Hi everyone

A big thank you to all those of you who wrote, ‘don’t worry, we don’t mind, these things happen‘ after our big IT fail. And an even bigger thank you to everyone who read some of those old posts, I mean many of them had no photos! Yes, the thing is we are having some technical problems. The fail was another reminder that I’ve been writing the blog since 2013, would you believe! And the ‘resource limit’ of our ‘platform’ is beckoning, in fact the blog has actually ‘gone down’ for a couple of hours every time I post. This has to be dealt with, hence our view that somehow we have to remove 2013, 2014, and 2015.  But rather than destroy all these posts forever, which was going to happen, Mr F, my technical manager, now thinks we can store them elsewhere. So, you might possibly experience the blog going dark for a few hours again, but we will never bother you with that overload of emails, we’ve learnt not to do that!  Apologies again, but how I appreciate you all. I am so grateful that I have such lovely followers.

And yes, this post which is the summary of the month of November, could be a dark negative summary of a cold, damp, grey month with the heavy weight of the pandemic hovering over us. However, I have decided that the theme of the post will take a hint from over the pond (belated Happy Thanksgiving wishes everyone) so this time it is a summary of everything that I am grateful for and am positive about in this month.

Yes, I’m grateful for you, dear readers, and I am grateful that my son and his partner have given me another grandchild. I have one other grandchild aged 14, so it’s been a long time without a baby in the family.  So happy, and furthermore, I am knitting again! The last thing I knitted was for my 14-yr-old grandson when he was a baby so I am not very skilled at this, and I’ve produced one little cardi, but gosh I’m finding the sewing up of said garment really challenging. I like the knitting but not the putting it together!

I’ll show you the finished item, when… but it’s taking me forever!  Despite this slight irritation, I really enjoyed the knitting part so have decided to start another knitted item that is much more complicated. Taking that mantra of test yourself out literally here!

I am also grateful for our scientists. There are 3 vaccines just around the corner. In this household we’ll be getting vaccinated without a moment’s hesitation. And age truly has its benefits as I expect at nearly 75 I shall be offered a vaccine sooner than some. Btw, there’s no need to warn me of possible side-effects or worse, nor is there any need to urge me to wait. The length of time to bring these vaccines to us has been hugely shortened because of the urgency, and I am of a certain age group that cannot wait, I want to live again! I know no-one amongst my friends who are over 70, who will refuse the vaccines. I have read many articles, and there is a very interesting technical development with both Pfizer and Moderna using a code RNA, or mRNA, to trigger the immune system without using the virus. Fascinating! This is a very big reason to be cheerful. If I have a choice (and I won’t) I’d choose those vaccines. Whatever is on offer, bring it on.

And now we get to an area that I am negative about.  I wondered whether I should be saying this and I am sorry if this offends or upsets you. But really, what nonsense is this to relax Lockdown Version 2 while the figures are so high (see this if you think I’m being more negative than I should be) and then on top of that, give us a 5-day break over Christmas with 3 households of all ages able to mix? I’m going to be controversial here, what is this elevation of Christmas over other religious festivals where people were banned from mixing? I’m very uncomfortable about this. Yes, in this country Christmas is mainly about a getting together, but not everyone can do that in ordinary times, or has the family to get together with. Furthermore, this is fetishising this festival over and above scientific knowledge. The scientists are really not keen. Someone is definitely not following the science or doesn’t know much about viruses, which I can’t quite believe… Geez, is the government not thinking of the medics and nurses when cases rise even further in mid-January?  Consequently, in this household we are not relaxing our efforts to keep clear of this virus over Christmas. We will not mix with any friends, we will not mix with our family, it will be a Zoom Christmas. To visit indoors and eat a meal, and mix age-groups for 5-days, for us, this is an absolute no.

And that people, is the end of negativity because I have good memories of Christmases past, and there will be other years when we can celebrate together. I am grateful for those and I am grateful for what is in store for us all. Just take care, as the virus doesn’t know it’s Christmas, and that’s all I’ll say.

Anyway, life this month has been much the same. We go out every day for a walk,

We have a good routine, we work at our desks in the morning, we do our Pilates, we keep in touch with family and friends. And we have much to look forward to. In my last post (the one posted an hour before the excess emails) I told you I’d booked two staycations in the UK for 2021 – yay – three big cheers – another reason to be cheerful.

And here’s what we did on Saturday!  Yes, we put up our Christmas tree and decorated the flat. A trifle early but I think we all deserve some glitter and fairy lights!

And here is the fairy.

Another reason to be cheerful is that there will be some pantos, yes there will!  Some of these seasonal theatrical romps, that were for me a childhood delight, are being held outdoors. The link talks about two outdoor pantomimes in Scotland (brrr) but I know that there is one in Brighton at our outdoor theatre. Hats off to the thesps and their theatre producers and three cheers for this tradition.


I think I said that I was rather tired of reading books that are not much more than a story built around failing middle-class marriages. So off I went and bought Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman. It is about the battle of Stalingrad, and it is beyond my capacity to describe in detail as, very much like War and Peace, it has a vast canvas of people and events, but I got one third the way through it, and just couldn’t continue. It is rather bleak in places. So I picked up on Where the Crawdads Sing, as I had discarded this book after one chapter thinking it to be a bit of a misery-fest, but no, it isn’t. Well, not exactly, as it is a truly lovely and quite haunting depiction of a young child growing up in a near-feral existence in the Deep South. I found her abandonment a tough read yet at the same time the descriptions of nature, the marsh-land and waterways of this area and her interest in this, it is beautiful. But the plot does have its angsty moments!  I mean do read it, it’s a good book, but has anyone any books they can recommend that are funny? I could do with a book that makes me laugh.


As you might have gathered I’m a bit of a Chadwick Boseman fan and mourn his early death at the age of 43. We decided we had to catch up on all his films, and having watched Get on Up, the biopic of James Brown last month, this month we watched Da 5 Bloods (Netflix). Four men (including Clark Peters) go back to Vietnam to celebrate the death of their comrade, played by Boseman, who remains his young self throughout, and this might sound ridiculous, scenes from this past are played by the same older men, but it works, and there is, of course, another reason for their return, gold, and that gets them into dire trouble. Don’t be put off though, the characters are well developed and believable, the story arc and script is excellent, and the film gets a well-deserved 5* from me.

In a moment of madness and desire to watch something silly, we watched the old Tom Hanks film, The Money Pit (Netflix). It gets 2* as it was instantly forgettable, as was, rather sadly, a much newer film, Irresistible (Amazon), written and directed by the broadcaster John Stewart. This was rather weak, although it tried its best. Supposedly all about a mid-west mayoral election, with Steve Carrell also trying his best (at being funny) masterminding the Democratic Colonel’s campaign. The twist at the end could be missed if you blinked. Another 2*. A somewhat better film but one that wouldn’t appeal to everyone as it was quite violent (the clue is in the title) was The Assassin’s Bodyguard (Netflix) which was utter nonsense, but it was well made nonsense. It gets 3*.

Clark Peters turns up again in Harriet (Amazon), the last film we watched this month.  This is a 4 and half * film. The not quite 5* is because I’d listened that morning to a half-hour slot on Radio 4 on Harriet Tubman and with that hint of an almost happy ending with her family the film fails to get the 5* as it took years for Harriet to get her pension and she died in near poverty. If you don’t know the name, she was born into slavery, escaped to freedom, became part of the ‘underground railroad’ and time and time again rescued enslaved people. She had a hard, hard life, but what a woman.  The film is very watchable and thoroughly deserves its nearly 5* status!


Oh how I mourn the end of The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix) – what a great television series.  I know nothing of chess but with the entire series set around the rise of chess genius in the form of a very young girl, and the games getting more complex as the years go by, that did not seem to matter one bit.  It was such a good watch, both gripping and gorgeous to look at.  Set in the 50s and 60s the clothes were scrumptious and the period detail a delight. I liked how all the players seemed to love chess and despite their extreme competitiveness, the game was the thing.

Another series that has some gorgeous clothes is The Undoing (Now tv). It starts as ‘did-he-do-it’ (this is the very attractive Hugh Grant) but it has segued into a ‘who-do-you-actually-think-done-it’. Personally I think it’s Grace played by a botox-faced Nicole Kidman. But she is such a good clothes-horse, I just love her clothes especially her coats – that green one. My kind of coat! Yes, it is the tale of the very rich brought short by a murder, but it is good enough to thoroughly grip people and test our patience as well, as the episodes are coming out the old-fashioned way, just once a week.

Also watching the second series of His Dark Materials (BBC iPlayer). As this is from the books by Philip Pullman need I say more?  It’s a fantasy and not quite a children’s tale. It’s good and very well made, but not brilliant.

Have you heard of the Small Axe films created and directed by Steve McQueen, the director of 12 Years a Slave?  There are five films and you can see them on both BBC iPlayer and Amazon.  Each film tells a different story of the lives of West Indian immigrants in London during the 1960s and 1970s.  We’ve watched the first one, Mangrove, and it’s excellent, but what do you expect from Steve McQueen. Mangrove is the story of 9 people who were prosecuted at the Old Bailey for inciting riot. It is an outstanding film, and I’m ashamed to say I knew very little of their prosecution, and indeed their persecution by our police. Oh my word, the racism of those police – the nine were, btw, acquitted. This film, I think, is superior to The Trial of the Chicago 7 which was good, but there were too many laughs, and all I can remember of that film was how funny Sacha Baron Cohen was. But I thought about Mangrove for days afterwards. A must-watch, I’d say.

For a totally happy viewing experience I just love Schitts Creek (Netflix). It sounds as though it ought to be awful but it is such a delight as is Gavin and Stacey (BBC iPlayer) which I never watched when it first came along, but if I want cheering up, it’ll be one of these programmes that I’ll watch.

I have been watching some outstanding documentaries. I want to draw your attention to just one of them. It is This House is Full of Music. It is about one musical family of 7 children who all play instruments extraordinarily well. Indeed one played the cello at Megan and Harry’s wedding. I was near to tears at the beauty of their playing. There is a book and you can see the documentary on BBC iPlayer. Another must-watch as it’s very uplifting.

Almost forgot that we’re watching the fourth season of The Crown (Netflix). Honestly, I think this season is rather depressing. Yes, it’s gorgeous to look at but what a family! See above for the kind of family I really admire!

Looking forward to this

And this.

And this

And this.

Art galleries are my thing, but do let me know how you’re doing and what you look forward to 🙂

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper


44 thoughts on “Lockdown diaries – November 2020 Reasons to be cheerful

  • 30th November 2020 at 9:36 am

    I find myself agreeing with you yet again about Covid, ridiculous to behave as though it will sit quietly for a while so everyone can rush around “superspreading” over Christmas. Some of the people telling us what we can/can’t do (Yes, Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock et al, YOU! ) seem to have absolutely no idea about how infection is transmitted. As an ex-nurse myself, like you, I regularly find myself thinking that these people are operating from a position of total ignorance and naivety. I seem to spend a lot of time fuming, and yelling at th TVthese days.

    On a lighter note, I don’t have the vast experience and interest in film which you do, but I do so agree about the film Harriet. Wonderful.
    Also, you have reminded me to watch again the documentary about the Kanneh-Mason family. I live in Nottingham (their hometown) and have been privileged to listen to their wonderful music on many occasions, and even found myself sitting next to the whole family at a concert when one of the girls was playing piano. They are a lovely family, very warm and approachable, and wonderful ambassadors for Nottingham and music
    . Their home concerts on social media have been a joy through lockdown.

    • 1st December 2020 at 8:37 am

      Ah, it is so good to know you realise the devilish nature of this virus. Great heavens above it won’t take a day off over Christmas!!!! I just can’t watch those useless 5-6pm statements from any of them and that sadly includes the scientists standing side by side with the politicians. Although they do seem to be very reluctant to endorse the current relaxation.

      And yes, literally on a more positive note how wonderful to have been in the presence of that amazing family of musicians and to have heard them play live. What a privilege. I shall look out for their YouTube concerts – the documentary brought me near to tears at times, but kind of uplifted tears! What role models they are for young people, for music and I have to say for us Brits. I feel more positive just writing about them. Thanks and take care 🙂

  • 30th November 2020 at 9:55 am

    Try the Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman – it’s a hoot.

    • 1st December 2020 at 8:28 am

      Thank you Christina – will put it on my Christmas pressie list!

  • 30th November 2020 at 9:59 am

    How refreshing to have someone agree with me! I have friends and family in Melbourne and they’ve had a very strict lockdown but now they’ve had no new cases for more than a month and they’re out of lockdown and able to mix. What a shame we can’t do the same here but you can’t trust people to be sensible. The anti- lockdown demonstrations make me quite angry – selfish and ignorant are the nicest adjectives I can apply to those people.

    I’m not actually angry all the time and am trying to count my blessings but my husband has just been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer that’s spread to his lungs, liver and legs so we’re taking one day at a time and making the most of what’s left to us. Sorry is that’s a downer on your post but my point is that there are reasons to be cheerful and it’s important to make sure that you seek them out and properly take pleasure in them.

    • 1st December 2020 at 8:48 am

      Oh Scarlett – sending big virtual hugs to you. And yes, to tackle this virus you have to go in ‘hard and early’ and indeed some countries did just that. I’ve never forgiven Johnson for saying right at the start, ‘some of your loved ones are going to die’. Although he loves using those warlike metaphors, in reality he was never prepared to fight for our lives. And he has been playing catch-up ever since. Yikes enough of my negativity.

      And Scarlett, I am so sorry, what a blow, what a calamity for you both. But yes, indeed, live and love as well as you can through living in the present (quite hard to do) and seeking out the positive. See above for the comment on the Kanneh-Mason family who live in Nottingham and have the most amazing musical talents. Search out This House is Full of Music and enjoy – it’s lovely.

      You take care x

  • 30th November 2020 at 11:54 am

    Virus do not go on holiday. As one scientist said ‘if you see your elderly relatives at Christmas, be prepared to bury them in January’.

    • 1st December 2020 at 8:49 am

      Exactly so, the virus has no idea it’s Christmas!

  • 30th November 2020 at 12:21 pm

    Oh how I too miss my days out in London visiting the wonderful galleries. I retired in April and was looking forward to more such trips. Hopefully, we’ll be back to it next year once the vaccine(s) is/are rolled out and the infection rate is much reduced. Like you, I’ll be as near the front of the vaccine queue as I’m allowed.

    I’m watching the Steve McQueen films as they’re broadcast and am really enjoying them – if that’s the right word. I’m truly horrified at the overtly racist behaviour of the police back in the day and the fact that it’s still around today though not to the same degree. The patience and tolerance of the Mangrove 9 is humbling.

    • 1st December 2020 at 8:55 am

      Oh yes, Julia same here re: art galleries and the vaccine, I won’t hesitate.

      Yes, those films are so humbling and eye-opening. And what is more those people are now suffering racism from the Home Office and being asked to prove how long they have lived in the UK. The racism suffered by the Windrush generation I do know about, and having worked with so many West Indian nurses I am so ashamed. It seems it’s a harsh environment even now. Steve MacQueen is a genius I think. Did you see Lovers Rock – now that was different. There was no plot as such, but I was just mesmerised by the whole thing. Very immersive.

  • 30th November 2020 at 12:57 pm

    I needed a uplifting read! Thanks! Congratulations on your grandchild! That is wonderful news!

    • 1st December 2020 at 8:56 am

      Thank you Nancy, it is lovely to have a small person to knit for!!!! Take care xxx

  • 30th November 2020 at 1:43 pm

    After watching the Thanksgiving episode of ‘Succession’ I’m not sure about saying I’m grateful for anything although of course I am. The fact of video technology must be one of them – we had 3 families on a call for our grandson’s 18th last week. I get my tree up much later than most anyway and won’t be changing that this year. After using the same one for 24 years I bought a new one 2 years ago and it’s wonderful because it revolves!! No-one I know had ever seen this before but there are lots of them about & not that expensive. Of course you have to cover the whole thing with decorations so it takes hours to put up but it’s so lovely when it’s done. I have some Decs. that are 50 years old and most years I buy something new. We’ve bought things on holiday which is nice to remember as well. Every year I’ve bought the grandchildren a decoration so they can build their own collection.
    Currently I’m reading ‘The Singapore Grip’ by JG Farrell which was recommended to me. The TV adaptation was badly reviewed so I gave it a miss. The book is quite a tome ; it’s about a business family during WW2. It has a conversational tone which reminds me of Arnold Bennett. I’ve got Crawdads but not started it yet, also Snowdrops by A D Miller which was Booker shortlisted in 2011 and set in Moscow. I’ve also got a 1930’s Christmas crime story called ‘Mystery in White’ by J Jefferson Farjeon who wrote over 60 novels yet no-one has heard of him! Thats’ to for me to start on Xmas Eve! My sister is a prodigious reader and has just had a clear out so I’ve got many novels waiting.
    I really like films at the cinema but we are seeing some old ones we missed. No Netflix for us. I can’t stand His Dark Materials & never watched Gavin and Stacey so might give that a whirl. We will be moving on to the new scandi thriller The Viking Murders soon.
    I know what you mean about the sewing up of knitting! There are some good tutorials that can help but it is tedious. I’ve not knitted anything for years but I’m going to try a dog jumper for granddaughters ‘bestie’ – or should that be ‘beastie’. Just wondering what the best dressed designer dogs are wearing this season…………….!

    • 1st December 2020 at 9:14 am

      I tried Succession, watched the first episode and really didn’t like it, felt too brutal and I didn’t like the language or the characters. So thought nope, I won’t get further into it.

      Some of the tree decorations are at least 50 years old as I’ve got many of my mother’s tree decs, and there is one bauble that is the same age as me, minus one year. It is the last of the tree baubles that decorated their tree throughout their life together. Pride of place always goes to my son’s pink felt bell that he made when he was 7 yrs-old!

      Thanks for the reminder of the book Snowdrops – that will go on my Christmas pressie list. I thoroughly recommend The Singapore Grip, the book rather than the television series which was rather poor. Farrell’s writing has subtlety and depth and depicts the last days of Empire rather well, while the televised version was a caricature. I particularly liked it (the book) as my father was in the Indian army and was stationed there just before the Japanese invasion. He hated the snobbery of the ex-pats who wouldn’t let his fellow Indian officers into their clubs – he thought that a disgrace. Fortunately he was shipped off to Staff College before the fighting started, just as well as his battalion was decimated and he was exactly the type of officer that would get himself killed, several of his colleagues were.

      I’m quite pleased to have started knitting again. Also just started watching The Valhalla Murders – rather good. It’s set in Iceland. Thanks, Lynda 🙂

  • 30th November 2020 at 4:26 pm

    Re. books to make you laugh – have you ever read either The Moon’s a Balloon or Bring on the Empty Horses by the much missed David Niven? I think he wrote more, but I’ve only read those two, both years ago, and can still remember crying with laughter at one point.
    Tom Sharpe – a few of his books were televised, I found him very funny (again, read them years ago, so might be dated now).
    Andrew Davies – A Very Peculiar Practice – also televised years ago.
    Kinsley Amis – Lucky Jim.
    Martin Amis – London Fields.
    Anne Tyler – The Accidental Tourist.
    Terry Pratchett – he’s Marmite, but I love some of his stuff, The Wee Free Men books especially (classified as children’s/ya, but who cares?).
    And for a total contrast, have you read any Irvine Welsh books? Yes, they’re full of bad language, irreverence, some violence, etc., but are also very funny.
    This lot came instantly to mind, bound to be lots more (and perhaps a bit more recent) if I think about it.

    • 1st December 2020 at 9:18 am

      Thank you so much Jacqui – what a great list. I have read David Niven’s two books which I agree are hilarious. What a rake!

      You’ve prompted me to widen my list of authors as will look into Terry Pratchett. Not read The Accidental Tourist either, and don’t think I’ve tried Irvine Welsh, so I will. Thanks so much. Really appreciate 🙂

      • 3rd December 2020 at 8:38 pm

        Penny, forget London Fields, I looked out my copy and goodness knows why I ever thought it was funny! It’s now in the charity shop bag 😊
        Re. Irvine Welsh, it’s mostly very black humour, which most Scots really enjoy.
        Another writer to try is Roddy Doyle – The Commitments, The Van, etc.
        Chris Brookmyre can be very funny, I LOVE some of his books.
        If you enjoy police/thrillers, then Stuart MacBride and Denzil Meydrick have lots of humour in most of their books (again, quite dark as it’s crime/murder related).

  • 30th November 2020 at 4:43 pm

    I’ve just finished the ‘Crawdads’ book and really enjoyed it. The author is really a nature writer and this came across with her truly beautiful depictions of the Marsh. I felt moved by Kia’s plight and was quite sad to finish it. Currently, for light relief I’m reading one of Alexander McCall Smith’s Scotland Street books. I love their light hearted storylines and as I used once to live in Edinburgh, always enjoy picturing the locations. Same goes for Ian Rankin’s Rebus books – I’ve bought all the most recent ones in Lockdown and do enjoy his curmudgeonly ways!! Sitting on the book shelves is the new one by Jessie Burton, ‘The Confession’ and Anne Patchet’s the Dutch House. I feel in the lap of luxury when there are unread books sitting there waiting for me, and this year has been a real indulgence where books are concerned. I enjoy your blog and particularly all the comments. There are lovely people out there. We will only see our daughter, her partner and my granddaughter who live round the corner, for which I am so grateful. May 2021 be a much happier year for us all. Have a safe and Happy Christmas all.

    • 1st December 2020 at 10:51 am

      I know like you I have to have two books waiting to be read, otherwise I start to get anxious! So glad that you’ve got family close by. I shall try one of the Scotland Street books – thanks

      Indeed, let 2021 be a better year. Take care and stay safe 🙂

  • 30th November 2020 at 7:01 pm

    Glad you’ve got your tech issues sorted. What a pain it is….and you still have reasons to be cheerful!

    I hate sewing my crochet projects together, too, so you’re not alone. How nice to have a tiny person to knit for.

    I read ‘Where the Crawdads Sing on holiday and whilst I enjoyed it; I found the girl’s early life incredible. Have watched hardly anything you’ve described; but haven’t you been catching up with a lot! We’ve been relying on All4’s ‘Walter Presents’ for our viewing – all non UK mostly crime series. We’re currently working our way through the French ones…

    Take care

    • 1st December 2020 at 10:59 am

      The sewing up is very tedious, I procrastinate like anything, but do love the act of knitting and rather glad to have begun to knit again for a little person.

      Yes, Walter Presents is great. We’ve just started The Valhalla Murders which is set in Iceland and rather good – love the snowy scenery. The thing is we always watch one film a week – force of habit really.

      I didn’t actually like reading the early life of Kia, as I absolutely hate reading or watching any cruelty towards children and Kia was so neglected. I mean I can take violent films but anything like that is a big no. But the descriptions of nature and that marshland are beautiful. I’m in the middle of the trial at the moment and waiting for the revelation……It’s another who-actually-did-it!

      You take care too xxx

  • 30th November 2020 at 7:23 pm

    I so agree with you Penny about the absolute shambles this government is making of it’s response to the pandemic. It makes me so angry, particularly the squandering of so much money on contracts awarded to chums or chums of chums. I’m also enjoying both Succession and The Undoing but I do find Nicole Kidman’s face unsettling – she looks very odd. With regard to books, have you read the ‘Magic Men’ series of books by Elly Griffiths? They are set in Brighton in the 50’s and are very atmospheric. The first one in the series is The ZigZag girl. During lockdown I discovered the Libby app. It lets you download books or audiobooks to your phone or tablet for free – you just need your local library card and a pin number to get started.

    • 1st December 2020 at 11:04 am

      This government is the worst one we could have possibly had for a pandemic. I think without a pandemic I might have just thought I don’t like the government’s direction and its policies, but with the leader we have, well there is no leader, as he isn’t dealing with it, because all he wanted to do and still does, is wave a flag and say we’re leaving the EU. Yes, that’s exactly it!!!

      I think I might try the Magic Men series as it’s set in Brighton! Thanks so much for the tip. Take care 🙂

  • 30th November 2020 at 9:32 pm

    Just about finished reading the back log of topics you mistakenly sent Penny! I was pleased to have them, thank you.
    We have been in our change of address now for two weeks and still ploughing through the unpacking. In between the chores I would read one of your blogs while having a coffee and biscuit, such a lovely little break and to have something “bite size” to captivate me.
    I can’t believe what may happen at Xmas. January will see such an increase in infection.
    All the best Penny

    • 1st December 2020 at 11:07 am

      Oh my word, thank you so much for reading those posts! Greatly impressed, and glad you like them.

      And yes, this Xmas, what can one say, but be careful to all those who are going visiting. I cope by thinking of all the Christmases to come.

      Thanks again and all the very best to you good luck with that unpacking and take care 🙂

  • 30th November 2020 at 10:28 pm

    Hello Penny
    Because of the pandemic my family decided not to meet at a restaurant in Manhattan for our Thanksgiving. I have to say I was much looking forward to the event although somewhat apprehensive. As a result, no one got together, so I cooked my own dinner. It had been a rainy morning but later in the day it became warm and sunny, so I took myself to the beach, walking along the boardwalk and enjoying the weather, seeing the dogs playing at the water’s edge.
    Today I did brave the large mall in a neighboring city to purchase some perfume for my granddaughter. I know I could have bought it on Amazon but something is messed up with my account and I can’t seem to access it in spite of many tries, changes of passwords, etc. I do not like going to this gigantic mall, with it’s vast underground parking and the fact that I have to pay several dollars to shop. It was strange seeing the place relatively empty so close to Christmas. The whole experience actually aroused some anxiety. Luckily, I did get the fragrance, apparently it is rather a cult favorite with the younger set so one gift purchased.
    One good thing is that my local library now allows in person browsing, so I have my book stash. Our family is not at all sure what will be happening for Christmas, just taking it day to day. I probably will not do a tree this year. Last year I with my son’s help we put up a very large one. I love to see the ornaments from years gone by, some even made by the kids when they were children, or from places I have traveled. Hopefully, next year. I will be decorating the house however, and sending out cards. Enjoy the season Penny, especially the new little one, certainly something to celebrate.

    • 1st December 2020 at 11:19 am

      I haven’t been to the centre of Brighton to an actual shop for nearly a year now. They’re closed at the moment, but will open tomorrow I think and I shall avoid like the plague which is actually a saying quite near to reality! What strange times we live in. It’s so important to think ahead. Btw, I too have Christmas decorations made by my chidden, one is a lovely little pink felt bell made by my son when he was 7-yrs-old, it has pride of place and I think it’s there on the photo. As you can see we don’t have a big Christmas tree but there are many items on it from my mother’s collection and one bauble that is my age, minus one year, which is very precious. Even more precious will be the thought of all the Christmases to come, and we will have those Darby, and that’s what I hold onto. I am very annoyed with our government and the way it has handled this pandemic but putting that aside we can look forward to better times. Read those books (how lovely to have that stash) and think of all the great Christmases to come, and they will. You take care and stay safe 🙂

    • 1st December 2020 at 11:20 am

      I haven’t been to the centre of Brighton to an actual shop for nearly a year now. They’re closed at the moment, but will open tomorrow I think and I shall avoid like the plague which is actually a saying quite near to reality! What strange times we live in. It’s so important to think ahead. Btw, I too have Christmas decorations made by my children, one is a lovely little pink felt bell made by my son when he was 7-yrs-old, it has pride of place and I think it’s there on the photo. As you can see we don’t have a big Christmas tree but there are many items on it from my mother’s collection and one bauble that is my age, minus one year, which is very precious. Even more precious will be the thought of all the Christmases to come, and we will have those Darby, and that’s what I hold onto. I am very annoyed with our government and the way it has handled this pandemic but putting that aside we can look forward to better times. Read those books (how lovely to have that stash) and think of all the great Christmases to come, and they will. You take care and stay safe 🙂

  • 30th November 2020 at 11:03 pm

    I have such a dilemma. I won’t be seeing my daughter and my grandchildren over Christmas because like you, we feel that’s the sensible choice, though I’ll miss them terribly. However my childless, recently widowed sister, who suffers from advanced Parkinson’s, faces spending Christmas on her own other than Carers calling to get her up first thing in the morning and then putting her to bed at night. So what do I do? I can’t bear the thought of her spending all Christmas Day on her own but inviting her to spend time with me and my partner seems foolish in the extreme as we are both over 70. We are of little danger to her as we are very careful and rarely go out other than a daily walk but she is of greater danger to us because she sees many different Carers in a week. It’s causing me so much anxiety. I know the answer but it seems so hard hearted.

  • 1st December 2020 at 8:26 am

    This must be heartbreaking for you, and I think there are people of your age who would risk it. But I think one has to follow one’s instincts, and of course, the advice from the scientists, who one can tell, are very uneasy about the relaxation of Lockdown 2, and stress the risks of the 5-day break with 3 households mixing.

    These are such unusual times, it isn’t normal to hide away from our loved ones. And I can see the dilemma is not with visiting your daughter who you will be able to visit soon enough and for many years to come. It is your sister who is the priority. So, what to do? If you decide not to and that’s where it seems to be going, how can you make that day special? Can you send her a lovely meal? And give her lots of treats.?Does a carer come in at lunch to get a meal – if not maybe this day she needs someone to give her the turkey and trimmings. And there’s the phone and you could talk about plans to see her. Because, the good news is that by Christmas and certainly the end of the year we should be told the schedule for vaccination. It is the NHS staff first and then the very vulnerable of whom your sister must come bang in the middle of that tranche of people. She definitely should be vaccinated before you. So very soon she will be safe to see. And that is something to look forward to. Good luck with all of this and take care x

  • 1st December 2020 at 10:16 am

    Morning Penny,

    Thanks for this full and interesting post. I’m a [relative] late comer, so I enjoyed your early postings too.
    Yes, the digital age is great – until something goes awry. I said to my daughter the recently that if something happened to my husband I’d have to go to Switzerland 😉

    Your tree looks good – amazing what a bit of glitz can do in these crazy days. We are keeping close to the homestead and also intend a low-key Christmas. We thought we might grab a few days away to Weymouth between lockdown and Christmas, instead, we end up in Tier 2. Oh well, it is bright today and there’s no wind so I’m about to set forth with my spray paint. I’m creating our decoration this year – due to having more ‘free time’ and (more the truth) too lazy to get up in the loft to get decoration boxes down.

    Talking of free time, we’re spending far more time viewing and are discovering things we missed before. I’ve seen many of those you’ve listed and mostly agree with your scorings. You mentioned Mangrove – yes, excellent and the second film in the McQueen series, Lovers Rock was fabulous. If you’re looking for something light/fun, I can highly recommend Outnumbered and Two Doors Down – both on BBC iPlayer. New to us, but they’ve been around quite a while, apparently.

    For something different, we constructed our own little Vittorio de Sica film fest (!) Accessed through Netflix (not sure) and Amazon Prime. I don’t know how we latched on to it but we watched first ‘The Garden of Finzi-Contrinis’ (1970) about the horrors of fascism, which led us on to ‘The Bicycle Thieves’ (1948 – often cited as one of the greatest films ever made) and Finally ‘Umberto D’. The father of neorealism, they were brilliant.

    All the very best to you and B. Stay safe, Mary x

    • 3rd December 2020 at 8:04 am

      Hi Mary, thanks for the viewing tips, it’s always good to get ideas from people and try different things to watch and read. Although Netflix is mostly rubbish amongst the dross are some real gems, so I’m glad we subscribe. But one day we’ll be able to go back to the cinema – phew won’t that be wonderful!

      We have a lot of fairy lights around the flat – it’s so good to have some glitter! Well done you for making your decs.

      Very best to you both and yes, stay safe x

  • 1st December 2020 at 9:35 pm

    As my son and family are in Dublin and my daughter and her husband are in Seattle and we are in Nice it’ll be just the two of us and that’s fine. There are plenty of ways to stay in touch without risking COVID 19. For many years we have skipped family Xmases because of the hell of flying and travelling at this time of the year. That’s just my sensible Scottish attitude I suppose. We get together at another time with all the usual stuff like Turkey and crackers. I did get a tree and all the trimmings after throwing out 50 years worth of decorations last year when I had a purge. It’s far too early but it looks cheery. We are thankful that we are all healthy for the moment what more can you ask. I’m surprised you praised The Queen’s Gambit I thought it was all style and no substance. Really cheap looking too although I’m sure it cost megabucks. I did fancy reading the book but now I won’t bother. I find Netflix really disappointing it’s not for film buffs IMO. Your positive post is nicely uplifting keep up the good work.

    • 3rd December 2020 at 8:10 am

      I agree with you about Christmas – it can be a stressful time for all sorts of reasons. But I’m looking forward to getting together with our children and grandchildren in 2021 and not feeling that anxiety that accompanies every meeting.

      Yes, The Queens Gambit was very much about style – I totally admit that I’m sufficiently shallow for it to entrance me!!! I agree that Netflix is 80% rubbish.

      Thanks Flora for your kind words 🙂

  • 2nd December 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Agree with you on Christmas Penny, no sense to the five day spree, and people will be mingling with multiple households during the 5 days, not just 3. I haven’t been tempted even to get the Christmas tree out, although looking at yours makes me yearn for it just a little.
    I like the sound of This House is Full of Music. Also the idea of an amusing book. Seems to be a dearth of those. Maybe even writers are finding it hard to be funny in these “unprecedented times.”
    Can’t wait for my vaccine – bring it on! Since I hit 60 the NHS has suddenly become very attentive, showering me with breast cancer and bowel cancer screenings. The flu jab will no doubt be next. Have a good rest of week x

    • 3rd December 2020 at 8:16 am

      Do get the Christmas tree out – the glitter of fairy lights is quite uplifting to look at!

      That documentary on the musical family is amazing and so very lovely to watch.

      Yes, accept everything that is going, and bring on the vaccine, which is apparently arriving in the UK today! Being just under 75, don’t think we’ll get it this month, but maybe very early next year – yay!

  • 2nd December 2020 at 2:13 pm

    I did read When the Crawdads sing and am now finally reading another book! Haven’t read much in the past few months. I am glad you got to book some staycations. We are now staying put for a while and have no plans. Waiting to see what happens in the spring. It has gotten cold here and I haven’t walked since coming back from the beach: I need to toughen up and get out there!

    • 3rd December 2020 at 8:21 am

      Oh I remember how it was when I had two young children, no time for anything, and you have four!

      It’s interesting how the temperature has dropped where you live. Here in Brighton outside it’s 3C (37F) and inside 20C (68F). Plus it’s pouring with rain – yuck! So it’s warm weather and waterproof clothes for us when we go outside!

  • 6th December 2020 at 5:26 am

    We have been blogging about the same time Penny . I did enjoy reading some of your early posts. Lucky you having someone knowledgeable to help with tricky computer problems.
    I was quite astounded when I heard your government Covid restrictions and Christmas , it makes no sense what so ever with your high infections. I am not a fan of our Liberal Prime Minister and government but credit where its due they took medical and scientific advice seriously early and now we can celebrate as normal as we have no community transmission.
    I always enjoy your book recommendations , although not much time at present , plan to do more reading in the New Year.
    It must be fun knitting for a new little one .Take care , Jill.

    • 10th December 2020 at 12:52 pm

      Oh wow, hadn’t realised we’d been blogging the same amount of time. I couldn’t not do it now.

      Amazing that you have no community transmission, well done your government. Honestly our government! I won’t say anymore, but I’ll be writing on My Other Blog, quite soon, but this time about the disaster that is Brexit!

      It is fun knitting again. You take care too x

    • 10th December 2020 at 12:47 pm

      Thank you so much Gata – it’s lovely to meet you!

  • 6th December 2020 at 2:18 pm

    A great comic read is the Thursday Murder club. I laughed all the way through.

    • 10th December 2020 at 12:47 pm

      Thank you so much Margo – I think I’ll get it for my next read 🙂

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