Friday 31 May 2019

That Takes the Biscuit

It's been another quiet day today. Bear and I hung out and generally chatted, then we decided to go to the Fox's Biscuit Factory shop. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but I had passed it a few times on driving lessons, and I thought I would have a look in. Bear approved and we set out.

Incidentally, Fox's Biscuit Factory shop is incredibly near a pub called the White Hart. The parking was tricky, and I was in a rush, so I got a very poor pic of the pub sign. I'll get a better one later on.

The factory is on a main road and the parking is a little tricky. I managed to find a car park relatively near after going down the wrong road, reversing around a corner to then turn, then going back, then going along again, then finally parking head first (I reversed out like a boss as well!). 

Bear did not approve of the factory building. I thought it probably looked incredibly modern when it was first built. There was a wonderful scent of chocolate cookies in the air as we reached it.

The factory shop wasn't very big, and I have a suspicion that sometimes if you have coupons and good deals at a supermarket you would save as much, but we spent £8.25 and I am cautiously optimistic that it will last until the end of June.

That's half a dozen big bags of biscuits, a tub of party rings, four packs of cookies (four for £1), and some packets. I'll call in after school drop off for a pack or two in future. There's no point in getting a haul like that really when I will be passing most weeks. Even in the summer holidays, I'll be calling in to Tesco, and the shop is almost on the way.

Writing Stuff - Speaking of chocolates, they feature in this week's episode from the White Hart here. I can see it being far too much fun to write.

I am feeling much better, as you can probably tell, but I am about to have some brandy for the first time in a while, so I'm getting the writing out of the way before I get silly. Hugs to all.

Thursday 30 May 2019

Making Sense is Optional

I am very, very tired, but it is a step up from disorientated and bewildered, so I'll take it. There is a high chance this won't make sense, but you are all awesome and hugs to all.

Bear had his second violin lesson today, which went well. He is really enjoying it. Today he was practising using the bow correctly and doing variants on the scales of G and D. Bear has explained this to me but I don't understand his explanation.

We called into the market briefly to pick up some fruit for DH's aunt and I took this pic

Then, after grabbing a sandwich (I had planned to eat less expensively at home, but bear was hungry and I was just glad he was eating), we went to WH Smiths. We spent a fortune there on stationery, including a nice notebook for bear's music notes and some bits and pieces that I hope will last until at least Christmas.

We got the bus to and from Leeds Centre as parking is not only difficult but hideously expensive. When we got out, I drove us to Tesco to pick up the blazer and tie (they used two hangers!) and bear had a quick look at the store. Then we called in on DH's auntie who is awesome and spent a lovely time just listening to family stories.

Tonight I managed to successfully bake a potato, which was the highlight of my day. I am now going to bed, ridiculously early, but before I can do any damage.

Hugs to all.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Getting Sort of Creative

Thank you for the kind words about bear. I'm not going to be too blunt in my opinions as I worry sometimes that bear's pals will find this blog, but I suspect overconfidence is a big factor. I am not letting him off the hook. No matter, we went to the dentist and bear had a clean bill of health, to my huge relief.

As bear's knee was very sore, and I was feeling very woozy, we decided not to go anywhere. We had actually got a taxi to the dentist as there is nowhere to park within half a mile, and two taxis work out cheaper than the buses. I was quite glad. I suspect I may be a little anaemic, so I'm going to be eating more cabbage and broccoli and washing it down with orange juice.

Yesterday I bought some throws. I do not need any more throws. I have more layers than the average onion on my sofa. But bear likes getting wrapped up in blankets and I suggested that I get him a poncho. Bear thought that was an amazing idea, please can I make him one. The absolutely gorgeous, snuggly-soft, furry throws I picked up at Aldi for £6.99 were too lovely and fluffy for me to hack up, but the £5 fleece throw, while still soft, was fine. Thinking about it, I should have used the fleece that didn't work out for the curtains, but it is nowhere near as cuddlesome as the Tesco throw, so perhaps it's just as well. I cut a slit roughly in the centre of the throw, which was rectangular so I had to do my best guess, and bear took over. He thought it was amazing!

This is seriously cropped to cut out the worst of my clutter, and it would look a lot better if bear had it on straight, but he is happy with it. The lad who refuses to wear any form of sweater is currently sitting at his computer with a blanket under the poncho. At least the fire isn't on. Fleece doesn't really fray, but I'm not sure about whether it will tear. If it does I will blanket stitch it back together and call it a design feature.

Hugs to all.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Another Quiet Day

Thank you for all the good wishes. I came over all peculiar in Tesco car park, which worried me a little. I was fine when I was driving home, thank goodness. I think I am just a little low on iron on account of having a really poor diet.

Bear decided he didn't feel like going out today, but I had to go out to get his blazer dry-cleaned. It is an utter disgrace. I told the lovely man to just do their best. He has a dentist check up tomorrow and then we are going out, regardless. He is full of cold but really wants to have something to talk about when he goes back to school after the break.

I have more things to worry about with bear. He has got one result back from his exams, and he failed. It was non-calculator maths. Bear should have raced through it. He is impressive with numbers, and it's not just me saying that. He has had tutors who have tested him on mental maths to this level, and he has been fine. I'm going to see if I can find equivalent test papers online, and see if we can work out what is going on. Unfortunately, I am not able to cope with maths at that standard. I may have to rope in my brother who can at least do percentages. Bear says he understands it all, and in the past he has been scarily good. I just don't know where to go from here.

Writing stuff - I've posted a book review on my writing blog, Out Like a Goddess by April Canavan. It's not a bad book.

I really need to shake myself and get writing so that I have something to review. Today I looked through Google for reviews of my stuff to try and motivate myself and I found a lot of articles about malaria and someone asking for a pirated copy - who got one!

Monday 27 May 2019

Nothing Much

I have been a little poorly and ended up sleeping for half the day. It's my lady bits and that time of life, although instead of hot flushes I seem to be getting chills. DH was awesome and made dinner, and I was very grateful. Otherwise, very little has happened here and I am off for an early night.

I've been dipping into a thread on Mumsnet which talks about different ways they save money. The thread is here, if you are interested, but Mumsnet has some seriously strong language so be aware. I already do some of them, others would not be tolerated by the men in the house and there are some I seriously need to try soon! I need to get into more of the money saving sites, as the more I read, the more I am likely to do. In the same way I need to manage more housewifery reading. I need to watch and read things that reinforce my goals instead of getting bogged down in stuff that doesn't help me.

I've no photos from today, so I'm sharing a photo I took ages ago. I hope I will have something good to share tomorrow.

I need to get myself a good night's sleep as bear has planned a packed programme for me tomorrow, so I need to brace. I'll share if we get any of it done! Hugs to everyone.

Sunday 26 May 2019

Lovely Calm Sunday

Sarah - yes, he is using three fingers. I'm not saying he is perfect, or anywhere near it, but he's having a good go. He has been watching Two Set Violin videos on YouTube (link here) and has been paying attention. Apparently the teacher was happy with the way he held the bow (I was in a separate room, but could hear it all) and he already knows the theory of scales from the piano lessons. He remembers everything. So he seems to have hit the ground running. I don't know if he will keep up like this, but at the moment, I'm just happy that he's enjoying it.

Next time the neighbours keep us awake late at night, I'll get bear to practise in the bathroom first thing in the morning.

Helen - I agree. Bear understands the basics of a map, as he has played Eurotruck and has apparently followed routes all over Europe, but I don't think he really knows how to use a map. I want to spend some time with him and a proper Ordinance Survey map. Back some time shortly after the stone age, when I was a Girl Guide, I learned how to match the map to a compass, take a bearing and allow for gradients as well as spot all the little snippets of information like churches and post offices and where you could find public footpaths. I want to make sure that he can use a map actively as well as passively. Besides, maps are fun.

It's been a lovely quiet day. We have had a picnic dinner again, watched another episode of Librarians and generally had a chill time. I hope to do the same tomorrow!

Saturday 25 May 2019

Bear Broke His First G String

Sharon - that is really helpful. I'll have a good look at that. The lane guidance is sort of there, but it's only a cheap satnav so I have to work with what I have. I think it may need some practice. I won't be driving much next week as bear is on holiday from school, but I have promised him a trip to Staples (huge stationery store!) and that will be some interesting driving as it is near some awkward locations.

Bear has been practising with his violin all day on and off. He is loving it. Bless her, the teacher gave him some basic exercises and the G scale to have a go at, and he is certainly going for it with gusto. It isn't the most beautiful sound at the moment, but he has only had the thing for around 24 hours at the time of typing. He was trying to tune the violin when he snapped the string. I'm planning on ordering a few sets from Amazon, once I've got some info about what to get, as I am completely clueless at the moment.

We have had a very quiet day, with a picnic dinner and I'm looking forward to a relaxing evening. In honour of Sir Terry Pratchett, here is a pic of our lilac, to celebrate Lilac Day.

Friday 24 May 2019

Nearly Hull Again

This week I have been through Halifax, Huddersfield and very nearly Hull! I am absolutely shattered, so this may make less sense than normal.

Pam - you are awesome! I dropped bear off, picked up some bits from Tesco and then decided to follow your advice. I plugged in the satnav and set it to go home. It didn't use the way I would normally go, but instead it took me up a street I had been wondering about for a while. I decided adventure was calling and turned right instead of carrying straight on.

It was a great learning experience. I learned that there are some gorgeous and quite easy country roads around there. I learned that Red struggles up hills as she is just a little engine, but she does better in second gear when the hills are steep (some were steep). I learned that I had not yet seen the worst junction in the area but I dealt with the new challenge and I was fine. I was also reminded that I have no idea of how long 300 yards is. I found that out when I was in a complicated roundabout system which is notorious for its difficulty, even with experienced drivers. If you end up in the wrong lane you are on your way to Hull. And I was so busy following the directions, which kept telling me to bear left in three hundred yards, I ended up in the lane for Hull, paused, indicated, kept everything crossed and switched lanes at the last minute without holding up too many cars. Once I got clear of that mess, I could work out the roads and get home okay as I came out near IKEA and the fabled J27 of the M62. It felt like a great adventure.

Bless - I have always checked the routes and looked at maps first, but satnav is part of the driving test now, so I've learned to deal with it, and it isn't too bad. I am making sure bear knows how to read a map, though. It's such a useful skill and it's dying out.

To be honest, this morning's adventure was a lot easier than the car park this afternoon when I was picking up bear. It was a nightmare, and I found myself so stuck and unable to turn as there were cars turning everywhere and nowhere for anyone to go! I could have cried when I finally found a stop, and it was horrific getting out. It's the last day before half term so there were lots of people picking up their kids.

Bear is a happy bear. It's not just that he has a week off school, but he is now the proud owner of a very inexpensive violin. It cost £50 from Gear4Music and is about two steps up from a toy plastic violin, but it has a proper bow and strings that can be tuned and is the right size. He is practising already. I have warned the neighbours.

Writing stuff - The latest from the White Hart is here. I'm not sharing the pic that I used for the story, as it is a little unnerving. Instead, here is a pic I took of a gravestone on Tuesday, which is considerably more wholesome.

Hugs to all.

Thursday 23 May 2019

Hello Huddersfield!

Pam - that is a really good idea and I'm going to be trying that!

I had a driving lesson today. I told my awesome driving instructor that I was still recovering from yesterday's adventure, so why didn't we try something easier. Hah!

Now the first thing he did was give me a route to Dewsbury Market which is just across from the shop I need to go for bear's uniform. It was fairly straightforward, though I need to work on changing lanes. There is a really good car park near there, which is incredibly inexpensive and also great for practising parking. Then we went off and driving in unfamiliar places.

Jill - we went through Middletown, Wakefield (I thought of you when I saw the sign), and past the National Coal Mining Museum. Then we ended up (somehow) in the middle of Huddersfield. I have been to Huddersfield in the past, but only by bus or train and, like most British towns, it has a strange and wonderful one way system plus strange routes in the centre of town. My driving instructor made me use only the road signs to navigate out of there. It's slightly harder when you are driving, but I have been a navigator in all sorts of places for nearly forty years so it was less unfamiliar than it could have been.

Then I went home briefly before nipping out to Aldi then picking up bear, taking him and a pal for an ice cream and getting some of the good ice cream for over the bank holiday weekend.

Dinner was more or less okay (chicken with pasta) and now I am going to collapse. Tomorrow I plan to do minimal driving just taking bear to and from school by the usual route and then it's the weekend!

Hugs to everyone.

Wednesday 22 May 2019

A Good Idea at the Time

The story of my life can be told with 'it seemed like a good idea at the time...'

Dropped bear off at school this morning and was nearly at Tesco when bear rang. He had accidentally kept my keys and taken them into school. Poor lad had back to back exams today so I didn't want to disturb him by getting the keys to Reception and picking them up. I told him I would be fine and I would take today as an adventure day.

As an aside, I could have cried. I had so much I needed to do today, and it just didn't get done. Anyway, moving on...

I decided to go to Hebden Bridge. I know at least one lovely reader is from that neck of the woods and it is a beautiful place. However I came through Halifax. I got stuck in strange, multi-lane roundabouts. I got trapped in prolonged road works and kept finding myself in the wrong lane and guessing at the road signs. Finally, I made it to Hebden Bridge and looked for parking. I panicked and found myself at a small car park where the only place I felt safe parking was backing up to a river.

Hebden bridge is beautiful and well worth a visit.

And if you are interested in arts and crafts, there are a lot of interesting places to look into (I avoided the remnant shop!).

In my opinion, which is not very informed, Hebden Bridge is like a few places in North Wales. Places to live are relatively cheap but there are very few jobs. This means that someone who is an artist can afford to pay for housing there, and has a way of making some sort of living. There is a wonderful place where they have a lot of textile art on display.

There was some textile jewellery including a necklace made from what looked like tatting - it was glorious, really lustrous and intricate, but I couldn't afford the £50, and it was definitely worth it. There was a small box of nine plain cards, which I hope to afford later. I can't remember how much they were, but they were more than I could swing, and they were so beautiful. I was thinking of putting them in individual frames and scattering them around the house. They were definitely worth the money, but I just didn't have it.

On the way home, I got out my satnav. It's the first time I've used it on my own. First of all, I found out that the programme did not approve when I turned left instead of right at the start of the journey and kept telling me to turn around or take a right. But I was always right on top of the turn when the programme said, so I missed it. In the end I pulled into an entrance to a firm to try and turn around, but two cars immediately decided to come out. One of them, bless them, stopped and asked if I was okay.

Which reminds me - to the red land rover discovery stuck behind me all the way from Hebden Bridge to Halifax - I am really, really, really sorry. I was doing my best but I got confused with the speed limits, and other things. And to the van driver on the roundabout whose firm I didn't catch - I am really, really, really sorry. I nearly caused an accident and it was totally my fault. And to the lorry stuck behind me from around Heckmondwike to Halifax - you are awesome, thank you for being so patient.

The other issue with the satnav is that I cannot estimate three hundred metres with any sort of accuracy. She would say, 'in three hundred metres, turn right.' I would mutter, guess and turn right and there would be a beep, which seemed to be the electronic equivalent of an exasperated sigh, then, 'recalculating route'. I spent so much time turning around in entrances to firms.

By the time I got to Morrisons to pick bear up, I had time on my hands and just sat in the car and more or less collapsed. I was shattered. I was grateful to get bear home safe.

Then we were out again, thankfully on the bus, to Leeds centre where bear had his first violin lesson. He loved it. We are buying a violin. I am braced. It is likely that we will always go in on the bus as the parking is horrific and expensive and the lovely lady teaching the violin is literally yards away from the bus stop.

And now I am going to bed. Hugs to all.

(and whereeverthejourneytakesme - next time I plan to go there, I'll let you know, plus anyone else that is likely to be in the area)

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Long Day

It feels longer than it should. I drove bear to school, then called in at Tesco and picked up some bits, then back home. There were some spectacular hold ups at one point of the journey so it was relatively late in the morning by the time I got back and I was out fairly soon after as I had to go to Halfords to have a dashcam fitted. I got there just about in time for the 11.30 appointment.

The very nice fitters assured me that it would perhaps be an hour, nothing more, but a thingy happened and they needed to replace a doohickey (it sounded like it needed to happen, but I didn't understand a word) and so I didn't get away until 1.45pm. This is further away from Heckmondwike so I was starting to worry. I ended up taking really scary roads, like getting onto a busy dual carriageway and around a notorious gyratory and then down some back country roads onto the usual double parking. Bear and I had some chat before we came home and we didn't get in until nearly 5pm, just before the piano teacher turned up.

I also got a call about setting up a time for my boiler to be serviced. It was serviced as part of the call out yesterday. I always feel that I am dealing with something strange and arcane whenever I try and sort out my boiler cover. I do need boiler cover, however, as it is now ten years old and it is only a matter of time before it goes.

Here is a pic of bear's badge (so proud of him!)

The legend is Latin for 'nothing without work' which isn't a bad motto.

Writing stuff - I've written a review of Realms of Ghosts and Magic by JS Malcom, here. It's not a bad book but it's written in the first person present tense, and that bit drove me scatty, which is a shame because it's a pretty good book.

Monday 20 May 2019

Bear is Awesome!

Bear has got the Headmaster's Award. At his school, kids are awarded 'positives' or 'negatives'. Too many negatives and you are looking at detentions or worse. Positives, however, are added up and at certain points the kids get rewards. Bear has had a voucher, a free snack from the canteen and I think he also got a book token. And when you reach the giddy heights of 200 positives, you get the Headmaster's Award, along with a badge. Bear now has a badge.

Positives can be awarded for things like a good answer or good homework, but they are also awarded for good effort, being organised, being generous, helping the teacher, getting involved and taking part and not getting any negatives for a term. I think it's a great system and really helpful. Bear definitely works towards those positives. I don't know how many have got the award so far, but some already had it and not everyone will get a badge. Bear is smug. When I can pin him down, I'll take a photo and share.

Less important stuff - there is nothing wrong with the boiler, and the general thought is that it was an elderly alarm and I had a virus. I've been off colour for the last few days, but fortunately fit to drive bear this afternoon (I had to stay in to wait for the man this morning). I made up for it, though, as I went out early to pick up bear and got into Heckmondwike an hour early. Instead of parking up and knitting, I nipped to Aldi, which is only about fifteen minutes away, picked up a few bits that I actually needed and only one impulse buy (a type of biscuit bear likes), got lost on the way back (you should have seen the uphill turn I had to make - and I rocked it!) and then dived into Morrisons to pick up some other bits that Aldi didn't have before getting back to the car ten seconds after bear. I felt pretty good about it.

Then we called in at Goodalls Farm. It sells ice cream made from their own cows, and it is awesome. Bear approved. DH also approved as I brought a litre home. It isn't inexpensive, but it is the good stuff. Bear would, I think, call in every day, but I want to keep it for a luxury. There was a farm cat that looked available for cuddles under the right circumstances, and some animals to look at. I'll get a pic the next time. It was incredibly busy and I was very nervous parking, but I did. Then we came home and I think I more or less managed the baked potato for bear.

Today has been a good day. Hugs to all.

Saturday 18 May 2019


Hester - I can't believe that they had a CO detector at ceiling height! Carbon monoxide is heavier than air. It sinks and fills up the room from the floor up! Well, you know that, and I know that, but dearie me!

Thank you for all the good wishes. As far as we can tell, I'm suffering from a 24 hour bug (felt quite off) but bear and DH are fine. I do have a carbon monoxide detector, and it is on the ground near the gas fire (which hasn't been on for quite a while). It went off, and I felt poorly, so I did the sensible thing - I got out of the house. I grabbed my phone and car keys on the way out, and opened the windows. The alarm stopped. I called DH who sent me a number, 0800 111 999 which is a free number to report gas leaks. A very nice man came out, checked everything and could find no signs of a leak, but because of the alarm and because I was feeling poorly, he switched off our gas. A representative from the gas service people is coming out on Monday to check our boiler. It may be that fumes from the vent are blowing in through the kitchen window, which may have set off the alarm. I will wait and see. Thank you for all the good wishes.

Tonight is Eurovision Night. I had a delivery this morning, which should have included a one litre bottle of brandy, which was on sale at £16 instead of £19. Unfortunately they had sold out and so included two of the 70cl bottles, which would normally have cost £27 in total, but I only paid the £16 advertised. I don't think Tesco made much money from me this week. Not only was there the whole brandy thing but also I just realised it was the end of the 'Gluten Free' week so a load of Tesco own brand gluten free stuff was 3 for the price of 2 - which is about as good as it gets for the gluten free stuff. I bought a year's worth of pasta and a huge quantity of gluten free gravy granules that I use mainly in mince and stews. I put a spoon full in the pasta water just before serving tonight for a little flavour (was nice, actually). My multibuy saving was over £30 and I didn't get that much.

So now I am going to settle down and get happily tipsy while enjoying Eurovision. I have just caught a glimpse of the Icelandic entry and I think I may need to start on the hard stuff earlier than song nine.

Writing stuff - I got the latest instalment of the White Hart out, a little late, but I'm hoping to get better. It's here, if you are interested. Lots going on at the OWS CyCon 2019 as well, if you like to dip in. And here is the pic I used, from Unsplash. I normally don't like pics with people in, but I sort of like it.
Photo by Kenny Luo on Unsplash

Friday 17 May 2019

Please Hold

We had a scare about Carbon Monoxide poisoning today. All is okay and everyone is fine but I'm left feeling a little more out of it than usual. Back tomorrow when I will also have the latest from the White Hart.

Hugs to all.

Thursday 16 May 2019

Still Moving

I'm sooooo tired at the moment, which probably has a lot to do with the driving. I'm doing okay. Yesterday I called into a park and had a walk. It was beautiful, with lots of early morning golden sunlight and I managed to park okay. There were pretty flowers.

Some of the flowers were scented - like this wild garlic

I'm not exactly sure what was going on with this pic I found nailed to a tree

And while it could feel old

Like this, which looks like an ancient waymarker but is actually marked with a modern 'bike trail' symbol, the park isn't that old. It can also, from the right angle, look wild,

But it isn't really, it's quite new, planted and with lots of tarmac paths, and if you take half a step you can see that it is quite urban.

The bottles were arranged there by someone, but it wasn't me. I just walked past and took the photo.

Writing stuff - OWS CyCon 2019 starts tomorrow, though I am not sure at what time. It's an online book convention. You will find all sorts of authors there, in all sorts of categories, like Fantasy Historical, Horror/Thriller, Mystery/Suspense, Romance, SciFi and even a catch-all Other Genres.  They have 'cover wars' where you can vote for your favourite cover, blog hops and there is even a YouTube channel where excerpts are being read, here. As the weekend goes, I'll share what good stuff I find. I'll probably be putting it mostly on Facebook here,

And check out some of the artwork - it's amazing!

Credit: Sarah Burhman

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Motorway Driving!

Bless - there is probably a pre-set button on my microwave, but I've never had much success with the pre-programmed stuff. I may experiment more. Not tomorrow, though, it's a heatwave (for Yorkshire, around 70F)

Ann - I approve of planning ahead!

I went on the Motorway!!! I am sooooo giddy. But that is not all the driving stories.

It started on the way to school. It was crazy. The easiest challenge was the suicidal pigeon. It was all go. I said that I would like a little less excitement on the school run, but bear pointed out that none of this was my fault. Regardless, it didn't get better on the way home. I was glad to be off the school run.

I had thought about this. I have had some very interesting moments going to and from bear's school. I travel along the side roads where there are a lot of parked cars, entrances, exits and roundabouts. It has always been easier on the faster roads. So when my utterly awesome and amazing instructor took me on the motorway (freeway, autoroute, autobahn), I was still terrified, but perhaps less scared than I could be. I did a very short and easy run on a not-so-busy section and I was fine.

And because I was in the car and parking in a supermarket car park, I could pick up stuff for a salad for dinner. I am exhausted now, though.

Writing stuff - I'm going to be adding a new instalment of the White Hart only once per week, but I will be mentioning it more than once a week on Facebook, so check here if you are confused. I'm trying to be all 'marketing'. I also posted an excerpt from the Forgotten Village and had a go at making a Pinterest pin with a quote on my Always Another Chapter blog (here, if you are interested) as I'm trying to get the hang of making quotes in pics to look good. I'll probably play around with a few ideas, as at the moment this is pretty plain, but I will get there, and it's sort of 'marketing' which  I need to practise. Now I am off to collapse into bed!

Monday 13 May 2019

One of Those Days

I haven't tried the excellent suggestions from Barb and Helen as none of my braincells clocked in for work today. However I'm copying and pasting their suggestions here so that on the faint chance I am not the only one baffled by a baked potato, someone else can benefit. It looks like I have been cooking them for far too long!

Helen -To cook a medium size potato in the microwave. Wash the potato and dry it. Wrap it loosely in kitchen paper and put in microwave. Cook on nearly full power for three minutes. Turn the potato over and cook for another three minutes. At the end it should be soft when you squeeze it. If its still too hard another minute on each side should do it.Have used this method for the last 35 years.

Barb - What is the wattage of your microwave. Higher wattage ovens cook much faster. Mine is 1100W, I do three large potatoes for 10 minutes, then stick a knife into them to check doneness. If I need to cook longer, I will flip them over, and cook at 2 minute intervals until done. Not sure if that is helpful, but good luck. 

This morning was so cold and this afternoon was so hot! When I went to pick up bear, I bought a 61p bag of frozen peas to rest a drink on for him and hopefully cool the car down. I don't have air conditioning and there is no shade at all where I pick him up. The warm weather is predicted to continue for a few days, ending just before the weekend. 

The peas came in handy as bear's knee was bad and he used them as an ice pack. As long as I keep it just as an ice pack, I can keep re-freezing and re-using. I also picked up a big silicon trug, absolutely huge, for £2.99. When I went to the tip I watched a lady drive up, get a trug out of her car, tip it over into the 'garden waste only' skip and drive off. When I saw a similar trug in Aldi, I went for it. I found this on the website, which describes it as a 43 litre tub, but I only paid £2.99 and not £3.49. 

I called in to Tesco and Aldi this morning, and I managed to avoid impulse buys (apart from the trug) although I failed when I picked up bear this afternoon. I picked up an unneeded body spray.

It's been an odd sort of day. I think the best way to describe my day is to give an example. I haven't taken any pics of baked potatoes and, after the kind help from Barb and Helen, I thought I would include their advice and a pic of a generic baked potato from Unsplash. I put 'baked potato' into their search bar. This is a picture from the top ten results.

Photo by REVOLT on Unsplash

This is not a baked potato. This is an egg. I think I will get an early night. 

Sunday 12 May 2019

I Failed at Baked Potato

I haven't got a pic, which is perhaps just as well. Bear decided he would like a baked potato for lunch, with cottage pie for dinner. I bung a potato in the microwave with a sigh of relief. Except I judged it wrong. I guessed the time for a much larger potato. When I pulled it out, I hit it with a fork and it made a 'ding' noise. It reminded me of those stones that you hit other stones with to make stone tools. It could be used as a weapon. Bear and I decided that we would try again. This time it wasn't too bad (though it wasn't brilliant) but I think that there had been a bruise so one corner of the potato was charred and desiccated. Bear had cheese on toast.

How can I not make a baked potato in the microwave? I'm going to work on it. I can see a long stretch of baked potatoes for my lunches so I can get it cracked. I have made successful souffles, but I can't fry an egg. I'm not a fancy cook, but I've done all sorts of stuff with potatoes. I just can't get it right with a microwave. If I have the oven on for something else, I make awesome baked potatoes, but I am still with oven issues so I need to work it out. And because bear needed a sympathetic ear during the afternoon over some very convoluted issues with homework, I didn't get the cottage pie done either. On the other hand, I was ahead with school uniform and kits, so that is something.

I'm looking forward to driving tomorrow. I'm really grateful for all the tips about parking.

Kate - I've tried to get into the habit of always locking my doors when driving. I knew someone who was at lights and a thief opened her door and grabbed her handbag! As for the rest, I'm usually thinking about something else. I would totally get kidnapped.

Saturday 11 May 2019

Lots of Screen Time

Bless - I reverse into spaces because I'm scared of reversing out. From what I see in local car parks, it's about fifty/fifty reversing into a space or pulling in head first. On my test (the one I passed), part of the test was pulling into a parking bay and reversing out. I can do this if I'm not thinking about it, but whenever I thought about it, I failed on an epic scale. On the test, I was amazing and I wish I could have framed it. I haven't done it since. Next week I'm planning on parking head first and practising reversing out. Over the summer holiday I may take bear out to a convenient car park and get him to stack boxes at corners and give his truthful opinion as I practice parking in tight places. Parking terrifies me the most.

No driving today. Today has been a chilled day. I hung out with bear and DH and we watched the first two episodes of The Librarians, which bear really enjoyed. Actually, so did I, it was great. I watched the first episodes when I was stitching the curtain lining and thought I would share. I don't know if I mentioned, but I had to get bear to sort out the volume on the tv. I felt so old. I've also binge watched the entire Season 4 of Lucifer on Netflix which I totally and completely recommend. The first three seasons were okay, and I enjoyed them, but this was something wonderful! I will be re-watching several times. It is not suitable for bear. But I do think it is the most awesome and entertaining story. 

It's settling into a good routine. Saturday we have a picnic dinner, after hanging out and relaxing. Tomorrow is going to be more hanging out and a better dinner. Bear is hinting about cottage pie, so I'll go for that. It's not the fanciest of meals, but I can imagine that the men will enjoy it. I'm planning to do a home made sponge in the microwave with ginger preserves, and I'll let you know if I manage it. Bear approves of sponge pudding.

Speaking of bear, he has to draw up a family tree for his history class. I have some awesome stories about my family, and DH has some characters among his family. I love that we have an excuse to tell the stories about the family. At least, the ones that are fit to share with bear. I'm going to have to check his homework before it goes in.

Friday 10 May 2019

The Squirrel Survived

I've been doing lots of driving. I had a lesson in town driving. My awesome instructor took me along all the most congested routes around the town centre - and I managed. I also noticed a squirrel running into the road - and then freezing. It looked like it couldn't remember whether it had locked the door and did it carry on going or run back. I tooted my horn at it, which meant I actually found where the horn was. It sounded more like the car was clearing its throat as I wasn't very assertive, but the squirrel ran. I felt really good that I had noticed and stopped in time (no-one was behind me, thank goodness).

Today was even more driving. I got side tracked on the way home and ended up finding a way to a farm shop that I didn't know. I've been there before but not by this route. I took a very poor picture of the llama and some goats.

You can tell that I actually went here and took this pic because of its poor quality. It's proof I actually went out.

I also ended up parking in the nearest Aldi instead of the easiest Aldi. They have booby-trapped parking in the nearest one, and I didn't realise. I was just lucky I didn't hit this pointy bit of kerb.

The pic makes it look like I can park. It took me five minutes to reverse into that space, and I was even worse in Morrisons where I waited for bear. And then I ended up with a branch stuck under the car and had to pull over to extract it.

I also visited DH's aunt who is awesome. I hadn't been there for years, but I did it! I had a great time. I daren't think of the miles I'm putting on the poor car.

Writing stuff - latest from the White Hart is here.

Hugs to all.

Tuesday 7 May 2019

Housewifery Happened!

Today I cooked the Hasselback chicken! The recipe is here and I more or less followed it. Of course I forgot to take pics. It didn't work out quite the same way as the video, as the chicken wasn't so firm and robust. You make slits in a chicken breast and push a mix of cream cheese, sizzled bacon and softened spring onions into the slits, then bake. I used dairy free cream cheese, which took a while to find at the store (I'm not used to looking for things in shops!) and it worked okay, although the cheese mix was more spread around than stuffed in. I think I would cook the chicken for longer next time, but I will see how it goes.

So I made the recipe I planned to which is a miracle. Bear had his with a baked potato and DH had rice. I was too busy juggling the piano lesson and sewing buttons on bear's blazer (more housewifery), to get that sorted. As usual, everything happened at once. It wouldn't have taken five minutes to bung on some frozen veg, but I was buried under an avalanche of information coming from all sides, which isn't unusual. Bear's blazer is a wreck. There are ink splodges and I've had to do a few repairs. Please let it hold out until 19th July, when he breaks for summer. At that point, I need to learn how to drive to Dewsbury to buy the next instalment of uniform.

I keep forgetting to take pics, so I took a pic of the thread plait that I have stashed.

Typically the picture didn't come out very well, but at least I have illustration. I love these plaits. They look so quirky and it means I always have a few strands of the right colour, no matter what. I hadn't sewn on a button for years, but I can see me doing a few more button rescues in future. Bear has already lost one of the buttons, so I think I will keep the buttons from this blazer to keep for next year just in case.

I've done some tootling around the kitchen and there is a slight increase in order. I dropped off some jars that I have been meaning to recycle for over a year at the bottle bank in the car park where I pick up bear, and I dropped off some clothes for charity (yay for cars!). I hope I can improve on this tomorrow.

Monday 6 May 2019

My Imagination Still Works

I was always told not to talk about my dreams (the literal ones that you have when you sleep) as other people's dreams are uninteresting and no-one wants to hear them. This is a disappointment to me, because last night I dreamt I was managing a shop and I had to remove a man dressed as a cow wearing a Santa hat and carrying a gun. You had to be there, as it were. Any polite insight is welcome, but I think it's because I'm nuts. I'm glad my imagination is still working and that my subconscious can still come up with weirder stuff than my conscious mind.

Some housewifery has happened. I've managed to more or less line the curtains, except that I trimmed one too short and I'm going to have to go back with fabric glue and stick a strip back on. I can't believe the difference a black out lining makes, especially compared to white fleece. I got the three way lining. To be honest, I saw some lining advertised as 3 way and looked it up. The stuff is designed to block light, heat and sound. I think I need to add it to all our curtains. Not this week though, as I plan to deal with the kitchen.

Tonight's dinner was breaded chicken (again) with pasta and peas. I'm going to spend some time thinking about food tomorrow as well. I will be feeding bear about an hour before I'm feeding DH, so it is a challenge, and I need to think of something bear will eat, which varies. I may try hasselback chicken and baked potatoes. I found this guide here for hasselback chicken, but I'll have a rummage around the net. Of course, I can just pick up the ingredients I need tomorrow as I will be dropping off and picking up in Morrisons car park so I can just run in. Mind you, tomorrow I may feel differently about the whole thing and the men will have a choice between pizza and pot noodle.

I am also left with some large pieces of white fleece from the fail at lining the curtains. Fleece washes quite well and I thought I could convert them into blankets (they are @ 78 inches long and @ 54 inches wide, give or take, after being trimmed). I can do the knotted fringe thing, or blanket stitch along the edges, but I wondered about stitching patches on them as well? Or perhaps drawing on them with fabric pens? I may have a wander through YouTube and Pinterest. Hugs to all.

Sunday 5 May 2019

Feeling the Fail

Tonight's dinner was okay. It was gluten free frozen breaded goujons, frozen peas and frozen, ready made, potato wedges. I forgot to pick up potatoes and I also forgot that the microwave was on the fritz. On the bright side, frozen veg is a lot fresher than the fresh stuff from the supermarkets, and gluten free breaded chicken products are incredibly high quality. However breaded chicken products aren't ideal and I make really awesome home made wedges when I remember to pick up the potatoes. Because of all the different issues with the various ovens, I didn't make the stuffing I was planning to add and I couldn't do the roast chicken I thought would have been nice.

I went on YouTube for ideas for meal planning (I never learn) and I clicked on a video about a haul of groceries that would last for thirty meals. I felt soooo depressed by the end of it. She was casually talking about making Beef Wellington and sticky teryaki and all sorts of stuff, and was talking about making what I consider hard work meals as a casual easy evening. I feel utterly inadequate.

There is no excuse now. I have passed my driving test, I have a gazillion and three cookbooks and access to many, many more recipes on the internet and I'm not a complete idiot (there may be some discussion on this, but I should be able to follow a recipe).

I think I may spend some time tomorrow going through my cupboards and rethinking what I am making, when I am making it and how it fits in with our different preferences. I'm usually good at thinking outside the box, but these days my brain switches off whenever food is mentioned. If I make a list of what I have, then feed it into the Supercook site search thingy, I should be fine. is a site which makes suggestions for recipes based on the ingredients you put in. I intend to make shameless use of it.

And no matter how bad things are, you can usually find a bright side. Bear accidentally dropped one of those tiny cartons of custards as he was taking it downstairs. You would not believe how much coverage two tablespoons of custard can manage. But I finally had an excuse to get rid of the ratty old draught excluder that I had made from pieces of baby blanket and unravelled sweaters as I couldn't wash it and it had quite a custard coating, and I found a £2 coin I had dropped.

Now I am going to cheer myself up looking through YouTube videos about making draught excluders and cleaning custard off flock wallpaper.

Saturday 4 May 2019

Occupational Hazard

I'm trying to be more like a proper writer. So I'm doing 'writer' type things on Facebook and very occasionally on Twitter. I haven't really got the hang of Twitter, but I've got an account under Lyssa Medana, and I retweet stuff about writing and occasionally some of the better cat accounts. I particularly like Larry the Cat, which is a parody account of the cat that lives at No 10 Downing Street.

I actually checked my Twitter account today, and someone had sent me a message. This is what they wrote:

i am sorry i don't know you but you looked incredibly beautiful in your photos and lovely profile , i really admire you a lot and i couldn't help messaging you.

( I didn't edit this, you have the unadulterated version).

I answered - 'I don't have a photo.' This is actually true. I haven't got around to putting something in the profile pic space. It's just that funny blob that reminds me of a ludo counter. I got a message of praise to a blank space. Poor lad (if it is a lad, not a bot), he must be very desperate. I think I will have to go back and put my 'White Hart' thingy on it. It won't deter those like lover boy above, but it perhaps is more professional.

Today has been a good day. There hasn't been much housewifery, but there has been lots of hanging out with the guys. DH went and got a new tyre for me and so I'm all set to go next week. I still have moments when I'm trundling along and suddenly wonder what on earth I'm doing in charge of a car, but I'm getting more confidence. Thank you for all the encouragement. It's been a real help.

Friday 3 May 2019

More Driving Adventures!

I am still very cautious driving, and I slow down in plenty of time for traffic lights, even ones where it's awful to get going again because you have to drive uphill. I'm glad I do that, because it meant I could stop in time for the gentleman who stepped right in front of my car. I mean, I was still moving, and there was a big gap between me and the car in front, so it was a reasonable guess that I should continue moving, slowly, until I was within a few yards of the car in front (I don't like getting too close to cars in front at traffic lights). He was fine, as I stopped in time. I was shaken.

I think bear is aware of my caution as he prompted me that now was a good time to go at the roundabout. I had already started moving, but it made me smile. I'm sure bear will have plenty of advice.

I had settled down nicely after dinner when one of the kids from next door knocked and said I had a flat tyre. I forgot to take photos but it looked exactly like I had driven poor Red into the kerb and wrecked the tyre. However the Citroen Puretech (ie Red) has a full tyre in the boot, and we pay for the AA for complete coverage, so a nice man with all the right tools switched the tyre over in no time, which is when we found the huge screw. It wasn't my driving, just bad luck.  

So the driving adventures continue. Next week I want to get a dashcam fitted and a different left hand wing mirror with one of those little added mirrors to help me park. I'm planning on driving somewhere I'm not sure of to make a visit, and I also want to build up to longer trips. The trouble is, longer trips involve faster roads, and I'm still building up to that in Red. 

Not much housewifery. 

Writing stuff - The online book convention OWS CyCon 2019 is getting closer and the utterly awesome Timothy Bateson has signed up to read sections of participants books, the first one, Preach On Havoc - Book 1 of Dreams About Vampires by Alice de Sampaio Kalkuhl, was released today here. I am learning more and more about all the different ways books get shared around and the different ways of sampling different authors. I will, of course, let you know if and when my stuff is being read, but it may be worth dipping in and subscribing and seeing if you find a new author that you like. 

And the latest from the White Hart is here. I am having far too much fun with it. It was really tough to find a pic to go with the story, so I have this, which I am including because I forgot to take a pic of the tyre. 

Photo by Fábio Alves on Unsplash

Thursday 2 May 2019

(Nearly) Two for Sorrow

Today's driving adventure was when two magpies flew right in front of the car. I honestly thought I would hit them, but they swooped out of the way in time. I also dropped a friend of bear's off after school and I was SCARED as the road away from there was narrow and room for one car only, due to all the double parking. There were three buses on the way up, I couldn't believe it. Buses normally come in twos and this was ridiculous. I was stranded at the top of a hill waiting for them all to pass. I may try reversing around a corner tomorrow, which is unknown territory for me but better than being stranded surrounded by parked cars!

Poor DH was late in. He was affected by backed up traffic from the Tour de Yorkshire, and he was shattered. The change in the weather hasn't helped. It is so cold compared to just a week or so ago. 

Tomorrow I am definitely going for a win with housewifery. I'm just doing the school run, nothing else outside the house and I want to get set up for the long weekend. So far this week I have had new windows, driving lessons, extra long films (Avengers Endgame is amazing, I could watch it all over again) and shopping. Tomorrow is housewifery.

Mind you, I said that yesterday.

Wednesday 1 May 2019

No Spoilers!

Dropped bear off at Morrisons car park this morning, feeling good about it. Then I went to see Avengers Endgame. The showing I wanted to see started at 10am. It wasn't really worth me going home and then coming out so I found my way to the cinema, which is just across from the IKEA junction. Fortunately I came from the other direction, and wherethejourneytakesme is absolutely right - it is actually quite straightforward these days. However even after having a breakfast at Morrisons, I still got to the cinema at 9.15am. The doors didn't even open until @ 9.50am, so the car park was empty. I nearly parked next to the cinema, as there were so many spaces free, but then remembered that Avengers Endgame is longer than the average film and that the car park would probably not be as empty when I came out. I decided to park a little distance from the building. Here is the view from where I parked the car.

I took sweeties and water in to the film with me, but was too engrossed to even touch them, even though the film was three hours long. I honestly want to watch it all again. It was amazing. I laughed and I honestly cried, and I could hear others in the theatre doing the same.

I got lost on the way to pick up bear. I left the cinema at 1.30pm, and I would leave the house @ 2pm, so I thought I might as well go straight back to pick up bear. I got lost, ended up in the wrong lane, got stranded in the middle of traffic lights and had a wonderful time. Then bear and I came home.

Tomorrow is definitely a housewifery day. I am determined to check in tomorrow and talk about more than driving. Hugs to all.