Tag Archives: Tricia Jones

What Happened to February?

Well, what happened to February? It’s gone by in a flashier flash than even January did! 20170226_111643Maybe it’s because Chez Jones has been inundated with workmen since the beginning of the year with a bathroom remodel and copious other little jobs that spun from that one big one. I’m sure you know the sort of thing I mean: the leak from the newly installed toilet that produced a waterfall through the kitchen ceiling which consequently required repainting, the drip from the mains water tap discovered when they turned off the water supply to start the work, and which had resulted in an annual water bill which was basically double the norm (since been sorted, thankfully – both the leak and the bill!), and the new bathroom spotlights and extractor fan which resulted in discovering that the whole house needing re-wiring!! Suffice to say, we are doing the re-wiring thing in stages. Our nerves (and bank account) need time to settle down 😉 But that said, we absolutely love the new bathroom and said workmen did a fab job with everything. Such a great group of chaps – artisans, all of them.

20170218_113500In other news, Vivvy is doing really well with her training. She now has her bronze and silver awards and we are currently working on her gold (although Daddy says she’s already his golden girl *eye roll*). She picks up things really fast, especially if there’s a treat at the end of it, and seems to love scent work and hide & seek games the best. I’m trying to teach her to put her toys back in the box at the moment, but that’s a work in progress. I think she wonders why her minions can’t do that sort of menial task, thank you very much. I’m also attempting to teach her the cup game, but she just knocks all the cups over until she finds the treat underneath. Something to keep working on, I think, and maybe one day she’ll be as good at the task as Snow the cat in the following video:

 

 

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Better late than never…

During our married life, AJ and I have moved ten times within six different counties here in the UK. We’ve loved our travels, especially living in new places and meeting new people, but when we moved into our current house almost twenty years ago now, we both sensed it was home.

I’d always been pretty happy to live a kind of nomadic existence, not really putting down roots anywhere because I knew AJ would likely come home and tell me he’d been promoted in his career and we were off to pastures new. They were exciting and adventurous times, but I’m happy to have those roots down now.

20160523_075020When we moved in here, one of the first things I wanted to do was redesign the garden. It was a good sized space, but the patio and paths were beginning to crumble and looking worse for wear. But there always seemed to be something else in the house that needed attention first, so the garden was put on the back burner. We travelled a lot too, so that took up a lot of available funds 🙂 🙂

20160527_111232Anyway, after we adopted Vivvy last year and following a winter of waterlogged lawns, almost non-existent pathways, and the resultant muddy paws, we decided to take the plunge and hire a landscaper to get to grips with the garden. Poor Vivvy wondered what on earth was happening as over ten ton of concrete was broken up and disposed of in what she thinks of as her domain. When the way was prepared for the new landscaping, she decided to put her mark on proceedings and promptly stepped in the newly-laid concrete bed, much to the chagrin (and consequent laughter) of the landscapers.

20160604_185656Soon the garden of my twenty-year dreams began to take shape and I have to admit to being absolutely thrilled with the result. I’ve gained a gorgeous new patio, another area for planting, and a path that I can actually walk on rather than simply negotiate pot holes.20160615_154819

Okay, so it took almost two decades but then everything worth having is worth waiting for. Now I’m enjoying researching plants to go along the wall edge of the patio, for which I’ll be needing help. So, does anyone have any ideas for plants that will provide year-round foliage, while growing tallish, but not too wide, and offering some colour in the spring/summer months? Any suggestions gratefully received.

 

Lavender Fields Forever

Isn’t it interesting that we plan trips to faraway places and yet so often miss what’s on our own doorstep? It’s the sort of conversation we’ve had at OTBF before, but it hit me as particularly true this week. AJ and I love our trips to the South of France, especially the Cote d’Azur, but we’ve also enjoyed trips further east along the coast to Provence to see the Lavender Fields. Miles and miles of glorious colour and scent which can take your breath away.

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About five miles from where we live Somerset Lavender Fields  boast over five acres of lavender with more than 50,000 plants of amazing varieties. You can walk the fields and breathe in the delicious scents while bees hum and butterflies flutter by. The lavender fields have been there for over a decade and I’ve passed by on the nearby main road dozens of times, but only recently thought it was about time to plan a visit. It was so worth it.

There is so much to see and learn. Apart from walking the fields, there is a healing garden full of wonderful herbs, a pretty Rose Arbor to browse through, a shop selling varieties of plants, lavender of course, and gifts of candles, essential oils, biscuits, soaps, etc. We enjoyed morning coffee on the pretty little verandah overlooking the gardens and fields, and I’m proud to say I resisted the home-baked cakes and scones. 20160527_120201

Visiting the Lavender Farm on a particularly beautiful morning added to the sheer charm of the place, and made us want to return. Since it’s dog-friendly, I’m thinking Ms. Vivvy will be accompanying us next time and will especially enjoy a long walkies in the adjoining fields beforehand. We’ll certainly make sure to head back for a visit during harvesting time, usually late July/early August.20160527_120546

It made us realise that it really is worth taking the time to search out things locally to find little treasures and surprises. Now I’m off to browse my new Cooking with Lavender cookbook and then later will indulge in a warm bath scented with relaxing lavender essential oils fresh from the farm. Perfect.

Living with Her Ladyship

Years ago, I h20150708_141657eard Cesar Millan say that when you adopted a dog, you didn’t necessarily get the dog you wanted, but you certainly got the dog you needed. Well, when we adopted Vivvy we certainly wanted her, but in the eight months she’s been with us she has given us some lessons we didn’t even know we needed to learn. She has taught us to slow down, to savour the days and not just rush through them in a hive of activity. We’ve both learned to stop and smell those proverbial roses. A huge part of the day is spent walking her, playing with her, and just watching and enjoying her antics.

20160226_165027We’d boarded her as a guide dog puppy so knew her character, her little ways, and her basic needs. She was a nervous little thing, but extremely loving and sweet. She can also be a little madam, very adept at getting her own way, especially when her daddy is around. She answers to a variety of names, which should give you some idea of her status in the Jones’ household, among them are Her Ladyship, Princess Vivvy, The Duchess, Her Majesty and Lady Vivien of Somerset.Favourite Spot

We don’t have children so have never really had the responsibility of looking after anyone but ourselves on a day to day basis. If we wanted to go out for the day we just went, if we fancied a few days away somewhere we just packed our bags. On the days one of us was out with friends, and the other one wanted to do something too, we didn’t have to think twice. All that has changed. It took a little adjusting at first. There was now a third party to consider and neither of us had ever had to do that. But we’ve gotten into a great routine and are lucky to have some lovely friends who regularly look after Vivvy for us if we have to be away. She loves going to stay and is thoroughly spoiled, it’s like a home from home for her.

Bronze Assessment Nov 15I take her clicker training oncea week (daddy doesn’t come with us because he thinks she’s already perfect 🙂 ). She recently attained her Kennel Club Good Citizen Bronze Award with a score of 97 out of 100 (giving her daddy further fuel for his argument that she is the perfect dog, LOL).

We love her with a passion, sometimes frighteningly so. She has made such a difference to our lifestyle, but we truly wouldn’t be without her. Vivvy makes us laugh, worry, relax, plan and procrastinate, especially when it comes to my writing routine. Often, as I’m trying to focus on a plot point, a toy gets dumped in my lap or two paws land on the keyboard. One look at those eager eyes and it’s hard not to indulge her. She has widened our hearts, stretched our brains, depleted our bank account, gotten us fitter, and given us much joy. Having her was one of the best decisions we have ever made.

 

C’mon, Let’s Spill

My mum gave me a lovely new Radley handbag for Christmas and of course, being a ‘bag lady’ I couldn’t wait to use it. I literally tipped out the contents of my old bag onto mum’s floor in preparation and it struck up a whole conversation about what we women carry around with us.

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Enter a caption

So, in my bag there is my purse, phone, sunglasses (always the optimist), bus pass, diary, foldaway shopper, lipstick, sweeties, umbrella, small hairbrush, nail file, doggy poo bags, doggie treats, a memory stick, pencil, sweetener sachet, tissues, lip salve, and a pair of earrings I thought I’d lost somewhere.

So, come on ladies, spill. What’s currently in your handbag?

Season’s Greetings!

On this very special day, I want to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas. May your day be filled with happiness, health, peace and love.

Here in the UK, as Christmas approaches the major stores release their much anticipated seasonal TV advertisements. I’d like to share with you my favourite one this year. I love its message:

Have a wonderful time!

Champagne, Laughs and Manolos

I imagine most of us have heard a variation of Hunter S Thompson’s quote:

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand and chocolate in another, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming ‘WooHoo! What a ride’.

Well, with these words in mind, a friend and I have spent the last couple of days in London after we decided to slide into our pensioner-status birthdays in a memorable way.

Me and Dee at Covent Garden

Covent Garden

We booked into a lovely little hotel near London’s West End and headed for Covent Garden with its lovely markets and quirky shops just made for browsing. Soon the late afternoon chill called for a glass of mulled wine around the Christmas tree, then it was off to see Beautiful, the Carole King musical. It was fabulous, as was the pre-theatre dinner we enjoyed at The Waldorf where we treated ourselves to a glass of champagne (or two).

Cheers! At The Waldorf

Living it up at The Waldorf

Next day, following a leisurely and rather late breakfast, we headed to the shops. First stop was Liberty, where we enjoyed morning coffee and some serious lusting after Manolo Blahnik shoes.

I'll have a pair in each colour, please

“I’ll take a pair in each size, please.”

Liberty

Covent Garden

Then it was Fortnum and Mason and their Christmas shop and fabulous selection of seasonal fare. So tempting, but I (mostly) managed to keep a tight hold on the purse-strings. Since all that restraint was very tiring we soon needed sustenance again. All I will say is that afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason is an experience…and necessitated a deep dig into that hitherto tightly closed purse 🙂

But we had an amazing couple of days and created some fab memories. Can’t put a price on that, right?