Monday 30 October 2017

Poor Bear

Bear is fine now, but I got a call from school at lunch time today saying could I come and check out bear.  He had been hit in the side of the head with a football kicked at full force.  Bear did have a tremendously red and swollen ear (now almost back to normal) and he complained of ringing in his ears and a pain behind his eye (now gone).  I brought him home.

So bear had an easy afternoon, and there's no sign of anything off.  He polished off dinner without much trouble and is now winding down for sleep.

I managed to get out today.  I was determined to get into town.  The Knit and Natter needed a particular type of wool and I thought I'd try and pick some up, and bear has decided he felt much better with almond milk.  It's also easier on DH.  And I made it.  It would have been easier if the buses had turned up.  I spent ages hanging around, but I got in and I came home, so I consider it a win. 

There's always a bright side.  I have a £9 coupon if I spend £90 at Sainsburys.  I was thinking I wouldn't manage to make the total this week, but the iron started playing games tonight.  I just about rescued bear's school shirt.  I suspect the heat setting is broken as it just got hotter and hotter and hotter.  So it looks like a delivery that includes a new iron.  I'll see how it works out. 

Sunday 29 October 2017

Bear Likes Halloween

DH has carved a pumpkin successfully (there is a face and no fingers were lost during the process).  Also bear tried on Halloween makeup...

He's actually quite a good looking lad underneath that! 

The next challenge is to get all the make up off him before school tomorrow. 

Saturday 28 October 2017

I got out of the house

Today I helped at the church's table top sale, selling donated kids' clothes.  It was okay.  I sold a little, chatted a lot and generally had a good time. 

I feel like I am being chased around by kids clothes.  First there was a donation through the facebook I do for them, then there was the stalls, then more and more of the stuff keeps appearing!  I sorted a load out last Monday but when I turned up this morning there were two extra boxes and an extra bag.  I couldn't get it all out and it spilled out over two tables.  Some of it was gorgeous and some of it was less so but it was all given with love and that is what matters. I was going frantic trying to set up.

I couldn't do much yesterday when the rest was set up as bear had a pal around and I couldn't leave them.  They were busy hanging out and talking rubbish - almost like grown men!  I've seen exactly the same sort of wandering, irrelevant, subject changing discussions in bars.  You know the sort of thing, where the discussion goes from someone at football to something to do with travel on to something to do with cats. 

Then my brother and his partner came round and we had a time hanging out and chatting.  It was good to see him. 

Tomorrow pumpkin carving is supposed to happen.  I have reservations and plan to put down a lot of oil cloth and newspaper. 

Thursday 26 October 2017

Serious Shopping Fail

There has been a significant shopping FAIL.  I can't believe I'm getting it so wrong.

It started on Sunday.  I wanted some bits for the week as it's Half Term and bear is at home.  I also was running short on the Sainsbury's flavoured water that bear and DH like, so I got a Sainsburys order, with added stockpot that took the total to just over £90.  Then I found that I was short of other things and that I was almost out of the Tesco shandy that DH likes chilled with dinner (I never run out of things, so this shows I wasn't with it!) so I got a Tesco order on Tuesday for just over £60.  Wednesday a very significant Approved Food order arrived and that was a hit to the bank account, I don't want to even type how much except it will set me up with wipes for at least the next year at a very reasonable price and the treats that came will keep us going for a while.  Today, Thursday, a Morrisons order came because there was an extra 5,000 points (£5 on the More card) if I ordered this week so I chose Morrisons but I would have had an order from somewhere anyway as I was picking up treats and fresh goodies as a friend of bear's is coming tomorrow and that was another order just over £40. 

My brother and his partner are visiting on Saturday and I promised to get some bits in.  We can have a sort of buffet type thing with some Halloween decorations up and a pumpkin.  The last two times our schedules have properly aligned have been last Christmas when we were supposed to visit them but the car battery died and this summer when we had the car crash.  I am cringing as I type this, but it means I'll be getting another order in on Saturday, and it's probably going to be Tesco as my Morrison Delivery saver doesn't work on a Saturday and Tesco are doing a promotion that ends 5 Nov where if you spend over £60 you get a coupon for 10p off per litre of fuel at a Tesco petrol station, which is no good for DH but my brother drives past a Tesco petrol station and it seems a shame not to take advantage if I can justify spending more than £60.

Then some time between 29 Oct and 4 Nov I should put another Sainsburys order in as if I spend £90 then I get £9 off and I suppose I can stock up a little more for Christmas.  Or I can not bother at all. 

Speaking of Sainsburys - apparently they do a Double Nectar Points event.  You have to go to a Sainsburys store between certain dates then you can get a voucher worth double the amount of Nectar points so if you have £5 of Nectar Points then you can get a voucher worth £10, maximum amount of points is £20, doubling to £40 and only certain categories are allowed.  These categories include Lego Dimensions and Skylanders - Ricky at Skint Dad has all the details, the Sainsburys version which isn't so well written is here.  Bear is very keen on lego and Skylanders at the moment. 

I just need to sit on my hands for November and avoid paying out anything more!

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Showing Off

wherethejourneytakesme - I can't resist showing off.  I self published Dinner at Dark last year. 

Important - anyone can self publish.  You just need to have an internet connection and a little time to work out the formatting.  You can self publish a shopping list.  I didn't use outside editors or anything like that but I did get my book cover from designer Melissa Alvarez.  Even though I didn't use outside editors, I do think I managed to do okay with grammar and spelling (please let no-one point out really obvious mistakes...again!)

The intro I use is

How would Martha Stewart deal with a dinner party where two of the guests were vampires, four of the guests were werewolves, one guest was completely unaware of this and one was a housekeeper with very high standards? What happens when you buy Holy Water from the Internet? When eight guests are trapped in the rugged British Pennines, the dinner party at Darke Manor takes an unexpected turn.

and I don't exactly know where you are in God's Own County but I set the story above Hebden Bridge during the awful floods.  It's not gory - I get scared too easily! - but there is some horror and some humour and I hope it's not too obvious.  I like to think it's very British, but I can't always tell. 

I strongly believe that if you really want to write a book then you can.  It may not be popular and it may not make money (mine don't), but I found a wonderful satisfaction in writing the story.  If you want to write, go for it!  Alan Moore said that you become a writer by the act of writing.  If all you ever do is enjoy working on the story then it's completely worth it! 

Now I'll step back from showing off back to business as usual.  If you do dip in  I hope you enjoy it.(important I never mind if anyone doesn't want to read my stuff, I'd rather just 'chat' passing through and keep friendship than you feel obligated)

Half Way Through Half Term

Bear went to a pal's birthday party today and I tried plantain for the first time and loved it.

there is still a significant fly problem despite the cider vinegar and washing up liquid traps.  The air is thicker than I like.  Tomorrow I need to take the kitchen apart.  This is likely to be more possible as I've written @ 600 words since I got back from bear's pal's party at 5pm and if I manage another 1500 words I think the kitchen will be sparkling.  I hope so - I've a very large pumpkin and a pumpkin carving kit.

wherethejourneytakesme I remember trying to decipher legal handwriting.  Those who worked on the Rossetta Stone had it easy in comparison!

As I mentioned, I did have a fly problem as part of the plot of Dinner at Dark and I admit I enjoyed writing it far too much.  If anyone is interested, if you click on the above link it will take you to Smashwords.  Smashwords is a place for self-published authors and there are some awesome writers there.  If you are interested you can use Smashwords coupon WS52Q and get Dinner at Dark free.  The coupon is good until December 31 2017 and I hope you can enjoy it. 

In other news, bear has decided that he wants to learn to touch type.  I had a quick google, checked out some reviews and bear started learning with Typing Club.  It's quite good, and the basic version is free.  I'm going through the course at the same time as bear, partly because although I've been touch typing for twenty years, I'm self taught and I'd like to improve my speed, and partly because I want to keep up with what bear is up to.  He's having a great time, and I'm finding it curiously soothing.  I can't wait to see bear's essay on 'what I did in the holidays'.   

Monday 23 October 2017

Fail Costs me Money

I've had another fail getting out of the house.  I just can't do it.  I can do it sometimes but mainly if it involves bear.  I can do all sorts of things with him.  Today we met up with his pal and his pal's mum and sister and went to the Knit and Natter and had a great time.  It may have only been in the church at the end of the road, but it was possible.  On our way home we went around twenty yards further out and had bear's hair cut which was well overdue. 

Later in the day bear got an invite to a birthday party the day after tomorrow.  I don't have a card in.  I couldn't bring myself to go just ten minutes away (at a very moderate pace) to go into a shop to get a card.  I just couldn't get out of the house for that.

I ended up ordering a card from Amazon - not the least expensive way to buy a card!  And because the card was an 'add-on' and I needed to buy extra stuff to get the next day delivery I ended up putting some bits for Christmas on the order.  The card sort of cost me over £20!  I know that the stuff I put in the order to make it up will be great for bear at Christmas, but I really resent that a dippy fit cost me money.  At least I'll be able to get out of the house on Wednesday to drop bear off and pick him up.  Ironically the way to the pal's house is actually past the shop where I would have bought the card. 

Also the house is full of those tiny fruit flies.  Tomorrow I am going to pull the kitchen apart.  I need to revisit  'Dinner at Dark' which, despite being a novella about supernatural goings on in an isolated house, had some good advice about getting rid of fruit flies. 

I had so much fun writing it.  If I can get writing again then I'm confident I will get a lot more done!

Sunday 22 October 2017

Hygge Happened!

As far as I can tell, this weekend hit perfect hygge. 

DH, bear and I hung out in the study.  We were all comfy, the weather outside was awful (but not as awful as some, I am grateful that we haven't been hit hard), we had nice food, talked, joked, watched stuff separately and together and generally relaxed.  Now it's Sunday evening so DH is upstairs, bear is allegedly going to sleep and I am taking this weekend as a win.

I was quite grateful as I made the application for bear's school places today and I needed all the hygge.  For those who are unfamiliar with the process of getting secondary school places, it's relatively simple.  You go online and register an account.  Then you choose five schools in the order of preference.  Then you press submit.  Then you hope to heaven you've made the right choices. 

I admit I looked through all the schools in Leeds.  It was quite depressing.  Some looked good but were distant, many were okayish or failing and near.  DH's old school has gone from being pretty awesome when he was there with lots of students reaching A levels down to a state where it is barely scraping by.  I was also saddened by how few schools got more than 50% of their pupils through a decent grade in English and Maths, the absolute basics that they will need later in life. 

On the bright side, I used my Sainsburys coupon and I included some ravens in the order.  We have a fondness for ravens in this house, or at least a healthy respect from a safe distance.  Sainsburys have been selling plastic ravens for Halloween so I used the money from the coupon for two ravens (and purchased one extra, what can I say).  I left one in the dining room and when I went in without turning the light on I really jumped.  The silhouette in the shadow was incredibly lifelike and my first reaction was 'how the heck did that get in here?'

Thursday 19 October 2017

Sainsburys are Tempting Me

I got a booklet of coupons in the post today.  I can get up to £13 off a shop - if I spend £90! 

I don't know about that.  It's easy to spend £90, but I'm not sure I want to spend that much.  The total doesn't include alcohol either.  Also I would rather do two shops of £45 each per week rather than one of £90. 

The coupons are spread over five weeks, so it's not even worth doing one big shop and stashing a load away.  I can't use my freezer as it really is failing.  I'm trying to hold out for Black Friday (and keeping an eye on the current prices).  I can't use it to hold stuff. 

I suppose I can stock up for Christmas.  I can put aside a few nice bits and have a look at some of the presents.  I don't really need that much, though.  I think I'll have to do some seriously careful sums.  If bear is going to grammar school then I'll need to learn to drive and we will need a second car.  I can't afford to waste money.

I managed to get out today.  I had a quick look around the art gallery.  I liked some of the paintings and didn't understand the rest of them.  One thing that struck me was how dusty some of the frames looked.  I think it says something about me - I go to the art gallery and look at the frames!

I had a quick call into Aldi on the way back and then home.  Tomorrow I have to go out as I have promised to help out in the church.  It's a work in progress.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Parent's Evening

Bear had his parents' evening tonight.  He got a very good report and will be getting a reward this time. 

I don't want to take bear for granted, but there was a hint of 'same old, same old'.  For the last few years the reports have been the same - he is significantly above expected levels across the board, his behaviour is fine, his handwriting is awful and the teacher has had to google something bear has told them and found that it was right.  This year it was apparently a town in Norway.  I hadn't heard of it either.

Bear has not got a large part in the school play and is very disappointed that he only has a few lines, but I pointed out that he passed the grammar school tests and some of his pals didn't.  I had an uncomfortable encounter tonight with a mum who's son didn't and had no idea what to say. 

Bear's handwriting is a thing of wonder and has been all the way through school.  He'll produce an awful scrawl, get pulled up about it, he'll reform his writing and then it will slide into a different type of awful.  His teacher has offered to send home sheets so fingers crossed he will crack it this time.  I hope that a lot of stuff is typed in high school. 

Sunday 15 October 2017

Bear Did It!

The letter came on Saturday.  Bear passed the grammar school exam.  Over 800 children passed the exam, around 200 passed - and bear was one of them!  I am so proud. 

This doesn't mean that bear automatically gets in.  There are a limited number of places.  Children in care, get automatic entry if they pass the test, as do those with siblings already at the school, those who live in the local area and those whose parents work at the school.  Bear doesn't fall into any of these categories.  It now depends how well he did compared with other children.  We will find out in March whether he is going there or not.

I can't tell you how proud I am.  Bear, of course, is taking it very much in his stride.  I hope his pals who sat the exam the same day pass as well. 

Friday 13 October 2017

Darn it to Heck

I wondered where the gluten was coming from.  I knew I was having some, but I couldn't figure out where.  I have been very scratchy.  I'm not sure that I have the better deal than those who have really bad stomach reactions to gluten.  It must be horrific for them, but I feel very unclean with the amount of eczema I'm now struggling with, and of course it can take months to work through the skin.  To be fair, it looks like I haven't had much, just enough to make me feel unpleasant but not enough to mean a trip to the doctors.

It turns out that the Sainsburys version of bear's favourite hash browns, while not actually containing gluten, are manufactured using a method that involves wheat.  It serves me right for not making them from scratch.  Other brands of hash browns are fine.  Ironically they are sitting next to the Tesco Curly fries in the freezer.  While Tesco hash browns are gluten free, their curly fries aren't.  I really ought to just stick to the healthier options. 

Tomorrow I'm off on a coach trip, away for two nights.  Bear and DH are staying at home.  I've stocked up the fridge and the treat cupboard.  DH patiently explained that they were unlikely to starve in the three days and two nights that I would be away and that the kitchen was already stocked.  But, as I said, you never know.  I'm sure that they'll be fine. 

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Bear Considers Value

Bear loves to play Eurotruck.  I sort of half watch over his shoulder as he trundles his truck along from Iceland to Poland, down to Romania and across to Portugal.  He finds it soothing, and along the way has learned the relative positions of the countries of Europe and their major cities.  As the parts of the game are sometimes divided by country, he also knows whether, for example, Liege is in France or Belgium (it's in Belgium, I had to look it up). 

Bear has a comparatively inexpensive steering wheel and pedal set that plugs into the PC but told me that his experience would be greatly enhanced by an H-stick gear.  I asked him to translate and as far as I can see it's a sort of gear stick that also plugs into the PC.  I asked him how much it was.  Bear was evasive.

I had a look on eBay and Amazon and flinched.  The only thing that nearly fit bear's description was over £100 at the cheapest. apparently unavailable second hand and would still need to be used with a different type of rig which would bring the cost to over £200.  I could more or less almost possibly consider that amount for something like a tablet that he needed for school work, or perhaps a reconditioned phone to play his favourite games, but not a gaming accessory, not at 10 years old.  I suggested that he had a good think about it, and as he had a lot of pocket money saved up then perhaps he could pay for it himself. 

Bear does have a lot of pocket money saved, and one of the reasons he has a lot saved is because he strenuously resists spending it.  He thought about it for a few days and then told me that regretfully he couldn't justify getting a gear stick as it looked very complicated and he probably wouldn't get the benefit.  I was unsurprised.

He is willing to spend his own money on Lego, however.  I did try him with a large Block Tech set, which looks like Lego, is apparently Lego compatible, but is a lot less expensive, especially when the sets are half price in the Tesco toy sale.  I got a couple of absolute bargains, stashed one  and passed the other to bear to see if he could trade down. 

Bear gave the whole matter a lot of thought and decided that he would rather have less Lego than more Bloch Tech.  Apparently Block Tech just don't reach Lego's standards.  Some things, he said, are worth paying a little more for, even if it's with his own money. 

Mind you, Parents' Evening is next week.  Bear will expect a reward for a good report.  He didn't get a good enough report last year, so he will be on pins seeing if this year he gets a treat.  If he does earn a treat, I have a good idea what he'll ask for!

Thursday 5 October 2017

Getting Ready to Snuggle

I didn't get out today. 

But I did start getting ready for the autumn nights.  I've replaced the pillows on all beds, which was overdue, and I swapped the old mattress toppers on mine and DH's beds for new ones and also swapped the duvets.  I'm going to have to get rid of my old bedding.  The sort of eczema I've had over the last few years has taken a toll.  However I'm going to take DH's bedding to get washed and I'll stash it.  It will be great for spares or, if the winter gets really cold, I'll layer the old duvets under the sheets and put extra blankets on top.  I really recommend a blanket of sorts under the bottom sheet in cold weather.  It makes a surprising difference.  

I have a very large heap of blankets anyway.  Some are those I've knitted and some have been acquired over the years.  I'm very keen on using blankets before fires this winter.  I just need to get the curtains sorted.  It's not going to be this weekend, and next weekend I hope to be away, but the weekend after I hope to hang the winter curtains which are duvet covers with heading tape sewn on and lined with fleece kept in place by fabric glue and a few stitches.  I still need to line them, but it's not that complicated (I hope!).  

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about getting ready for winter.  The window in the junk room really needs to be replaced, and the windows in the living room and study are heading there, but otherwise the windows and doors are snug, there are plenty of blankets, the boiler is getting serviced soon and I feel that we are ready to settle in. 

Thank you for the support.  It means a great deal to me.

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Bear is very Bear

I have posted before about the impossibility of keeping blankets on bear at night time.  He is a small furnace.  He is also getting older.  The teen years are looming.  This morning he was happily getting ready to go out and asked me, 'Mum, where's my coat?'.  There are only a few places that coats end up, even unofficially.  We tore the place apart.  He'd left the coat at school.

So yesterday, when it wasn't particularly warm, he'd raced home in just a shirt (he left his jumper at school as well, which is another issue) and now while I could scrape up a spare jumper, I was stuck about the coat.  Bear sighed and wore a sort of hoodie type jacket.  It was dry when he went to school, but it was wet when he came home - fortunately in his coat.

I did leave the house today, but only the few hundred yards to the doctor's where I got my flu jab.  I now feel a little achy, a little headachy, I have a sore throat and I am feeling a lot better than if I had the real flu.  I intend to take alcohol tonight and take it easy tomorrow.  I hope to go out on Friday, as the weather forecast is good, but Saturday is looking grim.

Thank you for all the supportive comments.  I honestly don't think I would have got out of the front door yesterday without them.  I really appreciate it.

Tuesday 3 October 2017

I Did It! I Got Out of the House and Found Weird Stuff

I can't believe how much of a struggle it was, but I got into town.  I managed to get out of the house.  It took two hours longer than it should have done and I felt poorly while I was out, but I did it!

I went to the Leeds City Museum.  I was unlikely to buy anything there, and there was an exhibition on of skeletons.  How could I resist?  There were a dozen cases, each with the remains of a person found at an archaeological dig.  There was a notice that politely reminded the public that these had once been living people and to be respectful when it came to taking photographs.  There were a few other bits as well, so I took a picture of those instead.  Here is a memento mori, a very Victorian thing where they kept a memento of their lost one, in this case, a bracelet with the band made of human hair.

I found the thought of that very icky indeed!

One of the skeletons was from a dig before they built the Barbican in York.  Apparently they hoped to find the lost church of York, All Saints Church, and while they didn't find the church building they did find a lot of medieval burials plus some of Cromwell's soldiers. 

I should say that the exhibition said that it was a lost church that vanished with the dissolution of the monasteries in the sixteenth century but apparently there is an All Saints Church in North Street, York, with all the details that the exhibition referred to, so Wikipedia obviously has different sources.  They may be more reliable because All Saints, York, is also on Trip Advisor

Regardless, the excavation dug up over 500 sets of remains from a previously unknown burial site.  Any decent storyteller would have the place dripping with ghosts.  As far as I can tell from Google, the Barbican, now built on the site, is no more haunted than the rest of York. 

There must be dozens and dozens of unknown burial sites in the UK.  They were always getting found by Time Team.  If I believed properly in ghosts I would feel very undersupplied and would want to check my reciept.  As it was, it was fascinating to see the remains from lots of different time periods, from Bronze Age to 18th century, and to see the marks their life left on their remains. 

If I ever can get writing again, I've got material for a lot of stories.

Monday 2 October 2017


The nice man came about the washing machine today. 

The washing machine has gone from whistling to moaning, a really awful moan that makes me think it's about to break down.  I have insurance that will either repair or replace, so I was hopeful.  I shifted the stuff in the kitchen so that the washing machine was available and kept my fingers crossed.

The nice man set the machine off, pushed different buttons and tried different programmes.  The machine practically purred.  It never made a murmur out of line.  It gave a wonderful impression of a perfect machine, darn it.  The nice man said that this was normal and could I try recording it next time I hear it.  I nodded politely.  However it doesn't always make the noise and I'm usually on a different floor.  I'll just have to work on it.  The nice man recommended I buy the manufacturer's washing machine cleaner sachets (buy three year's worth and get the fourth year free!) and I'm still considering it. 

But isn't it typical that the dratted thing works like a dratted charm once I have a dratted witness?

Sarah thank you for that massive hug!  I can't tell you how much it means to me.  You are right, I don't have much local support, I consider this blog the main source of support in my life, but I'm not too isolated.  I suspect that you are right - I have had so much over a few years and now it's sort of 'safe' to collapse.  I am able to do less and less.  Tomorrow I have no reason not to go out, except I am finding a gazillion reasons why I have to stay in.  I'll update with how I do.  Thank you again for your comment, and thanks to all who have commented with support.  I'm very grateful.

Sunday 1 October 2017

Before the Internet

I didn't have a perfect childhood.  I honestly believe that both parents did their best but they were only human.  Sometimes I talk about my childhood and DH is frankly shocked.  It has affected my attitude to the internet.  When I was young, there could be me, my mother and two brothers in the house and all of us reading in separate rooms.  We were never really a unit.  So I don't see going on the internet in separate rooms as very different.

Today was like one of my best childhood memories.  When I was very little I would sometimes stay overnight with my gran and grandad.  They had an open fire and in the dark evenings we would all be sitting together in the living room.  Grandad would be reading and gran would be knitting and reading (my gran was an amazing, dedicated and high speed knitter that churned out a complicated sweater or cardigan roughly every week) while I read or watched the fire which made the only sound along with gran's knitting needles.  There was no conversation but it was wonderfully calming and quiet with a sense of companionship. 

This afternoon we were all in the study on our electronic devices, but we weren't cut off from each other.  We had a woodwick candle flickering and it felt cosy and loving.  Bear was stuffing his face with fruit and was apparently 90% leg, dh and I shared the occasional tidbit from the internet and encouraged bear in his game or browsing, and it felt safe.  I suppose it was our version of hyyge.

I'm not too worried about bear and his pal.  They sometimes play together on the computer, sometimes play separate games while talking rubbish at each other in the usual way of young lads, but they play enough football that I have a serious challenge getting all the mud out of the clothes bear was wearing yesterday.  I let them manage their own time when it comes to hanging out. 

We make a point of keeping Sunday afternoons locked down to 'family time'.  It's when we make sure that we're still in touch, that we know what's going on and relax together.  We sometimes dig out boardgames or watch films together but often it's just us doing our own thing in a shared space and feeling happy with each other.  Today I had to break off to take the soup to the Church but I came straight back and settled in. 

Jake's a Girl - may you come back victorious from the sale!  And well done on the score at the sale yesterday!