiz which Isabella and Liz did together. They were very successful but there was no money prize. This was a useful exercise for the two of them at this very difficult time. Thank you Catherine.

The Tea Towel of Choice for today was the one that Catherine recently bought for me, randomly. I love it and feels appropriate for this weird time. Happy Christmas Everyone!

Rebecca’s Tea Towel Story

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Rebecca (or @mmmmthinking) is someone I’ve ‘met’ on Twitter. Rebecca likes tea towels which is always a good start. In response to my request for pictures of tea towels, Rebecca said

“2019 well washed Christmas Day tea towel”. There was a lovely picture. I asked her if I could use it in the Museum. “Yes please and sorry for the delay. I had to get the iron out”. This was rapidly followed by “2020, in an effort to shop local I couldn’t get a Christmas one. I could have purchased online from Ulster Weavers but that defeated the purpose. Ah well, there’s (hopefully) always next year. Merry Christmas”, a picture of a different tea towel, but folded in half.

“Could you do a full frontal picture?” I asked

“In any other situation that would be rude” was her response but a ‘full frontal’ soon arrived, of a beautiful display of colourful cats. This woman was not only good at choosing tea towels but also at taking photos of them. “I keep getting my shadow in it, I thought. I LOVE tea towels!!”. This was going well so the obvious question was “With your skills, would you like to be a Guest Tea Towel? ……. Immortalised in a Museum!”

“I’m working on it as we speak”. That’s my sort of person and here is Rebecca’s Tea Towel Story…

“So after a rummage in the hot press, this is really my favourite Tea Towel. Created for the Primary School, that my sister-in-law taught at, in order to raise funds. It is made up of some very funny self-portraits. My niece, Alice, and nephew Andrew are in there. Alice got married in 2019 and still has the same curly hair. Every time I use it I think of all those children, grown up and, hopefully, happy. And the Tea Towel is going strong.”. Alice is second down on the right and that is great curly hair!

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Rebecca ended with “Thank you so much for the opportunity.  I was surprised by my choice but it’s got such love behind it.”  And that is what makes Tea Towels so interesting, the love behind the.  Thank you Rebecca

Auriol’s Tea Towel Story

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What a beautiful name, Auriol. I’ve never heard of it before, but stems from the Roman word meaning ‘gold’ or ‘golden’. I first met Auriol about 25 years ago but have never known what her name was. To me, she has always been ‘Fee’s Mum’, Fee being a very good friend of mine and a wonderful supporter of the Virtual Tea Towel Museum (even though she rarely uses a tea towel herself).

I was WhatsApping Fee on a video call while she was visiting her mother. We had three-way conversation, which as usual led to a discussion about tea towels. “Would you like to be a Guest Tea Towel 2020?” I asked. I’ve never been one to miss an opportunity. Fee was very enthusiastic about this, even though we weren’t taking about her tea towels. Auriol agreed. Did I think she would do it? Not sure. But within 10 minutes of the end of our conversation, I received a picture of Auriol’s favourite tea towel and a recording of her story. Let this be a lesson to everyone. If you want to be a Guest Tea Towel, just record it and I can transcribe it. Here is Auriol’s Tea Towel Story:

“This tea towel came from ‘Les Saveurs de Le Cuisine’ (meaning the flavours of the kitchen) which is a Coffee Shop in Dartmouth where they have the most wonderful French Coffee and a delightful patisserie including all sorts of different coloured meringues. It is an absolute pleasure to go there but you can’t eat all the cakes but you can buy little miniatures and take ten home to enjoy them.

Dartmouth is where Peta lived (Peta was Auriol’s daughter and Fee’s sister). I used to go there quite often and take Peta with me. We would indulge in ‘naughty cakes’. Since Peta died I think I have only been there once. When Lockdown is finished I think that will be one of the first places I’ll go to and have lunch with a big glass of wine”

Thank you Auriol for a picture of a lovely tea towel, with a story. Thanks to Fee for good interviewing skills, maybe you’d like to interview some other people!

Catherine’s Diary (35): 26 November to 2 December 2020

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“25 November: Tilly was 13 today. I know you like your dates in order, Barbara”. This was at the top of the page, out of sync because Catherine’s last Diary ended on 26 November 2020. Had no problem choosing a tea towel for today. This is one that arrived in the post about a week ago. There was no message with it. I couldn’t work out if it was a Christmas present (because I had already received a Christmas card from Catherine). Then I felt guilty because I had opened it, and it wasn’t in Christmas paper. I have a lot of friends who don’t use wrapping paper. So then I couldn’t ask her because she would know that I had opened it before Christmas. Life is so complicated. Two days later I got a text saying “Did you get the tea towel?”. All that anxt for no reason. By this time, the weather was bad and I couldn’t photograph it. I managed to do it on Saturday and promised myself that this is the tea towel I would use for the next Diary! It’s a great tea towel. Thank you!!

26 November 2020

Said ‘hello’ to three people I don’t know this morning, on my way to catch the 9am post. It was quite bracing, the weather. Still I’ve had my exercise. Not a lot done today. Still watching too much TV, especially Christmas movies. I had some surprises today: Gary put ‘The Mail’ through the door, a Christmas card from Brian (my first and already stuck on the glass door), Heating Allowance letter arrived and the best surprise was that Barbara was back on her phone. I have really missed her texts. All is right with the world now.

I had three dreams in the night: one was about Bruce, travelling on a train with a small black case. I was with him, with no case. Don’t know where we were going. In the second dream, Amanda and I went fruit picking with an old family friend (Jim Ward); we were picking apples; it was a beautiful sunny day, the grass was so green. The third dream was about ‘The Barefoot Contessa’ (I watch her programmes on the Food Channel) and she had made me a bland meal, which I thought was odd as the Americans use a lot of salt. A ‘pinch’ to us is a ‘tablespoon’ to them. When I woke up, I was thinking about Trade Winds, I don’t know where. (I wish someone would interpret Catherine’s dreams; they could be interesting).

27 November 2020

Booked a hairdresser’ s appointment for 11 December. The slot in my diary for 27th is blank. Can’t remember what I did, or ate! (There’s a lot of that about these days. Days just seem the same).

28 November 2020

Up early, going into town today to put my prescription in. I saw a friend on the bus who works at ‘The Range’. She said they had been very busy. People were buying bedding, cushions, rugs and lamps. All seems odd to me. Although I admit I’m looking for a new bottom fitted sheet. Wilko have three on the shelf: mustard, burnt orange and a greeny grey. Can’t imagine going to bed in them. They don’t match them the quilt, wallpaper or nightie. Instead I bought a box of biscuits, a present for someone, and a paper. Then I went home. At 4.30pm Amanda picked me up. I was going to her home for a takeaway curry and a Zoom with Barbara and Liz which I was really looking forward to. I had asked Barbara to show me some tea towels, as I only see them in black and white. (Catherine hasn’t got a devise where she can read her Diary, with tea towel, on. Her daughter, Amanda, prints it out but only in black and white) I wanted to see, in particular, the Robin, Pomegranate (brilliant colour), the cat one in Chinlon and the National Gallery. Interesting. For someone who knows where all her tea towels are, she couldn’t find the latest one, the Ladies in Corsets. Anyway, I enjoyed catching up with Barbara and Liz; it’s the next best thing to seeing them ‘live’. One day we will get to the ‘Flying Horse’ to share a meal.

29 November 2020

Usual chores, watching TV. I walked to the local shop for two pints of milk. I retrieved Christine’s paper from her letterbox (Saturday’s Daily Telegraph). Christine is in hospital after another fall. I was surprised her neighbours hadn’t pushed it right through. I’ve attempted the small crossword and that’s about all. Did some washing, watched more TV and had an early night for a change.

30 November 2020

Up early. Tinker sitting on my bedside table, waiting for breakfast. I’m sure Tilly sends her in first to get me up, which, of course, works. Decided to go to town to post a tea towel to Barbara (see above). It has to be weighed. Waited half an hour in a queue, 20 minutes was outside, security man was only letting four people in at a time. The time soon went as someone was chatting to me. Popped into ‘Wilko’, to check on the fitted sheet situation, still the same three colours! Can’t understand why the shelves are so empty. In the afternoon, watched three good Christmas movies. If I got tearful at the end, I’d class it as excellent. I do find, if it snows in them, I think it is superimposed as it seems not to settle on them. I know snow is wet but the rate it comes down, they should be smothered in it!

1 December 2020

Up even earlier, 5am, heating on. It’s chilly, got Blackie in, fed everybody including the birds. Two teas, writing Diary, listening to Steve Allen on LBC. I’m trying to avoid ‘also’ in my writing as I’m being picked up on it (by Amanda!!!) but I might have to resort to it.

Also I am descaling the kettle. The water here is so hard, it furs up fast and I’m de-tannining my mug, as it gets brown so quickly. It’s 7.30am, I’m going back to bed, getting really tired.

I slept for two hours, I arose at 9.45am. After I was dressed, I did some long-awaited dusting, hoovered all downstairs. In the garden I did manual labour, trying to get rid of all the leaves, not very successfully. Attempted to de-poo the rockery where Blackie performs but the mud was rock-hard from the frost, though I did get rid of some of it.

My lovely Jasmine bush has been flowering for two weeks, bright yellow flowers. My everlasting begonia is still in flower though I think the frost will get it soon. Restful afternoon and evening. I’m charging my torch, phone and Bruce’s phone. After my shower, I’m having Day 1 of my Advent Calendar, a miniature bottle of Chardonnay by Waters Edge, looking forward to it.

2 December 2020

Day 2 is a Merlot from Chile. Woke up at 6am. Last night I kept Blackie in as it was so cold, left the light on for him so he wouldn’t be frightened. Also kept the heating on. What a difference it makes to the house, especially by the front door. I have a new close-fitting front door, new cladding and yet it is still very chilly out there.

Tier 2 starts today. Amanda is back to teaching ‘Spinning’ on Wednesday and Friday at 6.30am

Highlights of today: Delivery 12-1, recycling collection and a walk to the post box to send this letter and Amanda’s cat’s Christmas card. Life is so busy!!!!

I wish I drank alcohol these days because I think that Advent Calendar sounds great!!

Catherine’s Diary (34): 18 to 26 November 2020

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The National Gallery: 2020. To read the story http://www.myteatowels.wordpress.com/2020/10/13/nat

“I have really missed your text, Barbara. I hope you and your phone are back to normal soon” was the message on the back of today’s envelope. When my phone ‘died’, although I can text people with the iPad, but only if they have a ‘smart’ phone; sadly, Catherine hasn’t got one so we were out of contact for two weeks. All back to normal now.

18 November 2020

Tomorrow we will have been in Lockdown for two weeks. It’s going really slow. Amanda and Wade came today with a big bag of cat litter, cat food, a print off (of the latest Diary) and a huge box. On the box was printed ‘Wine down to Christmas’, an Advent Calendar Box with 24 miniature bottles of wine in it!!

Delivery Day today. Shock to my system, in it was a bag of frozen Brussel sprouts. Amanda said they were for Christmas but that’s not for five weeks. I texted Barbara about them and she said I should give them back to Amanda and stand firm!! I’m a weak-willed person and Amanda has one of her father’s traits – bossiness! One good thing in her favour, in the delivery was a bottle of gin, and some tonic. So I had one to get over the shock.

I attempted Lentil Soup today and surprised myself how good it was. I’m getting to be a good cook (and I’m blowing my own trumpet). Bob, the repair man, came and finished the porch. It looks really nice.

19 November 2020

Amanda and Wade took me to Van Hague’s Garden Centre; they have a lovely Christmas display. I bought two hanging ornaments for my tree, a robin and a dog with a Christmas hat, an ornament of Santa with a reindeer, dove and Santa is reading a book. This sits on my bookcase with my Snow Globe. I also bought a kitchen timer so I won’t have to burn anything, ever again. In a display unit they had a beautiful carousel, all lit up, the horses going round and round. When Amanda was three years old, Bruce and I took her to the seaside. Amanda and I went on the carousel on the pier, just me and her on a horse. I’ve been on one in France and Lincoln but I don’t know if I could get on one now! I enjoyed my morning there, it was refreshing to get out somewhere different.

21 November 2020

Decided to go up to town to the Post Office; I had a package to be weighed, also a card for Italy. No good sending to Italy on 2nd class; it will never get there. No queue, straight in and out. I wasn’t up there long. I was glad to get home, though surprised at how many people are coming into town, as there is hardly anything open. I got bored one night and wrote all my Christmas cards and I posted them on Saturday!

We’re now into the third week (of Lockdown Number 2). I don’t know what happened to me this Tuesday but I hoovered (the living room carpet was in shock), mowed the front and back lawns. The grass was so long, plus thousands of leaves, it filled half my garden bin. I washed the water bowl for the birds and refilled it. At the Garden Centre I bought a big bag of peanuts and treated the birds to some fresh ones.

Last week another of Bruce’s clocks stopped. Another one I have killed. I was really missing the chimes and swinging pendulum. So yesterday, I opened the glass door and pushed one of the hands hard, all of a sudden it started up. So pleased it’s going again. I made another fruit loaf, a dietary one again, till the butter goes on it.

23 November 2020

Went for a walk to the local shop, bought a paper, milk and bread. A bit of fresh air blows the cobwebs away. Cod treat for Tinker and Blackie today; it gets eaten up in a flash. Getting to be an expert at buying, and replacing, light bulbs. Managed to change the one in the living room and also the one in my bedside lamp.

26 November 2020

Up at 6am, switched the heating on; it’s getting really chilly. Fed Tilly and Tinker, got Blackie in to feed him. I heard the birds twittering so I fed them; it was dodgy going out in the garden in the dark. Now having tea and listening to Steve Allen on LBC. I don’t mind him in small doses but I don’t understand his humour. We’re going into the fourth week of Lockdown. Should know what Tier we are going into. I wonder what’s in store for us. I’ve never known a month go so slow.

P.S: Spinach balls are finished

P.P.S: With reference to the Brussel sprouts, there are 100 in a bag to get through.

On 28 November, Catherine and I ‘zoomed’. She told me exactly what tea towel I should use with this Diary and I can’t remember!! However, she had requested to ‘see’, via Zoom, the tea towel of the national gallery which she really liked. So I will use that one!

Catherine’s Diary (33): 7 to 17 November 2020

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“I have put a surprise recipe in the envelope for you to try, Barbara. The end is nigh, only three spinach balls left! Hooray! Thank you Postal Workers” was today’s message on the back of the envelope from Catherine. The recipe was Halloumi Burgers with Courgette and Onions. She knows how much I dislike Halloumi; there is an evil streak to my Aunt!! So today’s tea towel has to be the present from her daughter, Amanda, who has also tried to tempt me with Halloumi (they will never succeed!!!)

7 November 2020

“Cladding looks great, now waiting for the roofer to finish the smaller roof. Saturday evening Amanda came round and we had a Takeaway Chinese, my first, I think, since last year. Yes, it was delicious. Amanda stayed for a couple of hours, but had to get back to her cats, as Wade was working this Saturday. The fireworks have been horrendous this week. I was more frightened than the cats were. The ‘bomb’ ones are so loud. It was lovely seeing Amanda, plus I got some sausages they don’t like, some potatoes and, of course, a big box of cat food!

8 November 2020

Sunday, a quiet day, after giving Tilly, Tinker and Blackie their breakfast, I actually went back to bed for a couple of hours and watched ‘Blue Bloods’, love this series.

9 November 2020

Today, delivery day, Amanda had put a joint of beef in it. I can’t remember when I last bought a joint. Cats are in for a treat, they have cod fillets. I cooked a batch of mince meat for the freezer, dry-fried it on the lowest heat and promptly forgot all about it. Thank goodness for Tinker’s nose; she was incessantly sniffing the air. It wasn’t burnt, though they say that if you dry-fry for a very long time, it tastes better. These days you have to put a lot of flavourings in, for it to taste of anything!

I put the wrong wheelie bin out. Never done that before. Managed to change them in the nick of time. Watched Question Time, Matt Hancock was on, talking about the vaccine. I have no confidence in this man at all. Someone suggested he and Members of Parliament test the vaccine first but he declined, not in the age group to receive it first. I would want them to test it first, to make sure it’s ok.

10 November 2020

I seem to be back into baking. So far, I have made two honey and fruit loaf cakes. It’s dietary as there is no sugar or fat in it. Of course, when you slice it and smother it with butter, it’s no longer dietary! And I also made pastry for a meat pie, can’t remember when I last did that. Days are different now. I still do the usual things, cat trays, feeding myself and the cats. Amanda has been phoning twice a day, also a couple of people have phoned but I seem to have lost the art of conversation, that’s unusual for me! (Lockdown Number 2 does seem to be different this time. I think it’s because we have lost those things we love so much, twice now).

Watching a lot of television, even more than before, Christmas films at least twice a day. I did watch the documentary ‘The Frank Gardner Story’, how his life had changed after he was shot in Saudi Arabia. The other documentary I watched was ‘Inventing the Impossible, the Big Fix’, making lives easier for people who were severely disabled. A group of young people who are into electronics and who are enthusiastic about their work. They helped a youngster steer a boat with his eyes. It was amazing.

11 November 2020

Desperate time for Tinker this morning. She had her nose under her mat, pushing it along, looking for any old bits of food she had missed! I keep telling her she’s on a diet. I managed to let the hoover motivate me into hoovering. I did upstairs, looks ok, dust is still waiting to be dusted. We’ll get there. I have three more weeks till I can go out properly. It’s been a long week.

12 November 2020

Amanda’s Pilates Classes are doing very well on Zoom, very pleased for her. It’s lucky I haven’t got Zoom or else I’d be doing it! Amanda picked up my medication from Boots and has managed to get me some kitchen scissors from a supermarket, desperate for some. My old ones have had it. Also I would like a ‘timer’ as I keep forgetting I have stuff on the hob.

14 November 2020

I went down the shop and got my newspaper, came back, and I took couple of magazines down to Christine’s, posted them through the letterbox. Two walks in one day. Must be a record. Phone call from Wade. Roofer not coming as it’s raining. Might be this afternoon or Monday. I heard a noise outside and it was the man to do the roof. At that time it had stopped raining. I made him some tea and he got on with the job. Looking out of the bathroom window, the roof is really nice and smart.

At 1pm, Tinker and I decided to go for a nap, not feeling that well this week, a rest would do me good. Would like to say that Tinker takes up most of the bed. We had Lucozade and Fruit Pastilles, in case we felt peckish. At some point I must have fallen asleep. The phone rang, it was Christopher, so nice to hear from him. Broke up the afternoon.

I got Mr Sheen out of the cupboard and dusted the bookcase. My bookcase is my pride and joy, loads of cat ornaments on it, photo of Amanda and her dad, books of course and a snow globe that Amanda gave me years ago, a Santa scene and the tune ‘Santa’s coming to town”

15 November 2020

Out in the garden, sticking some plastic on the greenhouse with tape. The wind was suddenly so fierce, couldn’t wait to get back in the house. Then it just stopped. Very weird.

17 November 2020

Having breakfast and watching another Christmas movie, one I haven’t seen. They seem to repeat them all at weekends. Amanda phoned. She and Wade are going for a long walk around Harlow. They went via Sainsbury and bought Tilly 58 tins of cat food.

I had a funny dream last night. I was in a car going to my own funeral, Christopher was driving. Amanda was in the back seat. I was in the middle in my dressing gown, next to my coffin which was covered in hay. We were going to a field near Chelmsford, then I woke up. I told Amanda and she said I wouldn’t be going in my dressing gown anyway. I wonder what I will be wearing then!!!

PS: The joint of beef was delicious, just how I remembered it. Tinker, Tilly and Blackie enjoyed the last remnants of it. They are entitled to a treat now and again.

Thanks Catherine for today’s Diary. I know Lockdown Number 2 is difficult but Christmas movies do help!!

Catherine’s Diary (32): 30 October to 5 November 2020

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“I hope one day that I can stop talking so fast, faster than I can write” was today’s message on the back of the envelope

30 October 2020

I made an eye test appointment in Boots to see if I need new glasses after my eye laser treatment.  The earliest appointment is 25 January 2021!!  Just in case we’re having a Lockdown, I managed to get a present for Amanda and a couple of cards for her and Wade.  At least I’ve achieved something this year.

31 October 2020

I was going to sweep the leaves off my footpath and lawn but they forecast more winds on Sunday.  I thought ‘what’s the point?’.  Amanda and Wade came round and brought a big bag of litter and 43 tins of cat food and my print-offs (of this Diary: 27 and 30).  I really enjoy reading them and seeing which tea towel Barbara has chosen and it’s neat, good punctuation (not like mine!).  I like Barbara’s comments between paragraphs.  Some of it is funnier than what I write, even though I’ve written it, if that makes sense.  I’m not sure that it does makes sense.  With regard to punctuation, I type precisely what Catherine has hand-written!  It’s her punctuation!  I have realised that I talk an awful lot about cat food, but the cats are the pinnacle of my life.

1 November 2020

Fireworks again tonight, loud and frightening, especially for Tilly and Tinker.  Last night I put a Katherine Jenkins CD on, to soothe the nerves.  Tonight I thought they may like a bit of Vivaldi – The Four Seasons.

My neighbour has decided he wants to put his car on his front garden as the parking here is so bad.  That meant he had to cut three of my plants that are leaning on his side.  When I saw him, he offered to uproot two and give the hydrangea a cut and I told him to put them in my Brown (garden waste) Bin.  Then he started to dig up his path.

3 November 2020

Yesterday, I hopefully went up the town for the last time.  I wanted some sweets for the Wheelie Bin Men.  They deserve it.  They are still collecting through the Lockdowns.  I took a short cut past the Civic Centre, as I turned the corner, I couldn’t believe it, they were queueing for Asda.  As I got nearer, I realised the ‘people’ were mannequins in the ‘Next’ shop window.  They looked so life-like.  Perhaps I do need new glasses.  Now I understand why Catherine texted me, asking if I had a tea towel with mannequins on it.  I said that the nearest thing I had was one from a museum about corsets.  She asked if the next time we Zoomed she could see it.  That is the picture at the top of this Blog!  I bought my purchases and went towards the tills.  In front of me were three people with very full trolleys.  20 minutes later it was my turn, put my bits on the conveyer belt then the man behind me put his stuff on.  The girl at the till told him to put it back in his basket and to wait until I had been served.  I said to her ‘well done for telling him’.  She replied that she was fed up of people not social distancing.

It was the Tuesday Club today for the last time.  I am going to miss it.  We played a game like Bingo called ‘Hoy’.  It’s to do with playing cards, not that we touched them.  We had a laminated sheet that had nine cards on and when Jenny called a card, if you had it, you put a coin on it.  When all nine were called you shouted “Here”.  It was good fun.  So surprising what you can’t touch; we brought our own coins.  I raided the money box.  And yes, I won a game, prize £2.50.

Before the Club, took my rubbish to the bins, then moved them round ready for Wednesday collection.  I couldn’t move the Brown Bin, looked inside, foraged around and found 20 lumps of concrete, camouflaged by stacks of fallen leaves.  Couldn’t believe he would do this to me.  Had to pull out the leaves and plants to get the concrete out.  Did half the bin before I went to the Club and the other half when I got home.  I had to tip the bin onto the grass because it is so deep and I have shrunk (Know the feeling!!).  I put all the concrete back on his footpath.  I told Amanda and she said Wade would have helped tip it up, which was kind, but I like to attempt to do it on my own.  I put a note through my neighbour’s letter box, telling him my bin was for garden plants, not his concrete.  He didn’t apologise and I haven’t seen him.  So much for neighbours!!

Still fireworks.  I played Mario Lanza CD for Tilly and Tinker and I did a duet with Mario – ‘You’ll never walk alone’.  The bathroom has good acoustics.

4 November 2020

Very last time in town this morning.  Met Wendy for coffee.  Last time I will see her, till whenever.  Bought cat treats for my Grandcats: Lyric, Phoebe, Molly, Rocky, Oreo, Liquorice and Bella.  Wrap them up for Christmas so they will have a present to open.  It was packed in town, couldn’t wait to get home.  Waited ages for a bus though.

5 November 2020

Repair Man, Bob, is here to repair my porch with new cladding, rearrange a pipe and repair the porch roof so no water can come in.  They are here for two days.  Did a good job blocking the cats in my bedroom.  On their side is a big metal box against the door; on the landing side is a hoover and a big linen box.  Every hour I check to see if they are alright, a crack in the door lets me see them.

Fireworks have been going for three hours.  The noise is horrendous.  I put the ‘Bishop’s Wife’ film on for the cats to watch and hopefully dull the bangs.  After that, I’m playing a Dolly Parton CD, our favourite.

November seems to be going slowly.  I want to write and send my cards but it’s too early.  I asked Amanda if I was normal to be excited about Christmas.  She said ‘Yes’.  I feel I want to put the decorations up but have none.  I looked in the shops on Wednesday but couldn’t find any.

I think your neighbour is horrible.  He shouldn’t be filling your bin with his rubbish.  But I am not surprised about your desire to send Christmas cards early.  In my memory they have always arrived well before the end of November!!!!