Wednesday 28 February 2018

It's All About the Weather!

DH took two hours instead of forty five minutes to get to work this morning and was sent home by lunchtime.  Bear had a 10am start at school.  Tomorrow school has been cancelled.  We have been very fortunate in our local weather for the last few months, but today we were actually affected.  We are still nowhere near as severely affected as most of the UK and I am grateful and sending up prayers for those seriously affected. 

After leaving the actual, real, from-a-sheep yarn to one side, and despite having a flare up of eczema (thought it was a chocolate, turned out to be full of biscuit, I'm going to be scratting!) and not using gloves for a bit of washing up, my hands have seriously improved.  I shall look into Kate's suggestion of cotton gloves.

Bear is in a dither about missing school tomorrow.  On the one hand, he misses school.  On the other hand, it's World Book Day tomorrow and he had a Harry Potter costume primed and ready to go. School have posted on Facebook that there will be a chance to go in costume on another day, so hopefully tomorrow will involve hot chocolate, craft and snuggles.  Also possibly DH working from home as even if the snow holds off here (which is far from certain) it is likely to be very icy. 

This is a very small amount of snow compared to Scandinavia, Canada and the northern USA, but the UK isn't set up for this amount of snow.  People aren't sure how to drive in this weather, we don't have snow chains in cities and people are just not in the way of it.  It's also been a longer than normal spell.  It's not unknown for there to be snow in March.  My parents got married in March and they had all sorts of trouble with the weather, and a few years ago there were snow banks in the Pennines I think into March or even April.  However it started early this year.  It started getting seriously cold in November.  I shall be glad when the normal rain comes back!

Tuesday 27 February 2018

My Hands Hurt

I bid on some yarn on my friend eBay and won.  I was really excited as it is hand spun wool from a real sheep.  I've never had anything quite so exotic - I'm more used to bargain basement acrylic.  Now I have actual real wool from a real sheep!  It's listed as Welsh bred sheep, and I should have known.  Welsh blankets are famous for being plaid and hard-wearing.  They are not really known for snuggly softness, though they can be great.  But I received 1000g of actual, handspun, real, grown on a real animal, wool at a very reasonable price.

I would say it was a rough chunky weight, and it's quite coarse.  I decided to go for making a blanket which would be warm and fire resistant.  I just went with a basic pattern of row 1:k, row 2: k1p1 rib.  It makes a great blanket.  Like I said, however, it's quite coarse and I was wondering how to wash it as it definitely smells faintly but definitely of farmyard but I was enjoying knitting it up.  Then I realised.  Whenever I knitted this instead of the gazillion other projects I was working on, my hands flared up.  They are really sore and red and itching so much that I've drawn blood scratching without realising.  I don't know if I've suddenly developed a reaction to real wool or whether there is something from the fleece that lingers.  I am definitely not up for washing yarn before knitting it up.  I'm going to have to learn to knit in gloves, because I think that once it is knitted up and washed it will be awesome. 

Bear has junked his previous quilt attempt, which is a sensible move in my opinion.  Instead he has decided that he is going to put together a piece that is 10 squares by 19 squares and I am going to turn it into a quilt for him.  He has been very diligent and measured his bed, measured the squares (4 inches or 10 cm) and worked out the number of squares.  However I have just realised that he hasn't included seam allowances in his calculations (why should he - it's only his second attempt at sewing stuff together) so it may need a few extra. 

I'm wondering if bear is feeling quite well.  He came in on Monday with homework and did it straight away and practiced the piano without being reminded.  He needed a little support with his homework as he needed to do things like identify a determiner in a sentence.  What can I say?  When I was his age, due to a combination of a poor school and some odd ideas about education going around, I didn't know what a noun was, let along determiners.  I asked Google, who came through for me.  Thank goodness he didn't ask me about the maths!

I'm stepping away from the real wool for a while.  If my hands continue to flare up then it's something else and I can go back to the blanket.  Fortunately I have some other projects I can get on with...

Monday 26 February 2018

A Big Day

It's a big day for me.  Today my passport arrived in the post and I immediately applied for my provisional driving licence.  I need to be able to drive by September.  It should be theoretically possible, and I am sure lots of people have managed it, but I'm nervous. 

I am not sure about my temperament and I'm not sure about my coordination and I am appalling at being taught.  I do have a habit of going my own way and reinventing the wheel.  On the other hand, having been a passenger in a car many times, I can't be the worst driver out there.  I've seen some truly horrific driving over the years.  I am going to practice positive thinking and study for the theory test.

Also, after seeing how Tom's book looks in print on demand self publish paperback (linky), I'm considering re-doing the books I have written so far to have them on demand in paperback as well.  It is quite daunting as if I was going to do that then it may as well coincide with the next thing I publish which is probably going to be the collection of the stories from 'At the Sign of the White Hart' and 'Steve Adderson's Story' and that feels very daunting.  I don't think I'll every get used the idea that I've written a book. 

And speaking of the White Hart - latest installment is here and the story from the beginning is here

Sunday 25 February 2018

My Pulses are Racing!

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist the pun.  I'm getting quite into the idea of lentils.  Partly because yesterday when we had Dal Nirvana the men almost inhaled the lentil dish but today when we had roast beef they were less impressed.  I am less and less confident about roasting things and so I bought a 'roast in the bag' beef joint that was supposed to be fool-proof.  What can I say?  I'm obviously a better quality of fool.  It was very tough.  Fortunately we had crumble afterwards which went down well, so that was a compensation.  The beef alone was £7.50!!!  There wasn't even enough left to try and shred and cook with plenty of onions and tomatoes.  As for the dal nirvana, I suppose it was @ £2.50 for the whole dinner. 

Barb from Canada shared this link to a Canadian organisation but I already knew of a Canadian website called and I really need to spend more time on there.  There are swathes of recipes and they really can't be worse than the beef today. 

It is nice to see links with people.  I smile (genuinely!) when I see links to people, like the Canadian lentil sites.  I'm racking my brains and I still can't remember the name of the lovely lady who lives absolutely dead centre of Canada (bear was fascinated by that idea, as we are almost dead centre of England), and of course there is Barb and I'm sure other's I've forgotten (sorry).  The coconut milk came from Sri Lanka and reminded me of Bless.  I love seeing links. 

I started bear on some knitting this morning.  It went as well as can be expected.  Bear accepted that he was not immediately perfect, although he did a good job for a first attempt.  I cast on 25 stitches for him and when he conceded defeat and accepted that it would never be a decent scarf he had it up to 67 stitches.  He has started another attempt.  We both agree that for him it's the process and not the end result that matters and he had fun.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it works out. 

Saturday 24 February 2018

I made Dal Nirvana

I used the recipe from Budget Bytes (and I think I will be rummaging around their site a lot more).  I hadn't cooked anything like this before.  I've done a version of Esau's pottage which is red lentils, onions and spices but never really used brown lentils before and didn't realise I had to soak them first (fortunately I read the back of the packet).  I also substituted coconut milk for evaporated milk. 

I must get more lentil recipes on the table.  They are high in fibre, low in fat, have shedloads of vitamins, are gluten free and are extremely inexpensive.  Tonight the lentils cooked with garlic, ginger, cumin and paprika and served with rice and peas vanished of DH's and bear's plates at an alarming rate.  I've just found a recipe for lentil and apricot soup so that may turn up soon as well.

Now I am going to hunt through the internet for recipes that use up the two thirds of a tin of coconut milk I have over. 

Friday 23 February 2018

Can You Hear Me?

I went out!!!!  I went to Aldi and my back only gave up when I got home, so result!  I picked up some bits, some bobs, some treats for bear and his pals - and unfortunately six yarn cakes and two sets of knitting looms, one round set and one straight.  What can I say?  I had a fail.  To be honest, it wasn't a huge fail as the yarn and the knitting looms were both ridiculously inexpensive and bear had been talking about the french knitting they had done at school and how much he wanted another go at that, so the knitting loom seemed a logical purchase.  Also, the yarn cakes may not be the topmost quality but they were certainly not the topmost price and I plan to let bear loose on a triangle shawl in plain knit once he gets the hang of knitting and the yarn cakes look awesome as triangles and it will be great for him to practise increasing. 

When I was pootling around Aldi I bumped into an elderly lady from church.  She is lovely, has a massive heart of gold and adored father, but she's not young in her mind.  I had to be really firm and not allow her to put all the yarn back (honestly, it was a steal!) and I also refused to allow her to drop me off (more stress than it was worth and our road really is appalling, especially for octogenarians).  I didn't get to ask the staff about some bits that didn't seem to be stocked anymore and I had to dive for the taxi as I rang for it as the (really, really, really lovely) lady was distracted as she had an issue with her card.  It was nice seeing her, but I don't think I got through to her that actually I wanted the yarn and it was okay.

Then the taxi driver was, I don't know how to put this, insistent on being hlepful.  I saw this on reddit - he wanted to 'hlep' which looks like 'help' but isn't.  I don't like strangers in my home.  I'm sure most women my age know of incidents which happened to themselves or friends where letting a stranger in wasn't a good idea and it's something I'm not comfortable with.  I couldn't get out of the car quick enough before he was ahead of me, dropping bags and insisting that I open the door for him.  I told him it was great and to leave the stuff in the garden but he didn't listen as he was absolutely determined that I open the door for him.  I felt backed into a corner, and I get stubborn then, and he was getting more insistent and I was getting snappier.  Fortunately someone rang my mobile at that point and I took the call and ignored him until he drove off.  I really did feel under siege, just because he wouldn't hear 'no'.  He wasn't doing anything wrong.  He was probably trying to be helpful.  I just wish he had heard what I was saying. 

Bear doesn't hear me either but I'm resigned to that and I don't expect it to improve. 

Thursday 22 February 2018

A Nothing Day

It's been a nothing sort of day.  I've tried to keep moving (back still v bad but following Sarah's advice and giving it a good rub has helped).  My tumble dryer fainted this afternoon but now is apparently fine.  Bear continues with his determination to make himself a quilt for his bed and I'm not sure I'm up to helping him finish it off, but I will see what we can manage.  I'm being completely honest about my skills and the lack of them because I think it's only fair that bear knows that even if you don't always have the exact skills, you can still have a go. 

My late mother apparently could do dressmaking and embroidery and all sorts.  She told me about how her great aunt used to sit her down and make her set a cuff with hand sewing and how at the very nice school she went to they did all the home making sciences properly.  She could follow a pattern, and she could knit and embroider and crochet, but she never really did much.  She had a tapestry which was a large piece of tapestry canvas which she called her sanity saver as whenever she was feeling particularly stressed she pulled it out and did odd shaped blocks of different shades of green.  She taught me how to sew on a button and how to switch yarns on a knitting pattern.  My late grandmother taught me how to knit - cast on, cast off, knit and purl.  The rest of it I more or less taught myself. 

Looking back, I feel like there was something of a switch and bait.  My mother could cook, but very rarely did and I taught myself most of the skills I know.  She taught me how to do laundry and she did a very good job of that.  Despite the disasters I write about, I think I keep our clothes clean with the minimum of wear and a lot of that is down to her.  But she never really showed me much of the skills she had or she said she had.  . 

I grew up feeling inadequate next to my mother, but looking back I think I knew more, even from my teens.  I'm determined to make sure bear doesn't feel like that.  I hope I can show him that he can learn stuff from me, from his teachers and from books and the internet and I have told him that one day I am sure he will be teaching me things.  The knitting and sewing can be a great adventure, so let's enjoy it. 

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Bear and Sewing!

Thank you for all the wonderful comments on the previous post.  I've replied individually to them.  I feel ashamed that I haven't already taught bear but he has only been mildly interested so far.  The last time he really took an interest was when he had been watching 'The Great British Sewing Bee' and had a go on the sewing machine.  He lost interest, but he may take a closer interest now he is older.

If I had stopped to think about it for more than a millisecond, of course there is no reason why bear shouldn't be learning sewing and knitting.  I can't teach him much sewing as I don't know much myself, but I can certainly get him started on knitting.  I don't know a vast amount about knitting, but I can teach him the basic stitches.  Men in my family have done sewing, tapestry, crochet and knitting very successfully.  It's just that I haven't seen them doing it for several years and it slipped my mind.

Bear has spent some time this evening sewing squares into fours.  The result is not a thing of beauty, though I've been as encouraging as I can.  Some of the sewing is puckered and bear has a wonderful indifference to keeping the seams on the same side of the work.  I'm taking it as a design feature, really.  I pointed out that the main thing was to relax and enjoy himself and according to bear it has been a resounding success.  He sees himself making a quilt for his bed.  I'm going with the flow.  He is just copying some bits he has learned in class but he has taken the initiative and is having a go and having a marvellous time.  I think it shows a great deal of credit to him.

I will just follow bear's lead.  I'm sure he will have fun, and once he has got the hang of things I think he can use knitting and hand sewing of whatever type as a way of relaxing during stressful times.  These days schools are so intense and so much is required of kids that I when I think about it, knitting ought to be compulsory. 

I am now off to brush up my skills to try and keep up with bear. 

Tuesday 20 February 2018

I Blame the School

Bear came home and said he really liked quilting.  I smiled and nodded.  Bear waxed lyrical about the benefits of quilting and how relaxing it was, especially with all the stress that they are having at school, he really loves his quilting and he's really good at it and it is so relaxing.  I smiled and nodded some more.  So bear continued to tell me how much he liked quilting, emphasising that he could tie a knot in the thread and everything.  I caved.

I asked a few questions.  I don't really know much about quilting.  I've had a few goes but never finished anything.  However I've seen a few videos and I have a sort of general knowledge.  What bear has been doing at school is sewing two inch squares together into fours.  As far as I can tell there is no standard seam allowance so good luck to the teacher getting thirty odd sets of stitched together squares into anything flat.  Mind you, I think the teacher is into craft.  I know that bear and the rest of the class got an amazing knitted robin from her for Christmas, so she may be able to conjure up something amazing.  However I suspect there is an element of her helping calm down some stressed kids with simple handicrafts.  I approve. 

Now, as it happens, I have a stash of four inch squares in cheap cotton prints that I bought for an extremely small amount as I wanted to have a go and thought I'd start with something inexpensive.  I handed them over to bear with a pack of needles, some cream coloured cotton, a ruler, an erasable pen and my least favourite small sewing scissors - complete with strong instructions not to let the scissors near paper.  Bear has sewn the first two squares together and is pleased with the result.  As the fabric was extremely inexpensive and bear has no sense of colour even without his colour blindness, I am not sure what the result will be.  He also doesn't think that he needs to press the seams open as they are not doing that in school.  To be honest, I can imagine why the teacher doesn't want a lot of 10 and 11 year olds playing around with an iron, so I am letting him get on with it in the way he knows.  It's patchwork more than quilting, but I'm fine with that.  After a while we can watch a YouTube video together about backing the quilt/patchwork and he can have it for his room.  I've also promised to show him how to knit this weekend.

I'm on the fence about posting this, and I may take it down in the future.  I try and be aware that bear and/or his pals may find this blog in the future.  I don't want to give anyone ammunition against bear.  I've tried to keep to the fun things.  Bear is growing into a remarkable young man and I would hate to do anything that would hinder it.  It is still very unusual for boys to do much knitting and sewing.  If he had been a daughter I would have already been knitting with her.  I'm happy to encourage bear with cooking and tidying, and I will be introducing him to the washing machine and ironing as he gets a little older, but I hadn't really considered knitting and sewing with him, apart from a few summers ago when he quickly lost interest.  If he enjoys the knitting and sewing then we shall have to start.  It could be awesome!

Monday 19 February 2018

What's in A Name

I treated myself to a bundle of books from Postscript.  This is a fascinating site, mainly remaindered non fiction and academic books, which I avoid as often as possible because I always succumb to something.  One book I bought purely because of the title - 'Knitskrieg: A Call to Yarns'.  How can I resist a title like that?  It's a fascinating book.  I've only dipped in to it but it gives the history of knitting for soldiers from the Crimean War to the present.  It has lots of illustrations, which while I usually consider padding is absolutely wonderful.  It has pictures of forage caps and socks, sweaters and balaclavas.  It has a few patterns in, plus a lot of examples.  I think I will be dipping into it time and again.  It's written mainly from a British point of view but there is a small section on the American Civil War.  I'm glad I got it. 

I also bought a book called Edible Wild Plants and Flowers.  To be fair, I wasn't buying it to go harvesting, but more as research for the stuff I'm writing.  If I wanted the real deal I would refer to Sarah Head of Tales of a Kitchen Herbwife who is incredibly knowledgeable and generous with that knowledge (Sarah - I don't know if I have the courage to go for a massage but if I do I will definitely be following your recommendations).  I was a little disappointed in this.  It had sections on plants like rosemary and mint which, while they can be found wild, are something I normally associate with gardens.  At the same time it didn't have a section on nettles, which I suppose is because stuff like nettle soup is widely known.  I quite like the sound of the hawthorn flower liqueur but I'm staying away from the alcohol at the moment.  It's not a bad book, but it's not quite as wild as I expected. 

I want to say thank you for all the amazing advice I get on here.  I believe my back problems are mainly to do with being overweight and inactive.  I'm working on it.  I went out twice today - once to the post office and then again to the post office with the correct address on the envelope.  I'm going to see how it goes tomorrow.  I am also going to look back at the awesome comments and start making a list of the great advice to start chasing it down. 

Sunday 18 February 2018

Win Some, Lose Some

I didn't manage to get out yesterday which was a real shame.  I would have loved to have seen the art show.  I've seen some of the stuff and it is amazing!  However there were some compensations.  I managed to get at least a little further towards a kitchen fit for purpose - in five minute bursts.  My back muscles keep going into something like cramp, which hurts and the only painkiller I can currently take gives me major heartburn so I'm getting by.  I've also finished a hat

All I need now is the courage to wear it in public.  I bought  a kit from my friend eBay but I may try and replicate the pattern at some point. 

I've also finished the latest instalment of 'At the Sign of the White Hart' here and the story from the beginning is here

Did I mention, you lot are awesome.  I am sorry, I feel like I have let you down after all the encouragement, but I do appreciate it all.  Thank you. 

Friday 16 February 2018

So near, yet so far...

I could in theory get on the bus into Leeds tomorrow, then a regular bus from Leeds to Skipton, and go to the amazing Art Exhibition, TAM on Tour, at Skipton Town Hall. It looks fantastic and I love the chance to perhaps afford something original and beautiful, especially by K J Sutcliffe, who is kind enough to sometimes comment here and who is absolutely wonderful.   Then I could get one of the frequent buses home. 

On the other hand, I am nervous that I might meet someone who sort of 'knows' me, that I won't be able to get out of the door (still haven't posted the birth certificate) and that my back will go.  My back is 'going' on a regular basis. I can manage about ten minutes of movement before I get like a cramp in the muscles in my back so getting to the nearest bus stop is a challenge. 

On the third hand (I could get an Olympic medal at dithering) I love Skipton, the castle is wonderful (though expensive), the church is lovely and does teas, and there is a wonderful small but free museum in Skipton Town Hall and I wouldn't mind having another look there.  There may also be some rather nice yarn shops in Skipton together with a shop near the bus station that sells off cuts and remnants of stunning fabric at very reasonable prices called the fent shop but I am skipping over them.  If I remember from the last time I went in the Fent Shop, it doesn't have much cheap fabric, but it has amazingly lovely and expensive fabric at a reduced price.  By the way, I have only heard the word 'fent' meaning 'remnant' in Yorkshire.  I don't know if it's common elsewhere. 

I don't know if I'll be able to go but I recommend anyone in the area to pop in.  Also, sending best wishes and good luck to the artists there. 

Thursday 15 February 2018

I Made 'Some' Dinner

Last night I was going to do Morrocan Lamb.  I wasn't sure about the recipe because I had half remembered it and couldn't find the one I liked, but I had got some apricots in and thought I could go with it.  I was planning on making it the night before but failed and the lamb went off.  So I cut up a couple of chicken breasts and put them in a plastic food bag.  Then I added around a tablespoon of flour (gluten free here), plus 'some' turmeric, cinnamon, mixed spice and cumin and shook the bag until the chicken was well coated.  After that I browned it with 'some' onions and 'lots of' garlic, added a tin of chopped tomatoes and let it simmer.  It took a few attempts to get it simmering as I'm still getting used to the hob, but it worked. 

Bear is refusing chicken that isn't breaded and treated the chicken with complete disdain so he had a couple of sausages with his rice and peas.  He is getting extremely picky.  I am desperate for him to get some nutrition into him but it's getting close to the 'eat it or go hungry' line.  There's been some genuine stomach issues which have lead to some incredibly annoying eating habits.  I am tearing my hair out.  DH practically inhaled the chicken and I thought it tasted very pleasant indeed.  Next time I may add ginger and perhaps some chilli.  I didn't make it to the post office, I'll make another attempt today. 

Last night I had nightmares about my dining room being infested with undead spiders.  I think my subconscious is telling me something so now I'm off to give it a good clear out. 

Tuesday 13 February 2018

I Forgot the Pancakes

I forgot to pick up pancakes, and I certainly forgot all about making them.  No-one complained so I may just make them a day late.

I didn't go out today but I will have to go out tomorrow.  I paid extra for the post office passport checking service.  Apparently when I asked if they needed my birth certificate and the lady said 'no', she should have said 'yes'.  I was so grateful that a very nice lady in the passport office rang up and asked me to send it.  I've dug out the birth certificate (which I had with me in the post office ready to send) and I will be sending it by the fastest and most registered way tomorrow.

Otherwise it has been a very quiet day with bear explaining video games to me.  I still don't have an idea, but he enjoyed explaining and I enjoyed his enthusiasm. 

Bear and I have been working through the Bergomot and Nettle tealights - rather like this but on a slightly better offer.  The room now smells pleasantly green.  I suspect that they are an acquired taste, but bear and I approve.  Next week I have a number of trips planned (though I'm not sure I'll manage all of them) and I plan to raid Home Sense as the Christmas candles should be coming into the bargain shops and I will be keeping my eye out for more of them. 

Monday 12 February 2018

Out Again!

I don't know what's happening, but I was out again.  I drank again for the first time last night and I hit hard so I wasn't feeling like a ray of sunshine.  Regardless, bear had an appointment with the dentist and so off we went.

The dentist we go to is in Harehills.  We don't live anywhere near Harehills but the bus route is easier than nearer dentists.  Harehills is one of the least salubrious places in Leeds.  It is not respectable at all.  Bear did not approve of us going there.  As with many deprived areas, an effort has been made to brighten up the place but what effect this psychedelic bunny would have on someone already on drugs is anyone's guess.

Bear has the start of a cavity but it's in a baby tooth.  Bear's teeth have been very slow to come through, so at least his adult tooth was spared.  The dentist decided to leave it for now, and I was grateful.  I was unsurprised as bear can be very creative when it comes to avoiding brushing his teeth and does not spare either sweeties or fruit.

The latest from 'At the Sign of the White Hart' is up here and the story from the beginning is here.  I had far too much fun writing it.  I hope it cheers people up. 

Barb from Canada - I am definitely going to try that! 

Sunday 11 February 2018

Cooking and Books

I am so buzzed because my pal Tom, aka Thomas Marlowe and writing as Finn Cullen has finally got his book out there!

It is an awesome read, I really recommend it.  I love the way it covers so much intrigue and so many different backgrounds.  And I got to read it almost first - I feel smug about that! 

Today has been a cooker challenge.  The new cooker has two ovens and today I used both!  I had chicken in the lower oven and crumble in the top oven.  I got quite giddy.  However there is a slight issue.  The old cooker was, frankly, useless.  The old fridge was a lot sturdier.  Now I have a working oven next to a modern fridge.  This worries me.  I've kept a few inches of air between them but when I tested the gap by putting my hand against the fridge it wasn't cold.  It was mildly tepid, only very slightly above room temperature, if at all, but not cold.  It worries me.  The fridge is in a spot between the cooker and the wall.  The only other places in the kitchen are in front of a radiator, in front of a cupboard or in front of the sink.  I'm going to have to reorganise a lot of things and I think that includes my dining room with the extremely sloping floor.  I ought to say 'Challenge Accepted' but I don't really feel up to the task.  I'll worry about that tomorrow.

And I am buzzed on cola and going to try and get the next instalment of Tales from the White Hart up tomorrow.  It's been planned as a smaller chapter after the drama of last time but sometimes things get away from me.  I've already junked one version.  Then I will be working on another novel that is a proper one that will come out in one go before going back to work on the oncoming Tales from the White Hart.  Thank you for all the awesome support.  I can't tell you how much it means to me.  I am incredibly flattered by your comments, especially those who say that it cheers you up.  That is a wonderful gift, thank you. 

Saturday 10 February 2018

I Went Out Again!

I'm getting a gadabout! 

Today I went into Leeds.  I want to get a passport to make it easy to get a provisional driving licence to learn to drive to take bear to school when it would be around twenty minutes each way in the car and over an hour on the bus.  There have been issues with the pictures, so today I took it all in again and hopefully will here soon.  I used the passport checker, and they seemed to think that there would be no trouble. 

I also had another go with the thing where you get money back by scanning your receipts.  I'm not entirely convinced, but if it's stuff that I'm going to get anyway then I may as well go for it. I picked up a few bits in Sainsburys and then I came home. 

Perhaps it's just as well that I came more or less straight home as there is an axe man wandering around one of the Leeds Universities, though, according to the Daily Mirror, he only used the axe to steal a bike. 

Friday 9 February 2018

So That was Friday

It's been a meh sort of day.  I managed to get out of the house first thing as bear has suddenly decided to get through vast amounts of milk.  He only got through around a pint today.  Yesterday when he and his pal both tucked into cereal and those milkshake straws they got through two litres and left me without any milk at all.  I'm taking the view that there are worse things and nipped out to the Nisa to pick up supplies so bear could have a decent breakfast before school.  There are also better things and I need to stock up on fruit.  I also got through a huge heap of paperwork.  There was a stack of letters that had built up and I got through it all, shredding lots and lots of statements. 

Apart from that I haven't managed much.  I've finally decided to knit the hat kit that I picked up from one of my less sober visits to eBay (haven't had a drink all week).  It's a kit from the 'Art of Knitting' and I'm glad I never subscribed.  It's not a bad hat but the pattern isn't helpful to a beginner.  It tells you that you need particular needles (4.5mm and 5mm) and sets out a very basic pattern but it doesn't tell you about the yarn which is supplied.  As far as I can see it is an aran weight, or possibly between DK and aran.  This means that you may have the pattern but it would be a challenge to repeat it unless you were willing to take some guesses and knit a lot of tension squares.  I hope to finish it this weekend as my head gets cold when I am out and the weather forecast isn't good. 

Hester - counselling is a really useful tool for a lot of people and I'm not ruling it out for me permanently.  I know it can really open new ways of thinking and give a positive boost in all sorts of ways.  I've had experience of a few different counsellors.  One was somewhat predatory, one left me hysterical and traumatised after every lesson (great when you're taking a bus home, trying not to sob too loudly) and one (who was actually very good in lots of ways) felt that perhaps I should take a course of action that I didn't feel comfortable taking.  She was an amazing person, and I think I may have continued a little longer as she wasn't particularly pushy but then bear was born and it was too far to travel.  I would still consider counselling at perhaps another time or in other circumstances as it can be so helpful, but not right now.  I'm really grateful that you took the time to suggest it.  I'm considering meditation but I'm actually feeling quite chilled after knitting some hat and listening to a podcast on the fall of the Roman Empire.  I'll take it as a win. 

btw I posted another poem based on the picture here.  Personally I think the picture is the best part, but for anyone interested, the poem is here.  And I wrote it sober. 

Thursday 8 February 2018

Sort of Busy

It's not really busy, not like people who actually work for a living, but I've been kept moving.  The very nice man came to have a look at what I thought was an iffy door frame in the kitchen and it turned out to be iffy trim, so instead I got a quote to replace the extremely badly fitted window in the junk room. 

Then I got a haircut.  It was a little aggressive, but I ended up with shorter hair and that's all I ask for these days.  I still have some snips of hair stuck in the back of my throat and it is driving me nuts.  It meant that I had nice hair when I went into town to get passport photos taken as I need a passport really to make it easy to get my provisional driving licence so that I can learn to drive and so drive bear to school which is fifteen minutes in the car, an hour on the bus and so probably important. 

Then I made a call about the mortgage which is coming to the end of its fixed term and that was bewildering.  I know a little about mortgages, such as the importance of paying them, but I'm not very clued up and the people on the other end of the phone, while lovely, kept assuming that I knew what they were talking about. 

Then I had to grovel to the school as I had completely forgotten about the books that bear would like for his SATS revision (it's driving me crazy and the test isn't until May) and I had to sort the money out for that. 

Then bear managed to spill half a small glass of milk that seemed to cover most of his desk, under his computer keyboard, his mousemat, his shoes, large amounts of paper and pens and half a yard of carpet. 

I'm still working out how to use the new cooker but I managed to successfully use a pan and then settled down after bear's bedtime and finished off the latest instalment of 'At the Sign of the White Hart' here, or the story from the beginning here

Now I am going to get off and sort out the money for the books and the money for the sweet shop they are holding at school to raise funds to repair the storm damage. 

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Thank you More!!!

Thank you so much for all the wonderful advice and support. I am having a long, hard think about things and taking all the amazing suggestions on board.  I'm really grateful. 

I'm doing okay and I had a boost yesterday as bear and I had an agreement about homework.  Bear, despite the evidence of his desk and bedroom, is an orderly creature.  He likes things as he likes them.  He noticed that keep our dvds in those sort of book things that hold 100 discs and thought that was the best way to keep his collection of audio books on CDs.  Bear and I had a discussion and I bought some extremely inexpensive cases for his CDs of Harry Potter, The Hobbit, the Narnia collection and Lord of the Rings.  They arrived yesterday while bear was at school.

I forgot about them until bedtime.  The rule is that we finish up story time and the bedtime routine and leave bear alone by 8pm.  He gets left to put his own light out when he is ready, usually around 9pm which is about right as he is normally up at 7am.  Sometimes the light goes out later, sometimes earlier but it averages out okay and between us leaving and bear actually going to sleep he has a chance to wind down away from all screens with books, audio books, sometimes he draws or does puzzles, whatever he feels like.  I don't know how long this will last as bear heads towards the teens, but I live in hope. 

Last night as we were leaving bear mentions the CD wallets and I remembered that they had arrived.  Bear wanted to immediately leap into action but I told him that he could sort it all out tomorrow after he had done his homework.  I didn't want him messing around with CDs too late.  Bear looked shocked and said that he could do his homework right there and then.  In fact he insisted on doing his homework right then.  I've never known anything like it.  Bear ran downstairs determined to get that homework done and dusted and to grab the CD wallets.  Before I knew it bear had written out his ten facts he had learned about the Ancient Greeks and was upstairs shedding paper CD sleeves. 

I should mention that bear had been telling me how impossible it was to do the homework as he couldn't possibly remember ten facts he had covered in school last Friday, it was utterly beyond him, he was stuck.  Faced with the chance to organise something into CD wallets it took him less than fifteen minutes and that included finding his book bag and me insisting that he put his homework actually inside the book bag so it had a chance of getting into school. I took it as a win.

Sunday 4 February 2018

Thank You

Thank you for the advice and support.  There are some amazing people out there and I am lucky that some of them read my blog.  Thank you!

Today I finished off the last of the current bottle of brandy.  I don't intend on buying any more.  To keep myself honest, I'll post here when I drink but I'm not going to make a big thing of it.  Also, to be clear, I only ever drink when bear is safely tucked in bed, soundly asleep and DH is able to look after him in a crisis.  When all is said and done, it's always all about bear.

I didn't get far today.  I got maybe a few miles only, but I went to see Jumanji.  I love seeing a good film at the cinema, and it doesn't appeal the same way to bear or DH.  Bear is quite clear, he does not do cinema and he would rather wait for the dvd, thank you so much.  I loved the film.  I thought there were some amazing and understated acting performances and I plan to get the dvd when it comes out.  Bear would not have tolerated it.  There were a couple of cringy teenage kisses and bear does not do kisses.  Bear has Views. 

I've decided that tomorrow is a knitting day.  Looking back over my track record that means that it's unlikely that any knitting will happen but who knows.  For once I may stick to a plan.  I was on eBay and under the influence last night, and bear will be getting several shirts.  I will be getting a knitted hat kit that was actually very reasonable, but I want to try and clear some of my outstanding projects. 

Bear has taken to milkshake.  This is quite interesting as milk can upset his stomach.  However by taking things steady and being sensible he is getting through litres of semi skimmed milk.  It may be via these sippy straws, where you suck up the milk through flavoured granules, but I'll take it.  DH checked and they're around 24 calories each, which while it includes additives also includes protein, vitamin D and calcium.  It's a trade that I'm willing to take. 

Bear is weirdly picky about food, often complains that something will upset his stomach and is more likely to skip meals than over eat.  I'm keeping an eye on him. 

Friday 2 February 2018


Yesterday I posted a poem on my 'writing' blog, Always Another Chapter.  I don't remember writing the poem, and I don't remember posting it up either.  This is not a good thing.  Reading the poem back, it looks good, I'm happy with it, it look like it's triggered by a writing prompt from Our Write Side and thankfully nothing to do with me and I can't complain.  I just wish I could remember doing it. 

I also found a mystery grocery order which I was able to amend so that tomorrow's delivery will be slightly less random.  I checked and there wasn't an eBay moment. 

I am a little concerned.  I'm not ashamed of the poem and the grocery delivery is much needed, but it worries me that I can't remember actions that take several steps and some passwords.  I am not really coping at the moment and after last night I need to accept that drink is not the answer.  I'm usually fairly confident of finding answers quickly but I have no idea where to go at the moment.  The two usual answers to stress and anxiety are antidepressants and counselling but neither are easy for me.  Just because they aren't easy doesn't mean I shouldn't consider them, but it isn't my first choice.  I could take more exercise in fresh air, but I struggle to get out of the house.  My diet is in dire need of a rescue, and that's another struggle as I love my comfort food. 

I'm considering turning to writing.  Here's a picture of the interior of York Minster that I keep hanging around to motivate me.  I'm considering actually paying actual money to go into the minster.  I know it's necessary for the incredible cost to upkeep and I know that the £10 I would pay would get me any time in for a year but it doesn't feel right.  Even though it's less than it would cost me to see a film at the cinema. 

I have issues with drink

And here it is - writing drunk poetry

I'm putting this here because I need to face up to how much I drink and the consequences.   I posted drunk poetry when I was barely able to press ctrl + p

link to the drunk stuff


I should not write poetry while drunk

Thursday 1 February 2018

I Has an Internet

After a lot of naff raffing, DH ran System Mechanic and it found a lot of issues.  I don't go on many odd sites.  My search history is frankly suspicious but when I look for what laudanum tastes like (bitter, apparently) and what sort of fuses are available for explosives (you'd be surprised what Amazon sells) or even whether embalming fluid is flammable (mildly, but that search led me to the discovery that Amazon and eBay sell powder to hide the smell of a dead body, and it's possibly available at other places as well) I go on reputable odd sites.  However I do have a weakness for hidden object games and they have been pinging back to their site and what with running two browsers and not clearing cookies because of Topcashback etc, there were over 4000 fixes.  Oops. 

So I now have a functional laptop and I will be regularly running the System Mechanic as I don't think I could manage without online shopping.  Also there have been issues.  Yesterday the nice people from AO came with a new fridge and new cooker.  The old cooker was gas and the new cooker is electric so they disconnected the gas properly, cut off a length of pipe to keep it out of the way and capped it off.  The gas meter has been professionally assessed three times this year and we've only just reached February.  Then they found that the new cooker was defective.  I think they had the main clue when sparks shot across the kitchen and all the lights went out.  Lighting has been restored.  I get a new cooker next week.  That is not as much of a problem as we have a halogen cooker (which rocks) and a combination microwave cooker and if you extend the search to fifteen minutes walk you have at least two pizza places, two Chinese takeaways, several fish and chip shops and an Indian. 

One of the door shelves on the fridge is broken.  They are supposed to be getting back to me.  I'm just revelling in a fridge that keeps things cold.  It's doing well considering the floor is completely not level, but as half the tiles fell off the wall, I used some of the fallen ones to prop up the fridge and it's doing okay. 

To recap, I have a fridge with a missing door shelf, an absent cooker and a pile of tiles.  On the bright side I have an extremely well checked gas meter but it isn't really making up for the rest.  As someone who knows less than the average yogurt about building work, I think the wall where the tiles have fallen is damp.  There are many sources of damp in this kitchen, including it being at least 50% underground, regular flooding from the drain (now more or less sorted) and roofs leaking and the damp getting down (also now sorted).  I think, however, that this wall is getting damp because it adjoins the cupboard under the front step which used to be the outside toilet.  I don't think the wall has been properly damp proofed and there's something that looks suspiciously like a hole for a pipe going through that has been inadequately plugged.  All the plaster is crumbling and I have no idea what to do next. 

The plan was to have a clear out, save up and get rewired asap.  Do I look at the damp before or after - haven't got a clue.  Either way I have to have a massive clear out and I don't really know where to start.  At the moment I've got as far as sitting and sobbing. 

So I'm pulling myself together, looking for the bright side and I'm sure a lot of good will come out of it, especially having a good clear out.  Challenge accepted.

Also I have 608 unread messages in just one of my email accounts and I don't want to think about the others.  This means I have things I can do when I take a break.  I will not be bored.