My Saturday agenda was to include a morning meet with my walking group, but the weather forecast proved to be correct and a morning of grey skies and rain was enough to persuade me to stay in bed until 10.00am and not bother to attend; I had had a long week anyway and was tired, and still had another potential walk to look forward to. This meant that I had plenty of time (I thought) for a leisurely get-ready, and to take out my starter earrings and try on my new jewellery present from Lynda… except that taking starter earrings out, at least for me, was an extremely prolonged and tedious chore that took me an hour of fiddling… eventually aided by a pair of pliers! After tonnes of wiggling the studs with aching arms the first one was free and, after a dousing with the ear solution, the new earring slid in easily, and the dangling silver felt lovely; alas the second one was more troublesome, and the hole bled a little when I tried to slide the earring in. But eventually all was good. After a late breakfast and writing my previous blog post, I left the house at 3.20 and met Kirsty in Next at the Banbridge outlet – I had suggested to Kirsty that it would be a good place for us to go to get her kitted out with some affordable walking boots/shoes, while I was determined not to buy any clothes after receiving my latest credit card bill. As it turned out, I in fact bought minus-four clothing items… as I only returned £50 worth of clothes to Peacocks. I was a bit anxious that Kirsty would struggle to find shoes to fit her size 9 feet, and the first shop proved to live up to my worries, as the pair she tried on in the largest size was too cramped, however the next shop was much better and the sizes much bigger… and the styles prettier – we were served by a very obliging gentleman, who even picked out matching colour-coordinated socks for her, and we left happy and, I think, slightly astonished that Kirsty’s search had been so easy. Nearby was quite a good jewellers and so, now that my ears had cast aside their training-earrings and were into proper jewellery I fancied getting one or two more pairs… and, oh, what a prolonged task that turned out to be; thankfully Kirsty managed to maintain her patience with me. I spent ages looking around, and eventually looked at some that I quite fancied with pale blue glass… but some were two glitzy and the toned-down versions too plain and, as advised by my BFF, a bit old-fashioned. So we wandered on, eventually ending up at Claire’s Accessories… but their jewellery was very cheap, and the selection of Sterling Silver earrings was very poor… and so I stretched the kindness of my BFF and asked if we could return to the original jewellers, determined to leave with something… and eventually I did, a pair of gold Zirconia studs and a silver necklace and earrings set. We parted for our own agendas and met up again at Costa at Lisburn, which was blissfully quiet compared to previous visits, enabling good chat before meeting at support group HQ where we met Michelle and changed for dinner. Owing to a bit of disorganisation the booking was last minute and we ended up at The Pheasant at Annahilt only 15 minutes away… but the food turned out to be the best we have had there, we all had a delicious seafood chowder (albeit with an unnecessary amount of peas… not my favourite vegetable), then I had a cod dish with a good risotto, rounded off by a delicious plum and apple crumble, the latter dish delivered with a “Ma’am” which was nice. We left quite late, and so it was straight home… to earring trauma again – I wanted to change out of my dangly earrings for bed, and so I put my studs in… but the clasps were do ludicrously tiny that it took me half an hour to achieve; oh deary me… I think they will be staying in for some time. And after all that I don’t even have any pictures of them!!!
Sunday I was once again disorganized – I woke and was out of bed before my alarm, and so thought I would have plenty of time to get ready… until I checked the starting time of my walk to discover that it was starting half an hour earlier than I thought it would! So I had to fast-forward my getting-ready routine… but I did feel a little sense of achievement as I was ready around 10 minutes quicker than usual. I drove for just over an hour to a lovely spot near Strangford Lough called Audley’s Castle, which was the starting point for the walk with the Belfast Social Events group – the castle itself is about 500 years old, from which there is a lovely view across to Portaferry. There were 19 of us doing the walk, led by a nice guy called Jim, and we had a lovely walk of about 7 miles around the estate of Castle Ward, an old house under the care of the National Trust. I had a lot of good chat with a number of ladies… but, alas, it took its toll on my voice and by the end I felt it was terribly strained; maybe as we were outdoors I was talking a bit louder than normal, to make sure I was heard, or maybe I was just talking too much, I don’t know, but it worries me greatly that I am damaging something… even if I hope that at the same time I am just stretching muscles beyond their traditional limits. At Castle Ward itself, about 80% through the walk, we stopped at the Trust café for lovely fresh scones and hot chocolate, and then made our way to the car park as the weather changed to cold winds and a bit of light rain. We said farewells and then I drove home. I had had plans to do a bit of shopping, but after a terrible night of sleep, I just couldn’t be bothered – of course, a few months ago, when living life as my true self was confined to mainly weekends and the occasional week evening, my attitude would have been different with a desire to live life and gain experiences out and about as much as possible… but as I have now been living full-time as a woman for over 12 weeks, the pattern of life is more normal and, well, wonderful… if only I didn’t have worries over my voice.