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.