Friday 31 July 2020

Sudden Change in Temperature

When all else fails, you can talk about the weather. I was feeling very warm and just now, when I stepped out to water the plants, it felt like stepping into an oven. So I checked. Wednesday, according to, had a high of 16C or around 60F. Yesterday, according to was a high of 22C or just under 72F. Today it is 31C or around 88F and I'm not good at those temperatures. Tomorrow it is forecast to be back to 22C. 

If I wasn't so ashamed of the weeds I would post a pic or two. The lavender isn't really going anywhere but the climbing fuschias are taking off. Typical fuschias - complete thugs!

I watched the Prime Minister's press conference earlier and was utterly unimpressed. I was also somewhat confused. I live in West Yorkshire, but not in a part affected by the local lockdowns, but it is still worrying. I will not be going to my favourite Tesco and Aldi any time soon. I'm considering going back to deliveries as there seem to be quite a few slots available, so I wouldn't be depriving anyone. I could perhaps go for a one off delivery, stock up on frozen and chilled and the heavy stuff so I only needed to call in to small, local shops near me to top up.

I am nipping out first thing tomorrow to go to Morrisons to pick up some bits. We received a new cookbook today, from Sorted Food. They do a lot of videos on YouTube and are on instagram and stuff and we watch them all the time, so we invested in the latest cookbook. It's written for foodie London cooks, so it's a little out of my price range, but bear is having a go and making an uncooked carrot cake (mainly based on minced up dates and walnuts) and I need to get the stuff in. He plans to make this on Sunday, so I'll share how it goes!

And after all the effort of lugging the watering can up and down steps to fill it in the kitchen, it has started to rain heavily. It's really coming down in rods as I type!

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 30 July 2020


Cherie - I feel your pain. The trouble with Imperial Leather soap is that it is actually quite good quality, it lasts forever - much more than any other bar soap I know - and the scent lingers to the last bubble. And that scent is so distinctive. It's not exactly unpleasant, but it's not a 'pretty' scent. 

Today's food issue is beans, or, rather, beans and sausage. I occasionally have some tinned beans and sausage when I'm out of other options (and I sort of like it, please don't judge), and Heinz beans and sausage is gluten free. Bear decided that he would be happy to have beans and sausage with toast for lunch. I thought that there were worse things he could have and said fine, but when I called in at Morrisons they only had Branston beans and sausage. 

I was on pins, but bear said that the Branston beans and sausage were not only acceptable but he preferred them.I was happy. Obviously, if I'm going to have tinned beans and sausage, I'm going to have to have Heinz as the Branston version contains gluten, but I'm not too worries about it. I don't go for it that often. What worries me is the baked beans. DH seriously prefers Heinz. If bear suddenly takes a major liking to Branston I can see me cooking a different brand of baked beans for each of them, or, more likely, never having baked beans again. And they're actually not too unhealthy if they don't have sausages in them.

On the bright side, I've found that I don't need to naff raff around with my phone and emails to get a pic from my phone to here. I have an android phone and I use Chrome as a default and I can click on the insert picture icon then go to photos. This makes things a lot easier and in celebration, here's something random.

Hugs and good health to all.

Kirkstall Abbey taken Nov 2019

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Sort of Nearly Clean

Thank you for the good wishes. My shoulder is a lot better today. It still has its moments, but I can get things off shelves now.

Patti - I'm glad you like it so far - I feel hugged! Thank you.

We had our Subscribe and Save delivery today. The box had been dropped at some point and was leaking laundry powder. It didn't leak much, perhaps one or two washes (and I'm stingy with laundry powder) but there was a scattering over the front step. DH came in from his walk and said that the local magpies had been investigating it. 

Please let us not have magpies addicted to white powder. 

I also had a delivery of soap. I really shouldn't be trusted on Facebook adds late at night. I was sort of looking out for bar soap, but wasn't on planning on getting any just yet. However it was late, I was feeling run down and sitting next to the sink.

Now that bear is trusted more on his computer, and does any school work better on his own, I'm spending a lot of time on my laptop in my room, on a desk which is next to a sink. I have no idea why the previous owners had a sink in this bedroom before, although when we moved in there wasn't a handsink in the bathroom (there is one now). It's great as it when father was here he could have his cup of tea whenever he felt like it and it gave him a little independence. Now it's convenient for me (and thanks for the tip about rice milk powder as it makes tea up here a lot easier). Unfortunately, I still have father's soap.

I usually wash my hands in the kitchen or the bathroom. I very rarely wash my hands in my bedroom. So the bar of soap that was the end of the stuff I got in for father and that I opened probably last year hasn't seen much use. It's Imperial Leather, which has a very distinctive scent, and I'm getting thoroughly sick of it. So when I saw the advert for fancy bar soap at a weak moment, I was sold. Now I need to face the awful truth. What can I do with a nearly full bar of Imperial Leather that seems a shame to throw out, but what would I do.

Apparently you can use soap to stop squeaky doors and ease screws. I may just bung it in the toolbox. I really ought to throw it out and stop hanging on to things 'just in case'. Also - contrary to many online tips, it does not deter mice. They eat it and come back for more, bringing their friends. They may sometimes be deterred by strongly scented soap, but I wouldn't put money on it. 

Now I have a citrus scented soap in a bag. You put the soap in the bag, then you wet your hands, rub your hands on the bag and you get a lather. The bag helps to clean your hands and it lets the soap air dry between washes and so the soap lasts longer - at least that's the theory.

I've just realised how much I need to clean that sink. 

I've also put a soap in a bag in the bathroom as we were at the end of the liquid hand soap there and I thought I would see how the men took it. I'm keeping the liquid handsoap in the kitchen. So far there is cautious approval.

Bear polished off a big plate of mashed potatoes and mince with veggies, so I'm happy with that. It's usually just sandwiches on Thursday nights, so fingers crossed I'll come up with something good.

Hugs and good health to all 

Tuesday 28 July 2020

Another Day, Another Ouch

Bless - bear is now not keen on soup. It won't last, and by winter he should be okay with it again, but I can see a lot of rice salad on the horizon.

Fifitr - I'm considering getting a second freezer just to have as back up, and then I could ask about whether they would like a shepherd's pie or some pasta or some curry and have a chance. Neither of them are keen on ready meals. 

I've done something interesting to my shoulder. It's easing off a little, but I still can't raise my right hand to shoulder level. I'm feeling incredibly fed up. We had breaded frozen chicken, frozen potato products and baked beans for dinner. The men loved it. As it was gluten free breaded chicken, it is quite good quality, and the frozen potato products were oven cooked and relatively low in fat, but it's not ideal. Also, bear gets sick of breaded chicken if I serve it too often, and the gluten free stuff isn't inexpensive. 

And my subscribe and save order just turned up and they had split the box of Ariel. Bear took photos for me and it now looks like the front step has dandruff.

I am a little worried about my shoulder. It's my right shoulder, which I dislocated in 1997 and took two years to heal up properly. Now it just feels frozen. I know it will sort itself out in good time, but I could do without it right now.

Hugs and good health to all.

Monday 27 July 2020

An Expensive Morning

Pam - thank you!

Bless - I will try that, thank you.

Mindo - we no longer have a dishwasher, which is a great source of sadness. I may pick up some inexpensive dishwasher tablets next time I shop, however, as they seem to be good for all sorts of cleaning outside of a machine.

I am weary of cooking. I wouldn't ask DH to cook as he works and I don't, and I don't really mind. It's just that it's always very complicated. 

It started when father lived with us. Father and DH liked lamb, but bear didn't. Father liked pork which DH didn't like and DH liked beef where father wasn't a fan. DH loves sweetcorn, but father and bear couldn't abide it. Bear loved his broccoli, but DH and father weren't keen, although DH loved cabbage. Father was unimpressed by pasta and always volunteered to buy a takeaway if I mentioned I was cooking that. DH likes some pasta. Bear loves his noodles. Until recently, DH couldn't have cheese as he became poorly, and bear was uncommitted. Father loved cheese. DH would have oranges, father would have apples, bear would have a banana. Father would have fried egg but not a fritatta. DH would rather have fritatta than a fried egg. Bear was unconvinced by both. Father drank tea, DH drank coffee and bear had flavoured water. We ate a lot of beige food while father was here.

Then bear had some issues with his stomach. We think it went back to an iffy yoghurt, but he had some serious troubles and I was back and forth with the doctor for a few months. The doctor suggested milk of magnesia and we were going through a bottle a week and it took years to get close to settled. After that, bear has had a very difficult relationship with food and is incredibly cautious. Also, when bear says that he likes a food, then I need to remember that terms and conditions apply. He said he liked the Morrisons chicken skewers. They are relatively good for him (in a very loose sense, but I'll take it) and I bought four as they would keep. He found pink in one of them and now won't touch them. I don't want to go into too much detail with bear, but feeding him can be a challenge. I nearly collapsed under DH's diet a few years ago as he was on a strict calorie controlled diet and I had to work with that. He's now at his target so the rules have eased slightly, but I have to mentally assess everything. 

And if I ask them what they fancy, I get blank looks. If I suggest something, I'm likely to get it shot down. If I plan meals, everything suddenly changes. There have been times when I have been close to tears at wondering what I am going to make that everyone will eat. I've been so mentally exhausted at times as I've managed to feed everyone else that often ended up with just a bag of crisps. 

This morning has been something of a case in point. I spent a fortune in Morrisons this morning. I got enough meat for around five meals, and I got a large sack of potatoes, but I'm sure I wouldn't have spent so much on the same stuff this time last year. One of the purchases was a couple of lamb pinwheels (at a very reasonable price) for the men. DH loves them, but I was on pins to see if bear would like his (thank goodness, he did!). I couldn't have them as they contain gluten, but I had some mushrooms (on offer) with the baked potato and peas. Of course, Morrisons can be a little dearer than Tesco, and I bought some gluten free bread which I don't always use, but I think prices have gone up significantly. I'm still worried that what I bought won't last for lunches.

Whenever I think of food these days, I feel overloaded.   

Still, when the world has things like this in it, you have to keep smiling.

Someone may have lied on their job application.

Writing stuff - This week's writing challenge is here.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 26 July 2020

The Chicken was Well Done

Pam and Gwen - I shall definitely try it with margarine. I thought 'butter substitute' was something technical. 

I did not feel up to inspired cooking tonight. I had listened to the hints from the men and gone to a farm shop for excellent ice cream and picked up a gooseberry pie for dessert so I didn't need to worry about the 'afters' and I had no inspiration for the main, so I put some frozen chicken breasts into the oven with a jar of sweet and sour sauce and bunged some rice in the rice cooker. Then I forgot about it. That works for rice cookers, but not for casseroles. Bear said that the chicken was very nice but the sauce was a little strong. That was probably because it had reduced down far beyond an Aldi competitively-priced jar of sauce would normally go. So not only am I ashamed of the poor meal, but I have this to try and clean.

I suppose you could say that it got a little burned. 

The dish is currently soaking in water and washing up liquid, but I'm preparing to escalate to soaking it in biological laundry powder. I also have some steel wool. I may need it. The little ripples are because the sides are fluted and I've had a heck of a job trying to get them properly clean. I know I could try cola, but I'm not sure how it will do with this mess. I really want to rescue it, though, as it's the perfect size for a fritatta for the family, and I've made some epic apple crumbles in there as well. I've had it years - it's older than bear - so I don't suppose it owes any money, but I don't want to lose it.

I've also wrecked my electric hand beater, by using it in a metal bowl, which stripped off the coating on the beaters and now they're rusting. Darn it to heck. I'm more stressed about losing the £15 it cost a few months ago. I should have gone for quality.

I checked the sport on BBC just now (Liverpool won, and I am a happy bunny) and I noticed that the BBC are now covering e-sports. I can see that there is a lot of skill in e-sports, and that the mental toughness that you see in Henderson and Van Dijk is absolutely needed at the highest level. It just seems not quite sport, which I associate with a little more activity. But then, archery is a sport, and you don't move around a lot for that. I suppose I'm getting old. I'm not mentioning this to bear, though I suspect he already knows. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 25 July 2020

Bear Approves

Jason - I think you are right. I have a good kettle in my kitchen which is very quick and energy efficient and I use it to boil the water before simmering veggies etc as I read somewhere that it was cheaper to boil water in a kettle than in a pan. The kettle in my bedroom, however, is very inefficient, and I think I will spend a little extra and upgrade when it breaks.

Eileen - I've had a scout around and I'm ordering some rice milk powder from Amazon. It may be a little more expensive, but I think that it would be good to have in reserve. The Rice Milk that I get in cartons has added vitamins, and I'm trying to do my best for bear.

Fifitr - I'll have a look at cashew milk. It's all worth a try. I think that the figures being reported are a a pale reflection on the increases in the lower end of groceries. I think the cost of stuff like quails eggs is probably quite stable, but basics like milk and eggs seem to be getting a lot higher. I used to have 50p a tin as my benchmark for Heinz baked beans (the only ones DH will eat) and soups, but I don't think I've seen that for over a year. Now I think I would stock up in large amounts if I saw them at 60p!

I mentioned a book a little while ago, The Canned Pantry, which uses very inexpensive food for a four week meal plan - not brilliant nutrition, but good if you hit a hard spot. It mentioned using pickled onions instead of fresh, at a pinch. I thought I would have a go, and so I did mince with gravy, mushrooms, leeks and pickled onions, with mash. I may have misjudged the pickled onions. The ones in the recipe book were obviously very inexpensive. The three I used tonight were more expensive and extremely robust. It led to a very distinctive taste, but the men approved. 

I'm sort of considering making biscuits and I found a very pleasant Jack Monroe recipe that uses marmalade, ground almonds - and 5 tablespoons of butter substitute. I have no idea what butter substitute is. I'm considering using oil and seeing how that goes. If I have the energy, and can work it out, I'll share.

Hugs and good health to all.

Friday 24 July 2020

Shopping Continues

Thank you for all the lovely comments. I feel incredibly hugged. 

I went to the Farm Shop that does the great veggies, and then on to Morrisons. I tried a different route and I still haven't found one that doesn't involve blind junctions and awkward lane changing. I also keep stopping at lights long after they go green because I'm checking out some shops. There is a part of Kirkstall Road where a shop selling spyware used to be opposite what was apparently a house of ill repute. It looks like they have both closed. This area was badly hit by floods a few years ago.

The shop itself was disappointing. I got some great veggies from the farm shop, but they were reasonable prices for the quality and therefore not inexpensive. And I bought some meat at Morrisons, with a few bits of bread, cooked meat and some grapes. I forgot a few bits, but that's normal for me. However it was still quite a bit at the checkout. Food seems to be getting more and more expensive! 

I really need to get that price book going. I can't rely on my memory. I was in Aldi the other day and picked up a 5kg bag of basmati rice for £5.49 (if I remember correctly - I remember it was labeled as £1.10 per kilo. Now, because I had been fretting over rice a few months ago and trying to work out whether it was worth me buying a 10kg sack of rice and if I could store it correctly. I obsessively compared price per kilo, but decided storage was an issue so stuck to buying a kilo at a time. However the price was usually over £1.20 or £1.30 per kilo. Looking back, I wish I had bought two as I can easily get through a kilo of rice in a week when it's rice salad weather and rice can store well. I'm also considering making my own rice milk as it's so expensive, but it suits bear and I. I daren't risk oat milk and we don't like the taste of almond or soy. But I only knew that the rice was a deal because I had spent so much time checking prices (and I re-checked, and it's a decent deal). I need to work out how to do this.

Prices seem to be going up so much. I worry about it and I can't see it getting much better, especially as this year can't be a good year for farmers. Apart from some erratic weather, there have been issues getting workers with the Covid around. 

Writing stuff - not so much now for a bit, but I did some research on Victorian life, including Victorian food, and I have posted a little article about Victorian food here

Hugs and good health to all.

Thursday 23 July 2020

A Funny Sort of Time of Year

Dawn's comment made me think. I developed gluten intolerance in 2014. On the same day in December 2013, father was taken in for a cancer scare and uncle had a leg amputated. The months following were tough. There were serious illnesses, deaths, disasters and complications. They even lost my mother's grave. I'm not so upset about that, though. My mother would have thought it was a splendid story and thoroughly enjoyed it, and it's a great example of a truly awful time.  

A lot of it happened in July. Both father and uncle died in the third week of July. A few years ago I had a heart scare - third week of July. It goes back even further. It was the third week in July that father had his first, major stroke where it was touch and go and I thought I would have to cancel my wedding. Even further back, in 1987, it was the third week in July that my grandmother died very unexpectedly.

I have a relative with their birthday in July. They don't usually bother with it, for very understandable reasons. I think that we will all relax a little once this month is over. I usually send sweeties in to the church around this time. The tradition in our family was always to buy the flowers for the church around anniversaries and birthdays. However father, being father, had his own little ways. He used to take in pockets full of sweeties to church and hand them out indiscriminately. All the kids had them (father was an incredible soft touch) and all the ladies got them (it's a dreadful thing to say of a parent, but father was a shocking flirt sometimes). The poor churchwardens used to try and persuade him to give the sweeties after church so that they didn't end up with wrappers all over the church floor, but it made no impression on him. He just smiled, nodded and carried on.

He was the same at the Jazz Club where he went every Tuesday. He often won the raffle, and he usually passed it on to one of the ladies. He was out for all he could give. 

Writing stuff - Just to mix things up, I got published today!!!!! I'm writing the sequel, and you will probably hear all about that as I go on, but there should be a little less noise now. I'm still floating, though. I'm published.

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Going Round in Circles

Ann - thank you so much for buying the book. I hope you really enjoy it! I feel hugged. I want to say thank you to everyone for all the support I have, because it's really encouraging and very welcome.

Ruth - I'm sorry I'm slow to reply. I never mind when a comment is from. I'm always just thrilled that people comment. I'll keep that in mind and ask around. Another quirk of Red is that her brakes are a little tender. If you treat them gently, they do all that you could ask. Even using calm and even pressure, you can still come to a stop that is a little more sudden than you would expect. If I slammed all on I think I would risk going through the windscreen - seatbelt, seat and all! 

Sharon - I know! I called in at the supermarket today and spent over £30! There wasn't that much to show for it either!

To the kind comment about lactose intolerance - I became gluten intolerant when I was in my forties, and dairy intolerance often goes with gluten intolerance because something about the auto immune response to gluten also attacks the thingies that help digest lactose. In my case, I think stress may have been the cause. 

I went to Morrisons today by a different route. Actually I used four different routes. I went there one way and found that I had forgotten my handbag, then back a different way to pick up my handbag, then back to Morrisons a third way, then home again a slightly different way. I got stuck on some complicated roundabouts. Unfortunately, coming from Kirkstall Road to Leeds and then through the Armley Gyratory needs some meticulous lane management and it helps if you know where you are going. I didn't know where I was going. There was an air of 'point and hope'. I ended up going twice round the roundabout - twice! On seperate but linked roundabouts! It was a close call on one that I'd have to go around again. I'll have to use that route a few times.

Writing stuff - Out of the London Mist is published tomorrow, so today is the last day that you can get it at the pre-order price here and at other good online book stores. And as a sort of build up, here is a short piece about the London Peculiar or London Smog. The mists of London play quite a large part in the story and I did some extra research, which I thought I would share. I am looking forward to tomorrow sooooo much I am almost vibrating! 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Expensive Month

I have just spent a fortune on the MOT, service and paint work and today bear's Xbox died. It doesn't really owe much. We bought it for bear for after the operation he had on his thumb, back in April 2016, and it's seen some service since then. It's been clunky for a while, but now it has switched itself off and refuses to switch back on again. 

As it was running out of space for games and the newer ones had a bit more capacity, DH made an executive decision and got a new one. It was not inexpensive, but it was new and it was here four hours later. I did have a quick scout around on the internet, but I couldn't see much. Of course, I don't know what I'm looking for. To the best of my knowledge, we got a decent deal. Bear is a very happy bear indeed.

I think that I will have to be a little more careful in my random shopping trips. I can't afford to spend too much for the next month or two. Of course, it's back to school soon, which means uniform shopping and all the kit that goes with it. School have been very clear that bear (who has a habit of shedding equipment through the term) will need all his kit as he will not be allowed to borrow the stuff that he's lost because I always buy him a full set and he loses most of it by week three.

I'm planning a quick run for some essentials tomorrow. Then I'm getting back and getting working. Out of the London Mist is out the day after tomorrow, so I want to make sure I'm covering everything. I can't tell you how excited I am!

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 20 July 2020

Cheese on Toast

I called in to Morrisons today. It's an awful, tricky drive, though not so far. It's around three miles each way instead of eight, which is a saving, but there are some awful corners. I may try a longer way around next time.

I am still proud because I took the quickest route there and back and didn't get too much that was unnecessary. One thing that was less than necessary was some fake cheese. If I have proper cheese, I am sick. I don't think I'm allergic or anything, I just get ill and I have really evil stomach pains first, so it can knock me out for a day or two. I used to love cheese, though, and I grew up in Cheshire, where the cheese is amazing. We used to get our cheese from Chester market, where it came in from the local farms. This morning I saw some fake vegan cheese, with garlic and chives, and I was tempted. I gave in to temptation.

I also have a lot of bread that I need to use up. I went online to Bargain Foods and bought some close to out of date gluten free bread. It's Schar, so beautifully sealed and not like fresh bread, but I need to use it up as it the stuff that is left is now out of date. Bargain Foods is okay. You have to be careful because some of the stuff is cheaper in Tesco, but there are some good deals and if you sign up to their newsletter, they have discounts. 

So I had fake cheese on gluten free bread. It wasn't worth it. I can see the appeal, but the cheese had the same consistency as a washing up glove when thinly sliced and the taste wasn't all that brilliant. Besides, from a nutritional view point it was low on protein and high in fibre, which is not what I expect of cheese. The bread was a little inadequate as well. I think it is getting well past its best. It was a very disappointing lunch.

I should stick to what I believe. On the whole, by and large and in general, I try to have food that is naturally cheese/gluten free. I could have had scrambled eggs with oat cakes, or Heinz tomato soup, or baked beans on a baked potato. All of those are naturally gluten free and relatively healthy. I live and learn.

Writing stuff - look away now if you are sick of me talking about Out of the London Mist available for pre-order for three more days. I'm still giddy about the interviews (still hard to believe that I got interviewed twice, here and here) and I woke up this morning full of the words for the opening paragraph of the sequel. The writing challenge is here, but I don't know if I'll make anything. I'm on a deadline and my editor has mentioned her finely tuned cattle prod (hi, Rebekah!). It's an epic fantasy, which takes some writing. 

Hugs and good health to all

Saturday 18 July 2020

A Different Shop

I'm feeling smug. I went to Morrisons as the nearest reasonable place that stocked rice milk (which is one of the few that bear and I can both manage) and not only did I just buy the milk and a few little bits, but I went straight there and straight back - a mere five miles in total! The drive is fair to middling evil, with some truly nasty junctions with horrible visibility, but I did it. 

Today has been quiet. We've all been hanging out and DH has been reading 'Men at Arms' by Sir Terry Pratchett to us. Bear is really enjoying the Discworld, and it's not a bad series to get into. 

Writing stuff - I've been doing lots of writing today, but I want to let you know that I have been interviewed by Phoebe Darqueling, who is amazing, and the interview is here. It feels very odd being interviewed, because it doesn't seem like me. It was amazing fun, though, and it made me think about what I had written, so it shows that Phoebe knows what she's doing. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Friday 17 July 2020

An Epic Journey

Eileen - thank you! I feel incredibly hugged. I hope I can keep on bringing a smile. And while I hope I'm useful for a little relaxation, I am incredibly grateful for the support, encouragement and information from the lovely people who read this. Thank you.

Ruth - I cherish all comments and I will definitely start talking about it to 'car' people. 

Kate - your dream definitely wins. I have never come near that, not even with shark infested sweetcorn. That is something!

Sharon - thank you, hugs are definitely here.

Today I aimed for Tesco in North Leeds and missed. I missed with style and gusto. I went past the same former pub three times. It was glorious. I'm unfamiliar with North Leeds, so I kept guessing which turn I needed and I kept guessing wrong. I went past some places three times. When I came home and looked at my Google maps timeline, it was a wonderful series of loops - for 35 miles! I did stop at Tesco in Roundhay (which is a little smaller) and picked up some bits, but on the whole it was driving practice. 

To be honest, it was quite necessary driving practice. I can drive down little country roads with switchback curves and ridiculous slopes, but anything over 40mph scares me. If I go to Tesco at Seacroft, I have to go at speed, and I'll have to use dual carriageways with national speedlimits and use lane discipline. It's terrifying. Some of the lorries and vans out there are a downright menace. I need to learn to deal with it. 

Bear is doing really well at the moment. He still has a lot of pain, but he is much more positive in himself. He went for a walk today, which has already caused issues, but he did it. I am so proud of him. 

I missed the announcement today about the rules but I skimmed over the headlines and I am completely confused and bewildered. Meanwhile, I was one of the only ones wearing a mask in the shop today. I am really worried. I had a quick look online, and Tesco do have some slots available at the moment, but who knows how that would go if we were locked down locally. DH will be going into work from August. He drives (public transport isn't realistic) and it's a small office, but it's still a worry. Then school is coming up and bear goes to school in Kirklees, which is something of a hotspot, at least compared to Leeds. I will be glad when this is all over.

Hugs and especially good health to all.

Thursday 16 July 2020

Insert Motivational Quote Here

I'm having a tough day today. For some reason, I feel very low. I managed to get some sleep last night and had a normal-for-me dream about trying to get a clothes airer onto an old fashioned double decker bus. 

I thought I would dip into some motivational quotes. How about - 

I have not lost my mind - it's backed up on disc somewhere - Anon.

I felt that someone had seen me and understood.

I usually look with distrust at motivational quote art, but some do call to me, like

I'd rather regret the things I've done than the things I haven't done - Lucille Ball

Although that may not apply to the rising tide of ironing.

Some really don't apply, such as 

When you have a dream, you've got to grab it and never let it go - Carol Burnett

I would like to refer above to my dream last night of trying to get a clothes airer on an old fashioned double decker bus.

And there is always - 

Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud - Maya Angelou

But I think I may be a little old for that. 

I've managed to cheer myself up working through the quotes. Please share any you feel may be fun. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Is it Only Wednesday?

I don't seem to have achieved much so far this week, but I feel like I have been in the centre of a whirlwind for some reason. I am not sure why.

Bear is still having issues with his tooth, but due to the timing of picking up my car, I didn't make soup. Instead I bought him a curry from Aldi, which he greatly appreciated. 

I am feeling tired. I woke up at 4.48am and couldn't get back to sleep. It wasn't even a good dream - I was stuffing envelopes and writing addresses. It was very dull. I'm looking forward to being asleep again tonight. I have also spent quite a bit of time on research today, and I'm not used to thinking so hard.

Sarah - I forgot to say, I'm always glad of comments that educated me. I didn't know that agave syrup was so processed. I was just glad of less calories. I think I'll have to look at different ways to eat as we go on.

Writing stuff - I'll be adding loads of stuff over the next week or so, but I'll be putting it on my other blog to save cluttering up here. You can find today's post about the background to some research here

Hugs and good health to all.

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Another Fail

Sarah - never worry about giving me cooking advice. I'll either take it with incredible gratitude (as this case) or I'll ignore it. 

Sharon - you practically never see gooseberry, so I leapt at these!

I failed to rescue the gooseberries. I should never had added water. I ended up just making a microwave sponge with a squirt of maple syrup on the bottom. That followed mince and mash as bear has a bad tooth. 

I dropped the car off at the garage to get the scratches and dents sorted out, then got the bus back, sanitiser and all. I hope I get her back soon.

Writing stuff - I'm under a deadline so I've referred to an old piece in my reply to the writing challenge here. I'm under the hammer for the deadline (fantasy novel with kingdoms at stake) that I don't know whether I'm coming or going. Just to cheer myself up, here is a tag for Out of the London Mist.

Hugs and good health to all

Monday 13 July 2020


I did all the shopping in Batley apart from the farm shops, as I wanted to spend less time than I would if I went north. I was as quick as I could be but of course I forgot some stuff and due to events out of my control, the casserole I shopped for ended up shelved for soup.

And I made a mess of cooking gooseberries. I was lucky enough to buy a punnet of gooseberries (you usually can't get them) and I knew bear liked them and needed a boost. 

I topped and tailed them using scissors, bunged them in the microwave with a little water and some agave syrup for three minutes - and got a watery mess. I didn't use that much water, but the combination of water, very ripe gooseberries, and agave syrup that were in the microwave and not a pan meant that it was far too runny to use as a base for the sponge. I've bunged it in the fridge and I'll fiddle with it tomorrow. I can always try thickening it with cornflour.  

It was nostalgic seeing them. My late grandfather had a very large garden and had a dozen gooseberry bushes at one time. I spent hours picking them when I was little. They were turned into jam, which my grandfather enjoyed in large quantities. One year uncle made 17 lb of jam (just under 8 kilos) in June and July and grandfather had finished it by Christmas. 

Writing stuff - the writing challenge is here, though I can't think of a word to write about it. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Sunday 12 July 2020

Which Direction?

I like Tesco and Aldi. I'm hoping to get more into farm shops, but I'll need to pick up some bits from supermarkets and Tesco and Aldi work. Normally I go to the Tesco and Aldi at Batley. They are only yards from each other, and it's very near bear's school, so I can do drop off and then call in the stores straight after. Of course, now there is all the virus stuff and bear is at home, I don't need to go that far, around 8 miles, but there isn't a large Tesco near me. There is an Aldi, which I call in sometimes, but the Batley one was taking better precautions. 

Batley is now near a few spikes. A pub was shut in Batley due to the virus, and there have been a couple of factories nearby in Ossett and Cleckheaton that have been centres of infection. Tesco and Aldi in Batley are not taking the same precautions anymore. I'm wondering about not going there. 

I could go to a large Sainsburys or Asda that are both relatively near to me, but I've not had brilliant experiences with the meat in either place and I'm a little wary. Besides, I really like Tesco. Aldi isn't such a problem and there is a lovely big one a little further away but still in Leeds, which wouldn't be so hard, although it's a little tricky to drive to, but I can call in on some great farm shops on the way. There is another Tesco, almost exactly the same distance from me than the Batley Tesco, but in North Leeds. Last time we went there, it was a little like this

We actually sat in the car and watched the crows bullying seagulls. 

And I would have to drive through the edges of Leeds centre and onto the A64. I don't have a good track record with the A64. I could go a longer way around but it would add four miles each way. It's great for driving practice as it's along some faster roads, but I'm not sure I'm entirely up for it at the moment. 

Tomorrow I want to do big shops as I'll be taking the car into the garage on Tuesday to pick up Wednesday, so I want to get everything in. I need to have a long think about it. I may have to reduce my Tesco visits in general. 

In fact, I think I need to rethink a lot of things. 

A new neighbour has moved in to next door but one. I hope that they are awesome. If they are not awesome, I hope that they are relatively harmless and entertaining. I'm hiding from them for as long as possible. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 10 July 2020

A Quiet Shopping Trip

I called in at a farm shop and then at a nearby Aldi. The differences were striking. The farm shop was meticulously protecting the workers and customers and the Aldi was largely indifferent apart from the screens around the cashiers. I much prefer the one way systems, even if I do spend at least 10% of my time, even in a familiar store, going the wrong way and having to turn around while muttering to myself. 

Now things are settled a little, I'm planning on getting more and more from farm shops. It's much friendlier and I feel it's important to support the farmers in any way I can. There are two shops nearby, both of which I've discovered since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, and both really friendly. One has plenty of good veggies and the other has good meat. 

Tonight I cooked Slumpie from Terry Pratchett's Nanny Ogg's Cookbook. I failed. It was okay, and the men enjoyed it, but I felt it lacked something. The recipe calls for around a pint of dark ale. Obviously, I can't have that, because dark ale has gluten in it and I can't have gluten. You can buy gluten free beer but I didn't want to pay that much for something just to cook with. I just added more stock and lots of worcestershire sauce (the gluten free version, as the usual Lee & Perrins has gluten). Then the cooker seemed to be a little temperatmental and I couldn't get any good heat going. It just didn't click I also added mustard powder instead of made mustard because I had forgotten to pick some up, so that may have affected the taste. It was okay, but I think I'll fiddle around with the recipe next time. We had it with mash and some gorgeous new carrots from the farm shop.

Thank you for all the kind wishes on the writing. I'm still dazzled by the trailer. There's likely to be lots of writing stuff going on in the next few months, and it's okay to skip over it. I'll try and keep it to the separate section or on my other blog. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 9 July 2020

A Sort of Day

Tesco have abandoned their one-way instore system. It was the last supermarket that had something safe. I think I'm going to have to be much more stringent about masks and sanitiser. There are a few places that are hot spots near me and my favourite shops. I think I may have to restructure my habits, at least until bear goes back to school. 

And that's another thing - how long is school going to last? The building is elderly, with lots of narrow corridors and cramped schoolrooms. It is going to be a complete headache to stop the spread of infection there. I imagine there will be a lot of people having to self isolate. It's going to be chaos, and I'm going to have to work on my pantry because I have no idea when we could unexpectedly be asked to stay in, and deliveries have not been reliable.

I had a drive around, and did a lot of thinking. It seemed like some places weren't bothering with any sort of social distancing at all. I think it is time to be careful.

Bear is utterly shattered. The trip to the hospital flattened him. I'm going to have to work on building up his activity levels while avoiding sparking the issues with pain management and I have no idea where to start.

On the bright side, there was some awesome writing stuff.

Writing stuff - The Three Furies Press have released a video trailer for my book!!!

I am sooo thrilled by it. It gives me chills! It's a fortnight to release day and I am getting very giddy. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 8 July 2020

I Still Got Lost!

I took bear to the hospital appointment today. The appointment itself was fairly straightforward. There will be a follow-up, neatly timed for when bear is getting back to school. 

I'm dreading bear going back to school. It's going to be tough. He was shattered today, so I don't know what it's going to be like transitioning to school. Needs must, however, and he is a lot better than he was.

Travelling there was okay. I remembered a lot of the lane changes and got in the right place at the right time. It was still incredibly difficult and I found it a real struggle. Then going back we got lost again. Fortunately it wasn't quite as wildly crazy as I managed yesterday, but it took us a lot longer to get back than to go there. At one point I was following the signs for Dewsbury, which is around ten miles from our house but I know how to get home from there.

I'm absolutely shattered by the driving, so I'll be going out on an adventure tomorrow, just to practice driving somewhere.

Writing stuff - I am completely, totally, utterly thrilled to have a taster from Out of the London Mist featured in the Steampunk Journal! I am so excited. It's a big deal for me. You can read it here. Just 15 days to the release date!

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Another Adventure

Sharon - using cash at the garage was the first time I've used cash since around March! During the Middle Ages, when plague was around, they used to leave their coins in little pots of vinegar. There is a stone with a little dip in at York. That's where the farmers used to bring food to the city during times of plague, and the city dwellers used to leave the payment in vinegar in those hollows. I found this 

Bear has a hospital appointment at Seacroft Hospital tomorrow, and it's somewhere I don't know. In fact, it's on the way to York, on the A64 and that is a road I have never successfully reached. I've always got baffled in Leeds Centre, ended up in the wrong lane and finished up on the opposite side of the city. 

I tried a trial run today. I programmed my sat nav and set off. I knew it was going to be tricky as there are roadworks everywhere! I couldn't follow all of the directions as the road was closed or that turn wasn't permitted at that junction and always I was watching out for the unfamiliar speed limits and lane changes. And of course there are loads of lane changes. I was terrified.

I got to the hospital okay. There were a few moments when I felt like giving up, but I managed. I didn't stop at the hospital except for a brief pause to change my sat nav to get home, and I still have no idea how I am going to park, especially as bear can't walk far, but I'll worry about that tomorrow.

Going home was different. I got splendidly, magnificently, gloriously lost. I went all over the place! I have to confess, I was a large part of the problem. I missed a couple of exits because I was in the wrong lane (there were a lot of inner ring road dual carriageways and I was getting bewildered), but there was one stupendous moment when the sat nav took me to a junction where not only was the road closed, but I wasn't allowed down there anyway! I may have used harsh language and the three point turn I had to do when surrounded by shoppers really didn't help.

Since then I've been busy with writing stuff, and then my brother came around to have a look at bear's computer, which has been playing up. It was very odd, doing all the social distancing and using phones and shouted instructions. 

Writing stuff - the writing challenge reminded me so much of an old story that I couldn't think of a new one, so I copied it over. You can find it here.

Hugs and good health to all.

Monday 6 July 2020

Keeping Fingers Crossed

Something odd happened while I was trying to get money out of the ATM, and I'm still not sure what. I spent quite a while sitting in Tesco car park and trying to navigate the bank's phone systems to check. It's probably nothing, but I've logged it with the bank and I'm watching the account like a hawk.

This threw me more off balance than usual on a Monday, but I managed to get stuff in for the rest of the week. I can call in and use the ATM another time. The garage only takes cash, and I'll need it for all the paintwork sorting.

Bless - I'm glad I reminded you. The MOT is a check to see if the car is fit for the road. According to one firm, here, the MOT includes checks on lights, battery, horn (wouldn't know about that - I hardly ever use it!), electrics, steering, suspension, brakes, tyres, seat belts, bodywork, exhaust, mirrors, wipers and windscreen. It has to be done every year on any car more than three years old and you are in big trouble if you let it lapse. Dishonest garages find all sorts of faults. This garage seems a sweetie, and red passed just fine.

The rest of the day I've been trying to catch up with writing stuff. It's going medium.

btw, there are reports of the Black Death rising again in the East. Apparently one person has caught it. It's just what with fires, floods and covid-19, we're all feeling a little twitchy. It isn't something you should treat lightly, but it's okay not to worry about it too much. On the one hand, it's endemic anyway and Madagascar has a hundred or so deaths from Bubonic Plague every year. There are usually a handful of cases in the USA and cases also pop up in central Africa, Mongolia and South America. On the other hand, I don't like to tempt fate, and this year has been difficult, but it's not the same as it was in the Middle Ages. Hygiene and pest control are very different and very few people are exposed to rat fleas the same way (I believe most of the cases in the US come from people disturbing prairie dog burrows or coming into contact with infected squirrels). Besides, unlike Covid-19, there is a cure for the Bubonic Plague. It's a bacteria that is easily treated by antibiotics if it is caught early enough. There are lots of things going on to worry about. Please do not worry about Bubonic Plague. It's very, very unlikely to have any impact on us at all. 

Writing stuff - this week's writing challenge is here. All are welcome to have a go! 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 4 July 2020

Could be Worse

Happy Canada Day (late but very sincerely meant) and Happy Independence Day to all those from across the pond who are reading this. 

My little car, red, passed the MOT without a problem. She also had a service and the very nice man checked the gear stick and said he didn't understand, it looked fine. Later, in Tesco car park, I couldn't get it into reverse again. I think it's going to be one of those little quirks.

It's going to cost a fortune to get the scratches out. I'm not sure what happened. The damage to the other car was incredibly hard to spot, but I have gouges. I think something else has happened, but I couldn't tell you what. 

After I picked up the car, I went for a drive. I need to drive much more. I drove around forty miles, but I am losing confidence and I need to take bear to a strange hospital on Wednesday. I'm really nervous about that as the roadworks in Leeds caused issues for DH who has been dealing with Leeds city centre for years, so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to do. Besides, it's on a road which I have consistently failed to reach. Last time I tried, I ended up the other side of Leeds as a truly epic fail. I'm planning a trial run on Tuesday, but conditions change. 

I've also been considering a bird table. I'm not sure about it as there are a lot of birds, which I would love to watch, but every time I look at bird food I keep finding references to meal worms. I'm not up for that at this stage. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Friday 3 July 2020

Another Day, Another Fail

Patti and Ann - thank you! And a massive thank you to all who have pre-ordered. I keep getting interrupted as I'm writing posts, so I miss out on saying thank you. I really am grateful, not just because people have bought books, but because of the amazing support. It really means a lot.

I completely failed to get the plants in today. To be fair, it felt like hurricane conditions with lots of wind and rain. I'll have to get them in tomorrow regardless (if they are still alive), and I'll start after I've dropped the car off for a service and MOT.

Poor car - it feels all bunged up, the gear stick keeps sticking in reverse and there are all the scratches. I'm hoping it isn't too expensive.

Dinner was mince with mushrooms and baked potatoes. It's the wrong time of year for baked potatoes really, but it feels too cold for new potatoes. As it was, the package labelled 'Four Baking Potatoes' had five small old potatoes in it, but they were nice enough. I did the microwave jam sponge again. The men seem to like it. 

Lots and lots of writing today, which kept me busy, and I've a lot to do tomorrow as well. I'm loving it. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Thursday 2 July 2020

Failure to Garden

I've got a load of plants that I daren't put out in the garden in case they are swept away in the water. The rain is pretty relentless. Regardless, if it doesn't ease up soon, I'm going to have to plant them in the rain. The garden looks pretty poor, but given the sort of year I've had so far, I'll take it.

I had another telephone call about bear's health today. This time it was sorting out specialists. It was about something we had forgotten about, which is sort of a relief. Bear is doing okay, but he's not always taking codeine when he could, which is sort of worrying and sort of reassuring. 

Today is Thursday. I have to remind myself of that on a regular basis. I have tried to establish that I go out and do my own thing on a Thursday, but it feels a little inappropriate with the all the restrictions around. I'm trying to push my comfort zone, though, so I went to an Aldi that I hadn't visited before and that is tricky to get to on the more usual routes. I managed it! I also think I'll be going there more as it's nearer than the one I usually go to, it's much bigger with a bigger car park, I also go past a Lidl and a very nice farm shop and it's good for me to get the driving practice. 

I picked up some good stuff. Tonight we had roast tomato and vegetable soup with cumin and tumeric. It was spicier than I expected, but I got some large bags of spices from the world food aisle, and I think they are fresher and have more vigour than the little jars. It helped warm me up, but I still feel like I should put the central heating on. Tomorrow is looking like it could have curry.

Writing stuff - lots and lots of writing stuff! Some extremely lovely people are helping me out and I should be getting another interview published within a week, which is amazing! I'll like to what comes out, but it's someone very involved in the steampunk world, so I feel somewhat overawed (even though she is awesome!). So I'm doing my best to get things perfect, and link things together and check things and I have far too many tabs open.

For those interested, I've self published the story that got me entangled in Steampunk, Deepest Desire, the tale of a gallant aether pilot and his adventure in the Balkans on the edge of the Ottoman Empire. All the details are on my writing blog, here, with a little background on how I came to write it and links to the ebook on Amazon where it should be less than £1 and to Booksprout, where you can pick up an ebook review copy for free. I think my writing blog is going to become very busy, so I may just link to it more. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 1 July 2020

So Far, So Busy

Thank you for the kind wishes - gratefully received.

I wish I was a better cook. Or, rather, I wish I cared more about cooking. I've just dumped some chicken in a jar of sweet and sour sauce and bunged it in the oven (okay, added some onion and frozen peas, but not exactly cooking), and set some rice in the rice cooker. I have a bought apple pie for dessert. It is a fail. 

If I could make myself interested, I'm sure I'd be able to make something nicer, and less expensive! Instead I feel very inadequate and overwhelmed. Bear and DH seem happy enough, but I wonder how hard it can be to make my own sweet and sour sauce. Then I start wondering if I can make sweet and sour sauce for under 80p, or the cost of the Tesco own brand sauce, and then I wonder if mine would be significantly healthier, and then I consider breaded chicken and oven baked potato products for dinner next time. Or possibly beans on toast.

The recurring trouble is that if I try to make any sort of plan for dinner, something happens. I've found I have a much better chance of success if I don't mention what I am cooking until the last minute. The men usually enjoy it thoroughly. Of course, random stuff happens, like backing cars into other cars in car parks, or unexpected phone calls from physios that I took today in the middle of the supermarket. I ended up coming home with an even more random assortment than usual. I also forgot the polenta, which I had hoped to use in a cake. 

I've got a lot of writing stuff going on. While I was struggling with various programmes, I had some herbs delivered. I had ordered plants online and they came today. I'm not sure to water them in when I plant them or hope that they don't float away by themselves in all the rain that we've been having. I was very disappointed in the coriander plants, although I'm not as worried about slugs eating them. They'd have to find them first, and that would be a challenge. 

And I can't find my phone. 

And Microsoft bounced the story I sent to a magazine and I didn't get the notification until after submissions closed. 

And I may have had too much caffeine.

Writing stuff - this may be the reason I have had too much caffeine. As I may have mentioned a gazillion times, I have a novel coming out on 23 July, Out of the London Mist. Today I've been interviewed by the Three Furies Press, and you can read the interview here

I've also been working on publicity for the book. One of the ideas is to publish the short(ish) story that started all the steampunk writing, Deepest Desire, and use it as a teaser. So far today I have designed a cover, tried to remember what to put about copyright, and I've uploaded it to Amazon for 99c, or around 85p. It isn't showing yet, and there may be snags, but hopefully it will turn up. However I should be able to make it a giveawy later, with Booksprout. Booksprout is a site where you can follow authors who will often give away advanced copies of their books in exchange for a review. If you have a favourite author, it may be worth following them on there. It's no use looking for me at this moment, though, as I'm still working it out. I should be able to give away Deepest Desire, the prequel to Out of the London Mist, free to anyone who would like it as a promotion. Reviews would be kind, but I'm just grateful that anyone would like to read what I write. 

Part of the rising stress levels here is that I need to convert the files from doc to other types of file like epub and mobi. I have been here before. It is apparently incredibly easy to do this using a number of different programmes. I fail at these programmes. I have consumed my own considerable bodyweight in caffeine. It isn't becoming clearer. I'll share when I have more.

Hugs and good health to all.