Thursday 26 May 2016

Just passing through

Bless - thanks for asking.  There is a competition with a deadline for stories of 15-25,000 words, previously mentioned.  I am on 9,000 words and I have to have it finished by June 1 if I am going to be able to submit.  No surgery yet, it's very slow growing, low risk etc and I get another consultation 20 June.

Witch Hazel - remember me mentioning that you could get Holy Water online and what would happen if it was a fake?  There are always things around that lead to stories.

Bear is awesome, we are going to a museum tomorrow.

DH has been on leave and this lunch time we got to hear a lecture on the decline of magic in late antiquity.  I very much enjoyed it.  I'm planning a furtle around as there are audio files apparently and I am sure there is plenty of material there.

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Tesco Vouchers Arrive

Apparently this is the last time you can use Clubcard Boost.  I don't have anything particular I want, so I'll keep saving the points towards Christmas.

I've noticed that the coupons that come with them are in the shape of 'extra Clubcard points if you buy x' instead of '50p off x'.  All the coupons except one are for my usual shop, so I shall wait until they are on offer, except for stuff like milk which I get anyway.  I wonder how it will all work.

Something I have noticed about the Tesco people I have been dealing with recently - they are red hot on customer service.  This is, to me, quite a new development.  Years ago, if you rang Tesco's customer service you got a 'waddayawant' attitude.  Now they seem to be really pushing the good customer service.  My experience over the last twelve months has been pretty good.  I wonder if they are going to try and brand themselves as being the supermarket with the best customer service.

I have a guilty secret to confess.  I did bear's homework.  He has been like an over-washed rag for the last week, it is due in today, and it was at the stage of I either did the dratted thing myself or one of us had a breakdown.  It was a fairly hefty one, bear was supposed to list everything in the house that was electrical and say not only whether it was mains or battery powered but whether it was eco friendly.

I thought this was a tall order.  I left out a lot of stuff.  Modern houses are awash with gadgets and I wasn't up to going round each room and checking for plugs.  Children that are more conscientious are going to find this tough - do they list each light individually?  How about the computers?  We have two PCs and four laptops.  Is the kettle eco friendly?  According to the website of one of the power companies, it is more effective to boil a kettle and add water to the pan than to bring water to the boil in a pan.  But the kettle isn't rated with an extra energy efficiency rating.  I wonder how many parents are going to be lectured about eco friendly matters this weekend.

I thought I would look for a picture for this post and put 'electricity' into WikiCommons search box.  I found this.  I thought I would share.  I wonder if they still make them and for what sort of market.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

I Feel Cold

I feel absolutely frozen this morning.  This is interesting, because I have done more today than I have for the last week.  I've cleared up some fiddly admin, rung the council, put on washing, sorted this, dealt with that.  I still haven't done much, but it's amazing the difference a thousand words can make.

I had to ring the council as this morning I saw a rat in the garden.  I was unimpressed.  It wasn't the size in general that bothered me, it was how fat it was.  Later on I had the kitchen door open and now I am panicking that a random rodent could have got in.

I am thinking of borrowing my brother's dog for a while.

For those who love The Great British Sewing Bee - I found this - a blog page with patterns that link to all those on the show, including the incredible pencil skirt.  I thought the initial challenge of making a top out of striped materials so that it met as chevrons in the front and back was hideously difficult. I think I would have made a plain one and then drawn on the stripes with marker pen!  The blog page also has links to tips on how to do stuff like making bias binding and other wonderful things.

Off to write some more.  Time is running out for this week's Light and Shade Challenge.

Monday 16 May 2016

Great British Sewing Bee

The first episode of the new series was tonight, and I loved it!  There were some really tough challenges in the first show.  May Martin is no longer in the show and instead they have Esme who seems very fiesty.  

Yes, I am still scared of my sewing machine, but yet again I want to have a go.  I think one thing that I like about the show, and which I think is so encouraging to people like me, is that the judges are very kind to the contestants.  They are critical and exacting in their standards, but they are helpful and encouraging during the sewing.  

Coincidentally I had been sewing earlier.  I called in on the card making class at the Methodist church and did some English Paper Piecing.  I got at least half a dozen hexagons tacked and listened to some impressive gossip.  They are really kind, very patient and incredibly tolerant.  They created the most amazing hand made cards while I stitched.

I am definitely going to have to get out more.  Bear was most put out and made a big fuss.  As far as he is concerned, I was on a limited pass.  I barely got a chance to get in through the door before he pounced for cuddles. 

Sunday 15 May 2016


It is well known that the more I write, the more I can manage to do with housework.  I managed just under a thousand words with the Domestic Demon, but I don't think it's going to be enough.  Still I had a lot of fun writing.

Having a late night waiting for the dryer.  I seem to have fallen behind everything.  Still, if I can manage another few hundred words it should see me power through the laundry tomorrow.

Eurovision 2016

I love Eurovision, and I was sober when I watched it this time as well.  For the first time in years I actually enjoyed the British entry.  I am not sure why Australia wants to enter the Eurovison, but their song was great and I do feel that it is the more the merrier.

For all those in the USA who watched it for the first time - well now you know what we have been talking about.  I don't know about the other European countries (plus Israel and Australia) but the music played on British radios is nothing like the Eurovision.

To be honest, I don't think the best song won.  I think the best song of the evening was the parody of Eurovision sung by the hosts between the acts and the close of voting - here, for those interested.  I didn't bother voting for any this year, but I would have voted for that.  Thinking about it, I think the last time I voted for a Eurovision entry was when I voted for Lordi (who won in 2006 and were awesome!)

Jean - I am not surprised that they are so expensive.  Sometimes you just pay for the marketing.  I can't bring myself to pay all the money to try them!

Bless - I did wonder if you had seen the tea plantations.  I don't like to assume but I did think that if anyone knew tea then it would be you.

Saturday 14 May 2016

A Nice Cup Of Tea

I just watched Supershoppers for the first time, episode 2.  I really enjoyed it and hope they make more series.  One of the things that they mentioned was the price of items marketed as 'artisan' compared to the standard items, and they used tea as an example.  I had a look on Tesco to see what the current prices were.

First I looked at the Teapigs range.  They are supposed to be good and I am confident that they are a better quality product that the standard British cuppa.  Tea Pig jasmine pearl pyramid teabags cost £5.50 for fifteen.  That's around 37p per cuppa.  Tetleys ordinary teabags (for those not from the UK, that's a more standard brew) you could get 240 teabags for £4.99, or around 2p per cuppa.  I am not entirely convinced that there is 35p difference in ingredients between the two, although the packaging is very different.  I was surprised to find out that they are owned by the same company.  I suppose a tea supplier is always going to try and fill a space in every market.  The least expensive tea at Tesco is 20p for forty teabags, or half a penny per bag, and I think they taste awful.

Approved Food have some artisan tea on sale - Petalberry Tea is one example.  At Approved Food's reduced prices it is £3.99 for ten teabags, but it does look good and you get a great tin out of it.  I'm wondering if it is worth buying just for the tin.  The recommended price is £6.99 for ten teabags.  I don't know.  According to the website, the tea is direct from Sri Lanka, which does make it sound fresher.  As I type there is a flash sale on Typhoo of 200 teabags for £2.  I don't personally like Typhoo, but there is nothing wrong with it.

I suppose the moral is, watch out for the marketing.  The quality of teapigs is almost certainly better than average, but is it that much better?  I am limiting myself to one teabag a day (or trying to - a caffeine fail here) so perhaps I could justify spending a bit more on fancy teas.  I have justified spending £1.49 on 50 Chai teabags.  I don't think I could bring myself to spend more.

I wanted a picture, so here is a picture of a Sri Lankan Tea Plantation.

It is hard to believe that they are thinking of trying to grow tea in cold, damp Yorkshire.  I am not convinced.

Friday 13 May 2016

Not got the Friday Feeling

I have had a couple of people out to quote getting the wiring sorting out.  Darn it.  It looks like money that I was hoping to put aside for the fridge will go on the wiring.  Sigh.

We may also need another phone.  Ellen - I tried unplugging and replugging but to no effect.  In the end I hid the handset under the sofa seat cushions until the handset ran out of charge.  I can't imagine how you managed with power going out half way through dinner!

I don't know if there is something going on with the local wiring.  A man has just climbed up the telegraph pole in front of our house and unscrewed things at the top.  For a time there was nothing but a nest of exposed wires - and with the local magpies he was luck that was all he came back to!

Bless - thank you, I looked up Where Go the Boats and I loved it.  I haven't read much of Stevenson, but what I have read I have loved.  I am feeling quite low, but your comment brought back to me all the poems I have loved.  There is something about good poetry that is so much more than just words.  I had a wander through Drake's Drum and Sea Fever and all the old favourites.  I have found and I plan to use it.  My knowledge of poetry is desperately limited, so I want to go and play.  It's given me a real boost - thank you.

Thursday 12 May 2016

Normal Life Continues

What I write on this blog is true.  I may sometimes fudge on places or people to protect those who are not part of the blog, but I don't make things up.

The smart meter fitter arrived, took one look at the wiring in the fuse cupboard, condemned it and then rang the power grid.  The power grid man turned up, very kindly wrote down what I need to do, gave us back power and left.

Now I need to sort out an electrician and hope that it isn't too expensive.  We also do not have a smart meter.

We may also be without a landline phone soon, because if it doesn't stop whistling I'm going to take a hammer to it.  It has taken a hissy fit at the power being off so is now giving out a very shrill whistle which must be driving the local dogs demented.  I've unplugged it, but it hasn't helped.

I have just realised that I'm going to have to write down all the numbers stored on the phone before I take a hammer to it, and my nerves won't stand it!  Darn.

At least it's sunny.

Hanging About

I am waiting for the smart meter fitter and Tesco Delivery.  I never feel I can get much done while I'm waiting.

Bear was a lot better this morning.  I was prepared to keep him off school if he was no better, but he woke up full of mischief and giggles.  He is still under the weather, so I will keep an eye on that.  He has another test today.  He is getting himself in such a state about a test that actually isn't important.  However bear sets great store in being the cleverest in the class (not far off, according to the teacher) and he is also not happy that next year, when he goes into the new form, he may not be the cleverest.  He will probably be the youngest.  He could aspire to worse things.

I had another go at taking a picture of the blossom.

It's not a brilliant pic, but it shows that there are lots.  You can see half of the dual carriageway behind, and I must have caught it at exactly the right moment.  There was also a suitcase in the river.  I may use this pic as a prompt for Light and Shade.

I mean, there must be a story in it somewhere.

Wednesday 11 May 2016

My Real Life

I had to send bear in to school today even though he wasn't really well.  One cheek was absolutely scarlet and he was significantly under the weather.  However he wasn't really ill and today was a test.  Bear isn't sitting SATs, he is in Year 4.  I am glad he is out of the scandal that is the current swathe of testing but I daresay it won't be much different in two years time.  However the tests apparently decide who sits on which table next year, and bear is really keen to be on the top table.  Bear got 100% on Year 7 mental maths tests last weekend when he visited the maths tutor, but he is tying himself in knots about this.  I suspect that the tests with the awesome maths tutor are 'play' to him, but the stuff in school is real and he is getting himself into a right state.  I checked with school, and they insisted he went in.  He has come home fine, not so flushed, nervous about the test and subdued.

This meant that I spent time worrying about him instead of sorting out kitchen/dining room.  I'll have to get started any second now.  It's not just a worry about bear, but also about the rodent ulcer, which is a very non-aggressive, easily treatable form of cancer, plus I have PMT and it is crippling me.  I don't get cross with PMT, I get exhausted and it hasn't helped.

Besides, I have a kitchen full of bewildered midges.  I blogged a while back about getting the wool and bracken compost.  It's much nicer than the stuff that I got with the Tesco delivery, and Dilly and Dally, my two scented geraniums, have flourished in it.  I put them out today for a breath of fresh air and I think it came as a shock, they looked like this...

They have shot up and I am going to have to start pruning them.  I wonder if the cuttings would take in a plastic cup of compost with a little rooting powder.  The church is having a plant sale and I would like to do my bit.

I first realised there was an issue when the study filled with tiny flies and tracked them back to the plants.  I'd kept the compost in the cupboard downstairs to keep slugs out. Suddenly the kitchen was full of baffled tiny flies.  I am convinced they came in with the compost.  There are these tiny specks, drifting around looking for sheep and dying in drifts.  When I took a jug of water out to revive Dilly and Dally there were four dead, tiny midges that had got there in the last six hours.  The poor meter fitter is going to think he is out on the moors.  This is not going to be helped as we are getting stray ants.  They look lost and aimless, but I do not approve of them.  I am not sure where they are coming in, however, and an ant every day or two is hard to track down.  The garden is full of them, so there is a nest somewhere.

There aren't many bees flying around the chimney but there is a lot of blossom.  I hope this shot comes out better.  The blossom is really heavy this spring, wonderfully so!

I'll try and get a good shot of the crab apple blossom tomorrow.  It is really glorious, and on a main road!

Tuesday 10 May 2016

My Blog

Bless  I did think that we would seem rather limp to you, getting stressed by the temperature getting into the seventies!  The weather here is so variable that it is genuinely a British obsession.  People literally talk about the weather when they meet up.  It's a good conversation starter as there is usually something to talk about.  I would not cope with your weather.

Jean My blog is very much the truth.  I started the blog because before bear started school I could go days without adult conversation and it was good to 'talk' and I could share the little bits of my day.  I've skated round a few things with bear so that I hope it won't be too bad if he finds it when he is fourteen, but I have just wittered on.  I don't mind sharing my fails.  Some blogs are full of unremitting perfection and achievement and I find them very depressing.  I hope it is a sort of comfort to see that someone on the blog-sphere gets it wrong sometimes.  Besides, I think some of my fails are really funny.  I did wonder about how warm it could get with you, and I am really, really glad you are away from the big fire (if not the local ones that have made the international news).  I'd find that incredibly scary.

It's a rodent ulcer, definitely.  I'll need to have a lump off the end of my nose.  I'm not sure how I feel about it all.  It could definitely be worse, though, so I shall no doubt carry on.

Monday 9 May 2016

Heatwave Continues

It is still warm.  Warm is a subjective measure.  I live in Yorkshire, UK, which is quite warm for those like Jean who live in Canada (I hope you are not affected by the fires) but cool for those like Bless who live in California.  As in all of the UK, it is variable.  We had snow only a few days ago, now it is ice cream and shorts weather.  I have had snow and sunburn in the same week, a few years back in May, so I shouldn't be surprised.  The weather is sunny with a slight haze and 22C or around 72F.  I take it as a license to grumble.  It is forecast cold by the weekend.

Today I have received a letter telling me that they are fitting a smart meter.  I can call them to set a date or they can just call in when they are passing.  It did read, 'call us or else'.  I need to strip down the dining room and kitchen anyway and they will need to move furniture around to get at the meters, so it is an incentive.  Of course, my leg is very bad, so I can't do much standing, and I am at the hospital to see if a spot is a rodent ulcer tomorrow, so I may have to prioritise.  It won't kill me.  I can finish ironing the scraps of sari material while I have the ironing board out and crack on with the English piecing I have been trying.  I have sewn three hexagons - that is, tacked or basted the fabric onto three hexagon templates.  It was at the Church Knit and Natter and I got distracted by some serious gossip.

I've tried taking some photos, but my phone isn't up to all this sun.  This is the best I've managed.

These are lovely blossoms for May.  According to Shakespeare, rough winds do shake the darling buds of May.  According to the weather forecast, that should happen Friday.

Sunday 8 May 2016

Too Warm

Bear is slathered with sun cream, despite all his efforts to avoid it.  These days, children with a tan are looked on with suspicion and bear is looking suspiciously brown in exposed areas.

I'm determined to get on with the writing.  I've taken two prompts and I've put this together.  It's difficult.  I'm fairly confident that the punctuation is okay,   I'm not entirely sure about the content, but that is the rhyme I 'heard'.  Hmm.

Bear is about to happen in the park with DH.  I think they are incredibly brave in this weather as all I want to do is lie flat in the shade.  I am not a warm weather person.

Bless - I loved your comment, it made me laugh.  As it is, bear fits (very snuggly) into the t-shirt so that's at least a project postponed.

Saturday 7 May 2016

Hotch Potch

I have all sorts of bits going on.  Witch Hazel - thank you for the tip about Gluten Free Food at Aldi on 12th.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I don't think bear is particularly musical.  I am not letting up on the piano lessons, as it is still the only thing that he does regularly but finds hard.  He may never do much with the music but he is learning life lessons.

Bear took part in a inter-school sports type thing after school on Thursday and came back with a goodie bag which included a free t-shirt.  Bear is 9.  The t-shirt is size aged 5-6.  Bear isn't particularly huge, but he isn't that small either.  I told him he was wonderful and I shall hide the t-shirt.

Next door but one have a kitten.  Bear is entranced.  I remember evil cat with too much clarity to be taken in, but it may yet be the thin end of the wedge.  It is a black ball of fluff called Lucky, and is currently ten weeks old and timid.  It won't stay like that.

By the way, did you know that on 23 December 2015, sunset was 3.49pm at Hebden Bridge.  There's a site called sunrise and sunset that tells you these sort of things, including moonrise and nautical twilight and it was very helpful.  I've seen an invitation for people to submit fiction for an anthology and it's funny the sort of things you need to know mid-type.  For those who are interested in submitting fiction to places, the link is here.  I'll let you know if I'm successful or not.  I'm having a lot of fun, regardless.

Thursday 5 May 2016

Why I Should Only Shop on the Internet

The picture is of bear's new trainers.  As in, bear's trainers that had been bought that day and worn for a few hours.  When I scraped them down last night they were already looking battered and scuffed.

Today I went into town to pick up a prescription.  I ended up spending around £50 on stuff I didn't need.  In Boots I picked up suncream for bear (necessary) along with a body spray for me (unnecessary).  On the way to Wilkinsons I walked past the candle shop and I ended up spending a lot in there - a large candle that will see us through a month and a half plus a sort of cage thing to go over it which looks amazing but I don't need it.  Then in Wilkinsons I managed to not buy a canvas to do crackle glaze projects on, and I walked away from the paint, but I picked up a new watering can (needed), a rabbit treat for my sister in law to say thank you for looking after bear (purpose of visiting Wilkinsons and needed), three solar lights (which are for a craft project and definitely not needed, even if they were only 85p each) and a pair of wire cutters (which are only of use if I do the ring pull chain mail project, which I'm not doing, and cost another 95p).  I hurried home after that before I spent anything else!

Mind you, given the daft stuff I have managed to pick up from the internet anyway I don't think I am safe shopping anywhere.

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Best Foot Forward

Bear had a pair of 'fashion' trainers, which were okay for looking cool but not so good for sport, and a pair of chewed and non-fitting trainers that were more sporty.  Today I picked up some trainers for him from Sports Direct which bear tried on straight away as soon as he got home.  They are currently covered in mud.  He needs new wellies as well, but I am wondering if I can put that off until autumn.  Not if the mud continues.  To think that I worried that getting an Xbox would make bear less active.

Last time I looked out of the window I wasn't sure whether he would need a bath or to be put through a car wash.  He was muddy.  I may need to dry his clothes and knock the lumps of mud off them before I wash them.  I'm good with that.  It's what happens if you are lucky enough to have a small boy.

I'm glad I'm dealing with mud.

Monday 2 May 2016

I Need Caffeine

I feel very flat.  I've started sorting paperwork in order to get rid of the filing cabinet.  Papers are everywhere and the shredder isn't working.  I have PMT which makes me tired rather than cross, and of course Saturday is catching up on me.

Somehow I need to work out how to get bear to school with trainers that bear feels are acceptable.  He is just asking for bigger ones.  The ones that the dog ate are apparently too uncomfortable (and chewed) and I can't get to town before he has PE tomorrow.  The ones that DH picked up on Saturday are more fashion than sports.

Bear has also fallen out with his pal.  I have made agreeable noises to both parties and his pal has gone home.  On the bright side, this has seriously reduced the consumption of treats.

Adding to the general depression is the lack of the Great British Sewing Bee.  There were rumous of a May 5th start to the series, but it looks like it has been postponed.  Not that I need any encouragement to do more craft, but I do enjoy it.

I am also facing the awful truth that at some point I need to make dinner.  It is looking like fish fingers.  There are worse things.  Like sorting out bear's school uniform for tomorrow.

Caffeine wouldn't be a cure for these woes, but it would really help me bear it with fortitude.  I'm off to mope over a cup of lemon and ginger tea.

Sunday 1 May 2016

Epic Stamina Fail

When I went into Leeds and traipsed round looking for bear's trainers I spent more time out of the house than I normally do in a week.  Then I ran the 'Roll the Tuppenny' stall which was more interaction with strangers and their kids than I normally manage in a week.  Then we went out to see Macbeth, and a trip to the theatre is a 'once a year' treat.

Macbeth was amazing.  It was an amateur company but I have to say it was one of the best performances I have ever seen.  I loved it.  Lady Macbeth was particularly impressive.  When she snapped, 'Infirm of purpose!' at Macbeth every married man in the theatre flinched.  I wish I could watch it all again.

DH and I chatted in the interval.  I said that perhaps we ought to see if we could get a regular babysitter for an occasional Saturday afternoon so that we could go to see a film or a matinee.  After all, we were both looking forward to seeing Captain America, Civil War.  We normally only have bear sleeping away once or twice a year, and perhaps another one or two afternoons a year on top of that.  We don't mind, bear is good company and I'm happy to look after him, but we don't do much.

DH joked that we could see a late night showing of the Captain America film tonight, while we had the chance.  I asked if there actually was a late night showing.  DH checked on his phone.  There were several late night showings quite near to the theatre.  So after an amazing, wonderful performance of Macbeth we saw the 10:50pm showing of Captain America Civil War and got home at 2am.

Shopping, a church function, a Shakespeare play and a film rated suitable for twelve year olds (with guidance) isn't exactly a rock and roll lifestyle, but it was a lot more excitement than I'm used to.  Today I am tired.  My experience is that it is the second day when unexpected exertion catches up with you so I expect that tomorrow I shall be on the floor.

It was worth it.  I just need to work on my stamina.