Thursday, 27 January 2022

Grumbling On

Cherie - I need to get to a library. Unfortunately there isn't one local so it would mean a journey to the centre of Leeds - scary! I'll be honest, the reviewing process helps the writing process, and it all muddles into 'writing stuff'.

Eileen - thank you!

I am still feeling fragile. I am still staying within staggering distance of a bathroom. This has meant more time for writing stuff, so I'm taking it as a win.

I couldn't get a proper picture of the thing that made me smile the most. I was driving to pick up bear and there was sunshine through the trees and a sense that spring could be close. As I went over one particular hill, I could see dark clouds over the Pennines though I was driving in bright sunlight and it felt like a type of story. When I finally stopped I took a pic of the trees in the car park. 

I wish I could have caught the light and shade but I was a little too shaky and cold to get out of the car. I also got some knitting done while I was there. I felt very relaxed. And that has been my day - sunshine and writing stuff.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Could be Worse

Sharon - I can lose hours watching the birds on our feeder. I don't have the variety you find there, but it's always good to see them.

Eileen - I hope that I'll be able to share loads. The little birds can be tiny but so assertive and energetic.

Rajani Rehana - thank you!

Bless - that sounds delicious!

I had a shocking night last night and I have a really bad stomach today. I didn't go for a walk as I was worried about being too far from a toilet! Something has really upset my tummy. I didn't move much at all.

On the other hand, I did some writing stuff, so the day wasn't completely wasted.

The pic that makes me smile is here.

It's sort of writing stuff (I'm trying to quarantine most of the writing stuff at the bottom as I know not everyone follows it, but it sort of spills over). I have a medieval fantasy coming out soon, and I will be writing bits of fiction and articles linked to it over the next few weeks. The jug is a prop for the pics I will take, though I suspect that it's the wrong shape for a proper early to mid Middle Ages jug. It still made me smile. Once I've done that, I'm going to use it as a little watering jug for the surviving spider plants (DH killed a spider plant. I didn't think that it was possible.)

Writing stuff - I've been busy with editing but I've also written a book review. I'm planning on delving in to book reviewing as I hope that it will broaden what I read. I have a bad habit of going back to the same favourites again and again. If I get things right, they will normally turn up on Friday, but I've committed to a particular review this Friday, and I need to clear the decks. Today's review is of Kolkata Noir by Tom Vater and while it was much darker at the end than the books I normally read, especially at the end, I very much enjoyed it. The review is here

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday, 25 January 2022


Sharon - yes, looking for things to smile about helps a lot! I'm losing track of so much at the moment. It's not just making lists, but remembering to read them afterwards! 

Cherie - that sounds gorgeous

Akasha - you can use armpits as a replacement word in all sorts of situations and it always works.

Here is a very poor pic of a robin taken through my car windscreen at maximum magnification.

None of the dratted birds were either slow enough or around when I could get a decent pic with my phone. But my smiles today have all been about robins. I think I saw two different robins in the garden today, which probably means gang warfare. One has a tiny sliver of white on its wing. And then I saw a third (or one of the first two hitchhiked for the eight miles) in the car park when I was waiting to pick up bear.

Mind you, I had a little smile when I saw a squirrel dashing across the road near us (and no chance to take a pic). I shall have to keep an eye on the bird feeder. The squirrel will give the oversized pigeons a run for their money. 

And I managed to force myself for a very short walk today at Batley Park. It was deserted when I got there at around 7.50am and quite dim and cloudy. But at least I did a little.

I haven't done much else as I have been busy with writing stuff.

Writing stuff - I'm actually having fun with the edits. I know that editing is supposed to be grim, but I'm going through stuff with the Three Furies and it's been great discussing everything. Just in case you didn't realise, coming soon - King's Silver by yours truly.

And today's snippet of writing is here, the last in the Dark Picture series of short stories. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday, 24 January 2022

Pootling On

Bless - the sausages are a supermarket own brand and much cheaper than the meat ones I use. I have to be careful because I can't have gluten and a lot of the sausages have breadcrumbs or wheat of some sort in. The cheapest on sale ones that I can have are £2 for six. The food prices here have been very cheap for a while. I think they are going to be rising quite a bit. DH won't eat pork as a preference, so I usually stick to chicken and sometimes beef or have veggie stuff.

Sharon - I have a lovely soft jacket-type thing which I wear all the time. It's supposed to be a bed jacket. I am not bothering with that. It's a pale grey and looks like a cardigan. It's a lot better than turning up the heating.

Cherie - there is always soup! I think I could do with more freezer space, as I always seem to be squeezing stuff in as I'm catering to all sorts of preferences. I'd love to have room to freeze some home made soup again.

Eileen - the sausages don't have a texture like real sausages. I don't know how best to describe the texture. Perhaps like dense stuffing from a mix, and because I do them in the Halogen oven where the fat drops out, they are quite dry. They may be worth a gamble, but they are not great copies. I serve them with gravy and treat them as their own thing.

Lots of not much at all happening here. I haven't been for a walk in ages. I must try and get back to that. One thing about the challenge to take a pic of something that makes you smile is that it makes me look around for things and actively search for the smile. Today I took a pic of where bear goes climbing. I had a nice chat with another adult while our kids were climbing and a hot chocolate. 

They are a lovely bunch there, and very kind. Bear is in good hands.

I'm going to have to do some serious list making and stick to it. I've got so many different things going on that I'm not sure what I'm missing.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Nothing Much Happened.

Sharon - I've been watching the cost of living creeping up on the little things for a while. Good for Jack Monroe, they've taken the issue to the front pages here. I haven't seen the attack robin today, but I haven't really been looking. Making stories about the birds you see is half of the fun, in my opinion.

Bless - I'm not sure if it's a guard robin or an attack robin. It's not a pacifist, whichever way it goes! It has such character for something that is smaller than my phone. It was the zips that went on the old backpack. I don't have your skills, but I may have a go and use it for practice, if I get time.

Cherie - stropwaffles are not eaten in quantity. To be honest, I quite liked them, but of course they have gluten in so all I can do is watch sorrowfully as the men enjoy them, then run off with the tin as a consolation prize.

Eileen - I have no idea what I'm doing with that tin, but it's mine! I'm certainly going to have to be more careful with food shopping. What is hard is that so many people can' t remember what it was like living with inflation. There are different strategies for shopping than if there is stable prices. 

Heather - it is so silly what some teenagers expect these days. They are all about brands and styles. Paying £24.99 was bad enough. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was paying £5 for his book bag for primary school!

I forgot to post yesterday. Not much happened except that I am up to my armpits in writing stuff. I'm going to be cheeky and post a stock photo for things that made me happy.

It's been sort of nice. We've been hanging out together again, with bear playing on the Xbox, DH reading or practicing his chess on his phone and me grumbling and editing. We've had nice candles on, we've had the fire on if we needed it, and it's been good. 

I've put the heating back onto timer. It should hopefully be better now that DH and bear have reliable room heaters. I also picked up an inexpensive hoodie for DH from Morrisons. I've been known to sit in my dressing gown from there, and lovely and snug it is too. Morrisons clothes don't look good for long, but they aren't a bad price and they last, bobbly bits and all, for a long time. 

Tonight's dinner was veggie sausage, mash, cabbage and gravy. I'm cheating again with the pic, as I forgot to take one earlier.

Today we had the herby bangers, as above. At the time of typing they are £1.15 (and it seems like only a month or two ago that they were £1) and we really enjoyed them. DH asked whether they were meat and said that he preferred these.They are vegan, gluten free and quick to cook, although a little high in salt. I had some potatoes from a sack of potatoes from Morrisons that was £2.75 for 7.5kg. The potatoes were fine, and were perfect for mash. As I boiled them, I steamed some frozen cabbage over the pan. The frozen cabbage was good for freshness and lack of waste, but it's an expensive way of buying it. A 750g bag costs £1.50 at Tesco, though a kilo would cost £1.35 at Morrisons at time of typing. A decent sized cabbage would cost under £1 and I would get at least two meals, except it rarely works out that way here. I've never managed a meal plan that didn't get derailed. There always seems to be waste in some way or another. Frozen veggies at least helps with that. It was served with plenty of gravy. We all really, really enjoyed our dinner. It was perfect for us and the men would be happy if I could serve that again soon. I don't suppose it was more than £1 per head. Tomorrow will be a different kettle of fish as I juggle the preferences of bear and DH, the food bear has at school, the need for food after climbing and what is quick to make for DH. 

I need to be better organised. I can't guess how many years I've been saying that, but it's becoming urgent. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday, 21 January 2022

Twitter and the Cost of Living

Cherie - within reason, I always think that it's better to go with quality. I believe in the idea of buying quality sausages rather than cheap steak if money is tight. It's just knowing what is worth checking the quality and what isn't. It's not easy. 

Eileen - thank you. That robin is a character and I thorough enjoy having one around!

My twitter history is worse than my Google search history, and that is a pretty big statement. I find links to twitter in the middle of a highly debated thread on somewhere like Mumsnet and click. I don't necessarily go for the original point, but to see what else is floating around and what the original person actually follows. I've had quite an education doing that, and a lot of entertainment.

Yesterday I found a tweet by Jack Monroe, and I thought I would share. There's about a gazillion replies to it, but it's here if you are interested. Jack Monroe made the point that the increases in the cost of living affected those who had less rather than those who had money to spare. 

The series of tweets shows that basics have gone up more than luxuries. She tweets that the basics pasta has gone up from 29p to 70p, a rise of 141%. I've noticed that since the beginning of December, Morrisons gluten free fusili has gone up from 60p to 75p for 500g. It's 15p, which objectively would be described as a small amount, but as a percentage, it's a lot (which I'm unable to calculate and bear has gone to bed). Jack Monroe added,

And just to add: - an upmarket ready meal range was £7.50 ten years ago, and is still £7.50 today. - a high-end stores ‘Dine In For Two For £10’ has been £10 for as long as I can remember. - my local supermarket had 400+ items in their value range, it’s now 91 (and counting down)

I've noticed in strange places, like the cost of Tesco mushy peas, and the availability of bargains for rice milk, the cost of basics is going up.

I'm tempting fate by telling you my plans (which rarely ends well) but I'm off to google again the way to keep a price book. Inflation is affecting us all, and the strategies for saving the pennies are going to change. The fundemental strategy, if I remember correctly, is that when you see a good sale, go for it with gusto. However you need to be able to identify the good sale.

As for what made me smile today, it was an empty tin.

I picked it up when I got bear's backpack yesterday. It originally contained stropwaffles, the thin biscuitty type things with a sticky filling which you place over a cup of coffee to make the syrup run. The men have disposed of the contents. I just wanted the tin. I have no idea how I will use it, but use it I will. I love the blue and white stuff.

Hugs and good health to all.

Thursday, 20 January 2022


Sharon - Thank you. Bear's backpack has a lot of books. He sticks all of his school books in there so he never worries about forgetting to pack a book. He must be building muscles of iron. I think I will keep the scrubbies for scrubbing dishes and surfaces and possibly floors. I'll get some nice flannel face cloths instead.

Eileen - thank you! I never take support for granted, and I'm incredibly grateful. Some of the publicity artwork is amazing, they have done wonders.

Bless - thank you! I'm keeping everything crossed that the book does well.

This is an old picture of something that made me smile today. Our local robin, who is extremely assertive and has dive bombed me on the way in and out, tried to take on the Tesco delivery van. It was whizzing around and trying to get into the van, being very fluttery to the doors and generally being a Presence before zooming off. I explained to the delivery driver that I think that the robin is from Glasgow, and not the nice bits. It was probably referred to various services when young. The delivery driver thought it was hilarious.

I found this quote When all is said and done, a lot more will be said than done - Anon. It tells me that someone has taken minutes at a Church meeting.

I went with bear to pick up a new backpack as his current one was being held together by willpower. TK Maxx was the best shot, I thought, as it was on the way home and likely to sell backpacks. There weren't many, to be honest, and a lot of them were covered with logos which bear didn't like. I'm not sure that the school would have liked it either. We found one which was £24.99 (reduced from £74.99) and bear had a think (and got the opinion of a friend via the phone) and decided that was the one he wanted. He shared my opinion of the one next to it. It was labelled 'Fossil' which is an expensive brand, but it was £99 reduced from £399. I nearly fell over. I suppose it's the right thing for someone who isn't a school kid dragging around an illegal weight of books, but I flinched. 

I'll be honest, I think sometimes it is worth paying a little more. I've written before about a pair of Bench jeans I got bear from TKMaxx years ago, at a price that I thought was a fortune at the time, even after the mark-down, but they lasted him for ever and were really good quality. I just don't think I could physically hand over £99 for a bag that wasn't that brilliant, to be honest. I may one day find a really good bag that is worth that sort of money. Quality lasts. I think I may still go for something less expensive. 

Hugs and good health to all.