Archive for category Life in General

Sunday Sevens

 

What?

Is that not what it means?

 

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A Bit Of A Rub Down

The other day a friend and I had a spot of lunch before mooching around a couple of junk shops.

Unlike the U.K., we are very ‘poor’ in charity shops (thrift/op stores) around here but we do have quite a large one within a half hour drive.  There is so much stock that some of it ends up outside to be rained upon and this includes furniture, sewing machines and all sorts.

You could be forgiven for thinking this photograph was taken outside the junk shop but, in fact, it’s part of the terrace at the back of my house – the shutters are a clue.  This, however, is the position this wardrobe door was found in – leaning up against an outside wall in all weathers – with the only damage being the veneer at the base starting to peel off a bit.

I’ve been looking for a full length mirror to put in my sewing room to help with fitting issues and I might not have thought of an old door separated from its wardrobe if my friend hadn’t suggested it.

Anyway, the door was purchased and (wo)manhandled by the two of us into my car – it was a tight squeeze .

I thought the wood veneer might look a bit ‘heavy’ in my workroom so decided to clean and lightly sand the surface …..

……… protect the lovely bevelled mirror with masking tape and whip out the chalk paint.

Here I include a word of warning to anyone over the age of about 40.  Never actually look at yourself when bending over a mirror – gravity is not your friend.

I love this bevelling.

Not much distressing of the chalk paint was necessary as the wood stain shows through a bit anyway so I just rubbed a bit at the mouldings and brushed some soft wax over it all.  I left the little lock cover on as it’s pretty and I’m not trying to hide the fact it was once a wardrobe door – it’s more interesting that way.

Not bad for 5 euros (about 6 US dollars)

Despite having this antique suitcase stuffed full of vintage linens that I must have a rummage through one of these days, we also went a bit mad in the linen department of the aforementioned junk shop.

I say ‘we’ but it was mostly ‘me’.

I find linens really hard to photograph which is probably why I still have a suitcase full of the stuff instead of having it in my online shop.  Well, that and I’m not very knowledgeable about embroidery or different kinds of lace so the descriptions are a challenge for me too.

This piece is lovely and only has a general, slightly tea-stained look about it – no single stains.  I know I have some readers who are vintage linen aficionados and wonder about the best and safest soak for an overall ‘freshen up’ for this piece.  (You should be able to click on all the photos to enlarge them)

I got told off by Mr. Tialys for buying this next piece because it definitely has some staining which the thread, in particular, has absorbed.  The work on it is so lovely though and the lace surround so pretty and there’s no other damage (more excuses ready if needed) that I had to buy it.

Obviously, the darker threads are stains although at first I thought the maker might have just run out of beige thread 🤔- but I also wonder why the light cream and the darker cream embroidered squares are placed in these positions – it seems a bit random.  I don’t think I’ll be able to get the staining out of those threads – unless you know different – but wondered about deliberately ‘tea-staining’ the whole thing.  Any thoughts from my knowledgeable readers much appreciated.

Changing the subject ever so slightly, I hear that mustard is big again this autumn which I hope is true or this –

will have been a waste of time.

Not that most people in the corner of rural France I live in would know or, still less, care but I do at least try to keep up appearances.

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Plant Finder

Just a quickie.

Can anybody identify this plant for me?

It’s got a very woody stem – part of which you can see poking up to the left of the flower head – and is currently around 50 inches tall (128cm).  It’s still in its pot as we’re not sure where to put it until we know what it is and what conditions it likes.

That’s all for today – I’m off to my fainting couch to sit out the mid to high 30 degrees heat we’re having at the moment.

Have a good weekend!

 

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Tight Lipped Tuesday ~ 2 (The Costa Brava one)

I rather like the idea of my Tight Lipped Tuesday series so will take the opportunity of boring the pants off you with my recent trip across the border into Spain (aka Catalonia) with lots of photos and few words (relatively speaking!). Feel free to go and do something more interesting but my blog seems to have become my photo album lately and means I have an online record to refer to – so, a bit selfish really.

Mr. Tialys and I took a break of four days and drove down to the Costa Brava.

Only about 3 hours drive away.

We walked the coastal path to work off all the mussels and Sangria. The water was crystal clear.

So different from the usual perception of this coastline.

Did I mention the Sangria?  The waiter raised an eyebrow when we ordered a litre jug between us but we were not deterred.

An interesting looking restaurant.

With a crafty touch.

and an atmospheric interior.

The town of Begur is awash with bougainvillea.

As well as Moorish and Spanish architecture there are neoclassical examples dating from the late 19th century when merchants from here went over to Cuba to make their fortunes and returned to build houses.  Lots of vaulted, decorated ceilings and beautiful tiled floors.

I love peeping in at courtyards.

We spotted this lovely view from the road and booked to have cocktails and tapas there in the evening to watch the sun go down.

On the way back home up the coast we stopped at Empuries which, according to Tripadvisor,  is one of the finest historic settings in Catalonia.Two cities, one Greek and one Roman, set by the sea at L’Escala on the south of the Bay of Roses, named by Unesco as one of the most beautiful in the world.

The archaeological digs are still going on as I think they’ve only uncovered about 20% of what’s there.

Some of the mosaics they’ve found in the Roman city are almost intact which is amazing when you consider how long they’ve been there.

My quilters eye was drawn to them instantly.

We only stayed away four days as Mlle. Tialys the elder had come over for two weeks to house-sit with her sister for a bit and, as we don’t see enough of her these days, we wanted to spend some time with her too.

Back in France, we took her to our favourite restaurant to say ‘thank you’.

Then the girls and I went across another border to Andorra  which is most famous for the skiing but, in Summer is very good for shopping hiking, cycling, etc.   Also, as we do every year now, we went to the free show that Cirque du Soleil put on here throughout July.  This year was probably my favourite as the music was so good – usually, it’s a bit more like wailing for atmosphere if you get my drift – and the ‘surely not human’ bendy people put on their usual amazing spectacle.

Plus, it is tax free so it seemed a shame to go home without a bottle of gin or two.

Here’s a brief look at the Cirque du Soleil show – as usual with these shows I have very little idea what the story was about and the sound quality’s not great on this clip but you get the idea.  I want those long stripey socks!

Not that tight lipped after all. Sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May All Your Weeds Be Wildflowers

If only!

A post in which I, uncharacteristically, put loads of flower pictures up and don’t say much – although I was just going to call this ‘Tight Lipped Tuesday’ or some such thing and say nothing at all which, of course, I couldn’t quite manage.

Our garden is large and terraced – up at the back there are woods which is where we walk the dogs.  On Saturday, Flo decided to take herself off after a rabbit or something causing much consternation.

I re-traced our steps of the morning walk through the woods and, to keep my mind a little less stressed, took photos of the wildflowers in between shouts and whistles.

As Mr. T. has a full time job he has a bit of trouble keeping on top of the gardening, especially with all the rain we’ve had lately, and we tend to only keep the lower two or three terraces mown and cultivated.  He has a healthy attitude to gardening though as the stuff that hasn’t been attacked with the brushcutter (too steep for a mower higher up) he proclaims is very good for insects so bees, mantis, grasshoppers and all sorts of beasties have a whale of a time up there and it’s probably worth getting a few itchy bits on my legs when I walk through it all in the summer months.

With all the beautiful flowers growing in the wild for free and needing no care and attention an alien landing on Earth might wonder why we spend so much time, money and effort on forcing other things to grow where we want them to and not where they might choose.

If I know the name of any of these, you probably do too so I’ll let the images do the talking (for a change 😉 )

A lot have already ‘gone over’ but I think that’s enough weedy eye candy for one blog post and, by chance, Cathy went wild in Yorkshire today and she has actually named some of the wildflowers for you (or her readers have) so, although this is S.W. France, there are quite a few similarities.

It’s bloomin’ hot out there now so I’ve moved me and my jug of wildflowers into the shade.

Oh yes, and guess who came back after around three hours with something that could have been blood on her paw and neck which wasn’t hers.

We are now missing a cat though – Salem, the black one on top,  although I doubt he chased a rabbit.

I’ll keep you posted about him.

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Knit Two Together

Once upon a time, back when we called yarn ‘wool’ and there was often a little wool shop or  ‘kiosk’ in even the smallest of towns and independent knitwear designers were twinkles in their grandparents’ eyes, my Mum taught me how to knit.

Actually, I think she first used me as a living wool winder as I remember my early encounters with wool involved standing for a long time, arms outstretched, whilst a skein was converted into a ball.  Despite this unpromising apprenticeship, I took up the needles at a young age and have continued, on and off, ever since.

I don’t remember my maternal grandmother ever yielding a pair of knitting needles so I wonder what started my mother off on her lifelong hobby.

Perhaps it was this. ….

…..which  would have been just a little after the time she looked like this.

I wonder if she made those pompoms herself.

When I moved to France almost thirteen years ago Mum would come and visit several times a year as well as at Christmas and, what with my sister living in Spain, she was nearly always on her holidays which I hope compensated just a little for us not living next door.   Regular readers will know that, during these visits, all other activities were practically abandoned in favour of knitting and chatting together.

This is Mum with Mlle. Tialys the Elder who, while not having caught the knitting bug at the time of writing, is a dressmaker and cross stitcher and could probably be brought into the fold at some future stage.

She made this for her Nan as an early Christmas present.

Back in 2013 Mum was nominated for a voluntary carers’ award for visiting a housebound elderly lady every week – almost without fail – for  ten years.  She was 80 herself at that point but this was the sort of thing she did.   She wasn’t going to attend the award ceremony – being far too shy and modest – but I said I’d go with her and she agreed to go.  She received a framed certificate from the Lady Mayor and afterwards we had a traditional English tea (another one!!) in lovely gardens in the sunshine.

While I was in England caring for my Mum with my two sisters, I knitted this little scarflet for my Stitching Santa partner.

Even though Mum didn’t have the strength to knit herself any longer by this stage it still felt like a bonding experience as I’m sure she could probably hear the clicking needles and the quiet chatting  as my youngest sister began to knit a bear and my other sister started to knit squares for a blanket.  One of my nieces visited, saw the three of us companionably knitting,  and wanted to learn.  And so the passing on of skills continues.

I have to say – and I know she’d agree with me – that Mum never really progressed beyond ‘enthusiastic amateur’ status.  Mainly due to the fact that she hated ‘the sewing up bit’ and looked at me as if I were mad if I ever suggested anything as radical as ‘blocking’ a finished garment.  She was the Queen of UFOs (unfinished objects) – her loft was full of half finished jumpers, cardigans, baby clothes, etc. – but even those things she finished weren’t deemed good enough to wear or pass on to the new babies of the family.  The little baby jackets, cardigans and bootees we found cast off,  in both senses,  was poignant to say the least.  The joy for her though was in the choosing of the pattern, the yarn  wool and the actual knitting – if something decent came off the needles that was a bonus.

You may remember my recent post about the Ugly Christmas Jumper and how it came to be and I hope you will be pleased to know that it was finally finished (once I’d added proper ribbing to the sleeves and lengthened the body) and handed to ‘the nephew’ one week before Mum died.  I think he will treasure it forever.

It was a shame, as she loved Christmas so much, that she died the day before the first window of her advent calendar was to be opened, especially as there was a chocolate inside.

Family was everything to my Mum and I am so pleased that my sisters and I were able to be with her, in her own home, in the last few weeks of her life and could be there for her final, peaceful breaths as she had been there for our first ones.  I am finding that a huge comfort at this difficult time.


Wherever you are now Mum, I hope there’s lots of wool and chocolate and laughter.

10th September 1932 – 30th November 2017

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The Tale of One Ugly Christmas Jumper and How It Came To Be

A bit of an explanation for those of you who might have noticed an absence of my usual waffle in the comments section of your blog posts.  I have been to the U.K. for a week but not for the usual fish and chips, underwear grab in Marks and Spencer and other frivolities.  Unfortunately my Mother is ill and my sisters and I are taking it in turns to keep her company while she receives palliative care at her home.  Logistically it’s quite difficult as I am in France, one of my sisters is in Spain and the youngest is in Wales which – though in the U.K.,  is still a 3.5 hour drive away from where my Mum lives.  Still, whilst it is still possible, she wants to stay in her own familiar surroundings so we are doing our best to make sure she has one of us there at all times.  I did take my iPad but screen time was sacrificed to quality time and, although I have certainly read most of your posts, I haven’t been commenting.  In fact, since I returned home yesterday I had just under 300 emails and had to be ruthless with the delete button – just so you know.

Anyway, despite taking a new crochet project with me and some small sewing bits to keep me occupied, it was all put aside in favour of ‘the Christmas jumper’.  This project was entrusted to Mum, just after she received her diagnosis, by my nephew.  I think he thought it would give her something to work on and keep her mind occupied.  She was actually knitting a rather lovely top for herself at the time but, as the sun shines out of his proverbial, as far as my Mum is concerned, all else was swept aside in her desperation to finish it for him and the boring stocking stitch began.

My nephew knows absolutely nothing about knitting and printed a very basic pattern off the internet and told her that was what he wanted.  Despite knitting for years, my Mum has never got the hang of intarsia knitting and the chart left her dumbfounded.  My middle sister was with her at that stage and decided to make the Christmas tree in felt and appliqué it on to the front.  It was, I am told, a disaster.  So, despite not even being a regular knitter herself, she came up with a separate knitted version of the tree, complete with pompoms for the baubles and star,  and sewed that on.  Mum completed the back before the extreme fatigue she is now suffering from kicked in, the same sister took some of the yarn back to Spain with her and did the sleeves and my task was to pick up the stitches and do the neckband and then sew it all together.

Et voila!

Could this be the weirdest Christmas jumper you see this year? It is like the Frankenstein of woolen wear – being made by different makers at different times and all of different abilities.  Unfortunately, my sister was unsupervised when she knitted the sleeves in Spain and so mistook k1, p1 rib for moss stitch so there is absolutely no difference between the width of the cuffs and the width of the sleeves.  I didn’t have time to do anything other than to sew it all together but it did occur to me that it might be worth picking up around the ends of the cuffs and knitting a proper ribbed piece on.  What do you knitters think? Would that work?  I know that the moss stitch piece would have to stay but we could call that a design feature.

He will be delighted to get this for Christmas.  No, really!

I am sure of  two things however:  it will be the only one of its kind and he will never wear it in public.

Did I mention he is 35 years old?

This is my old boy Taz – he turned 12 in September. He is in recovery mode.

The day before I was due to leave for the U.K. I had slept very badly because, not only was I very nervous about my trip not knowing how I would find my Mum and worried about my caregiving abilites but  I could hear the dogs marauding about downstairs in a restless manner.  I got up to let them out in case they needed to pee and then I noticed that Taz’s stomach was hugely distended and rock hard.  I thought it might be the very dangerous condition called ‘bloat’  which  happens when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid, making it expand causing it to put pressure on the other organs. I wondered about calling out an emergency vet – it was 5.30 in the morning – but suddenly he was incredibly sick and I remembered that I had found the dog food delivery ‘tampered with’ the evening before and a kilo of one of the two 15kg sacks stored downstairs suspiciously missing so I put it down to him gorging himself.  So, instead of rushing to the vet, I took my daughter to work at the normal time but, when I got back , I thought I’d take him to the vet anyway as he needed some more pills for his arthritis and let her have a look at his stomach – ‘just in case’.  Luckily I did because she did an echogram, saw his spleen was in a bad condition and decided to whip it out on the spot.  So, he lives to scent our lives with his gaseous emissions another day – while he was having the echogram the nurse was at the wrong end holding his feet still and had to run and fling open a window.  ‘Welcome to my life’ I told her.  Luckily, Mr. Tialys was on his way home from the U.K. to cover for me while I went to the U.K. and we picked him up at the end of the day.  We put him in one of the girls’ t-shirts instead of a buster collar and, just over a week later, he appears to have recovered well.

Just what I needed before setting off for a week of grappling with multitudinous medications and daytime television but I am now an expert in both.

Not being a daytime t.v. viewer myself I am amazed at what gets discussed, dissected and repeated over and over again between the hours of 08.00 and 17.00.  The worst of it is, because the target audience is obviously older the adverts are nearly all for life insurance ‘so your children aren’t burdened with your funeral expenses’,  fund raising pleas for cancer charities with images of patients and, as it was Halloween while I was there, numerous coffins and other death related paraphernalia – all very uncomfortable viewing when watching with an elderly, sick loved one :/   It was worse than an unexpected explicit sex scene coming up while watching with all the family round at Christmas time.

Still, there was always the Jeremy Kyle Show on to remind us that perhaps a more rigorous programme of contraception ought to be promoted amongst people who can shout at more than 90 decibels and use one swear word for every two ordinary ones in any given sentence whilst demanding to hear the results of the DNA test to prove who, out of a number of possible candidates, is the father of their unfortunate child.

Anyway, I’m back now.

 

 

 

 

 

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‘One Day I Will Get Organised’ Maybe – Probably Not and ‘No More Rescue Dogs’ Maybe – Probably Not

Occasionally I am inspired by my blogging friends who set themselves challenges and goals for the day, the week or even the whole year ahead.

But not for long.

This ‘to do’ list scrawled on a bit of torn out paper is about as organised as I get.

However, I have managed to work through some of those (although it is Thursday and I wrote it on Monday).  I’ve phoned my Mum and my friend Maureen although she isn’t crossed out yet.

I’ve booked a restaurant for lunch tomorrow with some friends.

The ‘Box’ entry is because the customer who ordered a little etui box like this ……..

…..liked it so much she wanted a sewing box in the same fabric.

I didn’t have enough blue bunnies so she settle on pink which I hope she will like.

I wanted to practise some freehand machine embroidery so I made her this card using a piece of the fabric from the interior of the sewing box.

The ‘crochet’ entry is because I’m running out of time to complete my two identical sections of Jane Crow’s ‘Sunshine and Showers’ crochet along before the next section is released.

So I’ve managed one and now have to do an identical one.

The lurid greenish colour in the background is a yoga mat.  Obviously!

I’m worried about wavy edges because there are so many different stitches and colour changes and I’m thinking I’m no expert yet so my tension may well wander so I’m blocking it as I go along – hence the yoga mat.

I  don’t think it’s too bad but I need to have a clean slate before next month’s section is released as some Ravelry users who did this last year say they almost gave up at that point.  Even the designer confesses it to being difficult but rewarding.  Ooer.  Stand by for a row of individual flowers on top of what I’ve already done.  Maybe.

I’ve crossed out ‘Collars’ but really I should leave them on there because, since tagging my Scottie Dog collars as Westies I have been inundated with orders from a French Westie fan club on Facebook.  I know they are a little square jawed for Westies but then most Scotties are black so I consider it to be a generic design.

Talking of dogs, mine are driving me to distraction at the moment.  As happened last year, they graze like cattle on the fallen plums and figs in the garden and, also like cattle, deposit the results in great pancakes.  Then they scent our evenings with their gaseous offerings.  I’ve tried clearing up the fruit as it falls but we have so many trees that it’s a virtually impossible task and the slightest breeze (or dog nudging at the lower branches) releases another load.

It’s just as well really because, knowing my love of German Shepherd type dogs my friend sent me this photo of a pup that has recently arrived at the dog rescue.

Then, when I foolishly investigated further, I saw this handsome fella

I’ve also heard, separately, of two young Pyreneen Mountain dogs who need a new home.  Mr. T says it must be a sign but he’s not here all the time so I’m just going to go out in the garden and shovel up some more fallen fruit – both undigested and digested – to remind me that three dogs is already plenty.

I haven’t forgotten the  ‘hatboxes’ entry and must do something with the hatbox quilt blocks before the end of the month as that is supposed to be a monthly ‘challenge’.  See, I do try.

The ‘Conservatory’ entry is sort of housework related so we won’t worry about that –  ‘after all, tomorrow is another day’

 

 

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In Case You Care About My Blog

We went on holiday – the first one on our own (longer than a weekend) since the girls were born.  We pleased ourselves what we did and when we did it.  The Mademoiselles (plus the boyfriend of one of them) were the guardians of home, dogs and cats and, astonishingly, the house was still standing and the animals still present and correct when we got back.

Remember the t-shirts, years ago,  that said ‘My Parents Went On Holiday and All They Bought Me Was This T-Shirt’ ?  Well, due to her father’s sense of humour, this is what Mlle T. the elder got for her trouble

She wasn’t amused when I texted her this photo from the apartment we were renting in Girona.  It didn’t help that the weather in France hadn’t been very good while we’d been away and she’d been looking forward to sunning herself by the pool.  She’s a sensitive soul  – but we gave it to her anyway.

We started off by going across the border into Andorra where, every year the Cirque du Soleil give free performances throughout the month of July.  No photos but I’m sure you’ve seen events on T.V. or been to one yourself so you know they are amazing spectacles peopled by incredibly bendy, muscular and (usually) tiny athletic types.

We then crossed over on to the Spanish side of the Pyrenees and proceeded on some very windy roads to a village called Bonansa and, yes, I kept humming the theme tune because I’m that old.

Around the village were several of these ermitages which are centuries old (those parts that haven’t been restored) and were used both defensively against invaders

and as places of sanctuary.

We then went further West into Aragon and to a magical medieval Moorish town called Alquezar which has labyrinthine old streets and is cut into a hillside surrounded by deep gorges.

Lots of people go canyoning but we contented ourselves with walking

of the slightly precarious kind

These walkways have been attached to the rock face so that, when the river below is in full ‘gush’, you can still walk through the gorge.  I had no trouble but Mr. T is very tall and had to almost bend double to get under some of the overhanging rocks.

When we reached the end, we saw one of the paths that had been closed and, if you zoom in (click twice), you can see why.

I was glad we’d already done a circuit otherwise it might have put me off.

Oh, and we also did lots of sitting around tlaking and eating.  I love it in Spain because they don’t even start dinner until around 8.30 whereas the French restaurants where I live are thinking about closing around about then.

From this vantage point we looked down into an olive grove where an old man tended his little herd of goats until late at night and the local feral cat population begged for food from the diners above.

This one nearly came home with us.

A face only a mother could love?

Then we continued on to Girona – very much back in Catalan country, with the flag of Catalonia hanging from many balconies – and spent the rest of the week there in an apartment in the old town and right on the riverside.

You know how I love to say ‘you can see our house from here’ – well, for three days I could say it every time we crossed the bridge.

We walked the old city walls for the views and to work off some of the excess eating (and drinking)

Quite a few scenes of ‘Game of Thrones’ were filmed here and (spoiler alert) one of the ice cream parlours make an ice cream in the shape of Jamie Lannister’s severed hand.

Here he is on the steps of the cathedral – I had a very nice Mojito at a café just at the foot of these steps although the people milling about on the steps looked a bit different when I was there.

I hope the cast didn’t need to use the loo too often though as this one is very high up on the old city wall  and just empties directly on to the street below

So, that’s the holiday snaps over with – sorry about that but it’s nice for me to have a record of our visit and my blog’s the best place for me to put it.  Back to normal i.e. sewing, crochet, knitting, patchwork, dogs and cats, next time.

On a side note, as it was my holiday reading so therefore a little bit pertinent, I read Daughters of the Dragon‘ by William Andrews.  Not your usual escapist holiday read but a very good fictional account (though based on historical facts) of the so called ‘comfort women’ taken from Korea as young as thirteen and used as sex slaves by the Japanese army in World War II.  Tortured and abused some of the survivors – women now in their seventies and eighties – are still asking for acknowledgement and some sort of repentance from the Japanese government who were aware of the provision of these ‘comfort stations’.  Shocking but also an interesting look into Korean history, the author was inspired to write the story by his Korean daughter and asks that readers spread the word by leaving reviews and mentioning it on social media in order to increase the awareness of the fate of these, often forgotten, women.  I’m happy to oblige.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fungus Folly

Today I spotted some unusual mushrooms in the garden

An unusual turquoise-y green colour I thought might be poisonous so I didn’t touch them.

It crossed my mind they might be birds’ eggs fallen out of a nest.

I was going to Google ‘small turquoise fungi’ after walking the dogs but on my way back down the hill from our walk I realised it wasn’t necessary.

Sometimes I worry.

 

Another ‘should’ve gone to Specsavers’ moment?

 

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