Tuesday 31 March 2020

Finding It Hard

Wherethejourneytakesme - leave that kitchen alone!

Sharon - we are all stranded in some way, I think.

Bless - seeing a lot of vans around

Jill - struggling to see the funny side today

A few more posts on Online Shopping Tips and Tricks have gone up. If you have any comments, I would be happy to hear them. It's not a proper blog, it's not fancy enough, but I hope there is useful info on there. I imagine it's all old news to most reading this, but I hope that the posts I've managed will help those new to online shopping.

I've also got my response to this week's writing challenge here.

I drove to Tescos today. It was odd to queue outside with a trolley, but I didn't find it stressful. I found what I wanted, which was mainly fruit and veg with some of the men's favourite flavoured water. There were some gaps on the shelves, but there were also some decent mark downs on the yellow stickered stuff. I couldn't use most of it, so left it and just got what I wanted. The staff at Tesco were being awesome. I'm sure that they had been under a lot of pressure, but the ones I dealt with were very calm.

I picked up a couple of packets of inexpensive breakfast cereal to donate to the foodbank. It seemed a very poor contribution, but I thought I could do something. However, due to the one way system of queuing, I asked one of the staff what I should do with the packets once I had paid.

They had had to move the donations bin that is usually at the entrance. What made today hard, and what I found upsetting, was that the staff were taken by surprise. The very small contribution I was making seemed like a big deal. They didn't know what to do at first, then the assistant asked around, then they found somewhere for me to hand in the seriously unimpressive contribution with such a shocked reaction.

It's just such a little thing at a difficult time and it makes me more worried than ever for those who are less fortunate. I've not been able to shake this low feeling since I got home. As feeling glum won't help anyone, I hope I will be back to normal after a good nights sleep.

Hugs and good health to all.

Monday 30 March 2020

Deluge of Disney

Bear started on his school work early on while I stayed upstairs. When I finally came down midmorning he had cut any calls with his pals and was watching Disney - all the Disney! As I mentioned, we subscribed to the Disney Plus and bear has been watching the animated films back to back. It's been something of a distraction.

I'm desperate to try and keep some structure. It helps that DH is working office hours from home, so he has fixed start, finish and lunchtimes. Today I did a little of this and that, and I'm very disatisfied with what I achieved. Tomorrow I'm going to set myself stricter targets. I'm not going to write them here. I have issues, and possibly a condition, because if I promise that I'm going to do x, then it is guaranteed that I will do anything but x - sometimes all the letters of the alphabet except x, but no x. I daren't write, 'I'm going to...' because it's almost a curse or a geas that it won't happen.

One thing I have quickly abandoned is all hope of decent meal planning. The idea was that I will check everything in the morning, make a decision on dinner and use what needs to be used up first. Between the two men, I may as well try and nail down fog. Tonight bear didn't want to eat at all, so DH and I had chili con charlie.

We had a delivery today, and practically everything was on it. It was nice to speak to someone else, as it's a driver I've chatted to for years. We're good for a while except for veg, and I'm planning a trip out for that. I'll probably be a good girl and go to Aldi and not try a new route to a farm shop I've never visited before, for the driving. I just need to work out what I need to get for around a week. Carrots never seem to keep for me, nor do parsnips, but I could make a massive batch of soup to freeze (now have some room in freezer) and I could use some potatoes.

I've resurrected the idea of a blog about online shopping. I haven't monetised it yet (thought I will), and it's in a poor state, but I'm going to post about what I know and my experiences. These are strange times and nothing is guaranteed, but I expect that more people than ever before are going to be ordering online. I plan (seriously, don't jinx it) to get a couple of articles up per day for the next few weeks, just to point people in what I believe is the right direction and the mistakes that they can hopefully avoid. Then I will get adverts and things sorted, and I may make a few pennies, but I'll get around to that.

The blog - Online Shopping Tips and Tricks - is here. You may like to look at it later, when there is more up or it's a little more polished. 

Writing stuff - this week's challenge is here, all welcome.

Hugs and good health to all.

Sunday 29 March 2020

Two Knitting Fails

I knew it was too good to last.

A few weeks ago I found myself stranded with only a circular knitting needle and next to an Aldi selling yarn and started a smaller blanket to work on while waiting for bear. It went disastrously wrong and I keep trying to remind myself to go fetch the yarn out of the car and restart after knitting around six inches of 150 stitches. Meh. And I've been trying to knit a hat for donations, but it's also gone horribly, horribly wrong. I have a lot of unravelling to do. Darn it to heck.

But I think I'm doing okay in other ways. We have hung out together today, just like other Sundays. We watched Aladdin and then just chilled together. It's all been very calm.

It's really cold, colder than half of January, and there was even a little snow this morning! I don't think my feet have been warm all day. It's definitely a good time to snuggle in. Unfortunately, it's spring, the clocks have gone forward and we should be getting more active!

Bear is a little better, which is a relief, but he is still coughing. I've been reacting, rather than pro-active, over the last few days, especially as he has been so poorly, but tomorrow we are going to work on a proper structure to our days. Last week we were told that this lockdown would last for three weeks, but I would be surprised if it doesn't go on for a good deal longer, especially with bear and school. As a household, we are in an incredibly fortunate position. We have some savings, we have food in the cupboards and a roof over our heads and the incredible luxury of the internet and space for us to spread out so we can be in different rooms while using that internet. We all have supplies for our hobbies, so things could be a lot worse. I'm feeling blessed.

Hugs and healing vibes to all.

Saturday 28 March 2020

I Finished Something!

I finished a blanket! This may look like an 'arty' shot, but it's actually just an attempt to show the three colours without spreading it out as any shot of my home would show a serious lack of housewifery. I used a free Ravelry pattern - Garter Squish by Stephen West. It's basically just garter stitch with two strands of yarn and I used mid blue, pale blue, dark blue, pale blue, mid blue in stripes with a sort of mottled grey throughout, both of them DK which I think is slightly thinner than the pattern calls for. It has a cute rolled edge which I'm not going to try and photo, and I got the yarn from Marriners Yarns. I'm not going to put a price because it is going to be a gift, but it was around 1000g of yarn and the main expense was the time, a lot of which was waiting to pick bear up from school.

I will have to post it off, but I want to wait until after I've had it dry cleaned. It should be machine washable, as it's acrylic, but it's around 180cm square, or around 6 ft and I think my washer may struggle. It's a wonderful cuddly blanket. I did one with slightly different dimensions which bear has already commandeered, and I plan to do a few more to snuggle under. I know we are heading into summer, but it doesn't feel like it.

Thank you for all the good wishes. I have a suspicion I have had the corona virus. It may just be hypochondria, but I've definitely had the symptoms. I no longer have a temperature, though, so I'm good to leave the house under the social distancing rules. I shouldn't be infectious, but I worry that I could carry the virus from bear. I'm putting off going out until I need to.

Bear is still poorly, but doing okay. I think that it's going to be tough for him, shut inside all this time. I'm working on ideas to keep him busy after he has finished his school work.

Hugs to all and wishes for good health

Friday 27 March 2020

Bugger It Soup

Thank you for all the good wishes for bear. I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't Covid-19. I'm recovering nicely from a temperature and cough, and I have no sense of taste or smell. There may have been infections for all of us, but we haven't been tested. I was considering going out today for some bits, but changed my mind. I didn't want to carry anything from bear, and we can hang on for a few days. Bear is very achy and fed up, but he's keeping himself busy. I'm treating him to a new puzzle cube to keep him distracted (when he's not doing school work). It's something something something something with magnets. Bear explained, but his explanation lacked footnotes.

Tonight we had 'Bugger It' Soup. It was supposed to be Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup, but it's funny how things turn out. I'd picked up the carrots, celery and sweet pepper at the farm shop, and they had gone off somewhat. In fact they looked like a slug would reject them. I said 'bugger it' and decided to plough on regardless. I eventually found the tin of black beans (when this disruption is over I swear I'm going to get stuff like that dried and soak them). Bear 'reorganised' my tin cupboard some time ago and I can't find a dratted thing. I had most of the stuff out on the kitchen floor before I found it.

I put the soup pan on the stove with some water and a stock cube, added the rinsed beans, some oil, three sliced sweet potatoes, some onion granules I got on a really good deal from (I think) Approved Food, some of the celery salt I got at a quarter of the RRP when Tesco got rid of a load of their spices at ridiculously wonderful prices, some curry powder (I bought 500g with my most recent Approved Food order) and some serious garlic. These were cooked hard together for twenty minutes and blended. The men loved it and have requested it as a regular. I've just run my eye over this again. I think it cost around £1.20 for three substantial portions of relatively healthy (if you don't watch your salt) soup plus another large portion (possibly two) in the fridge for tomorow. The tin of black beans was 55p and I used just under half a pack of sweet potatoes that cost 99p, the stock cube was 5p, and I don't suppose that the spices cost that much. It's nice that for once I managed something economically. I wonder how the current crisis will affect people's cookery.

Hugs and good vibes for health and safety to all.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

I Admit Nothing

Aileen - I like the idea of a delivery camel. So far we've seen threats of war, floods, fire and pestilence. If there was a sweepstake I would be putting my money on Godzilla next, and delivery camels fit in perfectly with the way this year is going!

I went out in the car for the first time in a week. Mistakes may have been made, but I admit to nothing. Red does not approve of lack of exercise. She also is a grump when it comes to short runs. She complained for around ten minutes into the drive before she was back to normal. I hoped to get a little faster on the stretches (where speed limits allow) to hopefully blow some cobwebs away, but I kept getting stuck behind (absolutely necessary) delivery trucks and while I wasn't stressed, I think Red would have liked to open up. If I wasn't worried about avoiding frivolous journeys, this would have been an ideal time to try the motorway, as the roads were practically empty.

The MOT being deferred is a relief, but I'll try and get her in for a service soon. As I'm still getting the hang of things (though infinitely better), I suspect the engine could use some TLC. She was definitely grumbling. I know that my car shouldn't be given a name, and that it's an inanimate object that has perfectly reasonable technical reasons for the engine being a little growly, but she is becoming a personality to me, and she likes a long run and she likes to get out often.

I visited a farm shop, where I picked up some awesome veg, and Tescos, which was remarkably empty. I can't justify another run for a few days, and it may be that DH needs a turn. I'm not on his insurance and I've never driven his car, but it will need a decent run at some point to keep the battery topped up.

All this wittering is a distraction because bear is poorly. He's not serious, but he has aches and pains and a fever with shortness of breath. I'm keeping a very close eye on him and fussing. He's being awesome. I'm being worried. So I'm distracting myself briefly with the car as bear and DH are hanging out then we will be watching something together on Disney again no doubt.

Hugs and good wishes for health to all.

Tuesday 24 March 2020


I'm feeling better and I should be free of the lurgy, if it was the lurgy. According to guidelines, I can go out tomorrow. I do wonder if I should. We have a lot of stuff in the house, and I could last a few days more. However I am going to be buying more because now, and for probably a few months, I will be needing more. Bear will not be having school lunches, and I will not be sending him around the corner for a sandwich. DH will not be getting his lunch from the Subway near work but be eating at home. There will be extra coffee drunk, extra toilet paper needed as a result of the coffee and as no-one will be picking up a treat to and from work or school, I need to have them in. It should in theory work out less expensive over all, even including the extra we will be spending on electric for heating and computers.

Tomorrow I plan to call into a farm shop to see what they have in the fruit and veg line, and then possibly to Tesco, where there is a bottle bank to get rid of some of the jars. I hope I'm okay driving. It feels like a long time since I started a car.

I don't think I need much, just some bits for lunches. Bear is notoriously picky and DH likes ham and cheese sandwiches and we are out of ham. I'm determined not to buy a thing I don't need (unless I walk past a really good sale on yarn, then all bets are off). I hope things are settling down.

I pre-ordered the Disney plus channel a few weeks ago. I didn't know how much of a boon it would be. We are going to hang out together tonight and watch Jungle Book. Bear hasn't seen it, and I have a wonderful memory of watching it with my grandmother when I was very tiny. As a pre-order, it cost £50 for the year, and I think we will get our money's worth in the first week. I must remember to make room in the budget next March to renew as it's not only going to be Disney plus but also my MOT and car insurance.

Writing stuff - this week's answer to the challenge is here.

Hugs to all with good vibes and hope for good health and safety.

Monday 23 March 2020

We Are Now Into Lockdown

Thank you for the support about the troll comment. I think it has been a wonderful reminder that there are more good people than bad, and that we can all continue to be kind to each other. Thank you.

Today has happened. The government has set out rules for when we can leave the house. It could be a lot worse. We can leave for food, medicine or, once a day for medicine.

I have an MOT booked in a fortnight's time. I suppose that will be impossible. And the trip to the tip I was planning will have to wait. It doesn't really matter, however, if it saves lives.

Also, you can apparently still shop online, so I am confident I will still able to have complete shopping fails.

On a trivial note - this week's writing challenge is here. Come and have a go if you think it will be fun. All are welcome. You don't have to share, but you can if you wish.

Hugs to all.

Sunday 22 March 2020

Worrying Times

Today someone left a comment, which I haven't published, hoping all boomers like myself would die. They were very vehment about the whole thing and there was a lot of anger behind it. And I could make some snappy remarks (for a start, I'm not a boomer!) but it worried me for different reasons.

We are facing a desperate time. Many of us will be shut in the house for the next few months with the same old thoughts milling around for company and little opportunity to rub off any rough edges with others. Soon after we will be facing economic recession as all the dislocation hits. People always look for scapegoats.

After the Black Death in the mid fourteenth century, there was horrific persecution of the Jews. After the economic impact and dislocation caused by the discovery of the Americas and the wars of religion there were the Mass Witchcraft trials throughout Europe. The poor harvests at the end of the eighteenth century resulted in nationalism and revolution in Europe and WWI, the Spanish Flu and the Great Depression were followed by the rise of extremism and hatred.

We have the internet. This is a mixed blessing, because there are some very dark rabbit holes to fall down, but there are also wonderful, positive places and ways to keep connected. Almost everyone has a phone with chances to make calls. Relationship and social networks can sprawl across continents with wonderful friends to keep positive chat going. If there is ever a time to promote tolerance, it is now. Now is a time to remember how we can work together, and to share the good that people do.

WHO have published a note on mental health at this time and you can find it here. Lets look after ourselves and each other and try to be different this time.

Hugs to all.

Saturday 21 March 2020

My Delivery Came!

Mindo - my heart goes out to you. Sending all good vibes to your family, especially your husband. Like your DIL, my breathing is much better, and I'm considering myself on the up. However I feel totally exhausted, as if after flu.

My delivery came! I don't think I've ever been so glad to see a delivery, not even at Christmas. Most of the stuff was on there, with only a few substitutions, but I hadn't asked for loo roll or pasta, so I was hopeful. There was some meat, some veggies and some flavoured water for DH and bear. There were all the essentials. There were even a couple of pot noodles for bear, which I didn't really expect, but was incredibly grateful when I saw them.

I'm feeling sort of better. I am breathing okay (as long as I stay still!) but I am soooooo tired. DH is not well either. I'm not sure whether it's the big thing or just the stress and strain. I shall be keeping a close eye on him.

Bear is doing okay. I think he's quite enjoyed being on his own, to be honest. He's hitting the age when having his mum around all the time isn't cool. He's looking okay but he also says that he is utterly tired.

If I follow the guidelines, I should be able to leave the house next Wednesday. I think I shall be okay, as I've lost most of the cough, and I think I'm going to be hitting the normal aftermath of a virus. The first thing I'm going to do is drive to the tip as DH has had a clear out in the kitchen (he is my hero) and then I will try a farm shop for fruit and veg. We have been heading to a more plant based diet anyway, so it won't harm us.

I shall have to get back into a car soon. My instructor (who is going to be hammered by these new rules as all driving tests are off) suggested I drive every day for the next few years, so I don't forget how to drive. That may be problematic if we have a full lockdown.

It's strange who things become the new normal. Who would have thought six months ago that we would have been so obsessed with where we can get toilet paper? Now it is almost assumed. I can't believe I am worrying about being able to buy things that were on offer last month.

So many people are affected in so many ways, from being overworked to being laid off to having health seriously threatened. Sending all good vibes to everyone who reads this, with all wishes for good health and good luck.

Hugs to all.

Friday 20 March 2020

What a Week!

Every time I check the news, something new has happened.

Witch Hazel - I shall definitely suggest that to bear. However as he now has a webcam and almost unlimited time to connect with his pals, I'm not sure how that is going to go.

I have a delivery tomorrow. I hope it turns up. I've not got too much on it, but I could really do with some fresh stuff, and we can't go out. I'll be glad when it all settles down.

Sending huge swathes of good vibes to any and all who read this, wishing you luck and health.

Hugs to all.

Edited to add - today radio stations in 30 countries played 'You'll Never Walk Alone' at the same time this morning, as a way of showing solidarity. Lets try and hang together on this.

Thursday 19 March 2020

I Have Felt Better

I definitely do not feel well, but it could be worse. As long as I don't move around too much, I'm okay.

Poor bear has been stuck in front of his computer all day, all alone with DH working and me staying isolated in my room. It isn't actually that much of a hardship for him, but from Monday he will have to complete his classes remotely. He is less than impressed.

I have come to the conclusion, no matter how long I hang in here, I'm still not going to get to the end of my yarn stash. Also, because I've previously clicked on a Deramores ad, I keep seeing more Deramores ads. And because I clicked on a pretty shawl pattern that I didn't realise was crochet, I keep getting crochet pattern ads. I can't crochet. All I can do is get more and more frustrated at these gorgeous patterns showing up that I'm completely incapable of doing.

I suspect I'm making less sense than normal, but bear is doing okay, DH is being a hero and I'm going back to my editing.

Hugs to all

Wednesday 18 March 2020


I have a cough and a fever. I am now self isolating, and bear and DH with me, though currently they show no symptoms.


I don't feel well, but I know I'll be fine in the end. I'm not enjoying the journey. I know I am in a better place than many, and I am thankful for it in a sort of detached and coughing way.

I'm off to read Journal of a Plague Year and then go to bed.

Hugs to all and stay safe.

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Still Working

Still sinking under the editing, but I think it will be worth it.

Bear isn't home yet. He's getting a lift from his pal's dad, but I am braced for when he does turn up. You see, he is in Year 8. All Year 9 and Year 12 students will be studying from home from tomorrow but his classes continue as normal. I can't imagine bear being impressed. It seems like it is a response to teachers being unable to get in, as they say they are concerned about keeping up the standard of teaching. Apparently, from Friday, they may rotate the years that stay at home. Bear will be thrilled, although I daresay he will grumble at having to continue his classes instead of computer games.

Another link that may help with destressing - I found this site and they have live stream of kittens, dogs, and all sorts. When I get out of the editing, I may spend some time on there. It's, and it seems a safe site, but I haven't fully checked it, so approach with reasonable caution.

Writing stuff - sneaked in this week's response to the writing challenge here.

Hugs to all.

Monday 16 March 2020

Just Passing Through

I'm armpit deep in editing for 'Out of the London Mist' which the Three Furies is publishing, release date provisionally in July. I have a lot of work to do, so really just jogging past.

Bear's school continues. He is even rehearsing for his House Drama tomorrow, though I don't know if it's going ahead. Otherwise, everything is changing.

Continuing the idea of helpful links, I found this today - an article about protecting mental health during the pandemic, on the BBC website.

I'll try and pick up some more tomorrow.

If you have free time and the inclination, try looking at this week's writing challenge. All are welcome, and you don't have to share, you can just enjoy.

Hugs to all.

Sunday 15 March 2020

Keeping Calm

I'm finding the news and the uncertainty a little stressful at the moment. Actually, it's a lot stressful. I could witter on about this or that, but instead I'm trying to be positive and I thought I'd share a few of the places online that I will be dipping into if I run out of things to do.

If you like quizzes, I've been a member of Sporcle for years, and I have enjoyed quite a few hours dipping into the different quizzes and challenges. I recommend the 'Bad Dad Jokes' quizzes if you feel like cheering yourself up.

If you want to go further with self improvement, Open Learn has several free courses, and there is always Duolingo. One day I will pick up the French again there.

If it's general reading, there are plenty of free books on Amazon kindle, although not all are worth that. There are a lot of free classics on there, like Pride and Prejudice, and Dracula. You can get a free app for your phone to read a kindle book, or a kindle reading app for your laptop or PC if you haven't got a kindle.

You may also like to go along to Project Gutenberg where you can find a vast array of free books. They are out of copyright, so you don't have the latest thriller, but you can dip into books by Jules Verne and Mark Twain. I clicked on their top 100 here, and includes 'Journal of a Plague Year' by Daniel Defoe which seems remarkably apt.

YouTube is incredibly useful. If necessary, you can distract yourself with funny cat videos, but if you continue with the literary theme there is the librivox collection, where you can listen to a book being read (list here). I listened to part of Children of the Abyss by Jack London as part of my research for the next book, and it terrified the life out of me - an eye witness account of the London slums around 1900. It also has such gems as 100 Proofs that the Earth is not a Globe, by William Carpenter, and Memoirs of a Workhouse Medical Officer, but I plan to dip into the Edgar Alan Poe and the Victorian Ghost stories.

YouTube has a lot of good fun on it, including crafts and knitting patterns. If you have a yarn stash, then most yarn sites have some free patterns on, but I have had some good results from Yarnspirations with plenty of free patterns, and there is always Ravelry.

I'll put up some more if I find them, and if anyone wants to share good sites then please comment and I'll copy them to the next post.

Hugs to all.

Friday 13 March 2020

The End of the Week

Nothing much to report. Bear is doing much better but is still full of cold so missed the hospital appointment.

I called in to Aldi for a few bits this afternoon. It was worse than the run up to Christmas. The car park was packed and the shop was heaving with people. There was no pasta at all on the shelves and very little rice. There were a few rolls of some odd looking toilet paper, but not much. I wonder when people will stop panic buying toilet paper? Also, I wonder if there will be a surplus of toilet paper when people stop buying and a significant drop in demand, because then there are likely to be awesome bargains.

Bear is devastated that the schools are remaining open, but I've decided I need to make the most of it next week and clear out the study. If the schools close, they are talking about them closing for months. It's going to be hard.

Hazel - I've downloaded that app, and I hope that I can use it to full advantage. I'm going to have to have a good rummage about my old orders. 

Hugs to all and stay safe.

Thursday 12 March 2020

It's a fail

WitchHazel -thank you, I've downloaded Google Keep.

Today has not been a good day. Back tomorrow.

Hugs to everyone because you are awesome.

Wednesday 11 March 2020

Trying to Fill a Gap

Bear is looking a lot better, although denying it as much as possible in the hope of scrounging another day off school.

I find myself missing MySupermarket. For those that don't know, it was a price comparison site for the supermarkets. You could go on there and compare all the prices from tinned soup to champagne. I used to watch it for sales on Famous Grouse for father. They also had a feature to show price changes on items over the last year, and whether the sale was a 'real' sale or just a gimmick. I wonder if anything will replace it.

I'm going to have to work up a price book. I ought to use Excel but I loathe Excel with the fire of a thousand suns and now that I'm getting out more I could do with something I could keep in my bag. I have a mental note of some things. For example, if Heinz tomato soup is 50p or less per can, I buy and I buy in bulk. I usually see that price around October, though, when it's coming up to autumn and warm soup weather. I haven't seen it that price for a while. There is a feeling of, 'that's too expensive' or 'that's a good deal' on a lot of the regulars, but I could do with making notes. And all bets are off with toilet paper.

With all the scares and hysteria, I think it is a good time for me to make a proper inventory, work out what I've got, what I can make and what I should keep stocked. I definitely want to keep a good stash of herbs and spices and probably of lentils as well as I use them so much. Once I've made a list of what I actually need to keep a stock of, then I need to keep a track of how much it is and where it's cheapest. I'll share if I ever get anywhere with it!

Hugs to all.

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Can It Just Go Away

I kept bear off school today. I'm pretty sure it's just a bad cold, but the poor kid is shattered by it, and I don't want there to be any fuss with all the news going around.

I'm getting baffled by the whole toilet paper thing. As far as I can tell, people are buying toilet paper because so many people are buying it that it's creating a shortage so people feel they have no choice but to go and get toilet paper that they may not need because everyone's buying toilet paper until there's none left. I actually feel for the manufacturers. At the moment they are almost certainly paying out shedloads of overtime as they try and keep up with demand, but pretty soon, when people can't possibly fit another roll in the house, demand is going to drop through the floor as everyone works through their stash. I guess hand sanitiser and hand soap will go a similar way.

Bear will be okay. He hasn't much appetite, though, and suddenly has decided, after years of utterly rejecting instant noodles (introduced by a friend, as not my idea of a meal), they are the only things he can possibly eat. I had a little trundle around to Aldi and picked some up for him, and I can see that even if I don't run him to school, I will still be racking up the mileage.

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

Hugs to all

Monday 9 March 2020

And It's Monday

Thank you for all the kind comments about my family stories. I shall share some more when I'm reminded. I try and pass them on to bear, as I remember them. It's good to keep the stories alive, even some of the less reputable ones.

Today has been a drab day. I dropped bear and pal off at school, then called in at Tesco. Some things are on ration, and the loo roll section had a trampled look. I bought some inexpensive bar soap and dropped it in the foodbank box, which felt incredibly inadequate. However I'm likely to call in there tomorrow and I may get some handwash if they have any and put it in. We are okay for handwash as there was an offer on a while ago and I stocked up. Actually, because of my little ways, I'm not scrambling around. I buy toilet paper in bulk from Amazon, and we have enough left for the month, and I have a gallon or so of white vinegar which is an excellent disinfectant, although I usually use it as a fabric softener. I have the end of last year's 'buy-a-year's-worth-of-gluten-free-pasta-on-the-one-week-of-the-year-it's-on-sale' event and we are okay. I hope the panic buying has died down a little by the time I need to restock. I had a look on Approved Food out of curiosity and, for the first time I can remember, they had no toilet roll on offer.

Bear is full of cold and fell asleep in the car. I'm fairly sure it's just a cold and nothing more, but if he's bad tomorrow, I'll check with the school about bringing him in.

Writing stuff - writing challenge for this week is here and a wonderful reply to it by Rebekah Jonesy (author of Clay and Moss and currently helping me with my next book) is here.

Hugs to all.

Sunday 8 March 2020

Family Stories

Thank you for the kind comments on the tale of my late grandmother. I promise, I didn't need to add, it is all absolutely gospel truth, and she would have told it just the same.

Aileen - it was similar for us, although I think it had got to a rotating stock by the time she passed and at least the sugar was still usable. What a waste of all that sugar!

My grandmother wasn't anywhere near as intelligent as her husband or her inlaws (most of whom were scarily insightful), and she had her little ways, but she could tell a good story and I heard quite a few when I was little, overhearing what she confided in other women 'of a certain age'. I think I learned how a good story should go then. Some of them baffle me to this day. According to my grandmother, only men and lesbians can whistle. Straight women cannot whistle and they shouldn't even try because it isn't ladylike. I can't whistle, actually, but I have no idea whether it's because I just don't have the patience to learn or because I've married a man. She was also desperately superstitious and had a fit if I put a left shoe on first or stirred the cake mix the 'wrong' way.

It's nice to share stories about my grandmother. She was a lovely, loving woman who was wonderfully generous and while she had her little ways, don't we all?

Someone told my grandmother that mice were scared off by washing powder. They really aren't. They told my grandmother that if mice ate washing powder, they would die. I don't know if the person passing on this pearl of wisdom was confusing it with washing soda, which may or may not be fatal, or whether my grandmother misheard, but she decided to try it. They lived at the time in a tin bungalow, with a huge garden, near a river and in the countryside. They were always going to get mice, so my grandmother was keen to try this out. She wasn't going to use her expensive Ariel washing powder, however. Instead she bought some cheap stuff that she scattered liberally around.

The mice loved it. They couldn't get enough of it. They came back for more and brought their friends. Not only did they find the bag of cheap powder, but they also broke into my grandmother's box of Ariel and continued to intermittently raid it right until they changed to liquid laundry soap. Back in those days, Ariel was expensive but it was the only brand she would use and the mice ate all they could get their tiny paws on. She was furious to see it spirited away by rodents who had no business being there. However at least she could share a tip to not to use washing powder to scare away mice.

I hope bear will be able to tell stories about me when I'm gone. And I really hope that if he does have stories, that he tells them well.

Hugs to all, and thank you for giving me excuses to talk about my grandmother.

Saturday 7 March 2020


When I was little, back in the early seventies, there was a sugar shortage. As far as I can tell, a lot of the shortage happened because people thought that there was going to be a shortage and bought extra sugar 'just in case' which led to a serious sugar shortage.

My late grandmother was an expert shopper and dedicated to her craft. She spent her life shopping. As she passed in 1987, it was before the age of internet shopping, but her normal week looked a little like this. Monday she called into Ellesmere Port, to visit her brother (and possibly pick up any shopping). Tuesday she went to Birkenhead. Wednesday she stayed in and did washing and baking. Thursday she went to Wrexham and Friday she was back at Ellesmere Port to catch up with her brother again. Saturday she visited Chester and on Sunday she went back to Chester to attend church. To those unfamiliar with the area, she covered three counties in two countries (Cheshire, Merseyside and Clwyd in England and Wales). She spent hours travelling for shopping, and worked hard for those bargains.

My late grandmother was also a communicator. She talked to everyone. If you sat next to her on the bus (and all this shopping was done through the bus), you would not be able to escape her conversation. She talked at bus stops and on corners and she always chatted to the shop staff. She knew all the gossip, all about their families and always asked about people. I should add that she wasn't a malicious gossip and even after my parent's vile divorce would not allow anyone to talk badly about father (her son-in-law) in front of me. She had a wonderfully generous heart and no doubt had passed on coupons and tips to half of the area. She did her best.

And her best included shopping. As the sugar shortage bit, shoppers were, if I remember, unofficially rationed to a bag a shopper. Most people only called into one grocers, so that had some effect. My grandmother, however, never limited herself to just one grocer. Between the various Kwik Saves, Co-ops and Safeways, my grandmother tottered from shop to shop, where she knew everyone, laden with illicit bags of sugar and the latest gossip about who said what to who when they met up at the wedding of the woman who lived at No 52.

We ended up with a sugar mountain. Box after drawer after cupboard was pressed into service. Grandmother, being out for all she could give, happily donated some of the foothills of the sugar mountain to friends and family, but it didn't make a serious dent despite her best efforts. I should point out that no-one in the family took sugar in their tea or coffee. I should also mention that while my grandmother was a wonderful woman in so many ways, she was not a gifted cook. Every Wednesday she made scones (which were sublime) and pies (which had great fillings and extremely grim pastry). She didn't use much sugar there. Fortunately they had a very large garden, a dozen gooseberry bushes, several plum trees and a swathe of blackberries, raspberries and blackcurrants. My grandmother made a lot of jam, kilos and kilos of the stuff. In fact, the jam mountain kept my grandfather and uncle in jam for a few years after she passed. And we were still using up the sugar mountain.

As I'm watching the news about the stockpiling and toilet paper and sanitiser issues, I'm reminded so much of my grandmother. She never knew bear, of course, which is sad, as she would have doted on him. She never even knew DH, which is also sad. She would have driven him half mad with incessant talking and knitted him a sweater (she was a constant knitter). There are times when I miss her so much. And when I remember how long the sugar mountain lasted, I can't help but wondering how many people will be surrounded by unexpected ramparts of piled toilet rolls long after this crisis has passed.

And also, I'm reminded that the bag of white granulated sugar I bought over a year ago has almost run out.

Hugs to all.

Thursday 5 March 2020

I'm Claiming a Win

Sharon - thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot, especially as you take such amazing photos. I'm planning on taking more pics, so I hope practice will improve the quality.

I went to the doctor this morning. I offered to have just a phone consult, but they called me in, and I went. This is a really big thing for me. I actually made it along the street. Normally I could drive all over the place (and no doubt will) but I can't walk along the road. I have looked out of my window and seen the doctor's surgery, only a few hundred yards away, and known it might as well have been on the moon. But today I did it.

On the bad side, I have cellulitis and feel like utter death, as well as a lot of pain. I think something I had last week contained gluten, which led to a flair up of dermatitis on my legs, which is now infected. Gluten doesn't give me an upset stomach. It comes out in the skin. Never google gluten eczema (there's a posh term, but I can't remember it), because it is extremely unpleasant. I have a few weeks left of this at least, but I can at least treat the infection. I said I didn't think I needed antibiotics, but I suspect I may have to speak to them tomorrow about them. I feel unpleasantly poorly. At least I got this pic. Spring is definitely here.

Bear is suffering from the physio and DH is showing signs of flu. We are not doing well here. It's a great opportunity to snuggle down with blankets, knitting and films.

Hugs to all. 

Wednesday 4 March 2020

I Can Turn Right

Sharon - I don't think I have the skills to make it, but I'm going to go for it with gusto and practice first.

Also, while your photos (along with others who read here) are glorious, I am ridiculously proud of this photo. It's not brilliant by any stretch, but it's sunlight coming through early morning mist.

It doesn't capture the irridescence of the morning, but it's a start.

After that I decided I wanted to go to JTF, a discount store near to the IKEA roundabout that a friend had recommended and that was popping up on my adverts. I programmed the sat nav and drove off. 

I think my sat nav and I need to have a long talk. First of all it took me down a 'shortcut' that was a fairly tricky, single lane, back of the houses type road which took longer than going the long way around on the main road. Then it came to the IKEA roundabouts. It let me go through those without instructions, and I don't blame it, before getting to the JTF store. The JTF store is on the right if you are coming from the Huddersfield direction as I was (across traffic for those who aren't in the UK) and it's on the approach to the complicated series of junctions. The sat nav wanted me to drive further down, cut through some side roads, double back and approach the entrance with it on the left. Instead I went across the island in the middle of the road, using the marked and signposted approach, and just turned in. I don't know if I would have had the nerve if I hadn't seen other cars using the junction that way, but I checked and all the signposts were fine. 

I made a mess of exiting, as I pulled across and got the wrong angle so I couldn't see what was approaching, but a very kind lorry driver let me out.

I'm in two minds about the store. It's got some nice bits, and it is inexpensive, and it is also on the way too and from bear's school, but I may go to Tesco for convenience. 

DH has a sore throat and bear is looking very under the weather. I think flu may be settling in here. Please send good vibes.

Hugs to all.

Tuesday 3 March 2020

Mistakes May Have Been Made (again)

I'd noticed the black mold in the porch and waited for a Tuesday that was likely to be dry. Bear left the house at around 7.20am for his lift with his pal's dad and by 8am I had liberally sprayed the walls with undiluted white vinegar, as per instructions on WikiHow. I dropped some empty cardboard boxes off at the tip, came back, and rinsed the porch with soapy water.

This was not as effective as I could have wished. First of all, I couldn't reach to wipe all of the bits that I had sprayed. Secondly, the porch is around a metre and a half square at most and despite the porch windows being open, it wasn't airing out. Thirdly, it was not as dry outside as I had hoped. The porch is currently a no-go area. I can't even stick my head in it without choking. I'm going to have to have another go tomorrow, or possibly the next day if I can't stand it.

I need to get my sewing machine serviced. I'm still scared of it, but I thought I would have a go at making a steampunk outfit. I've run into a few snags. All the steampunk costumes seem very fitted and trim. I am very much a larger lady and have a high waist and a low and over-ample bosom. Anything like a dress looks like a sack of water with a rough tie in the middle. The neat, military style and fitted jackets wouldn't go near me. I can barely sew, so I don't think I can manage alterations to a pattern. I've picked up a pattern that may work. It's supposed to be average difficulty. Did I mention I'm still scared of the sewing machine? But it's as good a way as any to get me going on the sewing. I thought I would dig out old duvet covers and sheets and have a practice, once I've got my sewing machine serviced. I also picked up an inexpensive hat pattern that bear said he would help me with. I'll share what happens with that!

I mean, it looks like it would fit me more or less (and the diet has already started), but it also looks complicated. However, if I can make it work with the trial runs, I think I will have learned some techniques with this.

Writing stuff - my take on this week's challenge is here.

Hugs to all.

Monday 2 March 2020

It's Technically Spring

I think I have a very minor cold. I don't have a cough, so it isn't the coronavirus, but I have the sniffles, the aches and a walloping headache continues.

Wherethejourneytakesme and all others who have amazing kids - congratulations! It is wonderful to share on here (and hear others sharing) because sharing in real life can lead to some real resentment, but there are so many wonderful kids in the world who should be celebrated. I can praise bear's academic work, but I think it's great to talk about the wonderful creativity and kindness that kids can show, and how they can light up our lives. So often it's not easy to talk about our little ones' achievements in real life as jealousy can strike in those around, but hopefully it's safe on here. And getting 10/10 on spellings three weeks in a row is a pretty amazing feat. Please pass on a well done from me.

My windscreen was frosted over this morning and I was fascinated by the light on it and the patterns.

That is the pics I got from the inside. I make huge use of places like Unsplash, and always feel that I could never give anything back. There are some amazing photos on blogs as well, and I am uneasily aware of how my photos look in comparison. However these pics may be useful as a background or wallpaper, so I may have a go at uploading, if I remember.

Today has been a sort of nothing day. I've been armpit deep in editing and I managed a trip to the tip. I'm just so tired, which I am blaming on the weather. I think I will drag myself off to bed.

Writing stuff - this week's writing challenge 

Hugs to all