Tuesday 26 January 2021

A Little Better

Wherethejourneytakesme - I wish I was as industrious as you.

Sharon - your wildlife sounds amazing! Mind you, I'm not sure how I'd cope with a raccoon.

Col - I may give that a try. We're on a shared supply and a few years back there was a marijuana farm behind us and I think they messed with the water supply. That filter sounds great.

After bear had finished online school, I took him out to the park. It's a twenty minute drive, but it's in the middle of a town and it's the one we always go to, so I think it's okay. We didn't go into any shops (partly because it was threatening snow on the way back).

Bear abandoned me to explore the (very small) wooded bits while I wandered around the pond. It's still frozen in parts. 

I really do take rubbish photos. The one above is supposed to show the geese standing on the surface of the pond. 

I've got a big chunk of writing I need to get done, so I'm likely to be away for a week.

Hugs and good health to all.

Monday 25 January 2021

Monday - Could be Worse

It's been a funny sort of day. I had planned to clear out my bedroom (which is my office) and mentally put ideas in order. I am confident that no-one will be surprised to know that my bedroom looks exactly the same but the bathroom is much cleaner. 

Also, my joints are aching. I didn't sleep well and I'm feeling like I need to be ironed out. I'll have an early night and I'm sure that I'll be better for it.

Writing stuff - a little flash fiction here and a wonderful preview in the Steampunk Journal here

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 24 January 2021


Bless - thank you for the congratulations! It's exciting times. I'm currently working on a medieval fantasy, and I'll see how that goes. As for that sewing channel - what a temptation! There is a place local to us that does bundles of rags that are old t-shirts and shirts and such and I could buy 5kg relatively inexpensively and then have a play at some of those designs. I also have some of the newer ones on a loop on YouTube and I then switch to writing, with the relaxing music as the background. I'm resisting the rags thing as I have too much yarn at the moment. I hope I can hold out.

I broke and nipped to Aldi for some wraps and water. Our tap water tastes foul. I've got a Delifresh delivery on Wednesday and I'm hoping that I'll be able to hold out until at least next Friday. I waited until the end of the day so it wasn't too busy and dived in and out as quickly as I could.

Image from WikiCommons, taken by Tiia Monto and used under the Creative Commons Agreement

We have a bird feeder and it's been getting some traffic. We have suet nuts, seeds, fat balls and peanuts. The peanuts are a particular favourite with the bluetits, and I've seen them fly off with them quite regularly. The sparrows seem to go more for the seeds. I've only seen the wagtails leaving the garden, but I think that they've helped themselves to food and the suet balls are going down well. There are jackdaws around, and a robin or two, and DH saw a magpie enjoying a few peanuts earlier. The peanuts were also an attraction for the visiting rat. Sigh. I think that we'll just have to hope that the magpies sort out any unwanted rodents. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 23 January 2021

Unicorn Friendly

Fifitr - I'm sorry about your delivery. I've got one scheduled for next Wednesday and I'm braced! I agree, it's the fancier stuff that interests me. I'm trying not to go out, but I may make an exception for the farm shop. I hope you got the drawers cleared. Important - no-one visiting here need to read my novels. I'm incredibly flattered that people do, but I would hate to lose the friends on here because of writing. That's why I usually stick 'writing stuff' at the end. I see this blog as a place for friends. I make other spaces for writing. I link here, because some people enjoy what I've written. I am incredibly grateful for the support and kindness I find in both spaces. 

Today was another wonderfully quiet day. Bear has discovered Derren Brown, and we watched some one of his performances this morning while I got on with some knitting. I got a little washing done and a little sorting out. I have succumbed to some yarn.

No unicorns were harmed in the production of this 4ply. It's Mermaid 4ply in the Rumba colourway, from Marriners Yarns. I've always had good service from them, and their inexpensive DK is very pleasant to knit. I'm hoping that the 4ply is also friendly. It's a British firm based in Cardiff that claims to go back to 1784. I'm planning a blanket with this, and I was given some money as a gift so I have some yarn on its way with a pattern for a sweater in a similar colour. If it has come from unicorns, I'm sure that they were free range. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 22 January 2021

Another Quiet Day

It's been wonderfully, wonderfully quiet. Well, for a given value of quiet.

Bear broke his desk drawer during a drama lesson. The desk was incredibly inexpensive to start with, and I think we bought it when he was in primary school. Then the drawer was recently overfilled when bear reorganised his room. It didn't stand a chance.

I was clearing out a set of three drawers next to my chair and found dozens and dozens of pairs of nail scissors and twenty pencil sharpeners. As bear is learning from home, he isn't losing sharpeners at the same rate, so these may last for a while. As for the scissors, I don't think that they're very good, as I had a phase where I couldn't find decent nail scissors for love nor money and kept trying to replace them. I'll test a few out and see how they cut. 

Thank you to everyone who has bought my book. I'm incredibly grateful. I never take readers for granted.

Hugs and good health to all.

Thursday 21 January 2021

Funny Sort of Day

It's been a strange sort of day. Under the Bright Saharan Sun came out (sorry, it's compulsory to link). Bear had schooling issues. And, while I'm safe, the city centre had floods. 

I don't know what to put, so I thought I'd share this. What do a banana and a helicopter have in common? Neither of them is a policeman.

Writing stuff - And, during some serious and scary rain, I got notification of an utterly awesome review in the Never Was Magazine - here. It's very flattering and I feel a little overawed.

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Delivery Came

Tesco deliver with tray liners (if asked) and I plan to save one or two. I had to decant a 2.5kg bag of sultanas and the tray liner was perfect for catching strays. I think I will keep them in reserve for when I'm decanting washing powder into the tin as I usually get the dratted stuff everywhere. I also think they will be useful if bear continues with his painting experiments. Also, I can say goodbye to keeping the grouting in the bathroom white. Paints have a habit of getting everywhere!

I've spent most of the day fighting with my writing. It's still fun, though.

Writing stuff - Under the Bright Saharan Sky is out tomorrow. Here's the synopsis. 

John Farnley, reluctant Lord and Peer, agrees to fly Professor Entwistle and Miss Sylvia Armley on their expedition, for the usual fees. It was planned as a straightforward trip to Sudan searching under the Saharan sky for obscure Nubian pyramids where they would hopefully unearth new archaeological remains.

But instead they find a desperate woman, a dying man, and the ominous threat of mercenaries left leaderless after the recent colonial wars, mercenaries who are also interested in the treasures that might be hidden within the pyramids. And what could this have to do with the stories of djinn?

Trapped by an aether storm that left their aether flyer powerless, the companions work desperately to find out the secrets of the pyramids as the threat of the mercenaries grows.

Could this have anything to do with the forbidden knowledge of Hammerhand’s creation? Will the courage of John Farnley, the knowledge of Professor Entwistle, and the sharpshooting skills of Sylvia Armley save them? Or will it be the secret locked in the bronze figures?

I had so much fun writing this, it ought to be illegal. And just one more sleep until its out.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 19 January 2021

I Stayed Home

Sharon - bear keeps a close eye on things. We joke about stuff. I'll say things like, 'I love you so much that I paid full price for this.' It's not a bad thing to take forward.

Wherethejourneytakesme - I think I've seen some calls to ban tarmac on gardens because of the issues that it causes with flooding. I hope you stay dry.

Fifitr - From what I understand, there are more storms now because of climate change. The hotter the air, even by half a degree, then the more energy in the atmosphere and therefore more storms. I suspect  it may get worse. It can also lead to more episodes of 'Beast from the East' ironically because it affects wind patterns so air comes from a colder direction. In fact, there is a even a small chance that we could get a mini ice age because the melting ice caps could interfere with the North Atlantic Conveyor (I think I've got it right). It produces the Gulf Stream which keeps the UK comparatively warm compared to other places at the same latitude. If the Gulf Stream stops (which is plausible in the right mathematical models) then suddenly the UK gets a lot colder and it could kick of a serious cold event. The last thing I saw about it, though, was that the Gulf Stream may stop but it wouldn't cool down as much as was thought a decade or so ago. 

As for bear and budgets, well, as he has Christmas and his birthday so close together, he has to budget for stuff if he wants things mid year. Poor lad can't wait for his next birthday/Christmas if he fancies something in March. He gets £1 for every year of his age per week and he has to save up for things like computer games. I know in the past, when he has been desperate for particular sets of pens and pencils, he's asked for jobs to do for me for extra money. He's got a selection of the fancy pencils, like the Derwent Watercolour pencils, which he was using tonight. I asked him about Caran D'Ache and bear's eyes lit up. Apparently they are much superior to those he already has and he has just spent some time investigating them on Amazon (and explaining them to me - I didn't really catch it all). I'll let him budget for it if he wants them. He said it was fine to share this.

He's having a lot of fun, and I'm encouraging him. It's good to be creative. It's actually a colouring book but with watercolour paper, so he can use it with more than just the pencils. And if he does spend a fortune on something he doesn't use, well, then it's better to learn the lesson now rather than later.

I have considered giving him a budget for clothes (though I would get the school uniform and basic underwear) but bear is currently fairly uninterested in clothes and such like. I'll keep that idea in reserve.

I need to remember to take pics. I got the Co-op Delivery and I was happy with it. If you are stuck and need a delivery but can't get a slot with the main players, then I recommend that you at least try a sample delivery. NB, this isn't a paid for thingy, though I think I should get on to getting the online shopping blog going again as I think I could be useful. On here, I'm just sharing what I know in these times.

I ordered a few bits. Minimum order is £15 plus carrier bag fees, and the delivery charge varies (I paid 99p). I think it is meant for the smaller orders. If I understand it, mine was delivered by Just Eat rather than the Co-op in a van, so it was just someone in their car. But the chilled stuff came cold, the small bag of frozen chopped onions were still frozen and everything was there. I think it is more expensive than Tesco/Asda/Morrisons but it isn't bad quality. There is a strong ethical side to the Co-op, even after all these years, and if you sign up for a card then a (very small) percentage of all that you spend will be donated to local charities. 

The men of the house approved. I got a jar of pasta sauce for 49p (yes, I can make my own, but this was easy, inexpensive and probably better than I could make) and the men liked it. I stirred into fried mushrooms and onions before adding it to the pasta and (Co-op) meatballs and it was very nice. I got some packs of melon chunks as a treat which also met with approval. There are also some gluten free options as well, which I'm grateful for. I will use them again for the bits for sandwiches, I think. By the time I've added some sandwich meat, wraps and fruit, I should easily reach £15 and then do a monthly top up with Tesco. It would have to be once a month as getting a slot with Tesco is difficult. 

btw Aldi do deliveries through Deliveroo, and I think I'll trial them soon.

Writing stuff - two more sleeps until Under the Bright Saharan Sky comes out. And speaking of bargains, it is currently 77p but will be around £3 from 21st January.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 18 January 2021

Still January

The weather today was adequate and I'm sticking with it. 

Sharon - bear has already a stack of pens and pencils. Some were coaxed out of me or family and some he bought himself. He has curated a looooong wish list of pencils and I'm making him buy his own. It won't be any Louis Vuitton pencils but not all of them are inexpensive. Bear is very good at comparison shopping and is very careful with his own money. I watch from a safe distance.

I went to the tip and then carefully dropped off some dry cleaning. I came straight home without shopping! And got stuck in gridlocked traffic and ended up coming back home the long way around. I've been writing and pottering since then. 

I've put in an online order with the Co-op, and I'll share how it went tomorrow. I have a plan to go to the Post Office on Wednesday and then I plan to stay in afterwards until perhaps next week. Tomorrow there is an Amber weather warning for rain, but should be safe for the Co-op to come here, then slightly less rain on Wednesday followed by a chance of snow. It's a time for hiding under the blanket. 

Writing stuff - Three more sleeps until Under the Bright Saharan Sky is out. I've put up a piece that is a hint of Lady Clara's outlook here on my writing blog here

Hugs and good health to all

Sunday 17 January 2021

Wonderfully Quiet

 I hacked back some of the bushes opposite. I forgot to take photos, but it was ridiculous. Even before the snow they were scraping the car roof, and the snow made things worse. I'm planning on making a few more raids on the bushes as the weeks go on. It's ridiculous. The laurels are planted on stony ground with a very sharp ditch away from the road, so most of their roots are on our side. Too much heavy rain (like the stuff forecast) or stiff winds (also forecast) could make a right mess of it and I don't fancy them landing on our cars.

Bear is enjoying his colouring. Unfortunately he has been watching YouTube videos of colouring which have showcased some expensive pens and pencils - of course. Bear is relatively sensible for a teenager, and knows that it would be his own money paying for it. He is also well aware of the value of shopping around. He nearly fell off his chair earlier. Apparently there is a Louis Vuitton set of pencils that is around $900 for 40 pencils. He doesn't want those. 

When we are back to normal, I'm going to take bear to the Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick in the Lake District. I'm a little intimidated by the roads, but there aren't many motorways or dual carriageways so I should be fine. Or, if not fine, better than the motorway. 

When I was a kid, we went on a coach tour that went through the Kirkstone Pass. I remember there was a tourist type place and I bought a bracelet that was just cheap links with squares of the local granite glued on. I loved that bracelet and I wish I had kept it, but the backs went rusty. I wonder if I will be able to drive through there at any time soon. I had a quick look on Google Maps and it looks a really tough drive - but it's so beautiful. It's through the mountains and the road winds and twists unexpectedly. 

Bear and I are making lists of places to go. It will be awesome.

Hugs and good health to all.

Saturday 16 January 2021

Nearly Drove on Snow

DH has had to go away so bear and I planned an easy day. It started with us hanging out on our computers together and it's carrying on in the same way. However we really wanted treats for dinner, and I decided now was as good a time as any to get close to snow. The roads seemed quite clear, but probably not too busy, and I could pick up the groceries for the next few days as I've got a Tesco delivery for 20th (day before the publication of the next book). 

Sharon - it's weird at the moment. The snow has sort of frozen in place but it's crunchy and not so slippery. I had a pair of those things you wear on shoes at one point. I shall have to dig them out. 

Fifitr - I think I'll see about getting a Delifresh delivery next. They are pretty good and easy to deal with. I'm also thinking of Co-op deliveries, as they are delivering in this area and possibly undersubscribed. I'll share any results. I think that we all have heard the laurels cracking, and I don't know how much they can recover. They've squashed the fence, though.

Before I even thought about driving, I had to get out. The trees were still incredibly low and blocked that side of the road even without the snow.

So bear and I, with the help of awesome neighbour next door but one, had a hack at the bushes.

I hope you can see the chunk we hacked off. Bear thought it was amazing as he got to use the saw. Give a man a tool and a target and, for my family, they are in heaven. I got through fine but I'm going to do the ones opposite us when the weather is clearer as they scraped loudly over the roof of my car. It has got to the stage where I am seriously concerned that they will come down on the cars, if not the houses. 

The rosemary that was squashed yesterday seems to be rebounding as well, so I hope it recovers.

It was okay on the roads. There were a few moments when I felt the wheel tugging away from my hands, but nothing major. I stuck to the main roads and took my time. Next time it is like this, I'll probably stay at home. However if I have to go out in snow, I think I'm a little more prepared. The worst part was Tesco car park which was not only packed, but ungritted. 

Bear is having fun colouring. It's a really healthy past time so I'm encouraging it. He's been putting the pencils in colour order, and, as he has a few issues seeing colours, I have spent most of the afternoon telling him if something is red, brown or purple. I have also been dipping into an incredibly tempting YouTube channel. Please send vibes to stay strong as I cannot afford the money, time or space to get caught up in sewing. I just find it so relaxing watching though. It is a channel making tiny things from scraps with incredibly relaxing music. 

There's lots of hand sewing with tiny stitches and embroidery and I find it soooooooo tempting. I don't really have the skill to try it, but I am kidding myself I could get better with practice. I'll set myself a promise of when I've got through most of my knitting, then I can perhaps dabble in these. Until then, I can listen to the music. 

Writing stuff - five more days until Under the Bright Saharan Sky comes out.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 15 January 2021

Still Staying In

There hasn't been any more snow, but it's been frozen in place. 

Fifitr - I'm not sure that the laurels will recover. About eighteen months or so ago, someone went through and cut back the laurels on the Matalan side of the fence but not our side. I think it was fairly drastic. This left them very unbalanced and they were already tilting towards us. They've been bowed over by snow before, though never this bad, but now they have nothing to balance them on the other side. They were already brushing the roof of my car as I went past. Now they have really sunk. I'm worried that they will have been so pushed down and then frozen that they won't easily spring back. I'm also worried that they will just fall over. Our house should be fine, more or less, but the cars won't. This is a pic from this morning.

Snow has been sliding off things all day, but it's still in place in the street and on the laurels, and they don't look like they are relaxing and going back. They've shed a lot of snow, but they are still only a foot or so away from the footpath. 

The numbers on the news sound very bad. DH was talking about getting deliveries regardless. I'm on the fence. If we get deliveries then it is one less person in the supermarket and we can stick to a limited deliveries. And there seem to be a lot more slots. I shall have to have a long think about it. Though if I can get out tomorrow, I'm going and getting stuff for sandwiches. The men will have to reconsider lunches if we are getting deliveries.

Hugs and good health to all.

Thursday 14 January 2021

Not Rain

Fifitr - yes! That is such a recognisable Sunday tea. Salad was a very different animal then to now. We always had the home made trifle on special occasions as me and my brothers took turns decorating it with jelly triangles and sprinkles. I love my gadgets, so the instant pot is calling to me.

Thank you for all the ideas about the instant pot. I find it incredibly tempting, but I will hold off for now. I've got a multi cooker that doesn't pressure cook which I use mainly for rice and it does fine. Of course, when that gives up, I'll think again. Or perhaps even before. I am not known for my strong will.

Today was supposed to be rain. When I got up, the snow was already half an inch deep. I decided not to go to the tip, and we didn't really need anything else. I stayed in. 

I'm worried about the laurels over the road. I'm tempted to go and cut them back myself. The weight of the snow pulled them down, and they blocked off half of the road. Even if I had felt confident of driving in snow, I would not have felt confident in squeezing past the branches. Here are some pics.

The bent over laurels cover more than half of  the road. There is a path on the right which has a high kerb.

From another angle. They don't normally bend this low

We didn't try and feed the birds today as we didn't think that they would be able to get to their favourite peanuts

I could do with a few bits tomorrow or Saturday for stuff for standwiches. I'll keep an eye on the conditions. If I had to go out, I would. However, I'm not going to risk my safety and others. 

Writing stuff - just seven days before Under the Bright Sahara Sky is published. It's still at its pre-published price, so if you are going to get it, now is a good time!

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Bored of Nonsense

Fifitr - that is so familiar! We would sometimes get the tinned salmon for Sunday tea, or for special events in the summer. Did you get the trifle? That always came out for birthdays and visits. It sounds quite sad about Mrs Merry, but at least she had friends that would invite her for tea.

I started the day well. I felt refreshed when I got up, bunged some washing in the washer, did a little ironing, brought in the bins and then that stupid ladybits nonsense started again. I've been crippled since lunchtime. I'm fed up. I have an appointment with the tip tomorrow and I will have to stop off at a chemist to get some decent painkillers. I admit to being a little worried about the snow that's forecast, but hopefully it will hold off until after my journey. I also need to pick up some sandwich meat for DH and bear. 

Bear has been in a lot of pain today. However he's cracked on with his school work, and got a couple of positives. I think he's a little stressed, but he seems to be doing okay. 

I watched a video about Instant Pots and I felt the siren call of a new gadget. I'm sort of tempted, but I know I'm scared of pressure cookers. I feel there is a good chance of me resisting, though happy to hear any recommendations or warnings!

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 12 January 2021

More Family Musings

I was thinking about my scariest great-aunt, Aunt W. She was my mother's aunt and I only ever knew her as a frail looking, little old lady who survived on sweets, cigarettes and sherry into her nineties. She never married, but was in touch with her brothers and sisters and their families and was a terror. She had that knack of looking someone up and down and saying exactly what would reduce them to a puddle of embarrassed humiliation. She terrified me, and the rest of the family tiptoed around her. She wasn't a church goer, but otherwise was one of those 'old ladies in hats' that I wrote of. She had a mind like surgical steel and a capacious memory and didn't mind watching people squirm.

According to the family, she started work when she was sixteen, keeping the books for a family firm. She never left. She kept working there well into her seventies and I believe she very quickly became the 'office dragon' which no-one dared cross, intimidating three generations of the family. The trouble with employing someone like Aunt W was that after a few years, she knew all the secrets. She knew where things had been stashed ten years ago and could remember the supplier and the costings. She was an extremely useful office dragon. After she retired, she helped her sister run a wool shop and took on all the reps who had had an easier ride with Aunt C. 

Aunt W was a knitter. She loved intricate Aran patterns, the ones with instructions that look like algebra with lots of cables and panels - the ones that I don't even consider trying! The sort that look like Chris Evans' sweater in 'Knives Out'. Except she didn't just follow a complicated pattern. Instead she would take a panel with a favourite cable from one pattern, a particularly interesting cable from another pattern, and then take the sizing from a third, adapting the stitch counts and repeats as she went. She was very good with numbers, the sort that runs their eyes over a column of numbers and just jots the correct total at the bottom without effort. She was quicker than the salesman demonstrating adding machines when they first came out.

When I thought about her, I realised why there were fewer of these formidable ladies around. If she had been born in my generation, she would have gone to university and ended up running departments, starting a business or researching something complicated in labs. They have a place in society that is more than directing their formidable energy into the church tea rota. 

Today has been quiet, with all that nonsense continuing. It's hard to do anything as there is a lot of pain. On the bright side, I've been able to hang out with bear between his lessons, and he's been great company.

Hugs and good health to all.  

Monday 11 January 2021

Old Ladies in Hats

Thank you for all the solidarity. It is much appreciated! Hugs to those who suffer or have suffered. 

Sarah - darn these cycles to heck, and the exercise comment was so ironic! 

Fifitr - when I was little, I was fascinated by the poem 'Lochinvar' in the 1920s set of encyclopedias that belonged to my grandfather. It may have affected my writing. Old books can be such a great influence.

Wherethejourneytakesme - I think that it's only right that the supermarkets enforce their rules. I see that Morrisons will. I plan to be going again on Thursday (another tip run) and then trying to get it to once per week. I shall have to be very stringent with a list and do without stuff I forget.

Today I had a long trip planned, but I am also showing a few signs of kidney stones (though none of the serious ones) and I was in a lot of pain, so after the tip I only managed a stagger around Tesco, which was very quiet. 

As a couple have mentioned my great-great-aunt, I thought I'd share my thoughts. I never met her. She died when my mother was quite young, but was very much a grandmother figure to my mother. I've heard a few stories about her, as well as her mother and niece, and I think she was one of those 'old ladies in hats' that were so formidable when I was young.

When I think about it, these ladies and their ancestors may have been the reason that Britain got an Empire. The menfolk fled abroad to escape them. My brother has traced our family tree back to the sixteenth century and there was a lot of movement in that branch of the family, even long before the railways. It was to escape the strong minded women. My grandfather was one of six. They were all born in different towns, grouped around the Wirral. His father was a ship's captain who sailed from Liverpool. He came home every three years, got his wife pregnant, moved house and then was off again. His poor wife was moving around to escape her mother-in-law, or the great-great-aunt's mother. That lady was known as the Duchess, and was the housekeeper for years up at the big house of the village, with a reputation of terrifying the staff. 

My great-great-aunt, call her Aunt E, knew everyone. She ran the post office, library, and I think she was involved in the Sunday school. Mother talked about doing flowers in church with her. There will have been committees for the village fete and sale of work, and she would have been on them all. Any vicar who had the nerve to try and impose his will on the church would soon realise his mistake as those old ladies in hats would carry on regardless after a cool, 'I don't think so'. The old ladies could look a youngster up and down and know exactly how to reduce them to a puddle of mortification. It was a form of martial arts that had been honed by experience, gossip and cynicism. Aunt E belonged to a very tough minded family and was a veteran of village life. No vicar would stand a chance and making sure that he knew his place was a duty.

Her niece, my great-aunt, Aunt C, was the last regular church goer in the village and she was possibly the one with the nicest nature. She was a lovely person, quite shy and a little overshadowed by the rest of the family. She lived to 101 and I miss her. On the whole, her strong Christian beliefs kept her from being too hard on the vicar, but she had Views and was not afraid to express them. There was an ongoing battle of wills as the vicar was 'High' church with a move towards the more Catholic side of the Anglican Church. Aunt C was 'Low' church and wasn't going to be bullied into calling the minister 'Father' instead of 'Mr' or 'Rev'. She never caved and from what I saw of the church magazine, he wasn't called 'Father' there or anywhere else. And she was the easiest of the siblings.

I was probably the last of the ladies of the family to have much to do with the vicar there, and I was possibly a little unnerving. As a background, this was in Wales and there was 'Chapel' and 'Church' and possibly a sense that those who didn't want much ritual or formality would go to Chapel. The Church was likely to have a little more ceremony. My mother wanted to be buried there, but was very much against ritual and ceremony and left instructions. I was the one who arranged the service and went to see the vicar. 

He had held a few funerals for family before, and the consensus was that he wasn't that good at them. So instead of a daughter in deepest grief, he had me being firm. I was channelling my fiercer ancestors and not ready to be told what to do. I gave him a copy of the eulogy, a list of the reading, psalm and hymns, the section of the Common Worship prayer book to use and a complete veto of anything else. I wasn't trying to be difficult, but looking back, I think he looked a little stunned when I left. I wasn't meaning to be difficult, but I have been told that I can be scary at times, and I was in no mood to take any nonsense. The service was fine. This is the same place that had the difficulty with my mother's grave, but it was a different vicar. I didn't take much nonsense from him either, looking back.

Here is a pic of the church. I got married here. My mother, uncle and grandparents are buried here as well as Aunt E and Aunt C. 

Writing stuff - still gearing up to the release of Under the Bright Saharan Sky, and today's flash fiction is a little hint of what may be coming. 

Sunday 10 January 2021

I Lost a Lot of Comments

A while back I accidentally posted all comments. This included some people's emails, which I had kept hidden. I immediately deleted every comment, just in case. So the wonderful person who asked - no, I don't have your email, but if you are kind enough to leave it, I will take care of it. I would love to subscribe, and I'll share details on here if you think it appropriate.

Today has had a lot of pain in it. I am desperately unimpressed. It's just girly bits and my time of life, but I could do without it. I've managed to do a little writing, and even took a needed photo. It's of a book I bought for research, and I nearly pulled a muscle hefting it around. It weighs a ton!

It looked a lot smaller in the eBay listing and I suspect that the seller undercharged me drastically for postage. It is an 1899 Times Gazetteer of the World, and it is huge. Some entries are more detailed than others. It's actually open on the page for Sudan, and it's quite sad that such a huge country has such a small entry.

I need to have a good look around. Somewhere in this house is an historical atlas, probably printed around 1870 or so. I'll have to have a look for clues when I find it. On the fly leaf is the date 1890 and the name of my great-great-aunt. It would be perfect for research - including any adventures caused by out of date maps. Her brothers were ships' captains, so she probably understood about the importance of up to date maps, but she wasn't very old at the time. She was, I believe, a pupil teacher. That is, a young woman who learned 'on the job' teaching in a small village school. She went on to run the Post Office and the library and terrify the vicar. It also has maps of the Roman Empire, amongst others, showing the information that was available then. 

I've booked a tip run for tomorrow, and the car is already packed and quite full. Then I'll go on to Tesco, Aldi, the farm shop and then home. DH and bear like a particular type of flavoured water that you can only get in Tesco. There is a lot of mutterings about stricter lockdowns, and Tesco is eight miles from me. It's where I went before all this happened, and my favourite shop. There is another large Tesco, this time in the same postal district, but it's at least as far away and on scary roads. I shall have to stick to the more local supermarkets, and go once or twice a week. I will see how I go on. I plan to include lots and lots of sanitiser and masks.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 9 January 2021

More Grumble

The combination of my age and lady bits means that I have been moving very carefully at well spaced out intervals, mainly to and from the bathroom. DH and bear have been awesome and left me alone as I have browsed Wish (haven't bought anything yet) and watched tv programmes on Amazon. 

One random purchase has arrived. I bought some scarf rings and brooches in a sort of random, inexpensive bundle and it included this.

I have no idea what it is, apart from I have to get it into a story. Watch this space.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 8 January 2021


Thank you for all the encouragement. I'm determined to see it as a new attitude. Just want to mention Mindo talked about getting rid of things on and Buy Nothing, which are awesome ideas. Sarah has mentioned refuges and homeless charities. These are all great ideas.

When I went on the epic-for-me-but-not-huge walk on the day before yesterday, I was thinking about my female bits and that I was now probably at the end of the menopause. It felt good to be rid of all that nonsense. I'm surprised I didn't hear sniggers at the time, because that nonsense has been back with gusto yesterday and today. I am unimpressed. I am also moving much. 

Bear has been fine. School continues and bear seems to be doing okay. He was frustrated that while it has snowed all day, not a flake of it has stuck and it's still muddy looking outside. Mind you, the forecast is for severe frost tonight so I suppose it will be nice and white tomorrow morning.

Writing stuff - There will be lots of bits about writing stuff for the next few weeks as I gear up to the release of Under a Bright Saharan Sky on 21st January. For those who read and enjoyed Out of the London Mist, I believe this is a better story. It moves away from the usual steampunk stamping ground of murkey East End London and into the Sudan just after the Mahdi rebellion was crushed. I had far too much fun writing it. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 6 January 2021

It Seemed Like a Good Idea

Cherie - I feel soooo hugged by that comment. Pass on my thanks to Tony and let him know that he's encouraged me. If you drop your email in the comments, I won't publish it but I'll get in touch with some more info (had to lose a lot of comments so haven't currently got it)

Fifitr - I think you're right - I need to be sparing in my shopping trips. I've spoken to the men of the house and DH and bear will let me know what they need so I only need to go to the shop once or twice a week. I can't in conscience get deliveries when I am able to get out. And I really want to run down the stores. The hard part is knowing that stuff is going to the tip which may, at other times, have been worth going to a charity shop. I think the charities are one of the businesses that are getting hit hard during this. 

Today I walked. I've mentioned about my complete lack of fitness, my worrying lack of strength in my legs and my inability to leave the house before I learned to drive. Today I realised that I have come on a little way. I'm nowhere near where I should be, but I'm nearer. 

I drove Red to KwikFit for a service. They have been awesome in the past, and so I felt okay leaving her with them. I decided to get the bus back home. I didn't live that far away, but further than I thought I could walk, and it wouldn't be a picturesque journey, more walking past small industrial estates but I thought that using the bus would get me more active as I walked between stops. I would have to change in Leeds. So I left the garage and walked to the bus stop. West Yorkshire Metro do a thing where if you text them the number on the bus stop, they text back with the times of the buses due. I would have to wait ten minutes for the next bus. I decided to walk to the next bus stop rather than stand around in the cold.

I got to the next bus stop, and peered ahead. I don't know the area very well, but I recognised the roundabout ahead. I could walk the few hundred yards to the roundabout, turn left and go down another road that has buses that meant I would just need one bus and a little walk. It seemed like a good idea. 

I trudged up the hill, found the bus stop and checked the wait time. It was eight minutes. I thought that I could surely walk to the next bus stop in eight minuties. If I had been on a different road or bus route, I would have managed it fine, but there weren't many houses around, just industrial units and garages, so I was fifty yards short of the stop when the bus sailed past me. 

I had a think. I could stand in the cold, with nowhere to sit or lean, for fifteen minutes until the next bus came and ride four stops (as mentioned, the stops are quite spread out, which is something). I could go on to the next stop and have the shame of riding a bus for three stops. Or I could walk home. I decided to walk. 

I checked on Google maps and I walked two and three quarter miles home. This is not actually that far. When I was a teenager, I would roam around for five miles or more without hesitation. But then when I moved away I became very wary about where I walked, and then I became even more shut in, then there were various health issues, so that by 2018 I was physically unable to walk this far. Today I walked further than I thought I was capable. And even in the industrial estates, there were still some lovely glimpses of nature.

I'll be honest, I got a taxi when I went to pick the car up. The driver terrified me and told me that Covid wasn't serious. I should have walked there. Mind you, I can't move now, so I would have been a wreck.

The service was fine, and the only extra was a bulb needed for the number plate light. Red ran like a dream as I had a quick run around but I didn't stop anywhere. 

I don't know if I'll be able to move tomorrow, but I promised bear that we would do some stuff in the garden. Please wish me luck - so stiff after such a little walk, but it's a big step for me. I'm determined not to fall back.

Writing stuff - getting nearer the publication date of the sequel to Out of the London Mist, which is called Under the Bright Saharan Sky. It's a little odd as while I run around trying to do the right thing in the run up to publication, I'm also working on a fantasy novel. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 5 January 2021

Still Shopping

Bless - all good wishes for you in the New Year.

Sharon - scary, scary times. I just hope that there's a good take up of the vaccine.

Today I got a lot of ironing done. There's still a significant amount left, but it's the size of the foothills of the Himalayas, rather than K2. I pulled out quite a few bits that bear had outgrown (where does the time go?) and bundled it up ready for the clothes bank. When I went to make dinner, we were out of the breaded chicken that I had planned. I still had other stuff so we had mince and mash. As I have a car service tomorrow, and I am a little wary about what happens to engines if they are fiddled with, I thought I'd nip out after dinner and pick up some frozen chicken and a few bits while I was there. I get the clubcard discount of 10% twice a month, and I had both left and time running out, so I thought I would grab a few bits. Pot Noodles were also on sale - 50p if you had a clubcard, instead of a lot more, and bear will sometimes eat them when he won't eat other stuff. They last for ages, so I was happy to stock up. I bobbed into Aldi as well for some cola.

Panic buying has struck. The pasta section at Aldi looked like this.

There was also no tomato ketchup at all, for some reason. They may have been restocking, as there was some in Tesco. Tesco had no Pot Noodles left in bear's favourite flavours, which is unsurprising with that deal, but there were a few gaps in the rice and oil sections as well. 

I'm sort of surprised. Most people will have stocked up before Christmas (which I did). Many will have stocked up over Brexit fears. I stocked up before Christmas because I was worried about bad weather. Apparently a lot of it is because people are putting an extra pack of x or y into the trolley 'just in case' and suddenly there are gaps. What is also a little unfair is that I don't think that the supermarkets had any warning of the lockdown so they couldn't batten down the toilet roll. 

I wonder about how long it will take for the pasta mountains stashed in cupboards all over the country to be reduced. 

The most annoying part is that I had the clothes ready for the clothes bank and the glass jars ready for the glass bank, but I forgot them and I'm trying to reduce the amount of times I leave the house. They will have to wait. I also managed to get some writing done, and now I am heading for an early bed. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 4 January 2021

Hard News

Wherethejourneytakesme - I bet it was a moment to remember! A party full of Scousers has a very good chance of being epic! I hope the test went well. I know that there are all sorts of roadworks around, so I hope you got there and back okay as well! Sending good vibes. 

Pam - it is a song that goes right for the emotions. I don't think I've ever heard it without a lump in my throat

Libby - Anfield really is something special. I heard that when Fenway Group took over, they were considering knocking down the stadium, or perhaps just part of it, and rebuilding. Then they attended a match and knew that it wasn't possible. They're extending where they can, but it's still Anfield. I last went there in around 1983 or 1984 when we were beat by Wolves who were relegated that year, but even in defeat there's something about the place. After posting, I went back and watched the highlights from the  Barca game from last year and that was a thing of beauty. It's wonderful seeing them soar again! (I'm also looking at things and asking myself, would I take these if I moved house? and it's helping me thin stuff out)

Sincere apologies for those who don't support Liverpool FC. It must be a little weird finding them in a mum blog. On the other hand, all sorts of stuff ends up here, so I suppose anyone here regularly will be used to it.

I called in to IKEA to pick up a mattress for bear. I'm glad I did because I suspect that IKEA will be closed now after the news of another tough lockdown. Bear will be happy, as he gets a later start and will go straight from classes to computer games without an inconvenient journey in between. I worry that he will be missing people, though. 

I'm sort of not surprised, though. I called in to Tesco for the stuff that I forgot yesterday and to put some clothes in the donation bank, and it was full. Then I called into IKEA and it was heaving. And social distancing was impossible. I was glad to get out!

I managed a little ironing and we had chicken with pasta for dinner.

Writing stuff - Monday's flash fiction is here. And in the interests of an experiment, here is the video that accompanied Out of the London Mist (I hope!) The sequel is out on 21s January and is called Under a Bright Saharan Sky. If you are planning on picking it up (and thank you if you are!!!) then try and get it at the pre-order price which is currently 77p instead of over £3.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 3 January 2021


Fifitr - I have the tip run tomorrow and bear has been unrelenting. My car is stuffed. I will be inching along, terrified of stopping suddenly and having bags of kid's tat walloping into me from behind. There is still a roomful of black bin bags. There doesn't seem to be another slot going this week, either. Skips are looking incredibly attractive.

Wherethejourneytakesme - I like the idea of the clear out and feel that as soon as bear's bags go, there will be some of mine joining them. 

I'm waiting to find out what is happening with bear's school. I have a feeling that the headmaster is also wondering what on earth is going to happen. We have been told to get particular tests, but they aren't happening in our local authority so no doubt we will have to rock up to school for them anyway, depending on the decisions made. Bear's school has already decided to make tomorrow a training day, and then they'll be remote learning. It's so much easier for bear as it's secondary school. 

As I mentioned, bear has thrown a great deal of stuff out, and I've left him to make the decisions. He isn't donating much, but, to be fair, most of it is kid's tat. I have a few more bags of books to sort out and split. I donated a load to the school in the last sort, but I may take Sarah's suggestion and see if I can find something like a refuge that would be glad of them. I would only pass on the good stuff.

Sad to hear that Gerry Marsden has passed. He recorded the version of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' that was sung on the Kop at Liverpool FC and became such an anthem for them. It even became part of the campaign for justice for the victims of the Hillsborough Disaster - YNWA96. It is so much part of the club, that when they finally won the Premier League last year, and had to celebrate in a near empty stadium, the team (include manager) still lined up to sing it to the Kop, just as they do when the Kop can sing it back. And as I was wondering about linking to a video of the Kop singing their anthem, I found that I can add a YouTube video to the blog, which is awesome! I apologise in advance for the amount of YouTube videos which are going to happen over the next few weeks. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 2 January 2021

Scary White Stuff

 Wherethejourneytakesme - sending good, relaxing, quiet vibes.

Sharon - and good wishes to you and yours, especially in your snowy part of the world.

Eileen - good wishes to you and yours. If we only had two trips a month, we'd have to get a skip. To be honest, I'm keeping an option on a skip.

I nipped out for some fresh veg and forgot the margarine. Actually I also forgot the couscous that bear request and only remembered as the conveyor belt at the till started to move and I had to repack the basket. Fortunately I'm still writing everything down so it helps me to resist temptation and I didn't have much to bung back in. On the way home I saw at least half a dozen flakes of snow. I can hear those in chillier areas, and those in places like Canada and the US sniggering as I write this, but I was worried. Actually I felt more like I ought to be worried rather than really worrying as it was very fine, didn't affect the road and didn't even splat on the windscreen. 

The house is full of black bin sacks. I don't really want to put them out into the garden as they will be horrible and wet and slimy when I put them in the car. My boot is currently jammed (another reason why I didn't buy much) and there is a heap in the living room that obscures the tv. Bear is having a serious clear out. This unfortunately doesn't include the stupidly large panda that uncle gave bear when he was tiny. It's about a metre tall, at least half that wide and grubby. I loathe the thing with a passion. It takes up too much room! Still, it belongs to bear and that's all there is to say about it.

I think if we keep clearing out like this, we will need a skip. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Friday 1 January 2021


 Jean - and also to you and yours!


I was writing next Monday's flash fiction as the clocks chimed midnight last night, and I hope it's a good precendent for the coming year. 

Today I did very little but DH and bear have been sorting out bear's room. My boot and the living room is full of black bin bags. I have a tip run booked on Monday, but then I will have to make sure that I'm keeping up the bookings. We are only allowed two tip runs per household per week, and I can see a lot of sorting out happening. Bear is now a teenager, and the miscellaneous scraps and bits that younger kids accumulate aren't important to him anymore. 

I went out for a quick drive to stretch my wheels, trying to get the courage up to go on the motorway when it was quiet. It wasn't that quiet. In fact, the roads were busier than I expected. They weren't actually busy in an absolute sense, but I was far too nervous to try the motorway today, especially as there were still plenty of patches of frozen snow around. I was surprised that so many places were open!

We had a gammon joint for dinner with roast potatoes and peas followed by a spare Christmas pudding with brandy butter and brandy cream. Now I am so full that I can barely move. 

Hugs and good health to all