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Tuesday 1 August 2023

My Month: July


Dear friends.  July was one of the wettest months ever! But I still did a fair bit. It takes more than rain and grey weather to put me off. July highlights were a trip to Devon for my nephew's wedding and RHS Hampton Court.

It was also good to get back inside the National Portrait Gallery. It has reopened after being closed for renovation for more than 3 years. 

I've reverted to the old style of recording months which I used to use.  I make notes each day on my phone. Let's see how it goes. If you have a preference for this style versus the high-level summary (see June), tell me in the comments.

Sat July 1

Our penultimate day on the Greek island of Skiathos. The view in the bay today was a huge Russian private yacht, rather ugly. It stayed until lunchtime. We had a different lunch today, a Greek cheese called talagoni on pitta bread with sundried tomatoes. It was nice and not too big, to allow us to get hungry for dinner.

We had dinner in the hotel's restaurant. I had a starter of sizzling mushrooms, J had burrata.  For the main course I had rack of lamb. I even managed a pudding, which I hardly ever do. It was a pastry case filled with meringue and different flavours. 

Sunday July 2

Our last day on the island. As usual, I woke early (6.30) and did yoga on the balcony, then went down to the beach at 8.30. J joined me at 9 and we went for breakfast:  Greek yoghurt and fruit for both of us plus a boiled egg for me and a croissant for J. We then relaxed on the beach all day  (it's a hard life!). 

My entertainment was watching a luxury cruise ship from SeaDream Yacht Club which had arrived early in the morning. It had a slide but I didn't see many people going down it. I always look up the vessels and see what they have on board,  and how many people they take. 

Lunch was a shrimp skewer for me and fried feta cheese with sundried tomatoes for J.
Monday July 3

It was all fairly relaxed leaving Skiathos, until we got to the UK.  We were picked up, taken to Skiathos Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport and had an hour and a half chilling in the very comfortable departure lounge. Usually it's fun to watch other planes landing and departing. The island is notorious for its tricky landing on a short runway. (Plenty of films on YouTube). But there was only a small Greek plane on the runway plus three planes to the UK, all leaving within a few minutes of each other.  

As we left, there was quite a large group of Brits on the beach just beyond the runway where they take pics and videos of planes. I call them "the singed hair brigade," as sometimes they have to dive when a plane passes very close to their head.  I was waving like crazy, as were they.  It was a bit sad because I felt that we probably wouldn't be coming back to Skiathos  (and we have been here 7 times).  We want to go somewhere different. 

We got to Gatwick on a gloomy day and had to wait 1.5 hours for our baggage.  We then had a bit of hassle linking up with our taxi driver as he'd gone to the wrong terminal.

Finally home around 6pm and rushed round to the local supermarket to get a few bits for dinner and breakfast.

Tues July 4

Sunny start but noticeably colder. We went for a bike ride to the Olympic Park. Unfortunately J cycled over a nail and had to change his tyre. He was very popular with the geese at the Walthamstow Wetlands who hoped he had some food for them in his bag  (nope!). 

My first book blog tour went live for The Bad Wife.  Shopping was delivered. 

Weds July 5

Decided to do another bike ride so there would be no risk to my beloved Pilates tomorrow.  J holds me to 3 bike rides a week! Did 24 miles, encountered some terrible drivers around Abridge, a village in Essex. Cold and windy.  Had coffee at one of the Epping Forest tea huts. 

Thurs July 6

Sunny intervals.  Did workout, drove to Pilates. Spoke mum. Joined Threads, a few hours after it launched in US. Not v impressed. 

Fri July 7

Went to Hampton Court Garden Festival with my friend Oxana. There was a train strike but it didn't affect us too much.  VERY hot. It's an RHS event, the same as Chelsea Flower Show, but not as glamorous as Chelsea. There are more tents and stands selling "stuff." We both love roses, so the rose marquee was probably our favourite. 

Sat July 8 

Cloudy,  humid. Did long walk in forest.  Saw 23 longhorns. Never seen such a big group, usually 6 is the average. 

Sun Sun 9 

Did bike ride, long one.  We had to come back along a very busy road, Epping New Road. Discovered bike won't help beyond its max 16.5. Under UK regulations ebikes can't go any faster. 

Ordered a TV to take to Mum's. Watched The Lost King (Netflix) about the remarkable discovery of the skeleton of King Richard III under a car park in Leicester. I think they took a few editorial liberties with the script, but I enjoyed it. 

Mon July 10

Week started with good news, quite a nice tax rebate! My second blog tour post went live for Ian McEwan's Lessons. 

I wrote a post about retirement as I'll have no time tomorrow, am going in town to help J buy something for the upcoming wedding of my nephew. This is quite A Thing as he hates clothes shopping and hasn't done it in person for around 10 years. 

Did a bonus forest walk pm.  I can't sleep if I haven't had physical exercise. 

Tues July 11 

More good news.  My blog's domain authority has gone up to 36 from 28.  This is all the work I've been doing on SEO. Page views have nearly tripled. 

Went in town, meeting J at M&S. He had gone in on his bike which he'd taken to a repair place. M&S was no good, we ended up in John Lewis and he bought a jacket and pair of trousers. 

Weds July 12 

Bike ride to the Lee Valley Country Park, a ride of around 21 miles with a coffee stop. 

Thurs July 13 

Did a blog shoot for two outfits. Packed for tomorrow, we are off to Plymouth for the wedding. 

Fri July 14 

Drove to Plymouth. It's 250 miles. Terrible weather, lots of rain.  Got to Mum's around 4.15. J set up her new TV, then we checked in at Boringdon, a lovely hotel not far from Mum which has EV chargers. Had smoked duck and wagyu burger.  Didn't sleep well, too hot in bed.

Sat July 15

The wedding was at an old manor house down windy single track lanes, a few miles from Mum's. We took Mum and my brother and his wife. Beautiful scenery. The wedding was in a marquee styled as a tee pee. The weather forecast had been dire but on the day it was fairly warm and didn't rain, thank goodness. 

Here's J, my mum, me and my brother Rob, the bridegroom's dad. 

And here's the bride and groom with my brother, his wife Claire and daughter Isabel, who was a bridesmaid. 

Sun Jul 16

We checked out and went to Mum's. J packed up her old TV to dispose of it. He then drove back to London. I was staying a couple more days, with Mum, and going back on the train. I did a walk, Mum was tired after yesterday. 

Mon Jul 17

Mum not up to going in town (Plymouth).  I went in, rained while I was at bus stop.  I did a scenic walk around the city centre - which has greatly changed since I lived there- and along the Hoe and Barbican. Wished I'd brought my swimmies when I saw the lovely art deco pool on the Hoe, which I spent a lot of time in as a teenager. Did some food shopping for Mum. 

This is a side view of the big church, St Andrews, in the centre of Plymouth. 

Tues July 18

Cool, sunny intervals.  Back to London by train.  Train was very busy. Panicking as couldn't find senior rail card, but then remembered it was an app. My senior moment.  

Weds July 19

Cycled to Olympic Park via Wood St. Overcast. I took some bird seed for the geese at the wetlands, but as I was feeding them a patrol van came by and told me not to.  Apparently they don't like the geese getting too attached to people because they get stolen "and eaten."

Thurs July 20

Pilates, walked there. J had gone to see his sister Kate who was in London briefly. She lives in France during the summer. 

Fri July 21

2 posts went live,  5 in a week!  This must surely be a record for me. We did a forest walk, sunny intervals. Rained after lunch. Did some ironing. 

Sat July 22 

Had an exciting first meet up with the Kettlewell Essex colour club in Chelmsford.  Rained. 12 ladies attended. I was wearing a poppy red Kettlewell Robyn jacket which had fortuitously arrived yesterday. It was half price in the sale. 

Sun July 23

We did a Lee Valley country park bike ride, 24 miles. Quite a tough wind. Bit disheartened when a woman my age overtook us on a normal bike on the dreadful Epping Rd. But as J said, she was an experienced rider, using cleats and riding a pro bike. Did roast lamb. 

Mon July 24 

Drizzly.  Went to the National Portrait Gallery. Saw the Paul McCartney exhibition of photos he took for just over a year in the early life of The Beatles. It was very good, augmented with memorabilia and TV footage.

It struck me how handsome George Harrison was. His photos were the most striking. 

Then did a recce of Hyde Park. I'm running a Kettlewell colour club London event there in August and wanted to sort out where we will meet. 

Had sandwich on bench in the drizzle.  Bought a flamingo pink Osprey bag on ebay, left it to the last min for extra excitement, although I was the only bidder. 

J spoke to Sky and then BT and is now switching our package, saving around £60 a month.  We'll still get Netflix,  Apple, Disney plus the other channels and Now TV. 

Tues July 25

Did long bike ride around Essex, 36 miles. Quite a lot of traffic at times, even in the country lanes. Had coffee sitting outside in Ongar. 

Went to post office,  finished blog post for tomorrow.  Watched penultimate episode Godless.

Weds July 26th

Intended doing a forest walk pm, as J was washing R's car and had a lot of parcels coming. But, as so often happens,  lost my motivation after lunch and didn't walk. Weather quite pleasant. Did a bit of gardening.  

Rachel and Olive came round, still haven't seen O walking. Shes going through a phase of throwing all her food on the ground. Three boxes of stuff came from BT to replace Sky, even though we didn't need a couple of the gadgets. 

Thurs July 27th

Did a forest walk. I only do one or two a week now. Saw the longhorns, still in a large group. Below: the cows start emerging from the trees. Went to Pilates. The teacher was on holiday but the replacement was OK. Watched Hijack, we're enjoying this. 

Friday July 28th

Did the long bike ride again but the other way round. 36 miles. Not so bad, I had porridge for breakfast, and knew what to expect. We had coffee in Ongar again. Watched the first episode of the Sixth Testament (BBC iPlayer) and the final of the Sewing Bee. 

Saturday July 29

Very cloudy start but sun came out briefly when I did a walk in Epping Forest. Checked in on the swan family at Connaught Water.  The cygnets are very big now but all seven still with the parents.  I ordered some baby clothes as J's son and wife are expecting a baby boy any day now. I did a quick blog shoot with two new stripey tees. 

Sunday July 30

Did a 25 mile bike ride which included the white water centre. Then went over to Christopher and Katie's with presents for his birthday tomorrow. Rosie (4) was excited to show me her bedroom. 

In the evening watched the Lance Armstrong film, The Program. 6 out of 10. 

Monday July 31

Woke up to rain. The wettest July on record. Was supposed to be going to Folkestone with MeetUp, but couldn't face a seaside town in rain. Went to see the Barbie film instead. Weekday cinema is only £5 and the bus is free as an over 60. The film was a 6 out of 10. Powerful feminist message but delivered in quite a sledgehammer way. 

I hope you enjoyed July in spite of the grey weather (UK/Ireland) or devastating heat (some of Europe/US). I'm joining bloggers from the southern hemisphere with this post for the What's Been on Your Calendar link-up (#WBOYC). 

I'm back tomorrow with #WowOnWednesday.  Hope to see you then. 

Sharing this post with #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Rena at Fine WhateverTalent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling Boomer, #SpreadTheKindness at Shelbee on the Edge,  #Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette, Final Friday at Marsha in the Middle, #FridayCoffeeShare at Natalie the Explorer, Senior Salon Pitstop at Esme Salon Traffic Jam Weekend at Is This Mutton 



  1. Love reading your daily notes best. You do have a fulfilling retirement. Must help living close to London. Carry on writing, your blog is excellent. Scoring is well deserved.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments. You've made my day!


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