Sunday 31 May 2015

I Have Been Writing

Morgan - I have a shedload of ironing still, but enough done to cover tomorrow.

I am so glad you can go back and re-read The Forgotten Village (for anyone reading who may not know, The Forgotten Village by Lyssa Medana is an ebook available on Smashwords and Amazon for a very reasonable amount).  That is an incredible compliment.

Actually, yes, I am about 30,000 words into the next in the series.  If you dip into Mumsnet there are often spam posts with people offering to cast spells to ensure success in love.  They are a scam.  However I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if they worked.  Would it be a happy ending, or bitter sweet?  How would the dynamics change?  And what if it was in a world with vampires, werewolves, boggarts and paladins?

Incidentally, in the Forgotten Village there was an independent shop (no experience of that) and a neat freak (really not me, I am the complete opposite of neat freak).  In Digging up the Past I wrote about an archaeological dig, and I couldn't spend archaeology.  I've dug myself into a hole again.

After that it's a High Fantasy novel about, well, that would be telling.  Thank you for your comment.  It gave me a massive boost to know that it's worth re-reading.  And for those who haven't dipped into my book, a linky...

Available at Smashwords and Amazon, and I am so proud that I managed this.

What Have I Missed

Bear has actually done his homework.  I told him I was refusing to remind him, that I didn't like the stress and it was now down to him.  This is a little unfair on an eight year old, but (don't tell bear) the school are actually quite chilled about the homework and I could not face another marathon hissy fit.  As it was, DH reminded him when I was out and bear finally did it.  

I have school uniform ironed for tomorrow and PE kit (apart from the jogging bottoms, but I can scrabble for them easily enough).  I know where bear's PE bag actually is, which is an improvement.   I have a work shirt ironed for DH.

Not only that, the lunch money is in bear's book bag and the consent slip and payment for bear's school trip.

So apart from the jogging bottoms, what have I missed?

Saturday 30 May 2015

Terms and Conditions Apply

As Wean said about the coupons, there are always terms and conditions and coupons are quite strict in the UK.  There are also always terms and conditions with bear.

Yesterday bear utterly rejected the attack snack I had reluctantly bought for his lunch as it had cheese in.  This morning he was wolfing the same attack snack, complete with cheese, as if he hadn't seen food for a week.  This evening bear made a decent dent in the pasta bolognaise, although he claimed that he was completely against any onions.  He ate them anyway.  Terms and conditions definitely apply to bear's food preferences, particularly the part which states, 'may change without notice'.  I just go with the flow.

Actually I was pleased with tea.  For the first time ever I got a decent yellow sticker deal!  Normally I come across the yellow sticker deals where there is perhaps 10p off a £3 pack of meat, and it is never worth it for me.  Today I got some very nice bread at half price, some hovis seeded sensations and some fancy Morrisons bread.  I can't eat it but bear and DH very much enjoyed it.  I also managed to pick up two small packs of button mushrooms for 19p instead of 65p and a small pot of grapes, strawberries and blackberries for bear for 65p instead of £1.29.  I think that is the best result ever, but I will be calling in again next Saturday.  I only called in more or less by accident as it is a small convenience Morrisons near offices.  On Saturdays they are very, very quiet and I suspect I may be able to get some serious deals on stuff I actually want.

I also felt quite good because the bolognaise had basil, parsley and some oregano snipped from the garden.  They are not up to a lot of pruning yet, but I am quietly confident.

Friday 29 May 2015

Extreme Couponing

Image credited to, which seems to have some great ideas for the USA

I am watching Extreme Couponing with bear.  This is at bear's request.  I am enjoying it, but I have to fast forward through the adverts, I really don't want to explain to bear about what some of the programmes on TLC channel are about.

It's interesting.  I have discussed with bear about how many papers some buy to get the coupons, and what he thought about getting them out of recycling dumps (not a lot!).  I've discussed with bear how much the racks that the Extreme Couponers use for their stash would cost.  I've discussed the difference between saving money on groceries and saving money in the bank and just not buying stuff.  I've discussed the morality of hoarding stuff you don't need and how great the people who do this to donate to foodbanks are.

Bear has his own thoughts.  He is very clear that there is no way on this planet that he would spend that amount of time in a supermarket - some of them spend over ten hours!  He is not going to do the whole coupon thing with me in the summer.  He agrees that some of the people don't speak nicely to their families, and that some of them are not very nice when they make their family eat stuff they don't like just because there is a coupon, not financial necessity.  The one we are watching is about someone 'saving' money (getting stuff for little money and probably stuff they need, but not necessarily) to get a bigger shed to store their stash from their couponing.  To be fair, it is probably a lot cheaper than my eBay habit.

We've agreed that it is probably worth it in the USA but not possible in the UK.  We just don't have the coupons here.  Bear has already learned to accept that some things are only ever bought on offer.  We discuss some of the cynical 'offers' that aren't really good deals.  I may put him in charge of a price book.  He is always saying he likes numbers.

Another Day, Another Fail

I have never been so glad to have the end of a school holiday in sight.  The house looks like it has taken a direct hit from the messy gun and I don't think that the carpet in the study will ever be the same.  Mind you, it wasn't all that amazing before the holiday.  It was awesome when we first moved in, 1994, but time takes its toll on everything.

I have also promised that I will leave the strange construction made of boxes until Monday morning.  Bear and several small boys have happened to to some very large Approved Food boxes (108 toilet rolls...) and there are only a few square feet of carpet showing in a very large room, and most of that is covered in crushed Pringles.

I haven't managed to see father, the laundry is out of control and bear is utterly exhausted (and cute - lying on the sofa dressed as James Bond and watching Avengers Assemble).  Bear is also becoming extremely nauseous at the thought of homework.  It is going to be a loooong weekend.  Still, at least the maths homework was done early on.  Negotiations regarding piano practice continue.

I have also had the 'thank goodness I've been outbid feeling' this morning, several times.  I think I need to step away from eBay.  Bidding on something that costs pennies, even if it has free postage, has a way of eating up pounds and I only have a finite amount of storage space.

I have also come to the conclusion that the 108 toilet rolls are okay but not brilliant and about equivalent of the Tesco everyday value at a very similar price.  I have also come to the end of the Tesco Everyday Value soap powder.  To be honest, it is okay, but there isn't that much dirt on our clothes and it is a bit limp when it comes to grease marks.  I am currently trying out the Aldi stuff which is recommended but making a lot of suds in my washer at the moment and after that I will try the home made stuff again.

There is always a bright side.  There is some very nice eye candy in Avengers Assemble.

Thursday 28 May 2015

Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular

We went to see the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular and it was AWESOME!

We saw it at the First Direct Arena in Leeds which is huge.  I had no idea what to expect.  What I didn't expect was that I would be frozen.  I was really cold and I was wearing a sweater.  However I had such a marvellous time I didn't care.

What was even more important, bear had the most amazing time.  The show didn't start until 7:30pm and we normally start bear's bedtime routine at 7:00 so he was just on pins at the idea of being up so late.  It was basically a musical concert with the BBC Orchestra of Wales but with Doctor Who music and monsters creeping around during some pieces.  The music was amazing.

Bear was pretty good, and was only scared when the mummy from the last series started dragging itself around.  He was a bit miffed when they started playing music and showing clips from the last Christmas Special with Santa Claus.  Peter Davidson asked if we believed in Santa, and one small child younger than bear shouted out 'No!'.  I was unimpressed and so was bear.  The child was nearly within slapping distance and when he was menaced by a Cyberman later I was tempted to tell the Cyberman to do its worst.

Bear didn't get to bed until 10:30pm.  He will be beside himself by teatime, but it was very worth it, and it is half term.  I would really recommend it.

I didn't take any pics, though we got a phenomenally over priced programme (£25 for a t-shirt!  I don't think so!) and so I had a look on Wiki Commons and it is surprising how many Doctor Who pics there are.  I thought this was amazing.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Socially active

I did my first volunteering session at the Food bank yesterday.  I had to take bear along as it was half term, but he happily played on the laptop, popped to the (incredibly near) shop for biscuits and was no trouble.  It is odd.  I enjoyed it, it was nice to meet and talk to people who aren't bear or DH but it is sad that it is needed.  

When the laptop ran out of charge I sent bear to buy a comic or magazine.  He bought the one that had the best plastic tat on the front and didn't bother reading the contents.  This is why he doesn't get a regular magazine.  It was quite good being able to send bear to the shop.  It was about ten yards away, is ran by someone who was at his Christening and there are no roads to cross.  It's part of bear growing up.  I've been a bit canny about him visiting shops as previously I stopped him going with the kids who were shoplifting.  Yesterday was safe.

Wean - I just junked it because I didn't really have the energy to work out how to match it all up.  I think it should have sort of twisted, but I couldn't work out how.  I'll try something more straightforward next.

I also went out for a walk with a friend and her massive, daft, darling alsatian yesterday evening.  I had a great time and we had some serious gossip going on.  It's the most socially active day I've had for literally years.

Today is a quiet day.  Bear is very happy with that.  

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Still Normal

Thanks, Wean, it's good to know I'm not alone.

As for the patchwork, well, normal for me.  I decided to try on a bit of the old duvet that has already given me lots of practice.  I did okay on the cutting out.  I measured the 6.5cm squares and while I wasn't exactly square, it was okay.  I sewed together the rows of four squares and pressed them out, and I was pleased with that as well.  In the past I haven't pressed seams accurately, they've gone to one side or sort of folded under, but this time they looked fine.  Then I tried to fit the strips together.

I couldn't do it.  There were no 'work in progress' pics and I couldn't follow the instructions.  I was supposed to sew together four strips of squares along the edges and end up with points, and I gave up after a few minutes.  It ended in the bin.  I am sure an experienced quilter would have worked it out, but it was a bit beyond me.  I was looking at the mini bunting, but I can't work out the instructions on that either.  I shall not give up, though I may do some knitting today.

Whatever I do I shall have to work through the volume of bear's YouTube viewing.  He complains bitterly about noise anywhere else, but his viewing volume is ridiculous.  At one point DH sabotaged the speakers to keep the volume down.  Unfortunately bear found a quiet channel he was really interested in, so they had to go back to standard, which means that the current crop of interests are well broadcast.  Yesterday evening we were watching a superhero movie on a dvd.  Bear was watching a YouTube video about how to make garlic mushrooms in the next room.  Father always used to say that bear had been here before, and I do sometimes wonder what he is going to be like when he is older.  As long as it is happy, I don't care.

Monday 25 May 2015

Normal Day

Well, normal for me.

I think the courgettes have died.  One has definitely gone to the great compost heap in the sky, the other two are looking a bit frail.  Apparently courgettes are easy to grow - I wish!

I tried a new recipe for frittata.  It sort of worked okay.  It wasn't very filling, though, so I think I will try other recipes in future.  It also reminded me of exactly how appalling our oven is, with singed and raw side by side.  I am seriously considering getting another mini oven.  However it was rather fun to make it with herbs from our own garden.  I felt very proud snipping the mint.

It was interesting making it in the kitchen.  At the moment the kitchen smells like a hospital as I thought it would be a good idea to put 'a few drops' of tea tree oil in the dehumidifier as I was worried that it was getting a bit dusty.  I got a bit carried away, though, and tonight's dinner of China Chilo is smelling lovely as it cooks, but is a bit overpowered by the oil.

We fed the ducks on the way back from visiting father, and I was a bit concerned.  This is supposed to be the reservoir and where the overflow from flash flooding goes.

Last time it overflowed was a few years ago, but I remember the water half way up the telephone box at the side of the road.  It wasn't just a trickle, it was a real torrent and there were two floods, six months apart and one house has never been lived in since.  To my inexperienced eyes the place looks like it should be dredged.

Now I am off to try some patchwork.  Bear disapproves of me using a sewing machine, and I rarely have a chance in the evenings.  But I thought I would try something little and just hand sew.  I have hand sewn curtains 90 inches wide and 76 inches drop by hand, so something using pieces of material 6.5 cm square should be easy, right?  At least it is practice in cutting and pressing.  Wish me luck!

Bless - thank you for your kind words.  Bear does indeed keep me on the hop.  I wouldn't change it!

Sunday 24 May 2015

I Bought a Handbag

I can't believe I went out and bought a handbag.

I've previously blogged about the time I accidentally bought about twenty of the things, after slipping up with my friend eBay (again).  However father helped himself to a fair amount for his lady friends, I've worn out a few and now I need a bigger, sturdier bag to replace the current one where the stitching is going.

I can't believe how much I spent on the handbag.  It is the most I have ever spent, it cost more than the accidental twenty handbags from eBay and definitely more than the last time I bought a bag for wedding (before bear was born).  It was £24.99.

I had looked on ebay, but saw nothing.  I had sort of paused next to the handbag stands in the shopping centres as I was diving past, but never really wanted anything.  I can't think why I called in to TK Maxx as I don't think it is a safe place as I spend money.  I got this.

Apparently it originally cost £100 and is a Yoshi handbag.  It is a nice size, feels okay to lift and, very important, has a zipped space to protect my purse.  There is a website, and it is apparently leather and made in Leicester.

It should be fine when I am dragging bear out to his activities.  There is plenty of space for my purse, kindle, wipes, tissues, phone, bottle of water, snack, bus pass, rubbish, nail scissors, comb, etc, etc, etc.  I will see how long it lasts.

I suppose I mistrust TK Maxx because around two years ago I went in there with bear and ended up buying a pair of Bench jeans for him for £14.99 and found it incredibly traumatic spending that amount on a pair of child's jeans.  He is wearing the same pair today, they are still long enough as they had turn ups built in which have been turned down.  They are showing some signs of wear, but I haven't washed them separately or treated them with particular care and the fabric has been fine.  They will see bear out this summer, possibly drag along to Christmas, and have been solid, comfy and looked good all this time.  I suppose I'll get the same again next time he needs jeans.  Darn it.

Wean - thank you for your kind comment.  I am not sure I deserve it, but I do think there is a lot of fun around if you look.

Saturday 23 May 2015

Bear Has Looked in the Mirror

Sarah - thank you!  I meant to give you credit for inspiring me to look in the last post, but forgot as bear was happening.  I think I will have a bit of a rummage around that sort of seller - it makes things more fun and is a great idea!

Wean - you give me too much credit.  At the moment I am challenged by cutting out and pressing accurately.  I am confident I will get there with practice, but I have given up my sewing class as father needs more visits and bear disapproves of me sewing.  I'll have a chance after half term.

I was mulling over my friend eBay and the possibilities of handkerchiefs as bear was getting ready for bed.  We were all sat in his room for his story (currently reading 'Wings' by Terry Pratchett) when bear dashed back into the bathroom and came in with slicked down hair.  He announced it was his new hairstyle and it had only needed a bit of soap.
"Have you put soap in your hair?" DH asked suspiciously.
"No!" Bear said indignantly.
"Let me smell your hair." DH said.
"Yes." Bear said.  "But it was just a bit of soap."

Apparently lots of lads in bear's class use hair gel.  He is eight.  Since when did eight year old lads use gel?  I was holding out on this sort of thing until bear was old enough to buy his own hair product.  As bear gave me names of the eight year old boys in his class using hair gel, and I thought about it and as at least one of them has had gelled hair since Reception, I decided it wasn't the usual, 'but mum, everyone does [insert activity that no parent in their right mind would allow]'.

I still can't get over the hair gel.  I mean, he's eight.  I have never used gel in my life.  Still, if it was gel or liquid hand soap I thought I may as well bite the bullet and I added Tesco Everyday Value gel at 15p for a pot.

I am definitely holding out against Lynx until High School - I hope.

Friday 22 May 2015

Harsh on Handkerchiefs

In my last post I talked about the hankies bedspread suggested by Cath Kidston (whose stuff calls to me even though I am completely non-flowery normally).  A king sized bedspread, not including the sheet that the hankies were attached to, cost £200 in hankies.

The hankies she used were lovely Cath Kidston flowered hankies, and they were 50cm square, around 19 inches.  That's a bit smaller than a fat quarter, which I have recently learned is 18 inches by 22 inches and quilting places sell them expensively.  I have seen fat quarters on posh websites, Amazon and eBay for some seriously silly prices, but while they are slightly bigger they are usually less than £3 each.  In fact, have four fat quarters, 50cm by 57 cm for £3.99 for four.

I had a quick word with my friend eBay.  At a quick glance I found a pack of a dozen handkerchiefs, striped borders, 41 cm square, for £7.87, including p&p.  I would need at least three packs, so £23.61.  However I am confident that the quality would be nowhere near the Cath Kidston hankies.  I thought I would have a further rummage.

I could get some satin hankies, designed for weddings, 99p each, inclusive of p&p.  However they are only 21cm square.  I would need around 169 of them, or £167.31.  However I did find the most amazing looking 100% cotton bandana type things, 54 cm square so I would need 25, and at £1.28 each (inclusive of p&p) it would cost £32.

I can't afford to make the Cath Kidston hankie quilt.  I'm a long way off from being able to make any quilt.  I need a lot of practice first!  It is gorgeous though, and it has opened my eyes to a different source of material.

I found this as a rummaged through Wiki Commons, and I think it is gorgeous.  I hope one day I can get this good.

Thursday 21 May 2015

Will I Ever Learn?

I think the short answer is 'NO!'  I ought to re-title this blog 'Epic Fails, Day to Day'.

I bought a book.  It is a nice book, and has pretty pictures.  It was £9 and is called 'Patch!' (the mini book) and is by Cath Kidston.  I bought it in the Cath Kidston Shop but you can get it on their online store.

I thought I would just look at the pictures, and while I probably will only look, there are some tempting ideas.  However I may sort of adapt them.

One of the ideas is to use hankies put together to make a bedspread.  The hankies look lovely.  You sew them all together and sew them to a sheet (I haven't checked the details and I'm sure there are more complicated steps) and it looks lovely.  It really does look amazing in the picture.  For a nice, large bedspread you need 25 hankies.  I checked on the website.  Each hankie on there is £8.  That is, eight pounds sterling - for one hankie - that you use to blow your nose.  I needed to do some sums.  Twenty five hankies at £8 each is £200 (which incidentally would buy over 300 boxes of Tesco Everyday Value Tissues).  The smallest version suggested uses 15 hankies, a mere £120.  That is, before you buy the backing sheet.  To be fair, the hankies from Cath Kidston are 50cm (or 22 inches) square, which is a lot of (really, really, really nice) fabric.

There is a tablecloth pieced together from tea towels.  It looks stunning.  All the tea towels are from Cath Kidston, £6 each.  There were twenty four in the example in the picture.

The ideas are gorgeous, though, and I think I will have a quick word with my friend eBay to see if there are substitutions available.  If I actually get around to doing any of these ideas I think it will be money well spent.


Last night I accidentally bought 108 rolls of toilet paper.  They cost £17.97.

When they arrive I will know whether it is a good deal, because I have to allow postage from Approved Food (£5.25) and they are only marginally cheaper than the really cheap ones from Tesco.

However I picked up some other bits in the same order which were absolute bargains (gluten free snacks, Special K bars for bear etc) so the cost of the delivery is spread out a little.  If they are half way decent quality I will consider it a good deal.  If they are not I will consider it a fail.  It could be worse.  I was tempted to get 180.

Yesterday I went to the Leeds Art Gallery.  They had a painting by Damien Hirst on loan from a private collector.  It was a picture with spaced out colours, nice circles of household gloss paint on canvas.  It looked very like this. though I think the circles were bigger and more spaced out.

It didn't speak to me.  There was also a picture that was a very, very large canvas painted entirely the one shade of indigo.  That picture did speak to me.  It said that someone got a special offer on dark blue paint.

I'm not sure I really appreciate art.  I'm sure that the spots and the blue painted canvas (which was huge) mean something to artists and people who understand art.  I was an epic fail at art, and could never successfully draw anything.  I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a point to them, but I also have a sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is sniggering.  I think I miss the point.  In the cold light of this morning I suppose I could create an installation piece of 108 toilet rolls entitled 'Bad Curry'.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Bear and Trousers

This weekend bear was asking whether he should wear shorts.  I was unimpressed by the idea.  The weather wasn't warm.  'What about the jeans in the drawer?' I asked.  'They don't fit.' bear said firmly.  So I got him to bring them down and try them on in front of me and DH.

Several were a bit big, though not as big as bear was trying to paint them.  He wanted me to magically get his bench jeans dry, which I couldn't do in the few minutes he wanted.  Then there was one pair that bear announced were too long.

'No they're not.' I said.  'If you held them up to your waist instead of the top of your legs they'd be fine.  Try them on.'
'They're too small.' bear announced.  'I can't get them over my hips.'
'Try unbuttoning them.' DH suggested.
'They're still too tight.' bear was getting fed up.
'Try unzipping them.' I said.
'These are amazing.' bear pulled up the very skinny jeans.  'I love them.'
'The bench jeans will be dry soon, Do you want to change then?' I asked.
'No, these are brilliant.  They would be perfect for climbing.'
'Why?' DH was baffled.
'Because they're really tight.' bear danced around the room.
'Why does tight jeans make it easier to climb?' DH persisted.
'Because it makes it easier.' and bear ran out of the room to carry on with his computer.  He is now wearing the skinny jeans at every possible opportunity.

I can't wait until he's a teenager and fashion conscious.

Monday 18 May 2015

Busy Morning

It is the first week day of DH's holiday.  Quite reasonably he asked for a lie in.  I was happy with this, because although I had booked a Tesco order for between 9 and 10am I knew that I could get back from dropping bear off if I hurried.

Then I got an email.  My Approved Food order was being delivered between 8.56am and 9.56am.  This was not so good.  Bear's school day starts at 8.55 prompt but they hardly ever deliver early in the slot and I thought that, with a bit of luck and the driver knowing my routine, that I would be fine.

I got bear up, fed him, sat down at 8.10am and jumped out of my skin when the phone went.  It was the rat catcher, and he wanted to come this morning, in about twenty minutes time.  I had to wake DH as there was no way I could manage possible deliveries plus rat catcher and get bear to school on time.

DH was actually quite happy to take bear to school while I tried to straighten stuff.  The rat catcher arrived and listened and had a look.  While he was busy taking pictures of the flytipping over the other side of the road and explaining his position the Approved Food order came.  Apparently the rat catcher can do nothing because there isn't any trace of rats actually within the property.  All the empty houses may be a problem as the whole area is infested.  As there is a small stream just a few yards from the house, a lot of rough ground, some very suspect sewers and six places selling food within 500 yards I wasn't surprised, but I wasn't happy.

Then the Tesco order came and there was a problem.  The driver explained that there was a problem with the system.   I had to send back six loaves of bread and some rather interesting looking sauces.  He had no idea who they should belong to.

The courgettes are failing fast but on the bright side the herbs have gone from this

taken on the 30th April, to this taken today

And the morning after that wasn't too bad.  We called in to see father who is failing but wanted four more bottles of white wine to hand out.  Tomorrow should be easier.

Sunday 17 May 2015

Man and Boy

Yesterday we were menaced by a dead rat in the street.  Bear was watching the rat's remains with interest.  'Wow!' he said.  'That crow is standing guard over the dead rat.'  I think this sort of gruesome fascination is perfectly normal from an eight year old boy, especially as he was watching from a safe distance through a window.

To be honest, I'm all for kids accepting that nature is red in tooth and claw and where do they think their burgers come from.  However at this moment I didn't feel like working through the stages of rat dismemberment and crow arguments, so I was very relieved when DH took charge as the man of the house and got the rat on a shovel and threw it over Matalan's fence.  I have had a long talk with my friend eBay and some sonic rat scarers are on their way.

I'm missing having a cat.  There is a lovely one that has been sleeping on a mattress dumped in next door's garden.  He (definitely a he) is completely black, completely composed and completely aware of how handsome he is.  A cat would be no good against a rat but I would have appreciated the cuddle.  I went out to get a picture and he gave me a very offended look, a mouthful of swearing in cat and stalked off, offended.  I hope he hadn't eaten sick rat as his back legs looked a bit stiff.  Or it could have been kipping for hours on a mattress in a south facing garden.

Bless - lovely to 'see' you, so glad you stop by.  

Saturday 16 May 2015

Not Nice Coffee

I'm tootling on with clearing the walk-in cupboard.  Most of the plaster is wrecked from damp, but it is drying out.  There are huge heaps of plaster dust.  I've been shifting things around, throwing things out while they are still likely to be collected by the bin men and having a rummage.

I found a jar of coffee that expired in June 2010.  I dissolved it and watered the garden with it.  Apparently slugs can't cope with caffeine.  To be honest, I can't cope without it, but that is another matter.  Apparently slugs get all giddy and so hyped that they shrivel up and die.  I can live with that.  In this garden I could dispose of dozens and they still would be over-running the place.

I am feeling a little guilty about the great big, huge, enormous, massive rat that I saw on the street.  When I went out to collect bear from school it was there lying on the road, almost a hazard to traffic.  I am exaggerating, but only a little, and it looked very dead.  On the way back it sort of twitched as I hurried bear past it.  I just scurried it.  I ought to have finished it off so that it didn't suffer and I do feel bad.  On the other hand it was the size of evil cat and I didn't want to get too near a dying rat.  Besides, I have no idea how to finish off a rat.  It's one of those things where you just assume you will know when the time comes.

As we are also hearing scratching in the walls I have called in the rat catchers.  There is no sign of any rats here.  Apart from anything else, the massive heap of food debris that I battle against in the study is untouched.  The veg in the veg rack is fine.  I am hoping it stays that way (hence the rat catcher) because I have twelve bags of pasta in the walk in cupboard due to the very good bargains on the gluten free stuff and I don't want that getting nibbled.

Friday 15 May 2015

Catching up

I had a look at where the views for the blog are coming from.  I don't do this often, as I don't really believe them, but I do look now and again.  Yesterday a huge proportion came from a betting site.

I am not, in theory, in principle, in general, against a bet.  My attitude to my friend eBay shows that, as I really take some gambles on there.  And in general if I knew how to place a bet, and had the time, and could be bothered, and could work out how to put a bet on in the local betting shop I may possibly consider theoretically putting the minimum bet each way on the second favourite.  It's not likely, but it's not completely impossible.

I just feel more and more uncomfortable with the spread of internet betting.  I keep hearing echoes of people suffering from gambling addiction and losing more than they can afford.  My late grandmother was a bit of a character and regularly put a shilling or two on whoever Lester Piggot was riding.  However she never bet the housekeeping.  With internet betting I think it is easily possible to not only bet the housekeeping but the house as well.

Regardless, we are catching up here with bin collections.  That means once a fortnight black bin, alternate weeks green bin.  I am going to have to seriously rethink what happens now, as every week our black bin is overflowing, and the council are quite clear.  There is to be no piling of black bin bags.  The bins have to close. I know that lots of places have this, and I know that we are only catching up and lots of people manage.  I have been aware this day was coming.  I'm still not happy.

I think I need to do some more thinking.

Thursday 14 May 2015

Green Hair

Hester, that reminds me of my sixth form days.  You could get spray on colour then (you probably still can) and I rang the changes every weekend and every opportunity I could sneak it into school.  I think I went every colour except pink.

I repeatedly remind bear about things like homework and uniform because he is eight.  At the moment I plan to very much leave him to it once he gets to secondary school, within reason.  So he will always have uniform available and space to do his homework, but the buck stops with him.  I will probably not be terribly tough when he first gets up there, but it's my aim.

That woodwick candle, the one that is really loud, smells gorgeous.  What's more, the scent has lingered for nearly twenty four hours without being overpowering.  I am considering getting another one, in the fullness of time, but perhaps with ear defenders.  I was looking at this

It looks like it would be noisy, but I love the idea.  It's the nearest I'll get to an open fire for a while.

Tesco are doing a 'buy 3 and get the cheapest one free' on selected gluten free stuff.  It doesn't include my favourite oatcakes, but I have already had a delivery with a dozen bags of pasta and I plan to get a dozen more delivered.  The sales seem to be about six months apart, so I am going for it.  The delivery driver blinked a bit, but I saved £12.80 on that offer, on stuff I would use anyway.

Speaking of sales, I called into Sainsbury's on the way back from visiting father and got a printout for 80 Nectar points if I spend more than £2.25 on gluten free stuff (and I need some of those oatcakes, two packs should do it), £2.25 off my next spend of £15 or more (large bottle of rum and the oatcakes should do that), and triple Nectar points on my next shop.  So I'll call in there tomorrow.

Wednesday 13 May 2015


Actually, not that busy, but getting a little movement.  Yesterday I felt poorly so today was the mammoth trek.  I dragged bear to school, caught the bus into town, bought the magnifying glass that father wanted in Boots, got lost in the shopping centre (well, they had closed the down escalator and I had a bit of a time working which shop I could cut through), then waited for the bus to take me to the click and collect.  Unfortunately it is right outside a charity shop so father is better off by three shirts and a contribution to the British Heart Foundation.  I collected the booty, dragged it back to the care home, visited father (still not well) and now I am home.

I was not tempted by the candle shop.  On Sunday I bought a 'woodwick' candle.  It is supposed to have a gentle sound of flickering flame.  Dear heaven it's loud!  It was like someone had tuned a radio to the static between stations and turned the volume to eleven.  It was deafening.  Obviously having spent money on it I will be continuing to burn it, and it does smell very nice, but I'm not getting another one.  They look like this, smell divine and are not for those with sensitive hearing.

They really do smell gorgeous.  I also received a new cable to  charge my phone.  I had been putting it off as it is apparently incredibly technical.  However the old cable looked like this.

Josie your comment made me laugh.  I did do a sock check this morning, but all was as it should be, including bear complaining bitterly.  I am not looking forward to secondary school.

Tuesday 12 May 2015


I swear if I murder bear it will be because of a pair of socks.

My sister in law bought bear a pack of stripy socks, some with Batman on them.  I have no problem with that.  Bear wears them in bed.  That's more or less okay, but he can't wear them to school.  School are very clear and stripy socks are banned.  

I can understand that bear finds it a bit frustrating.  He has complained that other kids get to wear stripy socks and trainers to school, which is true.  I support uniform in general and  I also think that it is as good as anything to help bear get the idea for senior school.  The school we hope he will get has incredibly strict uniform rules.  So I don't care what the other kids do, bear goes in to school in black school shoes and plain black socks.

Except today he didn't.  I only spotted the stripes on the way home.  I was not impressed but bear is unrepentant.  I am going to have to do sock inspection every morning.  I didn't think I'd have to do checks for that for a few years yet.

If it wasn't for the antibiotics I would take to drink.

Monday 11 May 2015

A Generous Household

Poor DH was poorly yesterday.  Bear has been complaining (but he always does).  Now it is my turn.  My bones ache, my throat is sore and I feel thoroughly fed up.  I daren't visit father, as he is getting frailer by the day at the moment.

This has left me feeling unwilling to do much, so I have had a good chat with my friend eBay.  I haven't actually bought anything, but I did find the perfect present for DH for father's day.

I am looking forward to getting out tomorrow, regardless of aches and pains.  I have to pick up a click and collect parcel from Tesco near Roundhay Park, which is a great excuse to wander around the park.  Actually, the way I am feeling I may just about manage a stagger around the Tropical House, but it's the principle.

I am relatively pleased with the parcel.  Of course, all bets are off until I actually see it, but I got a flyer through the door on a £10 off £40 spend on F&F clothing.  I had a bit of a browse because there are a few oddments that I could do with picking up and I thought I would see if there was anything on there.  I was quite pleased.  I got a much needed light weight jacket for DH (which I hope looks as good as the picture!).  I also picked up some shorts for bear which leaves him sorted until Autumn as far as clothes are concerned and some trainer socks for me.  So I got £10 off, an excuse to go out somewhere nice while I am not fit to visit father, clubcard vouchers and 2% cashback from TopCashback.

The weather forecast isn't brilliant, so I probably won't get to see the castle.  It will still be good to go out.

Sunday 10 May 2015

How Much?!?

Poor DH is really poorly.  He's coughing, aching and generally run down.  I nipped into town to pick up supplies.  First there was Boots for heavy duty painkillers and cough suppressant.  After that I called into Wilkinsons to pick up an Ant Trap, and while I was there I found something that would deal with woolly aphids.  I should be able to attack them tomorrow.  Then I called in the nearest place that sold bread for DH to have his medicinal toast.  It happened to be Marks and Spencers.  I picked up sandwich ham, a loaf, some grapes, some snacks, lucozade for poor DH who is really suffering and salad for bear and I for lunch.

I found the M&S shop remarkably reasonable.  The sandwich ham was inexpensive, the grapes were cheaper than Tesco and I plan to gorge on the salad that was reduced.  Even the lucozade was a reasonable price, especially compared to the local shops.

Unfortunately I called in to the most wonderful candle shop ever to pick up a scented candle for DH in his room.  Poor lad is in bed and feeling low, so a small scented candle would be just the ticket.  And I just got carried away.  Two small Yankee Candles in jars, one small votive candle and one medium wood crackle candle.  I even signed up to the loyalty card.  I ended up here.  It's got things like this.

They even take PayPal on the website.  I staggered away from there wincing a little at how much I had spent, but knowing I would enjoy every flicker.  At least I resisted the copper candle snuffer - I have a weakness for copper and it was a close call.  I nearly couldn't carry everything to the bus.

I think I have found the ideal place to work a reward programme.  If I do x or y then I can indulge in a candle, secure in the knowledge that I will use it up.  In fact it is something I really, really love but usually can't justify getting.  I consider this a result. 

Saturday 9 May 2015

It Didn't Bounce

I dropped a pyrex jug today and for once it didn't bounce.  It was quite a shock as I'm not used to pyrex breaking.  It went everywhere.  It's unfortunately in company.  I had to include three extra dishes in the order that came today due to continuing breakages.  I suppose I could say that I am having a smashing time.  I think I am becoming a lot more clumsy as I am continuing very tired.  It would certainly be cost effective to get more sleep if I stopped smashing stuff.

We still have a pint and quart pyrex jug in the cupboard, so I am not rushing to add the jug to any shopping order.  I think I will miss it though, I am always using pyrex jugs to heat soup/baked beans/milk etc.

To be honest it has been a bit of a fail day.  Everyone is full of cold and we were once again mortified by bear.  Saturday morning is when the piano lesson takes place and we listen to him lying about how much practice he does.  I don't think the tutor is fooled, but I still can't meet his eyes.  Bear has also managed the classic, 'I'm not kicking the football in the study, I'm just pushing it with my foot'.

Mind you, we are cuddled in, chilling and watching a documentary, taking it easy with a candle lit to warm the room and feeling very snug.  Things could be a lot worse.

Friday 8 May 2015


I am too ashamed to post a pic of bear's desk and the surrounding blast radius.  One of his pals were around last night and added to the issue.  Bear takes after me and isn't neat.  However the drift of crushed Pringles and crumbs have made me want to cry.  Also there have been ants.  Given the grazing habits of numbers of small boys and my lack of cleaning over the last week I am not surprised.

So that's my job today.

My leg is very sore.  I am on my second lot of antibiotics.  I am very tired.  Father is unwell and I am worried.  Bear is being a complete drama queen about a minor cold and tonight I once again come face to face with the awful spectre of his homework.

However the sun is shining, and while the courgettes may be dying the radishes are sprouting.  I know I'll feel better if I start moving.  I found this picture on WikiCommons and I thought I would share as it made me smile.

Thursday 7 May 2015

I've Voted

I had a tough decision at the polling station.  Did I vote with my conscience and aligned with the policies I believed in?  Or did I vote for someone living less than two hundred miles away?  I guess they thought that they wouldn't win this seat so just put a name down.  I think this is going to be a strange election.

I should be going to sewing class, but I am in too much pain with my leg so I am going to limp off and visit father instead.  I have some magazines for him.  He is getting too tired for these, but I know he appreciates the thought.  I have also to work out what to have for dinner.  It's probably going to be food, but beyond that I have no idea.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

The Courgettes Look Poorly

The courgettes are looking very poorly and I am thinking of how best to give them a feed without drowning them.  Everything else is looking okay.

A parcel came from my quite good acquaintance, Amazon.  Because I am usually out visiting father or taking bear to places I have grumbled and arranged for a delivery to go to the local post office.  For a pleasant change this is not the one which is miles out of the way but is the 'right' postcode but one which is actually very easy to get to.  However the concept of me picking up an Amazon parcel there seemed to be a bit of a challenge to them.  The lady at the Post-Office-in-a-Convenience-Store hadn't really come across it.  It took a little time and in the end I had to pick bear up from school holding a large box.  It was mainly socks.  Bear's doting auntie bought him amazingly brilliant stripy socks.  Bear has to wear plain black socks for school, though, and as he has outgrown most of his plain black ones and I've shrunk the rest by defiantly using a tumble dryer it was time for some new ones.

I'm back on antibiotics for my leg.  Also I am very damp.  There has been a lot of weather.  On the bright side I accidentally ended up clearing out a couple of kitchen cupboards.  I will send DH on a charity shop run with some surplus casserole dishes.  I hardly use any of them now, I use the slow cooker instead.

Bear is working out some long multiplication as I type.  He is getting very worked up about it all and enjoying it hugely.  I don't think he is supposed to know this yet, but as he is teaching himself and it isn't me or the tutor I am just letting him get on with it.  It is a little embarrassing that he is working it out with pen, paper and mental arithmetic and I need a calculator, but he is kind to me.

I looked on Wiki Commons for a picture of sums, but was too intimidated so here is a pretty picture of a bluebell wood instead.

It reminds me of the woods near where I grew up, where every May the ground was just carpeted with that gorgeous blue.  It comforts me as I am wholly inadequate to help bear with his sums.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

I Don't Know Who To Vote For

I honestly don't know who to vote for.  I suspect in my safe Labour seat it is a bit of a moot point, so I could vote for anything really.

As ever, I don't fit comfortably into any party political slot.  I'm not particularly one thing or another.  If I had a decent local MP I would probably vote for them regardless.  It all seems such a muddle that if someone is elected that will fight for our constituency then it doesn't seem to matter what party they belong to.  However the current MP is a bit limp.

I am going to vote.  I am going to turn up and put a cross against a name.  I have considered spoiling the ballot - saying that I am exercising my right to vote but that I do not agree with any of the candidates - but that seems a bit unfair.  I seriously, seriously urge everyone to vote and to vote early.  Remember the dreadful scenes when polling stations closed before people had a chance to cast their vote?  The more people vote then the more likely that people are going to get a less unreasonable representation.  I think that 'less bad' is the best we can hope for.  However if voting withers away then I suspect we will not have 'less bad' but 'dreadful'.

When DH was at Uni one of the student groups elected the pinball machine as its president.  Outraged the student council insisted that only living things could be elected.  The next year they elected a duck.

This year it's the sort of election where the duck could make a surprise showing.

Sunday 3 May 2015

It's Stopped Raining

It's stopped raining.  I really ought to go out and water the courgettes with liquid fertiliser as they are looking very peaky indeed.  My leg hurts.  The courgettes may have to wait until tomorrow.  That is not just because of my leg (which will still be very painful tomorrow) but because there has been so much rain that further liquid, no matter how nourishing, may drown them.

Bear has come back from his visit to his Aunt.  He is exhausted, pumped with sugar, primed with goodies and absolutely adamant he isn't tired.  He isn't TIRED!  He told us this lying on the arm of an armchair barely able to lift his head.  Sometimes he seems such a big lad, and sometimes I am reminded that he is just a young boy.

I can't leave without a pic.  I was tempted to show the huge pile of sweeties, the new clothes, the dvds, the crisps, or possibly the havoc he and other small boys have happened on the carpet with an innocent tube of Pringles after bear got home.  Instead I have taken a photo of a rose that has just come out in our garden, rather to my amazement - the first rose of the year!

To be honest, taken from a distance it looks more like this, but it is still a lovely surprise.

I hope we get plenty this summer.

Friday 1 May 2015

Bear Resists the Shop

My sister in law has asked if bear would like to stay the weekend with them.  Bear thinks that this is an awesome idea, and is all for roughly thirty six hours of full on spoiling.  I dug out his bench jeans, shook out some shirts and t-shirts and bought some much needed undies and pyjamas for bear.  I got this lot from Matalan (who do really good kids clothes)

Image from Matalan

Bear does not wear slippers.  Every now and again he promises me he will wear a pair that look particularly smart - then loses them.  The only way I will get bear to consistently wear slippers is to nail them to his feet.  I couldn't find any I liked in Matalan.  This meant shopping in town.

Bear negotiated hard.  He really does not enjoy shopping.  He is very clear on this.  However as the frozen pizza I made for him turned out to be raw and burned (I am still having issues with my oven) I promised him a subway.  This was a start of a protracted negotiation that ended with us not being able to find any slippers for boys at all in three shops.  Then we had to rush to get to fencing.  Bear is still without slippers and I just hope his auntie won't judge.

Bear has had his third session.  He still likes it.  I suspect he particularly likes posing with a sword in his hand but he is an eight year old boy so that is allowed.  I hope he continues.