Saturday 30 June 2018

Not a Complete Fail

I was supposed to have my picture take today.  It was never to be.  A long chain of events that involved bear's pals, an emergency visit to the barber's and a Tesco delivery meant that I was far too late to think of getting there.

It could have been worse.  I finished off the story and submitted it and I've got a few hundred words into the next instalment of the White Hart.  I was also home when bear skinned his knee.  Bear was incredibly brave, but it took some doing to get the grit out.

Tomorrow I plan to do nothing more than water the garden, but then I intend to attack Monday with gusto!

Friday 29 June 2018


Bear was apparently helping out in the nursery at school today.  I'm not complaining as bear seemed happy enough.  However he came home with a sparkle!  I think they used glitter with gusto.  It is all over the bathroom towels, the cushions in the study and bear himself.  There is a good chance DH and I will also be sparkling by the end of the weekend. 

I've just been out to water the garden at around 8pm.  I'll go out again before I go to bed.  I've got the bedding plants in, but the rest of the garden is a tangle and most of it needs water.  The rest needs cutting back.

I'm too ashamed to show what the rest of the garden is like, but the lavender has taken over around a third of this side of the garden.  I think I will dry the clippings as the plants aren't fully in flower yet but they smell amazing. 

There are ants everywhere but at least they are staying out of the house.  I'm determined to give the kitchen a really good go over as at the moment it is so cluttered.  Fortunately, all the men of the house want in this weather is 'rice salad and...'  It does mean I spend a lot of time dicing bell pepper and celery but there are worse meals to make.  I added olives to the salad tonight and bear practically inhaled it.  We had it with gluten free breaded chicken tonight and we'll probably have it with meatballs tomorrow.

I have an awesome idea for a submission to a particular small publisher.  I have a day to get it written - and tomorrow I have the whole picture thing.  I can do six thousand words by tomorrow. Of course, I'm not sure whether they will be in the right order, but I can go for it. 

And speaking of writing, I was late getting this week's instalment of the White Hart up.  It's here, if you're interested.  I need to raise my game. 

Thursday 28 June 2018

Far Too Hot

It is beyond silly hot.  I am not doing well in the heat.  I never do.  At times like this, I can't wait until the winter so I can complain I'm too cold.

I've not got everything done, but I've managed a little.  I've pootled around in the garden, although I was flagging by 9.30am.  It gets ridiculously warm in our garden.  I left a watering can out with water and by mid afternoon the water was almost hot enough to use for washing up!  There's a lot more to be sorted out, but I've done at least a little.  Then I got my self assessment tax return done.  It took a regrettably small amount of time to work out how little I had earned but quite a long time on the phone to the tax office where a very helpful man was equally bewildered by the form because the new rules meant that I wasn't earning enough to be considered self employed.  It's apparently to do with new benefit rules so we had to do a lot of twiddling before I could put in an honest return. 

I've also got a few loads of washing done, a little tidying, a good natter with a neighbour (when I spotted bear having an unexpected trip to the park with school - and in this weather who can blame them?) and written a few thousand words.  A link to some of them is here.  It's a short story that for me is the equivalent of a session at the gym.  I had fun.  If I'm not careful, though, I'm going to be late again with the White Hart so I had better get on and leave you with the pic that inspired the story today.

Image from WikiCommons, Cemetery by the Ruined Church by Hermann Lungkwitz in the public domain

Wednesday 27 June 2018

I Did it Again

I went out again.  I walked to Aldi, picked up a few bits which unfortunately included peat free compost so I had to get a taxi back, but I still walked a mile.  I impressed myself.  I won't be going out tomorrow, though, as I am expecting a delivery.  I will still be getting exercise as I plan to do things in the garden now I have the compost I want and also I called in at the flower shop at the end of the street and asked about trays of bedding plants.  Apparently they are being dropped off tomorrow.  They normally go to the warehouse on Tuesdays and I thought I had some time.  The garden is not in a good state.  It looks like an abandoned car park except with extra lavender and a very aggressive fuchsia.  I'm only doing a little in the morning, though, as the heat really doesn't agree with me and it's heating up fast here, but I have to do something as the people from the flower shop knew father and he would be horrified to see the state of the garden.

I also plan to take advantage of the weather because it is blanket drying weather and that only happens once or twice a year in Yorkshire, so I need to make the most of it.  I shall be digging out every blanket, throw and cover I can find. 

I have also done it again because I think I've overloaded myself.  I am looking for work online.  I've just registered with Clickworker, and if it works out I will share.  I'm also entering writing competitions, I have the next instalment of the White Hart due Friday, I want to make sure I shake up the writing blog, I need to look out fabric for DH's friend, I have to chase the driving people again, I should really source a new piano for bear by the time his next piano lesson comes (the heat has not been kind to the current instrument) and I need to look out tops and earrings for the sitting on Saturday.  I also need to pick up end of year presents for bear's teachers, sort out a donation for a teacher that's leaving, find bear a new dentist and I really need to get control of the book marketing.  Also England are playing tomorrow which is always a test of nerve. 

I ought to feel stressed.  I have no idea how much I will actually get done.  But actually, I feel exhilarated.  Long may this continue!

Tuesday 26 June 2018

I Went Out

I now have a fairly decent haircut.  The hair salon is a lovely place.  There is usually a dog around (their poor noses!) and today they had a puppy, perhaps a few months old, who was a little shy, but beautifully behaved and obviously incredibly loved.  I forgot to be stressed about things and they did a great job.  I have also ordered some tops online, I have a scarf or two and now I am braced for the photos on Saturday.  Mind you, if they don't work out then I shall definitely go with the suggestions of Jill and Eileen and contact a local photography club.  I wish I had done that first.  It just goes to show, I get the best advice on here and I should take it more often. 

Not only did I manage to get several hundred yards up the road, but I got into Leeds as well to finally pick up the picture I had left with the framers.  It now looks like this, except better (I am no good with photos)

It's an original sketch and colour wash, as far as I can tell, of Scone Palace, Scotland.  My great grandmother probably picked it up at an auction.  Apparently she had the same attitude to auctions as I have to eBay.  Some things may be genetic. 

I'm working on writing more.  As a side to that, I'm shaking up my 'Always Another Chapter' blog.  I hope to have a bit more fizz in that.  I've put up a post today, it's about whether something is Art or not.  I'm probably not the best person to comment, as it's not that long ago I posted about going to Leeds Art Gallery and noticing the dust on the picture frames.   There are at least two genuine, brilliant artists who look in to this blog, and I want to give a shout out to kjsutcliffe and justjill (and I am sure there are others I've forgotten and I'm really sorry, please comment so I can add you) and I will take their word on what makes art over my opinion every day. 

Monday 25 June 2018

I Eventually Shut the Door

It's been that sort of day.  Earlier I couldn't get the door to shut.  Now I'm not sure I can get it open.  It's an older PVC door and apparently the heat affects them.  It's white and south facing with no shade, so it does get hot. 

I've got to go out tomorrow.  I have a haircut booked.  Once I'm out I can usually manage, so I'm hoping to be able to get into town to pick up a picture from the picture framers that I left before Easter.  I shall have to go out of the kitchen door, just in case.  I've arranged with the lovely people who have done the windows to have a look at the front door when they finally come to fit the bathroom window.

I also got a lot of calls from the photo place.  I have a bad feeling about it.  I need to show up with four outfits.  I don't have four decent outfits.  I suppose shopping is going to happen tomorrow but I really don't want to spend the time getting to Headingley with the charity shops and I really don't want to spend money on new stuff.  It's 'price covers one, and only one. pic', the session lasts four hours and an 'express facial' is included in the price which means that they wipe the makeup off your face before you leave so that you can't get your own pic. To cover their costs, they have to sell a lot of extra pics, and I'm not sure I'm up for the hard sell.  Today I got lots of calls going backwards and forwards about dates/times.  I've booked in on Saturday.  I'm dreading it. 

I can't really post a pic of my door as it's got things like house number on, and it's sort of appropriate not to put too much on the web, but I found this on WikiCommons.  I think it looks amazing.

Sunday 24 June 2018

A Good Sunday

I'm not used to England looking good at the World Cup.  Mind you, I don't want to cast any slurs on Panama, but they are not on the same level as Brazil.  In my uneducated opinion, Panama played a lot better once they stopped trying to grapple the England players.  I'm also sort of glad that Panama got a goal.  You could see how much it meant to them - and they deserved it.  I suspect Belgium will be a tougher game and I plan to sit there with plenty of knitting.

It's been a very chilled sort of Sunday.  Bear has been hanging out, completely forgetting to worry about his hand which is still a little swollen but getting better, there were no fights after next door but one's barbecue and DH brought me home a watering can.

I've got a gazillion things I want to do tomorrow, but tonight I'm going to sit back, knit and watch Jackson Crawford on YouTube.  He does academic talks (some short, some longer) about Old Norse language and culture.  As there is such a strong Viking presence in York it sort of counts as research.  This image is of the Barley Hall in York and is later than the Viking period but looks awesome.

Saturday 23 June 2018

Didn't Get Out

I couldn't get out today.  I really needed to pick some stuff up, but I couldn't do it. 

I don't know what it is.  I don't think it's 'proper' agoraphobia, but I couldn't get past the door.  My heart was racing and I couldn't breathe.  If I do get out then I'm fine.  It's just getting over the threshold.  It's worrying me a lot, because at the moment I can do anything for bear, but today would have indirectly benefited bear and it didn't happen.  I need to be able to do things for bear. 

I'm hoping that I can get out again on Monday to the supermarket.  Wean - I stash my shopping bags on the ledge underneath the supermarket trolley and I'm hoping that I can either do that with the shopping trolley or leave it behind one of the tills. 

On the bright side, I cleared a corner in the kitchen.  It may not sound much, but I had been chucking the treats I bought for bear and his pals in that corner for a few weeks and now I have sorted it all out I can say with confidence that I don't need to buy treats for a little while.  Mind you, I think it depends.  Bear isn't too bad.  He does have days when he aims to eat his own bodyweight in sugar but he's not too much of a locust.  On the other hand, get a pack of pre-teen boys in the house and it's like chocolate biscuits evaporate!  They are good lads, though, and they also devour citrus, apples, bananas, etc etc.  It's normal.  I'm just trying to make sure bear eats mainly good stuff.  The school did the height/weight check and bear is almost bang on average height and in the lower quarter of the ideal weight range for his height.  I'm going to have to feed him up with the good stuff. 

Bless - it's funny about superstitions.  My late mother in law couldn't bear shoes to be on the table because she said that it would cause an argument.  It usually did if DH was around as he gets cross with superstitions. 

The taxi I got home yesterday had a peacock's feather on the dashboard, and my mother would never have got into the taxi with that.  She thought they were desperately unlucky.  I suppose it was a little unlucky as he went on and on and on and on about how he had spent £70 in Morrisons and only had two bags of stuff.  I assumed it was a microwave in one bag and three bottles of whiskey in the other.  They are not as cheap as Aldi, but they're not that bad.  He was a good driver, though, so I don't think I'll worry about the feather. 

I'll add a picture of a black cat, which is either lucky or unlucky, depending on where you are.

As an aside, I had a quick google for Jahn Henne and I can't find anything, but that picture is amazing

Friday 22 June 2018

I Went Out!

I got out of the house!  I still can't believe I managed it.  Bear wandered off to school, his hand heavily wrapped in plasters, and then I walked to Aldi.  I didn't think I had it in me.  It's possibly around a mile, and once upon a time I wouldn't have blinked, but it's a long way for me these days.  It's not a bad walk.  It cuts through some social housing, some private housing, a public footpath that is a nice walk...

... which is only a little snicket or ginnel in a very urban area, but it had a sort of Tolkien feel about it.  Then you go through past some 1930s semi-detached houses with old fashioned gardens, a small collection of industrial units and you get to the new Aldi store.  I picked up a few bits and I got a taxi back.  I had always planned to get a taxi home, because I didn't think I would manage the walk and I was worried that I would struggle to carry the shopping.  Next time, and I'm determined that there will be a next time, I shall take my shopping trolley and trundle my stuff back. 

I'm quite impressed with the pictures.  I'm not good at this sort of thing, but these have come out really well.  What surprises me is the difference in the light.  The pics were taken within seconds of each other, just a few steps apart (it's not a very big ginnel).  I must have just been at different angles for the light.  It was a steep climb for me, so I got a little exercise and picked up some bargains!

I really hope I can do this some more.  I get a bargain (though an opportunity to impulse buy) and some fresh air and exercise.  Then all I need to do is get the house sorted out and get some writing finished.  Speaking of which, the latest instalment from the White Hart is here, but be warned - it's a long one!

Thursday 21 June 2018

Noisy Evening

It makes a change.  Tonight we do not have neighbours fighting or blasting loud music, although, to be fair, they've been more early morning disturbances recently.  Instead we have a large tanker type thing and some men in hi viz vests doing something dreadful to the sewer in the street.  It's 10.30pm local time at time of typing and I'm not impressed.

I keep forgetting that there is a sewer unless I spot a rat.  I know that the waste water has to go somewhere, but I don't really think about it much.  I'm not surprised that there are issues.  We are very careful to wipe grease off plates and pans before we wash up, and I think our neighbours are the same.  However, within a few hundred yards I think we have a number of businesses including two fish and chip shops, a pizza/indian takeaway, a chinese takeaway, a cafe and a school all placed to feed into the sewer.  I don't expect the dripping from four burgers that I've cooked makes much difference. 

I kept bear off school today.  His hand and his syndrome are both bad, and today is one of the many sports days the school have so I kept him home, much to bear's disappointment.  I didn't get any phone calls made but I managed to get some herbs planted out.  Hopefully I shall get a little more done tomorrow. 

Wednesday 20 June 2018

Bear is Upset

Bear hurt his hand in some way at school.  There was no note from school, bear was very vague about the details and included the name of a friend that all mums trust.  I am suspicious but have nothing to go on.  It looks like his little finger was crushed in some way.  It's not black or dark looking and he can move it, but it seems to be extremely painful.  I've put some cotton wool in between the little finger and the ring finger and strapped it to the ring finger with plasters and left him to it. 

Bear isn't upset about the hand, however it was hurt, although he's complaining about it.  He is devastated that it is affecting his ability to play Fifa18 which is a football game on the Xbox. 

Speaking of football, I've hardly watched any matches in the World Cup this time.  I've been chasing up other stuff so my knitting sprint is seriously behind schedule.

As for other stuff, today I managed to nail a date for the next driving lesson.  It's not until July, but I'm optimistic.  I chased up a missing bathroom window and apparently in May they should have taken different measurements when they came out.  They're coming back tomorrow.  I've found a place with good recommendations that does new bathrooms and I've made an appointment for a much overdue haircut.  Tomorrow I plan to make a very non urgent doctor's appointment and find somewhere that does makeover portrait pics. 

Tuesday 19 June 2018


My mother's family were incredibly superstitions.  My great grandmother was a medium and most of the men were in either the Royal or Merchant Navy.  There was a lot of what I suppose you could call a Celtic spirit.  They were really good at taking a story and layering in the supernatural.  Father wasn't so superstitious, though he had his moments.

My maternal grandmother was a very lovely woman.  There was so much warmth in her.  She did have her moments, though, and would get upset if I put a sock on the left foot first, or stirred the cake mixture the wrong way (can't remember which way was which now).  She also had some very odd ideas, I mean, odder than worrying about which foot had the shoe on first.  My grandmother looked after me before I started school as mother was working and looking back I was about four or five when I tried to learn to whistle.  Grandmother stopped me.  Ladies don't whistle.  I asked why not (I was a brat who got expelled from playgroup for mutiny).  Grandmother stammered through an explanation that bewildered me so much that I remembered it.  Later I realised that she meant that women who whistle are lesbians.  I have no idea.  Looking back, I don't even think that grandmother was particularly homophobic, especially for someone born in 1914.  She just didn't want to think about it.

However, today I've been reading some Yorkshire folklore (I've lived here for thirty years, I ought to get to know the place) and apparently whistling women could summon the devil.  Still no idea.  It may be that this superstition is from Yorkshire and my grandmother's family were mainly Welsh but they were happy to annexe any spare superstitions they came across.

One superstition that does come through was the story of the time a great uncle was sick and being nursed by his sister, my great aunt.  This was in the 1930s, before the NHS, so great uncle was being nursed at home and was extremely ill.  He was, in fact, at death's door.  My great aunt came running down asking who had let the big black dog in to great uncle's room as she was so scared of dogs and yet had to look after him.  Nobody had let a dog in.  No-one had a black dog.  No-one had seen a dog come out and through the house and no-one could find it.  Great uncle recovered, but if you believe the superstition, it may have been a close thing.  A supernatural black dog is traditionally a portent of death.  This all happened at least thirty or forty years before I was born, and as a family we all love our stories, so I'm not going to swear that it is true.  I'm just happy to think that it may have happened.  Also, I still can't whistle, whatever that means.  I think it means that I just can't whistle. 

Monday 18 June 2018

Road Block

It was a literal road block.  I live in Leeds and just on the fringe of the centre of Leeds is a roundabout known as the Armley Gyratory.  It is a road system from Satan's Armpit.  It is tricky.  On good days there can be tail backs because not all entrances and exits have traffic lights and I have promised myself that once I pass my test I will avoid it, or at least the awful junction that is on our natural route into town.  I have sat on buses taking that exit onto the roundabout and flinched at their near misses.  I wouldn't have a chance!

On bad days, it's bad.  It is the main exit from the centre to the South and West of Leeds.  It can back up so quickly and clog so many roads that if it stalls then all of West Leeds stalls.  In the past there has been a minor collision which blocked one lane and had my reliable delivery driver literally five hours behind time.  There have been times when the river and canal have flooded and one exit on to the Gyratory is blocked.  That usually results in complete chaos.  Today it was a burst water main.

The first I heard about it was a text from Tesco, telling me that while I had booked a slot for delivery between 10am and 11am, there had been issues and I should hopefully receive my groceries by 12pm.  At 12pm I got an apologetic call from a lovely woman at the local depot.  She was very sorry, the van had had to turn around in the horrendous traffic and we couldn't have our delivery today.  She gave me the number for Customer Services who apologised again, warned me that the refund of the money may take a few days, that I would have to put in a fresh order (but showed me how to re-submit my original order) and apologised again.  I consider that excellent customer service.  Something went wrong, they communicated, explained and were generally lovely.

The Marks and Spencer Next Day delivery missed the slot they gave me by two hours and didn't even text.

The picture above was taken 13 years ago and it's strange to see the difference in the skyline.  The notorious Bridgewater Place has since been built.  Some bright architect built a skyscraper that helped accelerate wind speeds on a road that was already something of a wind tunnel and now that road, which is on one of the other main routes into the centre from South Leeds, is closed during windy weather.  I can see me having to go via Edinburgh to get into Leeds centre when the weather is bad.

justjill - bear continually amazes me as well.  I wish I could take the credit, but it's all him. 

Sunday 17 June 2018

Bear does Father's Day

Bear is really close to DH.  I've heard all about the stormy teenage years and how boys can clash with their fathers and I'm hoping this foundation will get them through it. 

I have had a few bad nights and, knowing DH would not be downstairs before 9.30, I thought I would lie in.  Bear is always up early but there is always food and drink around so he can help himself and I prepared to snuggle down. 

Do you know how hard it is to sleep through someone creeping nearly quietly.  Bear tiptoed past my room at around 6.30am.  Then again around 6.50.  Then again around 6.55.  Then again just past 7am.  I managed to get some sleep, but was down earlier than I hoped.  That's when I put everything together. 

I had wrapped a book bear had got for his dad, but I didn't know where he had hidden the sharpies and drawing pad that DH had requested as a Father's Day gift.  I wasn't stressed as I thought I would be able to sort it out in the morning.  Bear, however, decided to take the initiative.  He had already written the card, of course and he made a good fist of wrapping the pad of drawing paper.  He wasn't sure about the sharpies in the blister pack.  Sharpies are awesome pens for drawing and DH had asked for a particular type, so bear knew he would be happy, but he didn't know how to wrap a blister pack. 

I'm not sure about the thought processes here, but they show a lot of love for DH and I'm proud of bear.  Bear set up a folding table, went upstairs and got the oilcloth that we use as a cover for messy stuff.  Went back up stairs and got some acrylic paint, a brush and a paper plate to use as a palette.  This may have taken more than one trip.  Then he cut the top off an empty tissue box, painted it blue, let it dry, put the sharpies in the box and then wrapped the box.  He also washed the brush and threw out the paper plate.  I can't really complain about the paint splashes in the bathroom.

DH was utterly thrilled.  To be honest, so was I because bear was so determined to get things right for his dad and made that extra effort.

Happy Father's Day to all.   

Saturday 16 June 2018

People are Kind

I talked about the lack of photo with Our Write Side and they were awesome and accepted the submission.  I'm going to have to get a photo sorted, though.  I've no self confidence to start with and now I have scars on my face from the (very minor and easily treatable) skin cancer, it feels even worse.  I'm going to have to go to one of those studios that do the make overs. 

I think it shows that there are lovely people in the world.  The bad stuff makes headlines and the good stuff goes unnoticed, but there is a lot of kindness in people.  I honestly believe that there are more good people than bad.  So when I grumble about the neighbours or the gas company or dratted driving instructors, I still feel that they are more than balanced out by the good that is out there. 

Today I went to a brand new Aldi.  The one I had been using has shut and re-opened about a mile away and nearer to us.  It's plausible to walk to and I may set aside a day to do it.  I can have a tootle around the much bigger and flashier store and get a taxi home.  It's worth doing for the exercise, even if I can drive.  I took pity on the till assistant and didn't talk about the move.  The people on the till are marked on whether they make conversation and are friendly so they have to say something.  I knew her enough to say hello to at a bus stop so we had a good moan about the bus service.  What can I say.  The nearest bus is grim. 

I didn't get a good browse today.  Bear came in with me to push the trolley, which is a performance by itself, and I treated him to a football.  After that I was on pins that we would end up on YouTube with a spectacular crash in the hard liquor section as he couldn't keep his hands off it.  I still managed to spend over £70, but that included a football and some baskets to help organise my kitchen cupboards.  The ones I used in the tin cupboard have been really successful.  I already have a better idea of what I will need in my next online shop. 

Friday 15 June 2018

Start Again Tomorrow

Bear had another Sex Education lesson today.  The mortification can be seen from space.  However he fought through it to do piano practice and to watch a couple of World Cup matches, so it didn't entirely ruin his day.

I'm looking at the free ads for pianos because the current one sounds dreadful and, according to the piano teacher, is not worth tuning.  I really want a digital piano, because they come with earphones and I might like the next lot of neighbours, but most of the ones around here proper pianos that 'just need a little tuning' and are collection only.  I'm dreading getting our current monster out as it took three or four men to get it in.  An inexpensive digital piano is still a lot of money, although probably easier to get up our steps.

I'm feeling low.  There was a writing competition that had a deadline today.  I didn't think I'd be able to enter it as I didn't have any ideas.  Then it hit me around Monday.  Ten thousand words and a lot of interruptions later I have a stonking story finished around thirty minutes before the deadline ends.  Then I recheck the submission rules.  They need a portrait photo.  I don't have one.  Bugger.  I keep telling bear to always read all the rules.  I'm not sharing this with him.  

And after all that, I was an hour late putting up the latest instalment from the White Hart and while I'm quite pleased with it, my characters aren't doing what I want.  I want to share that I'm looking forward to finding out how this segment ends as much as anyone because my plot has just been interrupted. 

At least the weather is picking up.  We caught the very mild and slimmest edge of the storm and it was still very wild.  I really felt for those caught up in the wilder weather to the north - and in June!

I think tonight is a 'watch rubbish on YouTube night' and I'll pick up again tomorrow.

Thursday 14 June 2018

Air Like Soup

It's that time of year.  The poplar trees are shedding their seeds and the air is full of fluff.  Depending on the weather (high winds are forecast) I will soon be taking the annual 'duvet has been sick in the garden' photo.  There are a lot of poplars planted to the west of us, and the usual air pattern means that the air is full of it and it comes our way. 

Also, there is warm weather after damp weather which means that my tiny garden is full of flies.  You can barely move for hover flies, bumble bees, gnats and ants.  I got covered in white fly this morning when I pulled up some weeds that were growing near my central heating vent.  Aphids are swarming over my roses, tended by the ants, and all in all, the air was full. 

Every time I went out today I came in with cargo.  Every time I had to shake off or swat something with too many legs.  And of course I bobbed in and out.  Somehow a small ash had planted itself right next to our foundations so I pulled that up, and the weeds near the vent.  It was bin day today so after they had collected the rubbish I swabbed out the bin with lots of hot water and disinfectant. 

I'm going to have to bite the bullet and actually do something about the garden.  A little weeding will sort out most of it, plus cutting the fuchsia back to a reasonable size.  I don't think I have the will or the strength to actually dig that monster out.  However I need something for the small square in the centre.  I would love to put some herbs there, but it would have to be able to stand up to bear's soccer.  Ideally I would plant it full of alyssum and lobelia.  Both are low growing and resilient and alyssum smells heavenly.  However you don't see it in the shops and I think it's too late to grow from seed.  I could get herbs, and some of them would flourish, and I have plenty of pots I could put them in, but I'm not sure how they would survive against bear, his pals and their ability to direct the football. 

I think I will wait until the air is less thick. 

Tuesday 12 June 2018

The New School

There was a sort of parents' evening at the school bear will start in September.  I felt under pressure.  It was such a big deal for him to be accepted, and the school has such an amazing reputation, and I didn't want to mess it up. 

The school is also quite old and so you have the original building plus a rabbit warren of add on annexes that have grown over the last 100 years.  Just the thought of actually finding the right place in there was daunting.  Actually, they had the meeting for around half the parents in a hall that was very easy to find.  We had to go through a modern entrance, past a massive case of school trophies and then we went into an older hall that looked a lot older with Victorian beams propping up the ceiling.  I was intimidated.

However the people weren't intimidating.  When you entered there was a little ring of tables with interested parties manning them.  There were the two businesses that sold the official school uniform (ouch).  There was the bus company and the caterers, who seemed awesome.  They were providing tea, coffee and cakes and buns that were made in house.  There was also the equivalent of the PTA who did the fund raising. 

The introduction and overview from the teachers was crisp, well delivered, clear and concise.  They made me think of the best of the teachers I knew when I was in school.  They looked like they could be very scary and would tolerate no disruption in their class but were decent people and good for a laugh when it was appropriate.  They laid out not only their perspective on learning but on growth of the children as a whole.  If it lives up to this talk, bear is blessed indeed. 

He also did well to get in.  828 sat the entrance exam.  210 will be starting this year.  Bear is in the top 25% or so that made it through.  I'm proud of him. 

Monday 11 June 2018

Washing Machine Continues

The nice man came and looked at the washing machine on Friday and said that it was fine, really, just ageing a little and nothing to worry about, just keep on using it.

I've been using it today and the noise is like, well, a large washing machine whose bearings are going.  It is very loud and I is close to what I imagine a factory making mill stones sounds like.  It's a deafening, not-quite-metallic grinding.  It's not the worst I've known.  A friend used to have a washing machine that tried to throw itself across a room.  Fortunately we have a cellar kitchen and the room isn't next to any of the neighbours.  It's a level below the cellar of the people at the back and the house to the side is empty.  I'm going to have to be careful to do the washing first thing, though, as the noise echoes through the bottom two floors at least and at the height of the spin it can be heard at the top of the house.  It would certainly keep bear awake.

I've finally used up the last of the washing powder in the rusty tin.  The enamel has failed, the corners have gone rusty inside and out and I've got another tin for the washing powder.  I'm going to give the new one a hefty coat of hairspray before I fill it with washing powder which will hopefully help.

I ought to throw the old one out.  I have too much stuff in the house as it is.  However I could do with a decent tin for treats for bear and his pal.  I'm thinking of the wrapped bars, like KitKat and its clones, so airtight isn't a problem.  I could sand down the rust and use spray paint.  There are some amazing spray paints on the market.  There is rainbow glitter, which is probably not something for the lads but I quite like.  Or I could go all cast bronze, for a dignified look.  They even do a textured black granite textured which looks amazing, but I'm not sure would work as the lid is very tightly fitting. 

The trouble is, I know deep down that I have an appalling track record with projects and most of the spray paints cost more than a reasonable sized plastic tub, especially as I could reuse biscuit tubs if I bought biscuits.  It needs to be a reasonable size as we are talking pre-teen lads who descend like locusts but who are actually lovely.  It's just that something inside of me hates throwing away something that is fine apart from a little rust.  Okay, it's quite a bit of rust, but it could be fine for wrapped chocolate biscuits and cereal bars.  And it's a nice bit of kit.  It's a decent size and proportion and would be great. 

I'll have a look.  It's a great excuse to browse eBay and I can get my thoughts in order.  If it happens, I'll share.  Other things to do tomorrow: sort out everything for my brother and his partner to babysit for bear tomorrow night and re-read the huge amount of printed material from bear's new school for the parents' evening tomorrow night. 

Sunday 10 June 2018

I Did Driving

Bpm took me out today and we did a roundabout!  It was amazing, I loved it.  I didn't hit anything, not even the kerb, and I stopped at the give way signs and everything!  I should add that this was in a deserted parking complex and only a couple of cars went past.  I had to stop for some cyclists, but that was it.  I almost stayed in lane, and I drew up to the kerb a couple of times and at the end I didn't need to take a hike.  I even tackled the speed bumps, but when you struggle to get over ten miles an hour, that isn't a big deal. 

The men of the house have reluctantly accepted that we will be skipping rice salad again today (pasta and sauce with foccacia.  However it comes back tomorrow.  There are worse things. 

Saturday 9 June 2018

A Change is as Good as a Rest

We didn't have rice salad.  I couldn't bear it another day.  However I have promised that the rice salad will start again on Monday.  I may make up a very large tub, as it's the sort of thing that keeps well in the fridge, but I do think it is nicer if it is made fresh.  And I think nicer is important if we are having it four days a week.

Bear had an amazing piano practice this morning, which made a nice change.  Then we all went out to Aldi.  DH very sensibly stayed in the car while bear pushed the trolley for me.  There was less temptation than usual because the store is closing in a few days time and a new one is opening in a slightly different location.  This meant that it was a lot quicker to walk past the aisle of 'specials'.  We picked up some caramelised onion burgers which were amazingly tasty and bear spotted a special offer on black bean spaghetti.  A year or so ago we got a load of black noodles flavoured with squid ink from Approved Food.  They were 50p a packet instead of around £4, which is a big saving and bear loved them.  These were similar looking but were black soy bean noodles.  Bear insisted we pick up a couple of packets at 99p a packet.  So we had the burgers and the soy bean noodles for dinner with peas and it was all very pleasant.  It didn't look like a regular thing in Aldi, though, but more like one of their specials, so I had a quick look at the online shops I usually use.  There wasn't really anything similar so I had a look on Amazon as they have a lot of speciality food.  I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the price of some brands.  Some of them were over £5 for a small pack.  It just goes to show that when you spot a bargain, you should commit. 

Friday 8 June 2018

Skullduggery Pleasant Rocks!

I got bear a copy of the first book in the Skullduggery Pleasant series for Christmas.  He browsed through the first few pages soon after but didn't get hooked.  Then DH started reading the first book out loud as part of the night time routine.  We all got caught up in it.  Bear read on ahead and and asked nicely if I would get him book 2.  I strung it out a bit (I'm trying to teach bear to wait patiently for things after father and uncle always getting him goodies straight away and my brother heading in that direction) and bought book 2.  Bear finished that.  He asked nicely for book 3.

Then a deal came out in the Book People.  I can't do a link because I order through TopCashBack, but The Book People are an online store that sell cheap books.  It's usually new books in collections that go at a good price.  They also drop leaflets at schools and various offices.  I've always had good service from them and though their prices are extremely good, they only have what they have.  It's not quite remaindered stock, but it's not the stuff on the shelves.  They had a deal where a set of the first nine books of the Skullduggery Pleasant series were on sale for £14.99. 

I threw it open to the men.  Bear was very keen on the books, so he wanted the stories.  DH pointed out that we would only really need seven of the nine books as we already had the first two and asked how much the books were individually.  I had checked.  A decent secondhand copy of the books was @ £2.50, give or take, on eBay.  This meant that if we got a good price, we could perhaps get the next seven books for @ £17.50.  We got the set at £14.99 and next week I plan to go through selling the spare books on eBay with bear. 

It's less moneysaving that it seems, as once I was on there it seemed a shame not to pick one or two other bits up and with free delivery on orders over £25, and there being so many good deals, and father's day coming up and there was a perfect book for DH, well, the delivery came in two large boxes. 

And this morning bear was up as usual @ 6am and wandered downstairs.  But instead of turning on his computer, he picked up book 3 of the Skullduggery Pleasant series and was reading it right up until the moment I insisted he left to go to school.  So I'm recommending the series here. 

The washing machine man came.  Apparently it's noisy because of the age of the machine (18 months!) and not to worry.  Not only that, but he interrupted me as was posting the latest instalment of The White Hart, which is here, for those interested. 

Thursday 7 June 2018

Rice Salad Again

I feel like the wild card in this family.

I like to vary menus.  First of all it makes it more likely that bear will keep eating things.  He may like something, he may not, terms and conditions apply.  It can be interesting.  Then I think it's nicer to have varied meals, and also you get a broader range of nutrition.  When I'm in a good place it's lots of different soups, pasta, cottage pies etc.  When I'm not in a good place it may be variations on the theme of frozen veg, some easy starch and gluten free burgers/sausages/'breaded' chicken etc. 

Bear may love a dish one day and loathe it the next, but he consistently enjoys rice salad.  I made rice salad on Tuesday.  When I make rice salad there is more salad than rice and its a 'bitsa' meal - bits of this, bits of that.  The men have been happily tucking in to brown rice stirred into chopped bell peppers, celery, sultanas, apple and a little spring onion.  I go with what I have and I served it with chicken.  The men had focaccia with it on Tuesday.  However DH couldn't pick up any focaccia on Wednesday so they had ciabatta with the rice salad and chicken.  They had ciabatta with the rice salad and chicken again today.  They have requested rice salad again tomorrow.  I'm out of chicken but I have sausages. 

I am now wondering how else to shake up rice salad.  I think cooked frozen peas and diced carrots may be added tomorrow, with some sweetcorn for DH and I.  At least it's relatively healthy.   

Beautiful Quotation

I found this and thought I would share...

Ring the bells that can still ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in
                                                                     Leonard Cohen

Menaced by Bees

The bees didn't come from the overflow pipe.  However, somewhere I think there is a bumble bee nest because I was tying up the honeysuckle (which I have been meaning to do for at least a year) and it was full of them.  I didn't get out early enough to beat the bees, so I just tied the frame to the hooks and retreated.

It looks like the honeysuckle is finally taking off.  It's been in there for a few years but hasn't done much.  Interestingly, the lilac has been amazing this year, but for the last few years has been nothing much in particular.  I suppose this is the year I should actually make an effort.  After all, my garden is smaller than some American cars so how hard could it be?

I watched the new shopping show on Channel 4, Shop Smart:Save Money.  It was the usual irritating format where they would give a hint of one issue, then switch to a second issue, then a third, then back to the first.  I really loathe that format.  There were two very interesting points, however.  One was a blind taste test where the market leader actually won.  I've started to be sceptical about the 'the own brand is better than the top brand' tests as it seems to feed into expectations.  Today it was comparing cheese and the market leader was slightly ahead of its rivals.  The other very interesting point was a brief moment where they showed that they had found the own brand items - and they looked the same size - more expensive than the branded.  I can believe that.  If the branded items are on offer then it can work out that way.  Some brands can be very aggressive when it comes to sales.  I can't remember the first item, but the second item was shaving cream.  The Nivea shaving cream was less expensive than the own brand.  It just goes to show that you can never relax your vigilance when shopping, not for a second.  It was also interesting as it was apparently filmed in the White Rose Centre, Leeds, which is just down the road from me.  I shall keep an eye out for roving reporters.

Tuesday 5 June 2018

Not a Good Day

I mentioned I cleared out a cupboard a few days ago and I have some tins we will never use.  I also have a lifetime supply of carrier bags from the deliveries.  There is a foodbank on Tuesdays at the end of the road which would be happy to have both.  It's less than 100 yards away.  I couldn't make it.  If it's for bear or a driving lesson then I'm out the door like a whippet.  If it is anything else then I can't do it. 

On the bright side, I've thrown out another bin bag of rubbish (shamefully easy to collect), started to clear the jungle that is the garden and eventually got through to someone very nice to arrange a repair for my washing machine.  Bear and DH have requested a nice easy dinner (rice salad) so I'm off to get on with that.

I'm a work in progress.  I'll get there yet. 

Monday 4 June 2018

Busyish Day

I've rung the school about the mysterious disappearing form for bear's leaving-the-school hoodie (it turned up in his book bag). I've checked with the doctor's office as bear requested details of his jabs (all up to date). I've quit my driving instructor and I'm waiting on a new one. I've set up Parent Pay which is the account which the school uses for lunch money etc. I've spent far too long on the phone to the insurance. I've sorted out the lunch money for bear's last half term at that school. I've hunted around the house and filled a couple of rubbish bags (I'm ashamed how quickly I managed it). I've managed an uninterrupted shower and I've put a few loads of washing on.  I've even written a few hundred words of the next instalment of the White Hart.

I don't know how I've managed this because I'm absolutely exhausted.  I've had some bad nights, then I was woken up by the delivery driver at 7.50am on Saturday and @ 7.30am on Sunday by one of the neighbours having 'issues' at the top of their voices. I did have an early night last night, but as I lay down I inhaled a hair and the next hour and a half wasn't dignified. 

So it may be early, but I'm off to bed.

Sunday 3 June 2018

Justjill and Sharon - I know! When did we lose a space? Was it a cost cutting exercise? When I actually did a proper typing course around 2005 it was still two taps but the college made us use Arial as our font as it apparently uses less ink. If you remember I did some touch typing with bear a few months ago and that is when I found out that the standard had changed. I suppose it's different on a screen, and most typing nowadays is on a screen instead of paper. I'm not sure I like it.

Today I went out with bpm for a little drive around and I felt good. It took me a few minutes to remember which was the clutch, but I was soon doing okay. I was whizzing around corners with panache and really approaching the junctions with gusto. Of course, it's a lot easier in an empty car park!

Bear goes back to school tomorrow and I am looking forward to it. I plan an uninterrupted shower, a serious quantity of washing and a lot of phone calls. I'm also dithering about a coupon I received. If I make a Prime Now order, which is groceries from Amazon delivered within 2 hours, then I get £10 off if my order is worth £40. The coupon doesn't expire until Feb 2019, but if I don't use it soon then I'm guaranteed to lose it. I shall have a rummage and see if there are any bargains. It's hard to justify as I have corner shops nearby and I can usually get a Tesco order within 48 hours. My cupboards are rarely completely bare. However the £10 off makes it attractive for that order. I'll share if it's any good.

That isn't an affiliate thing. As far as I can tell, if I write a post about something and include a link to a site and you buy something then I get a small commission. Which is okay but I don't think it's for me. A few days ago I posted about the Tesco Hygro towels (which are seriously awesome) but I posted about them because I thought I would share awesome towels. If I was doing the affiliate thing I would be putting a link for the Amazon ones instead of the Tesco ones and the Tesco ones are less expensive at first glance.  I haven't really looked. There is more to the affiliate thing but I think that is the bare bones. It takes all the fun away from links, and I don't link enough to sites that would be affected, so I'm not planning on going in that direction any time soon. If I change my mind I will be very clear.

Saturday 2 June 2018

Tap Tap

Today didn't get off to a good start.  I was having the best sleep I had had for weeks when there was a huge knocking at the door.  A Tesco delivery turned up with some compensation easier Lego for bear at 7.50am on a Saturday.  I feel that it ought to be illegal. 

But then I got some writing done and hung out with DH as bear was on a play date.  I think it's getting so that it can't be called a play date anymore.  I think he was hanging out with his pal.  It involved computers and food.  I'm looking back with nostalgia at soft play. 

The writing was interesting.  Not particularly the subject but I'm dragging myself into the present and I don't like it.  Years ago, when I learned to touch type, you left two spaces after a full stop.  A sort of double tap.  I'm doing it in this post.  However if I was following the rules for the writing competition ( I needed to follow current usage - one tap after the full stop (or period).  I have been double tapping that space bar for thirty years.  It is taking some training out.  I kept going back and trying to work out what I'd done around the speech marks.  I'm going to gradually and reluctantly drag myself into current usage, so prepare for inconsistency. 

Friday 1 June 2018

Having a Fail

I have a gazillion and ten things I need to do, I know I have.  I think I have money stuff, and book stuff and bear stuff.  I can't even think what to do next. 

Today we took the bus to where bear will be going to school.  It was over an hour there and another hour back.  Then we went the wrong way towards the school and then bear just folded.  He doesn't do bus journeys, so we came home.  I need to drive but I can't seem to pin down the driving instructor.  I should have finished the block of lessons I booked last week.  I've had three instead of fourteen.  I chased today and he hadn't booked me in for any. 

Fortunately the second Skullduggery Pleasant book has come so bear had a good read of that when he came in, and he has a pal now and things are happening on the computer.  I think I may switch off and do some knitting. 

For those interested, the latest instalment from the White Hart is here