Autumn comforts – Why I like the Autumn

I know that many people groan and shudder at the start of the autumn. Not looking forward to months of dark evenings. I’m not one of them. In fact autumn is my favourite time of the year and winter holds no fear for me. There could be 2 reasons for this. The first being my passion for football – of course this is a winter sport. Secondly I love Cosy evenings at home. Luckily my husband is the same. There is nothing nicer than staying in, closing the curtains to shut out the rest of the world and sitting in comfort in the home we have worked for and paid for. I have a friend is very outgoing & sociable, who would go to the opening of an envelope! She never really likes staying in on her weekends off. I have always said that as most of my working life has been paying off a mortgage, I actually like to spend time enjoying the fruit of my labours.
I love subdued lighting, cushions and most of all candles. I love relaxing in my own surroundings.
One thing I love that I use more in the winter months than summer is burning scented oils and candles, complimented by shimmering tea lights in a variety of votives and holders.  This year I have discovered wax melts. I have become a huge fan!! I feel that the scents are stronger from these than other scented sources I have used before. I have invested in a new burner from Yankee Candles. I am also gathering a collection of their various wax melts. Another brand I have enjoyed so far is Village Candle. I bought mine off the internet as they are primarily an American brand, but when I visited a local shop recently and found they had a huge stock of these I got excited. My disposable income will be dented by purchases of these in the next few months. I have tried a Tropical scents one and at the moment I am burning one called Smoked Birch. As the name suggests it is a smoky, woody scent. Unusual but strangely nice. A pleasant muted turfy smell. Reminiscent of trips to Ireland.
As you will learn from future posts I am currently in the process of moving house. I will bore you to death with the trials and tribulations of this later. I am looking forward to spending winter evenings in new surroundings when I can try out more scents & melts. At present I am in the process of packing up and saving new purchases for my new home.

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Wax melts & burner

Manchester – Sculpture Hall Cafe – A Review

Background

I am a Mancunian through and through – my accent is testimony to that! I  am staunchly proud of my home City. There is always plenty to see and do, has great history and the people on the whole are very friendly. Obviously like many other Cities it is constantly evolving and changing. I love being out and about in the City Centre. As it will become obvious as my blog develops, my husband and myself are huge ‘foodies’. We love eating out in restaurants and enjoying a drink in the many  bars and pubs around. Lately there seems to be an abundance of new establishments. We used to pride ourselves on knowing all of the bars to go to, but not so now. We are working our way through them though! There is somewhere new every visit. I will write more and more about our experiences in the future.

Reason for visiting

Since I’ve retired, I’ve joined the realm of ‘Ladies that Lunch’,  myself and my girlfriends have been regularly meeting for afternoon tea. One of my friends is very partial to this and we are all happy to go along with her. The quality of the tea’s are very variable. Today we visited The Sculpture Hall Cafe inside Manchester Town Hall. In fact until my friend suggested it none of us knew this existed. Well, I have to say we have unearthed a hidden gem. I have always admired and loved the architecture of Manchester Town Hall, it is such a beautiful building outside, one of my very favourites in Manchester. Until today ,apart from a visit to arrange my Council tax many years ago I have never been inside.  It is stunning, as lovely and opulent as I anticipated. I’m going to say something now that makes me think I’m turning into my mother! and that is “They don’t make buildings like they used to” There have been many new developments in Manchester including The Urbis, which now houses the National Football Museum, and 1 Angel Square, the Home of the Head of The Cooperative, which I have heard nicknamed the egg slice, due to it’s unique shape. These are no doubt magnificent sights along the cities skyline, but here is none of the exquisite detail and sculpture of the Town Hall. I am always in awe of how craftsmen in years gone by constructed such magnificent buildings, without the labour saving equipment available today.

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Menu 

Anyway to return to the subject of the afternoon tea, this was also as opulent as the surroundings. The contents were original. Not just a sandwich selection, it included potted Yorkshire ham rillette and  homemade piccallilli to spread on crusty bread, a Mrs Kirkham’s creamy Lancashire cheese and leek tart, Parmesan choux filled with chicken liver pâté, Smoked trout mousse and Morecambe Bay shrimps on granary bread / Longley Farm soft cheese and cured cucumber on rye.

20151022_142720The cake selection was also sumptuous and original – all the products on the menu are locally themed. Amongst the cakes was an Eccles cake, a Manchester Cake, inspired by the famous Manchester Tart and the piece de resistance had to be the Vimto Delice: sponge cake topped with a whipped Vimto mousse and covered in a Vimto glaze – absolutely delicious. Light and delicate and the Vimto flavouring was gorgeous, just enough for the unique taste to be recognisable but not enough to be overpowering. It’s the first time I’ve eaten this, hope it won’t be my last.

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I would recommend the menu and venue to anyone, oh and the service  wasn’t bad either! The best afternoon tea experience I have enjoyed in the city. After we had eaten we took the opportunity to take some photo’s of the inside of the building, I hope they provide an insight to it’s beauty.

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Although we sampled the Afternoon Tea menu there is a variety of food served all day – I would recommend that you make an advance booking. For further information please follow the link to the Town Hall Information page: http://www.manchester.gov.uk/townhall/info/4/the_sculpture_hall_cafe/9/the_sculpture_hall_caf%C3%A9_menu

My contact details: ellieblue1223@gmail.com

Nice nails at last – The Pleasure of Retirement – Learning to love your nails again

As a nurse for so many years the one thing I have longed for is beautifully polished and manicured nails.

Whenever I had a social gathering with my non nursing friends I had real nail (and hand) envy. There was no chapped, cracked skin and short peeling nails for them.  The antiseptic hand washes and in recent years alcohol hand rubs have always played havoc with me. I have had allergies and sensitivities to many of these. Handcream was my best friend but some of these were much better than others. When the skin on my hands was at it’s worst I used to dread introductions where a handshake was required – didn’t want my greeter to think that I was a slovenly piece who neglected myself or worked in a quarry!

Now I work reduced hours I have long enough periods away from work to enable me to have a gel polish applied. Absolute bliss!

Well – it should be but my polish always chips somewhere between day 4 and 7. It doesn’t matter which salon or nail technician I visit. Very frustrating. I’d be grateful if anyone had an answer to why this happens.

If I don’t have time between shifts to have a gel polish applied I like to have a home manicure. If I’m being honest I’m a little addicted to nail polishes – but I constantly buy similar shades by different manufacturers. When I’m working I always use OPI Nail Envy – since a colleague told me about this it is a beauty product I could not be without. My nails are so much stronger after using it. In a recent purchase from QVC I have been introduced to their latest Bubble Gum Nail Envy – a delightful soft shade of pink, great for mature nails that not always as white and bright as they used to be.  I also love their shade Is this Star Taken? This is on my toes at the moment. Whilst talking about nail polishes I must mention my absolute favourite manufacturer – that is Leighton Denny – his polishes are absolute liquid heaven – so smooth and glossy to use. His glitter polishes are beautiful and easier to remove than those by OPI.

As for hand creams – when my hands were sensitive to hospital products my go to repair product was Elizabeth Arden’s 8 hour cream – never failed to heal. Currently now that my hands have desensitised I can use a variety of products – in fact every handbag and every drawer in my house contains a pot or tube. I feel I’ve finally entered the realms of womanhood – one that non  nurses maybe take for granted.

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Football Crazy – My passion for Manchester City and all things football

20140312_193936One of my biggest passions is Football especially Manchester City Football Club. I think this all began because my mother worked on a Saturday in my early years and my father used to take me to football with him, I reckon I must have been around 4 when I first went. I was taken around the local clubs of Manchester – Bury, Rochdale, Oldham and Bolton. I chose Manchester City because my older brother was crazy about them.

Being in a football crowd and stadium became second nature to me. I’m one of those supporters who remember Wagon Wheels as being huge – needing 2 hands to hold it and eat it. I’ve never been able to ascertain whether they really have shrunk in size or my hands got bigger.

At school I palled up with another girl who loved football and as soon as we left school at 16 we followed our team home and away. This was 1976 and we were around through the nasty years of football violence. Thankfully something that is seen very little.

My husband enjoys football but in his words he is ‘not tribal’ he describes himself as a Sky fan – preferring to watch from the comfort of his couch. Where as I like to be inside a stadium enjoying the excitement of a live game – the sights, smells – pies at half time eminating up through the stand, and the banter and songs between rival fans. There is nothing to beat the humour in a football crowd. being a City fan that has been the thing that got us through the dark days of the old Second Division – that graveyard humour was the most exciting thing we experienced.

I can watch wall to wall football – any team and any league. I know the advent of Sky TV coverage is much maligned in some quarters – dictating game times particularly, but being an addict I love that I can get my ‘fix’ most days. I really admire women in football, whatever their roles  – Karren Brady, Helen Chamberlain, Bianca Westwood and Dr Eva Carneiro to name 4 and I admire the new found love for Women’s football particularly after our Lionesses fabulous efforts in the recent World Cup – put our men to shame.

For women who bemoan their husbands obsession with football – my message is if you can’t beat them join them! You never know you may like it. One of my friends who has never been a football fan has been taken to games at FC United of Manchester and is now addicted and she’s 66!

Life is Good

Having taken early retirement at the age of 55 in July of last year, I have a new lease of life and find the time to enjoy life and have a new found curiosity for many things – learning or trying something new every day – be it a new beauty or household product to a new website or YouTube page.

After years of working crippling shifts including nights and day shifts in the same week, I now feel rested, have less aches and pains and more energy. It is the best thing I could ever have done – and I know I am in a privileged position to be able to do this. Thanks to the NHS Pension scheme. I would never have saved and provided for my future myself.

My head is a jumble of random, excited new thoughts and experiences. I will endeavour to organise my thoughts and write about my experiences in retirement.

The above words were for my very first post on this blog, it was short and sweet. I’ve now decided to revisit it and expand on how I feel a year further on in retirement.

Time has flown and there are never enough hours in the day. I know I can hear the groans of you are still working full time and juggling childcare. But it’s true! I remember hearing many newly retired person say the same thing and I was cynical. But here I am confirming that statement.My husband has frequently asks  ‘How did you find time to go to work?’

I fill my time in many ways, reading other blogs, thinking about this one, but yes I know, not enough posting! Indulging in my hobby of entering competitions, I meet friends for lunch and coffee, now attend other retirement do’s as more and more of my friends and colleagues also hop off the hamster wheel, and sadly to say attending funerals of colleagues and colleagues partners.

However, my favourite ways to pass the time is just by being at home, pottering about doing ordinary household tasks and spending quality time with family. In my career as a nurse I have mostly worked unsocial hours and the aforesaid crippling shifts. Most of my time was spent working when everyone else was out socialising or in bed. My husband got used to continually having to apologise for my absence at gatherings and parties held by friends and family. These are things that I think many people take for granted. Here are just are a few of my thoughts on these ordinary subjects.

I was permanently exhausted after a week of ever-changing shifts. In my last role I would regularly work day and night shifts in the same week. I used to feel like I was permanently suffering from jet lag. Unless anyone has worked night shifts I don’t think they appreciate the damage it does to your body. By the time you get to bed at the end of your first night shift you will have been up over 24 hours. Most of us would plan to lie in bed the day of the first shift but my body would say otherwise and I would wake as normal. I again would try to sleep again in the afternoon but my body would not sleep. Shifts were long often 13 hours  without a break, and driving home was a challenge, the last thing I’d want to do was vacuum, or dust before sleep. I was lucky that my husband could see how I was struggling to get to the finish line – my 55th birthday and took on nearly all the household jobs until that day came.

Housework

This used to be a chore that I did not relish – just something to be done in as quick as time as possible. I used to wish I had that show home that others seem to have. Now I can’t say I have a show home but it is closer to that vision than it was when I worked.

I take joy now in all my jobs, I even wipe down my skirting boards and clean the microwave regularly! I can honestly say that I love my home and enjoy being a housewife and homemaker. I had a successful career, studied hard even managed to gain a Masters degree by the skin of my teeth and climbed to a senior level in a high paid role. However, once I got there I decided it was ‘tough at the top’ and not what I hoped it to be and yearned for a more simple life.  I’ve got the simple life now and I love it!

Quality time with family

Due to shifts and unsocial working patterns I missed a lot of time with my own family. When I was getting close to retirement and re-evaluating my life I looked round and realised that all my senior relatives had passed on. I had spent so little time with people who had such an impact in my childhood years, that made me sad.

John and I are happily childless. However I have  nephews and nieces who I spent as much time as possible with when they were growing up. I like to think I’m a friend as well as an auntie to them. They now have their own children. My brother and Sister in law look  after their grandchildren a couple of times a week.  I help with their care too now I have the free time. I treasure this time with my family it’s so precious.

My husband has 6 nephews and nieces, again with their own children now. Sadly my husband’s older brother, Jim, passed a way this year after a long battle with cancer. We all spent a lot of time together during his illness and subsequently. Johns sister held a girls night to raise money for Macmillan in his memory. Many of the girls there, nieces or nephews partners were intrigued about me after they met me. I was asked where had I been all this time. They hadn’t really realised I existed as I was never around due to work! Anyway by the power of early retirement I have now reconnected with all my family and loving it.

How do you feel about housework – a chore or a joy?

If you work shifts what do you feel you miss out on the most?

I’d love to hear from you – please comment or email me

Thanks for popping by

Elaine