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.

Thursday 7 November 2019

I Didn't Get Many Pictures

The above is a very poor picture of the beck a hundred yards away. It is so full, it is pushing against the bridge. We are a little higher and unlikely to be affected. However the school run was awful.

This morning was bad, with lots and lots of standing water, but I managed it apart from a few 'woah!' moments when I hit large puddles. I decided to start off early for pick up, so that I could get some shopping in and perhaps get some knitting time.

I was glad I did. I barely made it to the school. I passed through some serious standing water, the sort that strands little citroens like mine. I honestly wasn't sure if I would make it through. I should have bailed, seriously, as there is an Amber weather warning all over the area, with travel disruption likely.  The roads were running with water, it was actually scary. 

I rang another mum, checked with school, and got bear and a couple of pals out early. We went via the back roads and didn't hit much water, but I was glad to get home. I'm feeling a little shaky now. 

Shoutout to Hawthorn Spellweaver, whereverthejourneytakesme, Heather, and all the others caught up in this weather. I'm hoping most of you are out of the real risk zone and staying safe.

Writing stuff - Just a quick reminder that the free stuff at Story Origin that I linked to before ends on 9th November, so if you haven't looked, and you like Fantasy and SciFi, feel free to have a look

Hugs to all

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Still Bewildered

It seems to have been a busy day. I chased up an appointment for bear, booked my car in for a service, agreed to help out awesome driving instructor with his own test, managed a small amount of writing stuff and checked with school about taking bear to a hospital appointment during school time (not serious). I still feel like I have nothing done. My brain switched off around 4.30pm, it is now around 7.30pm, and all bets are off.

Today was the first time I scraped ice off my car, which was a strange feeling. We are very sheltered here, and there wasn't much, but I suppose I need to get used to winter-proofing my car. The drive was fine, though, with no ice on the roads. I dropped bear and his pal off, treated myself to scrambled eggs and baked beans at Tesco, which was very pleasant, and then went to Dewsbury Market. I've been building this up into something scary, but it was fine. I found the car park easily enough, but I was short of change so instead of paying 40p for an hour, I paid £1 for three hours. Next time I go, and there will be a next time, I shall remember my coins as lots of the stalls were just opening and I was worried about using all their change. I bought a pair of gloves for £1.50. They are not the plain black or grey I prefer, but bear won't borrow these!

And a very large bag of apples. Then I got back to the car after only 30 minutes. I could have spent a lot longer, but I wanted to get home. I noticed that the trees in the car park were very heavy with berries. I wonder if that means we are in for a hard winter.

And when I got home I remembered to take a pic of the fuschia. I blame father. He planted it, and he has form for giant fuschias. When I was little, he had one in the garden that grew so big that it cracked a sewer pipe. Here it is, though I'm not sure the pic does it justice

It was only little and in a tiny pot when he got it. It's currently swamping a tea rose on one side and a small lilac on the other. I may hang on to spring to prune it, but I think it will take something like a flame thrower to really knock it back. As a side note, if you look at the brick work you can see where it was repaired after a former neighbour's 12 yr old rammed a car into our wall and pretty much demolished it. 

But today I remembered the cheese, so I'm taking it as a win.

Hugs to all.

Tuesday 5 November 2019

What Day Is It?

I think I am too tired, too full of cold and too stressed to keep up with stuff. I was convinced as I started typing that it was Monday, not Tuesday. It feels like a Monday. 

Bear's pal's father took them in to school this morning and I was desperately grateful. It gives me back at least an hour, and today I used it to reply to the Writing Challenge (details below) and check out some other writing stuff (other details below). Then I went to the tip.

The tip run wasn't without stress. I filled my (admittedly not huge) boot and trundled off - and got stuck behind a horse and cart! This is a major dual carriageway full of commercial lorries and vans that are supposed to stick to a speed limit of 40 mph, but a lot really don't. Not only that, it's winding, there are blind curves and lots of roundabouts. I salute the cart driver's courage. Fortunately the lorry driver behind me got into the other lane and held traffic back so I could get past. I couldn't see the name of the lorry, or I would have rung in and given all the praise I could to them. Otherwise I would probably still be at the horse's tail. After that I made a complete mess of the slip road both times and called into Aldi, where I forgot the cheese. 

Afterwards I listened to the bushes being pruned in Matalan. I am not sure that it was done as well as it could have been. They pruned a lot of the lower branches on the Matalan side of the fence, but not on our side, and the bushes are tilting towards us. As they are thirty to forty feet high, or easily 10 metres, that is a worry. I'm hoping they will come back tomorrow as today was constant rain and it's probably not the best weather for power tools.

I called in to Tesco on the way to school to fill up with petrol, where I once again forgot to pick up cheese, then waited for bear in Morrison's car park where I also forgot to nip in and get cheese. I will probably remember it tomorrow as I was scraping out the last crumbs for DH's pasta bake. 

Bear and DH had fireworks on Sunday, so we are staying in the warm and relaxing. 

By the way, the fuschia in the garden is once again reaching the size of my car, and is still in full flower. I'd like to cut it back over winter, but I don't want to deprive any lingering bees of pollen. If anyone has any ideas of when to prune it back, please leave a comment. 

Writing stuff - a new story from me here and a small, new story linked to Grumpy New Gods Vol 3 by me is here

Lyssa Medana Meet The Authors of Grumpy Old Gods Volume 3

Monday 4 November 2019

Monday Again

Bear failed to bring home the dratted bowl from his cookery lesson (or whatever they call it) and forgot his apparently very muddy kit. He said there were dark green plants on the pitch, like a swamp. I'm allowing for exaggeration, but it has been very wet here. This means that there is are shorts, socks and a shirt damp and festering in a locker until I can threaten bear enough to get them home.

I have been less than successful in all things today. I managed home made soup, and there are more shirts ironed than there were, but in all, I could have done a lot better. I think the weather has got to me. The cold continues, in a very small way, and there is more than a hint of pity party. I'll try again tomorrow.

Sharon - I wish I could take credit for courage in driving, but I find it incredibly soothing. I mean, there were times tonight on the school run which were nerve-wracking, and there are always issues, but I always feel better after a long drive. I think I take after father. He enjoyed a long run out as well. He used to take us around North Wales, and one of his favourite runs involved a hair pin bend with a ford in the middle. It was a narrow road, with room for only one car and there were passing places in case you were caught near someone, and there were no fences between the road and the moor, so there were sheep wandering around. He never flinched. I hope that I'm encouraging, because you need to be able to get out and do things (especially when it comes to taking absolutely amazing photos), but I also hope that you don't feel that you have to do things that make you uncomfortable just because I am somewhat crazed. Every now and again I talk about trips I took with my family when I was little and I catch DH looking at me a little wide eyed and realise my attitude isn't necessarily normal.

Writing stuff - Monday's writing challenge here

Sunday 3 November 2019

A Small Change

Heather - thank you! I don't really know Otley so having those details really helps. Yesterday I found myself zooming through, wondering what direction I was going in and then desperately needing a bathroom as I passed the hospital. Those notes really help. Thank you! Otley is worth a visit.

Wherethejourneytakesme - I'm in a bright purple citroen with four P plates - two fore and two aft. I think I need to warn people properly. I'll be the one in the wrong lane and either stalled at the junction or flying out like a ferret up a drainpipe. I may be drifting right and I will certainly be panicking about the speed limit. When I started driving, I was very nervous about going 'fast' (more than ten miles per hour) and so I am incredibly conscious about keeping up to the right speed. This can be a good thing, but it can also be unnerving, especially to other road users. I learned on roads which, well, you drive in West Yorkshire, so you know. You learn never to show fear to a bend, especially if you go into Tesco at Batley. I often find cars that had been right on my bumper going into a sharp curve will be trailing a respectful and slightly nervous distance when we hit the straight. My little citroen, Red, is brilliant for the sharp corners and probably has more acceleration than I know how to get out of her, even with her little one litre engine.

Today bear helped me with the car. I cleared a half term's worth of sweetie wrappers out of the back seat, together with an unfortunate quantity of reciepts and scraps from the cupholder and door pockets in the front, and tried vacuuming the car with one of those 'run off the cigarette lighter' type vacuums which turned out to have been a waste of money. It was completely ineffective. I think I shall look in to getting an extension so I can use the house vacuum, but until then I can take it to be washed and vacuumed at the hand car wash. Also, I can try stern words to the passengers, but I don't have much hope there.

The seats under the covers are a disgrace, but I think I will wait until it's a little dryer and try washing and brushing.

Bear was awesome helping out, and we worked out how to get head rests off and moved things around. The back seat is really just a pad, and the front seats don't really fit properly as they were bought incredibly inexpensively, but it's something. I'll get a throw to cover the back of the back seats. Bear also showed me how to get the back seats down to make more space in the boot. 

The box in the middle currently holds a pack of cards for the card games they play to and from school, an umbrella, a box of tissues and a tiny car heater which plugs into the cigarette thingy. It is a forlorn hope that they will keep all the junk, half eaten packets of sweeties, tubes of pringles, etc there, but I can try.

I plan to do a lot more tip runs. The house is overflowing, it needs to be gone, and I need to get on with it. This week included my 'Subscribe and Save' order from Amazon so there was acres of cardboard to get rid of, as well as the other junk, and boxes build up here at a worrying rate. I'm aiming for two or three trips to either the tip or the charity shop every week until the house is fit. I may even get organised enough to put some stuff on eBay or similar. 

Hugs to all!

Saturday 2 November 2019

Forgot to take Photos - Again!

Cherie - I am loving the driving, and I think it's seriously saving what's left of my sanity. It was lovely and dry when I set out this morning, but it started raining with emphasis on the way home.

I really needed a break this morning so I got into the car and went for a drive. I was considering going over to the Burnley side of the Penines, but the weather forecast was uncertain, and there had been heavy rain up on the tops, so I took my courage in my hands, got onto the bypass and headed out to just somewhere. I ended up turning up towards Harrogate and I had just gone past Harewood House, when I saw a sign for Otley and decided I fancied a trip there. It's not a main road, although there is a white line down the middle. There were lots of bends and corners and next time I'm definitely going to stop at a church I spotted. I didn't get a good look as I passed, but I checked back later and I passed St Mary and St Abanoub Coptic Church, which is a lovely but somewhat unexpected surprise in the middle of the West Yorkshire countryside.

I got stuck in Otley, and couldn't find anywhere to park. In the end I stopped at the Wharfedale Hospital as they had a ladies bathroom. I was rather disappointed that there wasn't a cafe but it was a very small hospital in the countryside, so I couldn't complain. Instead I took the opportunity to put Batley Tesco into the Sat Nav. I thought it might be a good run as the Sat Nav often takes me along interesting back roads. Instead the [insert very rude word here] took me through Bradford.

Bradford is not a good place to drive. It's confusing and complicated, but it's the drivers that make it. My driving instructor doesn't like driving there. From what I've heard, even the police don't like driving there. Fortunately for me, the Audis that were cutting me up mainly indicated first. It was like watching a racing track, seeing cars weaving in and out of the lanes. I was glad when I got out of there. Then I picked up some bits for dinner and came home. I did around fifty miles, which helped blow away some cobwebs.

I'm definitely going to have to work on parking in Otley.

This afternoon we all watched Spiderman: Far from Home - which was awesome. DH and I watched it at the cinema, but bear hadn't seen it, and he loved it.

Now we are settling in for the night. Hugs to all.

Friday 1 November 2019

No More October

It's the first of November, and I'm not linking anything. I have nothing on my writing blog, I believe Timothy Bateson is taking on another challenge rather than lying in a dark room with a damp towel over his eyes and while I could theoretically link to some stuff, I'm not.

Instead of waking up and making sure all was good to go on blogs and facebook, bear and I went to the tip, then through the back roads to Tesco, taking an unusual shortcut and generally having a nice drive, although some parts were misty. Bear approved. Then we had a breakfast in Tesco, which was very pleasant although probably not the healthiest for bear, picked up some bits and then picked up bear's blazer from the dry cleaner's. It looks lovely, and I wonder how long that will last!

We went home past IKEA and I got disastrously lost. I mean, completely in the wrong lane, round a roundabout twice, came off at the wrong exit and in the end I just pointed Red in a direction that I thought was right and hoped for the best. Bear did not approve. I think I will be going back that way on a regular basis until I get it right. It's rather complicated and I could still end up in Hull. Afterwards we called in to Aldi and picked up a few other bits.

Tomorrow has weather warnings out, but I think if I don't go for a drive I will go crazy.

I really enjoyed October. I did a lot of writing, re-visited a lot of my stuff and was happy with it, and I got to contact a lot of lovely people. I'm sort of glad of the break, though. I think tonight is a knitting night.

Hugs to all.