Thursday, 19 October 2017

Sainsburys are Tempting Me

I got a booklet of coupons in the post today.  I can get up to £13 off a shop - if I spend £90! 

I don't know about that.  It's easy to spend £90, but I'm not sure I want to spend that much.  The total doesn't include alcohol either.  Also I would rather do two shops of £45 each per week rather than one of £90. 

The coupons are spread over five weeks, so it's not even worth doing one big shop and stashing a load away.  I can't use my freezer as it really is failing.  I'm trying to hold out for Black Friday (and keeping an eye on the current prices).  I can't use it to hold stuff. 

I suppose I can stock up for Christmas.  I can put aside a few nice bits and have a look at some of the presents.  I don't really need that much, though.  I think I'll have to do some seriously careful sums.  If bear is going to grammar school then I'll need to learn to drive and we will need a second car.  I can't afford to waste money.

I managed to get out today.  I had a quick look around the art gallery.  I liked some of the paintings and didn't understand the rest of them.  One thing that struck me was how dusty some of the frames looked.  I think it says something about me - I go to the art gallery and look at the frames!

I had a quick call into Aldi on the way back and then home.  Tomorrow I have to go out as I have promised to help out in the church.  It's a work in progress.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Parent's Evening

Bear had his parents' evening tonight.  He got a very good report and will be getting a reward this time. 

I don't want to take bear for granted, but there was a hint of 'same old, same old'.  For the last few years the reports have been the same - he is significantly above expected levels across the board, his behaviour is fine, his handwriting is awful and the teacher has had to google something bear has told them and found that it was right.  This year it was apparently a town in Norway.  I hadn't heard of it either.

Bear has not got a large part in the school play and is very disappointed that he only has a few lines, but I pointed out that he passed the grammar school tests and some of his pals didn't.  I had an uncomfortable encounter tonight with a mum who's son didn't and had no idea what to say. 

Bear's handwriting is a thing of wonder and has been all the way through school.  He'll produce an awful scrawl, get pulled up about it, he'll reform his writing and then it will slide into a different type of awful.  His teacher has offered to send home sheets so fingers crossed he will crack it this time.  I hope that a lot of stuff is typed in high school. 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Bear Did It!

The letter came on Saturday.  Bear passed the grammar school exam.  Over 800 children passed the exam, around 200 passed - and bear was one of them!  I am so proud. 

This doesn't mean that bear automatically gets in.  There are a limited number of places.  Children in care, get automatic entry if they pass the test, as do those with siblings already at the school, those who live in the local area and those whose parents work at the school.  Bear doesn't fall into any of these categories.  It now depends how well he did compared with other children.  We will find out in March whether he is going there or not.

I can't tell you how proud I am.  Bear, of course, is taking it very much in his stride.  I hope his pals who sat the exam the same day pass as well. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

Darn it to Heck

I wondered where the gluten was coming from.  I knew I was having some, but I couldn't figure out where.  I have been very scratchy.  I'm not sure that I have the better deal than those who have really bad stomach reactions to gluten.  It must be horrific for them, but I feel very unclean with the amount of eczema I'm now struggling with, and of course it can take months to work through the skin.  To be fair, it looks like I haven't had much, just enough to make me feel unpleasant but not enough to mean a trip to the doctors.

It turns out that the Sainsburys version of bear's favourite hash browns, while not actually containing gluten, are manufactured using a method that involves wheat.  It serves me right for not making them from scratch.  Other brands of hash browns are fine.  Ironically they are sitting next to the Tesco Curly fries in the freezer.  While Tesco hash browns are gluten free, their curly fries aren't.  I really ought to just stick to the healthier options. 

Tomorrow I'm off on a coach trip, away for two nights.  Bear and DH are staying at home.  I've stocked up the fridge and the treat cupboard.  DH patiently explained that they were unlikely to starve in the three days and two nights that I would be away and that the kitchen was already stocked.  But, as I said, you never know.  I'm sure that they'll be fine. 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Bear Considers Value

Bear loves to play Eurotruck.  I sort of half watch over his shoulder as he trundles his truck along from Iceland to Poland, down to Romania and across to Portugal.  He finds it soothing, and along the way has learned the relative positions of the countries of Europe and their major cities.  As the parts of the game are sometimes divided by country, he also knows whether, for example, Liege is in France or Belgium (it's in Belgium, I had to look it up). 

Bear has a comparatively inexpensive steering wheel and pedal set that plugs into the PC but told me that his experience would be greatly enhanced by an H-stick gear.  I asked him to translate and as far as I can see it's a sort of gear stick that also plugs into the PC.  I asked him how much it was.  Bear was evasive.

I had a look on eBay and Amazon and flinched.  The only thing that nearly fit bear's description was over £100 at the cheapest. apparently unavailable second hand and would still need to be used with a different type of rig which would bring the cost to over £200.  I could more or less almost possibly consider that amount for something like a tablet that he needed for school work, or perhaps a reconditioned phone to play his favourite games, but not a gaming accessory, not at 10 years old.  I suggested that he had a good think about it, and as he had a lot of pocket money saved up then perhaps he could pay for it himself. 

Bear does have a lot of pocket money saved, and one of the reasons he has a lot saved is because he strenuously resists spending it.  He thought about it for a few days and then told me that regretfully he couldn't justify getting a gear stick as it looked very complicated and he probably wouldn't get the benefit.  I was unsurprised.

He is willing to spend his own money on Lego, however.  I did try him with a large Block Tech set, which looks like Lego, is apparently Lego compatible, but is a lot less expensive, especially when the sets are half price in the Tesco toy sale.  I got a couple of absolute bargains, stashed one  and passed the other to bear to see if he could trade down. 

Bear gave the whole matter a lot of thought and decided that he would rather have less Lego than more Bloch Tech.  Apparently Block Tech just don't reach Lego's standards.  Some things, he said, are worth paying a little more for, even if it's with his own money. 

Mind you, Parents' Evening is next week.  Bear will expect a reward for a good report.  He didn't get a good enough report last year, so he will be on pins seeing if this year he gets a treat.  If he does earn a treat, I have a good idea what he'll ask for!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Getting Ready to Snuggle

I didn't get out today. 

But I did start getting ready for the autumn nights.  I've replaced the pillows on all beds, which was overdue, and I swapped the old mattress toppers on mine and DH's beds for new ones and also swapped the duvets.  I'm going to have to get rid of my old bedding.  The sort of eczema I've had over the last few years has taken a toll.  However I'm going to take DH's bedding to get washed and I'll stash it.  It will be great for spares or, if the winter gets really cold, I'll layer the old duvets under the sheets and put extra blankets on top.  I really recommend a blanket of sorts under the bottom sheet in cold weather.  It makes a surprising difference.  

I have a very large heap of blankets anyway.  Some are those I've knitted and some have been acquired over the years.  I'm very keen on using blankets before fires this winter.  I just need to get the curtains sorted.  It's not going to be this weekend, and next weekend I hope to be away, but the weekend after I hope to hang the winter curtains which are duvet covers with heading tape sewn on and lined with fleece kept in place by fabric glue and a few stitches.  I still need to line them, but it's not that complicated (I hope!).  

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about getting ready for winter.  The window in the junk room really needs to be replaced, and the windows in the living room and study are heading there, but otherwise the windows and doors are snug, there are plenty of blankets, the boiler is getting serviced soon and I feel that we are ready to settle in. 

Thank you for the support.  It means a great deal to me.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Bear is very Bear

I have posted before about the impossibility of keeping blankets on bear at night time.  He is a small furnace.  He is also getting older.  The teen years are looming.  This morning he was happily getting ready to go out and asked me, 'Mum, where's my coat?'.  There are only a few places that coats end up, even unofficially.  We tore the place apart.  He'd left the coat at school.

So yesterday, when it wasn't particularly warm, he'd raced home in just a shirt (he left his jumper at school as well, which is another issue) and now while I could scrape up a spare jumper, I was stuck about the coat.  Bear sighed and wore a sort of hoodie type jacket.  It was dry when he went to school, but it was wet when he came home - fortunately in his coat.

I did leave the house today, but only the few hundred yards to the doctor's where I got my flu jab.  I now feel a little achy, a little headachy, I have a sore throat and I am feeling a lot better than if I had the real flu.  I intend to take alcohol tonight and take it easy tomorrow.  I hope to go out on Friday, as the weather forecast is good, but Saturday is looking grim.

Thank you for all the supportive comments.  I honestly don't think I would have got out of the front door yesterday without them.  I really appreciate it.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

I Did It! I Got Out of the House and Found Weird Stuff

I can't believe how much of a struggle it was, but I got into town.  I managed to get out of the house.  It took two hours longer than it should have done and I felt poorly while I was out, but I did it!

I went to the Leeds City Museum.  I was unlikely to buy anything there, and there was an exhibition on of skeletons.  How could I resist?  There were a dozen cases, each with the remains of a person found at an archaeological dig.  There was a notice that politely reminded the public that these had once been living people and to be respectful when it came to taking photographs.  There were a few other bits as well, so I took a picture of those instead.  Here is a memento mori, a very Victorian thing where they kept a memento of their lost one, in this case, a bracelet with the band made of human hair.

I found the thought of that very icky indeed!

One of the skeletons was from a dig before they built the Barbican in York.  Apparently they hoped to find the lost church of York, All Saints Church, and while they didn't find the church building they did find a lot of medieval burials plus some of Cromwell's soldiers. 

I should say that the exhibition said that it was a lost church that vanished with the dissolution of the monasteries in the sixteenth century but apparently there is an All Saints Church in North Street, York, with all the details that the exhibition referred to, so Wikipedia obviously has different sources.  They may be more reliable because All Saints, York, is also on Trip Advisor

Regardless, the excavation dug up over 500 sets of remains from a previously unknown burial site.  Any decent storyteller would have the place dripping with ghosts.  As far as I can tell from Google, the Barbican, now built on the site, is no more haunted than the rest of York. 

There must be dozens and dozens of unknown burial sites in the UK.  They were always getting found by Time Team.  If I believed properly in ghosts I would feel very undersupplied and would want to check my reciept.  As it was, it was fascinating to see the remains from lots of different time periods, from Bronze Age to 18th century, and to see the marks their life left on their remains. 

If I ever can get writing again, I've got material for a lot of stories.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Typical!

The nice man came about the washing machine today. 

The washing machine has gone from whistling to moaning, a really awful moan that makes me think it's about to break down.  I have insurance that will either repair or replace, so I was hopeful.  I shifted the stuff in the kitchen so that the washing machine was available and kept my fingers crossed.

The nice man set the machine off, pushed different buttons and tried different programmes.  The machine practically purred.  It never made a murmur out of line.  It gave a wonderful impression of a perfect machine, darn it.  The nice man said that this was normal and could I try recording it next time I hear it.  I nodded politely.  However it doesn't always make the noise and I'm usually on a different floor.  I'll just have to work on it.  The nice man recommended I buy the manufacturer's washing machine cleaner sachets (buy three year's worth and get the fourth year free!) and I'm still considering it. 

But isn't it typical that the dratted thing works like a dratted charm once I have a dratted witness?

Sarah thank you for that massive hug!  I can't tell you how much it means to me.  You are right, I don't have much local support, I consider this blog the main source of support in my life, but I'm not too isolated.  I suspect that you are right - I have had so much over a few years and now it's sort of 'safe' to collapse.  I am able to do less and less.  Tomorrow I have no reason not to go out, except I am finding a gazillion reasons why I have to stay in.  I'll update with how I do.  Thank you again for your comment, and thanks to all who have commented with support.  I'm very grateful.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Before the Internet

I didn't have a perfect childhood.  I honestly believe that both parents did their best but they were only human.  Sometimes I talk about my childhood and DH is frankly shocked.  It has affected my attitude to the internet.  When I was young, there could be me, my mother and two brothers in the house and all of us reading in separate rooms.  We were never really a unit.  So I don't see going on the internet in separate rooms as very different.

Today was like one of my best childhood memories.  When I was very little I would sometimes stay overnight with my gran and grandad.  They had an open fire and in the dark evenings we would all be sitting together in the living room.  Grandad would be reading and gran would be knitting and reading (my gran was an amazing, dedicated and high speed knitter that churned out a complicated sweater or cardigan roughly every week) while I read or watched the fire which made the only sound along with gran's knitting needles.  There was no conversation but it was wonderfully calming and quiet with a sense of companionship. 

This afternoon we were all in the study on our electronic devices, but we weren't cut off from each other.  We had a woodwick candle flickering and it felt cosy and loving.  Bear was stuffing his face with fruit and was apparently 90% leg, dh and I shared the occasional tidbit from the internet and encouraged bear in his game or browsing, and it felt safe.  I suppose it was our version of hyyge.

I'm not too worried about bear and his pal.  They sometimes play together on the computer, sometimes play separate games while talking rubbish at each other in the usual way of young lads, but they play enough football that I have a serious challenge getting all the mud out of the clothes bear was wearing yesterday.  I let them manage their own time when it comes to hanging out. 

We make a point of keeping Sunday afternoons locked down to 'family time'.  It's when we make sure that we're still in touch, that we know what's going on and relax together.  We sometimes dig out boardgames or watch films together but often it's just us doing our own thing in a shared space and feeling happy with each other.  Today I had to break off to take the soup to the Church but I came straight back and settled in. 

Jake's a Girl - may you come back victorious from the sale!  And well done on the score at the sale yesterday!

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Internet Generation

This afternoon we were spread out.  DH was on his computer working, with YouTube playing music in the background.  Bear was playing a game which he had downloaded from the internet but also had a YouTube video (dumb tweets - not suitable for those easily embarassed or shocked but very, very funny) playing on my old phone over the wifi while his pal sat next to him playing Fifa 17 online.  Meanwhile I had YouTube music on in the background while I sorted out a delivery for tomorrow and got dragged into trying Amazon Pantry.  We pay a lot for our broadband connection, but I think it's worth it.

Witch Hazel - I shall look out for that offer and stock up.  You pass on some awesome info so I'm glad I could pass something back

Jake's a Girl - I like your tactics.  Sending good vibes and I hope you get something awesome with your vouchers


Friday, 29 September 2017

Cake!

I should have taken a picture before bear got home. 

I went to a MacMillan Coffee morning this morning at the funeral home at the end of the street.  It was awesome.  They had the most amazing cakes and were so lovely and friendly.  I won a bottle of wine in the raffle which will see me happy over the weekend.  I brought home some cakes for bear aned DH, who very much appreciated them. 

It made up for the fail I had on the shawl.  I couldn't tell how it was going so I cast off.  It was far too small and I felt very inadequate, but I have a full ball of the yarn left so I'm going to see what I can manage with 250g and some serious increasing. 

I've got a few bits ordered for Christmas.  I've got a few books inexpensively from eBay and I'll see what else comes up. 

I can't face going out tomorrow, but as I'm supposed to be making a few litres of soup on Sunday for the Harvest Supper I may as well deep clean the kitchen and get the house a little cosier.  I've decided that I'll be easy on myself tomorrow (deep cleaning kitchen), Sunday (making soup for the Harvest Supper and working on my Hygge), and Monday (washing machine repair man) but on Tuesday I go out.  I can do this. 

I'll be glad to see the washing machine repair man.  The washing machine is making some awful moaning sounds.  Fortunately I've got a policy with AO which means that for a very reasonable monthly payment I get repairs or a replacement machine.  I won't try and fiddle things, but I would love a new machine.  I've never really got on with this washer, it doesn't do what I want.  I like a washing machine that doesn't randomly turn itself off and that has separately adjustable temperature so that I can do a long, cool wash.  I got it in a hurry a few years ago as my last washer gave up halfway through washing all of bear's school uniform and I was too desperate to read the details properly. 

I did have some awkward questions on the phone as I set up the appointment.  I don't use the 'washing machine cleaner' type sachets but instead run it hot with vinegar in and I don't clear the lint trap often enough.  I just hope I don't get into trouble. 

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Gambling

Important - thank you for all the kind words.  I feel hugged and supported.  I'm sure I'll be able to pull myself out of this.  When all is said and done, it could be worse. 

Today I have been crossing my fingers and hoping fervently that it will be okay, but I've bought something for bear for Christmas.  Bear's absolutely, desperately, must-have things change more than the British weather, but he's been quite consistent about Lego for a few months.  It would, of course, be Lego, one of the most expensive (and best quality!) toys around.  

Tesco have a deal that lasts until 1 October where you get an extra 1000 clubcard points if you spend £60 on Lego.  It is frighteningly easy to spend £60 on Lego.  I spent @ £68 to be split between Christmas and bear's birthday.  I'm keeping everything crossed that he doesn't go off Lego before December 25th.  It's a risk!

I remember seeing something about what children should get for Christmas, I think it said that they should get four presents - something to wear, something to read, something they want and something they need.  I've just blown that out of the water.  Bear will, of course, get something to read.  He will get a shedload of books as ever.  The Book People are on Top Cashback and have very reasonable prices, a good selection and they often have deals so I'm starting to watch them.  He'll almost certainly get something like goalkeeper gloves for something to wear.  He definitely 'wants' Lego in large quantities.  The 'something he needs' is a problem as he doesn't really need anything.  I'm trying to avoid getting him something like a phone or tablet for as long as possible, but they may well be 'needs' next September.  I'll worry about that then.

I'm off now to wander around the inexpensive eBay auctions of children's books and stocking fillers to see what I can stash now.  

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Bad Day

I try and keep things up beat here, but I've been struggling a little lately, and today was a reminder of how bad things are getting.

Today I had to pop along to pick up some plants for the garden from the local flower shop.  I've just checked on Google maps and they had the walk at around 0.1 of a mile, or a few hundred yards.  I was also going to call in at the Funeral Home where they were organising a MacMillan coffee morning and were donating to the Methodist Church.  The funeral home is literally the same postcode as me, we are a few houses away from each other on the same street.  Speaking to the people wasn't a problem.  It's very rare that I can't make small talk.  It was just getting out the house.  I can't explain it.  I don't feel bad when I get out.  I don't think it's agraphobia.  If I'm outside I feel okay.  It's just as if there's a huge, complicated wall between the inside and outside of my home.  It's become a lot worse now that I don't even take bear the few hundred yards to school.

Today I sat and cried because I was struggling to force myself to go out and walk a few hundred yards to speak to some lovely people.  I managed it in the end and had a lovely chat with really, really nice people.  Tomorrow I had half a mind to go out and walk in Roundhay Park while the weather's still fit but I can feel a gazillion and one excuses piling up inside me about why it makes sense for me not to leave home.  I can try and think things through logically, but I can't fool myself.  I have a massive mental block about leaving my home.  If it was for bear then there wouldn't be a problem.  If it is for me then I can't do it.  I feel like I would be crawling out against huge resistance, scraping along on hands and knees.  I don't know what to do.

Tomorrow I will post something more cheerful, but today has been tough.  There are always smiles around, though, and I found this on the page of Sir Thomas, Knight of the Kind Thoughts Thinking Circle

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Shawl


I got bear to model for me, and I did a rubbish job of the photos,  Bear is not outsized but tallish for his age (10) to give an idea of the height.  I'll have a go at some more photos because it is pretty amazing.  I cast on three stitches and cast off two stitches.  The link to the tutorial is here but I fiddled with some of the instructions.  You have what look like three immense mitred squares which make an incredibly snug shawl.

I'll have another go tomorrow but I've run out of ability to do techie.  I've just had an epic battle with something for the church and while I think I've got it nailed, I'm watching it carefully in case the formatting springs apart again.  I am going to go away and gently whimper in a corner now.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Quiet here

I went into Leeds yesterday and there wasn't a bomb scare.  There was one on Wednesday, with the whole of the market and some adjoining streets cordoned off and loads of buses diverted.  I saw a tweet on the subject, allegedly from one of the market regulars.  'Is it a bomb?  Give it a kick.  Did it go off?  No?  Then where's me bus.'  It rings very true of the people I've seen there.  It turned out it wasn't a bomb but something else illegal.

Today has been lovely and quiet.  I finished off a shawl.  I'll take a photo tomorrow.  I didn't finish it until after bear was in bed near his oversized panda which I'm planning on using as a model.  The panda is four feet tall, or around a metre, and desperately in need of a clean.  I'm going to have to take it to the dry cleaners on the bus.  I may have to buy it a ticket as it will need its own seat.  It was a gift from uncle when bear was a lot smaller.  He was still in his cot as it was the exact length of it.  I still remember the grin on uncle's face as we strapped the huge plush creature into the car in its own seat with a seatbelt holding it in place.


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Garden is Still a Mess

I can only do so much in the garden before my back gives way.  If I take a sit for fifteen minutes or so then my back is fine, but that's all the time a cat needs to take advantage of newly dug soil.  I made some dreadful threats, but all the local cats know that I am a complete soft touch.  I managed to get some winter pansies planted.  Normally I would think this is the right time of year, but at the moment it feels so much later.

I forgot to take a photo, but the garden isn't in good shape.  A lot of things need tidying up and sorting out.  I don't plan to prune back too drastically as I don't mind leaving some places for creepy crawlies to stay but I've got sweet peas growing up my washing line.

I've put down organic slug pellets.  I may have sprinkled them rather thicker than the suggestion on the packet, but the slugs round here are feral.  They hunt in packs.  You can't move for the slimy munchers.  I don't know how well it will do but any reduction will be welcome.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Sorting Out

I've been having a rummage and found a pile of yarn.  I knew it was there, but I'm trying to get the heaps into some sort of order and I was reminded of the yarns existence.  Some of it is half knitted sweaters with the pattern long since lost.  I found a tiny jacket I was knitting for bear - around ten years ago!  Some are packets of yarn and some are plastic sacks full of oddments.  There is a real variety.

Some I shall donate.  The local knit and natter group do a lot for the church and charity.  Some I shall pass on to a friend whose little girl is interested in knitting.  However the rest I plan to use in any way I can.  I'm looking forward to the challenge.

I think I will make it a knitting time, to the end of the month.  It is definitely the weather for it.  Bear is insisting on wearing a vest. We could do with stocking up with sweaters, wraps and blankets.  Actually I have vast quantities of blankets, but that's not the point!  I have a weakness for blankets.  And I am down to my last two comfy sweaters after years of wear and tear have taken their toll on the old ones.  Both are ready for retirement.  One is a very large sweater that I knitted before we moved into this house over twenty years ago.  It's a rather nice green sweater with a cable design.  I suspect that it has sagged over the years, however, as it is now looking more like a tunic and I have to roll the sleeves up to find my hands.  It's looking in better shape than the other sweater which is shop bought and a little older than bear.  I found a hole in one of the seams last week and I don't know whether I should mend it or put it out of its misery.  I'm going to mend it, of course, but it won't hurt to add a few knitted sweaters to the collection.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Lighting a Candle

I can't remember who said, 'it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness' and I can't be bothered to look it up, but lighting candles happens a lot here.

Yesterday I picked up some more candles at Home Sense.  They have some wonderful candles in there.  I'm very picky so I took my time and had a good furtle around.  One thing surprised me - there are a lot of candles in there with a tobacco scent.  I'm sure it's not the 'stale ashtray' I'm imagining but something like a freshly sparked pipe with really good tobacco.  I didn't bother sniffing those but  I nearly gave myself a headache sniffing the rest of the candles.  Some were definitely not worth the sniff but some were heavenly.  I didn't score any woodwick candles this time but managed to pick up some a couple of nice ones, including one in a rather sweet brass holder which I'm sure I'll be able to re-purpose.

They had some of the 'Manly Indulgence' candles.  The one that looked the most like the one on the shelf was the midnight scented one here.  You can check if you like, it cost £65.96.  They are a lot more reasonable on eBay but still considerably more than the £7.99 the Black Sandalwood candle cost.  I didn't get it.  It smelled foul.

This afternoon was so wonderfully cosy.  We all were hanging out in the study, all just browsing, playing or, in my case, knitting.  There was a candle on and a sense of peace inside.  It was wonderful.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Big Day

Bear had his exam for one of the grammar schools we have applied for.  Even if he passes the exam there is no guarantee he'll get a place because of the distance, but we thought we would try.

I have never seen anything like it.  The grammar is in a small mill town surrounded by narrow, residential streets.  They were doing at least three sessions with marshalls waving people around to find parking spaces.  They were expecting around 800 applicants for 180 places.  We were there early and there was already a queue.  Within ten minutes there was a massive trail of people going both directions from the entrance to the exam.  It wasn't just the minimum 200 kids, but their parents, siblings and assorted family as well.  It was a lot of people.

Bear looked confident and relaxed when he went in, happy when he came out and said it was easier than he had expected.  I'm trying not to worry what he missed.  What I told him was of course, he was awesome and lets go get some Lego.

This afternoon I called in to Leeds Library to do some research.  I took a picture of the floor outside the lift to the third floor where I was trying to get an insight into nineteenth century Leeds and I took a picture of the wall where I had a cuppa.  Here is the floor...


..and here is the wall...

Leeds Library was built in Victorian Gothic style, all tiles and gargoyles.  I'll take some more pics when I go back next week.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Harvest

I forgot to take a picture.  It wasn't worth it.  Bear solemnly cut the rocket mini greens with a pair of scissors and we ended up with around a skinny tablespoon of green stuff.  Next time we are going to scatter the seeds a lot more thickly on the paper towels. 

However the greens went down well, so that's something.  As far as I can tell we should be able to keep a few bits of microgreens ticking over during winter.  

I got some compost dug into the beds today and I'll start getting the winter pansies planted soon.  I can only manage about fifteen minutes before my back goes, but I can do it in short bursts.  Our garden is tiny.  I also have the organic, pet friendly slug pellets as recommended by People Who Know (my brother).  I need to get those down before it gets to cold for the slugs to be around for them.  

Next year I'm determined we're going to get something edible out of that garden.  Bear is unconvinced.  So far we've managed to kill cress and failed to sprout basil with only a small sprinkling of rocket microgreens to barely show for our effort, but I have faith.  




Thinking about Christmas

Christmas is looming ahead.  According to Facebook it is only 14 Saturdays away.  I whimpered when I saw that.  I'm saving up loyalty points all over the place.  By the time Christmas comes I should have around £40 in Morrisons points towards Christmas dinner, which should easily cover it.  We don't go overboard.  I will probably have as much as £80 in Tesco clubcard points.  I don't know what I'll have in Nectar points, but I know I can cash them in for eBay vouchers (if I can remember how to do it).  It's a drop in the ocean.  We don't have many to buy for, but bear wants an iPhone.  Bless him, he doesn't want the latest one.  He just wants one that's a little better than my fading iPhone 4 to play games on and to make notes but it has to have the Apple operating system to play the games he wants.  However even a reconditioned one is still likely to make me want to cry.  Of course, bear's birthday is four days after Christmas.

If - and it's a big if - we get some sort of iPhone for him, that will be the big thing for Christmas/Birthday.  I've already started checking out the auctions on eBay.  A few years ago I got a huge box of the 'free' gifts from the front of the Doctor Who magazine.  It filled his stocking and provided a heap of little presents for his birthday and Christmas for not many pennies - I seem to remember that it was under £20 and bear was completely overwhelmed.

I'm keeping everything crossed that I can score like that again.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

YouTube is Tempting Me

At my age (and I'm an old biddy) I ought to know better.  I need to avoid setting myself up with new projects.  But I keep dipping into YouTube and I see these amazing ideas and I'm desperate to try them.

I found this - a self binding blanket.  It's one of those things where you watch and marvel as what looks like it can never work effortlessly falls into place.  I always wonder what genius thought of it.  If I get my sewing machine out it would only take me a few minutes to sew.  It may take me over half an hour to set the machine up and work out where I'd hidden the thread but the actual sewing wouldn't take long.  I could use the same principle to make the napkins I want.  I don't want fancy napkins.  I want something to mop up and wipe.

I am putting in the notebook marked 'List'.  If I fancy a project, I'm putting in the List and then moving on.  I know that in September I can move mountains.  You can just point at the mountain and tell me where you want it.  When it comes to February I can barely move a paperclip.  I need to use the energy I have now to its best effect.  I think I need to finish up a few projects.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Nothing to Report

Today has been a very bland day.  I've not managed to do much.  There have been no fusses with the neighbours.  Long may it continue.

While I on here, there are so many disasters at the moment.  There was the earthquake in Mexico, floods in Italy and Bangladesh and of course hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  If you are in any way religious please lift those places in your prayers.  If you want to make a practical difference I am sure there are many different ways you can donate but I would like to mention ShelterBox.  It isn't a 'big name' but does a lot of good where people have lost everything.  On their website they describe what they can distribute.

Our sturdy green ShelterBoxes are designed to help people who have lost everything. They are filled with practical tools and utensils that help to create the framework for everyday life.
Each contains a family-sized tent that protects people from the elements and provides a safe space in which people can start to recover from physical and emotional trauma.
The contents differ depending on the disaster and the climate, but items such as solar lights, water storage and purification equipment, thermal blankets and cooking utensils help start the process of creating a home. 

I'm not a part of Shelterbox, but it seems such a good idea in such extreme circumstances.  I believe some of the tools they supply with their kits go on being used long after the initial crisis has passed. 

We are forecast strong winds and flooding here.  It will be a very pale imitation of some of the crisis points at the moment.  I am very aware how lucky we are in this house.   

Sunday, 10 September 2017

I am Not a Gardener

First, fuschia pics.  Before

And after


The pics are not exactly to the same scale or from the same angle, but they give an idea.  On the left is a lilac that had been completely buried and on the left is the valiant yellow tea rose.  I think the fuschia was always going to be too big for the garden.

I was hoping that it would have enough growing time before winter set in to get some regrowth, but today is very dark and windy.  It feels more like late October than early September.  I need to get the winter pansies in.

Hester - father would absolutely have done that.  Or rather, he would have bought something small that wasn't supposed to grow more than a few feet and then get all surprised when it got caught in the telephone wires.

We used to have a buddliea when father first moved here.  I liked it on one level because it kept people from sitting on our wall and blocked out noise.  There were always a lot of butterflies and I loved seeing them.  However it needed to go.  My mother planted it, and she passed in 2003 while father came to live with us around 2010 so it had grown, and even though we hacked it back each spring we did have to do a second prune around about late summer or it would interfere with the telephone wires.  The base of it was becoming enormous and I was worried about how far the roots were getting.  It was massive.  Father hacked the branches off with a saw but my lovely next door neighbour and his sons had to pull the main trunk out.  Most of that flower bed came with it.

Then there was the time when I planted Russian Vine.  I cut it back one weekend, measured the new growth the next weekend and it had grown nine inches.  It took father a lot of time, effort and several gallons of weedkiller to get rid of it and we reclaimed about a quarter of the garden.

Meanwhile the honeysuckle that I planted a few years ago in the hope I could train it to screen the bins has managed to grow four inches.  I'm not giving up, though.  I'm determined that I'll get a decent garden sorted next year.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Frankenfuschia

I went out last night and attacked the fuschia in the dark, while the bees were asleep.  DH went out with loppers in the rain this morning while the bees were sheltering and had another go.  It is no longer the size of the bathroom.  It is a shadow of it's former self.  I forgot to take a picture of it today but I'll post one tomorrow.

It's my fault it took over.  I should have cut it back in the spring.  Now all you can see are huge, trunk-like branches which look like they have matured over years instead of sprouting over the last few months.  I'm going to dig it out in the spring as it gets too big for the garden.  Also, while it was a spectacular part of the garden, I'm not that fond of fuschia.

Father was the one that planted it, and I'm not surprised because father had form.  When I was very young father planted a fuschia in our front garden.  It was supposed to be a small bush.  It was enormous.  We used to have to hack it back twice a year to let the postman through.  It towered over the path and cracked a sewer pipe.  We had to leave the house due to the divorce and my mother took cuttings.  They never did anything much.  They stayed as the small shrubs they were meant to be away from father's influence.

He took a scented geranium from me once when he was in his old flat.  It had survived me, which showed it had reserves, and he kept it outside his door in the communal hallway near a window.  It thrived.  The pot wasn't that big and last time I saw it the thing came up to my waist.  Father had green fingers.

Bear did some practice maths questions this morning that his tutor had found to practice for generic 11+ exams.  He had fifty to do in 50 minutes.  He took thirty five minutes and while he had to think about one or two, and the utterly awesome tutor asked him a few questions here and there, he got them all right.  I think he's getting fed up with me reassuring him, especially as he found the questions fun.  I'm going to root around the net for some non verbal reasoning and comprehension stuff and I've told him that we're going to do around fifteen minutes a night until next Saturday when he has the test for the grammar school.  Bear looked wearily unimpressed.  It's sort of reassured me.  I don't want to 'hot house' him or force him to perform at levels that he can't sustain.  Bear has convinced me that he would take firm action against any attempt.

Friday, 8 September 2017

FUSCHIA!


Suddenly the fuschia is half as wide as the house, roughly as deep as it is wide, as tall as me and bigger than our bathroom.  I think it has had a growth spurt as I don't remember it being this big.  It has to be pruned back hard as somewhere under there is a yellow tea rose which I'm fond of and I want to try and plant the bed that is currently overshadowed by the monster.  However it is full of bees.  I may try and sneak out and do some guerrilla pruning under the cover of darkness.  The neighbours already think I'm odd anyway.

I pruned Dilly and Dally, my scented geraniums, and put them in the garden to get some fresh air and rain.  I told bear that they had gone on a holiday and he gave me a Look and said, 'Yes, mother,' in the tone that suggests it's time for my special calming tea.  He has a lot to put up with.

I'm planning on drying the geranium leaves and keeping them in a thin bag in the wardrobe to scent the clothes.  They smell beautiful.

Jake's a Girl - I'm afraid that chard is very like spinach/turnip tops.  I am very unimpressed but I can eat it easier than cabbage and bear adores it.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Meh

I had an awful night last night and feel like severely overcooked spaghetti. There is, however, always a silver lining.  Bear did his homeworks traight away and without being harangued.  Dinner worked and was cod baked in foil with tomatoes, garlic and leeks and eaten with broccoli and rainbow chard.


I was going to suggest to bear that we have a go at growing this.  Then I remembered the awful truth.  We have slugs.  We don't have one or two, we have slathers of them and they completely ravaged the marigolds.  They are utterly feral and relentless.  When I go out at night I have to tiptoe around or it all gets very squashy.  

I think I'll try watering the garden with cheap coffee over the next few days and see how that goes.  Apparently they can't take caffeine.  If that doesn't work then I'm going to have to consider carefully what options are not going to hurt the local cats.  

Also, I now have a nutcracker and we have demolished most of the cobnuts.  Bear approved. 

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The Number of the Pillow

Sainsburys have pillows on sale for £6.66 for a pair of washable pillows.  I'm not superstitious and if the pillows are only half way decent then they are worth getting as pillows don't survive long in this house.  The pillows for me, bear and DH are all very limp indeed.  I have put a shedload on the order which should come some time next week

Today it was a Morrisons delivery.  I got my cobnuts (still don't have a nutcracker, I may end up using a hammer or taking off a shoe and walloping the nuts with it).


I also got a veg box for £5.  That's a few carrots, onions, a couple of leeks, a couple of courgettes a swede, a cabbage and a cauliflower.  I thought it was good value for money, especially as I didn't have to do any thinking.  The down side was that I had to dry them all.  They had been in chiller cabinets and the onions were especially damp.


And while I had my camera out I took this photo...


The purple thingy on the right is a bottle lid for size reference.  They are the ceramic containers of some absolutely sublime desserts I got in Aldi.  The desserts come in chocolate orange, lemon and raspberry & cream.  They are smooth, subtle and horrifically calorific.  Afterwards you are left with this ceramic pot which looks like it ought to have a use.  I was thinking of using them for tea light holders - but I don't use many tealights.  I could use them for scented beads or general bits and bobs.  They aren't very deep.  I'm not even sure if they're microwave safe.  But they must be useful for something.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

It's Autumn

 Elderberries at full ripeness and heavy with juice (and I am not planning to make anything with them as I am failing at making pasta at the moment)

Brambles

Pictures from my street.  It's definitely autumn.

Bear had a great day at school.  My day was unproductive.  Hope to do better tomorrow.

btw unless stated otherwise, all pictures on here described as taken by me are in the public domain.  Use them how you like as long as you DON'T attribute them to me.  I wonder if the new camera is good enough for the WikiCommons?  They may not be brilliant photos but they may be of use to someone looking for a particular thing.

Not a Good Start to the Day

Today bear is at school.  He went off fine.  He is now in Year Six, the oldest kids in the school.  He looks so different from when I first took him to Reception back in 2011.  There is still an element of him sitting in his uniform, as I always buy with room to grow into.  I am biased, but I think he's turning out alright.  He has a good heart and a lot of kindness.

On my to-do list today is the garden.  It is tipping down at the moment and I've done something interesting to my hip.  The garden will have to wait.  I also have been updating a Morrisons order.  I added this, tweaked that and when I was signing out got caught by a flash sale of 'cob nuts'.  These hazelnuts, fresh in the shell, like I used to get from my grandparents' garden when I was a kid (when the squirrels left any).  The trees aren't there anymore as they were cleared when flood defences were put in after some truly dreadful floods a few years ago.  The trees produced loads but the squirrels got most of them.  I loved the ones we managed to get, it was such a treat.  As for squirrels, they may look cute but you don't feel warm and fuzzy towards them when they wake you up by fighting on the tin roof.  Also they raided bulbs but they also spread some of the snowdrops, so that wasn't so bad.  The link to the supermarket listing is here.  They have a lovely soft flavour.  Also, I have no nutcracker.

I am sure I can find plenty of other stuff to do, and I may take the nuts off the order.  I don't need them.

Monday, 4 September 2017

The Day Before Bear is Back at School!

The day started awesomely, when a friend of bear's, his mother and his younger sister called round so we all went to the Methodists for a cuppa, a chat and the little sister (around 8 or 9) got some lessons in how to knit.  I volunteered to help out some time before the end of the month with some lessons here.  She is a lovely kid, and much better at craft than I am.  Witch Hazel - I shall pass on info on Craftsy to her mum.  I've looked at the lessons for sewing and at the moment I can't manage them as they are at awkward times of day, but next year bear should be fine left for fifteen minutes or so.

I accidentally volunteered to make soup for the Harvest Supper.  I suggested that they make Egyptian Soup, which is gluten free (if made with gluten free stock), dairy free and vegetarian.  I think the nearest online recipe to the one I use is here.  It's wonderfully flavorsome and warming.   Suddenly I find I'm making it.  The other cooks are seriously amazing, wonderfully experienced cooks and I feel like an awkward teenager next to them.

As for tomorrow, I think I've covered everything.  I've found his old book bag and put his lunch money in ready to go.  He has trousers, shirt and sweater ironed, though he probably won't need a sweater.  I know where his school shoes are.  I have also started a long to-do list.

I'm still having trouble typing.  I'm a touch typist.  I can usually type happily away without looking at the keyboard or screen and be fine.  At the moment it doesn't matter how carefully I type, all the letters are getting jumbled up.  I am also having trouble keeping my train of thought.  It's not so much a train as a single carriage that isn't leaving the platform.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Ready for Winter

Jake's a Girl asked whether I was ready for winter.  The answer to that is 'heck, no!'  However I can feel housewifery creeping up on me.  Bear goes back to school the day after tomorrow and I'm starting to plan the attack on getting the house into some sort of shape.

I am also considering more adventurous cookery.  That will depend on the freezer because as soon as I've got it emptied I'm going to replace it, even if I have to do it on credit.  It's not safe.  Anything too frost encrusted will be discarded.  I need to rethink my attitude to the food anyway.  Bear likes healthier food than I'm making.  He likes leafy salads and tonight polished of a vast quantity of grated raw carrot.  I need to put in the thinking time as much as the cooking time.

It's felt cooler today and it's damp.  For me, autumn means falling leaves and heavy, ripe berries.  I normally expect those in October but they are already here.  I wonder what it means for winter and I think I need to get a wiggle on.

I found a link to a book about doing housework in rhythm with the moon.  It's here, if you don't believe me.  My instinctive reaction wasn't positive.  However if you think about it, the moon can cause tides so it's bound to have some sort of effect.  Lots of people plant according to the moon, and I can really understand that.  But housewifery?  The blurb does promise effortless housekeeping (as well as a lot of other things, to be fair).  It would hard for me to do less than I have done over the last few weeks, so perhaps it's for me.  I suppose I could use it for research for the White Hart (I'm a few thousand words into the next episode) and claim it as expenses.

We drove to the grammar school yesterday.  I don't know if bear will get in, but it looks nice.  So does the nearest academy.  I never thought being a parent would be so complicated.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Nervous Day

Sorry I worried you about a fall.  I definitely felt a fail about the trainers.  I need to keep on top of these things as bear tells me nothing.

Today we got the letter from one of the grammar schools we've put bear down for.  He has to turn up before 8am for an exam in a few weeks time.  They expect 800 candidates for 180 places.  It's the only free grammar school for at least 50 miles, if not more, so I'm not surprised.

I've had a rummage online.  It looks good.  On paper the school seems very together and caring with a heavy science bias which would suit bear wonderfully.  It is relatively easy to get to and it's free.  Obviously the uniform costs vasts amounts of money, but that's true of all the local academies.

There was an online example of what the test papers look like.  I think that they're trying to make it harder for people to be coached to pass the exam so there's all sorts of stuff like 'non verbal reasoning'.  Bear looked at the examples and decided that the test looked like fun.  It's two separate one hour papers, so I hope he's right.

Last night I dreamt that there had been a murder in the street and the body had been found just across from us.  All the way through the dream I was vaguely aware of police and reporters in the background but I couldn't stop worrying about whether I had enough microfibre cloths and were they good enough quality.  I wonder if I'm about to enter a 'housewifery' phase.  I need to soon as the house looks like a cautionary example.

I had a Fail

I'm not tough enough on bear.  Today I spotted the state of his trainers.  I'll try and get a photo of them later but they are wrecked.  When I say 'wrecked' I mean that the plastic coating has come off half of the shoe.  It isn't a little split.  Bear did not see what all the fuss was about.

This was before we got to the dentist.  Bear was given a quick examination and has a clean bill of dental health.  I don't know how he manages it.  I do insist on good dental hygiene for him, I'm always nagging about brushing his teeth, but he eats and drinks plenty of sugary stuff, including fruit.  I suppose bear is just lucky.  I know that I can't take any credit.

Bear managed to persuade me not to go into town with him for trainers but just go straight home.  He doesn't do leaving the house.  This is going to be interesting next year when his school will be more than 500 yards from the front door.

The comment from 50 and counting on my Washing Up post is pretty awesome.  She suggests that you pick up doilies from charity shops and re-use the cotton to make dishcloths - and gives a pattern.  That is an epic suggestion as doilies rarely sell well in charity shops and almost always sell for less than the cost of the cotton.  I shall definitely look into it.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Have I been pwned?

I am not technologically able.  However I have found that my email address has been found on lists of spam bots, which explains why my spam has gone from around 60-70 to over 200.

I'm off to change my email passwords.  I may be some time.

If you have concerns, please check on the website that checks for this - link here or you can check for a site called 'have I been pwned?'  As far as I can tell with my meagre skills, it's safe.


It's about time I changed my passwords, and I'm thinking of setting up a reminder to change them on a regular basis.  You really cannot be too careful.

Baked Bean Delivery System

Bear has Views on Baked Beans.

If baked beans and cheese are supported by a baked potato bear will eat the baked beans and cheese and ignore the potato.  If the baked beans and cheese are not supported by a baked potato then bear will utterly reject them and condemn me as a cruel, uncaring mother forcing bear to eat dreadful and unwholesome things.

And don't get me started on the whole omelette fiasco.

There are five days of the summer holiday left but I'm not sure I'm going to make it.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Planning for school

Bear starts back at school on the 5th September, next Tuesday.  I don't know about him but I'm looking forward to it.

I already had the shirts and sweaters.  I have the trousers ordered.  His school shoes fit still fit him and I carefully put them somewhere where I will be able to find them next Tuesday.  I washed his sports kit today and that's all sorted.

I've also washed his book bag.  It looks very well worn and still dingy around the edges, which is reasonable as it's a few years old and has been well used.  There is also a hole in the bottom which, while not big enough to be a problem, is too big to be repaired so I have reluctantly paid out another £4 and ordered a new one.  I'd hoped that this bag would see out the last year in primary school.  I treated him to a new backpack, as Angry Birds aren't cool anymore and I splashed out on a Harry Potter one.  I'm not sure that Harry Potter is cool, but bear is getting really into Harry Potter so he's happy.  He read through all the books this summer and enjoyed them.  I am really grateful for this as the books are so well written.

It's been an interesting holiday for bear.  We haven't gone out much, but he's indulged in Harry Potter, been in a car crash and watched Taming of the Shrew.  It could be worse, I suppose.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Bank Holiday

I was woken up this morning by the sound of one of the teenagers at the back smashing up their kitchen.  They seemed a bit stressed, I have no idea how they got into that state by 8am.  So far, however, it's been better than last year when someone had to call the police.

Other than that it has been a lovely, calm day.  We have just been hanging out and relaxing.  It's been good.

Witch Hazel asked about the tea towel.  I have never got on with cotton tea towels.  Even the good quality 100% cotton tea towels don't seem to dry up properly.  I am using the ones I bought before we moved here in 1994.  I took some pictures.




They are awesome, though now somewhat battlescarred.  They dry up so much better than anything else, they have been washed and washed and washed and washed - and on hot washes too.  They have been amazing.  They weren't inexpensive, but they were absolutely worth it.  They are getting to the end of their life now.  I bought them originally from Lakeland and hadn't seen them anywhere for years but thanks to Witch Hazel's question I spotted the website and had a look.

I may invest in some new tea towels.  To be honest, I'm nervous.  I can't get a close up and I can't believe that they will be as good as my old veterans.  They are not inexpensive either.  If I succumb, I'll share the results.

Edited to Add I found the teatowels!  My favourite tea towels!  I can't recommend them enough.  I am off to purchase them immediately - link here  Witch Hazel - thank you!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Washing Up

I fail at washing up in a regular manner.  I put it off, miss cups and glasses and don't always round up all the plates.  I really, really, really want a dishwasher.  Washing up hurts my back.

I have tried the re-usable sponges, but I don't like keeping them.  I know you should microwave them every day, but I have a bad track record with microwaves.  I can still remember the flowers I was trying to dry in the microwave bursting into flames.  It left an impression.

I tried reusable sponges, which I washed in the washing machine.  This was something of a fail as the sponge bit sandwiched between the microfibre and the scrubby stuff disintegrated and the sponge ended up looking very sad and slimy.

I considered knitting myself a scrubby to wash up with, but I couldn't imagine any of the yarn I had working, the official scrubby yarn is prohibitively expensive and my experiment with voile was unsuccessful.  If I ever see net fabric on a very good deal I may have a go, but until then I am abandoning the attempt.

I've started using something like these, except with a flower pattern and a sort of silver mesh.  It's a type of microfibre (not brilliant, but okay for rubbing a dish) on one side, a mesh on the other and they wash and tumble dry.  I use a different one each day and they get thrown in the washer whenever I have enough for a smallish load.  So far it's been working out well, as they get into awkward corners and they are doing fine in the washing machine.

Now all I need to do is find a place that sells the awesome teatowels that I bought back in the early 1990s.  They were the original microfibre and dry plates and glasses like nothing else I have ever used.  They wash and wash and wash and are actually holding up quite well.  However one was lost when a plumber used it to mop up a radiator bleed and a few have had been affected by colour run accidents and I suspect that in the next ten years I will need to replace them.  They were quite expensive, but they were bought before we moved here in 1994 and while they are looking their age, they are still drying well.  It was definitely a case of money well spent.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Uneven Sunburn

We went to see a performance of 'Taming of the Shrew' in the open air at Roundhay Park today by heartbreak productions.  They were awesome.  However one arm is now a pale pink and the other is the normal washed out colour.

Bear was meh about it.  We took him just in case.  He schmoozed with one of the ladies before hand who was encouraging him to play quoits, enjoyed the first half but was lost during the second half.  We are definitely going to see them next year!  It was nice to be in the fresh air and it was a great performance.

We have a new-to-us car.  It's the same make, model and year as the last one but with a lot less mileage.  I drove in a car for the first time since the accident on the way home and I admit to getting a little nervous.  I still think DH is an awesome driver, but we passed a few idiots and one bump on our way home.  It looked like no-one was hurt which was a relief but three cars were all lined up with battered parts and people taking details.

Also, and this is shocking, there are already Christmas cards in the shops.  It is August.  I needed a sit down after seeing that.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Taking a Step

I actually went for a very short walk this evening.  It's a step for me, because at the moment it's hard to get out if I'm on my own.  I managed to have a long chat with a neighbour before I started the long walk and apparently there are foxes around.  I shall have to keep an eye out.

As I have said before, I live in a mixed up area.  If I stand at the top window I can see very expensive houses, inexpensive social houses, warehouses, small shops (plus Matalan, a large clothing shop), units where things are built and farms, so I suppose all sorts of wildlife are possible.  I've seen herons and finches, but I've not yet seen a fox.  I daresay it's getting fat on the local rats.

I saw an article on the BBC that said that autumn was early this year (which I can't now find).  Apparently it's due to the very dry spring.  I took these pictures tonight, August 25 2017.




I would normally expect to see the blackberries, hawthorn berries and crab apples in mid to late September.  Some of the leaves are definitely showing signs of changing.  There's quite a heavy crop of berries as well.

I'll have to get some more photos tomorrow, especially of the blackberries as they seem to be cropping very heavily this year.  Lots of berries are supposed to mean a hard winter.  I shall wait and see.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Meal Planning

I fail at meal planning on a regular and spectacular level.  We are planning a meal for a special occasion on Sunday, however, so I'm working out what we're having.  DH will have steak, I will have chicken breast and bear has requested that he has a lamb chop instead of a steak.

I have never successfully cooked a lamb chop.

I can do all sorts of wonderful things, but a lamb chop has always beaten me.  The last time I attempted to I ended up with a dark, greasy object that could be used to hammer in a nail.  Father looked disappointed but unsurprised (it is father's birthday today.  He would have been 86).  I told DH that we would be having beef, chicken and lamb and he said it sounded like the first few verses of 'Old Macdonald had a Farm'.  As far as I'm concerned bear can 'baa baa' here there and everywhere, but I can't guarantee success.  Sunday is going to be a challenge.

Also bear and I have set off some seeds.  They're supposed to sprout quickly and become microgreens in a few weeks.  We planted rocket and basil.  They look like this.


There are this fancy trays designed for microgreens (they saw me coming) and you put seeds on top of kitchen roll on the top and then fill with water in the tank underneath.  You have to spray them regularly until the roots get to the water.  I'm saving any takeaway cartons to use for this in future.

I am a little concerned.  The basil seeds looked like this when we got them out to plant.


Which is normal seed shape to my uneducated eye.  However after just an hour or two the basil looks like this


They have fur!  I am watching with caution.  However I hope to add microgreens to dinners on a regular basis.  It won't save money but it hopefully will add nutrition and bear might eat something he has grown himself.

Also, bear sowed the seeds (sprinkled them on the kitchen towel) and I have a suspicion that they should have been sown slightly thicker.  We shall have to find out how it goes.

Thank you for the advice about the boxes - very welcome!  I had already thrown the empty boxes, but I shall definitely keep them in the freezer and allow bear to be disappointed in future.  However I suspect this is just Round One of the teenage food years.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Wonderful and Dull

It's been lovely and quiet.  One of bear's pals came round and a large amount of food was consumed.  I hung out with bear and got some knitting done.

I also put together a grocery order to be delivered tomorrow, but what with one thing and another I can't remember what's coming.  It was a rush job and I was negotiating exactly why bear and pal had helped themselves to ice lollies and left the empty boxes in the freezer  How am I supposed to know what to re-stock?

But if finding empty ice lolly boxes in the freezer (again) was the emotional flashpoint of the day then I'm happy.  I threatened bear with a disciplinary tickle, sighed and went back to my knitting.  I'm happy with that at the moment.

As a note - has anyone ever managed to convince teens/pre-teens to not put the empty box back on the shelf but to throw it out and let the main shopper know that something had run out?  Any tips gratefully received.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Getting Better

Thank you for all the kind words and good wishes.  It really has made a positive difference.  I am incredibly grateful.

Things are picking up a little.  Bear and I have agreed that we have killed the cress we were trying to grow on the window sill.  I'm going to make bear look up 'How to Grow Cress' on the internet.  Bear seems to think that soil is involved but I thought it was kitchen roll.  Tomorrow we are having the first go at growing microgreens.  I'm warily optimistic.  Bear has to learn that food is grown.  He will probably learn that food is best grown by someone else other than his mother who isn't that skilled.  It's a learning process.  I have some trays and some seeds and a hopeful attitude.  I'll update as things happen.

I was browsing through Reddit and I found this  I don't want to put the picture, because I'm not sure of copyright, but it really made my day.  It's uncanny - the cat in the picture is the living image of malevolent cat.  The markings are exactly the same, as is the expression of dimwitted malice.  She would happily destroy any seedlings available.  I miss being able to tell stories about that cat, though not having to guard yarn, stuffed toys and tomato soup is a small comfort.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Picking Myself Up

So far this month I have been late to a funeral, been in a car crash, had traumatic encounters with plumbing, found unpleasant cracks in the fridge, my freezer looks like a film prop for a bad freezer and my washing machine is whistling.  There are ten days of August left.

On the bright side, please find the most recent installment of 'At the Sign of the White Hart'.  It has been so long since I published the last installment that you may find it worth skimming the story from the beginning here.

I am now going away to write some more.  Please wish me luck.



Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Technological Triumph

It was a triumph for me, run of the mill for anyone else.

I actually managed to end my old phone contract and get the code to carry my number over to the new one.  I feel like I've completed one of the labours of Hercules.  It took some fancy typing.  I went on live chat as I knew it would be far harder voice-to-voice.   But now I have a decent deal with Tesco Mobile and get clubcard points with it.

Also bear is still watching the Edwardian Farm series.  I am concerned about what we will end up doing in the garden.

Thank you for the suggestions for champagne.  The school don't have a school fair or tombola.  They ask for donations for the hamper to raffle to the Reception class, but they are quite clear that there should be no alcohol.  I could try the idea of champagne jellies.  I've made coffee jellies before now.  It's a recipe from Mrs Beeton.  You take some strong coffee, spike generously with rum, set with gelatine and top with whipped cream.  It turned out quite well apart from teh coffee.  I don't drink coffee, but I used to make it for my late mother who liked it STRONG.  She used to joke about sucking instant coffee granules from a spoon.  DH likes his coffee strong and black.  I saw the coffee my late mother drank as normal (I've been educated since) and when Mrs Beeton's recipe stressed that the coffee should be strong I went all out.  The jellies were so caffeinated that we were practically vibrating afterwards.

I'm not sure the stuff is fit to drink after all these years.  If it was the vintage stuff then I'm sure it would be fine, but I'm not sure about the cheap stuff that is on offer at Christmas.  I suppose I could try drinking some with orange juice and if it wasn't fit I could use it as drain cleaner with baking soda.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Nothing much to see

As the title said.  Today has been very quiet and I am exhausted.  Bear has been around ninety percent leg, like only young lads can be, sprawled out watching YouTube and dvds.  He's been watching the Edwardian Farm.  I can tell I will be getting expectant looks at me and then the desolation that is our garden.  I'm going to fill the damn thing with lavender as so far it's the only thing that seems to have survived the feral slugs.

We have some bottles of champagne in the cupboard.  I'm not sure how fit some of them are - I suspect most of them are older than bear and they were all gifts.  Father never drank the stuff, DH is on tablets and I have never liked champagne any time I've had it - though I'm not a sophisticated palate.  The only thing I like with bubbles is diet cola.

We don't know anyone to give them to (I'm not entirely sure that all of them are fit to drink after all this time, none of them are the proper vintage, they're the £9.99 New Year's Eve type) and I can't donate it to the Methodist Church as alcohol isn't allowed on the premises.  Mrs Beeton recommended using gin and old silk handkerchiefs to clean mirrors but I can't think of any sort of housewifery that uses champagne unless it's how to cheat and get asti instead.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Being Quiet

We are all a little quieter than normal and quite shaky.  Otherwise entirely fine.  I need to pull myself together.

I got distracted by this story - crop circles in Wiltshire.  A part of me really wishes that they were real, but they aren't and they do a lot of financial damage to farmers.  With the weather this year, I'm sure that it's the last thing the poor farmer needs.

If you follow the link you will see the pictures, but I think they're copyright.  Here is a non copyright pic of a crop circle.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

No One Hurt

Of course, it may be too soon to say.  You see all sorts of strange things on TV but as far as I can tell we are all okay.

The car in front of the car in front of us slammed the brakes on.  The car in front of us managed to avoid going into the back of them but we went into the car in front.  Poor DH is all shocked, bear and I are okay.  We were only about half a mile from home so bear and I walked back.  I'm sort of writing this straight away as I feel like I have to tell someone.

When we left the poor car, it had a buckled bonnet and I think the radiator was a mess as liquid was all over the place.  I hope it can be fixed, but it is an older car, so there is a chance that the repairs will be worth more than the car.

It's such a lot of naff raff.  No matter what happens to the poor car, there's going to be paperwork in stacks.  DH is going to have to do a lot of sorting out to make sure he can get to and from work.

I also hope the car in front of us's driver is okay.  He was really nice, we were all shocked and he was being incredibly sensible and calm about things.  He seemed fine.

Bear seems unaffected now, though he was shocked at the time, but I'll keep an eye on him.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Sorry I've been Absent

I'm naff raffing around a bit.  I suppose the death of uncle has hit me harder than I thought - I hadn't expected it to shake me so much as it was so expected.

However things are much as normal here.  I decided it was definitely the Zoflora that was making me feel poorly.  I decided that after I had splashed some around in the bathroom to hide the smell while I unblocked the toilet.  Eventually it cleared after I squirted a large dose of washing up liquid down and walked away, but it was complicated at times.  I scratched the bowl while I was trying to prod it free with a toilet unblocker as well.  I suppose we are going to have to really concentrate on saving up for a new bathroom sooner rather than later.  Also, bear's pal couldn't come for a long booked play date because, well, we had a blocked toilet.

Of course, this is added to the extremely encrusted freezer which is barely fit for purpose and now we find the top of the fridge is all cracked and broken.  We think it may be because of the Halogen cooker we have on there, but in our defence, the cooker never damaged the last fridge.  Neither of those are 'must replace tomorrow' standard but are pretty much 'must replace next month'.

Bear is currently into Lego, which is great except he likes to keep his masterpieces on display and we don't have that many flat spaces.  I have also needed to sit down after seeing the cost of some of the kits bear is looking at.  Negotiations are ongoing.

On the bright side, I got some coupons from Sainsburys.  If I spend a minimum of £60 per shop for the next three weeks I get £9 off which is a good deal.  If I spend a minimum of £60 for the three weeks after that I get £12 off which is even better.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Zoflora

I am reading all the comments and I'm very grateful for them.  I feel hugged by them all.  I'm skating along the surface at the moment, so I haven't replied to them individually.  I sincerely apologise.  I don't want you to think that I'm not appreciative.

I was reading up on Zoflora online.  It looks quite interesting, the site is here.  I've used one of their photos and as it is sort of promoting their product, I'm sure they won't mind.


I'm currently using Spring Bouquet but when my stock runs out I'm definitely going for the citrus.  

I saw it recommended as an air freshener so thought I would try it.  I should have paid more attention to instructions.  I didn't realise just how concentrated it is.  You need 4 capfuls, and the cap is very small, to one and a half litres of water for general cleaning.  I put a large slosh into around a tenth of a litre in a jug on the windowsill in the study and around the same in an old candle jar on the kitchen windowsill.  It's a little too strong.  I feel like I've been punched in the nose from the inside, but in a good way.  The scent is lovely.  

I have a stock in, a combination of father asking for some and there being an awesome offer on.  I'm sure that if I combine it with a microfibre cloth I will be able to refresh the house a great deal.  

I am not working on zoflora tomorrow.  Tomorrow is all filled up.  We start with a walk to Makro which isn't far.  It is ostensibly for bread but really we're going there for the walk.  School have suggested that bear bake in the holidays so we will be making something incredibly simple, for my sake.  Then I'm tackling the dining room which is barely functional and will probably occupy a lot of this week.  I'm also trying to set myself a small task every day, those little jobs that I keep thinking I'll get around to and never do.  Tomorrow I intend to replace and sort the cutlery drawer.  I'll check in and let you know if any of that happens!