It's been a beautiful day in Moreton Hall... lovely sunshine and birds twittering...
... a wonderul summer's day, only be topped off by builders drilling and banging outside...
...followed by their intermittent sunbathing on the grass verge just in front of my home.
Crikey, now there's a view I'd rather not have.
So when my best buddy Lucy offered to whisk me away for some shopping, how could I say no.
We both love shopping and have spent many a day browsing around boutiques, interior design shops as well as creative havens of artistic delight.
But today was different!
We weren't off to the sparkling stores in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich or Cambridge.
In fact, we didn't need to leave Moreton Hall.
Our destination was the St Nicholas Hospice Retail Centre, which is located in a warehouse just a few minutes away from our residential area. It's an amazing place full of good quality furniture and homewares.
I discovered this treasure trove a couple of weeks ago, and having spent many a shared hour being inspired by the latest wave of TV programmes such as Kirstie's Home-made Home and Mary Queen of Charity Shops, I couldn't wait to introduce Lucy to my new find! I knew she'd love it because as well as enjoying a good rummage, she's become more and more active in supporting charity work - even as I write she's preparing for the Race for Life this Sunday.
And what better timing could there be to visit than Recycle Week, when we are being encouraged to reduce and reuse as well as recycle.
I've been thinking a lot about charity shops myself recently, not just in relation to the benefits they offer but regarding how my attitude to them has changed over time.
When I was a student in the 1980s, I used to use charity shops a lot, looking for every opportunity to find something cheap that could be altered and would make me feel like an individual.
Then when I graduated and found a job, I left the charity shops behind and instead made sure my work wardrobe was kept up-to-date with the latest fashions from Next and Principles, switching to Per Una and Phase Eight as I grew older.
I found that the more money I earned, the less I depended on charity shops and if ever I visited, it would be simply to drop stuff off before running back out again, with the kind of embarrassed look that said "I'm only donating, I can actually afford to shop elsewhere, you know".
What a snobby twerp eh!
And yes, you do now have my permission to give me a tickle around the face with a wet fish whilst dangling eels over my head.
But before you do, let me at least redeem myself because these days you can't keep me out of such places.
I've since realised that my purchasing habits are no longer dependant on income or the pride associated with buying brand new things. For me, it's now the opportunity to buy things we need without impacting upon the waste stream and the environment. And by switching much of my custom to charitable causes, I know our money will be put to good use.
Of course, not everything I buy is sourced from a charity or thrift shop but it is the case that while Mr A may be found buying his bespoke-made suit at the tailors, I am usually busy in the charity shop next door.
And thanks to this, my favourite wardrobe items have been charity shop finds, including a fabulous pair of nearly new Betty Barclay boots that I picked up from St Nicholas Hospice's town-centre store for just £25 last Christmas. Indeed, I've seen so many good quality items, I've regularly come away speechless.
So this afternoon was one of those visits to find little treasures and support a very worthy cause that provides palliative care to local people and their families living with terminal illnesses. And I had no hesitation that Lucy would be impressed with the retail facilities.
While I came away with a brand new picnic rucksack, she picked up a few items including a stunning piece of art, which will look fabulous in her home and a Lion King video which her daughter has been wanting for over six months.
But we also came away making a pact to rummage through our homes for good quality items that we no longer need and have committed to dropping them off in a month's time.
It won't have the same impact as Mrs Green's massive decluttering exercise that's occuring over at MyZeroWaste - I don't think I could be that brave - but it will be a gentle nudge for us to get rid of some old things that we've both been harbouring. And by doing it together we can at least encourage each other along.
Now the one thing I haven't told you about Lucy, is that last weekend as her pledge for Recycle Week, she also agreed to let me help her whittle down her week's rubbish.
As well as taking her food waste off her hands she's also going to hand over the things that she's been unable to recycle in her blue bin. She hasn't yet revealed what she's got in store, so who knows what challenges I'll find. I'm not sure whether I should indeed be scared.
Well at least I've already sorted out her Tetra Pak problem, because the other thing I haven't told you is that she's married to "that man in the kilt"...
For all those who missed it, here's the YouTube video revealing what actually happened to her cartons. With entertainment like this, I don't think she'll be throwing them in her landfill bin ever again!