Wednesday 31 October 2018

Merry Samhain!

I'm a Christian (not a very good one, but still trying), but I'm happy to send out the good vibes to those who celebrate today, and there is something comforting in lighting fires and making some light in the dark as the nights draw in.  It's also good to remember those who are no longer with us.  I was telling bear about some of my family and I got the Look.  I don't blame him.

We walked up to Makro and picked up some individual jam portions.  It's an incredibly expensive way of buying jam, but it means a lot less waste.  Bear can go months between demanding jam, and this is definitely an easy way to deal with it.  On the way home I spotted this huge fungus.

I have no idea what it is, and left it respectfully alone.  Google images had the nearest thing as a Chinese mushroom, but unless it comes from the seeds of a very adventurous takeway, I'm confident that it isn't a species native to hemlock forests of north eastern China. 

Bear is eating with gusto, and managing all sorts of crunchy and crumbly things, but has given me puppy eyes so that I make home made soup for him tonight.  It's not too much of a hardship.  Then I have to get out to the ghost hunt.  I'll share what happens tomorrow. 

DH has just texted me and said that he is currently driving 'Geoff', the Renault that he drove a few weeks back.  I think that the pool of hire cars in the small place where he works may be quite small. 

Writing stuff - It's the last night of 31 Days of Halloween with a spotlight on Rebekah Jonesy's book, 'Blood and Clay'.  She is pretty awesome and designed the cover for Tales from the White Hart. 

Tuesday 30 October 2018

I Fail at Mum

I made rice as part of dinner and bear shouldn't have rice just yet.  I had completely failed at remembering that, and dished it up with some chicken.

Bear is actually doing okay, and is almost eating normally.  He polished off the custard after dinner with a certain gusto.  I have also encouraged him to eat grapes all day.  He seems to be taking it all in his stride.  I also failed when it came to getting him to do the homework.  He has a real pile of it, and I do not want the inevitable mental collapse on Sunday with him having to do it all in one go.

wherethejourneytakesme - I am totally up for that!  I meant to post that yesterday, but yesterday I was not firing on all cylinders. 

I was woken early this morning by more bin nonsense.  I went outside to take photos for something I was planning to write (still working on it) and next door but one stuck her head out of the windows to ask what was going on.  Apparently the banging and clattering I heard at stupid o'clock was the council taking the extra large, commercial size dumpster type bins that the flats used and replacing them with individual bins.  Dragging a large dumpster up the slope would be considered unreasonable, so instead each flat get their own individual cardio work out.  Slope, if you remember, is this...

DH was supposed to be picking up his new lease car today.  I'm not sure about lease cars versus cars bought outright, but he is the one who will be driving it, and it is completely affordable.  However it seems that even brand new cars can go wrong and it got taken to the garage before it even reached DH.  I feel for DH, and I truly admire him.  He is dealing with all the different cars and carrying on driving them and just getting on with it.  The car people provided taxis for tonight and tomorrow morning so he could get to and from work and he should be getting another courtesy car until the required part turns up. 

This means that DH will have driven far too many different types of car in a short time, and he's doing okay.  Since the 23 August he has driven a Ford Fusion (our car, 'Blue', that we lost in the crash), a Vauxhall Astra ('Steve', the courtesy car from the insurance), a Renault ('Geoff', a hire car when the insurance was sorted out but the lease car hadn't arrived until he went to the Netherlands), A Hyundai ('Keith', the hire car he picked up after the Netherlands), and now he will get another courtesy car until his is fixed.  In other words, he will have accidentally set off the windscreen wipers in four separate cars between our car in August and his car when it finally turns up.  I have total respect for him!

Writing stuff - Last but one day of 31 Days of Halloween with a Teaser from Wolves in the Desert  And I'll add the link to Glass and Ashes, an anthology that I'm lucky to be a part of and which is out on 15 November

Monday 29 October 2018

It's Only Monday

I am usually bewildered after the clocks go back.  I am also usually bewildered when bear is on holiday.  To be honest, bewildered is a standard description of my state of mind.  So I took the bins to their new collection place a day early and bewildered the nice man next door. 

Bear's initial appointment for the dentist was today, but was brought forward to last Friday.  So when I got the phone call from the dentist I thought that they had got bewildered.  However they had had a cancellation so did bear want to come along to the dentist now, at half term when nothing important was happening, instead of November 14th when it would have involved getting taxis back from his school to make the trip on time.  I said an emphatic, 'yes!'

Bear was awesome at the dentist.  He told them he was nervous, but did as he was told, charmed the dentist's assistant and generally was a credit to me.  Bless him, he waited until he got home until he fell apart.  He told me that it hurt!  As it was a fortnight before I expected, I didn't have custard or jelly ready and bear was unimpressed at my forward planning.  So we hung out, chatted and generally relaxed.  Bear managed pizza for dinner, so he wasn't too bad.  It could have all been a lot worse, but while bear was the one who suffered, I still felt a little flattened afterwards.

Tomorrow is another chill day.  Bear has a significant amount of homework to do over the holidays, so he can deal with that, and I can have a quick tidy and we can put up some Halloween decorations.  I still haven't been good at being grown up, but tomorrow needs to include a call about boiler insurance (again!) and I want to go through all the saved tabs on my bookmark bar. 

btw some Glade candles are on sale at Tesco at the moment, at half price, £2 instead of £4.  One or two may have been added to the delivery tomorrow. 

Writing stuff - we're coming to the end of Timothy Bateson's 31 Days of Halloween, but there are two book spotlights and a chilling short story since I last posted.  I'm in awe of him organising it. 

Friday 26 October 2018


I am writing this half asleep, so please forgive any errors.

Today bear went to the dentist.  He has an abscess and needs to have the baby tooth out.  Bear is not entirely comfortable with the whole thing.  It's complicated because while the teeth are coming through in the right order, they are very slow coming through and he is a year or more behind.  The dentist was amazing and explained everything, but it was still tough on bear.  We are going back in a week or so.

Fortunately I had booked tickets for a spooky Halloween thingy at the Royal Armouries.  I wish I had thought to take a pic of bear wearing a white lab coat as an agent of F.A.R.T. (Fantasm and Apparition Research Team - it was aimed at the younger kids).  He looked so amazing.  As all the kids gathered at the front I could see him eyeing up all the options and trying to spot the gimmicks.  The people running it were amazing.  We got chased by a suit of armour, threatened by cavaliers and courtiers, and generally spooked out of our senses with plenty of jokes thrown in!  It was great, and well worth the total of £8.50 for me, DH and bear to enjoy the fooling around.

Writing stuff - Today's entry in 31 days of Halloween by Timothy Bateson is a book spotlight on his book, Wolves in the Desert.  There are only five days left of this marathon and I have to give credit to Timothy Bateson for pulling it together. 

Thursday 25 October 2018

Further than Aldi

Thank you for all the incredibly supportive messages.  I feel hugged and almost ready for anything. 

Jules - I still don't feel grown up, but I'll fake it till I make it. 

wherethejourneytakesme - that's a deal! 

Thank you for all the great support after another fail, but I've only had serious driving lessons since July, and a few hours before that in May.  So I'm not taking it too hard, and I have asked my utterly awesome instructor to book me in for the end of November.  I can do this!  Also, after just a few months, I honestly believe that there are drivers out there worse than my current standard.  It is scary

Today I got out of the house!  In fact, I got as far as Roundhay Park, which was wonderful and bright.  I called in at the cafe, where a pigeon was wandering around the (inside) eating area.

Then I walked down to the Upper Lake.  When I go next, I'm going to have to be careful as the paths get covered in leaves which can get slippery.  This is the actual, paved path to the lake.

It was lovely and crunchy to walk on, and led to the lake which looked like this

And then I had a wander through the woods, which sounded like the sea with the wind in the branches, and I went just a little way, as far as this

This is a nineteenth century folly which ought to be haunted.  I am setting the book I am currently writing around Roundhay Park (see, being all grown up and doing research).    And then I went to Aldi and didn't buy stuff I didn't need for the first time ever!  I just picked up some veggies and diced chicken and some treats for the lads over half term.

Bear was home early and is off tomorrow for a teacher training day.  He was somewhat disappointed that he hasn't hit a certain thingy to get a different thingy (it gets vague) but he brought home raffle tickets with a strong hint that each child sends back £10 for the tickets.  We are adding it to the spreadsheet we are keeping.  DH brought in dinner, which I was grateful for, as I am not used to this walking (I am so ashamed of my lack of fitness) and I think I will be recovering from the driving lessons for a while.  I am not having any more until after half term, so for a week at least. 

Writing stuff - a little more going on today.  I got an attack of poetry, which you can find here, which is part of my plan to be posting on my writing blog at least once a week.  Timothy Bateson's 31 Days of Halloween has a Book Spotlight on 'The Greatest of Books' by Rosa Marchisella, linky here.  The anthology 'Glass and Ashes' is now available, and I have a story included (and I am so giddy about it - it's been amazing to be part of it).  Also, keep an eye out for the 12 Days of Indie coming up with books from independent authors at great prices (yep, I'm taking part). 

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Writing Stuff

Today has been a big day!  Bear had a school trip (apparently awesome and he brought home a bow and arrow and a sword from the gift shop), I failed my driving test (I will totally nail it next time) and I get a mention on the 31 Days of Halloween!

Thank you for all the encouragement.  What I need to do next time is imagine all the awesome people who read here, pushing me on and reminding me that I need to be in first gear!  Thank you, I feel hugged, and I definitely need it.

I have decided - from tomorrow I am going to be a grown up.  I have no idea what that means, but I will start working it out tomorrow.

So, writing stuff - I am mentioned in 31 Days of Halloween.  Shout out to Timothy Bateson who has been amazing this month with all the wonderful  things he has pulled together.

I am so impressed with what Timothy has done over this month, I can't imagine how he has had time!

Failed Driving Test

Failed Driving Test.  No casualties.  Back tomorrow.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Another Day, Another Driving Lesson

Bear managed to get me to spill the beans.  He wanted me to meet him from school tomorrow when it finishes at 3.15pm.  I couldn't because my driving test is tomorrow at @ 3.30pm.  I have agreed that I will meet him in Morrisons after the test. 

I am not confident at all.  Today I drove past the place where the test will start at the time of the test - I will be starting from outside bear's school at just after school ends.  Bear's school has a lot of pupils from further away and while plenty of kids were lining up at bus stops, there seemed to be a gazillion parents picking up children.  What can I say?  One day I hope to be one of them, but I'll be making bear walk a little so I don't get caught up in the madness.  It was utter bedlam.  The streets were absolutely jammed.  There was double parking everywhere.  I started a popular test route and I spent the first ten minutes inching, squeezing, hanging back and waiting.  There wasn't enough room to drive and there were a lot of drivers.  The one that took my breath away was the one who, when I was finally getting clear of the worst of the congestion, pulled into the road I was exiting and then reversed out!  Looking back he must have seen the queue of traffic and thought, 'stuff this for a game of soldiers' and reversed, blocking exits, and, while I can't blame him for me stalling (trying to get out from a stop in 2nd gear will do that every time), he really didn't help the chaos. 

Bear has a school trip tomorrow, so this evening has been spent making sure that he has everything.  He is not looking forward to it as it will mean travelling on a coach.  I also have to sort out a packed lunch that he will actually eat.  Negotiations have been ongoing and will continue in the morning about him actually wearing an actual coat.  I always thought the stories about teenagers refusing to wear a coat were exaggerated.  Bear isn't quite twelve but he's already gearing up for it. 

Writing stuff - Timothy Bateson's 31 Days of Halloween has another teaser from Wolves in the Desert  Only eight days left! 

Monday 22 October 2018

The Mystery £3

Bear is normal for his age.  This means that when Sunday evening rolls around and all the reasonable shops are shut and the window for next delivery has closed he can pipe up with, 'I need a mask.'

And I have a perfectly normal reaction.  I say, 'Wut?"

Apparently bear needs a mask for something something something school, something something something drama something something something by Tuesday.  What about the skeleton mask in his room? I ask, but that is apparently completely inappropriate.  He needs me to somehow magic up a mask.  Making one out of cardboard was not an option.

So this morning I had a driving lesson - truly awful, nearly ran a red light and almost got a magpie - then dived into town, headed into a fancy dress shop and asked where they kept their masks.  Do you know how many masks are kicking around at this time of year?  I was already overwhelmed after the utterly appalling driving lesson, and now I had to chose between masks.  I picked a plain one.  Then out to Aldi and home where I sort of deflated.  It really was a disastrous driving lesson.

I did have one thing to look forward to, however.  When bear got home I finally got to find out why he needed £3.  That was another Sunday Night Surprise.  Apparently he needed £3 for a fundraiser.  I dug out my purse and asked what the fundraiser was for.  He looked at me blankly and shrugged.  It turns out it was for a One World Fundraiser (still no idea) and bear got a doughnut out of it. 

So bear and I talked over all that we had paid out for school.  I was being careful to make sure that he knew that he wasn't responsible for all that was paid out, and I think that most high schools can get expensive, but we added it up and it came to around £800 and some.  That's uniform, bus pass, school dinners (some of it hasn't been used yet), school shoes, stationery, the residential and the kit for that, the school trip that bear has coming up on Wednesday, one non-uniform day already and I was petty enough to add in the £3 I paid for a mug when they wanted donations for the Winter Fair.  We are edging towards £1000 and it isn't even half term! 

I know I could have been thriftier on some stuff, and the blazer, the most expensive item of kit, will last all year, but even so, I felt like whimpering.  This is a non-paying grammar school.  It is open to those who can pass the exam.  However, there is still a lot of money in that school and I think a lot is expected. 

As soon as I can pass my test (around 2023, by today's showing), I am going to have to pull myself together and sort out budgets and plans and basically act like a grown up. 

Writing stuff - Timothy Bateson's 31 Days of Halloween is still going strong and you can find today's book spotlight and yesterdays top 10 Halloween movies here and I've added a graphic of a quote from my contribution to 'Glass and Ashes' - coming soon!

Saturday 20 October 2018

Another Day, Another Dither

Today I started cleaning out the walk in cupboard.  It's almost the size of our bathroom, and had far more junk in it this morning than it has now.  I have filled DH's car boot with rubbish.  I feel like I cannot cope with the chaos that is this house a moment longer, so I am planning on chipping away at it, even as little as ten minutes at a time.  I have spent today looking at things and asking myself - do I really want this?  What is the worst thing that can happen if I throw this away?  Where can I put all this rubbish?

Speaking of rubbish, I put a complaint in about the whole bin nonsense and today the bins were collected unnecessarily loudly at 7am.  I'm still pursuing the complaint because my complaint was very much about the lack of communication.  I really regret the lack of sleeping in.

I'm hoping that I get better about shopping.  For some reason I thought it was a good idea to place a Morrisons order which arrived today, including a wonky veg box which I swore I would never get again.  The veg is fine, but I never seem to get around to using it all.  Today we had roasted carrots and parsnips cooked with leek with the mince cooked with onions and peas.  The men of the house enjoyed it a great deal.

Bear has got replacement shin pads.  DH took him and I don't think they were too expensive, but I am still unimpressed.  He also apparently needs £3 for Monday for some vague reason that is connected with fundraising.  Still, he totally rocked his piano lesson which is something.

Writing stuff - finally got the next instalment from the White Hart sorted after junking 2.5k words that just weren't working.  On the 31 Days of Halloween, Timothy Bateson has announced the results of his prize draw here

Friday 19 October 2018

Thank Goodness It's Friday

I made a complete mess of my driving lesson today.  This includes getting stranded in the middle of a junction with traffic lights where I couldn't see the traffic lights.  Meh.  I did some awesome parking, though, so it could be worse.  Also, no casualties.

Tesco delivered today.  I was just short of the £60 to get a coupon off petrol.  I'm actually getting a Morrisons delivery tomorrow.  I have no idea why I thought it was a good idea, and I am going to have to rearrange the freezer, as I forgot about it until after the time had passed for me to update it.  Darn it to heck. 

In the pic from yesterday, my home is on the left.  On the right is a former Co-op which is now a hairdressers, pizza place and cafe with flats above.  One of the flats has a very inadequate bathroom window.  You can tell if they sit or stand to wipe.  Next door have reported them.  I just don't look. 

I am so tired, I'm just going to crawl off to bed now.  Sending hugs to all.

wherethejourneytakesme - it's an unadopted road which is split unequally between three owners, one of which is based on the Isle of Mann and one is a landlord that won't even fix leaking roofs.  The final one is DH and I, and I worry about the cost, although I think our share would be around one sixteenth.

justjill - our bins were collected from outside our house until mid August.  Nothing has changed on the road, so I suppose someone finally complained.  I am trying to look forward to the exercise.

Bless - I may try that once the driving lessons have settled down. 

Writing stuff - I was 2,500 words into the latest chapter from the White Hart and realised it wasn't very good so I junked it.  I hope to have this week's instalment up by the end of tomorrow as my second attempt is looking much more promising.  Timothy Bateson's '31 Days of Halloween' has a fun post about Halloween costumes here

Thursday 18 October 2018

A Load of Rubbish

The driving lesson went okay today, no casualties and no other drivers wondering what the heck this learner was doing.  I did lose third gear at one point, but stuff happen and I sailed past the roadworks in style.  My poor driving instructor had to come back, though, as I managed to leave my keys in his car!  He gave the same look he gives me when I lose third gear.  I swear the dratted thing hides.

Then I came home to a letter from the council.  Apparently the surface on the road is a health and safety issue for the binmen, so the bins will no longer be collected from outside the house.  Instead we have some designated spots to leave the bins.  So once a fortnight I will be dragging a heavy wheelie bin up this slope. 

I know it isn't that bad.  It's steep enough to allow kids on skateboards and bikes to get an impressive speed when they hit the bottom, and I know that I can't go up the slope at speed, but it's not a mountain and it's only a few yards.  However I am not looking forward to it, especially when it gets icy.  Never mind, I suppose it's good exercise.  It is also an incredibly good incentive to cut down on waste.

Bear has just come home and found the uncomfortable truth that his 'okay to call and text for £27' phone doesn't have enough memory for all his games.  I guess I know what we are getting him for a joint Christmas and Birthday present.  Hopefully he will be a little more careful with any replacement 'nice' phone.

Writing Stuff - I have my first ever Guest Post!  With Rum Recipes!  AF Stewart is an awesome author who has just published the second in her series of Saga of the Outer Islands, called Souls of the Dark Sea.  It is a fantasy setting with pirates and she has kindly drafted a post for my blog which gives a little background - and rum recipes!  Check it out here.  31 Days of Halloween continues with a book spotlight on 'Instinct' by Anna Hub

Wednesday 17 October 2018

I Made it to Wednesday

I just want to get to the end of next week.  Then bear will have his half term break and I'll take a break from driving lessons.  I'm just staggering on until then.

Bear's phone and a small Approved Food order came today.  Bear's phone looks fine.  DH is having a struggle getting it to connect to the phone network, but he's working on it, and it's picking up the internet.  The bus that bear gets has free wifi, so at least bear can be occupied while he travels.  I think I shall definitely go that route (if DH can get it to make calls and texts).  £27 for a less than perfect but functional smartphone is completely acceptable to me. 

The Approved Food order was also acceptable.  The dates on the fancy chocolates are long enough for me to stash them for Christmas presents and I picked up some extremely inexpensive Halloween decorations.  The new neighbours don't approve of trick or treating.  What can I say?  I am a complete hypocrite.  I grumble about Trick or Treating every year, and then as soon as anyone knocks on the door, I give out the sweeties in great handfuls.  I even practice looking shocked and surprised for the littlies.  Anyway, we are decorating for Halloween some time after 26th.

I am not sure about pumpkins.  They seem to make a mess and I'm not sure that it's worth cooking whatever DH and bear scoop out, but it's sort of expected.  There's a pumpking festival about a hour's drive from here, near Pontefract, at Farmer Copley's.  They have literally thousands of pumpkins.  I can't drive there yet, and poor DH is still having a lot of tension while driving, so we aren't likely to go, but it does look awesome.  However, most of the supermarkets have them.  I may see what I can pick up on 1st November for cooking purposes. 

Writing stuff - nothing from me, but there is a really interesting article “How the real world shapes fiction and vice versa” by Heidi Angell on Timothy Bateson's 31 Days of Halloween.  

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Convenient Dinner

So much for a healthy dinner cooked from scratch.

I softened some lazy garlic in some oil.  Lazy garlic is the worlds greatest invention.  Nothing smells of garlic except the food, it lasts forever and there is no waste.  Bear does not approve as he says that it is a wasteful and expensive way to buy garlic.  One jar of lazy garlic costs, at time of typing, £1.50, or roughly a penny a gram of garlic.  I can get 8 inexpensive cloves of garlic for that price, but that is not the greatest quality and I wouldn't get as much actual garlic bits for the food.  Also, my hands, knives, garlic press and chopping board do not smell of garlic.

Then I added some frozen chopped onion.  I may go back to chopping my own onions after I've finally passed my test (three hours again today, no casualties but I'm on my knees), but at the moment I consider frozen onions a lifesaver.  It doesn't go off before I can use it all, I can use a teaspoon full for a single omelette or a very large handful for a chilli or pasta sauce, and there is no waste.  At time of typing it is £1.00 for 500g or around a pound.  Fresh, wonky onions from Morrisons are 60p per kilo, and even with losing the peel they are considerably less expensive, but at least I won't see any of them rot because I haven't got around to doing anything with them. 

I then added 250g or around half a pound of lean mince.  Once that was browned I added some gluten free beef gravy granules, some mixed herbs and a large dollop of brown sauce.  Once I had stirred it in, I added some boiling water from the kettle and a generous amount of frozen peas (always cheaper than fresh peas and always available unlike fresh).  Then I added some chopped up tinned potatoes. 

I love tinned potatoes.  They are perfect in frittata, they are easy to store, they never sprout and go green on me, they don't need pre-cooking and a large tin of around 500g or a pound drained weight costs 35p.  At the time of typing, Morrisons' wonky potatoes are 94p per 2.5kg, which makes them slightly more expensive (although still inexpensive in themselves) and that is before they are peeled.  I warmed it all through and dished it up from the one pot I used.

Bear and DH practically inhaled it and have asked for it again soon.  I think the secret is in the brown sauce.  Apart from some worries about salt, it isn't as bad as a takeaway, is considerably less expensive and took only a few minutes. 

I think that once I have a little more of my time back, and I've sorted out things like the new downstairs windows and the re-wiring, then I will go back to buying fresh onions and potatoes.  It won't save vast sums of money, but it will save a few pennies and, after paying for all these driving lessons, I will be glad enough of that.  I don't think I will give up my lazy garlic.

Writing Stuff - not much to report today.  The October Frights is over, and I am catching my breath, but the 31 Days of Halloween is still running and today there is a teaser of what looks like a spooky take on the war in Iraq.  Things should get a lot quieter once we get to November.

Monday 15 October 2018

I Mopped the Bathroom Walls

I mopped the bathroom walls.  It wasn't a brilliant success, but they are cleaner.  I was horrified when I looked at the patch near the window and I am hanging my head in shame as I post the 'before' pic.

I honestly hadn't looked.  I shall be looking closely now.  After using a mop with hot water and plenty of stardrops, I managed this

which is better, but still not brilliant.  I'm going to have to try a different type of mop and a step ladder.  The mop I used was a rubbish self-wringing one.  I think I will keep it to mop out the bins

What I think I need is a sort of sponge on a stick, like the one my instructor uses to demist the back passenger windows.  And speaking of my awesome instructor, I had another driving lesson.  There were no casualties, but I swear I saw some cones flinch as I rattled past the roadworks.  Also, bear has lost his shin pads.  I'm hoping that is the end of this run as he has lost his phone, his bus pass and now these dratted shin pads in the last few weeks.  The last time I saw them they were tucked in with his sports kit.

Writing stuff - I've written a short story for the last day of October Frights which is here if you are interested. The main links for October Frights is here and it may be worth a last quick look as there are still giveaways and prizes.  Timothy Bateson's 31 Days of Halloween is still going, and today's post, a quick spotlight on Carousel of Nightmares by Kerry E B Black is here

Sunday 14 October 2018

Tootling On

Today has happened.  I have survived a Saturday.  I'm taking it as a win.

Bear has had a lot of homework set, so I have been encouraging him while I myself have had the concentration of a kitten in a feather factory.  I'm currently considering more vegetarian recipes after hearing about the climate change report and how eating less meat can make a difference.  DH also is muttering about guests staying here in January, and I can't let them come without getting the place decorated.  However I am not making any major changes or pushing major works until I've passed my driving test and the pressure has eased up.  Still, we had a frittata tonight with the mushrooms and peppers left over from DH's pizza, together with some onions and potatoes with a few olives chopped in.  Bear practically inhaled it.

Writing stuff - All sorts of stuff is going on in the October Frights and the link to lots of lovely writing, giveaways and such is here.   I have a small, reprinted piece of flash fiction here.  Today in 31 days of Halloween there is a book spotlight on Rheia, by Cassandra Page, which sounds really awesome.  And finally, an instalment of the White Hart is here.  I shall be glad when October is over and things quieten down!  

Friday 12 October 2018

Please Hold, Energy Will Return Shortly

I can't remember the last time I felt this exhausted - hang on, yes I can - it was the last time I was doing so many driving lessons at a time!  Today I stalled at the first junction, and stalled, and stalled, and stalled.  Then I totally rocked the rest of the lesson.  No casualties, no worried pigeons, no bumped curbs and I completely owned the use of the windscreen wipers.

Bless him, DH made dinner tonight.  I am absolutely on my knees at the moment.  He utterly rocked home made pizza.  Well, he used pre-made gluten free bases and then added mushrooms, chicken, peppers, onions and garlic.  It was awesome.  Tomorrow it's my turn and I'm planning a frittata to use up the leftovers.  It's a long time since we had that, and I'm looking forward to it. 

I've ordered bear a new phone.  It is £27 from Tesco's eBay outlet and is a category C refurbished phone with some signs of wear.  It's an android, which bear has previously rejected, but he has accepted this gracefully.  It still has a year's warranty, comes from a reputable site and will make calls and texts, which is what we need, and it will also play YouTube and quite a few games.  The bus has free WiFi, so bear can indulge.  I could have got a less expensive phone, but we have to preserve a little school yard cred. 

justjill - I am so nervous about the emergency stop.  I have nearly died of fright every time I've practised it.  I shall just have to fake being brave.

Sharon - thank you.  Bear's bus stop preference seems to vary on wind direction, the placement of the planets and whether he has fallen out with a friend or not.  I am watching from a safe distance.

wherethejourneytakesme - I've been to Stranraer.  We had a wonderful holiday at Port Patrick when I was a kid and I loved it.  I have incredibly warm memories of that part of the world.  I wish I could take my test there.  Heckmondwike is, apparently, challenging!

Writing stuff - I've managed a little flash fiction today, which is here and you'll find links to other stuff for the amazing October Frights at the end.  Timothy Bateson's 31 Days of Halloween includes a giveaway today, so have a look here if you are interested. 

Thursday 11 October 2018

Today Happened

Bear continues to use different bus stops for school.  We are placed so that there isn't much extra walking between three or four stops, so bear is trying out the best ones for him.  It depends on a number of different factors, including whether he's fallen out with his pal or not, and there is another friend at a slightly different bus stop, so it is getting very tangled.  I stay out of it.  Bear's new bus card has arrived, but there is still no sign of the phone.  I think we shall have to give up on that.  I also think that it means that he has lost a lot of contacts.  We did try using the 'find my phone' but the phone was completely switched off.  DH has reported it, so we are keeping our fingers crossed.  Current thinking is that we get bear a very inexpensive and totally not cool phone for now (he has such a lot of travelling to do) and then something better at Christmas.  Bear doesn't really need anything for Christmas and is getting too old for a lot of the games and toys that have been a stand-by so he can have a decent, school-cred phone with added very token and inexpensive Christmas and birthday presents. 

wherethejourneytakesme - I'm taking my test in Heckmondwike, which is apparently one of the hardest places in the country to pass.  According to my utterly amazing instructor, if I can manage the turns and hills around Heckmondwike, I can drive anywhere, possibly near enough to be a hazard to near you!  Bear got into Heckmondwike Grammar, which is a really, really big deal.  The journey to and from our house is relatively straightforward.  My instructor doesn't stress with me driving.  I rattled along at nearly 60mph, dealt with corners, junctions and some seriously tough situations.  As soon as the clipboard comes out, however, I seem to go to pieces. 

I really need to pass this test.  I have done twelve hours so far this week, and at least another couple of hours tomorrow.  I am shattered, and I really need the time back.  Though I have no idea what I'll be writing about once I've passed. 

Writing stuff - nothing much from me, just a re-issue of an old Steve Adderson story here, but there is a really interesting piece about the inspiration of a novel and fake mediums on 31 Days of Halloween here

Also, I thought I would post a pic something I am really, really craving at the moment...

Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash

But my lessons are early morning so I daren't risk still having traces in my system.  Darn it to heck.  

Wednesday 10 October 2018

Still a Clean Patch

I don't know if anyone is tired of hearing about my driving lessons.  It must be frustrating seeing them come up again and again, but I write what I am.  Today I drove for nearly three hours solid.  I drove through Shipley and Saltaire, down roads I had never been before.  It was awesome.  I'm still not very comfortable over 30mph, but I rattled down the road at pushing 60mph at one point, I dealt with awkward junctions, roundabouts and strange turns without turning a hair.  I was fine.  Then on the way home my awesome instructor got out a clipboard and checklist and I wasn't just a hazard to traffic, I was a hazard to everything.  I think I need to work on that a little.  Or a lot.

I haven't managed to do anything about the bathroom walls, although they now bug me every visit.  It's true.  What has been seen cannot be unseen.  Now I can't miss the specks on the walls.  However I more or less flaked out when I got home, so I shall have to have a go tomorrow, after another three hour lesson. 

Bear is not in my good books.  He has lost his phone.  I am completely unimpressed.  He lost it on the bus, and now he is giving me the big eyes.  I could cry.  Apparently it disappeared on the bus, so I've reported it in and I'm keeping everything crossed.  I am not replacing like for like.  Bear needs to learn that actions have consequences, although he's doing okay for a nearly 12 year old.  Today he voluntarily did his French homework earlier than the night before it was due, so that is something.

Writing stuff - I've posted two pieces on my writing blog.  One is a 'reprint' of an old poem, and one is about how to protect yourself from fairies.  I am uneasily aware that at least three or four people who read this blog know a lot more about this than me.  However they are in the spirit of the 'October Frights Blog Hop' and there is a link which takes you to all sorts of blogs and possibilities.  31 Days of Halloween has a book spotlight on 'The Liminal Hymns'.  And in the spirit of fairy, I thought I would include this pic from Trevor Cole on Unsplash

Photo by Trevor Cole on Unsplash

Tuesday 9 October 2018


Helen - hello to a friend in France!  I think small boys with homework and school books have much the same problem all over the world!  I am practising deep breathing. 

Justjill - I'm still sending good vibes.  I can see a lot of disciplinary tickles and threats to make them walk coming up!

wherethejourneytakesme - bear has been utterly horrified by the whole 'missing book' episode (was in his locker) and I am hoping that he will learn from this, but, to be honest, it's hope against experience!

My driving lesson today was mixed.  There were no casualties, though I had a close call at a roundabout.  First of all I did some practice local to me.  I really rocked those junctions and utterly nailed the three point turn.  Then we went an unfamiliar way into Heckmondwike, and I was hitting nearly 60mph at one point, and I was totally comfortable with it all (I may have gone 'wheeeeee' and my driving instructor has a lot to put up with).  I went on dual carriageways, inner city ring roads and some very small side roads and never flinched.  Then we stopped for a comfort stop at a supermarket and my awesome driving instructor said he would be marking my drive home as if I was on a test.  I pulled out of the supermarket car park and went to pieces in a truly epic style.  I stalled, tried to go around corners in the wrong gear, totally misjudged speed limits and nearly pulled in front of a car at a roundabout.  I may have to work on that side of things. 

Today I was trying out a new bathroom cleaner.  I am totally going back to the vinegar and water mix after I've finished this.  It was an expensive, Method cleaner and I didn't take to it, although the kitchen one is awesome.  I suppose I could use the kitchen cleaner in the bathroom without the world ending, but the vinegar and water mix does a wonderful job.  Anyway I wiped a muddy hand print off the wall near the shower (bear likes to leave evidence that he has had a shower) and I realised that, just like Ripley in Aliens, when she cleaned a small spill of hot chocolate off the young girl Newt's face, I had made a clean spot.  And once you make a clean spot, you really need to do something about the rest of the dirt.  I somehow managed to get dirty bathroom walls.  It isn't dust or mould, just sort of grime.  We don't have candles in the bathroom, or do deep fat frying, so I have no idea.  I also have a bathroom smaller than many American cars and nowhere to put a step ladder.  My current plans include a bucket, a mop and a large quantity of stardrops. 

It's been quite a busy day.  DH came home, bringing goodies which included brandy for me, and bear fell down the stairs.  On the surface, bear didn't hurt himself too badly.  I would initially class it as minor bruises and major drama, but I'm keeping an eye on it as some of those bruises are on his back, and backs can be iffy.

Writing stuff - there is likely to be a lot more over the next few days but it should calm down after Halloween.  Today there is a snippet from 'The Lupine's Call' over on 31 Days of Halloween here and a quote from one of the stories from the Glass and Ashes anthology

Monday 8 October 2018

Suddenly Monday!

Where did the weekend go?  DH is away and I have spent the weekend keeping bear company.  Bear does not approve of a lack of DH and is missing him.  I've kept him busy and we have been reading our way through the first of the Wombles books as a sort of story comfort food, but it isn't the same for bear.  

Saturday was particularly tough.  Not only did bear bitterly miss DH but the computer didn't work.  I was hoping to sleep until eight but a desolated bear woke me up at 7am.  Bear was very clear that this would never have happened if his father had been present.  He had checked all the cables and tried unplugging it and then plugging it in again and it still didn't work!  I got on to the phone to my brother and begged.  

Brother was awesome.  He works IT support so he looked at the computer, sighed, pressed a button and it was working again!  Something something something restart, apparently.  Bear understood it.  I just handed over coconut cookies and a lot of gratitude.

Yesterday I did some more practice with bear's pal's mum with the lads in the back.  I swooshed into parking bays with smooth elegance.  Bear and his pal insisted on adopting the brace position until I threatened them with disciplinary tickles.  

Today was another lesson.  Still no casualties.  I was driving at the time I would have been picking up bear, and it was busy.  It's going to be quite a challenge.  I was glad to get home to feed bear and a different pal and then give bear utter reassurance and some sort of stern words added because he has lost his book and the homework, due in tomorrow, not only hasn't been done but he doesn't really understand it.  I have been fighting to keep all bear's books in one place, but it's like trying to bail the sea with a sieve, so this way I hope bear will get some motivation.  

Writing stuff - I will be posting about this most of this month, but I know that it's not everyone's cup of tea, so I'm putting it at the end and you can stop reading whenever you see 'writing stuff'.  There's nothing from me today but someone has produced a YouTube video trailer of their new book!  How cool is that, trailer here.  There's some spooky recommendations here.  And for the pic, I'm going to include one of the quotes from the Glass and Ashes anthology which includes one of my stories.  

Friday 5 October 2018

That Time of Year

I've just booked my Morrisons Christmas delivery.  I've built up some useful vouchers, but I've had one too many bad experiences with their meat, so I will probably just get treats from them.  Bear didn't believe me when I said it would be busy, but I saw the email releasing Christmas dates around an hour after it was sent and the site had already crashed.  Meanwhile, remember this tree that was caught in the wind?

Well, it now looks like this

It seems a shame, but I don't suppose it could be easily saved and it is next to a major main road. 

Driving lessons are really helping me in odd ways.  Today I went out!  I didn't have a lesson but I popped into Leeds and bought some unnecessary candles from Home Sense.  I seem to be really picking up with confidence.  Of course, I should really have stayed at home and done housework, but I also had to physically call in to town to sort out bear's lost bus pass and pick up an emergency birthday present. 

Today's link to the 31 Days of Halloween from Timothy Bateson is an article about wizards and witches in history.  I love dipping into these. 

Thursday 4 October 2018

Firetrap Shirt

Today I ironed a Firetrap shirt.  It looks very nice and I believe that Firetrap, as a brand, is quite expensive compared to my usual purchases and also generally good quality.  The shirt itself was excellent.  I have no idea where it came from. 

DH is a good man in many ways, but he doesn't buy clothes.  He's not really interested, and will happily accept the results of my shopping habit as new clothes appear in his wardrobe.  He sometimes gets the perfect thing for himself - just recently he bought himself an amazing jacket - but on the whole, clothes shopping happens to someone else. 

I don't remember buying him the shirt.  It's possible that I bought on autopilot.  DH has recently lost a lot of weight in a healthy and sustainable way (I have so much respect for him!) so needs new clothes.  I've left him to his own devices with trousers, but I've picked up a few shirts.  In fact, I even paid full price for some of them, because he needed good ones for work and I didn't see any deals in the type of shirt he liked.  I've also picked up a few in charity shops, some of which he has been happy with, but I don't remember this! 

The last few months have been quite hectic, and there have been times when I haven't know whether it was face first or Tuesday, so unless shirts are randomly appearing, I think I need to start pulling myself together and tracking my shopping.  I had another long driving lesson today, rattling around trying to work out junctions.  Both next week and the week after I will be having long driving lessons on four separate days. I have made an executive decision that while I am spending so much time in driving lessons I am going to be living out of the freezer for easy meals.  It's not so much meals that are easy to make, but meals that are easy to think of.  I may make another batch of soup as bear and his pal inhaled another couple of portions of the soup I froze a few days ago.

On the writing front, I've been at the poetry again, which you can read here if you are interested.  The 31 Days of Halloween continue with a spotlight on Katherine Gilbert here and her book 'Protecting the Dead'.  Sarah Head has also recommended a macabre book, 'Strange Creatures' by Peter Eldritch, and you can see her recommendation in the comments on yesterday's post. 

It's a great time of year for spooky stories.

Wednesday 3 October 2018

Bear is Invested

Bear does not approve of the 'school sweater'.  To be honest, I'm not sure I do either.  There is very little substance to it, and it wasn't cheap!  I can't remember how much it cost, but I think it was around £15, and bear wore it for the first time yesterday.  This morning he utterly rejected the sweater and wore two vests instead. 

The local flower shop has completely failed to buy winter pansies so I am leaving my garden in it's current dishevelled state until spring when bear and I will paint some more tyres and plant things in them.

I had another long driving lesson today.  I'm feeling more confident, and I swept around some awkward turns like a boss.  Shame about the parallel park!  The lessons are taking a toll, though.  It was another long lesson today and I am shattered.  You can probably tell.

Today's 31 Days of Halloween link is to a quick review of a book of 13 spooky tales - here if you are interested.  It's not linked to me in anyway, but if you are into the spooky stuff it may be worth checking out. 

Tuesday 2 October 2018

Sort of Okay Day

I failed on an epic scale with the saag aloo.  I'll get it next time.

It was really frustrating because I had had such an action packed day and I was so pleased that I was still going ahead with trying new things.  I was up early, of course, for bear and I found myself answering emails about writing stuff (link to today's instalment of 31 Days of Halloween here for anyone interested) and stuff for publicity and before the first cough of the sparrow. 

I got a load of washing in, sorted out some stuff for bear, had a pootle around some housewifery and then went for a walk where I met a mum of one of bear's friends and we had a good catch up.  Then I had a driving lesson from 11.30am to 3pm.  I was tired afterwards.  It wasn't constant driving, but the five minute breaks were quite few and spread out.  I don't know how my driving instructor does it! 

I crawled in and slumped until bear got in at around 4.30pm, which I am a little ashamed of, as I could have done quite a bit in that time.  Then I kept bear company, tried to work out what was going on with the homework and generally helped him wind down before I attempted the saag aloo and sausages.  I failed with the sausages as well.  They were cooked, but not well cooked, which was a shame as they were the expensive ones.

Then I hung out with DH and now I am going to crawl off to bed. 

I have no new pics, so I thought I would share this, as although I am not currently drinking, I really feel like it!  The image is from

Monday 1 October 2018

A Slice of Soup

I wish I had remembered to take a picture.  Bear got very enthusiastic with the new knife and chopped and sliced with gusto and in quantity.  It was mainly veggies with some stock added.  The stockpot takes 5 litres and it was full.  I just bunged in the veggies (I had room for parsnip, leek, onion, potato and carrot) with some oil, plenty of garlic, a couple of stock cubes, some curry powder and lentils and simmered away!  It ended up very thick indeed.  It wasn't quite at the 'eat it with a knife and fork' stage, but it was a solid meal.  DH went back for seconds just because he liked the taste, and bear and his pal emptied their dishes without any complaint.  They have both said that I can do that again.  I also froze five portions, so I have a good snack for bear when he comes home from school in this cold weather.  

I think it was a good value meal.  There is a lot of nutrition in there, especially as it was eaten with wholemeal bread, and even if you add in all the oil, spices, stock cubes, electric and lentils, it could not have come to much more than £4 for @ ten portions, and I didn't even use all of the £3 veg box.  

As for the rest - Sarah Head very kindly posted this recipe in the comments and her recipes have been pretty awesome so far.  I shall be testing this out tomorrow (all being well!)

Cabbage soup can be a bit hard to live with (lots of after effects!) but great if you're wanting to lose weight. My go-to recipe now for any green stuff is home made saag aloo, which means "greens and potatoes". Peel and dice how ever many potatoes you usually serve for the number of people or twice the amount if you like leftovers. Peel and dice one onion. Chop up your greens (I use whatever I have to hand, usually kale or cabbage, broccoli, spinach etc) Heat 5 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan. When it comes to the heat, add 2 teaspoons of yellow or black mustard seeds and a quarter of a tsp of chilli powder (more if you like really hot food). Wait until the mustard seeds pop then add your potatoes and stir. Put the lid on and cook for fifteen minutes, stirring so it doesn't stick. About five minutes before the end of cooking, add the greens (longer if the cabbage is old or thick). Let them wilt on the top for a few minutes then stir them in with the potatoes. This can be served with any kind of meat or sausages. My daughter goes mad over it and her boyfriend really liked it even though it contained onions! Bear should enjoy cooking this. You can leave out the chilli if you don't like hot things at all. This tastes even better the second day and freezes well. - Sarah Head

I have a driving lesson tomorrow and it usually includes a comfort stop at a Morrisons big enough to stock Mustard seed.  I also have in some posh sausages with caramelised onion from Tesco.  The side effect of being gluten free is that the only sausages you can eat are the really good ones.  Tesco are really reducing their range, but so far they still have the good sausages.  I went through my 'favourites' list on their online shop the other day and so many of my items were 'no longer part of our range'.  Fortunately, Morrisons are expanding their online range, and it's perhaps why this morning's delivery came from there.  

News about writing here for those interested.  Also, it is apparently really important to include a pic in a blog post and I forgot to take a pic of the soup, so here is a pretty picture from which is a version of saag aloo that is probably nowhere near as good as Sarah's.

I Blinked

I didn't realise that it had been so long since I posted!  I have been full of a very minor cold and very tired.  Also, bear has been very bear as he has had a cold as well and is feeling very fed up.  The four portions of home made soup I froze on Friday have gone.  Bear knows his comfort food! 

I agreed, with some reservations, that bear could make some more home made soup tonight.  I had a Morrisons order coming this morning, so I included a box of wonky veg.  All the contents are going to become soup, except for the kale.  It's going to be the same routine - chop, soften, plenty of garlic, plenty of stock, some spices like turmeric and cumin, blend and freeze. 

This is what a £3 box of wonky veg looked like this morning.

There's quite a bit of kale under there, which is going to be steamed and served with kedgeree tonight. 

I also got an ordinary box of veg for £5, which seemed much the same but with more cabbage/kale/greens.

I don't know that the veg was better quality, but it was prettier. I'm going to look up recipes for cabbage soup.

Bear will be happy to be making soup.  It's not about the actual soup that he may be eating, but more about using the new knife set that I got. 

For those interested, the latest instalment from the White Hart is here.  It was the hardest one I have written so far.