Friday 31 January 2014

Perhaps I should have thought about it first

I have been muttering and grumbling about the round table in the middle of the kitchen.  It's become a clutter magnet, a bit of a block in my efforts to get the house back in shape.  There are things lurking under that table that would make Stephen King blink.

I had another bad night, I suspect PMT is at work and I feel like an over used dishcloth.  Speaking of which, the reusable washing up sponges are a bit of a disappointment.  They have gone through the washing machine okay and the rough bit and the smooth bit are still fine but the squishy bit in the middle isn't very squishy.  I still do a fair amount of dishwashing by hand, despite having a dishwasher, so it is a very mild annoyance.  I shall have to train myself to like cloths instead of sponges and keep reusing.

And yesterday I didn't see any of the 'bears don't travel on buses' posters.  There was a campaign recently to try and persuade people that travelling by bus wasn't scary.  However all the posters I saw were on the actual bus.  And people seeing them on the bus would have know that there were no bears on the bus.  There were no oversized paw prints, empty pots of honey or suspiciously long strands of brown fur.  It probably wasn't reaching the target audience of those who didn't travel on buses.  Here's one of the tags:

I suppose it's alright if you live near a reasonable bus route.  If you live on an unreliable, infrequent and expensive bus route without a car then bears are probably the least of your worries.

If I was a cat, my ears would be on sideways.  I am 'that way out'.  There were a lot of ways I could have expressed it.  However I settled for dismantling the kitchen table.  That bit was really easy, I suspect that the table was built up by a gifted amateur and it was just held together with wing nuts.  The legs definitely didn't match the top, they looked more like the upright bits on a banister.  They were easy to take out to the bin.

About half up the steep, slippy concrete steps, trying to roll and drag the heavy, solid top, I realised that I may have made a mistake.  I was stuck, in the sleet, with something that was probably heavier than bear and a lot more awkward to drag.  I really should have thought before trying to get it out.  There are so many ways it could have gone wrong.  I could have slipped with it, slipped under it, or even just dropped the wretched thing - and it is heavy enough to damage the kitchen door.

I managed to get it up without damaging myself or anything else - here it is, the same height as the wheelie bin.  Now I can take my mood out on the kitchen floor and we can start using the much smaller fold down table I got a few weeks back.  After I've dealt with all the rubbish that was under there, of course.  

Thursday 30 January 2014

Grey Day

It's cold here, not snowy but cold.  The sky is depressingly grey and my mood seems to be with it.  Normally I can make a good effort of looking at the bright side, but today there is nothing much wrong and I just feel flattened.  I have absolutely no right to feel that either.

Bear is currently arguing bitterly about homework.  The current issue is his handwriting that is so bad that it is beyond illegible and is straying into modern art.  Bear is adamant that his handwriting is perfect.  It is the best indication yet that he will be a doctor.  If nothing else, he qualifies on the handwriting.

I picked up a new iron.  It was a cheap one from Sainsburys as I left the Argos gift card at home.  This means that when bear does his now routine visit to town on Saturday with DH he will have a packed programme.  Bear needs to have his feet checked and then will have to call in at Argos before going to drool at his favourite toy shop.  I will have to think of something I need from Argos to liberate the money - and I will have to need it.

Still, while I was at Sainsburys I managed to pick up two pairs of school trousers for bear at £8 for both.  Matalan haven't had any in the shop.  These will probably be that bit too long and fray the hems, but at least I haven't got caught up in shopping for them.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Negotiations continue

Today is a training day.  Yesterday the plan was that we go into town, I buy a new iron (again) and then bear goes to his favourite toy shop for a drool and possibly get something.

Today bear will not be shifted from the house with dynamite.  Looking at the cold, grey and wet weather, I'm not trying too hard, and I have borrowed father's iron.

It's a good day for a duvet day.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Let Sleeping Bears Lie

Bear is sleeping on the floor.  Last night he slept on two pillows placed end to end with the fold out bed on edge beside him as a sort of barricade.

As a concerned mother I ought to be dragging him back into his lovely, clean, calm bed.  As someone who knows exactly what bear is like, I am going to pick my battles.  The ongoing battle of the cleaning of the neck is currently a bigger priority.

He had one of the best sleeps for years last night, as far as I can tell, and woke up lovely, calm, rested and a pleasure to be with.  I'll settle for that while I get the Tardis bedding on order.

The weather here is not as bad as some places in the UK.  That is, it is wet, horrible and windy and I broke my umbrella.  The local beck is getting full.  You can see the water from the local drains pouring into it.

And the water level is a lot higher than normal.

And I know how lucky we are, I really do.  Places like Somerset are really struggling, I can't imagine how they are doing.  According to a few bits from reliable weather sources (not the ones that said we were going to be neck deep in snow in November), it looks like the next few weeks are going to continue wet.  I hope they are wrong.  

Thirty Three Words

I am not good with short pieces.  I normally need a lot of words to tell a story.  I have just taken the Trifecta Challenge and it has been tough!  Only thirty three words to describe a scene?  It's like the power circuits that they do in gyms, or the beasting that bear's martial arts teacher threatens the older ones with (she's ex army, and is age appropriately tough as they come).

Out of completeness, the link to the piece on the other blog is here.

Monday 27 January 2014

Father has brought home what?!!?

Father has brought home a playstation, kindly donated by one of his friends from church.  Bear has already found it.

I'm not even sure that it works.  I don't even know how to find out if it works.

So much for rationing screen time - as suggested by Father!

Back at the Gym

Actually I have been back at the writing gym, and the latest story is here.

I had a lot of fun with it, and if you feel like stopping by I hope you enjoy it.  The picture that I used for the prompt is this one.

I think Write on Edge have some lovely pictures.

Sunday 26 January 2014

Bang goes another Iron

I've dropped the iron again.  I don't have a good record with irons.  I can't seem to keep them more than a few months.  I drop them with depressing regularity, and the current one is more or less okay but leaking.

On the bright side, bear got an Argos gift card for his birthday, and as he much prefers to go to the Entertainer toyshop so I can use the money on the Argos card for the iron, give bear the cash equivalent and we have an excuse to leave the house on Wednesday which is a training day and the weather forecast isn't brilliant.  I will get another cheap iron, because there is no point in getting an expensive one.  Irons and gravity don't mix well for me.

And I can keep going with this one until Wednesday.  The fabric Himalayas are much more like Snowdonia - still mountainous but not quite so daunting.  They still end up flatter, but with a trail of damp spots streaked across them.

Bear is currently very keen on anything to do with nerf guns, so there is at least a chance of getting him out of the house, which normally takes dynamite.  It won't be inexpensive for me, because there will be bus fare, an iron and no doubt buns in a cafe (where he will be good as gold) but at least he will get out.

Saturday 25 January 2014

Lorna Downton

Hi, I hope I have your name right.  You just left a lovely comment on my blog and I accidentally deleted it.  I should know better, this isn't the first time.  I am very embarrassed.

I am really sorry.  I value all comments and I am always incredibly flattered that anyone reads my blog.  I hope all is going well with you.

I am a bit nervous about using crushed tablets, as I haven't figured out where to put anything except whole tablets, but I may look into it.

To be honest, working out the pennies is a good distraction.  I am glad to hear your father has benefited.  It is so scary and our loved ones are so vulnerable.  Uncle, after agreeing on Wednesday that he was happy to move into a residential home local to me, is now stating he is going to live with me.  Again.

Thank you again for commenting, and I am really, really sorry that I lost your lovely comment.  WS xxx

Edited to Add - woohoo!!!  Due to the wonders of not being able to stop my blog letting my email know about comments, I still have your comment from my email account.  So while I was clumsy and accidentally deleted your comment, I am so technologically haphazard that I still have a copy:

Hi Sybil, on the subject of dishwasher tablets, I buy a big tub of crushed five in one tablets from an ebay seller once a year. They are excellent quality and value. We use the dishwasher everyday and the quality of the wash is excellent. It costs me about £20 delivered. Just to let you know that I am a regular reader and take my hat off to you about coping with life. I very much hope that your Uncle finds a nice place to call home. My dad went into a care home about 3 years ago (dementia) and is so very happy there. We no longer have to worry about him all of the time

there is always a silver lining and I am very happy for anyone to comment.

Sweating the Small Stuff

It's the dratted dishwasher tablets.  I've got my calculator out.

If I go for the Asda all in one perfectly adequate tablets I can get them for 11.1p per tablet, which is close to my aim.  However I don't actually want anything else from Asda.  I have perfectly good fruit, veg and meat delivered from the Market.  The local shops do the bread and milk.  My cupboards are jammed with tinned goods, and there is a reasonable selection locally.  I can't see the point in an order apart from the dishwasher tablets.

I could try going to Aldi.  Their dishwasher tablets have an extremely good reputation, and are currently around 10p per tablet.  Of course it would cost me £3.90 to get there and a large chunk out of my day.  I don't really want to spend the time out of the house that I can get going to Aldi.  It is within walking distance, if you don't mind walking an hour or so each way, and I need to get fit.  However I'd need to cross a motorway junction so it is much safer taking the bus at £3.90.

If I bought the dishwasher tablets from Asda I would have to buy a shedload to reach the minimum order of £25.  Then the cheapest slot on Monday afternoon would be £3 delivery.  If I went to Aldi it would cost £3.90 and I couldn't carry so many back on the bus.

So Asda would be 225 tablets for £28, or around 12.5p per tablet.  I would struggle to carry a lot back on the bus but Aldi would be 200 tablets for £23.85 or 11.9p plus a huge chunk of my day gone and I would struggle to carry.  Besides I would never get out of Aldi with just dishwasher tablets and Asda are also doing 7up (father's favourite mixer) at £1 per bottle instead of £1.98.

And part of me really wants to do an Asda order for just five boxes of dishwasher tablets, just because.

It is a load of naffraff over some dishwasher tablets.  But it is taking my mind out of the financial nightmare that now needs to be sorted out for uncle and I suspect it will get worse.  They may be further posts of equal parts of small stuff.  At the moment I'm not doing the big stuff very well at all.

Friday 24 January 2014

You get what you pay for?

It's the dishwasher tablets.  I've been hanging out for 10p per tablet.  I've not been able to get that price.  I ended up getting some extremely inexpensive damaged tablets that were extremely inexpensive.  They are okay, but they are leaving a residue, and some fail to clean.  It's a false economy.  I'm going to have to give up and buy some proper ones - at 20p at time!

I've given in and bought a very cheap duvet.  It was £9.  The other one has started to shed tufts and I don't want to inhale them in my sleep.  I don't expect the £9 one to last much longer.

But every now and again I get a bargain.  Today I got three rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, extra wide and 3m long at 50p each.

And while typing this I managed to find a good deal on Asda for dishwasher tablets, so they will be down to @ 11p each.  So things could be worse.

Thursday 23 January 2014

Normal for Here

Someone has used my email address to sign up to Plenty of Fish, a dating site.  It's happened before.  I can't unsubscribe because I can't remember how to enable pop ups, so I just direct all the emails to spam.  The poor man must be wondering why no-one wants him.  Perhaps it's just as well.  I found a picture of him, and the photo has a very unfortunate angle with the jeans and it may not be attracting the right sort.  I'd contact him to let him know, but it would just come to my email.

Uncle has decided that he wants to keep all the books that are older than @ 1920.  This sounds like he is only taking one or two.  Actually it is shelf loads including some elderly encyclopedias which are almost certainly not worth anything.  I'd say it was at least one hundred books - there will be no space in a nursing home especially as the room will need space for a wheelchair etc and I can't see a home with frail people welcoming in stacks of dust and mildew carriers.

Father managed an accidental major breech of school security yesterday.  Apparently he shouldn't have been able to get to where he ended up.

Bear is supposed to be keeping a diary starting yesterday, which was missed due to me not being there (I didn't get in until 9pm!).  He is supposed to listen to the radio and write about one song every night.  We don't have a radio anymore.  I listen to Classic FM on the tv.  I don't think they are expecting Beethoven.  Fortunately you can listen to Radio 2 through the computer.

There is also a major battle between bear and DH.  Bear does not want to go to martial arts any more.  DH wants bear to continue with martial arts.  As I am the one dragging a sobbing, pleading child across the car park I think I may have a stake in the outcome.  It isn't real sobbing and pleading.  It is just bear being dramatic.  I am used to it (most mornings when he has to go to school) but I do get some interesting looks.

Normal for here.

Uncle's Discharge Meeting

I feel utterly weary after yesterday, I feel drained mentally and spiritually even though not particularly physically.

As soon as the hospital can manage it, uncle is going to a residential home near me.  I'm starting the research on that.  The healthcare professionals were pretty clear that uncle needed residential care, there was no question.

Uncle has accepted that.  One of the most dispiriting things about yesterday was the clear signs that uncle was ready for everyone to do the thinking for him.  He side tracked, de-railed and generally was not engaged.  As far as we all can tell he is making an informed decision, but I expect a few bumps later on.

It is unlikely that uncle could physically manage to get into his own home now, so we somehow have to work out what he will need to take with him, what he would like to take with him and what is actually possible.  As uncle is a hoarder with the mentality that everything has utility and value, even a bit of rubbish, and that he will read the books he hasn't touched for ten years (and can't actually see due to extremely poor eyesight), and that he needs stuff that hasn't seen the light of day since before bear was born, this is going to be interesting.  I am suggesting a storage unit for the first six months so that he can find out what he needs/doesn't need.  He has slept in his armchair for years and you can't get into the bedrooms.  It is a flash, all singing, all dancing, tilting electric armchair.  It is still not a bed.  There isn't a bed in the house.

After that there is the clearance and sale of the home.  I am putting off thinking about that for a bit.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Being a Mother

Bear had a massive fall in the playground at lunchtime and came home with dented knees and a cracking bump on his head.  However I suspect the hour and a half I have just spent with bear in the bathroom as he threatens to be sick is more to do with him chugging down a glass of milkshake at top speed.  Milkshake was always guaranteed to make me queasy when I was his age, and until he had the milkshake he was racing around and full of life, so I am not too worried about concussion.  It seems to be settling down.  I am keeping everything crossed.

However if bear is sick then he can't go to school tomorrow and if he can't go to school then I can't go to the meeting at the hospital about uncle's discharge.  I am feeling a bit stressed about the whole package, as there doesn't seem to be any clue, I haven't been able to get hold of the social worker in two days of trying and all the guidance I have seen on the internet seems geared to getting uncle back in his own home.  I am not sure it would work - in fact I am sure it wouldn't.  It would be a lot cheaper for the powers that be, however, and I think if uncle could possibly swing it he would go home if he could get someone to move in with him.  He has suggested several times that DH give up his job and we all move into his small, two bedroomed bungalow, but I haven't gone with that.

I suspect I am worrying about nothing, and as bear has obligingly shown me how short his school shirts are getting on him I think I will distract myself with some 'window' shopping.  That's a set of trousers, shirts, probably vests and I wonder how long I will be able to eke out his sweaters.  I can look all over the net for those.  That will be a lot less stressful than worrying about uncle's discharge meeting and how well bear will be tomorrow.

Bear has had lots of cuddles, lots of fuss and is now wrapped in a blanket and watching a YouTube video about a nerf gun.  He is picking up.

Doing Sums

Bear needs new school trousers.  He is just finishing a growth spurt and currently has the body of a string bean, so his trousers are sitting just above his skinny hips.  They are not looking long even there.  When the trousers are anywhere near his waist you can see his ankles and the trousers seem to be heading north.

The best trousers for school have been those from Matalan, and I can see a Matalan shop from where I am typing.  I suppose the back wall of their building is around thirty yards from my front door.  I should just pop in.

However I never let anything be that simple.  I want around five pairs of trousers, to allow for life happening and a just about seven year old.  It is quite a small Matalan and I can't be sure that they will have five pairs all at once, though I am sure that I could manage with fewer.  I've checked online and the trousers I want are £6 each, so that would be £30 for trousers that had better last him until the end of the school year.

If I order online from Matalan I can guarantee that I would get what I wanted and get 5% cashback from Topcashback.  That is £1.50 which may not be much but it all adds up.  If my order comes to over £50 then I get free delivery and 5% of £50 is £2.50 which is still not a lot but still adds up.  If I order the duvet for my bed that I would like because mine has got holes in then I can easily make the £50 total.

However I don't need the new duvet, especially as I have a lot of blankets, and any cashback on just trousers would be swallowed up by the delivery charge.  Bear can manage with the current trousers for the next week or two so I can pick up the trousers as I go along.  I like to have a clean pair of trousers for bear every day as at his age the chances of a pair of trousers being fit for the next day are slim.  However I have a washer, a dryer and a heated airer.  If I was determined I could manage with just one pair, though I would rather not.

If I buy five pairs of trousers from the store I will pay only £30, though I may have to pick them up as and when, and I often get a Matalan discount mid January so there is a slight possibility that it may be less.  If I order them online I will pay a minimum of £47.50 (£50 minimum order less £2.50 cashback) and while I can get things I would like I wouldn't be getting things I need.  

I'll go instore.  

Monday 20 January 2014

Back at the Gym

I've not done anything so uncharacteristic as go to a real gym with real exercise.  Instead I have done the writing equivalent and took the challenge from Trifecta to write a piece between 33 and 333 words on the third definition in a dictionary of the word 'Quaint'.  The result is here.

I will be honest with you, I don't think it's my best work.  I sort of 'heard' it in rhyme, so I've battled out the first poem I've written in years.  I did enjoy it, so poetry may be an occupational hazard of reading the blogs.  I'll keep it on the other one, just in case.

I'm feeling energised now, which is the point of a gym, so I'm off to write a few more paragraphs of 'The Prince and the Paladin'.

Thank you for reading what I write, whether you just read the blog or you have also read my fiction.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am.

Toothfairy Inflation

Bear has lost another tooth.  After the three act operatic drama that was the first tooth, this was remarkably low key.  One minute he had a tooth, the next minute he had lost it down the side of the car seat.  DH managed to find something that looked a bit toothlike and did a gypsy switch just before bedtime.  Unfortunately he didn't have a 50p so he got a whole £1.  This is very important to bear, as it brings him one step closer to his goal of having every single nerf gun in existence.  At least, this is his goal until something else crops up.

It is a bit of a good news/bad news type day.  On the one hand I managed to fit the grill pan in the dishwasher which is a wonderful thing for me.  On the other hand the new cream cleaner that I tried on the cooker stinks and the bottom two floors of the house smell foul.  I've got a little further on in the ironing, but I still haven't managed to get hold of uncle's social worker.  I've finally remembered to get the burgers out of the freezer but I haven't got the potatoes peeled and I am about to go and pick up bear from school.

It is a gorgeous day.  I haven't managed to get a photo of the translucent quality of light that you only seem to get at this time of year, with the air cold and bright and slightly misty in the distance.  But I took a picture of a rosebud hanging grimly on for better weather and some cyclamen that are flourishing.  I hope they get past this cold snap that is coming up.

Sunday 19 January 2014

Looking for the Bright Side

I'm feeling a bit low.  This is normal this time of year, and I don't expect it to magically go away, but I could do without it.  While I am not particularly miserable I am tripping up, dropping things and knocking things over at around ten times the normal rate or worse.  This is a bad sign and I'll need to keep an eye on it.  I'm also looking up care homes and trying to work out what would be needed.  I plan to try and call the social worker tomorrow to get an idea of what he is looking at, and I'll start making lists.  I will be taking very clear notes.  The healthcare professionals may have done this many times before, but uncle hasn't and he is the most important person involved.  I shall insist on explanations.

But there are still bright sides.  I have got quite a bit of writing done over the last few days, and the textile mountain in the dining room has been reduced to substantial hills.  By the end of this week I hope that they will be reduced to small hillocks and I will hit the six thousand word total for this year.  I also had a minor triumph of getting a decent bargain in Morrisons.  I never seem to get decent yellow sticker bargains, mainly because I never actually go to the shops, but today I dived in for bread and milk and picked up two one litre bottles of Cravendale milk for 25p each.  I also picked up eight hot cross buns for 50p which did very nicely for Sunday tea.

Bear is also seeing the bright side.  He has not only had his first pocket money but father topped it up.  And while he did have to go and purchase a gift, which came home in a poundland bag, he lost another tooth today and that is worth 50p.  He has also remembered that he kept getting the 1p pieces from father and has developed a burning desire to cash in the pennies.

Another bright side is that now I have decided to abandon the cross stitch horse in this form, I have a brilliant excuse to start another project and that always cheers me up!  Things could be a lot worse.

Saturday 18 January 2014

More Writing

I've been to the writing gym this morning and written this if you fancy reading it.

And the car has broken down again.


I don't have that much concentration these days, partly because I have less chances to develop it than you would think.

For example, I love my cross stitch.  I started with this...

I am quite enjoying it, but I don't get that many chances.  Last night I realised that I had got one of the strands of the mane really, really wrong.  I also realised that it was the night that father saw that I was cross stitching and randomly handed me pictures of the Isle of Wight.  They were lovely pictures, but I should have been realistic and put away my cross stitch.  I was enjoying it, though!  And he never even said, 'Do you want to see some pictures?'  I just got them handed to me mid stitch.  Sigh.  

I have never even tried to stitch around bear, who is now at the advanced age of seven and still quite keen on mum's attention being on him.  I can live with that.  In a few years I will be lucky to get a grunt out of him. 

So now I have a badly stitched quarter done cross stitch.  It would be extremely difficult to unpick and it would definitely leave a mark on the fabric.  The hoarder in me says I should save it, work around it, see what happens.  I am finding it less than fun and while it might be worth while saving the pattern for later, I can't see how writing off the £7.50 for the fabric and bit of thread I have used will hurt - and I would be without the clutter.  This is important.  I have got rid of around 20 kilos of clothing, rags and misc textiles to various places over the last fortnight and there is a good chance I will be able to do the same again by the end of the month.  I don't want to keep stuff.

That's the problem with being a hoarder.  It is a different way of looking at the world, I swear.  I can hear a little voice in my head saying, 'but you could trim the fabric from where the stitching was and use it for bookmarks.'

This is not a bad idea.  There are loads of free bookmark patterns around, I have plenty of threads from old projects and it wouldn't be much effort.  Except I hardly ever do anything these days except from kits, I don't want to add more stuff on the 'to do' list, and I don't want another dead weight of an 'ought' that I have failed to do to hang around my neck.  I 'ought' to avoid waste and use up trimmings, but I end up with a huge pile of stuff that 'might come in useful' and a feeling of failure every time I see them because I haven't used them up.  And I don't have that much time to use them up because I am still trying to spend enough time on my writing (epic fail so far this month).  

I have just broken off and on my Google calendar I have added a date six months away.  I am going to trim down the fabric and keep the chart, throwing away the stuff done in error.  If I haven't done the bookmarks in six months I am either donating or throwing away the fabric.  That has lead to a great feeling of relief. 

I think I'll dig out one of my half done sweaters for when father is around.  That is a lot easier to do without too much concentration.  

Friday 17 January 2014

Ebay isn't really my friend

This is what 450 Christmas cards look like.  Oops.

It is a really heavy box, about the size of a box of A4 copier paper and I staggered in with it.  They all look really good quality, so I am happy.  I am not only happy, I am good for Christmas cards for at least ten years - and I forgot to send any this year.

All I can say is that I got them at an extremely reasonable amount.  All I need to do is find a good place to stash them.

Thursday 16 January 2014

Bear Economics

Bear has been watching a lot of YouTube videos.  I have reluctantly been watching them as well because my attitude to parental control it to actually watch what he is watching.  So I have watched far more minecraft and nerf gun rubbish than I ever want to.  Bear's current favourite is called Stampy who is apparently a cat who has the cheery, upbeat personality of a children's television present and also has squeaky clean story lines.  I ought to be relieved.  

Of course bear now wants to have a go at making his own YouTube videos.  To do that, according to him, he would need a camera and a microphone.  Neither DH or me feel comfortable about that, at least not for now, so we have said that bear would need to save up his £3.50 per week pocket money to get them.  I have no idea how much they are, but I am not going to rush to get a good deal on them.  It is as good a way as any at stalling this.

Bear is also still obsessed about nerf guns, which, to be far, are lovely and complicated and great for little boys.  He really, really, really wants the MegaCenturion nerf gun.  I took this image from the official site.

It is @ £50.  That is a lot on £3.50 per week when things like birthday presents also have to be saved for.  If uncle or father don't just hand over the cash bear may learn something.  I'm keeping a close eye on them.  

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Kitchen Ideas

I have not been having a good day (see post below) and when not only managed to smash six eggs but then found that the lovely, expensive chicken that I had cooked yesterday and so carefully tested for being well cooked was not so well cooked after all - in fact all the juices that had previously run so clear were jellied into a very suspicious pink colour - I decided I had to do something.

So I took a cupboard door off its hinges.

This particular door has never opened fully as the washing machine is just that bit too forward to let it fully open.  This is a nuisance as the cupboard extends to one side and there is a teapot in there that I haven't been able to reach since 1997.  The cupboard is on its last legs anyway, I think the frame would disintegrate with just a hard stare, but I took the door off so that I could get in and out easily.  Fortunately the worktop seems sturdy enough still.

A lot of the cupboards currently need replacing.  They were not new when we bought the house in 1994.  I had to do the sink unit a few years ago, as the chipboard was collapsing.  If money, mental energy and time were no object I could strip it all down to the brick.  I don't have time, mental energy or any money to spare for this so I can certainly move on to a more realistic holding plan.

I can make an argument for all the base units being replaced.  I plan to do them one by one, and not necessarily like for like.  The cupboard that collapsed I think I will replace with a unit, but the one I just took the door off I think I will replace with a butcher's block type thing.  I will be looking at second hand kitchen units.  I can't risk putting up shelves on the iffy walls so I may look for those taller, free standing kitchen cupboards.

Next month I shall replace the cupboard that has just had a shelf collapse.  Then I will take it from there.  I feel quietly confident that I will get there one day.

Another bad Wednesday

Wednesdays aren't looking good for me.  Monday and Tuesday this week were quite successful in a lot of ways, I got some things done, kept optimistic and generally felt good about myself.  Last night it started to go a bit iffy, the stopcock started dripping.

Our house is not standard, and our stopcock is actually over the door into the dining room, so I was quite surprised to be dripped on last night when I was making dinner (actually DH fried the fish, but I did everything else).  There were a few drips but nothing serious, and it has stopped.  The screw in the middle looks a bit rusty, so it could be an actual leak or it could be condensation.  There wasn't that much damp in the air but it is a very cold pipe next to the cooker so I suppose it would be a realistic place for damp or steam to condense.  As it isn't currently dripping I am planning to watch carefully and possibly call out a plumber next month just in case.

This morning I got a call from the hospital.  They are having a discharge meeting for uncle next Wednesday, and uncle is deemed to have capacity.  That means that he can make decisions about where he can go.  He has decided he is coming to live with me.  I have told him that he can't.  Yesterday I spent twenty minutes telling him he couldn't come to live with us because there isn't any room and he couldn't manage the stairs.  This morning he told the hospital staff he was definitely coming to live with me.  So next Wednesday I am going to have to travel by train to Wrexham (looking at four hours each way) to repeat that he can't come and live with me because space/stairs, leaving bear in out of hours club, hoping DH can get home in time to pick him up, and listen to whichever bad idea uncle is going to come out with before travelling back across the Pennines on the trains at rush hour.  I don't expect much change from £100 counting it all in - and that's taking my own sandwiches.  If I thought it was of value I would be there without hesitation, but I am convinced that last time he came out he forced a crisis to try and get one of us to live with him to look after him and I believe he is quite capable of doing the same again.  He has capacity, he can refuse carers.  He is allowed to make stupid decisions.

I keep going over and over in my mind how it could work if he were here, but it just can't.  I just can't think of a way we could manage.  I've been looking into stair lifts and our layout makes it impossible, there are steep steps into the house, and there is just no room.  And while I can complain about it, poor uncle is desperate to be looked after by family, frightened of the future and clinging on to what he knows.

Then when I went downstairs to make a nice cup of tea, the slug proof kettle wasn't working.  I didn't feel brilliant about that, but it gave me the excuse to get out, get into town for the new kettle and at least try not to worry.

Tuesday 14 January 2014


A shelf in a kitchen cupboard has collapsed.  This isn't the first time, and I doubt it will be the last.  However while I was pulling out all the stuff in the laundry cupboard I realised that the upper shelf there was looking very saggy.  The shelf that collapsed has done that on a regular basis and I used to keep cat food in it as it didn't matter quite so much if it tilted and everything fell off.  I haven't yet had the courage to go and investigate what has happened to the ketchup and brown sauce stash that was in the cupboard, but I'm fairly confident that they will be fine.

The trouble is, my kitchen actually does need replacing.  The doors are sagging, the shelves are looking doubtful and the backs of some of the cupboards have crumbled with the damp.  It needs to be hacked back to the brick and started again.  Actually it could have done with this any time in the last ten years.

I can't afford to do it.

I am going to have to have a think about this.  I have no DIY skills, and not much get up and go.  I have limited energy reserves and a lot going on.  Uncle is sounding better every day, but father is still exhausted from everything he did on Saturday.  The kitchen is stuffed with 'stuff'.  I threw out three bin sacks full today before I found the collapsed shelf but really there is a lot that could just do with using up.  I was planning on a complete reorganisation anyway.

How do you eat an elephant - one bite at a time.  I can manage this.


When my mother had a twin tub she could do a week's washing in a morning.  There was a real science to it.  First of all the whites for the hot wash, then the whites for a cooler wash, then the coloureds, all in the same tub of water one after the other.  Then the water was changed and it was sheets followed by underwear followed by towels.  If you have never had a twin tub, there is one side with a tub which you fill with water and which will agitate the clothes.  When the clothes are clean then they are put in the spinner next to the wash tub.  All the dirty water is spun out then clean water is added to the spinner.  When that is spun out and looking clean then the clothes could be hung up.  The spinner was really fierce so the clothes were pretty dry when they came out.  However because you could do things like put the next lot in to wash while you were spinning the first lot, and because you could put things in for a very brief 'swish' just to freshen up the barely worn stuff you could really get a fast through put of clothes.  There was also a lot more control and there is no doubt there were better results.

I was thinking about this today as I cleared out my laundry cupboard.  Some of the stuff was what my mother would expect.  I have a jar full of biotex, which is excellent for stain removal, and a bar of soap.  I don't use them as much as she did, now that I usually 'bung in and walk away'.  She would not have recognised the 'colour catcher' or the 'colour run remover' as she never had that problem.  My mother had the weekly wash down to a science.  I don't do too bad.  However just as I was putting the box away I noticed that the blue towel still isn't colour fast and now some of the nice microfibre tea towels will be turquoise for ever more.

At least I don't have to stand over them and rinse.

Monday 13 January 2014

Path in the Woods

I've just been to my equivalent of the writer's gym and took part in the Write on Edge Writer's Challenge, my entry is here and you can find Write on Edge here.  Do pop in if you have an interest.  They do a lot of work to encourage writers and my pal Tom Marlowe was published in their anthology - I was so pleased for him!

I took the challenge to write 500 words about this picture

To be honest, I don't need much to set me off, I seem to be in a perpetual daydream of ideas anyway, but it is such good discipline to keep a story down to 500 words.  I may go back and write a proper story about it later.

Uncle is sounding so much better, almost back to his old self.  Of course, he is still awkward and eccentric, but I am used to that and I am so glad that he has got himself back.

Online Test

I am quite sceptical about online tests.  When I suspected that bear was colour blind I first tested him on the computer, but then I went to the opticians and had a proper test done by someone qualified.  It's around thirty years since I bothered with those 'Are You Compatible' type tests where  you score yourself on how many a's, b's or c's you got.  Today, however, I glanced at a test shown in the Daily Mail here about a test for Alzheimer's.

It is supposed to be a test to see if any symptoms are progressing.  You have five questions and they seem fairly straightforward.  I was okay with most of them though I did initially think that the picture of a pretzel was a reef knot, but one has baffled me.

'How are a hammer and a corkscrew similar?  Write down how they are alike.'

I am baffled.  A hammer bangs nails into wood.  A corkscrew pulls corks out of bottles.  It's like one of those essay questions I was hit with at A level, writing five thousand words about a fourteen line sonnet.  It's a challenge.

Okay, a hammer bangs nails into wood and a corkscrew doesn't.  Hmm.  But a claw hammer can pull nails out of wood if they haven't been knocked in too far.  Perhaps that is a clue - if you don't have a lump hammer or a toffee hammer or a mallet but instead are holding a claw hammer then perhaps you can pull things out with both a hammer and a corkscrew.  Of course, if you hit the bottle with a hammer then you would be able to get the wine out.  It may just sort of splash everywhere, but the wine would be out of the bottle.  So both could be used to get wine out of a bottle and I think there is something where you push the cork into a bottle and get the wine out that way and a hammer may be useful there.

Going back thirty years to my student days, let's take it a bit further.  A hammer and a corkscrew are both tools, but then so is a screwdriver.  I would have thought a corkscrew and a screwdriver would have more in common, but then I am not expert in testing for Alzheimer's.  They are both made of metal, unless you count some of the rubber hammers and mallets out there.  That's something they have in common.  One is found in a tool box and one is found in the cutlery drawer, at least in my house.  I am not a wine drinker and the stuff I do drink usually has a screw cap.

I think I will go with both a hammer and a corkscrew are useful to a person who is building a bookcase and then wants to relax with a glass of wine.  And I'm hoping this is not the start of the slippery slope.

All images from

Sunday 12 January 2014

Bear and Money

Bear had a marvellous time at his party, and came home with a shedload of presents plus £40 in cash.  He already had a large stash of cash from Christmas that I hadn't intercepted and put into his bank account, and some left over from my over generous allowance during the summer.  Bear is desperate to add to his stash of nerf guns which seems to be an ultimate boy's gadget.

I had a discussion with DH and we came to the following agreement.  Bear is going to get pocket money every Friday.  He is getting one pound for every year of his age, that is, £7 per Friday.  However half of that has to go into his savings account and then he gets £3.50 in his hand.  He can, of course, buy treats for himself with that money, but he also now has to buy presents for immediate family from it.  I anticipate many trips to the Pound shop.  However I think it is an important principle.  He has a fixed amount of money coming in, and he has treats he wants to buy, and he has things he has to buy for the family.

DH has set up a calendar on his computer and every Friday we can look forward to what is coming up and what he will need his money for.  I'll probably top it up a tiny bit (but less than last year) when it comes to the summer holidays for visits to the charity shops, and bear can make his own decisions.

It is a lot of money, and I was considering a lot less.  However I am going to be getting stricter and stricter about what I expect him to get from that money.  I am a bit worried that the generosity of father and uncle will sabotage this a bit, but all I can do is try and get a rhythm and habit of financial planning into bear.  I know I would have benefited from this.

Saturday 11 January 2014

Party Over

I forgot to take photos.

The kids had an amazing time!

Bear got some great presents.

I am on my knees with exhaustion and I hardly did anything.

It was epic

I also want to recommend Sublime Science.  They come with massive promises of it being amazing.  If you click on the link you will see big letters telling you how fantastic it is.  They understate it.  It was the best thing ever, bear was made to feel extremely special and in general had a marvellous time.  They made their own sweets and slime, had a blast firing off a rocket and blew smoke rings all round the hall.

It was not inexpensive, but I had already decided that the next party I throw for bear is his eighteenth.  Until then it is variations on a few friends to the pictures.

Bear is about to crash smugly into bed.  I will not be much longer awake.  It was worth it.

Friday 10 January 2014

Party bags

I think I wrote early that I bought some inexpensive party bags with a Doctor Who theme - and the sweets were eighteen months out of date!  It would have been uneconomic to return them (grumble, grumble, grumble) so I have just decanted two dozen party bags, thrown the sweets away, slipped the contents into small blue bags that I ended up purchasing (grumble, grumble, grumble), and bear helped by slipping in the mini bubbles and blowers in.  Just the sweeties from the delivery to add tomorrow.

Please, please, please let the delivery come complete tomorrow.  I am not even doing sandwiches - I never knew a child that liked sandwiches.  It is all bitty stuff, sausages and pizza slices and stuff.  I've included grapes and carrot sticks but I am under no illusions that they will go first.

Poor DH has got a packed programme tomorrow.  Now we have the car back he will be leaving at @ 10am, going to drop off the 'we buy your clothes' stuff, then to the tip, then pick up the furniture we bought last week, then back to the house.  I don't want to ask him to do a supermarket run as well, but we are desperate to get stuff out of the house as we can, so it is a sanity call getting rid.  He has already visited the charity shop.  Next weekend will probably be much of the same.

Regardless, I have found the Dalek bunting, the Dalek cups and plates and the Dalek straws.  We will be taking Mrs Dalek down and along to the hall and lots of people have replied.  Family are recruited, I spoke to the entertainer five minutes ago.  All should be fine (I have my fingers so crossed they are nearly in a knot).   It starts at 2.30.

Hopefully tomorrow will include photos.

Thursday 9 January 2014

Talking about the weather

I joked during 2012 that not only could the UK be proud of the Olympics, Tour de France win, tennis, Jubilee and all the wonderful things that went with those, but we even had our favourite topic, truly awful weather.  I know that people outside the UK read this blog and yes, we do talk about the weather that much.  It is the prime topic at bus stops and in corner shops and always a starter with the neighbour before discussing any juicy gossip or whose cat has been digging up the garden.

Those of us in the UK will talk about the weather because while we have a temperate climate with few extremes, it is always changing.  Apparently the only county with comparable systems is Japan - a small island between a continental landmass and a large ocean.  I went on holiday in May once and during the week we had snow and hot sun that gave me sunburn.  It is a very changeable situation, though usually without extremes.  I follow the weather forecasts and a few weather sites with interest, and try to insist that bear lets me watch the evening weather forecast each night.

The last few weeks have been unusual.  Talking about the weather and wondering if it's worth putting out washing on a line is one thing.  The awful damage that has been done is another.  Peoples homes have been flooded, there has been disruption and damage to transport and some parts of the coast will never be the same again.  I remember seeing a picture of this rock and marvelling at erosion and the way nature makes her own sculptures.

I got this picture from the Independent.  I remember seeing the arch and thinking that bear's grandchildren would probably see it fall.  I didn't expect to see it fall so soon or so dramatically in one great storm.

Here is not so bad.  The beck is full, but not flooding.

There hasn't been much storm damage either, though I noticed a few branches and trees down in Roundhay Park over Christmas.  I feel very lucky.  I cannot imagine how soul destroying it must be cleaning up after a flood.  

And this is very small change compared to the icy conditions over in North America.  I don't know how anyone is managing, how the vulnerable and the homeless will survive and what effect it will be having on the livelihood of so many.  I have read that even Florida has been affected, and that shocked me.  

I feel very lucky and very grateful that I am not so affected.  I will be watching the weather even closer now.  

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Wobbly Wednesday

I overslept!  I must have hit 'Off' instead of 'Snooze' and had a very enjoyable dream about a wedding reception but I didn't realise until bear banged the bathroom door at 8.06!  I jumped straight out of bed and fell over.

I think the cold that has been rattling around since November has found my ears.  At one point I was considering asking next door to take bear in as I was having to hold on to things.  I kept getting the giggles as well because it was just silly the way I kept losing my balance.  I can imagine what I would have looked like in the playground, swaying and giggling at 8.55am!  I managed to compose myself and at least had the benefit of seeing a gorgeous rainbow this morning.

This isn't an actual photo of this morning but a picture from as I couldn't stay steady enough to take a photo.

I did manage to get bear to school with a breakfast inside him, thank goodness. Bear has decided that one leg is longer than the other and the ensuing agony means that he should be let off school.  I haven't had the mental strength this week to do anything sensible about this, especially as the agony doesn't seem to show when he is hurtling around with his friends or tearing up and down after treats.  I am sticking to, 'Oh dear, never mind, be brave and you'll feel better at school'.  I think bear is a bit disgusted by my lack of maternal instincts to keep him off school and playing on his new computer.  

So at the moment I am having an interesting time with my balance and wondering how on earth I am going to do everything that I need to do today.  I suppose I really ought to consider the doctor, but it is almost certainly viral and could well go on its own so I am going to stall on that one unless it gets a lot worse.

I'm actually looking forward to a day of swaying, giggling and falling over.  All without the benefit of Cointreau.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Father and Alcohol - again!

Father likes a drink.  He is 82 and I don't feel I have any right to try and stop his consumption.  He is in pretty good shape and getting around quite well after his stroke in September.  He's out tonight at the Jazz Club where he will have four or five doubles and come rolling home. I am fine with this.

I suspect that father knows that his consumption is a bit high, and so it makes life a lot easier if everyone else is drinking, because if everyone else is drinking, then it can't be that bad - right?  At the weekend he and DH took on a bottle of Black Grouse and came second.  He is always encouraging DH to have a whisky, and it seems churlish to say no, so DH has now got a (actually quite reasonable and sensible) whisky habit.  Last night he was encouraging DH to keep drinking while I had another glass or two of that vile Amaretto.  Actually I'm sure it is very nice to those who like it but the 'mugged by Christmas Cake' feeling is a bit off-putting.

The only reason I have been asked to drink Amaretto is that father doesn't like it and can't bear it to go to waste.  However father has worked out that I quite like Cointreau but I haven't been getting any in as it seems quite a lot of money to spend on something that you just drink.  I may as well have a cup of tea.  Father does not agree with this.  He think alcohol is something that should be embraced.  He keeps buying me bottles of Cointreau.

I already had two unopened bottles of the stuff in the cupboard, plus one with a few drinks out of when he comes in with another bottle of the stuff and an enormous box of Maltesers (yes I want to lose weight, and he knows this but bear will help me out here).

I may have to smuggle some out and donate if this carries on.

Monday 6 January 2014

Looking for the Positives

I'm struggling a bit.  I tried to phone uncle after picking up bear from school as I want to make it a regular, predictable thing while he is in hospital.  However uncle was having a scan which the hospital can't discuss with me, so I had to ring back.  Five minutes in to the second call bear was having a meltdown over his homework (postponed earlier because of the planned time of call) and I had to hang up - there were words!  Poor uncle, when I tried to ring back I couldn't get through.

Today has been another thing punctuated by being called away from tasks by from this and that and I feel like I have achieved less than a quarter of what I needed, what with one thing and another.  I made a mess of the market delivery and the fish I had planned to cook tonight wasn't available due to weather - and I perfectly understand.  If I was a fisherman there is no way on this planet that I would take a boat out in this weather.

I then got sidetracked by bear so there isn't really time for my fall back either.  It is looking like mince and mash for dinner, which is tasty if slightly uninspired.  It is certainly a night for it!

There are chinks of light.  The rental of the hall where bear's party is has come in at remarkably less than I feared, mainly due to father's ability to charm the ladies on the committee.  The car is coming in at 'only' £135 plus the same again for a service.

When all is said and done, the nights are getting shorter.  They may still be long, but they are officially getting shorter and that has to be worth something.  I have also had brandy butter on toast today and that has definitely been a bright spot.

Sunday 5 January 2014

Approved Food - I succumbed!

I succumbed to Approved Food.  The shopping list now looks like :-

10 bottles of Maggi sauce (nearly ordered double this!)
4 Dove deodorants (I don't usually treat myself to these)
4 x 1200g Tilda long grain rice
2 packets of Colour Run sheets
5 packets for Cod in Cream Sauce (for bear)

Plus the £5.25 for postage came to a total of £26.27, which is probably the smallest order I have ever placed.

I avoided a lot of things that I could do with, but didn't absolutely need, avoided sweeties and generally was quite restrained for what was essentially a treat order.  While I did splash out, at least I didn't splash out too much.  I need to try and remember this, after all, I have just spent £75 on furniture that I could have managed without (but really, really, really wanted to make my life easier) and the bills for the car and bear's party are looming.

I saved around 52% if I remember (father doesn't think I should be doing anything on the computer and keeps interrupting) and I can make a good argument for saving 100% but this is one time when I am really looking forward to the treat.

Bear finds a Treasure

I want a new kitchen table.  Actually I want a 'new' kitchen table.  I have a large round table in the middle of my kitchen and to be honest it isn't helpful.  I thought I would get a smaller, oblong table, big enough to peel potatoes at and to put against the one free wall (next to the radiator, I don't know exactly how I am going to work that) against two power points which I could use for the kettle.  I used to have the kettle where the dishwasher is now, and it has never really found a happy home since the dishwasher came.

So I went down to a sort of flea market type place, filled to the brim with the results of house clearances.  There was some amazing stuff, I could have filled the house three times over.  However I walked away with a small drop leaf table (which will go through the door) which is exactly the right small size and a very small chest of drawers that will be perfect for keeping the gloves, hats, scarves etc next to the coat rack in a forlorn hope that they will not get lost.  That came to a total of £75.

These are photos taken at the place - which was so stuffed with good stuff that I could hardly get around!

However bear came away the happiest.  He managed to find an original 1965 Doctor Who Annual, the very first every produced and my father got it for him - £20 and the happiest bear in the world!  It seems a lot of money, but bear is cherishing it and it is something that, handled with care, is likely to appreciate in value.

We'll probably call back, there are a few bits we could do with but no hurry.  I want to try and not spend for a little while - ebay and Approved Food permitting.  

Saturday 4 January 2014

Start as you mean to go on

Please let the year not follow this pattern.  I am now awaiting the delivery of 450 Christmas Cards at an extremely good price.  I bid for them on ebay under the influence of stupidity, I have no excuse.  Not even the extremely reasonable price including delivery for very good quality.  I just have no idea where I will even store them.  I only use about twenty a year.  Father and bear will use a few, but even so.

Mind you, it could be worse.  I nearly ended up with 700.

Happy Christmas 2014, 2015, 2016...

Doing Sums

I have now unsubscribed from Approved Food's emails.  However the last one has caused me to ask some careful questions.

They had/have a deal on Maggi sauce.  It's an acquired taste that I acquired from uncle, and I really like it.  It isn't always easy to get hold of either.  I would save 50p per bottle, so I would need to order 11 to break even on the postage.  It doesn't go off, has an expiry date of December 2014 and I would easily get through 20 bottles before then, or nearly.

I really don't want to get any more food, my kitchen is beyond stuffed.  I don't want to spend too much either as we have a car in the garage.  On the other hand, it is an amazing bargain.  If I hadn't heard about it I would be happily not worrying and paying @ £1 per bottle and not stressing.  It's what caused me to unsubscribe to their emails.

I can't find the amount of a minimum order, but I think it is around £15.  I saw a few bits and pieces that I can't easily pick up locally, like a colour magnet to go in with the washing and such like, that can easily  take it up to £15 and save more than the postage.  But I am not sure I have places to put it.

I shall walk away until tomorrow morning, and if they still have any Maggi in stock then I shall see exactly how much I can get for £15 while still saving more than the postage and only getting things I want to use or that I have space for.  If I do get anything, I'll share.

Bear is looking smart

When left to himself, bear does dress himself well.  He has very clear views about what he likes to wear.  He likes shirts and not t-shirts, he prefers jackets to sweaters and loves waistcoats.

On Boxing Day I wandered into Matalan for the sale and bought bear some clothes for him to grow into next autumn, including the coat I am planning him to wear next winter.  It is lovely, waterproof, well padded and £10.  There wasn't much else there but I picked up a couple of shirts and a pack of three t-shirts as bear has grown out of all of his.

I need to find a better place to stash stuff for later.  Bear is currently wearing the red and black checked shirt I bought for next year together with the black cargo pants that were half price in Morrisons on 29th December but the right size and a tie that came with the outfit he got for the school disco.  He looks sharp, and he put the outfit together himself.  The shirt is a bit big, but less than you would think and looks pretty good on him.  It will be in rags by the time he fits into it properly.  Mind you, I don't think bear has ever had to wear clothes too small in his life - he is blessed, and I know it if he doesn't.

He could probably do with another pair of jeans, which I will hold off on for as long as possible, and possibly a shirt in his current size but I'll hold fire on that as well.  What I will shop for on ebay is a summer jacket for him.  He has just gone to visit his auntie and is wearing a leather look bomber jacket that is padded and looks pretty good on him (though I am a doting mum and I am biased).  That jacket is looking a bit small, and I think the best time to pick up a summer jacket for him will be when people are clearing out their wardrobes after New Year's Resolutions and I may pick up a bargain then.  I am definitely holding out for a bargain!  He doesn't need a rain jacket as last year's will do him, but a denim/leather look/canvas/slightly padded or lined type thing good for cool late spring, early autumn or foul weather in summer would be helpful.  If I don't see a bargain I won't bother.

I'm not looking for me, I have a very nice jacket from last year.  It should do me forever, really, and it is far more fun shopping for bear.

Friday 3 January 2014

Welcome to January

The car has broken down.  We have just taken out an insurance that may cover repairs, but Nice Mr Next Door hasn't updated the thingy with a stamp to say it has been properly serviced - is it a logbook?  I have no idea.  This may stop us claiming.

It was quite scary, we were about to turn into the cinema car park and suddenly there was all this steam billowing out of the bonnet.  Apparently a hose of some sort has gone, or possibly a gasket.  I could cry.

I just want to hide away from the escalating bills.  Bear's party is coming up, and that has been factored in to what I expect, but not a garage bill.  We have savings, but they are going down and not up.  It almost certainly looks like we will not be able to get over to visit uncle and he is crying and saying his family aren't caring.  It doesn't help that he can't remember the visits we have made.

Moving on from the pity party, the cake is here and is amazing.


I just have the party bags to worry about, and that's all under control.  I just wish I could visit uncle.  To be fair, it was looking difficult before the car broke down.  I'll just have to see what else I can do.  


My kitchen is full of food, really, really full.  Part of the problem is that the cupboards are very damp so I am careful what I put in there but actually in the aftermath of Christmas there are heaps and piles and stacks of food.  I got a vast Approved Food order, apparently I saved just over £297 (cost £66 something) and the kitchen is piled with breadsticks and jaffa cakes.  It won't go to waste but it may take a while to use up.  This isn't a bad thing.

I have just ordered a pack of meat from Market Delivered.  I am a bit worried about this, actually.  I really need to think about stuff before I press 'buy'.  I am getting 2lb mince, 2lb pork chops 11/2lb of braising steak, 2lb joint of silverside (lovely in the slow cooker), 4 chicken legs and 4 burgers for £30 and I would expect to get 9 from that.  The link is here.

I have fish coming on the same order.  The fishmongers on the same site do a very nice natural smoked haddock that goes lovely in kedgeree.  It isn't inexpensive, but it is lovely.  That will be used up on the day of delivery.

The problem is that my freezer is also full, very, very full.  I am hoping against hope that I'll be able to squeeze it all in.  Irritatingly the freezer is full of stuff that is there to fall back on - one of the best uses of the freezer.  There is frozen veg, some burgers I can cook from frozen and fishfingers.  I would utterly fail without fishfingers.  There is also box after box of frozen pizza.  This is from the time bear was taking a packed lunch and was condescending to eat cold pizza slices.  Now he is on school dinners (and staying there as long as I can convince him) they are not likely to get eaten apart from an occasional after school snack.  I can't eat them, DH can't eat them and father isn't keen.  They are being used up for bear's birthday party but that isn't until after the meat delivery and so I am going to have to cram it all in to the freezer and hope for the best.

This morning DH asked bear about breakfast.  I could have cried.  The kitchen is groaning at the seams and for the first time in eighteen months he asks for rice krispies.  We haven't got any.  How about cornflakes?  We are out of those as well, as bear hasn't touched them throughout 2013.  Bear did his best impression of a deprived orphan.  How about weetabix?  He had the last weetabix in the house.  At least it was comparatively healthy.

I keep failing in bear's provisioning.  I find myself asking questions like, 'what do you mean, you want ginger biscuits?  We never have ginger biscuits? When did you actually eat a ginger biscuit?  And what do you mean that the cheese isn't like when you visit my brother - it's exactly the same in a different location."

Bear is going to remember growing up in a house where there was never any food in.

Thursday 2 January 2014

Bear has had a Christmas and a Birthday

'Ask and ye shall recieve' Matthew 7:7 - bear asked everyone for nerf guns and was devastated at the lack of response.  He had made a list which I had scanned and emailed to Santa and he had researched it all on the internet and was very, very clear about in what order he would try them.  He has spent ridiculous amounts of time watching nerf gun videos on YouTube and generally got very enthusiastic.  He was quite cross that Santa hadn't paid attention to the list and is now working out how to get hold of the missing items.  He also has a full satchel of ammo that he was testing at daft o'clock this morning.

He has carefully counted his pocket money and is planning an expedition to a toyshop - and bear normally regards shopping as unalloyed torture.  To put it into context, here is the haul that he managed to acquire from indulgent parents, aunty, uncle and grandfather over Christmas, birthday and I think he had two before.

They are something of a step up since the toy guns when I was young which you pulled a trigger and they went 'clack' - if you were lucky.  These are super dooper with bits and things and attachments and all the goodies to delight a young lad.  I have no idea.  I am sure I will learn.  I am making bear wait for any more.  He is getting a bit too spoiled.

Wednesday 1 January 2014


Some kind soul gave father a bottle of Amaretto for Christmas.  This is not his favourite tipple.  He tries to stick to Famous Grouse, will drink as much Black Grouse as he can get his hands on and is quite keen on the Naked Grouse.  He doesn't have a sweet tooth and he isn't keen on marzipan.  Amaretto is a marzipan drink.

This gift has really affected father.  First of all he can't bear the thought of alcohol going to waste.  If he twigged to the half bottle of ginger vodka in the kitchen (epic fail by me, it is horrific and currently reserved for cleaning purposes) then he would want to see it drunk.  He sees a full bottle as a challenge and a duty.  I am exaggerating a little bit, but less than you would think.  Besides, he is 82.  I think he is old enough to know his limits.

The second problem is that he couldn't bring himself to drink liqueurs.  Something sweet and 14% is really not him.  He couldn't do it.  However he knows I like sweeter drinks, and I do usually like the lower alcohol liqueurs to drink neat so this is obviously ideal for me to drink.  He put the bottle pointedly next to my chair.

I am actually not much of a drinker.  Before father came to live with us I would have a drink once or twice a year.  When father moved in it climbed to me having a drink once or twice a month.  The last month or so has seen it get worryingly close to once or twice a week and it isn't really me.  Father found I liked Cointreau and on Christmas Day I had four bottles lined up for me.  These have been moved out of the way and the bottle of Amaretto has been edged closer and closer.  It is a full litre bottle as well, and it is starting to loom.

Father has also started to hint, asking whether I needed a glass, did I need a drink, this Amaretto looks nice...  So last night, New Year's Eve, I started on the Amaretto.

The stuff is foul.  It is far too sweet for me, and it feels like I have just eaten four boxes of marzipan fruits.  I think I have overdosed on almonds.  I managed far too much and woke up feeling like I had been mugged by the topping from a Christmas Cake while father and DH were still quite fresh despite the bottle of Black Grouse they shared.

I know that father will still want the bottle drunk and would be devastated if I didn't work my way through the syrupy stuff, but I think every night I will wait until father is nearly on his way to bed and pour myself a measure of the vile stuff as a nightcap.  Then I can safely pour that measure down the sink and I hope it cleans the drains.  The bottle can't last for ever.

Image from Aldi, the apparent source of the problem

Please let father not buy me a bottle for myself.

New Year, New Me?

It is going to be the same old Sybil crashing from housewifery to father to uncle with bear causing his usual charming trouble.

I am, however, going to work on the writing.  So if you have read any of my books, and only if you like them, please recommend them.  I am going to try and get a better book out.  I am also going to try writing challenges (the writing equivalent of hitting the gym) and I will be posting regularly on Lyssa Medana's official blog, which is desperately neglected, Lyssa Medana's facebook page and Lyssa Medana's Twitter account.

All the housewifery will stay on here, and anything generally interesting will be posted here as well as other places.  This blog will not be neglected, but it may get duplicated.

And I consider anyone reading this blog as being incredibly kind and paying me a wonderful compliment.  This year, I hope, you will have plenty of fun things to read, some possibly useful ideas and no doubt a lot of ups and downs - as that is life.  Thank you.


I just want to say a Happy New Year to all those kind enough to read my blog and I wish you health, wealth and happiness.  May 2014 be kind and gentle.