One Of Those Surrey Days ... (and a selfie).

Going out in England ... there's always the possibility of meeting some delightful folk, finding delicious food in the supermarket, and picking up something slightly divine in the charity shops... veryvery cheaply.

I have been losing weight, getting strong, and spending huge amounts, like 6 pounds, on new shirts.  I had almost no shirts when I arrived here.  This is me last night, in a colour, in a style, I couldn't imagine wearing ... before yesterday.

I feel like a child, delighting in new things ... new places, new people.

Today, for example, I was in one of the 3 charity shops I frequent, and Pam started talking to me.  I had never met Pam before but she had just found the 2 books that she buys whenever she sees them ... to gift to friends.  She convinced me that I should buy one of them.   And as 1 pound 50 was entirely doable, I did.  We talked a while.  I bought the book.  She bought the other one.  

The charity shops ... I keep meeting lovely women in them, who make me smile, and who chat to this stranger in a strange land.

I discovered Majestic Wine Warehouse and talked with Sian ... who told me I could do a wine course with them, or simply have a free tasting.  I'll go back, I'm so excited.  She recommended the Italian restaurant next door and I wandered in, after grocery shopping for the week.  Yes, they did espresso con panna.

Fego's was as good as she said.  And I filled in time there, waiting for the last bus back to my village, one of just 3 on a Saturday ... reading a book found while out wandering.

It's been a lovely day.  We're wind-storming here in Surrey.  And there was a bit of rain as I walked home but I loved the way the rain released the scent of the woods on either side of the road.

It's like that.  Excuse the selfie but yes ... everything is changing in my world.  I thought I'd share.

Another Day That Sparkled Here in Surrey ...

I'm trying to write of this quiet sparkle I find in my days, so often, here in England.  It's when a day slowly fills with delightful people and things. 

Today there was the small boy who makes me laugh, a kind woman who is so thoughtful, a brisk walk into the village - delighting in how easy it is to stride out and cover distances quickly.  (My anemia moment is over but not easily forgotten). 

There was a trip to the next village with the loveliest man.  He's one of two drivers on a small bus I catch here and, both of them, they make me smile too. 

And then wandering in the village I call my city.  It's tiny but it's bigger than where I currently live.  There are 3 charity shops, filled with the most magnificent books that cost about a pound.  It's heaven.

Today though ... today I splashed out on the irresistible tea cup and saucer I found there.  Espresso cup and saucer really, the Wedgwood kind.  So very very affordable secondhand.  I took one and these two delightful elderly woman kind of descended on me and said, 'But you're only taking one?!' There are two!'

And then the volunteer working in the shop, joined in, laughing ... all of them telling me not to listen to them but who could resist, I thought to myself.

They were so sweet and funny and kind, that I bought the second one, and I'm not regretting it.

I said, 'but I live alone'

And they said, 'Yes, but when you find someone ... ' 

I love the people I'm meeting in England.  They are some of the sweetest ever, anywhere.  In 5 months, I've met no one horrid. 

And then I strode home again, stopping in at the cafe run by the French woman, here in my village.  I have my photography workshop venue, and she makes the most exquisite Mille Feuille - my occasional treat actually.

It's a been a good day, full of good people.

I love when that happens.

A Saturday in Surrey ...

Today I finally met up with Lynne ...

And the road to that meeting was surely a long and winding one.  We have a mutual friend called Christine, a much-loved mutual friend, who lives back in New Zealand and who has been telling us for years that we Must meet.

Christine was right, and I'm glad that we finally listened to her because I got to spend the loveliest few hours with a fellow wanderer, photographer & story-teller.  I enjoyed every moment of it. 

We had lunch at The Old Plough, in Cobham... a really lovely English pub.  It was full of good people, and a family of Australians too ... also good people I hasten to add, just in case my punctuation makes you think otherwise.  Everyone talks to everyone over here.  I do love that.  Most often, it seemed to be about the dogs they had with them although we started talking with our table-neighbours after he knocked a glass of beer over his companion.  We all doubted his innocence ... 3 women, one man.  He stood no show.

And I got to taste my first-ever Sticky Toffee Pudding, encouraged both by Lynne and the people at the table next to us.  We sat in the window seat in the photograph above. I was so busy talking and hanging out that I didn't take a good shot and so it has been artistically tampered with.

Tonight however, I'm home alone ... coughing.  I don't have the flu but I do have a cold.  And mostly I've been grateful that it is just a cold.  No aching, no fever, no physical devastation but this cough ... tonight ... it's challenging. 

My Invercargill Grandad used to say, 'Cough it up!  If it's a bone, it'll ease you.' And he'd chuckle because he found himself amusing.  And mostly we did too.

In other news, I have found my red wine of choice here in Surrey.  It's a Chianti called Poggiotondo, and I love it.  The bad news is that I found it while it was on special and it turns out it actually costs 9 pounds in 'real life' and therefore, it's an expensive little love.  I shall keep it for special occasions. 

I was awake between 3 and 4am last night.  Coughing.  But, in good news, I did enjoy the sound of the rain on the roof.  It's been a long time since I was able to hear it so easily.  Apparently there's a storm called Gertrude causing all sorts of problems up north.  Down here in the south, we've been luckier, with rain and blustery winds but not too much else.

In fabulous news, I'm allowed to timeshare the chocolate brown Labrador who lives on the property where I live.  Roscoe is 3 and he delights me.  Photographs will surely follow sooner or later.  I just need to stop with the coughing and organise myself a little more. 

Did you see how I snuck another mention of the coughing in?   This Man Flu thing ... that's what I get.  I was so surprised when men got stuck with that rap ... :-)  

Enough from me.  I wrote a post between this and last one but I didn't like it.  Deleted it.  Sorry ... I do that sometimes.

Blessed ...

Someone asked how I was this morning and, when I thought about it, I realised that I just feel blessed ...  by the people I have in my life, by the beautiful things that are happening.

I've never used that word before but perhaps I should use it more often.  Some magical things have been happening.  Simple things perhaps but they have been filling me with joy ... and joy is something I've been missing these last few months.  Maybe longer.

I'm walking a lot and losing weight like never before.  I'm so relieved to feel my body growing strong after a horrible time with bad anemia last year.  I really thought I was dying, as the palpitations were like nothing I had ever experienced before.  And I was so weak.  I only understand that now that I'm growing strong.

But one of the nicest things about the weight loss is that, back in Belgium at Christmas, I bought some black jeans that were the smallest I'd ever bought and I almost didn't because I wasn't sure I could carry them off however they were last pair of a style I loved.  These days, they're becoming loose on me.  I'm curious to see where this new way of living will take me, in terms of body strength and fitness, but I love that it's happening. It's long overdue.

My new desk arrived.  My 'new' secondhand '6 foot by 3 foot pine dining table' desk arrived.  I bought it via Preloved, from a lovely woman who was so patient as everything imaginable went wrong as I attempted to purchase it.  I'm so grateful to her for believing it would happen.

I knew I would need a big desk because there are multiple projects beginning.  Pictured is my first attempt at setting it up.  And, for the moment, the few books I have with me are there at the back.  At 1 pound per book, via the unimaginably superb secondhand bookshops here in England, there may a few more books on either side of my bed too...

Today I walked the 20 minutes into the village, to the place where the small community bus stops, and took a short ride to the next village where ... wonder of wonders, there is a Carluccio's restaurant.  I couldn't believe it when I first realised.

I pottered about in town, as I had business at the bank and then ... I ventured into Waitrose for the first time ever.  Ohmygoodness, what a place of wonder and delight.  I love Sainsburys but if you want something a little upmarket or special, then Waitrose is the place to go.  I picked up a jar of Jamie Oliver's tomato and red wine pasta sauce, and a bag of fresh pasta too.  That makes, at least, 2 meals these days and so it's cost effective, I told myself.

I've discovered a rather superb wine shop on the main street and had myself signed up for their newsletters.  A tasting might not be a bad idea, as ALL the wines I knew in Belgium and Italy are absent here in England and so I need to begin with finding a favourite (affordable) red wine again.

Then I quickly popped into Carluccio's ... just one espresso before racing off to search for a book or two.  As I was crossing the road I noticed the lovely woman I had met on the village bus last week.  She's 95 but you'd never guess.  I simply adored her.  I suspect everyone who meets her adores her though.

I sat down next to her and she was telling me that she had just cancelled her physiotherapy.  She told them that she's 95 and doesn't need poked and prodded about anymore.  She sparkles, really.

I had 11 minutes, before the bus arrived, to race into the shop and check the secondhand book selection.  As always, there was quite the marvelous selection.  Needing some fiction, while reading the big biography about Martha Gellhorn, I picked up Guernica by Dave Boling, and The Hours by Michael Cunningham (I've only seen the movie).

The bus driver ... there are two of them, was the lovely gentleman I had met last week.  He had shown his photographer wife my website and she had liked it.  And the other driver... it was good to see him again on the ride over, as his daughter had just arrived in New Zealand last week. I was curious to know how she was finding it.  Now she has a job as a dentist in Auckland and she seems to be enjoying 'my people'  :-)

I was gifted a dining table and 4 chairs by the loveliest family.  The second dining table has become my work bench and storage/display shelf, with one chair remaining at it in case I want to eat there, or have guests.  I'm using the second chair as my desk chair.  And chairs 3 and 4 are my 'bedside tables', holding books and the lamp. 

I still need a cupboard for my food and drawers for my clothes, and an armchair for reading in but nothing's vital now that I have my desk.  I'm as snug as a wee bug in my new place. And I get to spend my days with lovely people.   So yes, I'm feeling blessed. 

Actually, there are more stories but for another time:-)  I'm loving England.  Thanks to Kim for convincing me to come this way.  It was a good idea.

Later: apologies the massive edit required first time publishing.  I was all bouncy when I arrived home and wrote from a sparkly happy place.  Clearly not conducive to good writing  :-)