I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










New word of the week




When I was in Selfridges last week, looking around the Ocean Project, I was horrified by the idea that there is so much rubbish in our sea.  Sadly, I was unsurprised, because when we are miles away from land, sailing along on our comfortable cruise ship, there is occasionally a little bunch of rubbish floating in the water.  This particular cruise company, like others, places huge emphasis on caring for the environment and abides by the international conventions when it comes to keeping our seas clean and free from rubbish.  Still, it’s a drop in the ocean, so to speak.


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What particularly intrigued me, however, was this.


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The concept of the ocean currents sweeping much of this rubbish up and concentrating it all in “swirls” in particular parts of the world.  My understanding of ocean currents was sufficient for me to express a quiet “well, duh…”  to myself.  Of course this would happen.  I recalled the progress of the plastic ducks and the story book about the sandwich box lost by a Japanese girl and how it ended up in British Columbia.

Then, this morning on the news, I heard about this and an expert on ocean currents use a word that I’d not come across until last week, when I read it in Selfridges, referring to the “swirl” in the Pacific ocean which is the size of Texas.





That it should crop up again within days is uncanny.

So there we are.  My word of the week.


Much better than “swirl”, don’t you agree?




It’s one of those weeks when I seem to be involved in a general overhaul.  On Monday, I went to the dentist for my six monthly check as usual.




My hero had been there recently and returned home with what he referred to as a “school report”, because our dental practice, ever up with the latest recommendations, had embraced a new assessment tool.  So, as I answered the usual questions from the hygienist about my lifestyle and eating habits, all was being recorded by her assistant and sure enough, when I arrived home an email was waiting for me with the results.  The 2 is probably because I admitted to the occasional glass of wine… Winking smile

I’m generally supportive of such things, maybe because I work in an environment where we struggle to quantify things which aren’t that easy to measure.  I understand that it’s much easier to show improvement or record progress in numerical terms and so was unsurprised to find that all of the hygienist’s findings were translated into scores.  These were added up and shown as a percentage on the last page – I was relieved to find that the outcome didn’t challenge my lifetime low of 21% in third form history by any means and that actually, my mum and dad would have been more than satisfied with these results.  Because yes, it really did feel like I was back at school!




Today it was the turn of my car. 

I turned up first thing, as agreed, and waited with my cup of coffee whilst oil was changed and whatever else they do at an annual service check.  With wifi available in the dealership, I read the paper on my tablet, played a few games and from time to time, checked my email.  Not a great deal of interest until about an hour later, I received one from the workshop engineer with a video attached.


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What?  I couldn’t wait to play it!

“Good Morning Mrs Thomas.  My name is xxxxx and I’m working on your car this morning.  I’ve completed my Visual Safety Check and have no problems to report.  Thank you for choosing Lexus Cheltenham”

Well, that was – ermm – interesting !   24 seconds, total.

(forgive me for not embedding the full video here…I didn’t think it fair on the engineer to share his work without permission)




Before I left though, a member of the service team came and went through my car’s report with me, explaining the checks which had been made and the action they’d taken, where necessary.  I’m glad to say it had a clean bill of health too and I left with a folder of reports with the same red, orange and green boxes as my dental records.




Yesterday, was a day for personal maintenance at the hairdressers, where there wasn’t a report form to be seen and the results (I hope) speak for themselves.




Just to round the week off as it started, though, I still  have a bit of this to deal with.  On my desk is a pile of forms and folders to work through so that in the office on Friday, we can do some standardisation.  I have a sneaky suspicion that the old red, orange and green boxes will appear once again and that chocolate buttons might be needed to ease the process.  Oooer.  However, all work and no play makes Gill a dull girl, so if I get on with it first thing in the morning, then there’ll be no problem taking two big sisters out to lunch and then to see the Minions film tomorrow afternoon, will there?

I am not going to write a report or evaluate it in any way. 


Here and there, this and that




It’s been a busy old week – serves me right for going away for three weeks I suppose.  But at least my diary was filled with interesting activities, one of which took me past one of my favourite bronze installations (for want of a better word).




I snapped several photographs as it’s not in the most accessible of places and I was sitting on a bus at the time!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dunamis from this angle before but rather like it and think it would be a far more appropriate monument for dearly departed Norma Jean, visited on our road trip here.





I did my best to get back into the swing of work last week too, spending an hour or so sitting chatting to some students and their tutor in the allotments.  Thankfully, it stayed dry that day!




I know, I’ve said it before but I do get to work in some interesting places!




Whilst in London on Wednesday joining my colleagues on an industry panel, I spent some time in Selfridges, awaiting my appointment at Blink.   I pottered downstairs to take a look at the Project Ocean exhibition and whilst the message about the amount of plastics in the sea is pretty depressing, the artwork and the visual approach to the subject was extraordinary. 




Shelves of water containers were artworks in themselves and following through with the spirit of the project, Selfridges have banned single use water bottles from sale in the store and instead, installed water fountains where reusable bottles can be refilled.  I didn’t need to refill mine because part of the exhibition is the water bar where I found a menu of natural flavours to add to the tap water being served there.  Why hadn’t I thought of adding a spring of crushed mint to a bottle of ordinary tap water before?  Delicious!




But delicious as it was, there’s nothing like a cup of tea in the afternoon, is there?  Especially when it comes in the form of a cocktail!

I’d arranged to meet Edward, Christopher and Michael in Vintage Salt for an early supper before catching my train home and arriving before the three of them gave me an opportunity to get a head start Winking smile



Beefeater gin, homemade Earl Grey syrup,

lemon juice, Earl Grey cold tea, gin & tonic sorbet


Well, as they say in Eataly;




In the pink




On July 7th, my hero’s birthday, in Hot Springs, AR, someone was trying to decide what colour to paint the wall of their building.  We’d all have chosen Earl Grey, perhaps with a splash of Roman Violet, offset maybe with a touch of Water Chestnut?

Actually, the day turned out pink.




After we’d mooched around the bathhouses and were on our way back to Little Rock, a message arrived from home with a happy announcement.  Our small friends have a baby sister!  So, when we were in Chicago we went in search of a small gift.




For a couple of seconds, I considered a pair of “Babiators”, the safe, durable and awesome sunglasses, presumably, a must have for all the fashionable tots on the beach this season.  Thankfully, a better idea came into view.




A pair of shoes!  These tiny moccasin boots in the softest leather were adorable but just a bit too practical to buy for a gift.  After all, the fun is finding something which is just that bit beyond sensible, isn’t it?




Like a pair of tiger-print ponyskin pumps with a blingy gold logo?




Or a pair of Gucci ballet flats in just the right size?  Hmmm….perhaps, but not at $180 a pair!




But a pair of Stuart Weitzmans, all purple and sparkly with velvet bows?  You bet!




Of course, a gift for the new born baby is as much for the big sisters, isn’t it?  In a family of three girls, purple sparkly shoes are a sure fire winner.




The recipient herself is just making up her mind, maybe wondering how long it will take her to grow into them Winking smile 

(Isn’t she gorgeous?)


Here we go




Same routine this morning.  We’d more or less packed our bags before going for breakfast just down the street.




Waffles were beautifully coordinated with the outfit.




The corned beef hash hit the spot too.

My blueberry pancakes didn’t hang around long enough for a photograph Winking smile




As we walked back I tried to take the photo which explains why those floor to ceiling windows right outside our door (and in our room) are scary.  They’re part of that angled wall…




We had a little light shopping to do on this, our last morning in the city.  More of that later, but I couldn’t resist taking a snap of these two beauties in the Mall today.  I’ll leave you to imagine the faces and will save details of the purchase for another time.




Around lunchtime, we headed for O’Hare for our flights.  The Interstate was as jam packed as it always seems to be and we were glad we’d allowed ourselves plenty of time.




At this point, we were faced with a choice.  Shall we carry straight on to the airport or go right towards Milwaukee and start our road trip all over again?   The vote was unanimous.  Much as we’ve enjoyed every bit of the trip, we’re all ready for home and tempting though the thought is, we really couldn’t hope to have a better experience a second time around!




So, feeling thankful for strong shuttle bus drivers who manage heavy suitcases as if they were empty, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.  Mary’s flight to Los Angeles was leaving at 5.10pm from a different terminal from ours, which was scheduled for 6.10.

As my hero sat reading in the (windowless) lounge, I couldn’t resist taking a look around the duty free shops, not that they are anything to write home about.  However, as I wandered around, I noticed it was tipping down with rain outside, so much so that the other side of the airport was hardly visible.  I heard thunder too and was glad we’d managed to get there in the dry.  Fingers crossed, Mary’s flight wouldn’t be delayed because of the storm – ours was reported to be on time.

I went back to the lounge and we waited for our expected boarding call around 5.30pm…except it didn’t come.  Judith, manager of the BA facility explained that there was “a situation” and we should hold on and not go anywhere just yet.  She checked on Mary’s flight which hadn’t left yet either…oh dear.  Just as we decided to have dinner in the lounge (in the hope of a good night’s sleep on the plane) the flight crew arrived looking a little hot and bothered – clearly, we were going nowhere just yet, then.

The boarding announcement came around 7pm and thankfully we were soon on our way.  It seems as though as the storm came through, the terminal building had been struck by lightning and the source providing the power for our plane whilst it was on the ground had been hit.  Standing on the tarmac for a couple of hours with no air conditioning, the temperature inside the cabin had gone to 45C, at which point the Captain had sent the crew to cool off in the lounge.  Fortunately, it was soon resolved and by the time we got on board, it was more comfortable and we had a smooth, 7 hour flight home.  Sadly for Mary, not only was her flight delayed but her arrival into LAX was less than perfect – it was gone 1am when she finally arrived home.




So there it is.  The 2015 Summer Road Trip, Exploring the Mid West was chalked up to history.  2787 miles on the road from Chicago O’Hare airport; our round trip including one flight from Minneapolis to Little Rock.

We loved it!