Thursday 31 December 2020

Still Frosty

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

The traces of snow are very small.

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 30 December 2020

Darn it to Heck

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Awesome Day

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 28 December 2020

Mild Win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing stuff - Today's flash fiction is here.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 27 December 2020


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all.

Saturday 26 December 2020

Making Decisions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 25 December 2020

Chin Length Hat

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

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

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

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

Thursday 24 December 2020

Almost There!

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Almost C Day

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Purple Casserole

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 21 December 2020

Shortest Day Longest Night

Cool Yule to all those who celebrate the old festivals. 

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 20 December 2020

Action Pending

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 19 December 2020

A Fail

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 18 December 2020

What Have I Forgotten?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 17 December 2020

I Avoided the Motorway

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Grumbling Along

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all.

Tuesday 15 December 2020

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all.

Monday 14 December 2020

Monday Has Happened

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

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

Writing stuff - a very short story here

Hugs and good health to all.

Sunday 13 December 2020


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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 12 December 2020

Quiet Saturday

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

Pic of old clock - over a hundred years old.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 11 December 2020

The End of Another Week

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all.

Thursday 10 December 2020

Hospital Check Up

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Something Worked Out

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

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

Hugs and good health to all.

Tuesday 8 December 2020

I Have Issues

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 7 December 2020

Another Week

 Thank you for all the good wishes. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 4 December 2020

I Do Not Approve

There was snow!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 3 December 2020

No Snow Yet

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 2 December 2020

No Idea

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all.

Tuesday 1 December 2020

Could be Worse

Pam - I'd rather write about vampires lol!

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

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

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

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

Hugs and good health to all.