Tuesday 31 December 2019

Goodbye 2019

Wherethejourneytakesme - you made me blush. Thank you for the compliment.

I am taking all the tips on board about emails and organising in general. I need all the help I can get.

2019 has been an odd sort of year. I completely missed so many of my targets for this year, but hit other ones. I passed my driving test, which has opened up a whole range of adventures for me, but the house is still in chaos. I failed a lot of my writing targets, but I've had some acceptances and now the book contract. I had an horrific time with the neighbours, but now they have moved out. I've had great ideas that I've failed to put into practice, but they are still there, and I can still try them.

Bear has had his health issues, but has found a lot of joy starting violin lessons. He's made friends and drifted away from some others. He's had a lot of fun with art and found that he is incredibly colourblind. 

Looking back, I was stressed and upset so much of the time, but I have a lot of good things happen which I have allowed to be overshadowed. I have borrowed too much trouble. I need to stop and appreciate the good bits while they are happening.

I was just going to post a short overview, but writing this has made me realise that this year has brought a sea change. I'm not exactly the person I was 365 days ago. Driving has made an incredible difference to my life, and now the writing is starting to be more of a reality than a dream, next year has to be different.

I have had a lot of encouragement through the last year, especially from the lovely people on here. I would like to say a sincere and genuine thank you. Hope all who read this have the most awesome year with health, wealth and happiness. New Year Hugs to all.

Monday 30 December 2019

Mortified Again

Thanks again for the good wishes. I feel incredibly hugged.

Bless - bear is officially a teenager. It's a journey. To be honest, I don't worry too much. Bear will no doubt have a rollercoaster, like all teens, and I'm sure there will be surprises, but I'm (more or less) confident that he'll keep his sensible streak around.

wherethejourneytakesme - I've always gone with getting lots of little bits along with a stack of books, but he's getting too old for the 'little bits' now. This year he asked for sheet music so I got a load from eBay and then split it between Christmas and birthday. I do the same with books - I get a massive order from somewhere like The Book People and then split it between the two. It's getting harder to guess what he would like, though, so I can see him getting money or vouchers with something small to unwrap on the day.

Today our lovely, wonderful piano and violin teacher was stuck standing on our step because I couldn't find my keys. I normally keep them in a fail safe place (between the door and the door curtain, on a rack) but I failed with the safe place and couldn't find them anywhere. I was mortified again.

This year's resolution is to have an ongoing process of becoming more organised and to get on top of my emails and stay on top of them. I have around four thousand in my inboxes. Most of them are just newsletters that I am determined to read, but I lose sight of what is going on and then get swamped.

Hugs to all.

Sunday 29 December 2019


Thank you again for all the good wishes. I'm still slightly stunned. Now all I need to do is live up to it!

Today is bear's birthday, and he had a heap of presents. There were classical music CDs (his request), sheet music, books, a few puzzles, lego and an electronic violin tuner, which may or may not be of use. I have now run out of birthday paper. Once bear is back at school, I may have a rummage around some of the marked down stuff, but I am seriously considering reusing the Amazon brown paper as much as possible. It's sturdy, it can be painted or stamped and it's effectively free - in large quantities with some packages.

Bear's pal came around so I very much left them to it, and I went and dropped bear's blazer at the dry cleaners, who promised that it would be ready by the start of next term. They all had steak, which went down very well (DH cooked it as I can't cook steak) and, what with all the snacks I've eaten today, I can barely move. After bear's pal left, bear settled down to a new computer game. I was seriously in the way, so I have an excellent opportunity to get on with the writing.

Hugs to all.

Saturday 28 December 2019

Rubbish with Pics

Thank you for all the encouraging comments. I can't tell you how much they mean. I feel hugged and supported to go for this with gusto! Thank you.

Today I called in for five minutes to a park, where I took a very bad pic of a varicoloured squirrel.

It was the sort of build of a grey squirrel, and moved a little like one. It may have looked odd to me because it was extremely tubby, which is appropriate for the time of year. What was remarkable was the tawny stripe down its back and over its head. I've seen black squirrels, and while this was definitely not a red squirrel, I wonder if it was a ginger squirrel. It was stuffing itself with some seeds or nuts in the car park.

Today has been quiet, I had a quick dash arount Tesco to pick up something for bear's birthday meal tomorrow (forgot the potatoes) and we watched the Lego Batman movie. It was brilliant. Then we had soup for dinner.

It was a new recipe, at least, new to me, but out of a cookbook I bought around 1990. You cook carrots, onion, celery, potato and an ounce of All Bran (I used Tesco Gluten free bran flakes) in veg stock, flavoured with caraway seeds and parsley. We are definitely having it again, but I'll add garlic next time. I quite like caraway seeds, and always add it to cabbage, but I have still not recovered from the time I tried to make seed cake, and misread tablespoons instead of teaspoons and added three times too much to an already strongly flavoured cake. It was like eating posh soap.

Hugs to all x

Friday 27 December 2019

Writing Stuff

It's a big step for me. An indie publisher, Three Furies Press, have agreed a deal for a novel I'm writing, Out of the London Mist, a steampunk novel. If all goes well, it comes out next July. Today I signed a contract. I feel a little odd about it all. It feels very dreamlike, and I keep wondering if it's a mistake and I'll get an email explaining that actually the contract was meant for someone else. 

I'm now contractually bound to promote the novel, so I will no doubt be posting a lot about it. I'll keep it to a minimum on this page, as much as possible, and just link to posts on my writing blog. There will be exceptions, of course, as I hope to attend steampunk events next year, and I'll be writing about those. Bear will be in attendance if I go there, of course, and hopefully DH as well, depending on the schedule. When writing fills up an entire day, like the big step that happened today or when I hopefully get to go see the wonderful world of steampunk, or perhaps even a book signing (though that may be over-reaching a little), writing will leak over to here.

Hopefully I will make a little more sense tomorrow. Hugs to all.

Thursday 26 December 2019

Probably Not Fairies

Whenever something confusing or odd happens, that isn't immediately necessary to correctly understand and has no money involved, I think it is important to go for the explanation that is most fun and interesting. Logic has it's place, but it isn't necessarily important in understanding the world of humans.

Last night DH put his glasses on the bookcase next to him, heard them slip off and immediately went to look for them. He couldn't find them. He checked next to the bookcase, behind the bookcase, pulled out the bookcase and looked around corners, shook out the duvet covers, moved the mattress and eventually found the glasses had travelled from the top of the bookcase to the floor and then around and at an angle behind a heavy under the bed storage box. DH decided that it was fairies.

I am not entirely convinced. Last week I lost a set of DH's gym kit. I would swear that I had left the kit in the tumble dryer until I had washed his towel, but it wasn't there. I can't find it for love nor money. Fortunately DH has another set, but I'm going to have to pick the house apart to find this kit. I can't imagine where it has gone because I took it out of the washer, and it's only a few steps to the dryer but somewhere on the journey it disappeared. There is also the issue of the small drinking glasses. Over the years we have collected a lot of the small nutella jar/glasses that are awesome. They are a great size and are incredibly robust. We used to have dozens of them in the cupboard, but when I did a mental count, I think I could lay my hands on around four. I dragged out the spare bag of glasses (we got through a lot of nutella at one time) but it still begs the question - where did the other drinking glasses go? And where are all the forks. There should be around a dozen, but I only seem to have five. This is why I don't think it's fairies. Fairies may be the most interesting explanation, rather than chaotic housekeeping, but they don't touch iron.

I wonder what brownies can touch? They would be appalled at the state of the house, so it may be their way of insisting we get our act together. Or perhaps I could put down a saucer of milk, except we only have rice milk these days and I'm not sure an old fashioned brownie would approve.

I think I will still have a look on eBay for some horseshoes.

Hugs to all.

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Wednesday 25 December 2019


Happy Christmas, Festivus, Yule, and whatever warm glow in this dark time of year that you follow. Know that you are awesome and I am wishing any and all readers the best possible break.

Aileen - I'm glad I'm not entirely alone. I've actually got a reasonable sense of direction (honest!) and I'm gradually building up a map of all the side roads and by roads between home and bear's school, along with Tesco and other stores. Apart from minor issues in car parks (getting lost could happen to anyone, as I had to be told it was one way by another driver, as there were no signs where I had parked and when I left), I have two issues. One issue is that I can't judge 300 yards. My sat nav will say, 'in 300 yards turn left' and I inevitably take either the left before or the left after. I am getting really good at three point turns as I turn around and go back the way I came, and I've been along some very interesting routes. The other issue is that I have a talent for being in the wrong lane. Leeds is full of multi-lane one way systems, as is Dewsbury, and I have been around Huddersfield several times. Like you, I allow lots of time to get to appointments and otherwise just enjoy the journey. You never know what you may find. I agree, though, I can remember written directions much better than processing audio, and usually do much better spending time on Google maps before I set out somewhere new. Bear thinks it's hilarious, but is becoming a good navigator when we are out. I suspect he will do a lot better than me.

Wherethejourneytakesme - I can't help looking for stories. I'm not sure if it's a blessing or a syndrome. Either way, it's fun. Hugs.

Yesterday I went out to see if there were any yellow stickers in the stores. Actually, I just wanted to enjoy a drive. Between the Aldi in Batley and the huge Tesco, there is a small Asda and an even smaller Iceland. Aldi and Iceland were closed but Asda was open and for the first time I called in. It didn't seem to have any of the Christmas stuff at all, let alone anything marked down, but it did have some gluten free crumpets that I hadn't been able to get hold of in either Tesco or Morrisons. Tesco did have a few empty shelves, and there were a number of 'buy one get one' or 'Half Price' but there was nothing in the stuff that I actually wanted. I did find a variety of stuffing that we had had last year, had decided it was the absolute best of the stuffing, and which had been relentlessly out of stock until yesterday. I got an armful, even though it was full price.

I may go out for a drive tomorrow and use the excuse to see if there is any good wrapping paper marked down. The fifty rolls I found in summer 2015 are now whittled down to three or four left, and all Christmas patterned. I want to see if there are any plain gold or silver paper, or some neutral patterned stuff that could also be used for birthday or occasions. Mind you, the best score I got was, I think, 2013 when we went to the cinema on Boxing Day. I called into Morrisons for potato salad on the way back and spotted a box of wrapping paper at 10p per roll. I got as much as I could carry, as I had only got a small basket. It was thin stuff, and Christmas printed, but it wasn't bad and I was still wrapping up novelty pencil sharpeners and similar for bear and went through rolls and rolls of the stuff. It was perfect.

Bear was a happy bear when he opened his presents. He had books, a thingy that fit on his smart phone to make it a microscope, some more books, silly putty, notebooks (plural at his request), an amazing jacket from one of DH's friends, more books, sheet music and a box of chocolates. I've got roughly the same set aside for his birthday except we forgot about an order from The Book People and there is another box with books in stashed upstairs. All the sheet music was second hand, and some of the books, and I looked for bargains and deals all the way through. It still added up to a sizeable amount, but I can't begrudge him. He genuinely lit up and enjoyed it all. He has already had a go at some of the music. I am so proud of him.

DH made Christmas dinner, which was awesome, stress free and largely cooked from frozen. Stuffing featured heavily. Now I am sitting back, having watched our DVD of Muppet Christmas Carol, and I'm feeling at peace with the world. I hope to remember to take some pics tomorrow, especially of the wonderful pictures from KJSutcliffe. I am now off to snooze, hang out with the family and play the game of seeing how many 'unwanted gifts' turn up on eBay.

Festive hugs of all belief systems to everyone.

Monday 23 December 2019

I Got Lost in a Car Park

Okay, not exactly lost. It's just that I didn't realise that there was a one way system in the car park, as I hadn't been there before, and I couldn't find the way out. I had already been twice around Dewsbury town centre as when the sat nav told me to use the middle lane, it split and suddenly the middle lane was the left hand lane and I should have turned right. It was actually awesome because I came back up a hill that when I passed it the first time I thought Red would never be able to manage it, but she was fine.

I called in at Aldi first. It opens at 8am. I got there at 8.05am and got one of the last two spaces in the car park. It was bedlam. After a quick dash around, I remembered my brother talking about Sainsbury in Dewsbury, so I put the directions in the satnav and the rest is normal for me. The sat nav I'm using is Google Maps on my phone, and I often get the impression that it is completely exasperated with me. I think there is more to the satnav than meets the eye. I used it to get home, as I wasn't sure of the best way, and it took me towards a complicated roundabout (which I managed fine) but while I was trundling along at around 35mph in a 40 zone (no-one behind me) it suddenly told me that there was a mobile speed camera ahead. I didn't actually see anything, so who knows what was happening. Regardless, I didn't pick up much as I was getting a delivery this evening. I think we are sorted for the next few days. To be honest, if we haven't got it now, I'm not bothered. We can always have beans on toast.

Bear and I spent a lot of time clearing cupboards in the kitchen. It is still in a state of chaos, but I'm optimistic that it will be fine for Christmas dinner. And if it isn't, it will be a great story to tell.

Hugs to all.

Sunday 22 December 2019

Panic Panic Panic

I'm on a writing deadline, I've got a house in the worst state ever, I haven't got stocking fillers for bear and I am still full of cold. Also my hip keeps giving way and is incredibly painful. Apart from that, I'm fine.

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Bear made Devil's Food Cake today. Don't tell him, but it was a little dry. The icing is actually frosting that was whisked over hot water, which was a trial. However I am very impressed by bear. I just hung around in the same room while he did all the work. Mind you, I did the washing up.

Writing stuff - I think I will skip the writing challenges until the new year.

Hugs to all.

Saturday 21 December 2019

Start of Christmas

Hester - that must have been unnerving. I've had that a few times - vans coming straight at me and nowhere to go. I'm glad you got away from it.

Mindo - I tried that tip with bear's fluffy top and it worked - thank you!

Yesterday I drove DH for the first time since the test drive back in April. I did just under 34 miles and got lost on the way back from Dewsbury to Heckmondwike because I didn't understand the satnav (again). There was the usual selection of crazy turns, steep hills and close manoeuvering. DH said that he now understood why I wasn't stressed at the thought of driving to Whitby. I can face the idea of strange moorland roads, steep climbs and unexpected turns without flinching. I'm still not good with the concept of motorways.

Today Liverpool won the Club World Championship (sorry VC, but it had to be said). We are settling down to Christmas in a good mood now. Bear wants to bake tomorrow, so I am braced. We have a recipe for Devil's Food cake, and I'm wondering where it will lead. Bear and DH also demolished a cheese board, so I will need to stock up with cheese on Monday.

Hugs to all.

Thursday 19 December 2019

Weather and Confusion

Thank you for all the kind words about my driving. I continue to learn and get lost at unexpected moments  and I hope my adventures can be entertaining and not more of the usual. Today I took a new route to Tesco en route to pick up bear - and it worked! I take the triumphs where they come and gloss over the way I swept around a corner in third when I had no right doing that at all. The journey home was grim - wherethejourneytakesme is right. We are getting all sorts. I had my wipers on at max in driving rain, and the windscreen was still filling up. I was so glad to get home - 30 seconds after the piano teacher arrived.

Sharon - that is a definite win. I don't think I'll be driving in anything like the conditions you see so total respect. I have faith in you. Totally get it about other drivers. It's why I hate certain roads. Some drivers are lovely, but others are terrifying.

Also, bear told me that I didn't need to worry about a gift for his pal who gets a lift with us in the car. This morning they handed over two parcels for him. I grumbled a little and dived in and got a gift set of body wash etc in appropriate age range, which they politely thanked me for. They had got bear bluetooth speakers and headphones. I feel somewhat embarassed. I also forgot to wrap the token gift for the piano teacher (seriously small token) so they will have to have it in the new year. I did hand over the (unwrapped) housewarming present which was also very much a small gift. It was a nice IKEA fleece type throw which cost something like £3.25. It's the thought that counts, and it's a very nice throw for the price.

Tomorrow I'm driving DH to Dewsbury. Please send good vibes.

Hugs to all.

Wednesday 18 December 2019

Tough Driving Day

This morning I was worried about ice as the pavements were white with frost and I saw some pedestrians struggling a little. In fact, I overtook one lady who was determindly walking along the nice, non-slip road instead of the ice rink that was a path. I approved and gave her plenty of room. The roads were actually fine.

Then when I went to pick bear up the mist had come down. I was seriously considering getting him to come home on the bus as visibility was really low. Then I remembered that his phone had run out of charge this morning. I was so nervous, but I managed. The mist had mainly gone by the time I returned.

However I can take some pride. I passed the test in March, and I'm doing okay. I will face genuinely icy roads, snow and goodness knows what else, and I feel that I will do fine. I am not sure I should be writing about driving so much, as it is becoming more and more second nature. On the other hand, not much else happened today, so that is something.

Now I am hiding with a headache.

Hugs to all.

Tuesday 17 December 2019


I've spent most of today chasing around after a prescription for bear. It's all sorted now, but I'm on my knees. Back tomorrow.

Writing stuff - my reply to the writing challenge is here.

Monday 16 December 2019

Monday has Happened

Mindo - I think I will try that. It's so frustrating as it was inexpensive, cuddly and exactly what bear loved.

Bless - I think I will be awash with cake for at least the next few weeks, that and soup as bear has decided he likes soup and can make lunches while he is off. I suspect that the lunches will be delegated to me quite rapidly, but cake will continue, I'm sure.

Blogs are strange things. These days I usually look at the stats as it leads me to a quick link to somewhere else. I did pause, however, when I saw the numbers. Then I looked a little closer. Apparently I'm getting a lot of hits from a porn site. So far today I have had just under 450 from there. They aren't real, or at least I hope so. I imagine this is not the sort of thing you click on after viewing porn. Apparently it's nothing to worry about and just to do with algorithms. I don't know exactly what algorithms are, but it's reassuring that someone is not reading this and feeling let down in very tangible ways.

We had a trip to a consultant today. It was a different consultant to the one we saw last week, and less stressful. It has been confirmed that bear is colour blind. I've known that for a while, but now I will have a letter from a consultant that tells me he is colour blind and I will be able to show it to school who will then hopefully realise that bear can't tell the difference between green and brown and not put them next to each other on maps and charts and then expect him to work it out. Bear also has issues with dark blue and purple, and completely misses pale pink. I've told him never to go clothes shopping by himself.

Writing stuff - this week's challenge is here.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Another Quiet Day

Jill - I am incredibly proud of bear, and he knows it. He also knows that I love him to bits. He is a little too old for hugs these days, but I think he feels safe enough.

Bear baked again today. He decided to have a go at cupcakes, and this time it was double chocolate with caramel flavoured frosting. I stayed around in the room while he was working on the cakes as they didn't do the creaming method in school and I didn't bake much with him when he was younger, so I helped him cream the flour and margarine, gave a little guidance on the whole 'folding in the flour' step and wondered what on earth they had discussed at school. I'm trying to remember the different methods of cake making. You have the creamed method, the all in one (I think they did that at school), the rubbed in (I think they did that as well) and the melted, like gingerbread. I may encourage bear to make gingerbread while I just hang around.

There was a fair amount of 'disaster zone' to be cleaned up afterwards, but I didn't really mind. Bear had a blast. When my next '10% off' shopping thingy comes up, I'll stock up on baking supplies. I'll need to get a new iron as well, as I cracked mine today and the replacement is pathetic. It's supposed to have this auto sensor to keep the iron at the correct temperature for ironing, but it stayed up there at around the temperature of the sun. I'm going to have my hands full until I get it replaced.

I'm sort of braced for bear's attacks of baking. He's getting really into it, and would like to make his own birthday cake. He has dug out a recipe from the Hamlyn cookbook that DH bought me in 1988 for Devil's Food Cake. I'll have a rummage through it and we'll have a few goes at it before the big day. That cookbook is a brilliant one, with a smallish selection of straightforward, sensible recipes. I'll share anything good that happens.

Hugs to all.

Saturday 14 December 2019

Getting Out

Today I did a lot more walking than I would have thought possible this time last year, and I have no idea why I'm better. I'm not brilliant, but I can move around. Today I went to Dewsbury. It's very near Leeds, but I expected it to be busier so close to Christmas. Instead of a jammed car park costing £2 per hour, I found this, at 80p for two hours.

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Behind me were a couple of rows of cars, but there was plenty of space. I should add that the pic is also misleading about the angle. One day I am going to take a spirit level to the car park. I swear it is around 30 degrees slope.

I had a browse on the market and looked into a few shops. There isn't so much in Dewsbury as there is in Leeds, but I had a little wander and enjoyed myself. I saw this statue, but the road was really busy so didn't go closer to find out the meaning. I like that there are public statues, though. 

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The drive home was less than comforting. I took a road that I thought would be okay, which wasn't, and then there were a few flakes of snow, followed by a lot of hail. It was interesting as the road was fine. There was no difference in the way the car drove. However the visibility was affected more than I thought it would be.

Also, when I was looking for the photos, I found one I had taken a little while ago. I discovered one of bear's lost footballs.

Image may contain: sky, bird, tree, plant, outdoor and nature

Hugs to all. 

Friday 13 December 2019

What to Do with Bear

Sharon - my limited experience with school toilets is that they are grim. Fortunately it all seems to be dying down, according to bear.

We had a report today, via email. Bear is doing okay. He may be doing better than okay, but I don't really understand the whole of the reporting system. Apparently green is 'at expected level' and bear is at that for a third of the marks, and the rest are higher. So that's okay and probably good. Possibly quite good. It's hard to tell.

And as usual, it has a story within it. Bear utterly aced French (apparently) even though he loathes it. I have had far too many bitter complaints about French and the necessity of learning the words to have expected much, but he totally rocked it, with the top grade in both effort and attainment (I think). For Drama he has put in more effort than he got attainment, and I'm good with that. As long as he has put in the effort, I will tolerate a very poor attainment mark (he is at level expected of his age). He has an excellent attainment mark in RE, which is a change from last year. I gave him a pass on that last year, as long as he worked hard at other subjects. This year he has gone for it with gusto. However, as it involves him diving into stuff like arguing about ethics and philosophy, I may regret this. He can already argue rings around me. I should add that his effort in this is only at 'expected' so I think it comes down to him being naturally argumentative.

All in all, he has quite a few subjects where his attainment is far higher than his effort. This means that motivating him is something of a challenge. If he can just coast along in, for example, physics, and get what I think is the top mark, why should he put in more effort. I also suspect that while he has a good mark for effort in English, he may have been blagging the teacher as he hasn't got a good attainment mark for that, and he is more than capable of good marks there.

He is going to get a reward, separate from Christmas and his birthday, but I am still left with wondering how to encourage him to up his effort. Also, to be honest, I'm going to spend some time being smug as I am incredibly proud of him.

Hugs to all.

Thursday 12 December 2019

Is It Only Thursday?

Wherethejourneytakesme - Bear has been extremely rude about the state of the toilets at school and seems to see them as a festering source of the plague. I'm getting good at nodding, smiling and moving on. I agree, the best thing is to wash your hands with soap and water. I use soap at home, but I don't always get the soap when I am out, partly because half the places don't seem to have soap. I believe that one of the best things that could happen to the NHS is the return of the Matron - the sort that would rule with a rod of iron, have the staff on their toes and fight their ward's corner with the management. It's not just money, it's the absolute insistence on things being done in the proper manner and the refusal to cut corners. Mind you, they would need enough staff to not be forced to cut corners. 

Today I dropped off bear, drove to the shopping centre near IKEA, realised that they didn't open for at least another hour, had a hot chocolate, went back to Aldi, went back again to the shopping centre, browsed for presents without success, called in at IKEA, and then drove home through the awkward junction!!!

Next time I go this near Christmas, I will wait in the car until the shops open, as the car park filled up alarmingly between leaving at 8.20am and getting back at around 9.15, and was even worse after I had trailed around Next (Christmas sweater), Wilkos, The Range, and TK Maxx. I didn't even pick up any good stuff. I left at around 10.05 to drive the few hundred yards to IKEA car park, to see if I could manoeuvre in there, and although I was only in there briefly, that car park was filling up quickly as well. 

By the time I got home it was lunchtime and then I was out, voted, drove to pick up bear and waited - and waited, and waited, and waited. It was nearly an hour before he turned up and I was somewhat unimpressed and cold. 

I've done dinner, now I need to iron shirts for tomorrow and then I plan to collapse. I am much less achey and such, but I am feeling flattened. 

Hugs to all. 

Wednesday 11 December 2019

An Uneventful Day

Today was splendidly uneventful. I drove a newish route, going one way and then branching off another to pick up the normal route, and that worked well. On the way home I called in at a Farm Shop for some mince, which turned out very disappointing, and dinner has been calm.

Bear is not calm. The poor lad didn't get to sleep until gone 11pm last night, and he has to be up at six. He is worried about getting the norovirus, and it is making the poor kid almost sick with the worry. I've given him handsanitiser but he looked it up on the NHS website and apparently hand sanitiser is ineffective against noro.

Wherethejourneytakesme made a good point. I don't remember anything like this when I was a kid. However things were different in some ways. Nowadays, a lot of families have both parents working, so kids can't stay at home as easily if they are poorly. Once upon a time there would be someone at home. Now the kids go into school to share all the lovely germs or the parents lose a day at work. Not only that, but attendance is a problem. Bear has had a week off due to the flu like virus he had last week. If he takes more than a day or two off for the rest of the year, I will get all sorts of official letters. All it needs is some sort of bad bug, and I could be getting home visits by officials. I'm somewhat worried that the long list of hospital appointments he has coming up could cause issues.

As it is, bear keeps coming home with how many more are off today, and how many teachers. It seems to be a bad do right now. I'm hoping we skip it this year.

Thank you for all the good wishes. Hugs and hoping we all stay well.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Weather Continues

Sending good vibes to all caught in the weather that has been coming through today. It's been hit and miss here, but when it was raining, it was raining. The winds have been difficult as well.

Bear's pal's dad gave a lift in this morning, so I have been trying to get anything done and nibbled away at the bits of stuff that needed doing. After I finish this post, I need to sit down and make a literal list of everything that I plan to do tomorrow. Today suffered because I wasn't sure what to do first.

Regardless, I made some phone calls, pottered a little and then decided I had to go out. I'm having issues getting to the doctor. I can see the doctor's office from where I am sitting now, but for some reason, it's impossible for me to walk there. I can drive all sorts of places, but I can't get to the doctor.  Panic takes over. But I had a request for a prescription I had to drop off for bear, so I had to go. It wasn't just me, it was bear! So I actually drove. It's tricky to drive to the doctor's office, and there is no space to park. I was completely stranded. I did some very fancy reversing and turning to get out of the dead end I found myself in. Finally I parked nearby (I know!) and walked. This was an achievement because now I know that I can walk there from a different direction, which is something. Then I set off for Birstall Retail Park.

Bear needs a Christmas sweater. Birstall Retail Park has a TK Maxx (and failing that, a Next which should stand up to whatever the kids at school are wearing). It did not go entirely well. Of course I ended up in the wrong lane and found myself in the Showcase Cinema car park. I had to go around before getting back to where I was before, then the car park by the shops was ridiculously full. I couldn't see a space at all, and it was lunchtime on a Tuesday. I'm going to have to come back tomorrow morning and see if I can get anything. Then I got lost getting out of the retail park, but, to be quite honest, it was a lot easier and I avoided a tricky roundabout. I managed to pick up a Christmas t-shirt at Tesco and then picked a very tired bear up from school. Fortunately I didn't get lost on the way home. We had home made soup for dinner, the sort that you can heap into a bowl, with lots of inexpensive veggies and lentils.

Writing stuff - my short story based on the prompt is here.

Monday 9 December 2019

Sensible Blog Post Will Follow Shortly

Bear had an non serious non urgent appointment with a Consultant today. So I drove him to school, picked him up early from school, took him into the hospital where I was really careful not to breathe on anyone, walked miles around Leeds General Infirmary, and then brought him home. I am not fit for rags.

Bear has been given prescriptions, has further appointments being lined up as we speak and has had his first x-ray, which he found disappointingly unremarkable.

I am exhausted. I am also surprised that no-one has written a horror story about the Leeds General Infirmary. It is relatively old (with some very modern bits), with a wonderfully Victorian Gothic staff entrance that I have used as a shortcut, it has about a gazillion wings (okay, maybe not a gazillion, but it just feels like a lot as Brotherton, Martin, Clarendon and Jubilee are quite large in themselves, especially if you are doing the route march from Martin Wing (children's) to Clarendon (X-ray). There are these long, straight, shiny corridors, which look like wonderful locations for chases, as there are doors off each side, and openings leading to operating theatres and corners and stairs, and it seems to go on for miles.

Bear is mostly concerned about the chance of catching the Norovirus. It has shut a local school where a lot of kids from his old school went, along with three other schools in Leeds, and there are a lot of teachers and pupils off from his school. In fact, it seems to be causing all sorts of disruption.

I'm just flattened.

Writing stuff - this week's writing challenge. The quote is actually from a very lovely lady from the Netherlands who wrote a Sinterklaas poem in her second language. I have no idea what to write, let alone try and live up to her quote.

Hugs to all.

Sunday 8 December 2019

Meh continues

I think I just deleted a comment. It was a hug, and I'm really sorry. I'm still feeling yeurk.

Bear decided he wanted to make muffins. I will clear up the resulting mess tomorrow in daylight. He produced some pleasant muffins along the way.

I have no idea where half of his uniform is and I'm not sure DH has a clean shirt.

Hugs to all.

Saturday 7 December 2019

Panic with the Pity Party

I went into Leeds by myself today. Bear still is under the weather, so I nipped in, picked up some veggies, and bought a very small tuna steak (how much?) for bear. He is under strict instructions that his next recipe has to be inexpensive.

I got lost on the way home. For those not familiar with Leeds, it has a complicated one way system, and the satnav sends me out towards South Leeds, particularly through the industrial estates. This would have been okay, and I've managed it before, except I strayed into the wrong lane of four. I ended up on the motorway by myself for the first time ever. Anyone near enough could have heard aaaarghhhhbuggerbuggerbugger as I headed up the slip road - and I swear there was a car that matched my speed so I couldn't get onto the motorway. I was terrified! I managed in the end, thanks to a very kind driver, just before I hit the embankment. I was unamused. I'm confident that the next time I go on a motorway by myself I'll be fine. I would have probably been a little less stressed if I had had a little more notice.

Bear didn't like the tuna. He said it tasted sour. However he very much enjoyed his accompaniments, so that is something. Once again, I just hung around the kitchen and let him get on with it. He did all the prep, all the actual frying, he decided when he was going to add stuff and when he was going to let it rest. I plan to keep this going.

I'm actually feeling quite poorly now. I was planning on nipping out to Tesco for some bits, but I'm not in desperate need, and I just want to sleep.

VC - you did us a favour today as well as doing yourselves proud. I just had a look at the table, and you have to have a good chance at Europe.

Hugs to all

btw I was going through my pics and here is a rather poor pic of a vampire killing kit, taken when we last went to the Royal Armouries.

Friday 6 December 2019

Pity Party Continues

HAPPY SINTERKLAAS. I am feeling blessed because DH and bear have pals in the Netherlands who have been awesome to bear and have even included me in the traditional poem. I am feeling woozy but hugged.

I'm struggling to make a deadline for a novel for external publishers. I am trying to get the desperate battles through Victorian London fog to zing while running a temperature not being quite with the reality. Some of this may be less grounded than I planned. I am also outwitted by bear's fleece hoodie. It was very inexpensive from Aldi, and bear adores cuddling down into it, but I washed it for the first time and it just absorbed all the water. It held so much water that even though it was the only thing in the machine, the poor washer wouldn't spin. It's currently dripping in the bathroom. Getting that sorted was today's achievement. It's not a really bad bug, I just feel utterly pathetic.

Bear is feeling better. This is a huge relief.

VC - Liverpool to the core. I'm not the best supporter, but I've watched games at Anfield and because the game was on prime I got to see it. I'm old enough that I remember the eighties when Liverpool and Everton were often both finalists down at Wembley, and the supporters used to share coaches down there. Of course, the banter was a bit sharp, but what do you expect from Scousers? I love Liverpool's play at the moment, though I wish they would fix the defence (a complaint that was a distant dream five years ago). What team do you support? Just asking for the purposes of tact.

Sanitised hugs to all.

Also, does anyone know a good place to learn about baseball?

Thursday 5 December 2019

Sort of Pity Party!

I am not a happy bunny. I have a minor virus, but it is making me feel rather grim. Bear is not doing well either. Also I have been too pathetic to take pics of the awesome artwork and I blew all the power points in the kitchen when I tried to boil a kettle while the washer and dryer were on.

However Liverpool beat Everton 5-2, so things could be worse.

Hugs to all.

Wednesday 4 December 2019

Not Happy

Bear is a generous soul. He would give you anything, including germs. I'm starting to feel the lurgy he has passed on, and I have writing deadlines on top of everything else.

Also, when I have the energy, I will be sharing the gorgeous art I got from KJ Sutcliffe, aka Hawthorn Spellweaver. I've been coveting her art for a while, and finally had the opportunity and savings to get some - a piece or two for me and a piece for a friend.

Until then I am running around after bear, suffering from extreme self pity and trying to get more than a sentence written.

Hugs to all.

Tuesday 3 December 2019

Nothing Much to See Here

Bear continues poorly. I think he has a bad virus, but he sent me out for snacks, so it's not flu. He does look like he's been washed out too many times. Unfortunately, I'm feeling a little under the weather as well. Meh.

Hazel - I will check that out!

Jill - Thank you. I think I am going to have to ask around. I don't want to be unfair to Scottish Power, and the staff have been lovely, but I think that my file is now hopelessly confused.

Writing stuff - lots going on in the background, and here's my response to this week's writing prompt.

Hugs to all.

Monday 2 December 2019

And Another Plan Bites the Dust

Mindo - thank you. I can take no credit for bear, I just keep an eye out from a safe distance.

Bless - bear would agree with you, but I suspect this interest will wane.

Sharon - I've mentioned the budget thing a few times. It's a work in progress.

Bear is poorly. I could make an argument for flu, though not a strong one. He's definitely not in a good way. I have been fussing over him all day, and all plans I had have gone out of the window.

Scottish Power have closed my complaint. I spoke to someone who was lovely, but who couldn't explain why I had a duplicate account and couldn't be convincing that it wouldn't happen again. I'm going with the explanation that the account is haunted and I think I may have to go to another supplier, just to try and break the chain of problems with this account.

Writing stuff - writing challenge is here.

Hugs to all.

Sunday 1 December 2019

Bear Enjoys Cookery

Bear pan fried the salmon. I suspect it was a little over done as it fell to pieces in the pan, but I've never cooked fresh salmon so I had no idea (my experience with eating salmon has not been good). The carrots and parsnip were a little over cooked, but he was fine with them and next week wants to do tuna steaks. I said it was a deal but the week after he had to do a less expensive dish. He agreed that was reasonable.

This morning he has been watching Gordon Ramsay programmes and has made muffins. He decided he wanted to use a banana and chocolate chips instead of raisins, so that's what he did, and they were a little heavy. He was okay as it's a learning experience. I just left him to it.

He demolished a couple of the muffins while explaining to me why we needed a meal plan and is now downstairs rearranging the cookbooks in the dining room. He has expressed disappointment that I am not making a Christmas cake, even though they never get eaten at this house. I am going with the flow.

Hugs to all.

Saturday 30 November 2019

Bear Gets Creative

Wherethejourneytakesme - My late mother in law banked with Santander. When she died, they refused to deal with my sister in law, even while looking at my mother in law's death certificate, because they needed permission from the account holder - ie my late mother in law.

Yesterday bear had a drama performance type thing. He's talking it up to me, but he's quite worried as he wants to do drama at GCSE, and this could affect his chances. He was very nonchalant when he mentioned forgetting a few lines, but I know it's preying on his mind, so we will see how it goes. He took in a spare shirt and jeans with his 'good' trainers and some ties (I've no idea) for costume.

When he got picked up from school yesterday he dumped his backpack into the boot, where it landed with a thud, and failed to bring home his gym kit. I thought that the spare clothes had been stuffed into the backpack, but apparently I was wrong. As we were getting ready this morning, bear asked where the watermelon bag was. I asked him what he meant. He meant the bag with watermelons on that had his clothes in, he had brought it home. I had to work to convince him that there were no watermelon bags anywhere, and that's when he realised that he had left it in History.

Please, please, please let him get it back. The 'good' trainers, which I winced when he got, were around £35, I think, and he had included a shirt that I had just got from eBay for him. It may have only been 'new to him' but it was in immaculate condition and it was Gap - and Gap shirts fit him perfectly. They are so expensive to buy new.

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This is the view from near the car park we used in Leeds. On your left, the big red new building is a casino and part of the Victoria Gate complex which includes shops like John Lewis. The building in the distance, at the end of the street, is Leeds Market, which is full of cheap and cheerful (and fishmongers) and if you went a little way down and to your left you would find Harvey Nichols along with shops like Vivienne Westwood and similar. For those familiar with Leeds, I am looking across Eastgate, which is getting significantly dug up. The bus station, which is very lower class, is just past John Lewis and opposite the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I love how things are generally mixed together here. 

I drove in to Leeds again, and I'm still surprised at my daring. Bear decided he wanted salmon for tea, and he picked up a carrot and parsnip to go with it. I have no idea what he's doing. I imagine he will pan fry the fish, which looked lovely. DH and I (and probably bear's pal) are having chili.

I'm doing my 'big shop' tonight at Tesco in Batley after dinner. It's open until midnight. I think I will be shopping then or first thing in the morning from now until Christmas, as last Sunday was very full, and the parking today in Leeds was tight. If I use my big shop and do more than £14, we are in profit this month, as long as I don't buy anything that's unnecessary. I need rice milk, Pringles are half price and bear is running short of his favourite flavoured water. I was also thinking of picking up a Christmas pudding and some bits for Christmas while I was there, because I don't like leaving things until the last minute. Also, it's good practise for driving in the dark. 

Hugs to all.  

Friday 29 November 2019

Not Got the Friday Feeling

I was going to write a lovely poetic post about frost today. I noticed how beautiful it gleamed on Red, and how bear complained that the door was frozen shut. I noticed how much more frost there was in Heckmondwike only eight miles away compared to our little street, and how much less on the country roads on the way back, which was a blessing as there is still a lot of standing water.

Then I got a notification from Scottish Power and lost all my ability to be relaxed and  poetic about nature. They have closed the complaint and said I need to speak to Domestic and General. However the second, phantom, unauthorised boiler care cover account could only have originated with Scottish Power. There is no explanation about why or how this happened and I am rather unimpressed. I am still trying to get hold of a human being to talk (politely) about this.

I am usually quite polite, though I am told I can get scary. It's not the poor person on the phone's mistake, though if I get through to the person who sent me the email, I may get sarcastic. I worry that I may be a little scarier than I think on the phone, as DH refused to be in the same house as me when I spoke to Sky, but at that time, around twenty years ago, they were being spectacularly incompetent and somewhat condescending (they refused to believe that a mere female could understand what a SCART lead was). There was also the issue with the broadband where we lost the internet everytime  the street light went on, and they didn't take us seriously (reaasonably enough, but we kept losing the internet and the street light's transformer blew up shortly after, so I suspect there was some sort of interference). They are a lot better now, and I try and be pleasant, regardless.

If it doesn't work, however, I may take up Eloise's suggestion about Ofgem. It's not about me getting snarky. It's about accounts being set up without authorisation.

In other news, I'm refusing to buy anything at all today, Black Friday be damned. We don't actually need anything at the moment, apart from some small bits for bear for Christmas and his birthday, and I am fed up of the hype. Bear is aware that he is only getting small bits, as he has already had his big present. I'm planning on going to a charity shop every day next week to see what I can pick up, particularly books and sheet music.

Hugs to all.

Thursday 28 November 2019

Can the Weekend Hurry Up?

I know it's only Thursday, and I'm wishing my life away, but I am feeling very fed up. It's only a minor thing, but I'm achey, and my driving shoes have holes in so I have wet and cold feet.

Also, Scottish Power drive me to distraction. I have a bundle which is gas, electric and boiler cover, all rolled into one. Domestic and General do the paperwork for the boiler cover. Yesterday I got a voice mail asking me to make an appointment for a boiler service. As this would be the third one this year, I rang up to ask why, and if it was seriously necessary. Apparently another boiler cover account in addition to my original has just been opened up, and a payment taken. I have no explanation for why this has happened. I haven't spoken to Scottish Power (I've been avoiding that) and all the very nice people I've spoken to have been equally baffled. I spent most of the morning (while they were fixing the exhaust to the car) on hold trying to sort it out. They have very kindly told me that they will let me know on 3rd December. I'm still unimpressed.

I have had problems with this account every since I opened it. I have regularly talked to really lovely people who have been utterly baffled as they sorted out the wierd glitches that keep happening. I have decided that my account is haunted. As as valid as any other explanation that has been offered.

Also, the muffins that bear made are almost eaten up. Bear is planning on making some more tomorrow, and I approve. If he did this a lot at food tech, I would be more enthusiastic. Of course, I am still waiting for his muddy sports kit from not last Monday but the Monday before. I don't suppose that is going to change much.

On the bright side, I treated myself to something while buying presents, so I'm feeling wonderfully extravagant. Now I am going to settle down and hopefully have an early night.

Hugs to all.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

He Brought the Muffins Home!!!

Bear took all the ingredients in to make muffins with ginger and raisins and he brought all the stuff back! Well, almost all the stuff back. There were three missing that he ate between making them and actually getting in the car. As he used normal flour, I had to take his word for it that they were delicious, but DH confirmed. He's making another batch at home on Friday.

To be honest, I'm feeling under the weather. I feel achey, hot, cold and generally unfit for purpose. I think an early night is in order, so that I am fit for driving tomorrow. I have to drop off the car at the garage to sort out the exhaust, but hopefully it will be straightforward. Fortunately it's a garage that specialises in Citroens so while I know he is driving my car to someone to get a part sorted, I don't need to warn him that she is very nippy out of a junction. I suspect that if I was a better driver, I would get a lot more speed and some serious cornering action out of her, even though she is really just a mum car with a relatively small engine.

I wonder if I have a very small and minor virus or whether it is the shock of bear actually bringing home his actual food tech gear on the day he made it. 

Hugs to all.

Tuesday 26 November 2019

I'll Start Again Tomorrow

I had around 3 hours sleep last night and currently have a grimly upset tummy. No-one needs to know the details. Bear is a little off colour as well, so I will be keeping a close eye on him.

Tonight I need to pack up his muffin ingredients (he can weigh them) and apparently he will then be finished with Food Tech. They have rotations with things like 'resistant materials' and tech drawing, so, according to bear, this will be the last practical Food Tech lesson ever as he is not taking it at GCSE. He is still watching Gordon Ramsay videos, so I am sure he will do okay, and I'll encourage him to cook, but with budgeting and shortcuts and the tricks that you pick up when you actually cook.

Writing stuff - my response to this week's writing challenge here.

Hugs to all.

Monday 25 November 2019

Bear is Fishy

I've done it again! I've accidentally deleted comments instead of posting them. I'm really sorry. My mind has gone blank, as well, but I really appreciate comments. One suggested getting bear onside about budgeting, which I am determind to do. I hope that when he strikes out into the world he has an idea of what things can cost and some ideas of how money works.

And for the lovely comment who said that bear reminded them of their son when he was younger - all advice welcome!

And thank you for the kind words about bear. I feel something of a fraud, as I swear he has managed it by himself, but I am so proud of him.

Today we were planning a casserole with probably beef. I was woken early by the man who came and serviced the fire, so that is one job out of the way. Then I drove into Leeds!!! I was so scared, as Leeds is full of one way roads, bus lanes, bus only lanes and, currently, serious roadworks. But I found a good place on Templar Street which only charged £4 for two hours. This is pretty good for the centre of Leeds. Dewsbury charges something like 80p for the same time, but it's not a major city. We paid some of bear's pocket money into the bank, then went onto Leeds Market.

Leeds market is a shadow of what it was when I first moved here, but it it still has plenty of great stuff. We went to look at the fishmongers. There is a row of them. Bear loves fish, but I don't like it at all and DH isn't keen. Bear was looking so fascinated that the stall holder was joking with him, and when bear chose a mackerel, the fishmonger allowed bear to watch him fillet it. Bear practically floated home.

We called in at the Wholefood shop on the way back, passing the statue of Minerva as we did. I have taken a picture before but now she has a disturbing pink light at crotch level and I'm not sure that it's flattering.

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Bear had the mackerel for dinner. He rubbed the fish with oil, salt and pepper as the fishmonger recommended and then pan fried the two fillets, which he thoroughly enjoyed eating. I have put bowls of vinegar with lemon essential oil in around the house to try and cover the smell. He has decided that we are going in again on Saturday morning and we are getting more fish. So much for a meal plan. DH had pasta bake and I will get something in a minute. Tomorrow DH will have the rest of the pasta bake, and otherwise all bets are off. I pick bear up at Morrisons and they have a fish counter, so I can see a lot of seafood coming through in the next few days. 

Bear then went on to a very successful music lesson, and now I just need to iron shirts for tomorrow and then I can settle for the night. 

Writing stuff - writing challenge here

Hugs to all. 

Sunday 24 November 2019

I May Not Survive This Week

Eloise - I know! Then they wonder why you haven't a clue what's going on!

Sharon - thank you! I think bear is pretty awesome, this weekend notwithstanding, but I know I'm biased.

Yesterday we helped out at a church fair. I volunteered, because it was the church that father went to, and bear offered to come with me. I said I would do anything except cooking (I'm not sure I'm up to their standards) and so bear and I manned the toy stall. It didn't do much, but the fair as a whole did okay. What is more - bear and I didn't come home with much. Bear came home with two soft toys and a toy car, and I came home with an organiser. Bear was also treated to a cake (by a lovely lady) and a scone (by himself) and was very happy about it!

Today we called in to Tesco and bear had a breakfast before we picked up the stuff he needs for the muffins for Food Tech this week. We had a blast, joking around, although I was glad when we got out. The Tesco in Batley is huge and the car park was almost full, it was so crowded. I parked far away from the store when we got there and the car park was already half full, and we just about squeezed out. I can see me doing my shopping at 10pm on the run up to Christmas.

We called in to a farm shop on the way home. It is somewhat of an upmarket farm shop and has lots of fancy coffees and olives, but it has the most amazing fruit and veg at good prices. Bear was suitably impressed. I could see the wheels working.

Bear has been watching Gordon Ramsay. He has been taking notes. Bear has decided that he is going to do more cooking. This decision has consequences. First of all, I'm going to have to totally clear the kitchen. It is in a real mess, so that is a good thing, but I have deadlines coming up that may lead to money, so I'm going to have to motor on both. Secondly, bear is going to go for all these wonderful recipes and I'm going to have to supervise. Once you get beyond breaded chicken and oven chips, I'm mainly self taught and while I can do things like souffles, I do dither while I'm doing them, and I'm dreading bear looking at me expectantly while holding a recipe for something like bearnaise sauce. Thirdly, bear is very keen on all sorts of recipes, but I am worrying about a budget.

Tonight was actually relatively inexpensive. We did this recipe. It's called Wild Mushroom pie, but it doesn't use pastry. Instead it's like a pancake style batter on the base, then the filling (I added garlic, italian herbs and a very small sprinkle of chopped chorizo to the softened mushrooms and onion), then the batter on top. It was awesome. We had a little gravy with it, just from granules, and peas, and it was a lovely meal that didn't need any extra starch. Bear beat up the batter, chopped mushrooms and was generally involved. It is definitely one that we will do again, and I'm going to look at ringing the changes with the filling.

Bear has a training day tomorrow so has decided that I am driving us in to Leeds tomorrow (utterly terrified) and we are going on to Leeds Market where bear is going to pick out some meat and veg for a casserole tomorrow. I am braced. He has also expressed the need for a Christmas cake. Then the kitchen will be turned upside down making a casserole, and then he will have his music lesson while I finish off, clean up and wash up. I shall no doubt collapse afterwards.

He has also decided that we (aka him) need to meal plan. I can't wait to see how that plays out. You never know, he may keep me on the straight and narrow.

I'm getting an early night tonight. I think I will need it! Hugs to all.

Friday 22 November 2019

Normal for Bear

Bear didn't have food tech this week, so there was no drama about missing dishes. There is, however, the issue of the missing sports kit. Bear knows where it is - it's in his locker, which is around 8 miles from my washing machine. I can see this going on until he finishes school. I'm tempted to just let his kit fester.

Fortunately bear will miss sport on Monday because the school is closed for teacher training. I found out on the school run home. I would have liked a little more notice. I suggested we went out for the day. Bear said that I could go out, but he had too much to do. 

He needs a shirt for something something something drama performance something something. I haven't managed to extract any details, but apparently there is a shirt required for date unspecified. I have tried, but I think bear would give any professional interrogator a run for their money. I may take him clothes shopping as a penance. 

Bear is currently doing something dreadful to his violin, so I am taking a few minutes. I am actually very proud of him. He's getting involved in school, he's great company and he has a kind heart. The rest is just in the side. 

Hugs to all. 

Thursday 21 November 2019

Went Shopping

Today I went for the first Tesco big shop. I need to save £7.99 over a month to break even to the costs. I can save 10% off two shops per month, up to a limit of £20 per shop, and I can also get 10% off a number of Tesco own brands in store, such as F&F clothes and the baby range.

I am going to have to really work this if I am going to come out ahead. I spent £66.83 and had £6.64 savings. I'm not sure how that worked out, as the advent calendar wouldn't be included (seasonal, £2) and neither would the old fashioned can opener (kitchenware, 50p), so it came to £60.19, which also got me a voucher for 10p per litre off petrol which will normally get me back around £4.

There were some impulse buys - I bought some tea which may or may not make me ill but it's supposed to be malty biscuit flavour, and I adore malty biscuits and I can't have them anymore. I picked up some matchmakers for Christmas as I should start stocking up and they were a reasonable price - £1 a box instead of the standard £2- £2.50. They were only 99p at Aldi, but Tesco had better flavours. I also picked up some of the packs of chestnuts which were half price and £1.20 instead of £2.40, which is a better price than Amazon subscribe and save and DH and I really enjoyed the soup made with them. I also picked up some Nairns gluten free oatcakes as I really like them and they were £1 instead of £1.80. That's a big saving for something I eat a lot, so I got a couple of those.

I was looking for the Tilda rice, as the microwave pouches were on sale online, but I couldn't find them in store, so they didn't get added to the trolley, and I forgot eggs, but it could have been a lot worse. I also think I was at the wrong time for yellow sticker stuff, as the shelves were empty, so I didn't benefit from that. It took me a while to do the shopping, and then I called in at Aldi, where I forgot the pasta bake sauce that DH likes.

I plan to pick up small bits over next week and then get a big shop in the week after, and if I save more than £1.35, I'm in profit. I need to be careful not to impulse buy, and not to buy something for the sake of it just to get to a particular total.

There's a Black Friday event tomorrow, but I don't think we want anything.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Sad Start to the Day

It was unnerving this morning. I was driving along, thinking that the mist was coming down, then thinking it was really coming down, then worrying that I was out of my depth. Visibility dropped to a few feet and I was putting on the sidelights and hazards to warn those behind me, and I was really concerned. I shouldn't have worried about me, as visibility cleared quite quickly as it wasn't mist, but a house that was on fire and the smoke was causing the problem. I got through without issue, but I haven't been able to forget about it. The smoke was awful and I just hope everyone got out alright. This was around 8am, so they would have perhaps been just getting up as the fire caught. It's quite a big house, so could have been a family affected. It was surrounded by scaffolding as I went past this afternoon. What a time to be caught up in such a disaster, coming up to Christmas and all the disruption.

I haven't been productive today, but I have almost done a gazillion things. I've moved a few bits here and there, shifted stuff around, remembered to open the window upstairs for a while to get the air moving and booked a man to sort out the gas fire. Otherwise, it's been something of a fail.

I dithered so much about shopping that I barely got the things in we needed, and I know I was walking around the same aisle again and again. I have been completely lacking in decision. I have also been more full of aches and pains than normal, and the painkillers are not agreeing with my digestion.

However I have paid for the Clubcard Plus, and tomorrow I plan to shop. I've made a list, and have hopes that I won't go too wildly off it. I should manage to make £40, picking up the tinned stuff and getting the chilled and frozen delivered. I've also made some notes about what I want to achieve tomorrow and the order in which I should try them. Perhaps that will get me nearer to getting things moving. I'll share any success tomorrow.

Hugs to all.

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Tesco Gluten Free

Heather - I think I ought to take your attitude. Everyone would probably breathe a sigh of relief. I don't know anyone who can manage that IKEA roundabout with ease - it is truly dreadful! Today I found that I could cut straight ahead, and not go around.

Once a year, around April or May (I really need to start looking out in March), there is (or has been up to now) a sale by Tesco on their gluten free stuff. It's really hard to find gluten free stuff on sale, but at that time, most of their own brand gluten free stuff is 3 for the price of 2. I usually buy a year's worth of pasta, several months worth of frozen 'breaded' chicken and stacks of gluten free gravy granules, along with a selection of their other stuff. I save a lot here, as I really focus on stuff I am actually going to use.

I think it is tied into coeliac week, but I couldn't be sure. I'll share when I see it. Morrisons had their gluten free pasta on half price last week but when I went there, the shelves had been cleared.

Sharon - the best hot chocolate I had was around fifteen years ago or more, in Ripon, where it was almost an edifice, with whipped cream, fresh strawberries and grapes and little chocolate shapes. It's around 30 miles away, by the smaller roads (longer if you use the motorways) and the route is a little challenging as it is relatively high speeds on a very non-straight road. It's on the list, though, as I love the cathedral. It's the only cathedral I have visited where they have Sunday School drawings displayed, as it is, or was, a working church.

I was lucky today, as bear's pal's dad took them to school, so I didn't have to worry too much about ice. Pick up was fine, but I am still a little worried about tomorrow, although the forecast is a little better.

Writing stuff - my response to this week's writing challenge is here.

Hugs to all.

Monday 18 November 2019

Welcome to Monday

Cherie - exactly! When DH and I were first together, there was a lot more veggies than meat! I talk about planning food and shopping with bear, because that is one way I can teach him how to cook. It's not just about pots and pans, but adding some lentils or oats, or an extra onion, or having an inexpensive dessert (bread and butter pudding can go a long way, as can home made rice pudding!). It's about how to substitute and work around stuff. Still, I suppose it keeps the lessons moving.

Sharon - I wish I could take photos as beautiful as yours.

I started Monday off okay. I decided I wasn't going to go to the shop, I was going to just drop bear and pal off and come straight home and be productive. So I dropped bear off, got home, and got a text from him saying that he had left his keys in the car. The keys that included a locker key, which meant that if I didn't get the keys to him, he would be lugging a heavy bag around all day and he has iffy joints. So I drove back to school, dropped off the keys and then went back past IKEA. I stopped off at a Costa for a fortifying hot chocolate, and I can say that the black forest hot chocolate is not only gluten free but absolutely foul. Then I braved the tricky roundabout. Fortunately I found myself following a bus that I knew was getting off at the exit I needed, so I followed it desperately. I went through an amber light, I held on to my steering wheel for dear life and I was in the wrong gear for most of the way - but I did it! I got through the roundabout!

I dived into Tesco on the way to pick bear up, and I think it may be worth getting the Clubcard Plus. It isn't worth it if I shop wisely, but today I didn't shop wisely. I rarely do. I picked up a few bits and pieces, some crisps (not needed), a half bottle of brandy (definitely not needed), some treats for DH (actually, quite needed after his day), a snack for bear and before I knew it, I was over £30. If I plan a little, I'll be fine. If I plan more, I won't need it. I feel that if I don't look at it over a month, but over a year, it will be worth it. £7.99 x 12 is £95.88. I can make a large percentage of that back on the yearly gluten free sale and school uniform.

Writing stuff - weekly writing prompt here.

Hugs to all.

room number on wall
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Friday 15 November 2019

He Brought It Home!!!

I have my pyrex dish back, such as it is. It was an elderly one, which is why I risked sending it in. I haven't had the courage to remove the contents yet. I'm bracing myself for that later, and I want all other possible dishes out of the way.

I was thinking about this on the way home. It isn't a small dish, and is extremely full. I have to wonder how many it was supposed to feed as I quite often make 250g of beef mince feed the three of us (and occasionally four, depending on the presence or absence of one of bear's pals), and they required 500g, plus a carrot, onion and pepper, plus sauce, plus cheese and plus pasta. It seems a lot!

I also must ask bear the brand of cling film used, as it is still holding out, even though bear was carrying it sideways in a bag.

I wasn't risking a pasta bake that was cooked on Wednesday. Instead we had Egyptian soup, and very nice it was as well. I have burgers from Aldi for tomorrow, and then we have a snacky dinner on Sunday. After that I'm going to try and work out some sort of meal plan and see what I actually need to buy for a 'big shop'. Then I can decide whether or not I go for the Tesco app. I am still not 100% convinced.

And speaking of shopping, Morrisons have some of their gluten free pasta half price, but when I went to pick some up this evening in store, the shelf was completely empty.

Hugs to all

Thursday 14 November 2019

Bear Continues

He forgot the dratted bowl for the second day running! Goodness only knows what the contents will be like now. Darn it to heck! And then bear told me that it was a non uniform day tomorrow, he would need £1 and, by the way, jeans and shirt would be fine, he wouldn't need a jacket or hoodie.

I have just checked the weather forecast. Tomorrow, when he gets out of the car to go into school, the forecast is for 5C or 41F. It's not the severe weather that some places are experiencing, but even so, it's not exactly a heatwave! It's the start of the teenage allergy to coats, isn't it? It's cold here, raining and there's a stiff wind, and bear's pal has just turned up in a t-shirt!

I could write all sorts of threats here, but bear knows that I wouldn't harm a hair on his head. And while threats to send him in wearing a frock might be entertaining, I haven't said that. Apart from anything else, I haven't got a dress in his size handy.

Hester - I was planning on going to a car boot sale (I can now go to car boot sales!!!) on Sunday to see if there is any cheap pyrex, but I think I will take your suggestion for the tin trays. Poot!

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Lost Again

I sent bear in with an old pyrex casserole that is missing its lid. It didn't come home. I am considerably unimpressed. There is also a rather nice small container that I grabbed at the last minute for seasoning and a full jar, less the amount used for the recipe, of lazy garlic. I don't know what to do with him!

On the other hand, bear did bring home the complete sports kit that he swore he had lost last autumn, so that is something. He said it was behind the lockers, so I suspect that he was the butt of a 'joke'. I will ring the school tomorrow.

I called in at Tescos after dropping bear off and, thinking that this is probably the last dry day for a while, decided to go for a bit of a drive, setting my phone satnav for Roundhay Park. I knew it would be a slightly challenging drive as it took my past the roundabout of doom just by IKEA and then through Leeds centre, but I thought it worth a try.

I have never been in the wrong lane so much in all my life! First of all I made a complete mess of the roundabout of doom. It's a little complicated with lots of different lanes and is actually more than one linked roundabout leading to motorways and all sorts. Fortunately it wasn't too busy so I was able to switch lanes, then switch back, then switch back again as I had been right to switch the first time and I was able to cut across a lane at the last minute without ploughing into a lorry. Then we got to Leeds. It took me through the more industrial side of South Leeds and past the Royal Armouries, when the charger fell out of my phone and the directions suddenly stopped just as I passed the West Yorkshire Playhouse - where I was inevitably in the wrong lane, found myself on the inner ring road and then somehow ended up on Wellington Street and finally I gave up and arrived at Kirkstall Abbey. At least I remembered to take some photos.

Then I tried to be adventurous and took the Armley Gyratory back, and I was in the wrong lane again. 

I think I will just stick to the school run tomorrow. 

Hugs to all. 

Tuesday 12 November 2019


Bless - that may be an idea. Mind you, I get so much of my stuff delivered over the holidays and now I can drive - I don't want to find the parking lol!

I called into Morrisons and picked up what I think bear may need for his food tech tomorrow. The recipe has gone missing. It's a pasta bake, and I can remember some bits from the brief glance I managed. At least the shop looked a little less processed - an onion, a carrot, a pepper and a bag of pasta. The paper bags Morrisons use, by the way, were not particularly resilient. I already have cheese, beef mince, tinned tomatoes and some flavourings, and if there is anything else, well, tough. The hardest thing is that he has to bring in an oven proof container. The one he lost would have been ideal. I have one that I can send in, but if he loses it, I may not be polite about it.

Added to which, this morning there was a puddle in the porch. It means that the rain last night was heavy enough to leak through the roof. I have an awful feeling that we will need a new porch roof soon. This could be worse. Next door but two have been told by an architect that their porch is likely to collapse at any moment. Their landlord is not co-operating. Sometimes I need to stop and remember how lucky I am.

Writing stuff - my response to this week's writing challenge here.

Hugs to all.

rain dropping from roof
Photo by Anna King on Unsplash

Monday 11 November 2019

Monday Happens Again

I am feeling very blessed that we are not affected by the floods happening in South Yorkshire. It is all over our local news and my heart goes out to the people displaced. It's cold here, as well. Today's school run had enough rain to make me nervous, but not enough to interfere. 

I called in at Aldi this morning. The first thing I noticed at the checkout was that there was a youngish man in short shorts and t-shirt. Did I mention it is cold here? It is wet, it is occasionally windy and it is cold. He wasn't wearing socks or anything, just some slip on shoes. I wondered how he managed it as I was bundled up in many layers. 

The second thing that I noticed depressed me. The person before me had a selection of fresh fruit, veggies and meat. There were a few bits of dairy, and I think there was some pasta. No processed food whatsoever. My haul was some processed cheese slices, a jar of pasta bake sauce, some ready grated cheese and some cola. 

To be fair to me, DH likes the slices, as they are the spicy Aldi cheese slices and a lot more piquant than the block cheese (I tried) and the grated cheese is because DH sometimes likes to add cheese to soup but wouldn't grate stuff. His is also the pasta bake, as he has requested the jar stuff and will have it two nights in a row. 

I can cook from scratch, but it doesn't often happen. I'm too disorganised and overwhelmed. I need to rethink a lot of what is going on. I am so disappointed in myself. I've been roughing out meals for the next week. DH has the second half of the pasta bake, but I need to think of something for bear and I. I may have a look at some ideas and see what I can come up with that involves fresh and unprocessed. We all like my homemade soups, so that is a start, especially if I stop buying ingredients ready prepared.

Writing stuff - this week's writing challenge is here

clear glass bottle with white flowers on table
Photo by loli Clement on Unsplash

Sunday 10 November 2019

Doing Sums

Bless - thank you. Knee continues, but I have pain killers. Cars don't always have personalities, but I suspect that Red is getting one. It's funny. When I was a kid we had a huge, brown estate car (station wagon?). Father drove it over Scotland, Wales, and most of northern and western England. We put thousands on the clock of that car. It had no personality. It was just a car - a great workhorse, but just a car.

After a vicious divorce and a lot of chaos, father bought a car for £25. It may be forty years ago, near enough, but it was still a ridiculous amount for a car. It was a rickety old Triumph, and while father had it he practically rebuilt it. He did a lot of the work himself, but he had to get a mechanic in when the bearings went, and the steering once gave out on the motorway, but it was another great workhorse. That car had more personality than many people I have met. It didn't like the short runs and was hopeless for a quick trip to the shops, but that little car, with a very small engine, ran us up the mountains of Snowdonia, around the Lake District and did day trips from Cheshire to Bath, or up to Northumbria. You could feel it enjoying a good, long, challenging run, and father had Chuggaboom (after the car in the cartoon) for years. So while I don't assume cars have personalities, I don't rule it out.

person standing between shelvings
Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash
I thought I would add a photo from Unsplash as there are a lot of words.

Tesco have launched Clubcard Plus. It costs £7.99 per month and you get 10% off two shops per month and 10% off some of their own ranges. So I could easily save £7.99 from my Tesco shopping in one month except for one thing. It only applies to instore shopping. I do a lot of my shopping online. And, after last week's fun when I went in for stuff that should cost less than £5 and came out with near £100 of stuff, I'm not sure about shopping instore.

I would need to spend either £80 in one shop or £40 in two shops to break even. Further bits, like picking up some school uniform shirts or some crockery will add to the savings. I could probably do two good shops a month that came in at more than £40, with a little planning, but I can see the drawbacks. I have already proved I have gaps in my self restraint in a shop, and Red is only a little car. She has enough room in her boot for kit bags, and £40 plus doesn't buy as much as it used to, but I'm worried about her not getting everything in.

But if I did some decent planning, stuck to a list and got the heavy, bulky stuff delivered once a month, I could save quite a bit. The 10% off the two big shops is capped at a max of £200 per shop, so maximum £400 per month spent on shop qualifies, so max £40 saving, plus 10% off certain own brand stuff at other times, less £7.99 subscription, less impulse buys, less stuff to make the shop up to the right amount, less convenience in online shopping. And the other, insidious point is that if I don't spend at least £80 in one transaction or £40 in two transactions in store, I lose money. And if I shop elsewhere for bargains, I don't spend as much in Tesco and I don't make enough savings to cover £7.99.

Of course, if I'm going to impulse buy anyway then I may as well save. The £93 last week would have been nearer £84, and the saving would have covered that month's subscription fee. In other words, if I shop well, the Clubcard Plus isn't worth it. If I shop badly, it is totally worth it.

I should add that the Clubcard Plus doesn't cover petrol and diesel, stationery, diy, home stuff (apart from Fox and Ivy brand), lottery and stuff like that. It does cover alcohol, but I'm trying to cut down.

According to the T&Cs, it should be easy to cancel as it is month to month, so I may try it and track it. If I do, I will share.

You need a blackbelt in mathematics to work out whether something is a bargain or not!

Saturday 9 November 2019

My Car Has Views

Wherethejourneytakesme - I'm glad you got back okay.

I took Red, my car, in for a service today. I only got slightly lost and the man was lovely. There were two issues. I need to get my exhaust checked over as one of the bolts is working loose. The second issue was that she wouldn't open up. The button automatic unlock just didn't work for the lovely mechanic. He mentioned it not working as if he expected me to know. I was just blank, as I had used the button to lock it when I dropped it off. Red opened first try when I went to get in, and has since. She was just being awkward for the lovely mechanic. I'm getting a sense that Red is getting a personality. I feel like there are preferences in there. She seems to like shooting out of junctions, nipping in and out and zipping around. She doesn't like first gear. She wants to be off. I approve.

She is driving a lot better, though, and I had a little run after dinner as my cold was being extremely irritating and breathing wasn't fun. It was fun driving in the dark. I'm going to spend some time snuggling down for the rest of the evening.

Friday 8 November 2019

The Advantages of Online Shopping

Wherethejourneytakesme - I think that this fuschia has that sort of ambition. It is being very assertive! I've been taking care, but the roads have more or less dried out around here. I hope you stay safe this weekend.

Sharon - my next big challenge will be snow, and we don't get much around here, so no chance to practice. I'm not looking forward to it at all and completely respect you getting up the courage to do the school run day after day in the white stuff. I think I would be a wreck. I may be checking in on you for advice.

Bless - I'm fairly confident about the gloves, but I'm taking no chances and keeping them hidden.

This morning I dropped bear off without issue. Then I drove to Tesco, where I dived in to pick up some tinned lentils and some cooked ham. I got sort of distracted and ended up spending £93! If I had been online, I could have looked at the total before pressing 'buy' and given up on the calf length sweater dress or the extra olives at the very least. I need to be a little more aware and stick closely to a list.

I twisted my knee when I fell up the steps today. Yes, I fall up steps as well as down them and this was not exactly pleasant, but it isn't serious. I shall take it easy tonight and start planning.

Hugs to all.