Tuesday 31 December 2013

New Year's Eve

I'll probably have an early night.

It almost certainly won't be a sober night.  Father is taking it personally that I haven't drunk the Amaretto that was a Christmas present to him.  Sigh.

You see, these New Year's Resolutions don't work for everyone.  I can't cut down as much as I would like on my alcohol consumption because I am under almost constant bombardment from father.  I am a bit worried about this as what with all the problems with uncle my consumption is up and I am rather concerned, but unsurprised, about how quickly I finished off a bottle of Cointreau.

I don't get 'No Spend' days.  I'm always picking up father's papers etc.

I can't rush round first thing after bear is at school when it would be a really good time to clear the house, because father is asleep, and writing first is a bit awkward as I know I will be interrupted to make father's breakfast.

I am trying to leave calls about uncle until after I pick up bear from school as I am usually devastated afterwards.  Today I rang early as bear is on school holiday.  Uncle had a bad night and was very confused.  I checked with the social worker.  If uncle once again lies and says that he has carers and that his family are looking after him (we can't) or his friend is looking after him (she can't) then there is nothing the hospital can do but just send him home.  I am really worried about this.  Even if the hospital know he is lying it doesn't make any difference.

I think I will just concentrate on what I can control.  I'm going to look at meal planning again, although I'll start w/c 6 Jan when bear is back at school.  It's going to a time for research and consideration about all the different blocks and how to deal with them.  If meal planning goes the way it has in the past at least I will have an epic fail to laugh about.

As for random spending, I have been out bid on one of the packs of Christmas cards.  Fingers crossed for the rest.

Monday 30 December 2013

Looking forward

I am not very good at sticking to resolutions.  I am, in fact, bad on an epic scale.

Looking back to this time last year, the house is in a better state (not good, but slightly better).  The finances are a bit flabby, partly because the computer for bear was so much more expensive than I had expected and we did have two brilliant holidays last year.  This is despite me utterly failing my resolutions.  It could be better, but it also could be worse.

So upwards and onwards.  I am looking at what helps me and what hinders.  I need to change the things I can change and swerve some of the others.  I am quietly confident that the trend will continue upwards.

Today I have been speaking to the ward where uncle is, trying to make sure that they know that there is no-one looking after his money.  He was telling me that x was looking after his money.  She isn't.  She would be appalled to be asked.  However uncle has also told people she is his carer (she isn't) and told me of his plans to move nearer to her so she can do all his cooking.

I think I will find things a bit easier if he could get a diagnosis then we could get some routine.

Sunday 29 December 2013

Christmas Paper

I've just picked up seven rolls of Christmas paper at Morrisons for 8p per roll, or 56p for the lot.  I would have picked up more but I ran out of arm space.  I don't think it is an incredible bargain as the rolls were originally only 30p, so a massive percentage discount but not a huge amount in pennies.  They probably aren't the greatest quality but I have just spent two long shifts of wrapping for bear and they will do for the little things.  Unfortunately they are not plain and shiny, so won't do for the birthday/wedding/christening type gifts that the stash of gold and silver paper has been ideal for.  I will keep some on standby for next year's shoebox appeal at the local church to wrap the boxes.

I have been weighing up the wrapping paper I have left from the last mad shopping spree and it is looking a bit less.  However it should hold out until the Sales on Boxing Day 2014.  I'll have a look in town when bear is back in school but I don't expect to see that much.

Fortunately I have been outbid on one of the lots of Christmas Cards, so I am heaving a sigh of relief about that.  Just fourteen more auctions to worry about.

Christmas Cards

I have been dithering over Christmas Cards and looking on ebay (my friend).

I blame the late hour, the overload of sugar, the vast quantity of Cointreau and general distracted situation but I think I have made a slight error.  You see, I was pottering through the 'auction' and 'Christmas Card' parts of ebay and I started putting in minimum bids.  Don't get me wrong, the bids were extremely minimal even including postage but I wasn't keeping track.  Besides, I need some Christmas cards.

This morning I checked my email account, realised the awful truth and wanted to hide away.  If I win every auction I will end up with seven hundred Christmas cards.  I can't store 700 Christmas cards. It will take me years and years to use up 700 Christmas cards.  They will be cards at an extremely economical price, but I don't need that many cards, not in any context.  I am praying I get outbid over the next few days.

I am beginning to think that ebay is not a good friend.

Saturday 28 December 2013

Sublime to the Ridiculous

My sister in law took bear to the cafe in Harvey Nicols where he had a hot chocolate and apparently behaved impeccably.  As is usual, I let the side down and have forgotten to buy his birthday cake.  I will pick up a small one on the way back from the quite grown up birthday lunch bear asked for at Bella Italia as he is having a humungous cake in the shape of a Tardis made by a relative of DH for his party later on.

I may bob around the clearance Christmas stuff while I am there.  I am on my third roll of wrapping paper and taking a break before I lose all hope.  Working it out, I haven't done too badly.  The biggest success was a box full of the gifts off the front of Dr Who Magazine, which had loads of really cool stuff for bear, some of it really, really good.  It wasn't expensive at all and I split the goodies between Christmas and bear's birthday.  I am still whimpering about the cost of the PC but otherwise it could have been worse.  

Uncle has told his friend that I will be visiting this weekend with bear.  I had told him I would not be visiting for a few weeks and definitely not with bear.  However uncle wanted me to visit this weekend and with bear, so he has decided that is reality.  Sigh.  It is going to be a long road.

Bear has a good time

We took bear to see the play, 'Father Christmas' by Raymond Briggs.  It was brilliant, and bear had the most marvellous time.  They had a lady doing sound effects that the children could see, like pouring water when Father Christmas was making a cup of tea.  It was great fun.  I definitely want to keep the theatre a tradition at Christmas.

Bear then went shopping with my sister in law.  I hope he has behaved himself.  He normally does, and my sister in law is usually happy to see him.  However bear does not really like shopping.  He is very masculine in that.  Shopping is what happens when you cannot possible avoid or delegate it.

Meanwhile we went for a meal.  They had a light fitting that was light bulbs surrounded by beer bottles.

It was marvellous, very dramatic.  Mind you, I nearly had to ask for a steak knife for the salad as it was not easily subdued.  I shall get potatoes next time.

Friday 27 December 2013


I am considering posting on the lyssa medana twitter feed just to get out the snippets that don't seem worth blogging.

This afternoon I would have tweeted that father has the jazz music volume set to stun, DH and father have made some serious inroads into the stash of wine and that uncle has decided I can build him a bungalow in our garden.  There isn't enough room to park a car in our garden so it will obviously be a small bungalow.  Sigh.  I'd consider it a bit small to build a kennel.

Bear and I are sat in the room next to father and we can't hear what we are saying to each other due to father's music volume issues.  Bear is doing something complicated on his new computer.  I need to switch my chair around so that I can see his screen better.  My version of computer parental controls is me actually looking at what he is doing.  DH has also set it up so that bear is unable to download anything on it.  This should be safe for a few months.

The plans I had for the meals over the holidays are once again shot to pieces.  DH has suggested going out for a meal tomorrow.  I have half a turkey crown that will need eating.  I think I will chop and then freeze tonight and see how it goes from there.

DH has just commentated how crunchy but well cooked the cucumbers were for dinner.  He meant cauliflower.  The drinks cabinet is going to be a lot emptier tonight.

I also saw this post on Frugal Queen's blog and feel pretty despairing.  I am one of the 21% who don't keep resolutions for a month.  To be honest I am lucky if they last a day.  It was a depressing read through no fault of Frugal Queen's.  I just don't know how we are going to get along.  To be honest, after reading that I am struggling to see any silver lining.  I am sure I will find one before long, and in the meantime at least the music I am being deafened by sounds wonderful.

Looking Forward

The New Year is a good time to set your house in order.  It's a great time to declutter and organise and sort out.

I have a record of epic failures when it comes to resolutions.  Actually if I make decisions to definitely do something it usually means that I will instantly do something else.  I do wonder if I have a condition sometimes.

I have repeatedly failed with budgets.  I have tried practically every way I can think of to keep a budget but none has stuck.  I have had help from lovely people and still not managed.  We are not in fear of missing a bill but we don't have as much in the way of savings as we should and we have bear to think of now.  I suppose that is something I will be working on over the next week.

We are getting better at healthy eating, but it is still not as good as I would like.  Meal planning has been another epic fail.  I have no idea where to even start with getting that right.

The housewifery is another area of epic disaster.  It is slowly creeping up as a better area, but there is so much wrong.  I don't know where to start.  I grew up in very chaotic housekeeping so I have never known when it worked.  I will probably get it worked out just before I move into a nursing home.

There is still good points thought.  I intend to keep writing, keep trying and keep looking on the bright side.  The bright side today is that I have still managed to resist buying 1000 Christmas cards.  That is definitely a win!

Thursday 26 December 2013

I really shouldn't look

I have just found a listing for one thousand Christmas cards for just under £20.  They look really good for the price.  It is a great bargain.  I am almost out of Christmas cards.

However even being generous in estimated father's usage and bear's usage, why would I buy more than ten years worth of Christmas cards and where would I put them?

I love buying in bulk.  It is a pretty good deal.  But where would I put them?  It could be even 20 years worth of Christmas cards, I would be sick of them by the time it came to year 19 and may throw out the remnants raising the overall price to over 5p each.

I wonder how long I can resist?

Feeling lucky

I feel incredibly lucky.  The forecast shows the bad weather is likely to miss us and I am  very grateful.  I really feel for those poor families affected by the bad weather.  There is never a good time for flooding and wind damage, but for it to happen at Christmas when everything is shut and it is so hard to reach help must be dreadful.

I have just done my annual search of ebay under 'unwanted gift' and I am very lucky indeed. I love everything I have been given, though one of the items on ebay is identical to the gift my sister in law gave me and I hope she didn't think that I put it there.  I am a bit sceptical about some of the listings but it is always interesting to see what turns up each year.

I have just got bear's next winter coat for next October.  It is probably the last year I'll be able to get away with it, before he really starts shooting up.  Matalan have their sale and I picked up a very nice padded coat that will do him very well for school.  He is currently wearing the one I got him last year.  I picked up a couple of shirts as well, for next winter.  There was nothing particularly I fancied.  I shall pop in again tomorrow to see if the sale rails have been topped up, but I am not buying stuff for the sake of it.  I did get a good stash of wrapping paper a while back, all nice and plain to do for all sorts of occasions.  I don't need to buy any this year as I still have a stock but I may have to next year.  It's just as well I am still okay for wrap as the wrapping bargains at Matalan were seriously depleted.  I may look in on the Card Factory on 28th as I need to restock on Christmas cards for the first time in years.

Today we fed the ducks, had a nice walk and have spent some good times.  Also uncle is being referred to a mental health specialist and that is bound to help.  That is really good news.

Wednesday 25 December 2013


Bear was up at a ridiculous time.  I am too tired to write anything more coherent except that I hope everyone is having a wonderful, marvellous Christmas! HAPPY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Monday 23 December 2013

Normal Service

Poor DH was on duty all yesterday as I went to visit uncle.  Two hours there, two hours back and not a lot of sense in between.

Uncle is still quite confused but this is apparently this is no obstacle to sending him home to live by himself.  He says he would need someone to look after him.  He wants someone to live with him - there isn't a bed in the house, he prefers to sleep in a chair!  The doorways are awkward and getting in and out will be a challenge.  He was wandering all over about who he wants to live with/live with him.

He has no clean/dry clothes.  Next time I go I will take all I can find to the nearest launderette.  It is so hard sorting things like clean clothes from a distance.

There is a leaking gas main at the end of the street.  Apparently there was an accident and the pipe was cracked.

I had been planning to take bear to see the lights in Leeds.  I'll think I'll wait until later in the holidays because the weather here, while in no way the worst in the UK is pretty foul.

Also DH has been a hero and put the decorations up.

Bear is pink cheeked, full of cold and showing the signs of not enough sleep.  I expect it will take the New Year for the excitement to wear off.

I think I have sent all of bear's party invitations out with the wrong date on.

I haven't been at the sherry yet, but I am considering.  The sun must be over the yardarm somewhere.  

Friday 20 December 2013

Not that Friday Feeling

Uncle is now able to call me from hospital.  He is still very confused.  He was very hit and miss about where he was.  He has decided that he wants to live with me.  I am flattered.  However I cannot see how that is physically possible at the moment.  Apart from the three steep internal flights of stairs in our house there are steep concrete steps just to get in.  I can't see it suitable for an amputee and we can't afford to move.

These are our front steps

Father has problems with our steps.  Mind you, the internal stairs are steeper.

Bear told me at 7pm that he wouldn't just be going to one boy's party, but was also going to another boy's party as well.  Apparently I 'forgot' all about this.  Bear shut up quite quickly after he saw my expression.  I've managed to sort it out but I am sure this is not the last time I will find myself in this position.

Uncle has been moved from one ward to another.  The staff have been absolutely brilliant, but I wish they had called us and I didn't find out when I rang up to see how things were going.  They also said that they had had a whip round for clothes for him.  Apparently there is no sign of the two pairs of pyjamas plus dressing gown I took in, nor the sack of clothes poor Ian took in, and it does ask the question why they didn't ring someone and say, 'Please bring in some clothes for uncle'.

I cooked a chicken in the slow cooker.  There wasn't enough for soup, however, but the chicken will be cold later.  It was supposed to be for tomorrow's dinner but bear will be at softplay plus disco and DH with him.  It should be nice when we do have it.  I prodded at the breast with a spoon and a lump of chicken just fell off.

I wonder what I have forgotten.  I am sure I will find out soon.

Thursday 19 December 2013

Bear's Nativity

I have just survived bear's nativity.  

The kids were lovely, but while I really, really approve of them having a nativity in the local church, there is never enough room for parents so there was a crowd stuck standing around the font, there is never enough room for them to do much and it is very cold and draughty.

Mind you, I enjoyed the way the kids speeded up during the carols and left the poor organist behind.  I know the organist, he is lovely and very talented but he was left in the blocks as the kids charged away with 'Once in Royal David City'.  They slaughtered 'Away in a Manger' as well.  It's part of the charm of a primary school carol service.  Once bear gets to secondary school I don't suppose I'll have many chances to see the scuffles in the pews.  And yes, I love hearing the kids sing.  I really do.  And so many were so happy.  

Bear is having an action packed day.  Not only did he have the Carol Concert but today is the school party.  I sent in some new clothes for him to change into and 140 cocktail sausages, as requested.

Actually bear is having an action packed week.  On Tuesday he had the Christmas school dinner (no sprouts) and yesterday they could go in wearing their own clothes and enjoy the school fayre.  Bear was feeling pretty good in a shirt and waistcoat.  He does like his clothes.  Today he is in a waistcoat/tie/new shirt combo and I'm sure he'll feel good about it.  

I asked bear about the school fayre.  As usual I didn't manage to extract much information but he did say that his favourite game was where they had to pull a string and see if it was a 1, 2 or 3.  If you pulled 1 you got a small prize, 2 and you got a medium prize and 3 and you got a big prize.  Bear got a big prize.  He had hung back, watched the others and worked out which string to pull.  

I think I will need to keep my wits about me.  

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Important Washing up update

The thing that would be the best for me is if I could get used to using the knitted dishcloths by Sweet Blondie Blue Eyes, shown here.

They are far better than anything else, but I just can't get the hang of not having a sponge.  I'm working on it!

Washing up

I have a dishwasher and it does a better job than me with the pans.  It is probably more economic than I am washing up as I am generous with changing the water.  It lets me get on with stuff so that I am doing other things rather than washing up while it whirrs away.  Too much washing up hurts my back and when I got the dishwasher I was too ill to do any washing up.

I still do some washing up by hand, though.  There are a few things that are not dishwasher safe.  The microwave rice cooker is one thing and I have some sharp knives that I don't like to risk.  There is also a heat change mug of DH's that when filled with something hot has a Tardis that disappears from one side and reappears on the other.  Besides I only have a table top dishwasher so I usually generate a load and a half of washing up and I do most of the cutlery in the sink.

I have finally finished my stash of sponge scourers and so I am braving the reusable sponge scourers I bought ages ago from Lakeland when they were on offer.  They are sort of a velvety microfibre on one side and a silvery non scratch scourer on the other.  It feels very different from the naff disposable ones and it probably isn't even cost effective.  I couldn't remember how much they cost as it was some time ago, but I do know I would have bought anything like that without it being on sale.  On checking they are now £2.99 for four, or 75p each.

So I have a pack of four that can be washed and reused and I never need to buy another scourer, at least until these wear out.  I am not sure how long they will last and you have to keep washing them which has a cost.  However I do feel that even though it may not necessarily be the cheapest option when you can get 5 sponge scourers for 19p I am a lot happier with reusable than disposable.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Pity Party

I'm having a big one.  I was logging in and thinking where to start.

Then I thought, I have lots of good things.  I have enjoyed the sunshine today, spoken to nice people at the playground, at least bought the cards (dear heaven, how much), decided on how I could rearrange the kitchen for maximum help and minimum outlay (though still stuck with broken cupboards and drawers - they just add character!) and actually had a lunch from the sandwich shop.  I never normally have a lunch from the sandwich shop.

Last night we watched a clip from YouTube on the tv that clever DH won at work and we all laughed at the Morecambe and Wise sketch with Andre Previn - linky here for those who also remember 'Grieg's Piano Concerto by Grieg'.

I am in a warm house and not worried about the heating bills (though I am going round unplugging things and not putting the heating on, we can certainly manage if it gets colder).  I may be tearing my hair out about the cost of bear's Christmas present, but actually we can cover it.  There is more than enough food coming in and plenty of drink.  Father has just brought me in a bottle of Cointreau and I am pitifully grateful.

DH's health scare has passed, Father is looking better than ever and Uncle is a lot better than he was, though still confused.  Bear is an enduring delight.  Actually, life is good.

Also I don't have to iron uniform for bear tomorrow as it's go in his own clothes tomorrow and he has a new outfit (and there is money for bear's clothes).  And my back that has been really bad is a lot better.

Life is good!

Monday 16 December 2013

School Dinners!

This morning bear went off with a cheque for £9.25 for his week of school dinners.  I cannot tell you what a relief that was as I was getting increasingly desperate when it came to his pack up. He argued about everything.

The house looks like a condemned site and my back is hurting.  I'm confident that it is not serious, but it is enough that I can't risk taking a bath as I think I couldn't get out again.

Father is doing a lot better.  Uncle seems to be improving.  Fingers crossed for a nice, quiet week.

Sunday 15 December 2013

Getting better

Uncle is apparently a lot better, though still a little confused.  Father is doing fine and stocked up at Marks and Spencer with alcohol.  He had £75 in vouchers and he had to add to it.  Mind you we only have four litres of whisky compared to the six litres we had this time last week so you can't be too careful.  He was discussing what will be on TV over Christmas.  He won't remember it regardless.

I've been doing some displacement window shopping.  I am considering thinking about the possibility of potentially getting a fruit bowl.  Fruit bowls are short lived in this house.  I don't think I will actually get one, but I was looking.

I was nearly persuaded by one.  It looked perfect, heavy dark wood and just the right shape to go with the wastepaper bin.  It was a bit too expensive, but at £15 it was within possibility.  I read the description.  It had been used to give pedicures.  It didn't look so good after that.

I'm going to distract myself doing something else.

Thursday 12 December 2013

Normal life continues

Bear has found two items that should have been Christmas presents and I am trying to convince him that Santa's elves are emailing me with updates.  It's not so long ago that I had him convinced that there was a dragon living under the steps, so it surely can't be too hard to keep him going.

He has now decided he wants to have school dinners.  I am fine with him having hot food during the coldest part of the year.  I suspect the prospect of Christmas dinner is luring him.  However I remember how hungry he was when he came in from school when he last had school dinners, so I'll need to have snacks ready.  Mind you, the prospect of not worrying about his lunch is so good so even if he only lasts a week or two it will be a relief.

Father is doing well.  He had a trek across the city yesterday for the follow up to the stroke care.  He's okay, with minor heart arhythmia.  It isn't affecting him enjoying every scrap of life so I am leaving him to it.

Uncle is still very confused.  He asked for a portable dvd player.  However I'm not sure if he got it he wouldn't call it Fido and try and feed it dog food.  He is grumbling about food, not eating enough and complaining about the nutrition milkshakes.  It is very reassuring he is grumbling.  He still doesn't know where he is.

I've ordered a calendar for him from bear's school, just as I did last year.  I don't know if he will be able to use it.  I cried when I wrote the slip.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Carrying on

Sarah - thank you so much for your post.  I've found it really, really helpful and I'm starting to tick things off.

Uncle's mental state currently is that he is barely lucid.  One of my brothers managed to get a full talk with a doctor and there is a chance of vascular dementia which is restricted blood supply to the brain.  The problems in his foot are largely due to restricted blood supply, and his foot has been amputated.  We will now have to wait and see if there is an improvement.

I've managed to track down the social worker and a different brother is going to chase.  I've cancelled the DLA as he has been in hospital too long to claim.

Father has another hospital appointment tomorrow.

If we apply to Court of Protection ourselves it is £400 just to lodge.  I hope the social worker will sort that.

Randomly bought a massive wall hanging with absolutely nowhere to hang it.  It only cost £10 p&p included and I am thankful my more random moments are relatively inexpensive and it does match the waste paper basket.

I am finding things a bit tough, so after the random dragon and the random wall hanging I am trying to guess what else I could happen to.  I hope it is extremely inexpensive.

The hanging looks sort of like this but more orange

Sunday 8 December 2013

Sorry about absence

Sorry about absence.  I'm not my 'normal' self.  Father has to go into hospital tomorrow for some tests.  We are all confident that nothing will be found but he has been on an incredibly restricted diet all today for the scans tomorrow and it goes against everything my father enjoys to have two boiled eggs with dry toast as a Sunday lunch.  He hasn't been able to have milk in his tea or anything.  The leaflet didn't mention avoiding alcohol but I think he has avoided it and stuck to the rules.  The stuff they gave him has made him feel a bit 'off' as well.

This was a shame as we went to a brass band concert this afternoon and bear nearly fell asleep while sitting twenty feet away from the trumpets.  He had to go home half way through as he was almost in tears from 'tired'.  He is an exhausted bear.  We dashed into IKEA at opening time this morning (how busy?) and he managed to charm a soft toy from us.  DH bought me a plush dragon as part of my Christmas present, on account of the 'Sybil' nickname. I have been cuddling it.

Uncle is still very confused and disorientated.  He will have his third operation on his foot (since the beginning of October) tomorrow.  I don't exactly know what the position is as he is unable to give informed consent, but I know it is necessary.  I don't know how we are going to get his bills paid as there is no power of attorney and he was always against direct debits so we can't just let stuff run.  He states clearly that he is in pain, but he keeps telling the nurses that it is in different places.  I'm now imagining things like septicaemia which was one of the causes of my grandfather's death.  I am quite confident I am wrong but I can't stop it haunting me.

I've got most of my Christmas shopping done, we have enough whisky in to float the Queen Mary and the food shopping is more or less covered.  Bear has got me to write all his Christmas cards (school sent home a list of all in the class with a definite hint) but he gave them me back in irritation as I hadn't written the year and class on the envelopes.  I've written all his party invites and the bags are sorted.  The hall is confirmed, the party planning is confirmed, the food will be basic stuff and the cake booked.  I just need the rest of my cards and not much else.

DH has been driving on winter tyres all summer.

I've cancelled the day out I was supposed to have tomorrow with a friend of mine who is in a worse state than I am as I hope to drag bear into school but I am not sure that he won't be sent home and I am also worried about father and uncle and hospitals.

Digging up the Past has made it as far as Sony ebook store but hasn't reached much further.

So all normal here but a bit condensed.  I am looking forward to Christmas.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Feeling overwhelmed

It's not just Christmas.  Each year I do less for Christmas and it really isn't a problem.  We are still too full to eat Christmas pudding until tea time, we still have plenty of goodies and we still have more than enough alcohol (thanks father!)

It's also the tidal wave of bear's birthday.  I've booked the party.  Father says he has booked the hall.  I am on pins because I'm not sure he has.  When he says he has booked it, he has probably thought about it.  All I can say is that it's the last party I throw for bear before he's eighteen.  I'll still do things for him.  I may take him and his friends bowling or to the pictures, but this is the last party.

Up until now it has been soft play parties.  They are lovely.  You turn up with your cake and guest list and everything else is sorted out for you.  This includes party bags.  This year I've booked a Sublime Science party which means I need to sort out the party bags myself.

I had a look on my friend ebay and found some Doctor Who party bags.  Bear is obsessed with Doctor Who so I thought they would be ideal.  I picked up the party bags.  The listing said that they 'may be near to or just past their sell by date'.  I can live with that.  However the sweeties in the ones that arrived were eighteen months past their sell by date.  The seller was not particularly helpful about this but bear suggested that we take the sweets out and put our own in.  As the stickers and puzzle book don't go out of date I thought this a very sensible idea.  So that is another thing on the list.

I am going to try and get some quiet time tonight and go through everything.  It doesn't help that I've decided to get all my calendars and notes under one log in.  I have reams of notes and information stored in the ether.  It is a time for lists.  I'm not even near ready for putting the Christmas tree up, either.

Also uncle has moved ward into a rehabilitation ward.  They think he may be in there some time.  When I visited his bungalow on Sunday the damp was very bad and the board he uses to spread things out on had gone very mouldy.  We all live too far away to keep an eye on it.  I don't know what to do about that.

Monday 2 December 2013

Monday Again

I am feeling a bit flat.  I have lots to do and not much idea where to start.

I've decided to alter the curtains from the top - after Christmas.  Then I shall do one curtain at a time.  I may get new heading tape as I suspect that when father hung the curtains he hung on the cord and some of the ends have pulled away.

I need to sort out where we are at with presents.  I think I am almost there.  Perhaps it is just as well as the car broke down this morning with a broken spring that had taken a lump out of the tyre.

Uncle is still confused.  I managed to visit yesterday and he thought he was in a hospital in a town he last lived in 1974.  I'm a bit worried.

Saturday 30 November 2013

Bear's presents

Bear has written a very, very long list of nerf guns he wants for Christmas/birthday.  If I could read it I probably wouldn't be much wiser.

He is going to be sooooo disappointed.

He is also a bit disappointed that I haven't memorised all the details of the nerf guns.  I think that this is a useful life lesson.

I can't wait until he is fed up of nerf guns.

Friday 29 November 2013

Curtain update

I took a picture of the offending hems.  Please ignore dust showing.

It's quite a bit bit and a narrow sill.  On the other hand, while I am not looking forward to altering it, there are a lot of worse problems I could have.

I also look at this picture and think I really need to get those wires sorted out.

Gathering Courage

I'm really brave about some stuff.  I am a complete scaredy cat about other stuff.  The thing that is currently making me nervous is curtains.

I need to shorten the curtains.  In most rooms the radiators are underneath windows and the curtains hang over them.  We only have the radiators on a few hours a day and at this time of year the curtains are usually drawn then so I can't waste the heat by letting it just heat the windows.  So I need to shorten the curtains.

For the first time for nearly twenty years we have ready made curtains (hence the problems with the length) and they are lined and everything.  I am going to have to mark their length, take them down, alter them and hang them up.  I am a bit worried that I need to cut them as it is at least twelve inches fabric at the bottom.

What if I get it wrong?  The curtains cost a fortune.  I suppose they were a fortune to me, not the four figure sum a friend of mine managed to pay and for less than £300 I got ready made, lined, nice curtains for two sets of large windows and two door curtains.  But it is an absolute fortune when up until now it was fabric from the market and a reel of cotton.

By the way, for anyone interested who is passing Skipton there is a place that sells remnants and overstocks of fabric near the bus station called The Fent Shop.  The fabric may be sold at £5 or £10 per metre but the original price may have been £20 or £30 per metre and the stuff is gorgeous.  I normally stay away as I have no current use  for fabric but I am easily tempted.

I could just take them up which would look odd from the outside but currently I bunch them up on the window sill.  That doesn't look elegant either.  Bear does tend to pull the curtain away from the sill so it covers the radiator as well, so there is constant adjustment.

I'm planning on getting going on Monday but if anyone has any suggestions I am very grateful.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Trying not to shop

I've found something for bear to give DH.  I've ordered the alcohol for father.  I'm refusing to buy another thing for bear (at least for now).  As soon as DH's wages come in I will be over on Amazon buying the last few bits.  I've even bought a load of party supplies for bear's birthday party.

I am sick of spending money and I never thought I would say that.

On the other hand the little halogen heater in the study where I work is broken.  One of the tubes has given out.  As it has seen a lot of service I am not really upset.  One of the little tubes still works and that means that the chill is taken off at 400w, which is good.  However if it does get colder then I am going to struggle.

I could buy a new heater for £7.40 (including postage).  I could also buy a replacement tube in a pack of 3 for £3.99 (including postage).  I ought to get the tubes, but I am utterly confident that I have absolutely no idea how to get at the tube to replace it.  There are screws at the back that are probably where I need to start twiddling and then the reflector thingies behind the tubes that will need taking out, cleaning and replacing afterwards.  I can't see how I could remove the grill at the front.

I have made a strategic decision.  There are other heaters in the house I could use if it became too much and there are also lots of blankets, cherry stone heat bags and cups of hot tea.  If I feel absolutely desperate then I shall see if I can get the grill off the front and remove the faulty tube.  If I can't do that I shall invest in a new heater.  If I can do that I shall invest in the tubes.  However hopefully I can do without spending on either for a while.

Wednesday 27 November 2013


I'm getting a new slow cooker.  After writing such a sanctimonious post about how to choose a slow cooker I got one too small.  I have just shoe-horned a ham shank in with a few bits of leek and some no-soak peas.  Last time I did this I used loads of veggies and we had a really large helping of healthy(ish - not sure about the salt) soup.  I think I am going to have to do some form of extra main course or a large dessert.  I normally don't bother with dessert.

It is coming with a side order of a nerf gun.  I am not keen on this at all, but DH is fine and he and bear have been having nerf gun wars after building forts in bear's bedroom.  Bear wrote a very long list of all the guns he wants.  I didn't have the heart to point out that if he writes out a list of things he wants I should be able to read it.  His writing is absolutely appalling.  It's quite good for a six-nearly-seven year old but it is a challenge.

He is going to be disappointed.  While DH plays guns with him he can't really play in the street with them as the lads two doors down do break the toys of others deliberately.  They actively seek out stuff to break, and not just from bear.  Besides the PC is going to be such a big present that I am not at all keen on too much more.  Bear did suggest airily that the PC could wait until next year and he could have nerf this year, but as the PC is on its last legs I think this year would be better.

I was quite pleased to get a mail shot from Approved Foods with dishwasher tablets at 10p each.  Actually £2.50 divided by 20 is 12.5p and by the time you paid postage there wasn't that much saving.  There wasn't that much else I wanted.  The last lot I got was from ebay (my friend) and was 'seconds'.  They've done fine.

Anyway, I'm off to worry about what to get inlaws for Christmas.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Another Day

DH has got the all clear from the hospital.  Bear has a virus.  Apparently his chest is clear, which is hard to believe after hearing the coughing fit at 6am, but I trust the GP.  I am just waiting on the results for father and uncle.

Bear is off again today but is going to school tomorrow.  To be honest, the quiet day he had yesterday has done wonders for him so I suspect he will be a great deal better.

I am actually looking forward to Operation Christmas Clean.  I plan to have an early night and lots of vitamins.  I may mainline caffeine as well.  I may dent a small corner.

Monday 25 November 2013


Bear is at home with an interesting temperature, a hacking cough and an appointment with the GP tomorrow morning.  I am now officially sick of Doctor Who.  Fortunately that is likely to be temporary as I imagine further Doctor Who will be happening!

Anyway, bear is currently very pink cheeked, stuffed with chicken soup and wearing woolly gloves and sunglasses as he is watching the very first ever episode of Doctor Who.

It looks like Uncle will have to go back to theatre for further work on his foot.  Father is on pins about his appointment tomorrow.  I'm waiting to hear how DH's appointment went today.  This quarter of the year seems very full.  I'm hoping this means a nice quiet time coming up when all this is resolved.

I've got a bundle of Doctor Who stuff from my friend ebay and apart from a few odds and ends I think I will call it quits for bear.  I also suspect that there is going to an awful lot of money in envelopes this year.  I'd prefer to buy presents as it's more fun but I'm running low on inspiration.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Bear watched Doctor Who

Bear had an incredibly late bed time last night watching Doctor Who in 'The Day of the Doctor'.  I enjoyed it hugely as well.  Bear, DH and I watched it again this afternoon.  It was still enjoyable.

Father has been watching football.  Last seen he wasn't in a fit state to make it down the stairs due to whisky, so we will be taking dinner up to him.

Uncle has apparently had a good day, but while the staff can't say too much to me as I'm not next of kin, it sounds like he is still a bit wandering.  He isn't answering his phone so I can't call him direct.

I am gearing up for Operation Christmas Clean, which I am planning to start tomorrow.  As is traditional bear is looking red cheeked, bright eyed and running on calpol.  This has been building since Cardiff so I am not surprised that it is finally coming out.  I suspect that Operation Christmas Clean will be postponed while bear and I cuddle on the sofa watching 'The Day of the Doctor' again.  I may watch it again when DH comes home after his hospital appointment tomorrow.  He loathes hospitals and will need cuddles.

I think at the moment bear is in limbo between 'too poorly for school' and 'not bad enough for a doctor' so he may get dragged into school.  Otherwise it is just as well that father is going on his own to see the consultant on Tuesday, though I think father is nervous.  In fact I suspect that concern about the consultant is behind at least a quarter bottle of whisky.  I just hope he can find the right place.  Leeds General Infirmary is vast and can take half an hour to walk from one side to another.  It really is a route march.  I tried to find a map of Leeds General Infirmary but apparently one doesn't exist.  So here is a pretty picture of the more picturesque part.

The picture does not do it justice and if you sneak in for a shortcut through the staff entrance as I used to when visiting my late father in law you go past a beautiful Victorian Gothic interior.  Then you sadly get to the institutionalised green painted bits, but that entrance is gorgeous.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Wasted Money

One of the things that pushes me to hoard is the feeling that I can't make a mistake with money.  That is, I can't throw anything away unless it is worn out.  This is a good attitude until it comes to making a mistake.

I bought a whizzy chop thing - the JML Twist N Chop

I was really drawn to something that could chop something finely, was inexpensive to buy and didn't use electricity to run.  In these days of rising fuel costs I think it's really important to think of running costs.

Today I used it for the first time to finely chop onion for kedgeree.  I am rubbish at chopping things finely and I thought it would be good for a few bits.  It wasn't.  I should have stuck to my first instinct that I should only have something for serious stuff and a knife.  Anything that can be done with a sharp knife does not need a gadget.  By the time I had finished fiddling, adjusting, grumbling, saying rude words and banging it to get it unstuck I had spent about four times the time I would have spent chopping the onion.  To be fair, the bits were smaller, but only because I run out of patience chopping onions before I get finely chopped onions.

I had a think, looked realistically at all the appointments for father, bear looking very pink cheeked and poorly and my general low mood and threw the thing in the bin.  I paid £6 for it and it was wasted.

On the other hand I did not want it to hang around promising that in the right circumstances it would do a good job.  I don't think it would.  I have a bottom of the range electric food processor thingy, a bottom of the range hand blender, scissors and a sharp knife.  It isn't going to earn it's £6.  And I certainly do not want it sitting around for however long it would take for me to find a way to get it to a charity shop, even if one will want it.  I don't expect to get to a charity shop before next year.  I wasted £6 buying it.  I am not going to waste cupboard space on it.

I actually feel quite good about it.  It feels that it is okay to make a mistake as long as you admit, put it as right as you can and then learn from it.  I wish all mistakes were as easy as buying a useless kitchen gadget.

Father's Sandwich

Father likes his bacon well done.

The only smoke alarm I didn't set off was the one next to the roof, four floors away from the actual cooker.  Fortunately bear managed to stop the main smoke alarm with a broom handle and I wafted the kitchen door back and forward so it dispersed the smoke so that the others shut down.  I was very impressed by bear.

I'd microwave the dratted stuff, but I think he would cry.

Friday 22 November 2013

Bah humbug

I love my neighbours.  They are lovely, they really are.  They can be relied on in an emergency, I would trust them with bear and they are just generally nice people.

They have had their Christmas decorations up for over a week.

Every year I fail to get into the November spirit.  I just loathe the messing around and faffing and fiddling.  I am really not good at Christmas.  Every year I get twinkled at long before I am ready.

So I am grumpily planning to start Operation Christmas Clean up on Monday.  Then bear and I will start making some decorations.  And I have been spurred into picking up a few bits more for bear.  Now I am going to trudge off and make my final Christmas list.

Thursday 21 November 2013


Bear has finally lost his first tooth, after a long and epic saga.  Hopefully things will settle down for a few days at least.

I am now trying to work out what the going rate is for the tooth fairy.  I am edging towards the stingy, as bear is doing very well at the moment and he is getting (against my better judgement and with gritted teeth) a PC for Christmas.  The thing about a PC is that it can't be taken to a bedroom and I can sit and watch it from behind him for large chunks of time.

So we are looking at a grudging 50p and I am now trying to work out how to do the exchange.  Bear wriggles like a live wire when he sleeps so I think putting it under the pillow won't work.

As I am currently in negotiations with Santa, I may ask his opinion.  Then we can find a suitable stash place.

And bear has just used a sonic screwdriver on the computer which has frozen.  We really need the new PC.

A Morning out

I went with father to the hospital, but his blood pressure was too high for the tests to be carried out.  I think the nurses had the measure of him, they stood by be as I called our GP's surgery for an appointment.

Bear was looking a bit poorly today.  I dragged him into school and he seemed okay but I am waiting for the cold to break.  I also think of it as teething.  He is finally losing one of his teeth.  It is taking it's own sweet time and the gum was bleeding last night.  Bear did not take this stoically and I think I'll get a new duvet as there's blood on this one now.  I keep threatening to get bear into drama classes.  After last night's sterling performance I think he would be a natural.

Uncle is apparently a little better.  I hope to ring him later.  They don't know why he has these confused periods.  He really does get confused, he is talking to people that aren't there.  All the tests so far have come back negative.  It is making me a little worried.

I was also quite shock to find that the van on the corner had been broken into last night.  They only got a few coins which hardly seems worth smashing the entire side window.  I didn't hear anything, but I slept like the dead last night.

DH is feeling a lot better now, though, so that is something.  Poor lad has been suffering.  However he should be in good enough shape for the weekend so I can nag him about getting his winter tyres on and checking his antifreeze.  It doesn't feel like a mild winter.

Getting out there

'Digging up the Past' is now on Amazon Kindle here.

I'm sorry about the price.  I prefer setting it a lot lower, but Amazon Kindle pricing has its own ways.

I'm still waiting on Smashwords to see if it can get distributed to the other main retailers.  I'll let you know when it shows.

I now need to crack on with 'A King's Silver'.  I'm enjoying writing that.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Strong Drink Required

'Digging up the Past' is finished, done with and available here.

'The Forgotten Village' is now free from Smashwords here.  It has a nice new shiny cover thanks to Thomas Marlowe.

'Digging up the Past' is now going through the process of being approved by Smashwords and Amazon and will surface soon.

If you buy from Smashwords then it is slightly more money for me.  However if you prefer to buy through a different channel then it should surface in the next few weeks.  And if you prefer not to buy at all, that is really okay.  Honest.  I am just incredibly flattered than anyone reads what I have written.

The only thing I would utterly plead for - if you read 'Digging up the Past' and like it then please, please, please leave a review.  It makes a massive difference to an author.  If you could leave it on Goodreads it would make a huge difference to me.  But if you don't want to, that's really fine.  I'd rather someone enjoyed reading something I wrote without worrying than felt uncomfortable about what they feel they ought to do.

Now I had better get back to real life.

Monday 18 November 2013

Where I am up to

I've been revising the draft of Digging up the Past.  I've managed to get through the first revision and removed several hundred commas.  I am seriously considering removing the comma key when I get back to 'A King's Silver'.  One big problem is that the speech marks have changed shape half way through.  This points to a formatting problem which will mess up trying to self publish later.  I have not found any solution yet.  I have tried all sorts, including foul language.  I may have to resort to Microsoft 'Help'.  The next revision should be a lot quicker and easier.  I didn't pick up any spelling mistakes but I managed to find a few floating speech marks that hadn't been paired off properly.

Darling father slept in until 10.30am this morning.  He had had a late night, so nothing untoward, but by 10.30 I was so worried I knocked on his door to see if he was okay.  Otherwise he would have slept until noon.

According to the hospital, darling uncle has been having conversations with people that aren't there.  They are not sure why.

DH is on antibiotics.

On Thursday (which should have been the day when I sorted out the last bit before publishing) I will be going to the hospital with father for tests.  Neither of us is exactly sure what they are testing for.  I suspect our GP is keeping father under tests to make sure he can keep an eye on him.  Father usually only sees a GP when absolutely necessary.  I had to do all sorts to get him to see a medico after a stroke.

I am very worried about father and uncle, especially uncle who is so far away.  So I am focusing on things that are not so important and that I can make a fuss about with out being too serious.  Wittering about commas and speech marks is a lot easier than worrying.

And bear, who is coming down with a gruesome cold, came home today and demanded Mozart.  Apparently it makes him more clever and his teacher said so.  I am typing this surrounded by Mozart's Piano Concerto No 12.  I quite like the noise Mozart makes but I am getting a bit desperate for some Beethoven.  When I was younger I was forcing my poor mother to listen to the Clash.  What has happened to the world? At least I get a break from the revision, there is no point around bear.

It's much easier to complain about the music than worry about uncle being confused and all the tests coming back negative.

Friday 15 November 2013

May be busy

I self publish through Smashwords.  They have been lovely in their dealings with me, and I am grateful for the latest heads up.  If I want to get 'Digging up the Past' published by Sony I should get the finished product through their system by 22 November, although Apple could hang on until 29 November.  That is, I really need to get the manuscript clean and tidy in the next seven days.

I wanted to leave it a bit to let the words 'cook'.  I wanted to read it back after a little mental distance (already started on a medieval fantasy).  Then I need to read it through at least twice to pick up spelling and grammar mistakes and the hazards of not remembering what a character is wearing from one scene to the next.  Then I need to read through Forgotten Village (60k words) and then back through Digging up the Past (55k words) so that I don't have a character with blue eyes in one book and green eyes in another.

I do have a list of characteristics saved so I have referred to it and that should save some mistakes.  I have a very clear visual idea of people and places, so that should help.  However nothing is foolproof.

It's a big task.  However I can't risk missing Christmas.  It could make a big difference to me.  I also need to republish 'The Forgotten Village' because I want matching covers (thank you, Thomas Marlowe, you are kind to me!) and I will have 'The Forgotten Village' free to tempt people to pay for 'Digging up the Past'.

So even for someone self publishing there is quite a bit of work.  I shall have to do a significant amount of comma removal as well.  I also panic at this point and get very frightened.  This is completely illogical and apparently quite normal.

So I'm not likely to be writing much in the blog in the next few weeks.  What I do write may not make much sense.  Please bear with me.  I shall be back to my normal self soon.  I appreciate it when people read this blog, and I love the contact with friends here.  I'll be back as soon as I can.

Keeping on

I always feel a bit shaky after finishing a novel.  I've been here before so I am not entirely objective.  On the other hand I am not as bad when I published The Forgotten Village.  I was a complete basket case then.

I did manage to accidentally buy a dress during the last thousand words of Digging up the Past.  I am not exactly sure what was going on in my mind as the last time I wore a dress was my wedding over twenty years ago and bear has never seen me in a skirt even.  When I told bear that I had bought a dress he looked at me with a mixture of sceptism, wariness and suspicion.

Fortunately when it arrived it is the sort of dress that while very comfy (and I think a size to big), makes a very nice top to wear under a sweater and over jeans.

Dinner tonight is fish fingers.  I have a Market Delivered delivery coming with fresh fish from the market coming.  However DH has said that he really wants to have it in breadcrumbs and fried.  He is doing that tomorrow.  I am not safe to fry things.

I also found a recipe for bacon jam, via MSE.  I am sitting on my hands.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Well that showed me up!

After all the careful notes about getting a slow cooker, I got a 3.5l one - and it isn't big enough.  It's fine for the casserole that is currently sitting in there and will be great for the steamed pudding I want to do as it is round and high, but it isn't big enough for the 'casserole Tuesday, curry Wednesday' or 'broth Wednesday, meat cooked in the broth Thursday' type cooking I do.  It is such the perfect size for my worktop as well!

I'm going to have to get a bigger one.  I'm probably going to have to get it fairly soon.  I wonder if I can put it off until after Christmas?

Bear doesn't see Red

Bear was a star at the Opticians.  He was polite, helpful, intelligent and friendly.  He co-operated.  Then we picked up a few bits for Christmas, and bear was very good dealing with the grim reality of shopping and met DH for a meal out.  Bear was absolutely exhausted but behaved impeccably.  I was incredibly proud of him.

Bear has slightly long sight, nothing to worry about and he will probably grow out of it.  He is also colour blind with the Green/Red spectrum.  This is a bit of a problem as bear's favourite colour, as he will tell you at any opportunity, is red.

Actually bear can see red and he can see green but he does see brown as green and it is a bit tricky on the boundary between dark blue and purple.

It's nothing serious or major.  It does rule out a few things.  There are some careers closed to him.  It also means that I will be shopping for his clothes until he has a girlfriend to take over.  Drat.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Father brings home a present

Father in his wisdom has brought home a calligraphy set for bear.  It was only £1.99 from The Works and father thought that he would see if bear liked it before buying bear a calligraphy set for Christmas.

Bear is nearly seven.  At school he still has to write with pencil.  They aren't even teaching them script yet.  And that ink had better be washable or I will be having Words.

Despite all this, bear is actually doing okay with his writing.  To me it still looks like it was written during an earthquake by someone who had heard of writing and seen a YouTube video, but it is slightly better than his writing in pencil.  I think because he takes a bit more time when he has a pen.

We are still holding on to the helicopter bought a few years ago suitable for aged 14 and over.  There is a scaletrix thingy in the walk in cupboard that was bought when bear was still crawling and which I hope is okay.  Father has form.  But bear is enjoying his writing so perhaps he has got it right this time.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Big Thing Has Happened

I have just finished 'Digging up the Past'.

I shall leave it at least a fortnight then go back and re-read it, then re-read 'The Forgotten Village', then re-read 'Digging up the Past'.  Hopefully I will pick up when someone has green eyes on page ten but blue eyes on page forty.  Then there is always the issue of having a character put something down on a table and then pick it up from a chair.  Not to mention as many chances as possible to make action clear.  Just because I know what I mean doesn't mean it is generally obvious.

Then I'll go through it again looking for spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, your/you're/their/there/they're and trying to get capitals consistent.

Then I'll publish.  I'll let you know.  Thank you for all support.

Bear has been to the Dentist

I have a lot of issues around dentists.  I need sedation and I struggle.  I was determined that bear would have the best chance I could give him of not following in my bite marks.

Yesterday we managed to get a late appointment so bear didn't miss school and had a long bus journey there.  It is actually an easy dentist to get to, all the dentists closer are a real problem, so we had nearly an hour on the bus while we chugged through rush hour and chatted and giggled together.

Bear was also very good waiting for the dentist.  We had some in depth discussions about the times table and he was fine.  Then he sauntered into the dentist, hopped casually onto the chair and leaned back as if he was on a sun lounger.  The glasses the dentist gave him only added to this.

Bear still hasn't lost any milk teeth and I was a bit worried, but apparently all is fine, his teeth are lovely and clean and well brushed and he he is doing fine.

Then bear hopped off the chair, gave the dentist the benefit of his charming smile and sauntered out to pick up his sticker.  I was desperately envious.  After a dental visit I don't want a sticker, I want alcohol.

DH gave us a lift back which made things a lot easier, then we were home and almost straight to bed with a happy bear.  After he had brushed his teeth, of course.

Monday 11 November 2013

Laundry Hazard

Bear has Views on what he wears.  Until last week he insisted on short sleeved shirts, winter and summer, as polo shirts 'hurt his ears' and he had a few issues with cuffs on long sleeved shirts.  Now he is a little bigger and no longer doing so much painting/messy play as he did in Reception, and also now he has enjoyed swanning around in his long sleeved James Bond shirt, he has decided he likes long sleeves.  So I bought some.

All of bear's shirts so far have come from places like Marks & Spencer.  They have been clipped and had packaging in heaps, but have been fairly straight forward.  As this is a bit of a whim of bear I bought two extremely inexpensive long sleeved shirts from ebay (my friend).  They had pins.  I can't remember the last time I had to wrestle pins out of packaging.  Even DH's shirts don't have pins in their packaging.  I am hoping that the blood will come out after I skewered myself on them.  I am hoping that there wasn't rust and trying to remember when I last had a tetanus shot as these shirts were really inexpensive and the pins were like dirty, pointy wire.

Looking at the news today, I am very glad that this is the only problem I have.  Please can I ask those reading and who are able to donate to places like the Red Cross, Oxfam, or Shelterbox if you can.  Other charities are also getting there, getting the basics of clean water, food and shelter to those who rely on the goodwill of others.  It is heartbreaking just seeing the pictures.  I cannot imagine just how hard it must be standing in the middle of the wreckage.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Bear Continues Bear

The soap dispenser which was mysteriously topped up and paler is now half empty.  I have actually bought a liquid soap thingy which I really like.  It is 55p from Asda and I love it.  I am seriously considering whether to just keep it for myself in the kitchen.  I am not exactly sure what bear is up to but it is probably leaving him cleaner so I'm saying nothing.

There is also the issue of breakfast.  DH was on duty this morning and bear told him that he had already eaten and put his bowl in the sink.  When I went downstairs to fight the dishwasher there was no bowl in the sink and no evidence of cereal being accessed.  I have no idea.  I don't count the chocolate bars, so I am reserving my opinion.

On the other hand bear had one of his favourite meals last night.  He had hake cooked in milk with broccoli and chips.  He left the chips.

Sometimes I feel like the luckiest mum in the world.

Please hold...

I have not made much sense in my last few posts.

Here is the road that I saw a moorhen on, but the moor hen has gone.  Apparently it wanders in when the beck is full.  It doesn't look very 'nature'.

This is another view

And this is the huge lorry that the DVLA came to harrass my lovely neighbour

The road is looking a lot better since someone randomly dumped some tarmac in the worst holes. I think they didn't want to take it back to whichever depot it had come from.  

Otherwise I am feeling a bit stretched.  However I am confident that a week's sleep, no-one in hospital or poorly, no operations threatened and only minor battles with homework will put it right.  Until then, please hold.  I'm doing my best.

This situation was not helped by HMRC promising for the third time to send out the thingy that I need for the wotsit.  I was on the phone for 30 minutes according to my phone and I'm still humming the hold tune.  I've made notes and I am cautiously optimistic that I will understand them when I ring back again in December to attempt to file a tax return where I have made less than £100 and spent nothing official.

I have also just received an email saying that Hermes are going to deliver tomorrow.  The odds of someone being in are statistically greater than zero, realistically bugger all.

Bear is happening at a birthday party.  While that is going on I had better happen to housewifery.

Friday 8 November 2013

The name is Bear

Bear has been tired for the last few days.  This means that he has been a lot crankier than normal.  So when the letter about the School Disco came home I wasn't looking forward to the discussion.

Bear does not 'do' discos.  He does not 'do' dancing.  He told me he was a fighter, not a dancer.  After over two years of martial arts, I'm not entirely sure about the fighter bit, but I don't challenge it.

However he was wearing a particularly pleasant white shirt.  The night before I had noted an ironed, white, bear sized shirt hanging up and not checked about the type.  It turned out it was a shirt from his James Bond costume from last year which I had thought so over priced.  Bear really likes wearing his James Bond outfit with it's sharp jacket and pin striped trousers.  He was badgering me to buy white shirts just like the one that came with the outfit.  To be honest, if I bought long sleeved white shirts from Matalan that turned out to be so flimsy I would take them back.

I looked at him thoughtfully.  "You could wear your James Bond outfit to the School Disco." I said casually.

I think it is quite important that he actually goes to the disco, as it is sort of a rite of passage.  It's where he learns how to go on.  I'll deal with any fall out as it happens.  Bear will be happy as well.

Thursday 7 November 2013

I wish I had had a camera

I wish I had had a camera handy.

My road isn't very posh.  It is a sort of dirt track behind a Matalan store with no proper road surface and dozens of cars being mended by Nice Mr Next Door.  It is not a Hyacinth Bucket sort of street.

Today I saw a moorhen picking its way among the cars and trailers.  I didn't realise the potholes were that deep.

I'll see if it's around tomorrow and perhaps feed some crusts to it.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

The Mystery of the Soap Dispenser

I have a soap dispenser for handwash in my bathroom.  Originally it was some very pleasant lemony stuff from Asda, then I refilled it with some incredibly inexpensive shower gel I got from Approved Food.  I finally refilled it with the third and last bottle, rather sadly as I  had liked the fragrance.

Then I noticed something a bit odd.  It was a funny consistency.  Bear had complained that the soap was so thick that only a small amount came out.  I thought this was a good thing and explained that he didn't need a lot.  Now there seemed to be two layers in the soap dispenser.  Person unknown had added water to the dispenser and shook it.  It hadn't worked.  Now the bottom layer, where the pump took from, was far too hard to pump, and the top layer was a lot lighter colour.

I grumbled, shook it, and forgot about it.  Until yesterday morning when I realised that the soap was now a lot thinner and a bit useless as it sort of splashed out like mildly soapy water.  I couldn't wash my hands properly so I emptied it out, grumbled, refilled it with some thinnish bubble bath and forgot about it.

Until last night, when I went to bed, I found that the dratted thinnish bubble bath had been watered down as well!  I had to shake it all up to get enough soap to get a lather.

Today I am out of the house so I shall see if I can pick up some liquid soap in a new bottle and see how long that lasts.  I am unamused.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Bonfire Night

Darling Father went shopping yesterday and came back with fireworks.  I am not entirely keen on fireworks.  I would much prefer a proper display or even to watch on tv.  They just seem so expensive.  This didn't stop father.  When DH came in he took one look at the bags and said, 'My God, he's bought the Gaza Strip.'

Bear is now happening outside and rockets are launching from among the fuchsias.  Regardless of age, I have three happy boys in the garden with the rockets.

I am really missing evil cat, though.  She always enjoyed fireworks.  She would have been on the windowsill, watching the rockets and sneering that they have gone vertical instead of aimed at the closest enemy.

One of the rockets bounced off the telephone wires, but fortunately the other side of the garden wall.  I haven't checked the phone yet, but broadband is still working, so I'll go for that.  I am not sure 'safe distance' was entirely observed, but everyone had a marvellous time.

This is a picture of a firework

And these are the remains, not including the twenty rockets (thank you father) and I think the 10 blast wonder that bounced off DH's bedroom window.  

Winter is here

Yesterday we had our first frost.  Bear voluntarily wore a vest.  There were frost patches on the path and where the morning sun hadn't reached the grass there were stripes of white frost still hanging on when I took bear to school at 8.50am.  It's casserole weather.

The sooner I get my slow cooker the better.

Thank you for the tips.  I have just got rid of my crock pot, which was brilliant, Lesley.  Janet - I get Tesco deliveries and I could put the slow cooker in the order.  Both sound good.  I was also looking at a very inexpensive 3.5 litre Morphy Richards one, which has a slightly smaller footprint.  However I think I will take personal recommendations over anything.

Bear was asleep on the floor when I went to bed.  He had made a nest with a duvet and was all curled up and pink cheeked with his toy plush rat cuddled close.  I coaxed, cuddled and heaved him onto his bed, tucked him up, and found him on the floor when he woke up this morning.

As I type this he is sprawling and about ninety percent leg.  This usually means he is shattered.  He is supposed to be going to martial arts tonight.  Fortunately it is only a few hundred yards from school so it will be possible to physically drag him.  He loves martial arts, he just doesn't like going.  Sigh.  I don't know where that will end.

Monday 4 November 2013

Technology and Me

I'm not amazingly good with technology.  I get computer rage.  I get lost in files.  I don't often lose stuff, but it has been known to happen.  I also am completely clueless with mobile phones.  I currently use DH's old smartphone which completely baffles me.

One of the things that DH has tried (and failed) to help me with is music.  I just haven't got around to working out how to play music on my smart phone.  I can't see the point, really.  I'm usually doing something else and music would distract me.  I suppose I could use the phone to play music when I am working in the kitchen, but it all seems so complicated.  DH tried to show me how it worked by downloading the Wombling Free song.  It didn't stick.

Last night I tiptoed into bear's room on my way to bed as always and reconstructed his bed over him.  At least he is sleeping under the covers these days.  Last winter I was regularly getting up in the middle of the night to put his covers back on him.  Somehow I set my phone music off.  I had unlocked the thing to get enough light to find bear and suddenly at 90 decibels I had the Wombling Free song ringing out.

I kept pressing things and clicking things and nothing seemed to make a difference.  I would get it to stop and then the dratted thing would start up again.  I was going frantic.

Bear slept through the entire performance.  This does not surprise me.  Between around 9pm at 4.59am bear could sleep through a full brass band.  However drop a pin at 5.01am and he's bright eyed, bushy tailed and demanding breakfast.  Speaking of which, I had better get moving.

Sunday 3 November 2013

How to choose a Slow Cooker

I am no expert but I hope my 'typing out loud' will be of use to others trying to workout which slow cooker to use.  For those who are not in the UK, a slow cooker is a crock pot, a way of cooking things very slowly over a long time at low cost.  They are great for taking tough meat, cooking it very slowly all day and turning out something 'melt in the mouth'.  In times of rising fuel costs they are invaluable as they cost very little to run so a casserole is not only inexpensive in ingredients but also in fuel costs.

1. Research what is out there.  Check on Amazon and Ebay to see what is available.  The variety will probably surprise you.  There are one or two that just have one setting, others have High and Low settings.  I want an inexpensive one.

2. Decide what type of gadget, whether just a slow cooker or multi function.  Concentrate on what you are likely to actually use it for, not what you aspire to perhaps one day using it for.  My experience is that with a multi function gadget there are more things to go wrong and more bits to lose.  I want a straightforward slow cooker.

3. Decide on size.  There is the issue of capacity.  I am cooking for four, use the slow cooker for joints and plan realistically to curry for lunch any casserole left over from dinner.  I am not planning on batch cooking as anything frozen for batch cooking goes into the freezer and is never seen again.  Between three and four litres will be fine for me.  That is a medium capacity slow cooker.  There are bigger and smaller ones.  Then consider the 'footprint' of the slow cooker, how much counter space and cupboard space it will take up.

4. The brand and source of the slow cooker.  If you need to there are usually slow cookers at car boot sales and on freecycle.  If you do have choice get recommendations and reliable makes.

5. How pretty do you want it?  There are all sorts of options.  I want inexpensive coloured.

Here is one I noticed

It is over £200 on Amazon and looks terrifyingly complicated.  I almost certainly won't get it.

Slowcooker fail

The slow cooker has had its day.  I hadn't used it for a bit, so went to dig it out and all the inside of the bowl had crazed and there was a fine tracery of mold showing exactly where all the crazing was.  I washed it, but I couldn't bring myself to use it.

The mince casserole that was going to be Sunday dinner has been relegated to the stove top.  I am considering making a suet crust to put over it and making a variation on sea pie.  I am reluctant to approach making suet pastry but I have been told it is a lot easier than ordinary shortcrust.  You could tile a roof with my shortcrust.  But a suet crust has to be worth a go.

However I can't go that long without a slow cooker.  I have just found a recipe for smoked cod with bean mash in the slow cooker that I think will go really well, and I have a very good source of excellent smoked cod delivered by the market.  We had kedgeree last night, and the fish was amazing.

So now I want to buy another slow cooker.  It was a nice change, for once I didn't think, 'Great!  A shopping opportunity!'  Instead I thought, 'Not more spending.'  I think that is another reason to be cautiously optimistic.

Saturday 2 November 2013

Spending again

I've lost count of how many posts in my old blog had this title.

Today it has been bits here and there.  I bought a heater for my room, less than £10.  I bought a collapsible table that DH was after at £9.99.  I bought a new paring knife.  I bought a few bits of stuff for bear for Christmas/birthday.  I feel like money is dripping away.  On the bright side I was very tempted by other kitchen gadgets, but managed to resist another peeler.  I am still using the one we got as part of a kitchen set given as a wedding present in 1990.  The rest of the set has gone with the wind but that peeler is treasured and not wearing out.  Until it does I am not investing in another one.  I would say that the peeler is one of the few gadgets that I can't do as well with a knife.  I just can't peel as thinly.

This month I will wait until I see a good offer from the Book People and then get the Christmas/birthday books for bear.  Apart from that I will be sitting on my hands.

I have to get a present for one of bear's friends at school, and after that I think it is just groceries, and I am hoping to keep a lid on that.  Cardiff was expensive, but I expected that.

Today has had its good bits.  Mr Nice Next Door has taken our old cistern out, so we now have space to move things into which means I can move other things into their space and we are getting nearer to everything having a home.  A few other bits have been moved around and I am feeling optimistic.

Uncle is still in hospital and is still feeling the effects of the infection.  I am worried what will happen next.  I can do nothing to influence it.

Friday 1 November 2013


At least bear is out with DH.  He has been spending far too much time on the computer for the last few days.  I confess to being very grateful for Temple Run 2 on the four hour train journey.  Though bear also had a nice chat and 'helped' me with my word searches.

Uncle is still in hospital.  I am not exactly sure what is happening.  He is still pretty confused, and I have no way of talking to him directly at the moment.

I spent a lot of money yesterday.  I put in an Approved Food order.  Because I had recently sorted out some of the walk in cupboard I was able to stay away from the loo roll and have a relatively realistic idea of what space was available.  However they had condensed tomato soup at a superb price, so I filled up.  I use condensed soup in all sorts of ways, so I am glad about that.

I also ordered a heated airer which I have heard such good things about and a Tardis cookie jar.  I keep very small treats in a box and bear can raid those.  I am sure he would prefer a Tardis to the plain wooden box he has now.  The Tardis cookie jar was at least covered by the two Lakeland vouchers from earlier in the year when I got some blankets at half price (very comfy) and two fruit trees (at darling father's insistence, they are doing well).

I have also put in an Asda order.  It's going to be one of those orders.  Three bottles of Famous Grouse, as it is a good price and will probably last the fortnight, two bottles of Black Grouse as it is an excellent price and they can be stashed for Christmas and two packets of frozen mince.  The delivery man may comment.  I don't care.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Back Home, Back to Normal

Cardiff was lovely.

Darling Uncle is back in hospital.  He hasn't given consent for me to  be given any information but isn't lucid enough to give informed consent.  My brother has fed back a lot of information.  I am in no position to go over to him. 

I'll update about Cardiff and the lovely people there later. 

Sunday 27 October 2013

Steamy Morning

This morning I spent several hours ironing with a steam iron, standing next to the tumble dryer, with the washing machine, the dishwasher and the breadmaker all going as well.  I have a lot more ironing to do, and I am on my way back to it.  The washer, dryer and dishwasher are all on again and DH has put the breadmaker on for the second time. 

It looks like we will not suffer as much as many in the storm, and with all luck behind us it will not affect our travel tomorrow.  I am keeping those in the line of the storm in my prayers.  I think we will all be glad when the storm has passed. 

Saturday 26 October 2013

Christmas Stocking

It is far too early to think about Christmas stockings.  It really is.  However darling, darling father has brought home a Christmas stocking from the Church sale. 

Perhaps it is just as well.  Last year I forgot about the Christmas stocking.  DH airily assured me that bear wouldn't think of a stocking.  After all, bear had been remarkably silent over the whole stocking thing, it would be fine.  Bear remembered just as we were putting him to bed on Christmas Eve so we ended up putting a pillowcase at the end of the bed and switching it with a personalised minecraft bag stuffed with stocking fillers which rather saved the day.  Perhaps it is just as well that father brought in the stocking..

I have two minor objections to this particular stocking.  On the one hand I believe Christmas stockings should be in pairs.  I used to have a football sock of my father, the other sock mysteriously absent.  It was mysteriously absent because my mother was stuffing it with goodies elsewhere and so she could just sneak it and switch the sock without worrying about waking me.  I don't think I would be able to find a match for this easily, though I could pretend I had lost it, provide a pillow case and then do the switch at midnight, as is traditional. 

The other problem I have with this stocking is that it is massive.  It is huge.  Not only is it larger than most of my pillowcases, it is not that much smaller than a single duvet.  I exaggerate, just not by much.  It is sooo big.  DH looked at it and remarked that it would take more than two satsumas to fill that.

And that's another thing.  This year we are muttering about a PC for bear.  We are reluctantly getting him a PC because ours is on the way out and DH and I still have laptops (or I do when it's back from the lovely repair man).  A PC can't be moved up to his bedroom, as I am not allowing any electronics in the bedroom at the moment.  He can do his homework on it - likely to be necessary in a year or two.  He can research Doctor Who and do his laborious typing of cast members.  It is still a big, big present for a seven year old, which he will be just a few days after Christmas.  Last year most of the toys he got for Christmas from us would fit into this new stocking.  Not just the stocking fillers - all of them.  Obviously he also had a shed load of books, but I feel very challenged.  I wasn't planning on getting him that much.  It was looking like PC for Christmas, possibly games for his birthday, large quantities of books and then just a few other bits.  Bear has two huge boxes full of cars, he has far more pens and pencils than is needed, he has all sorts of odds and ends and bits and bobs.  I am scrabbling around for inspiration.  He has a bike, he has a scooter, he has everything.  He will be seven. 

What makes it worse is that there is a birthday and Christmas so close together.  I have to get inspiration enough to fill both occasions.  I don't like him having less because of the accident of his birth.   So filling the stocking and getting enough presents for both Christmas and birthday is going to be a bit of a challenge. 

I think I will start going around the charity shops now.