Monday 30 June 2014

Muddling Monday

I feel unreasonably fed up.  There is no reason to be grumpy about anything, just the little niggles but I think it is the way I am reacting to them that is the problem.  I drank a load of cheap fizz I got in to see if it would stand for 7up (it doesn't) and that hasn't helped.  Another thing that is driving me mad is that the symbols and numbers on my keyboard are only working intermittently and currently not working well at all.  To get the brackets in the last but one sentence I had to go to word, insert symbol, copy and paste and that has completely messed up the font on here.  Grumble, grumble and more grumble.  It is a nuisance as I need to be writing and I need my exclamation marks, but it is very minor in the scheme of things. 

On the bright side, bear took part in a tournament yesterday and came fourth out of twelve.  I am so proud of him.  It's not the fourth place - yes I would be gloating if he was first, but his attitude.  When he was fighting for bronze he took a real wallop to the head as the first contact and the ref did check that he was okay to continue.  Of course he was wearing the head guard and such, and it left no mark or even a headache, but my little bear kept going.  He is getting a treat as a reward.  He is also getting a reward for being in the school's special book for using advanced vocabulary.  Given some of the stuff he has been watching on YouTube, I was quite relived when the word was something like 'exemplary' and not 'exponential' or 'logistics'.  

However this morning bear was putting on another Oscar winning performance saying that he was completely unable to move to the bathroom to wash his face let alone manage the hundreds of yards to school due to a completely different bruise.  He ran into a wall.  All I can say is that if it had been an inch or two higher I think I would have gone to A[insert character &]E to check for ribs.  It is just under there and a cracking bruise.  His knees look like they have been sandpapered.  Now a particular set of neighbours has moved out I can let him out without worrying and I let him go for it.  I am getting quite blasé {there are some uses for insert character after all} about saying, 'okay, let me look at it, can you move it, hold still, look at me, okay, let's sit still for a second... okay you want to go out again - fine!'

I got in a few small packs of haribos.  They are evaporating.  I think it is brilliant.  And counting my blessings {and thinking about bear} has cheered me up enough to get me back to the ironing. 

Saturday 28 June 2014

Another milestone

I am on my last roll of kitchen roll.  This is a strange feeling for me as I bought a massive amount as a big package from Makro, I think last year.  It was certainly a while ago and the dozens of rolls have been taking up far too much space.  However it has finally reached the end.  I have put two rolls on the order for next week from Tesco.

I don't get through much kitchen roll.  I either use a cloth or a piece of torn up newspaper.  Now we have a deep fat fryer (to my deep misgivings) I suppose I will get through some more kitchen roll as I will be draining stuff.  As it is I think I will miss the huge pile of disposable paper in the corner of the walk in cupboard - though I won't miss it enough to replace it!

It's a Tesco order this week as I am not getting anywhere near to spending the £40 I need for Morrisons, although that may be different when the school holiday starts.  Having a dozen kids in and out means that the treats will be raided that bit more.  I plan to stock up on extremely cheap haribo and ice pops.  I am looking forward to the kids to be honest.  This week I am chasing the best deal for 7up, as that is what father likes with his whisky.

I may have a look at some different drinks for me.  I feel like I ought to like herbal teas, but I don't really and I am starting to get bad reactions to drinking tea.  I need to cut back on my caffeine so nothing caffeinated and I don't want anything fattening.  Milk is out, coffee doesn't agree with me (plus the caffeine issues) and I'm looking sadly at value squash.  To father's utter horror I may have to give up alcohol, at least for the short term.  I tried some honeycomb vodka (from Fuze) and it tasted absolutely heavenly.  I really enjoyed it.  Unfortunately it didn't agree with me either.  I didn't have enough to make me tipsy but I had enough to give me heartburn that kept me up all night.  Sigh.  I won't miss the empty calories.

Thursday 26 June 2014

Blessedly Dull

All is currently calm.

Two doors down a family is moving in with five children.  I have made a rough estimate and I am guessing that we will have twelve or thirteen kids playing in front of the four houses.  As long as the kids are halfway okay I am fine with this.

Nice Mr Next Door has been threatened with eviction if he doesn't move his cars.  I suspect that this is the landlord's equivalent of kicking the cat as he is being forced to do repairs and proper checks.  However we would all be devastated if Nice Mr Next Door and family moved, they are all lovely and it's not like the cars are particularly in the way.

Bear is being bear.

I'm enjoying the calm while it lasts.

(btw for those in the Northern Hemisphere, the nights are starting to get longer)

Sunday 22 June 2014

Bear Chooses His Sunday Dinner

Bear is seven and one half years old.  I nervously agreed that bear was allowed to go to a shop around the back with the grandson from next door who is ten years old and very sensible.  They wouldn't be crossing a road, they would be in sight of a lot of places where people know them, it really is around 100 yards or less and the shop itself is very friendly.  I am certainly not ready for bear to be crossing the local roads.  If I feel like I am taking my life in my hands crossing the road then it is definitely not suitable for bear, not for a while!

Bear came back.  The lovely grandson from next door had shared his pocket money, and bear had come back triumphantly with... a pot noodle.  Bear went into a shop selling sweets and came home with a curry pot noodle.  I couldn't believe it.  But he was insistent that he was having that pot noodle for dinner and that was that.  I gave in.  He was going to have to eat it if he insisted and I was sick of plating up dinners that bear rejected or complained about.  As it was he emptied the pot and I breathed a sigh of relief.  It isn't ideal though.

I can picture the scene in school.  'What did you have Sunday dinner?' 'Pot noodle, miss.' 'Really, did your parents buy you that?' 'No miss, my friend bought it for me.'  'What did everyone else have?' 'Slow cooked ham in cider, chips and peas, miss.'

One day I am going to be called into school to explain myself, I really am.

Friday 20 June 2014

Elves in Iceland

The news has reached the BBC that in Iceland a road project is affected because of elves.  The story is here.  The story has been rumbling around for a while now, but it's still interesting.

I quite envy the Icelandic.  I don't believe in elves, but I do wish I did.  On the other hand, the elfen I write about in The Forgotten Village and Digging up the Past are not the sort you would want to bump into in a dark alley.

The article made a very good point about the nature of Iceland - it is tough, rocky and unforgiving.  There is a sense of the vast power of nature and that makes anyone with a flicker of imagination believe that there must be something out there.  I think there is a deep set need in the human soul to believe in that something.

Sailors were notoriously superstitious, but that is very reasonable when you are working with an unpredictable, difficult and dangerous force of nature.  There are lots of superstitions around the dairy, where the valuable milk from the farm could so easily sour or the butter not come.  There are so many superstitions around childbirth, or used to be, because it was a time when a lot was at risk and before modern medicine it was unpredictable and dangerous.

 I think superstition is a fun thing if you don't believe in it, but some people are truly traumatised if they break a mirror or walk unwittingly under a ladder.  I suspect that the superstitions are something good to cling on to when the world seems to big and too complicated.  A lot of the old ones are dying out, but I think the total remains constant.  Minecraft, a computer game, is supposed to have a ghost, the dead brother of its creator who turns up and destroys carefully built worlds.

The sad thing is that superstitions are not really that harmless.  The created superstition of the Slenderman is a good example.  A group of writers came together to create a superstition for the internet - and now some kids are trying to stab another kid to placate a fictional superstition.

Thursday 19 June 2014


After the last few years of very odd weather it is nice to see the flowers settling down.  The orange blossom along the main road is in full flower just after Whitsun which is when it normally flowers and the neglected privet at the end of the street is starting to bloom.  The local poplars are shedding their seeds so the street has a certain 'duvet has just been sick in a corner' feel with the fluffy seeds blowing everywhere.  I walked past the privet yesterday and caught the first scent and thought - Wimbledon.  The privet always blooms in time for Wimbledon apart from the last few years when to be honest it has been all over the place.

I love this time of year when the flowers are all out.

On the other hand I was sipping a very nice drink last night, drinking honeycomb infused vodka neat because it was 'only' 25% proof.  That is three and a half times as strong as the sangria I just poured down the sink (don't tell father!).  I think I am becoming a bit blase about drink.

I'll try and get a picture of the privet tomorrow, though it is still a bit green.  I love the smell of the flowers and you don't get the blossom in many places.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Lovely and Calm

I have nothing much to write about.  All is rather dull.  Uncle is lucid, father is in Devon overfeeding my brother's dog and bear now apparently has two girlfriends.  He wants me to arrange play dates over the summer with both of them probably at soft play, but not on the same day.  If he was older I would be laying down the law.  As it is I am just hoping I can look both of the girls' parents in the eye.

Bear also started a sparring class in Taekwondo.  It was the instructor's idea, and bear seemed to enjoy it a great deal.  He was paired against a black belt at one point, a lad more than twice bear's age and nearly twice his height.  The black belt was really sweet and while encouraging bear to practice properly was very gentle with him.  Though actually if bear is courting two girls even at seven years old he needs to learn how to take a punch.

Actually bear was acting the wounded warrior this morning, his leg being far too poorly to make it to school.  This was from falling in the street and not from the extremely well run Taekwondo classes.  We got about twenty yards from the house with bear limping pitifully, before realising that bear had forgotten his book bag.  Bear then did a very impressive sprint to the house, dashed in, grabbed the book bag and ran out.  He then remembered his bad leg and started limping again.

Saturday 14 June 2014

On My Own

Father is in Devon.  DH is in St Albans.  Bear is currently playing with a large quantity of children but by 8pm will be flat out in bed.  Tonight I shall be sitting downstairs all on my own.

A lot of fiction at this point brings in romance, burglaries and supernatural experiences.  For me tonight involves chocolate, possibly a small amount of alcohol (as the responsible adult) and the freedom to watch whatever I feel like on tv.

And I get to have great cuddles with DH when he gets back - things could be a lot worse.

Friday 13 June 2014

Friday 13th

It's a day much the same as any other.  I would love it to be spooky, and I shall shamelessly use it in any fiction, but it's much of a muchness here.

Father is off on holiday today with my brother.  I shall start making all the meals that he doesn't like but we love.  

I have just received a vast order from Approved Foods.  I don't know how long it will last with the hordes of kids racing in and out, but I would rather have the kids.  

I received my free copy of the Sun this morning.  As a Liverpool FC supporter I feel like disinfecting my letter box.  

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Probably a good day

I've excavated bear's desk.  I am on my second bin bag.  I was a bit ruthless but got rid of a lot of rubbish.

Bear was very upset.  His team came fourth out of ten in the school sports competition.  On the other hand, it is good that he wants to do well and he said he had done his best.

Since home time the house has been over run with lots of young children who I vaguely recognise.  I am feeling a bit beseiged.

I have failed to get rid of the great big ginormous box which the shirts came in.  Bear burst into tears so I thought I would stall until DH got home.  He doesn't yet realise that me clearing his desk means a future where I am reminding him to clear his desk.

So I can look forward to a summer of, 'will you shut the front door', 'why is the tv on and no-one in the room?', 'who forgot to shut the front door?', 'of course you can help yourself to fruit', 'haven't you had a lot of fruit', 'why is the front door open?', 'can I have a bit of peace and quiet', 'this front door, what are you going to do about it?', 'no I am not going to take a random two year old to the toilet when her own mother and toilet are less than thirty yards away.'

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Bearly there

Yesterday bear airily told me that he needed to be dressed red, white and blue for school on Wednesday.  Apparently the bit of paper that was going to tell me all about this has gone missing.  I mentally reviewed bear's clothing and nipped in to Matalan.  Okay, it was an excuse to buy bear some clothes but I picked up a rather nice nearly red, cream and faded navy t-shirt for £3.

As we come home from school bear explains that he needs to be in shorts, as it is a sports day.  I nearly said a rude word.  I am not sure bear has any shorts that fit.  I rang the school.  Yes, not only should he be in red, white and blue and shorts/jogging bottoms suitable for sports but he should also bring £1.  I nearly said a rude word then as well.  I didn't feel better when the nice lady in the office (who is actually very nice) helpfully pointed out that they have this every year.  I mentioned that not only had I forgotten about last year but while I could vaguely think that it was this year I didn't realise it was going to be tomorrow. 

There is a large number of very lovely children recently moved in to nearby houses.  I am going to have to take up baking as there is up to a dozen kids playing nicely in front of my house including bear and it is hard if I can't have anything to hand out.  

Monday 9 June 2014

Review of the Week

I can't face blogging.  This is not good.  I don't have any reason, I am just shutting down.  This is really not good.  I'll be kicking around anyway.

Last week I managed to finish off trimming down the denim shirts.  I sat down and carefully sorted the shirts.  The ones that could be saved were passed on to bear, DH and the church for the jumble sale.  The rest were piled up and I cut all the seams away, all the cuffs and hard bits.  The next stage is to decide how big I want the squares to make the patchwork, then draw those out and mark in seam allowances (I know my weaknesses).  The squares have to be big enough to be worth it but small enough to get enough out of the shirts.  The trimmings will be saved for the rag rug (I have wanted a denim rag rug for years).  I also managed some knitting but I am not stressing about the knitting this week as I will save that for the world cup.  I will concentrate on the blanket for bear first as that will make the biggest gap in the pile of yarn when it is finished.

I didn't get much writing done.  I can see it is affecting me.

In fact, I didn't get much of anything else done.

This week is textile week again - or else!  Anything else can be ignored.  As for meal planning, the current form seems to be chips with everything.  Sigh.

Upward and onward.

Friday 6 June 2014

What a Wasted Day

This week has not been a highlight.  Wednesday I lost my shoes (don't ask).  Yesterday I lost a jar of sauce.  Today I lost all motivation.

Yesterday I had a go at pulled pork.  The idea was that I would cook the pork in the slow cooker and then pull it and add a jar of sauce in the end.  I had an inexpensive jar of sauce, a shoulder of pork, what more did I want?  For a start I couldn't find the jar.  I wanted to pull the pork and add the sauce in good time because I had to do dinner in shifts and I was also trying out the deep fat fryer.  I have bought Asda's least expensive bottom of the range deep fat fryer, with many misgivings.  I don't want to add a lot of fat to the diet and I am a bit nervous about deep fat frying since I set the chip pan on fire - which I think is a very reasonable response.

I have finally surrendered and got one as father doesn't like oven chips, the halogen oven is great with lots of things but not this and DH has been desperate for proper chips.  I thought if all else fails people can have egg and chips. Trying to feed everyone is a bit of a problem.  Everyone likes something different.

Sooooo, the pulled pork ended up being cooked with a jar of hoi sin sauce from Approved Food (turned out lovely, actually) then I opened the cupboard to get the oil out for the new fryer and found the jar of barbecue that had been intended.

Today I have managed to pay the road tax, which is something, and I have also managed to get the washer and dishwasher on, which is also something but a very minor something.

I'm starting again tomorrow.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Wittering Wednesday

I am a bit tired.  For one reason or another I didn't get to bed that early.  After a few broken nights and an early start this morning (bear woke me three hours before we needed to leave the house for school) I think I will not try and do complicated thinking.

Bear is a lot better this morning.  He is off to a wildlife park where he will be walking around with the rest of the school.  The forecast is for unrelenting rain.  I will be ready with hot chocolate when he gets in.

Yesterday was a bit of a trial.  He really did want my full, unrelenting, focused attention all day, and with the aches, pains and lack of sleep I struggled.  I also struggled when he demanded that I go through all the continents with him, and their countries, and all about their countries.  He has showing off spelling photosynthesis and looking at child friendly YouTube videos about the solar system.  I felt a bit ragged at the end of the day and when the kitchen light blew I nearly burst into tears.

On the bright side I got embroiled in a stonking discussion on Mumsnet.  I feel quite smug now.  As a result can I draw people's attention the Freeman on the Land movement and a link to the reason why you should never, ever accept legal advice from them.  Linky is here  Seriously, do not get involved.  I am not linking to the discussion on Mumsnet as the language I used was very, very bad indeed.  It is not family friendly.  It is intemperate in the extreme.  It would not surprise a sailor.  I got a bit carried away.

I still daren't visit uncle with this temperature I have, father is not well either.  I hope all this settles down soon.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Bear and the Internet

I hear lots of stories about young lads finding all sorts on the internet and how we all need to be careful.  Bear is now seven and one half and we not only have all sorts of protection on his computer (including DH getting emails if bear tries to access dodgy sites) but if bear is on the computer I am usually in the same room because that is what I consider parental control.

That said, we are pretty easy going when it comes to what bear looks at.  He can go on Cbeebies website, Nickelodeon kids, Disney etc without any fuss.  I'm happy to encourage him to have a look around and when he is on YouTube he is getting quite discerning.  I watch that quite hard, but as I type I am watching him watch someone playing minecraft with a lot of genuinely nice banter.

As the parent in charge of homework supervision (DH would do it but I am here after school) I have explained Wiki to him and bear has not only looked up stuff on wiki (I explained that some of the entries were by silly sausages but you could check it and most of the history etc was probably okay) but also minecraft wiki and Doctor Who wiki as well.  

Yesterday bear heard a reference to the Periodic Table so I was struggling to explain the concepts of elements to him.  Today he found a list of all the wars that England had been involved in.  It started, as far as I can see, around 1066 and I found myself floundering.  I was okay explaining what the Marcher Lords were (powerful lords based around the border of Wales who wanted the king to Do What He Was Told) and I was okay giving good guesses on who he actually meant despite his very interesting pronunciation of things like 'Genoa' but how do you explain the Crusades to a seven year old given that he goes to a very multicultural school?  Before 8.30am I was trying to explain why the Hundred Years War didn't last 100 years.

I have just been broken off to explain what copyright means.

Bear is a lot better, but still off school.  I am now suffering with what he has had and aching all over.  I was up in the middle of last night dosing bear with calpol.  I was up at daft o'clock with bear the night before.  Friday I spent most of the night being extremely ill when I found that the random food intolerance extended to chocolate Baileys.  I am not sure I'm up to this.

Monday 2 June 2014

Review of the Week

So far the idea of setting weekly targets has been a bit limp.  However I think it is worthwhile pursuing so I'll carry on.

Last week I got less knitting than I had hoped for.  I am not so worried.  The World Cup and Wimbledon will be on soon, so I expect to finish a lot of my knitting then.  One World Cup saw me finish three sweaters.

The textile mountain I left when we went to Whitby was sadly still there when we got back.  And the writing was tough last week as I didn't get much chance.  I am not surprised that I didn't get much done.

This week has not started on a great note.  I was up at 4am with bear who didn't make it into school.  DH is not well.  Father is better than he has been, but is not great.  The chances of me making it to see uncle in the next few days are fading and I am quite upset.  The hope of being able to just 'get on' with stuff today has vanished, and if bear is poorly then I do need to drop everything (and he is running a magnificent temperature) and I don't mind.  However I think I will set low targets for the week ahead.

If father keeps messing up my ideas for meals I will not be responsible.  I mentioned to him that DH wasn't likely to eat tonight, so father instantly jumped in with a request for food that I don't have in and don't have any way of getting.  Every time I open my mouth about food in his presence something dreadful happens.  I am going to get in some inexpensive frozen meals and he can have them when this happens.  It's either that or hit him with the new omelette pan.  I need to try and get on top of using up what is in, making meals and somehow getting everyone to actually eat roughly the same thing at the same time.  Every time father mentions 'a nice bit of pork' I see DH wince.

I am setting my targets for this week.  I am going to chip away at the fabric mountain as and when.  I am going to finish chopping up the denim shirts for patchwork.  I am going to research food, recipes and options for shopping.  I am going to research, plan and attempt a cleaning schedule that will work with me.  I am going to plan a schedule to blitz the house to make the cleaning schedule possible and work that around the males in my life.  Much of this can be done if I need to spend time with a poorly bear.  I am also going to aim for 2000 words per day, which is possible but only if I manage a full night's sleep which depends on bear.  That will do for this week.

I also washed bear's book bag.  It was less successful than I had hoped.  I managed to get the worst of the muck off, but it is still looking like it has been used every school day for the last three years.  I will consider getting a new one for bear for September.  He is clear on this - if he gets a new one it has to look exactly the same, no messing about and no trying to do stuff with this sewing machine rubbish.

Rambling on

Bear woke up at 4am with a raging temperature so this is more rambling than normal.  He's been threatening this for a few days, so he will miss the first day back to school.  It is looking remarkably like flu, I am keeping fingers crossed.

Finally catching up with all the computer stuff.  I had hoped to give more details of Whitby but it is such a jumble.  Father drank half a bottle of brandy when we watched England and I was worried he wouldn't make the stairs.  I cannot recommend Whitby Museum enough.  They have a Maori war lance next to an Eskimo canoe paddle which is a few feet away from a case containing Mesolithic stone tools.

I have lost the gift that bear bought for his girlfriend.

The bees have been fine while we were away and they seem to be lovely and calm now.  I suspect that they saw the wasps off.  I will sort out some wasp traps just in case.

I haven't seen uncle yet and it looks like I won't make it today as bear is poorly.  I am a bit worried.  I may be able to see him in the evening, but I don't think I will be fit for a conversation with a man who is permanently detached from reality.

We had a marvellous time.  I'll post more when it occurs to me.