Sunday, 10 December 2017


Snow was forecast for the UK.  Around here there is very little snow.  In fact I don't remember seeing any last year at all.  However the BBC forecast snow so I made sure that I had hot chocolate in and got on with things. 

The Daily Express forecasts dreadful storms and snow every year so I ignore their weather pages.  If the BBC forecast snow, however, I usually keep an eye out.  In places like the Highlands there have been really low temperatures.  In places south of here there has been a lot of disruption caused by snow.  Places in Scotland, the Lake District and Wales get plenty of snow and know what to do.  Here in Leeds the buses faint and disappear at the first snowflake and people watch anxiously as the temperature drops.  We've had a few flakes.  It's nothing special.  There's a trace of snow on the walls and bear managed to make a snowball the size of a small grape.  Tomorrow is likely to be more hazardous, but as far as I can tell with the weather forecast (as much as you can tell!) not only are we likely to miss most of the snow but we are also likely to miss the worst of the ice which is going to cause real problems elsewhere.  I am not complaining.

Bear did manage to score some serious complaints about his glasses in the fifteen minutes before getting used to them.  He looks so serious in them.  I just hope he doesn't break them before he grows out of them. 

Friday, 8 December 2017

Bear's Christmas Play

Bear's school put on a play every Christmas.  They have done a few different once, this year it was the Lion King, and they are amazing.

One of the teachers actually writes a script in rhyming couplets.  It's absolutely tailored to insult the area and all of the teachers.  There are dance numbers, lots of songs and some of the kids sing solo and dance solo.  This year I really appreciated how amazing the school is as they put on a performance with 10 and 11 year olds, dancing, singing, almost acting and following all sorts of different cues.  They were also in costumes.

Bear only had a few lines (every kid had a few lines) but he was dancing away with more than a reasonable amount of elbow flying around.  I swear his arms looked like bits of broomstick connected with elastic bands.  He also started a shoving match with the lad next to him during one of the numbers and nearly ended up pushed off stage.  Neither DH nor I had the will to challenge him on that but we were very limp when it came to sympathy. 

Also we have had to pay out a lump of money because when we woke up this morning, one of the downpipes from the guttering had snapped in two and was completely away from the wall.  I managed to get someone to come out, quote, and fix it this afternoon for an extortionate amount before the builders and roofers were overbooked by people affected by the current storm.  I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but there is often someone lurking at the corner by the drainpipe.  I usually notice a shadow as someone disappears a step or two back, I've no idea who they are or what they are doing, but I suspect the wind more than any phantom lurkers and so far they've been okay.  Besides, they smoke and a hand with a cigarette disappearing into the shadows lends a sort of film noir air to a rather dull terrace.   

Monday, 4 December 2017

Boys will be Boys

Bear's pal came round tonight.  I fuelled them up and left them to get on with it, just as I usually do, but not before giving bear's pal a joking complaint that in this weather, around 7 celsius or around 45 Fahrenheit, he thought it was a good idea to wander through the streets in just a short sleeved shirt. 

I mentioned the concept of jackets and sweaters as bear and he chuckled, and obviously he took no notice of me.  He's two years older than bear and already looking like a teenager.  I know that nothing either me or his mother could say would convince him to wear anything more than a short sleeved shirt in quite cold weather.  I know it's not cold cold but it's not warm either.

Bear is far worse than his pal.  Sweaters and shirts get dropped wherever he sees fit as he just sheds as he goes.  I have spent most of his life putting blankets back on him, insisting on a coat, insisting on a jacket or insisting he at least puts a t-shirt on.  He does not feel the cold. 

Lucky him!  I feel the cold to a ridiculous degree.  I huddle down with blankets and sweaters while bear looks at me in bewilderment and takes off his vest.  He sometimes snuggles under blankets, but it's more for the cuddles than anything to do with temperature.  I can see that I will spend around half of his teenage years trying to get him to wrap up. 

In other words, it looks like bear will be a perfectly normal teenage boy.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Bear Needs Glasses

Well, he just about needs glasses.  And he really only needs them for close up reading and/or writing.  The Optician thinks he may have even outgrown that within a year or two.  His long sight is excellent. 

Bear didn't take it well.  He did not want to wear glasses, it wasn't fair.  However he kept grumbling about pain in the eyes then he started complaining that he didn't have the glasses right now and that it wasn't fair. 

Then he spent today doing dot to dots and colouring in pictures and complaining about eye strain.  Apparently his teacher uses colouring pictures as a way of teaching mindfulness.  I'm all for it.  I hope to be able to pick up one or two books inexpensively over the next week or so for Christmas.

I won't be going out tomorrow.  I'm waiting on the tv, which I have been doing since @ 27 November.  It arrived yesterday but with a smashed screen.  Tomorrow someone is picking it up and someone else is delivering the new one, which will be encased in yet more cardboard.  Cardboard is taking over the house.  I'm really looking forward to the first week in January when I can finally get rid of all the boxes! 

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Doing the Right Thing

I have been trying to write The Prince and the Paladin for over ten years, since long before I published The Forgotten Village.  In fact, I used concepts in The Forgotten Village that I had been kicking around for a while.  I must have written a dozen starts to it.  Currently I'm just over 16,000 words into the current version - around a quarter if it is the same length as The Forgotten Village and I've managed that since Wednesday.  I've just dropped a character and suddenly everything is rattling out.  I may get back to the White Hart before you know it.

I've also, coincidentally, added a new character.  I'd noticed that back in the trade directory of the 1790s was a widow who was listed as an apothecary.  A few years later a 'chemist and druggist' with the same surname but male was listed as a 'chemist and druggist' and, at one point, 'East India Company Agent' was listed in Briggate.  I've rattled through some of the trade directories in Leeds Library for the nineteenth century and there's been a chemist under that name for most of the century and a lot further on.  They moved shops a few times and seemed to have had branches in other places.  The name, which is quite unusual, is still extant in Leeds.  I don't know if the person I found on Facebook is descended from the widow selling medicines back in the 1790s, but I can't risk it.  I'm going to have to find a different name that is a lot less distinctive.  I can't make someone's grandfather or great grandfather randomly into a vampire, no matter how interesting the story sounds.  I'll play around with names and details.  It's the right thing to do.  I don't want to, though.  The name was awesome and perfect for an early nineteenth century vampire.  I'll never manage to make up something with the same ring to it.  Darn it to heck. 

On another note, in their infinite wisdom Leeds City Council have decided that the Central Library only needs one, single stall, gender neutral toilet and one disabled toilet.  The queue was horrendous.

And I have to share a gem I found as I leafed through some of the directories I found this gem in the 1857-58 directory.  Henry Elam, Human Mechanician, provided Elastic Spring Uterus Supporters and 'Machines for the Deformity of the Human Form' from his shop at 34, Beast Market, Huddersfield.

Just to prove I left the house, a picture of the exit from Leeds Library that I took today

It makes me feel like a proper writer when I do research in a building with stonework like that.  I have to go back for some further research and I'll take some more photos of the good bits. 

Friday, 1 December 2017

Tomato Soup

Morrisons online shopping are sneaky.  As you are checking out they have what they call 'flash sales' or stuff that is radically marked down.  Sometimes they are worth it, sometimes they are not and you have to keep a close eye on what you get.  I spotted this

It was £1.74 instead of £4 so I thought I would give it a go.  That is a pic of the actual box that I received, and you can see how fresh the tomatoes were.  In fact, all the veg was good quality.  You recieved around a pound of tomatoes, three fat cloves of garlic, a single small carrot, fresh thyme, an onion, two stock cubes (shaped like Knorr, and according to the ingredients they are gluten free) and a small tin of tomato puree.  You soften the onion, garlic and carrot in a tablespoon of oil (supplied by you), then add the tomato puree and the fresh thyme and then the quartered and cored tomatoes with 750ml of water (supplied by you).  You then simmer for 15 minutes and then blend with a stick blender.  It tasted gorgeous! DH and I practically inhaled it.  Bear had eaten earlier with his pal from school and I regret not saving him a taste.  I am definitely using the recipe again.  I may even buy the boxed kit.  Otherwise I will keep my eye out for good deals on top quality tomatoes, because it really is the ingredients that make the difference.

There was a small downside.  I haven't used fresh garlic for a while and I got a little over-enthusiastic with the garlic press.  A squirt of garlic ended up in a cardboard box full of Christmas goodies.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that modern packaging can deal with it and dealing with that tomorrow, I'm far too full to manage it now.  The recipe says it is for 4-6 and it would, for a starter and possibly a nice main with some bread and a solid dessert.  DH and I finished most of it off and we are stuffed but it was so pleasant!

Due to a weird shake of circumstances we won't be able to try out the other box I got until the day after tomorrow.  This time I paid full price for £4. 

There is onion, sweet red pepper, aubergine, courgette, couscous (I'll have to swap that out with gluten free couscous), dried fruit and spices.  I need to suppy 300g of minced beef.  I'm keeping all crossed that the veggies will be okay as they were delivered yesterday and we will be eating it on Sunday.  I'll let you know how that eats. 

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Feeling Miscellaneous

A while ago I posted that I got a voucher for free roast potatoes.  Tonight we tried them.  The serving suggestion gave cooking time for 500g of potatoes.  There are 800g of potatoes in the bag.  I just bunged some in the hot over.  For those interested, they are McCains

DH enjoyed them so much that they are going to be part of Christmas dinner.  They were lovely and crisp on the outside and pleasantly fluffy on the inside but they were very heavy on the fat.  

Then there is the whole issue of bear's school shoes.  They are battered and extremely worn.  He has had them since September, and he plays football at most break times.  They still fit him, probably just about and because the leather has moulded itself to his feet.  He really needs new shoes.  If they pinched or had holes in, I wouldn't hesitate but they are almost okay.  If I spend over £40 getting him the good school shoes next week he will grow out of them in days, I know it.  I don't know if I could bring myself to buy cheaper shoes, and I guarantee that if I pick up some less expensive school shoes from Matalan then he will be in them for months and months and I will worry about his feet. He is a lot better than he was yesterday, so it looks like he just had a bad cold.  He's still not eating much, but I'm sure he'll pick up soon.  

I also remembered to look up Spirits of Salts.  I found this Wiki entry after getting my Approved Food delivery complete with a bottle of the stuff.  It's hydrochloric acid.  I am not sure I'm safe with anything stronger than vinegar.  I think it was Mrs Beeton or someone similar who recommended spirits of salts for getting stains out of tablecloths.  I'm sure it would get rid of the stain - and possibly the tablecloth as well!  I read the article but I didn't really understand it, although according to one of the references, it was recommended for household cleaning in the Telegraph in 2003 and you can buy bottles of it on Amazon, for a much greater price than I managed to get at Approved Food.  I officially have a bargain I'm scared of.

Mind you, according to this source, the White House Cookbook of 1887 recommended using chloroform for getting stains out of tablecloths.  My search history doesn't bare looking at.  Now I've found that the website 'Vintage Recipes' exists I intend to enjoy it.  If I try any, I'll share the result.