Thursday 31 December 2020

Still Frosty

The only time I have ventured over the threshold today was to take some rubbish to the bin - and the lid was frozen shut! There isn't much ice around but there's still a few traces of frozen snow. This was at 4pm, when things should have thawed out. 

The traces of snow are very small.

For some reason, most of the pavement on the street is clear apart from one very small patch outside next door.

As far as I know, there was no snow swept up or anything. In fact, outside our house there was no snow to sweep. There was just this isolated patch. 

The fireworks have already begun. We are all settling down here for a quiet night.

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 30 December 2020

Darn it to Heck

Fifitr - I agree. Bear seems to be happy to with the books and I think he's already started dipping in. Having his birthday and Christmas so close together is a trial. I spend half a year trying to work out what to get him, and then it's over in a few days. When he was tiny and father and uncle were alive, they went so overboard that you couldn't move for wrapping paper by New Year. 

Sharon - I hope the hair appointment went well. The Alaska thing I keep watching is Simple Living Alaska and I have absolutely nothing whatsoever in common with the people on the channel, but I find it relaxing and interesting. I need to start watching housework videos. Thank you for the good wishes. By the way, I took a photo of the charity book table sign. Most of the kid's books had gone. I don't know if they had been taken my someone needing to keep their children entertained or thinned out by Tesco staff.

I threw out a sweater today. I don't buy many clothes, and I make them last for years. If I remember correctly, this sweater could be twenty years old. It's definitely older than bear. I got it from Matalan and it washed and washed and washed. It hasn't been looking good for a while, and I've been bracing myself. I suppose if I knew how to darn, I could save it, which is a tempting thought as it's one of the comfiest sweaters that I've ever had. It just sits right for me, is cosy and warm but I can't ignore the holes any longer. 

Really it's had its day, but I'm going to miss it. I'm going to knit a replacement next after I finish the shawl. 

I nipped out for what I hope is the last time this year. I dropped the stuff off at the tip, then called in briefly at Tesco. I picked up some bread and a very small gammon joint for New Year's Day. Then I was tootling around with some writing stuff and ironing. We had home made soup for dinner, which included some sundried tomatoes that were just dry and not in oil or anything. The men really enjoyed them, so I'll try getting them in that form in future. 

Writing stuff - Under the Bright Saharan Sky is out on 21st January 2021, and is a lot less expensive to pre-order, currently 77p against £3.13 for Out of the London Mist. I'll be starting the pre-publicity stuff on 2nd January, so I suspect there will be a lot more things here.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Awesome Day

Bear said that he had a good birthday. He waited until DH had finished work to open his presents and was very happy with his loot. He had some gift vouchers from friends, a model to make (with no paint or glue needed - thank you awesome brother) and we had got him a chunk of books and some other little bits, like a fancy pack of cars. One of the biggest hits was actually one of the least expensive - a blinged up set of steampunk goggles with weird refractive lenses.

I hope he settles in to the books. I don't know what to get for the modern stuff so over Christmas and his birthday he ended up with stuff like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Centre of the Earth. DH and I plan on also dipping in, if he's happy to let us. I haven't read Robinson Crusoe for years and I think we are both looking at Swiss Family Robinson. I also got him some music books and he was practising almost straight away. 

We had a very slight scattering of snow, but now I'm worried about ice and driving tomorrow. I have a tip run booked, but I'm seriously worried about getting there. It's either scary bypass with aggressive lorries or twisty back roads with 50mph speed limits. And no matter which way, it's steep hills. Still, it's for mid-morning and the main roads will be gritted, so I shouldn't worry. Really, I should be counting my blessings that we haven't been too badly hit by bad weather. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 28 December 2020

Mild Win

These days I'm not sure that I should describe something beneficial as positive, but, in the former sense and not the plague sense, today has been mildly positive.

Sharon - The table at Tesco is a swap for 50p, buy for £1, proceeds to the store's charities. I think it's Cancer UK and a couple of others. I'll have a look next time. Morrisons have something similar. It's done on a trust basis, but there seems to be a fair turnover. Mind you, the usual bodice rippers are currently swamped by kids' books.

Sarah - I did wonder about something like a women's refuge or even a kid's ward on a hospital. I wasn't sure where to start donating to a refuge. In other times I would have considered the local church, but it's currently shut. A lot of charity shops aren't accepting stuff. That's one reason why I thought the Salvation Army would be a good place to start - they do a lot of outreach stuff. I've a few books left after my largish donation, so I'll see what I can do. 

There was no snow here today, although it's been cold and it was scarily misty on the way to the shop. The forecast is muttering about snow tomorrow but I plan on staying in anyway. I have a slot booked at the tip for Wednesday, so I will be going out then. I hope the weather will be kind. 

It's not too bad if I miss the tip run. I was the only one in the street who checked the bin collection dates. Our black bin was collected one day early, just before Christmas. As far as I can tell, mine was the only one out. I only realised the next day when I went to bring it in as we are normally one of the first to put the bins out. I can see me turning into one of those women who get obsessed and knock on neighbours doors to get the bins sorted. There have been a row of overstuffed black wheelie bins at the top of our street for over a week now, and it's another week before they're due to be collected. Normally there is a leaflet that gets sent out, but I didn't see it this year. The council said that they are dealing with 20% more domestic waste (I suppose because people are eating at home, having clear outs, redecorating and getting into diy) and have 10% less staff because of illness and isolation. 

Today has been mildy a win. I didn't watch a single episode of 'Say Yes to the Dress' although I have got caught up in a couple living off the land in Alaska. There are worse things to watch as I can get ideas about how stuff like butchering works for some of my writing, and it's giving me a positive attitude to sorting out stuff in the house. When I called in at Tesco, I picked up some bits that I forgot yesterday, and as I went around I was mentally looking at things and actively deciding that I didn't need stuff. I wrote down the spends when I got home (a lot less than it could have been) and I've cracked on with some knitting. To be honest, a lot of the day has been worrying away at an issue I have with a novel, and that has been positive in itself.

This evening I've been wrapping bear's birthday presents and have spent half the evening coming second in a battle with sticky tape. But that's all done now. 

Writing stuff - Today's flash fiction is here.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 27 December 2020


 Fifitr - thank you for the hug and the vote of confidence. It's much appreciated.

One of the reasons I'm writing my resolutions down is that even if I fail, my thought processes may help someone else. At least they can avoid the problems that I fail at. I'm always slightly in awe of those who write incredibly knowledgeable blogs. They seem so assured. All I know is that whatever goes wrong, there will be a fun story in there.

I wrote down what I spent today in Tesco. I hadn't planned to go today, but it was one of those complicated things where I needed to exchange presents with brother and I could do with picking up some sandwich meat. We agreed to meet in Tesco car park for a socially distanced exchange. We had a discussion and checked the page, and as far as we could tell, it's legal in Tier 3. I'm so bewildered by the rules these days that I just hope we didn't break any laws.

I planned to put a load of the books that bear cleared out into the Salvation Army donation bins by the glass recycling bins. I was told that it would be fine to do this by the very nice man who empties them who I met a while ago. He recommended trying to give them into a shop first, but failing that, the big donation thingies would be fine. Well, they would have been fine, but they were full. I left a large bag full on the charity book swap table in Tesco, but I still have a bootful. Well, not quite a bootful, but a lot. I also have two black bags in my boot ready for the tip run on Wednesday and it isn't that big a boot. 

I also took the opportunity to dump a load of jars into the recycling. It felt very odd, feeding jar after jar into the recycling thingies while next to me people were getting rid of the evidence of lockdown drinking. I had quite a lot, as I decided to get rid of the ones that I had saved for bear's chutney and pickle making, as he had abandoned that quite quickly. I also had gone through some cupboards and pulled out some extremely past their best before dates so this morning I had gone through and cleaned a load out. I'm ashamed of how much got dumped. It may be only half a dozen jars, but it's a sign of impulsive behaviour. For example, I broke the jar scraper thingy on an extremely elderly jar of tahini that I originally got when bear was in primary school to make hummus. Now it had set like concrete. I'm going to have to get another of those extremely useful jar scrapers, so I will be writing that down soon.

It was interesting as I checked the receipt when I wrote down the total. There were some Matchmaker chocolates as we all like them and they were at a reasonable price and there was a puzzle book as I had forgotten my knitting, I didn't know how long I would have to wait for brother, and I like puzzles. Both of those parts of the bill could have been dropped easily enough. I also got relatively posh bread, which was also an indulgence. I think looking at what's happening is a good way for me to adjust things. 

It was wonderful to see my brother, but I got chilled to the bone talking to him and even now, four hours later, I'm still cold at the core. Fortunately he gave me some mead for my Christmas present, so I will be able to warm myself up. I know alcohol doesn't actually make you warmer, and can make things worse for things like frostbite and serious cold, but I like the illusion of warmth that it gives. 

I shall be out again tomorrow. I want to try and do another dump of immaculate children's books on Tesco's charity book table, keeping an option for Morrison's charity book table and scouting out the Salvation Army donation thingies. There is a hint of snow in the forecast, so I shall share what happens. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Saturday 26 December 2020

Making Decisions

As anyone who has followed this blog will realise, I have the willpower of wet tissue paper. I also have the attention span of an overheated bluebottle. This year I'm thinking more about methods of setting up good New Year's Resolutions, rather than the resolutions themselves. I have to work with little or no focus or willpower. I think recognising that is the first step in the process.

I have already had a slight success. As I mentioned, I'm writing down all that I spend. Today I didn't buy a knitting pattern. This may be something to do with the folder stuffed with knitting patterns on my desktop or the dozens jammed into various parts of my stash. Mainly, though, it was because I couldn't be bothered to go upstairs and get the notebook to write it down. This could be a really useful tactic, as long as I stick to writing things down. If I can keep going until the end of January, then I should have formed a habit. And the habit should save me a lot of shopping.

I need to work on habits and rhythms. I think I shall use my phone more. When bear was little, I had an alarm on my phone for all sorts of things, like the time he needed to brush his teeth before school and the time he needed to be putting on his coat. Now I need to get alarms set as reminders for washing and ironing and suchlike.

I was reminded that we have two wolves inside us. One is dark, full of fear and anger. The other is light, full of hope and love. The more we feed them, the stronger they grow and we should feed the one we want to see. I am not naturally a positive person, but I'm working on it. I thought I would extend this. I spend a lot of time browsing on YouTube when I'm hanging out with bear and knitting. I need to turn away from the snippets of Downton Abbey and Graham Norton and instead look at snippets about cleaning and writing. If I'm watching a programme about cleaning, it will hopefully motivate me to clean and start forming a more positive mindset. I'm hoping it will be a sort of mental equivalent of 'you are what you eat'. I'm not tracking it, and I expect it will be hit and miss, but it's a start.

I shall also have to watch more videos about saving money. Food prices are going up. I was watching a video of someone doing a challenge about low cost eating, and a value tin of mushy peas, from Tesco, was 15p. The video was posted on 29th January 2020. I just checked on Tesco website, and the same tin is now 22p, or around 50% dearer. To be honest, I think it was more expensive last time I bought it, but the item was labelled as an Aldi price match. 

As I write what is happening in my life, goodness only knows what's going to be happening on the blog in the next few months. Fingers crossed that it will be fun.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 25 December 2020

Chin Length Hat

I bought bear, as a big part of his Christmas presents, a top hat. It is a proper stove pipe, eight inches tall and with a feather in the band. We had been measuring his head, and I think I got it wrong. Bear was utterly delighted with the hat, which seems to be excellent quality, silk lined and dashing. He put it on his head and it sank. It rested briefly on the crown of his head, then slowly descended past his nose to chin level. Bear collapsed into giggles.

I'm posting a pic of the hat from the website (which is incredibly true to what we received) and a link because I emailed the firm asking politely if I could return something I bought two months ago and they replied on Christmas Day saying that I could. That is awesome service.

Bear very much enjoyed the rest of his presents, and is planning a reading marathon later. DH made an excellent Christmas dinner and now we are relaxing and looking forward to a lazy evening.

I hope everyone reading is having a wonderful holiday, no matter what your faith, and that you are keeping happy and in good health. Hugs to all. 

Thursday 24 December 2020

Almost There!

I had a nice walk this morning with DH in Batley Park. It was cold but lovely and we had a wonderful stretch of the legs. The Canada Geese were as fierce as normal, so we hurried past them. Then home to watch 'A Muppet Christmas Carol' which is a vital part of our Christmas traditions. I have the Christmas goodies out now, so there was a lot of snacking today. We ended up just having cheese and crackers for dinner (well, for the men) but it's nice cheese and posh crackers. 

All Christmas presents are now wrapped. Tomorrow dinner is steak, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, sprouts and a huge raft of different types of stuffing and gravy, followed by Christmas pudding with brandy butter and brandy sauce. This has been chosen to be low effort and to be food we like. Anything else would be wasted. Everything is set up and ready to go. I hope bear likes his presents. 

The people at the back are having an amazing, high volume argument. I think I will pour myself an alcoholic drink and put my headphones on.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Almost C Day

Sharon - the heritage carrots taste of carrots but slightly different. It's hard to describe. I think that they are a little less sweet. 

Today I wrapped all but one of bear's Christmas presents. It's big and awkward (not saying what, just in case he reads) and I will be wrestling with it for a while. It took a lot less time this year. I'm not saying that bear isn't ridiculously spoiled, because he is, but most of it is in the expensive gear stick thingy he got for his computer game and there will be money tucked in a card. He doesn't need much. The same goes for DH. I have struggled so much to get something nice for him. He doesn't really want anything, and told me so himself.

I started using my notebook today. I called in at Aldi for some last minute bits - eggs, ginger pop and some of the fancy soups that DH likes. Then I needed the bathroom, and there isn't one in Batley Aldi, so I called in at Tesco for the facilities and picked up some birthday wrapping paper. We are almost out of the ginormous stash that we had a few years ago. I've noted the totals in the book, and that's it for now. As I go on, I may include savings or note where I was impulse buying, but right now I'm happy to just keep reminding myself that I am spending money.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Purple Casserole

I forgot to take a pic. I found this pic on Unsplash, taken by Hello, I'm Nik, which shows heritage carrots. If you google them you'll find some better pics, but I am always concerned about copyright.

The ruby red and pale yellow carrots don't have the same impact as the purple carrots, though they are just as robust and flavourful. The purple carrots are PURPLE!!!!!!! and the colour runs. It's like the single red sock dying the rest of the wash pink. So the chicken casserole I made, with purple potatoes, carrots, pickled onions and a few chicken pieces with a pack of chicken cuppa soup was seriously purple. Even the chicken pieces were tinted a delicate mauve. The men enjoyed it and I shall make a habit of putting in the pickled onions instead of fresh, as they definitely add to the flavour. 

I have a few old cookbooks, and they all recommend boiling carrots for long, long time. I just checked Mrs Beeton and she recommended one and three quarter hours to two and one quarter hours for large carrots, like ours. If you try that with supermarket carrots, I suspect that all you would get would be a sort of insipid carrot soup. However the heritage varieties were tough. An hour and a half  at 200C (around 400F) in a casserole, with plenty of water and the acid from the pickles, and the carrots still had some bite to them, which was more than the potatoes did. 

DH had an unexpected bonus as his boss shared out money that he would have spent on the Christmas meal out. This was enough to cover the £60 year's subscription to Britbox. I plan to spend some time binge watching Midsommer Murders as I never seemed to be able to catch them when they were first on and I really enjoyed them. We have all spent some time browsing the contents. I suspect bear and DH will be bingewatching Doctor Who. I quite fancy dipping into some of the Poirot episodes. I am confident that we shall get value from it, though we didn't consider it before the bonus.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 21 December 2020

Shortest Day Longest Night

Cool Yule to all those who celebrate the old festivals. 

Val - I think I'll start stashing notebooks around, thank you for the idea. I work much better when I use pen and paper. I hope Poppy is feeling better.

It's been a miserable sort of day here. It's been dark and damp and I'm very glad that the nights are likely to be getting shorter. I ended up hauling in the two deliveries in the rain, which didn't do much for the kitchen. The kitchen is FULL!!!! Everywhere seems to be stuffed with stuff. I've got bread for the next few days, veggies and lots of goodies. I'm seriously considering sticking to mayonnaise rolls for the next few days if we run out of bread, which is about the only thing I'm worried about. That and possibly picking up some eggs. Everything else is covered, at least for now. 

The news about the borders being closed is worrying, of course, and I really feel for the lorry drivers trapped in the queues there. I refuse to go out and get anything 'just in case'. My kitchen is so full that you can barely move. I've been planning to hibernate between now and January anyway and stocked up accordingly. It doesn't stop me worrying about others, though. It's been a very difficult year and I hope that things get better as the days get longer.

Writing stuff - Monday's flash fiction is here. I've also been working a little on the newsletter. I need to have a post box address to put as a contact and then I need to work out how the heck I'm going to get it sent out. I'm determined to get it right, though. One of the things on my list is to treat writing as a proper job and the newsletter will be part of it. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 20 December 2020

Action Pending

I've not got much done at all today, and got sucked into some strange YouTube videos. I definitely need to work on getting started on stuff. Yesterday Liverpool won 7-0, which was wonderful, and Bill Bailey won Strictly Come Dancing, which I loved. 

The stonking great landrover with the plastic silver skulls glued on that had been parked on the corner next to our house has moved. This means that parking should once again take less than ten minutes of manouevering between the decorated landrover and the abandoned blue car, so that is a plus (as long as it doesn't come back!). And I got pics of the fabric and pattern that I shouldn't have bought yesterday.

The lovely lady even included the postage, which was completely unnecessary as she brought it to me. That's fabric, pattern, bias binding and thread. The fabric is quite silky and drapy

I hope I can work with it. If it works out, it looks like the pattern/fabric will give me a tunic style top that I can drag on over jeans, shove any necessary sweater on top and then get on with things. I am not even going to attempt to pattern match the fabric.

I don't know when I'll start making this. I may have a go in the lull between Christmas and New Year. I will probably hand sew it, as I am not over my nerves with sewing machines and mine is in desperate need of a service.

I'm thinking about things, and I realise that I have a much better success rate of getting things done if I write things down using pen and paper rather than typing. So I'm going to spend the evening with pen, paper and possibly alcohol writing things down as they come to me, and trying to work out a plan of attack for the next few days. 

The other thing I plan to do is dig out one of my notebooks and keep it next to my laptop. Any time I want to buy something, I have to write it down in the notebook first. That should help me take a moment to think whether I actually want something, and also help me to keep track of how I am spending. Besides, it will be great to be able to go back and identify where I got something from and possibly re-order from there. It may also help me to avoid places that are dreadful after bad experiences. I'll share how these things go. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 19 December 2020

A Fail

Kate Steeper - I sort of love you! You inspired me and I emptied out my freezer into a washing basket. Not only did I take the opportunity to get rid of the pack of apple and red cabbage that has been lurking there for over a year, but I found some roasted parsnips which I haven't been able to pick up in the shops. Thank you!

I think impulse control needs to go high on the list of things I need to address in the new year. Like many places, Leeds has a directory of 'Buy Local' places and it includes a fabric shop that is in the same postcode as me. Of course I looked. And of course I fell for a pattern that looked not only easy to sew but flattering to me! I didn't even go for the inexpensive fabric, but some that I liked the look of! It is so unlike me. And then the lovely lady from the shop (Fabrics for All) called me and offered to drop it off for me! And she did - which is above and beyond in this weather! I'll take a photo tomorrow as the fabric is currently in the same room as bear. Bear does not want to be disturbed as 'something something Minecraft something streaming something two thousand episodes'. I feel the same about the Strictly Come Dancing Final, so we are leaving each other alone for now.  

On the plus side, I haven't gone anywhere. I did drive three feet - I moved the car so that I could get at the boot easier. Otherwise I've been hanging out with bear, pottering with some laundry and getting a few bits of writing done. Now I am going back to Strictly!

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 18 December 2020

What Have I Forgotten?

I'm trying to remember what I've forgotten for Christmas. I'm sure that there's something. I went to the shops again and picked up some bits and came away with a load of stuff forgotten! I seem to be calling into shops a lot for bits like fresh fruit and veg and bread. I'm going to try and limit my visits after Christmas. 

The trouble is, I pass so many shops to and from school drop off. And I keep forgetting to write things on the shopping list. However I do not plan on going anywhere near the shops over the weekend and I have two deliveries coming on Monday so I can do one final dash on Tuesday or Wednesday for the last minute stuff. Then I'm at home again until 28th when I need to get further stuff for bear's birthday tea. Apart from anything else, I'm using so much hand sanitiser that I'm stripping the oils from the skin on my hands and they are a complete wreck and it serves me right. It's all very well me being meticulous about masks and washing my hands - I shouldn't be going in more than I need to. 

It's been a while since I did an online shop with Tesco. I have been whittling down the favourites list. It was at 12 pages, full of one-off buys and impulse purchases. It was at 12 pages and it's now down to 6, but I may reduce it a little further.

The whole business of the shopping has made me think about New Year's Resolutions. I fail at any sort of resolutions. I was doing really well as I started the cleaning routine but then I talked about it and stuff happened and I stopped. I need to plan the shopping more efficiently. And I should be taking better care of my health. Of course there is a huge list of stuff that is actually quite urgent that I haven't got around to as well and I forget or get distracted and now I'm wondering where to start. 

So that's my work for the weekend - planning my resolutions and including ways to keep them. I'll share as I go, because hopefully that will keep me honest. And I hope it will be of interest and an encouragement out there to know that someone else has a struggle. Please send good vibes for this as I have the attention span of a concussed kitten and I need all the help I can get. 

Writing Stuff - something else to cover at the weekend is a book by Katie Salidas, highly recommended by my publishers, called Write and Edit the Damn Book which I shall read very carefully.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 17 December 2020

I Avoided the Motorway

Libby - heck yeah! Great win for Liverpool and top of the table hopefully for Christmas!

Fiftr - I rang Delifresh yesterday about the order I have coming on Monday and they were really sweet and patient with me, especially as I was totally wrong about it. I've been really happy with my stuff from there, so I hope I haven't led you astray. I have given up pretty much on Morrisons apart from instore stuff. As for the lights, I was so bewildered at this point, I don't think I checked the price of the lights - I must be more under the weather than I thought!

I dropped bear off, picked up a few bits in Tesco and then considered my options. It was a half day for bear at school, so I would have to take half an hour to get home, which would take me to around 10am, then I would have to leave relatively early to get to pick up at 12.30pm because, in my experience, the roads are jammed on the last day of term, especially if it's a half day. It was hardly worth going home. So instead I drove along to a spot and turned right instead of left for the first time. I ended up driving around the edges of Wakefield, passing a few spots twice, and generally enjoying myself. A few times I passed turn offs to the M1 and I was a little tempted, but at one roundabout the exit to the motorway was actually gridlocked. The slip road and the approach lane on the roundabout were just queuing traffic. 

Then I brought bear home, stopping off at a farm shop for some veg for soup for dinner (which was awesome) and bear's favourite ice cream.

I'm still feeling v poorly. Lots of aches and pains. I think I will catch up with some more knitting and head for an early night.

Hugs and good health to all

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Grumbling Along

I am definitely feeling under the weather. I think I got chilled waiting for bear this afternoon and now I feel extremely achy. I think I'll be fine after an early night.

It will only be a relatively early night. Liverpool are playing tonight and it's on Amazon Prime. This is a great opportunity to put in some knitting time. The only problem I have is that I get distracted while watching a good football match and I end up with unintended holes.

By the way, I'm doing a two row pattern shawl with the shawl in the ball yarn that I couldn't resist starting on. Once you get over about thirty stitches on the needles, and I have quite a bit more than that now, I lose track about which row I'm on as it's all knit but with strategic yarnovers every other row. As it's quite fluffy with oversized needles, it's hard to tell without looking closely. I've put a 5p coin on my desk now and I turn it over at the end of every row. If tails are showing, I need to do the yarnovers. I don't know if this idea will help anyone else. 

Bear has lost his Very Important Lanyard he needs for school. He only has a half day tomorrow left, so we can scrape through that and then take the house apart over the holidays. He also has a lot of homework to do, and is horrified to have a shortened summer holiday this year. I think that the teachers must be on their knees by now and I hope that they are taking their vitamins.

Hugs and good health to all.

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Kathleen B - it's funny isn't it? Looking back, a lot of my grandmother's friends seemed to 'manage' their menfolk. I remember a story from DH's family. His uncle sat down to a bowl of soup and tucked in. He really enjoyed it and asked his wife what flavour it was. She told him it was oxtail. He was very upset as he told her that she knew he didn't like oxtail. 

It's been another quiet day. Bear didn't bother with the Christmas jumper, and that seems to have been fine. I've pootled around, did a tip run, and made bear some couscous for dinner while he went and had a haircut. Then I made pasta for DH and I. Bear had Christmas dinner at school, which he said was pretty good. 

Tomorrow I start getting out the Christmas goodies. It looks like it's a great time to settle in. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Monday 14 December 2020

Monday Has Happened

It's been wonderfully dull. I managed a small walk today after dropping bear off, but I'm still feeling poorly. Bear is also under the weather so nothing much has got done today.

This evening I was telling him about family again. I was telling him about my grandfather's little ways with food. He would only eat roast meat cold. My grandmother would have to roast a joint of meat and then wait to slice it later on. To be fair, a roast goes a lot further and slices thinner when it's cold, but I ate a lot of thin, ragged, grey meat when I visited them. If it was a casserole or stew, grandfather would insist that there was onion flavour in it, but refused to eat onion. My grandmother solved that problem by putting in an onion whole and letting my uncle eat it in his portion. Roast meat was eaten with frozen mixed veg (so he got a variety but never needed to make a decision between them) and plain boiled potatoes. I'm not sure that bear believed me. 

Writing stuff - a very short story here

Hugs and good health to all.

Sunday 13 December 2020


Sharon - bear has heard all about the Christmas dinners and thinks it's hilarious. That's the good thing about our family - we keep the stories going. I hope you have a wonderful day.

Fifitr - I will not forget that image in a hurry! Your poor parents wrestling with a giant turkey! My mother was also very particular and wouldn't keep cooked more than three days. This meant that we all had a large portion on Christmas Day (especially father), stacks of sandwiches on Boxing Day and then turkey scouse on the 27th December. Scouse is a stew from Liverpool, and traditionally made from lamb, like this recipe, or beef, but mother made it with lots of disintegrating potatoes, onion, carrot and swede with as much cooked turkey as she could get away with. It was a real highlight of Christmas for me, and I looked forward to it almost as much as the stuffing. I don't know how you were placed, but our tiny freezer just about held a bag of frozen peas and a tub of icecream when we were little. We couldn't save the leftovers that way.

I've had problems with Morrisons deliveries. To be honest, if I get a Morrisons delivery now, I no longer get any meat, fish, frozen or chilled as I've had too much stuff spoiled. They do much better bread than Tesco, and you can donate to the Trussell Trust with the online shop, but they aren't reliable. I really sympathise with your problems with them, Fifitr. The current issues are that there are a lot more deliveries going out than there were this time of year, and I can't imagine what the staff turnover is like. 

As someone who thinks about shopping far too much, my suggestion is to go early and use plenty of hand sanitiser. It's generally quieter first thing, though not actually quiet in an absolute sense. Suggestions for thinking outside the box are looking into Delifresh, if they deliver to your area. They aren't the cheapest, but their stuff is good quality, and they normally supply restaurants, so you get fresh stuff. It may be worth checking out local farm shops as well, as some of them do the less usual veggies and some of those deliver. I quite envy you your venison.

We put the lights up in the living room today. I made a slight error. I was rushing around, not concentrating, and picked up some lights from Aldi. We don't normally bother with lights, but I thought it worthwhile as both of the men thought it a good idea. I picked up three boxes, thinking that would be the livingroom window, the study window and the mantelpiece in the study. I should have read the boxes. The lights that are up, which are very pretty and bright enough to read by, are 30 metres long and easily go around our small room with lights to spare. Those are bright white. The warm white lights are 38 metres and the multicoloured ones are 45 metres. I'm moving some furniture around tomorrow to make space for the other lights.

Please note - the central light is off. I'm also digging out the box with the tinsel tomorrow which also involves moving furniture. I'll share how I get on.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 12 December 2020

Quiet Saturday

Today has been lovely and quiet. I've been having a tidy around and done a little knitting and generally hung out with bear and DH. DH has set up the tv and it's been generally wonderfully calm. However one of us has knocked the old clock, which now has started thunking the hours. It's supposed to be a chime but it sounds like something has stuck. I'm not sure that the clock repairers will be open again soon, so I hope that it's just something that will settle down. 

Pic of old clock - over a hundred years old.

The only goodies that I want to get now for Christmas is fresh fruit, as I have plenty of chocs and biscuits in, along with Christmas puddings and crackers, and the necessary brandy butter etc on my Tesco order. The order comes on 21st, so I can still pop out to get things if I need to. I'm worried that I haven't much for gifts, but I'll worry about that next week. Bear in the past has had heaps of presents, but this year it's more of a small stack. He is of an age where its more money for computer games and not much else. 

I didn't get a Christmas cake made, but I may still make a fruit cake and save it for later - or just eat it fresh. We were lucky enough to get two hampers and both of them have small slabs of Christmas cake, so we won't be deprived. I've also picked up some caramalised mini apple tart things instead of mince pies for us for Christmas as none of us really take to mince pies. 

We are not having a turkey. Bear and DH don't really like the flavour, and even a small crown will be wasted on three of us. We are having steak. There'll be stuffing, roast potatoes, another stuffing, cranberry sauce, stuffing, roast parsnips and stuffing, with a few sprouts. 

I've told the story before, but it's sort of part of my Christmas. My parents divorced when I was young, but father always came for Christmas dinner. He handed over the £5 voucher that he got from work as a Christmas dinner bonus (worth a lot more in the 1970s) to mother who bought the trimmings, but father provided the turkey. His cousins were farmers and they had, among other things, turkeys. As a point of pride, they couldn't let father have a little turkey, no matter how much mother begged, so every year he turned up with a monster. The biggest was 23lbs! My mother would have to get up at stupid o'clock just to get the dratted thing cooked, and as she didn't have a freezer, half of it would go to waste. My mother grumbled every year as she took out all the oven shelves and lined the bottom of the oven with foil as she crammed the monster into her (thankfully electric) oven.

It didn't help that father promised every year that he would be there by 10pm at the absolute latest, then would get caught up in a lock in at a pub (drinking after hours) and roll up at daft o'clock in the morning and my mother had to wait up to let him in. This did not improve her mood, especially when he recovered enough from his hangover to try and 'help' in the kitchen. 

The tension would carry on during dinner. Mother believed that you got lovely food in for Christmas but you didn't put more than a reasonable portion on your plate. There was plenty, but not silly amounts. Father thought that if you could see the slightest sliver of plate, you were doing it wrong. He would have three times his normal portion, at least. So mother, my brothers and I would sit with generous but reasonable portions and father would be behind a sort of mound that was leaking gravy onto the tablecloth. He would slope off around about teatime and we would be having turkey leftovers for days. 

And this is one reason why I am happy that we are having steak.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 11 December 2020

The End of Another Week

Jean - I was seriously considering that! Or tacking tinsel on it. The trouble is, it's not a very crafty school and fourteen year olds can be sooooo cutting. Fortunately I found the t-shirt I got in last year's panic which I deliberately bought too big and which now fits him. I hate the whole Christmas sweater pressure. If it's your thing then I think you should wear them proudly as often as you can. If, like me, DH and bear, it isn't, it's horrible to have to buy a sweater that you wear once per year under orders.

Sharon - the school did say that if you couldn't get a sweater then just non-uniform, but it can be hard on a teenager if they're the only one without the dratted Christmas sweater.

I meant to pick up hooks for the Christmas decorations yesterday but forgot so I dived out this evening. It was very odd. Once I got more than five minutes away from the house it started to get very misty indeed and on the way back it was worse. Around a mile or so from our house it was 'visibility of 100 metres or less' type mist, but a few hundred yards nearer our home and it was clear! Does anyone know if this means it was low cloud? Our house is in a valley and comparatively low level, but once you get towards Tesco at Batley, it's a little higher up. I was under the impression that mist and fog came up from the ground, which is why you sometimes saw patches of mist hanging around in hollows. 

I think I'm set up for Christmas. If not, we'll just manage. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Thursday 10 December 2020

Hospital Check Up

Bear had a face to face hospital appointment today. We took a taxi there and back after last time when the parking was horrific. The taxi there was fine, but the one home had me on the edge of my seat. I could see so many near misses - I was extremely glad to hit land when we got home.

The appointment went well and hopefully things are on the up. I was so proud of bear. When we went to one side with the physio, she commented about how well bear had dealt with being faced with three strangers, all of them with clipboards. I hadn't thought anything of it as it is normal behaviour to me. He was calm, clear and sensible and kept things to the point. Looking back, he had poise and assurance. And he isn't fourteen yet! 

Then I went out to do a shop. I did two rounds - one with heavy bottles and then a second one with frozen stuff. I couldn't find a Christmas sweater for bear, though. I wish the school had just stuck to a non uniform day. I've no idea where I'm going to get one now.

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Something Worked Out

 I was supposed to wait until I had a text from the pharmacy about bear's prescription, but I gave a quick call just in case - and the tablets had just come in! I belted out of the house and picked up the prescription, but felt quite poorly again and was glad to get home.

It's been a nothing sort of day, apart from that, but I managed to get some flash fiction posted on my writing blog. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Tuesday 8 December 2020

I Have Issues

Bear has had a prescription changed. It's not drastic or life threatening, but I have been faffing around since Thursday trying to sort it out and we still don't have it. He is okay with the current prescription, but it would be better with the new one and I'm very frustrated. After dashing across to the GP at 7.30am and then driving over to Tesco where the pharmacy is, I was fed up to find that it was a special order type thing which they had to wait for. 

I was suddenly taken feeling very poorly. And this is where the problem comes in. I'm not good at feeling pain. It takes me time to work out if something is hurting and sometimes I just feel sick. I really felt ill in Tesco. I wasn't sure that I would make it back to the car. I grabbed some stuff for bear, drove back through the easiest route and stumbled in, past bear who was 'at school' at home and went to bed. 

Today's interesting dreams including getting accidentally elected as Senator for Colarado. I haven't left the UK since 1984, so I have no idea where that came from. The highlight of that dream was trying to break the news to poor DH.

I currently can tell that something's not right, but I have no idea what, so I'm crawling off to be.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 7 December 2020

Another Week

 Thank you for all the good wishes. 

Peggy - alcohol has sorted of caused a problem with the blazer already. A while ago, a pen leaked in bear's pocket, which got ink everywhere and then dried up. Unfortunately bear keeps his mini bottle of hand sanitiser, which is high in alcohol, in that pocket and when the drips run into the pocket, the ink runs again. This is why bear's school shirts are gradually acquiring a grey patch on that side. I've given up. The mark is hidden by the blazer, so I now just wash, iron and ignore. 

Alcohol is supposed to be a great solvent and I've seen it recommended in quite a few cleaning hints. I'll remember spraying a jacket with vodka as there are always bits that need cleaning where the usual stuff doesn't work. Mrs Beeton recommends gin and a silk handkerchief for cleaning mirrors. I may experiment with sanitiser. There's gallons of it in the shops these days. I had a quick look at Tesco. Their least expensive vodka is £13.93 per litre at time of typing (£9.75 per bottle) while there is an offer on 500ml of sanitiser that comes out at £4 per litre with 70% alcohol (£1.99 per bottle), which is almost double the alcohol content of the vodka (but it is not suitable for drinking, seriously, don't drink it, do not drink it. Do not even consider drinking). The regular sanitiser with decent reviews comes out at £13.00 per litre. 

Thinking about it, I may have some rubbing alcohol somewhere, as I used it to make reed diffusers at one time (didn't really get into it). I may try that on his shirts. It's not too expensive from Amazon, who must be bewildered by my search history. 

This weekend was sort of medium. I cleared out the fridge and had a small rummage in the freezer. I had a go at the brussel sprout soup with the sprouts from last year. I simmered sprouts, onion, spices, stock, and garlic before blending. It was absolutely foul. I had to open a window and put a bowl of vinegar out to get rid of the smell. I got quite a bit of cleaning done, though not as much as I wanted. 

I took a load of stuff to the tip today. I had the slot booked at 10.45am and then went on to Tesco as I had planned to pick up a few bits. I took one look at the packed car park, dropped off some clothes and books at the Salvation Army donation point and drove straight home.

Unfortunately I ended up going back to Tesco later on due to a mix up with bear's prescription, which still needs sorting out. But it was still pretty busy and I needed to get home for dinner, so I grabbed a ready meal for bear, a soup for DH and came back. At least it's driving practice.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 4 December 2020

I Do Not Approve

There was snow!

Bear was still struggling with his ankle so didn't go into school. He still worked, though. Yesterday he got a 'positive' for participation - from our sofa! I nipped out, planning on calling in on Aldi and Tesco in Batley for some lunch stuff - and the rain had lumps in! By the time I had driven for five minutes, it was actual snow as I was now higher. I thought about carrying on. It would be perfect for me to get some confidence as there wasn't anyone else in the car so I wouldn't get distracted, and it wasn't settling so that the car was still holding the road but I could get used to the way the visibility was affected. I didn't. I turned around and went to the rather inadequate Aldi near us.

Mind you, that had it's benefits, I suppose. I watched as they tried to evict someone who was apparently camping in the public toilet. It was the entertainment of the day. 

I've got some stuff planned over the weekend, so I'll be back on Monday. Here are the plans and I will let you know exactly how much I managed to get done. I need to go to Tesco to pick up some lunch stuff and top up generally, and possibly to Morrisons. Then I need to clear through the freezer and have a sort out. I'm on the fence about throwing out the brussel sprouts I bought for last Christmas. They've been in the freezer so won't be full of mold, but they won't be full of flavour either. I may play with a few soups. I also need to empty the fridge, give it a good clean out, and either use or lose those half jars of pickles and sauces that are lurking there. I want to give the living room a good clean and get it ready for decorating the weekend after. 

I also want to go through and thoroughly clean all the jars as next week I will have up to four hours extra every day without the school run. Bear will be learning from home, which has it's advantages and disadvantages. I plan to belatedly make the Christmas Cake, and some pickles and chutneys. I will be nipping out for shopping, as well, so I won't necessarily have all that time. I want to get bear's blazer dry cleaned as well. I missed it over the summer as dry cleaners were shut and it was all very stressful. 

How much I'll manage, I don't know. But I admit it, I started the shawl that I meant to leave till later. It was a willpower fail. 

It's all been very quiet on the neighbour front. Long may that continue.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 3 December 2020

No Snow Yet

Hazel - it's a private, not very nice landlord and the kitchen was taken out of spite. Quite a few years back, before bear was born, someone a few doors down moved out and took the copper piping with them. Landlord replaced it with rubber hosing, apparently. Please understand - I miss most of the drama on the street because I don't really get involved and don't really gossip, so goodness only knows what else has gone on. I just share the edited highlights. Anyway, dust continues and I'm getting very chesty with it.

Sharon - Ipswich sounds awesome, though it was a fairly fearsome matriarch that came from there, if I understand it correctly. It's my brother that gets sucked in and he has a lot of fun. We have connections in Brittany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Apparently there is also someone genetically connected in the Netherlands. My great grandfather was a sea captain who sailed into the Baltic and Hamburg a lot (lots of men in my family went to sea, possibly to escape their female relations), which may explain that. Rotterdam was definitely on his route.

Bear's ankle continues sore, but I suspect that it is on the mend, although not brilliant. He's off school all next week as his year is on the roster to be taught at home. Apparently staff and pupils are having to isolate in large numbers, and bear was talking about maybe a quarter of his class being in. That will give his ankle a chance.

I'm trying to resist temptation. I have a gazillion and four knitting projects on the go. However I found a ball of 'shawl in a ball' yarn in feng shui grey that I had got inexpensively from an eBay auction, and I absentmindedly went looking for a pattern as I looked inside the ball band and there wasn't one there. I've found an easy pattern, I have needles that are slightly too large, which would work for me, and I'm trying to finish off the second hat before I start this. Fortunately for my lack of will power, the stitchmarker I need is in the car. I'll let you know if I stay strong. 

Now I have to write a note for school to explain that yes, bear is prescribed codeine and that he'll need it to get through the day. The school require me to explain that he needs more than paracetamol or ibuprofen and possibly why. And I really need to avoid sarcasm while I explain it. 

(I've just checked the washing instructions on the website for the yarn and they say that it is possible to wash items made from this yarn in a machine designed for this purpose. Is that a machine designed for washing clothes or a machine designed for washing items made from Lionbrand 'Shawl in a Ball' yarn? I suppose it sounds nicer than 'machine wash, dry flat' but it sounds a little odd).

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 2 December 2020

No Idea

Today seems to have been very long. It started with a call with bear's occupational therapist, who worried me sick about bear's ankle before coming to the conclusion that it's probably fine if rested, and has just ended with a call with my awesome brother, which included some information about our family tree. I keep seeing segments about how population didn't move much before the railroads. Our lot did. They seem to have got everywhere! Lots of them seemed to have hung around Dorset and Devon (where a Cornishman married a Breton at the time of the Napoleonic wars - no idea how that happened) but they also seemed to have spread from Ipswich to Derbyshire. We agreed that it was probably trying to get away from their inlaws or family. My mother and I were not on good terms at all, which meant that distance was a necessity. On the other hand, she doted on DH. My mother's mother doted on father, but I think that if you go back a generation or two there were some truly horrific mother-in-laws. From what my brother can gather from his research, none of them particularly cared what the neighbours thought. 

Sharon - thank you! The neighbours currently at the front are absolutely amazing. They are real sweeties. And I have such good memories of some of the neighbours that have lived here. And some seriously good stories from some of the others. I haven't heard much from the back but there seems to be a lot of dust in the air and I heard what sounded like hacksaws on pipes. One of the tenants from a few years back put in a new kitchen, and took it with them when they left! I don't think the plumbing has been the same since. I wonder if they have had to alter something.

I went out today anyway, even though bear was at home, as I called in at Boots to pick up something to support bear's ankle. Today was the first day of the easing of lockdown, even though we are in Tier 3. This meant that when I got to the 'easy to park at' Boots near IKEA, the carpark was jammed at around 10am! Boots wasn't busy, though, so I found what I needed easily enough. Then I called into Tesco for all the stuff I forgot yesterday.

Even with the announcement of the start of vaccinations, it feels like normal life is a long way off. I'll be glad when things finally settle down a little. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Tuesday 1 December 2020

Could be Worse

Pam - I'd rather write about vampires lol!

Hazel - We've done the sensible thing and made sure that keys are in the locks, that the stairs are clear (they usually are - I've fallen on them too many times!) and made sure that the smoke alarms are working. I don't think that they knew I was there. There was only me at home, and I don't make much noise. But we've had a lot of issues with the various tenants at the back, so I'll just wait and see. There have been times when what the neighbours were doing was the best entertainment out there. 

Bear has twisted his ankle. It's not swollen or discoloured, but it's not weight bearing after a few steps. As a silver lining, all of his lessons are online (except for double PE, which meant he had a double period playing on his computer) and he got plenty of schoolwork done. It's still bad, so it looks like he may be off tomorrow, but he needs to go in on Thursday for something something something drama something. The Thursday weather forecast is mentioning snow. I've never driven in snow, apart from a few flakes last Christmas. I am a little concerned, but if it happens, I'll take it steady and I know a lot of different routes now so I will have some options. I am also a little reassured that if the snow is very bad, there is a good chance that bear can do lessons from home. 

I still had to go out. I had booked a tip run, secure in the belief that I could drop off some rubbish on the way to pick up bear. Instead I picked up some groceries and dropped some books off for the charity book shelf but I forgot a load of things so I will be braving the crowds tomorrow. 

I'll be honest and say that I'm still feeling a little tense. Of course, I'm distracted running around after bear and poor DH has a bad back now, so I'm not dwelling so much. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 30 November 2020

Not a Good Weekend

DH and bear went off and had a lovely weekend (and they deserved it!) so I thought I would sit back and enjoy myself. For once I had YouTube going in the background without wearing headphones. 

This meant that I could hear what the people in the house attached to our back wall were screaming. I'm no stranger to drama with the neighbours, but this was a little more intense. It was a woman screaming at someone who had tried to set their bathroom on fire. And apparently, listening to her side of the conversation, it's a bad habit of whoever she was screaming at which got them into trouble in their last house. She kept trying to get their lighter from them.

In the years I've lived here, I've seen a lot of drama. I've seen some cracking arguments (I've stayed mainly out of it), some serious drunken monologues, and some X-rated shennanigans that I really wish I could forget. There has been all sorts of fun drama, like when a kid stole their stepfather's uninsured car, reversed it at speed and demolished our front wall from one side of the house to the other (over two car lengths) and wrote off the wrought iron gate (and the uninsured, not paid for, almost new car). I've called the police on a few fights and a domestic violence situation. There was the couple a few years ago who were convicted of child abuse, there's been an alleged drug dealer (who was always perfectly pleasant to me) and there was a serious assault with a knife three doors down which we missed because we kept our curtains shut at night. An arsonist is a new one.

I'm feeling a little stressed by it all. I have actually smelled burning in the past but put it down to incense/candles/imagination. I wish I felt more confident. Mind you, they were also yelling about hating the house and wanting to move. I would be happy to wish them bon voyage. The previous tenants were the reason we got CCTV. The best neighbours we had in that house was a marijuana farm that was only discovered when there was a water leak. I know that, whatever you think of weed, the organised crime gets caught up with things like people trafficking, extortion, violence and counterfeit goods, and it's not a good thing, but it was lovely and quiet. 

I have to tell the truth and say that the current neighbours on our side of the block are absolutely lovely and not a problem at all. I want them all to stay neighbours forever. And there have been some amazing neighbours in the past, like lovely Mr Next Door who held down evil cat when the vet visited as he had welding gloves (which were completely needed) and fed her when we were on holiday. I have some wonderful memories of some of the neighbours - including the neighbours who used to carry a sofa from one house at the back to another at the front and back again on a regular basis. I used to glance out the window and see it go past again. They did that with a washing machine as well. I remained baffled but entertained.

So I am a little stressed. However bear came home with an interest in guacamole and salsa (I can't make either) and was happy to tuck into a bowl of couscous with chopped tomatoes, onion and coriander, so that was a win. Normally he won't eat when he gets home, but I'm hoping a few fresh-tasting, smaller bowls like that will give him a good nutritional boost before bedtime. Now is the time for me to come to terms with avocadoes. 

I normally post flash fiction on Mondays, but I haven't really managed anything, what with one thing and another. I'll have a go later in the week.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 27 November 2020

Not Exactly Unexpected

Bear has been very keen to make pickles and jams. He has been researching recipes and planning weekends. Unfortunately he has decided that the chutney he made doesn't agree with him, so he isn't making any more, nor is he making the pickles for which I got the pickling onions and pickling spice. I suppose all the empty jars I have been saving will now go to waste (well, recycling).

I may well make some stuff and see how bear and DH take to it over Christmas. 

I won't be doing it this weekend, though. DH and bear are away so I plan to spend the weekend either drunk or asleep. I will catch up on Monday, hangover permitting.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 26 November 2020

New Door

We finally got the front door and porch door replaced. Both were showing signs of wear. The lovely man who installed them had to use a crowbar on the porch door - the door between the porch and the living room. The frame had been there since the house was built, and it was comfy where it was. I took some pics (was impressed I remembered)

There is now a lot more light and a lot less draught. 

I spent the day on the computer nearby, freezing from the huge gaping hole where the doors had been, getting a headache from the fumes and unable to concentrate on account of how loud his radio was playing (I didn't begrudge him, though).

Now I am crawling off to bed, as I am somewhat shattered. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 25 November 2020

A Month

I don't know what to get bear for Christmas and his birthday. I wish that they weren't so ridiculously close. Normally I commit heavily to the Book People, but they have closed down. I have just spent a ridiculous amount at The Works online (via Topcashback), and I hope that I have something sensible. I have no idea what bear would enjoy reading, and apparently neither does bear. If he did have an idea, he didn't share it with me. I feel very out of touch. So bear has a selection of classics like The Lost World, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea ordered for him. He has different taste to me. He loved 1984 and Animal Farm, which I found incredibly depressing. All I can do is my best guess. He is getting a few bits and some money. He's nearly fourteen now. I can't get away with a selection of fancy pencil sharpeners wrapped separately. On the other hand, he's now old enough for a Lynx gift set in the stocking so that is something.

With Christmas now a month away, I've been having an internet rummage. I've ordered a large quantity of stuff from Wholefoods online and Justingredients, and I'm looking at getting some fruit and veg boxes cued up for the festive season. The thing is, we don't want much. However I may have to isolate at any point - I could get ill! So I need to get things sorted out early.

To be honest, I already have some goodies stashed, so I may try and stock up on frozen food next week and then it will just be any fresh stuff. 

And I know that I am really lucky. I know that lots of people will struggle over Christmas. Our family can afford food, heating and presents, and I am very, very grateful. Remembering this puts my whining into perspective.

Hugs and good vibes to all.

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Quiet Day

 Fifitr - If you want deep purple, then purple carrots are the way to go, and the colour runs so everything goes cadbury coloured.

As for homework, well, I may be making it sound easier than it has been. Primary school set regular homework. This led to regular arguments and occasional warfare between him and I as he wrestled with writing two paragraphs about a pet or learning spellings. There were times that it was very tense indeed. I always tried to be supportive and helpful but refused to do two things - do the homework for him or make excuses to the teacher for him. A few times, when we were both at the very end of our resources, I was very helpful indeed, and I may have dictated one or two pieces, but on the whole, homework was on him, along with bribery, despair and hissy fits. I don't really approve of homework for primary school kids, but it was a helpful training ground.

When bear got to secondary school, the homework was definitely all on him and I couldn't help him much at all. I made sure that he had his desk and computer set up and a supply of pencil sharpeners (I bought a pack of fifteen in September and I think we have most of them left, which is a miracle in itself as they seem to evaporate in this house) and let him get on. I was blunt. If he got into trouble for not doing his homework, that was his problem and I would enforce detentions and raise Cain if he got into that much trouble. So while there have been scenes fit for the more intense late night dramas over homework, he now more or less gets on with it. There is still the occasional fit, or even quite regular fits as they have a lot of homework, but I nod, smile and let him get on with it, occasionally providing peppermint tea or toast as required. This means that I am sometimes waiting in the car for him to finish the dratted thing in the morning, but it's done, and I haven't had to sign off on a detention.

The one exception to that was a homework that I swear was set for the parents - build a motte and bailey over the Christmas holidays a few years ago. I found the post here

I did an awful lot of that, though bear approved. He wouldn't mind doing something like this again. I would. Besides, we got the gate house wrong. The towers should have been square. By the way, I am especially proud of my suggestion for the water in the moat - we painted bubble wrap blue.

I think that they have too much homework, to be honest, and it includes stuff like 'draw a satirical historical cartoon about Turkey 1923'. 

I had a short walk followed by a largish shop this morning. I'm trying to get as much of the Christmas goodies in now before the shops get too busy. 

Writing stuff - another review. It's perhaps not brilliant but it does describe the book as intriguing. I may have put too much housewifery into it, but I have a weakness for old cookbooks and it found me out. I'm just happy for the review!

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 23 November 2020

Forgetting the Photo

 Bless - I forgot the photo! Today I had bright yellow soup for dinner as I cooked parsnip, carrot, onion and red lentils with garlic and spices and blended - and I rather overdid the tumeric. It was vivid!

Sarah and Elaine - thank you for the suggestions. I'll chase them up with bear. Sarah - authors have to stick together! Glad to share the good stuff.

I was going to call in on Tesco today, but I decided against it as there wasn't anything that I actually wanted that much. I called in at the farm shop and picked up the veggies that I had for soup. They had some nice looking cabbages there as well, so I shall have to think of some good recipes for that. 

It was cold this morning. There was a lot of dew and some hints of frost. It's cuddling in blankets weather. Fortunately, I have a blanket obsession so we have plenty of those. I think this week is a good time to get into Hygge. 

Writing stuff - a little flash fiction here

Hugs and good vibes to all. 

Sunday 22 November 2020

Food with Colour

 Fifitr - that may be a useful idea, especially when he's off on the school at home thing. I'm in West Yorkshire. Leeds is a hotspot. Bear's school is in Kirklees, which isn't as bad but not brilliant.

Today has been pleasantly quiet. I made a casserole for dinner. I used up the purple potatoes, a jar of the roast peppers (I'm going to miss them when they run out) some 'red' onions left over from bear's chutney experiments and I added some olives. Before I added the chicken (with stock cube, hot water, mixed herbs and garlic powder) it looked like this.

Which is enough to brighten any Sunday afternoon. I should have served it with bright green frozen peas, but couldn't be bothered. It tasted really great and dished up like this.

It looks like purple potatoes are more colour fast than purple carrots. DH dished all the meat, but there was a load of veggies left over, which means my lunch tomorrow is sorted out.

I've finished one of the bobble hats and started the other. I haven't attached the bobble yet as I'm building up my courage. If I manage it tomorrow, I'll share a photo. It came out okay, I suppose. 

I haven't had the courage to ask bear about his homework all weekend. At least I've remembered to sign his planner. Apparently I'm supposed to check but even the bits of his writing that I can actually read don't make sense, I just put my name down and hope.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 21 November 2020

Floral Saturday

Fifitr - they are getting a provisional timetable, so I will probably talk about it with bear. We have already agreed to discuss some English stuff. He is not sure what they want, although he seems to be okay with the texts (poor lad has the Tempest, which I had at A level and loathed). Tomorrow we are going to throw some ideas about and I can see whether to tentatively broach talking to the teacher. I'll be around for him, and see what I can do to help. He's pretty good at telling me what he's doing. I just struggle to keep up. 

As you may know, I have Tesco Clubcard Plus, which costs £7.99 per month (£95.88 per year). This means that I get 10% off two shops per month plus 10% off certain Tesco own brand stuff, like their fancier homewares and their clothing but not electricals. According to the email, not only had I saved £104 on the big shops but I also had a coupon for a £3 bunch of flowers. I don't think that includes their Clubcard prices (which I think is a lot of marketing but worth taking advantage of if you are going to buy the stuff anyway) and the extra 10% on various bits. I think that I would have saved more if it hadn't been for all the lockdown stuff. I picked up these flowers, shown in front of the dratted boiler (which is currently behaving)

I think I need to get a little more strategic about the Clubcard. I need to be careful not to buy something I wouldn't get anyway. I also have the Lidl thingy which I haven't taken advantage of and around £15 in Morrisons vouchers on their More card. I need to make sure that these things work for me. I'll share any discoveries.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 20 November 2020

Bear and School and Strange Time

Bear's school has been doing its best over the last few months. It is fighting against the flood. The area has been pretty badly hit by Covid and bear told me that eight of his classmates, out of around 30, were home isolating this week. He doesn't think that many teachers have been affected, but who knows? 

The school is in Kirklees, and there is a large Muslim population. It's similar to Bradford, and there is an article on the BBC here about the issues of multigenerational households. It refers to Muslim households, where three generations routinely live together, but it isn't confined to Muslims. Father lived with us for a few years and it was awesome and completely entertaining. Mind you, having father live with us was a positive experience, but if my mother had moved in I think that there would have been a murder within the month. I wouldn't recommend it as a general suggestion but on a case by case basis. What the article says is that the kids pick up Covid at school and, while not having symptoms or having mild symptoms themselves, pass it on to their grandparents, who are affected far more severely and sometimes tragically. 

To try and space things out, the school are having the younger three years, the ones furthest away from GCSEs, rotate having a week learning at home. So during the week beginning 7 December, bear will be learning from home for a week, before going back as normal the following week when a different year group will be off. It looks like for the time being it will be two weeks in and one week at home. They are insistent that pupils follow a proper timetable and also that they wear clothing appropriate for a non-uniform day - they aren't insisting on school uniform, but they are not allowing pyjamas. 

I wonder if it is some sort of trial run. It doesn't look like they will be getting the same sort of education that they would in the classroom, with quite generic lessons. And what if they need help? I was utterly useless to bear with the Treaty of Lausanne, and he wouldn't even bother me with anything scientific. He said he was enjoying the algebraic equations today. I assume he said that to confuse me as that sentence made no sense whatsoever. 

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have father around for this. I remember that he had a wonderful habit of nodding, smiling, and doing what he felt like with no idea of risk whatsoever. He did bomb disposal in the 1950s. He never seemed to grasp the concept of 'perhaps it would be too risky'. That, in his opinion, happened to other people. He also had a knack of talking to people and getting to know them and making them like him. I know that if he was still here at the beginning of the crisis, we would not have been able to move for toilet paper because he would know someone. He always knew someone.

The boiler is more or less okay now. I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 19 November 2020

Boiler Troubles

 Our boiler is getting elderly, and so I'm trying to keep on top of servicing, especially after the chaos from Scottish Power. Today someone came out to service the thing. Apparently it is just about legal but needs a big overhaul/replacing. I did get the impression of a mechanic who goes around kicking the tyres on a car and sucking their teeth. 

Now the dratted pressure on the dratted boiler keeps going up and we can't work out why. I did text the plumber (who, to be fair, was nice enough and pleasant) but he replied with some technical stuff and suggested that he came out for a small(ish) fee. 

And I have a banging headache. Back tomorrow, hopefully with some sort of calm.

Writing stuff - don't forget that Sarah Head's book, A Necessary Blessing, is out today. I may get to read it tomorrow in between trying to sort out the dratted boiler. 

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Failed to Save Money

Hester - I forgot about head torches! I have bought two. The first one was taken by bear and somewhere known only to him. The second one I hid so that bear couldn't get his paws on it, but I hid it so well that I can't find it! I shall have to have a good rummage.

Sharon - I'm making the most of the quiet times. 

And I also had a comment posted (which I haven't published) on a post from October 2018. I posted that I had failed my driving test. The comment was advertising driving instructors in Australia. They may need to refine their publicity style.

Today was not entirely a good day. I was a frazzled mess by the time I dropped bear off. First of all he was still faffing around with his homework, and was stressing over it and refusing breakfast. Then he was stressing in the drive to school because he was worried that he would be late. At least I only picked up the bread that I wanted and nothing else - that was a win!

Then I managed a little writing before loading up the car and heading off to the tip. The slot I got was too late to return home afterwards but too early to be sensible to go to pick up bear. So I planned to go to a car wash and then pick up the TV. The car wash was closed, of course, due to the latest lockdown. If I had any functional braincells then I would have realised. Then when I tried to use my vouchers at the till for the TV, it wouldn't accept a load of them. I only saved £63. I ended up getting it anyway, but I should have been able to cover it all with coupons and vouchers. I plan to call customer service on Friday to work out what happened (busy tomorrow). 

I ended up in Morrisons car park to wait for bear around an hour and a half early again. Still, I finished off the blanket and started the next one. 

I don't know if you can see the different textures on that. It was an easy knit, and has come out around 44 inches by 54 inches (112cm x 137cm) roughly. It is an Aldi yarn that knits like cotton 4ply or lightweight yarn, knitted on slightly bigger needles than called for. It is a few rows of garter stitch, then broken rib with a border of ten knit stitches at either side until I was running out of yarn and then a few more rows of garter stitch. The yarn for the new blanket is thicker, around an Aran weight, and I'm using the same 'pattern' but with fewer stitches. It's Aldi again. I couldn't resist the colours.

It will live in the car while I continue with the bobble hat in the house.

I think after all that I will have an early night.

Writing stuff - don't forget that Sarah Head's book is out tomorrow A Necessary Blessing 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Knitting by the Street Light

Bear was going to be late today. He told me that it would be some time between 4 and 4.30pm. So I trundled over quite a bit later than normal and settled down in the car park with my knitting. My normal spot, near the trees and the water, was taken, so I was near the car park lights and a trolley shelter. This was a good thing.

It gets dark earlier now and it was quite overcast so there wasn't much light, but I'm at the end of the blanket so I'm just doing a garter stitch border. I can knit without looking at it much, which was just as well. I got to the car park around 3.50pm, got out my knitting and settled down. 

I'm glad to see the end of this blanket. It's in 4ply, and it's 200 plus stitches, and it seems to go on forever. It was only ever in broken rib, so not complicated, and now I'm just working garter stitch at the end until I can't face another row, when I'll cast off. As time went on, it started getting darker. I kept on with the knitting, which didn't need much attention, until around 4.45pm when it really got just too dark and I started reading a book on my phone. Bear turned up around 5.10pm. 

Fortunately I had left a carton of soup for DH which he could heat up, and bear had eaten while he was hanging around with his pals (no idea about how socially distant it was, but schools aren't brilliant anyway, so I take what I can get. I didn't get many details.) Then we hit rush hour on the way home. This could have been a lot worse, as there are so fewer cars on the road these days. 

This evening I hung out with the men, watching them play a computer game while we all chatted and joked. I carried on with the bobble hat (blanket stays in the car).

I need a light for my car to use for knitting. I don't really want to use the car light as I worry about running down the battery, and the wind up light that I have already proved useless today. But over December and January, it will be a real help. The knitting is incredibly relaxing for me, and I don't want to lose it. I shall have to do some browsing.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 16 November 2020

Stormy Weather

Fifitr - you are right! There is a lot of silver around.

I didn't go on a walk this morning. It was blowing a gale and I was worried that if I went to the park, I'd get hit by a branch. The car was rocking from the wind on the school run. It has calmed down now, but I was glad to get home and when I got to my usual spot to wait for bear, the trees were almost completely bare when they still had quite a few leaves on Friday.

I enjoy keeping an eye on the weather forecast. It doesn't make much difference, I still have to drive bear to school, but I suppose I can be prepared if it is really bad and I know to set off early or plan particular routes. I have a feeling that it's going to be a bad winter, but feelings can be wrong. It's supposed to be cold at the end of the week. I know that the classrooms have doors and windows open (the poor teachers!) and bear's school uniform is very strict, so I bought a couple of white teeshirts for him to wear under his school shirt. They are completely plain, round necked and short sleeved and hopefully invisible under the shirt, tie and blazer. 

Writing stuff - trying to shake things up a little so I'm back on the flash fiction here

Hugs and good health to all.