Saturday 31 July 2021

Taken by Surprise (again)

I can't believe it. Outside the kitchen window, right next to where I wash up (and I wash up at least twice a day), there was an ash seedling growing in the columbine plant.

The columbine (I don't know if it's the correct name) was originally from seedlings dropping seeds from my late uncle's house. The house was bought second hand by my great grandfather and put on the site in 1923 and it has been sold now, so I sort of want to hang on to it. I hadn't noticed that there was the ash seedling starting. I found this pic of a plant in flower, and it looks very like it.

I need to get into the garden. I currently have a thumping headache and I'm feeling quite out of it, but tomorrow I need to make time. For example, I was surprised to find this.

It was very coyly tucked away under the leaves. In fact, there are a handful of runner beans probably ready to go. I failed to pick from the courgette plant which expired during the heat, but I'm determined to get something out of the runner beans. Besides, I like the flowers, and the more I pick the beans, the more flowers I get. 

They're not doing bad, to say I've pretty much ignored them. Fingers crossed, they'll become a nice barrier between us and the hairdresser.

Today has been a gentle tootle. I haven't gone anywhere but just pottered with a little ironing, some washing and editing. DH and bear made a wonderful tofu stir fry for dinner. I suppose that they could have included runner beans. I think I will get off and see how to harvest the things. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 30 July 2021

Nearly Broke the Oven

I was making a casserole and the clip that holds the glass in the oven door fell out. DH managed to sort it out, but now I am looking at it with wariness. There also appears to be a clip missing. I am not sure about calling someone. I ought to be able to sort out a clip myself but I've got insurance on it and I don't want to invalidate it.

It's been raining all day and completely miserable. It's felt really miserable. The central heating is set to come on if the temperature goes below 19C or 66F on the landing, which is normally fairly well insulated. I wouldn't be surprised if the heating didn't click on. It's not right. Mind you, it makes a change from complaining that I'm too hot.

I may make some nice warm soups next week.

Hugs and good health to all.

Thursday 29 July 2021

Nothing Much

Nothing much happened today. Well, some stuff did. I took bear to climbing, which he enjoyed greatly. I went for an eye test and forgot to buy bird food on the way home. I made dinner and ran the washing machine extra hot without a load to give it a clean out. 

Dinner was just a chicken curry and baked potatoes. 

I've done some correcting, but not as much as I wish I had done.

And though it isn't even 9pm, my eyes are closing, so I'm going to drag myself off to bed.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 28 July 2021

Deja Vu

I pressed an inadvisable button and I wiped out all the editing I'd done. I have to start again. 

I'm pretty traumatised by it so I thought I would cheer myself up and start another knitting project. I may have a gazillion and four projects started already, but I thought I needed a pick-me-up and, besides, it should be quick to do and clear some space. I bought some hat and scarf kits from Marriner Yarns some time ago. I opened one up and it looked like this.

One thing I liked was that it came in a bag that had obviously been reused. Instead of having its own plastic bag, they reused a bag originally holding different yarn.

It reminded me of my grandmother. She always knitted large sweaters and so the yarn was bought with the huge plastic bags and that's where she kept the knitted bits and the yarn all together. She didn't have a proper knitting bag. She did have a wooden rack that father, her son-in-law, made her for her knitting needles, but otherwise it was all adhoc. I dug out an old notebook to keep track of the rows. I'm going to have to watch that as I'm used to not bothering with basic blankets. My grandmother always used the inserts from her nylon stockings. She would only wear one brand and they were the oldfashioned, non-stretchy types in large packets and, if the pattern wasn't too complicated, she could sometimes get more than one pattern noted on an insert. On the other hand, she loved doing complicated aran patterns and sometimes she would need more room. The other source of paper for marking rows was the inside of the ball band. It doesn't work for Marriners yarn, though. They are printed with an offer.

For those interested, the kits are here. I got the England colours. The company shows the Welsh colours, being based in Wales. I quite like the look of the Scottish colours, but as I have absolutely no connection with Scotland apart from some holidays there, I think that would be rather cheeky. The pattern was included, so I may just try it again with different colours. It's rugby, not football, but that's okay. 

I think I may head off for an early night. Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 27 July 2021

Head Hurts

Day two of the holidays and bear has brought down his washing. It's not an Everest size pile, but it's certainly up there with the sturdier foothills of the Himalayas. It's still smaller than my ironing pile.

I had a Tesco delivery. The poor lad couldn't find us. I was so proud, though, because the call came through to the landline, and bear took the call and gave lovely, clear, explicit directions. He sounded so mature. Mind you, he's fourteen now. Father left school at his age. I suppose he sounds mature compared to a lot of the kids I hear around.

My head hurts. I've finished a first pass of all the punctuation and grammar from the entire White Hart series. Now I've been struggling with Canva. I am not an artistic person. I do not understand graphics or design. This means that whenever I engage with Canva, I get soundly beaten. I possibly have a cover for the dratted thing. I'm not sure how it will work. I'll do another quick pass tonight before trying to fit things on. I have some serious concerns that the full set of stories will be too big for the ebook settings. I'll just have to try it.

That is, if I can work anything out. I feel like I'm trying to think through treacle! I have even been tempted by shoes that have flowers on them. I never do flowers! And I need to recover from the shame. It's less than half a dozen instances in over 200k words, but I've find confusions between 'to' and 'too' and 'your' and 'you're'. I'm mortified. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Monday 26 July 2021

First Day of School Holidays

I woke up early and so got out and picked up the tiny bit of shopping we needed (bread rolls and some coleslaw) and had a nice start to the day. 

Bear started the first weekday of his holiday off by tidying his room and vacuuming. I'm not sure how much he did, but he's done more housewifery than me this week.

I've been working through the Complete White Hart. It's hard going as I'm correcting a lot of speech punctuation and I write a lot of dialogue. I'm also sort of enjoying it, as I've forgotten a lot of the stories, so it's nice to dip in. 

Now I have a headache from too much caffeine and feel very sick. I am not moving much and DH has taken bear to climbing. 

Here is a random pick that I took a long time ago (too much weird characters, caffeine and strong painkillers). 

Sort of looking forward to the cooler weather, when I will complain about being too cold. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 24 July 2021

It's been a strange day. I keep waiting for it to rain, but it has felt 'about to rain' all day without a drop, so I'm going to have to water the garden. 

I've cut a few bits back in the garden today. I am sort of torn between wanting to keep shelter around for the possibility of toads (we have had one before now) but not have shelter for rats. I've been talking with DH and we're sort of resigned to the possibility of rodents. With the sewer and beck so close, we can't help but get rats anyway, and I don't want to comment on the local takeaways. The shops themselves are, as far as I know, perfectly fine, but their customers litter. 

I'm feeling a little out of sorts. I've just 'bought' half a dozen free recipe Kindle books and that is never a good sign. I have been having a lot of nightmares recently and it's put me off my stride. On the bright side, I may have an idea for a new steampunk book from them.

I hope I come back with something more positive tomorrow.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 23 July 2021


Bear's school broke up for the summer holiday today. I picked him up at 12noon and took him to McDonalds. We went to the McDonalds near IKEA and the big cinema, as the nearest ones to the school would be overrun with kids. As it was, there was no room in McDonald's car park and the drive through queue was dozens of cars. We parked in the cinema car park and walked over. 

I guess the cinema isn't doing great business. I know it's only Friday lunchtime, but I suspect that it would have had a little more traffic before the plague. I took this pic.

Still not much sign of the whiskery lot. I'm keeping a close lookout. 

Tesco had to cancel my delivery today. The poor man on the phone sounded absolutely desperate. He must have had so many people shout at him. I reassured him that we were okay for food, we were not isolating, and that it was okay. It took him a few moments to calm down. I nipped out to Tesco later for a few bits, and the man on the till was also a little shaken after a bad encounter with a nasty customer. And he has always been a sweetie to me. 

There are gaps in the shelves at Tesco, but it may be because it was late and they were ready to clean the shelves before re-stocking. I'm taking bear shopping with me next week so he can give some feedback about what he wants to eat during the summer. So far he has just said that he wants it to be 'healthy' but can't define 'healthy'. It's going to be a long summer. 

I can guarantee that bear will refuse to do anything much, as he doesn't want to, but the weekend before he is back in school he will have an utter crisis because he didn't do anything during the holiday. I may hide. 

Also, I forgot DH's favourite biscuits in the shopping trip. This is not a good thing.

I'm going to go away now and plan my survival strategy for the next six weeks. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 22 July 2021

Clean Sinuses

Witch Hazel - thank you! I did share that YouTube video about the Creator thingy. But please flag up if you think I've been hacked. We are all at risk. I really appreciate you giving me the heads up. 

The problem is that the Lyssa Medana Facebook page is sort of a grey area. My real name, the name on my driver's license and passport, isn't Lyssa Medana. That's the name I use when I write. To be honest, I rather prefer it to my own name (which isn't Sybil either, though I wish it was). And, especially over the lockdown, I get more people calling me Lyssa than anything else. But it's my writing persona. 

I don't want anyone to think I'm fake. What you see is pretty much me, but I sort of concentrate on the interesting bits. As far as I can see, I fudge less than most, but I do omit some stuff that is either dull, affects someone else or is too sensitive. All the housekeeping fails are absolutely as they happen, though. Also, the stuff about bear is pretty true, though with a few bits blurred around the edges for his privacy. But the Facebook Lyssa is the writer not the real (and rather dull) me.

Lyssa Medana has 4,200 friends. I've met one of them in person. I sort of properly know maybe two dozen or so, that's people on here, the editors and such. The rest are people who have added me perhaps because they are told to add other authors or are editors/designers/publishers looking for contacts. There is also a fair swatch of creeps who have latched on to a female name. Some of those may be interested in the Creator Fire thing. I sort of know him, and he's been quite kind to me. I plan to have a go at affiliate marketing at some point, but not on this blog. So I shared the video, as he was asking for shares, so that other authors who may be interested could check it out and make their own call. I'm sorry if I worried you and I'm really grateful for you mentioning it.

There have been no rat sightings. I haven't seen a whisker, which is an improvement on the last few days when I have seen quite a few and so has bear. Last night I rubbed the kitchen window with peppermint oil. This makes the kitchen smell of industrial strength Blackpool rock, but seems to have worked. 

Unfortunately it doesn't seem to work on slugs and one slimed its way all over the dishes in the washing up rack. I feel cursed. 

To make things worse, I ordered a spray of mouse repellent from Amazon. It leaked. I think it only leaked for a little bit in transit as only a corner of the box was affected. However it's something that should be sprayed thinly. It leaked all over our porch and a couple of cloth books that I had bought for a friend's baby. It stinks of peppermint and clove. I think I'm safe not only from the rats but from Mr Fluffy the cat, the dog from down the road, the ants, the aphids and possibly the postman. My head is ringing after clearing it up! I mopped it up with some cloths soaked in plain water and then sprinkled bicarb on the damp patches. In one of the more deprived areas of Leeds, I have a porch door propped open with a floor covered in white powder. It's okay, though. The smell should keep anyone away. I mean, absolutely anyone. I'm probably safe from Jehovah's Witnesses for the next week or so. I'm going to have to go and mop it again later. I'm not looking forward to it. 

Writing stuff - work on the Complete Collection from the White Hart continues. I hate my punctuation. I've learned a lot over the last few years, and one of the things I've learned is to use less commas. I am sinking under them!

Hugs and good health to all

(and thank you again, Hazel!)

Wednesday 21 July 2021

All Creatures Great and Small

I managed a brief walk this morning. The pond, which is normally brown or clear, was bright green. It didn't really come out in the pic, but it was almost iridescent, I think through algae.

It didn't look very healthy. I didn't walk around the pond as the canada geese were sounding pretty aggressive and it was too early in the day for me to bother with. 

Today has had far more animal life in it than I'm comfortable with. There has been the usual assortment of sparrows, blue tits, jackdaws and pigeons around, and a few crows and magpies on and around the bird table. There has also been rats. Lots and lots of rats. I saw four or five in the garden earlier. It is not a big garden. If I see that many, how many are there that I don't see? There was also a very large, very fluffy black cat that disappears as soon as I open the door, and I may pick up some cat treats to encourage Mr Fluff to keep calling by. 

I'm fairly certain that no rats are coming in to the house. We have those plug in repellants, which have worked well when there were no neighbours. We have the kitchen window almost permanently open (until today) and it's level with the garden ground, a yard or so from the bird table and rat central. As the cereal is only just the packet sealed by a bulldog clip, if rats had been in, they would have had that and a lot of other stuff!

I feel a little uncomfortable. The rats are only coming into the garden for the spilled bird food, and they seemed very polite. They were just trotting around and not making any fuss, and they looked quite young. With the low river levels, the disturbances in the sewer and the cutting back of the bushes, I'm not surprised that there are signs of them. I still don't want them in my garden. 

Apparently rats and mice do not like peppermint oil. I have ordered a peppermint spray and a battery powered repellant to put in the cupboard under the front step. I also wiped over the kitchen window frame with peppermint oil, to the distress of a resident spider.

The resident spider has already had enough to put up with. I had some celery in a celery jug on the windowsill, which is the widest in the house and the main candidate for growing herbs. This is a small window, overlooking the garden, next to the red hot poker plants which I've posted about being eaten alive. I moved the celery jug to wipe the windowsill and noticed that it was crawling with aphids. I could have cried. I just dumped the remains of the (very nice, really fresh) celery out into the garden and scrubbed the jug with a lot of energy and much washing up liquid. Cleaning spray was sprayed everywhere.

You would not believe how much faffing I did to try and hide how cluttered and out of control my house is when I took the picture. 

At least there have been no bats so far. Heaven only knows what tomorrow may bring. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 20 July 2021


I'm still not doing well in the heat. I booked someone to come and fix the shower power pull, but they had to call back and cancel as the poor man was isolating. I've a suspicion that I know how to mend it. I would turn off the power at the mains, unscrew the plate, look for the hook, attach the cord, screw the plate back on and then switch the power back on. Regrettably it would mean that I would be quite high on a ladder above a bath, however, and that plus the risks of me getting it wrong means that we are definitely going to get a man in. 

At least it gives me time to get the bathroom sparkling. And that reminds me, I need to book the boiler service in as well.

I'm trying to take photos each day, just to get my eye in. I have some runner beans forming. I gave everything a very quick water this morning, and hope to go out again tonight if I don't flake out from the heat.

The pic was taken this morning, and has the unexpected bonus of lovely sunlight on leaves.

I'm getting plenty of washing in. I don't have a washing line, but I do have a clothes horse that I take out and keep well away from the bird food. And that reminds me. I need to get some more bird food out. I'll do that later when it's cooler. 

I really don't do well in the heat. I should add, the car was so hot for the afternoon school run that I thought I would burn my hands and changing gear hurt as the gear stick was so hot. I think I'll try putting a blanket over the windscreen and I hope that will cut down some of the potential burns. 

Writing stuff - a blast from the past, with a pic that I took! A poem from a few years ago is here

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 19 July 2021

Still Too Warm

 I don't do well in heat and I have a thumping headache.

Bear is doing okay. He had climbing this evening, and had an extra bit afterwards. He is really enjoying it so much! He broke the pull cord for the power to the shower, but it broke with the power on, so we can still use the shower - vital in this heat!

I spent too much time today hanging around waiting for the nice man to come and adjust the door (too boring to explain) so I don't seem to have done much. I decided to take some pics, though. I took one of a fuschia flower.

One of the oregano that I let go to flower. There's no point trying to use it as a herb now, but I may cut it right back and see if I get anywhere next year. I use quite a bit of oregano in cookery, but I admit to quite liking the flowers. There were quite a few honey bees around as well, but I didn't manage to catch them.

And a pic of the table outside the Climbing Depot. There is a can of water for bear for half time, a can ready for him at the end (I need to get better prepared for this) and my hot chocolate. I don't care how hot it is, when I go to the Climbing Depot, I have hot chocolate. I sat outside today and it was very pleasant. You can also see my badly decorated notebook.

I would just like to mention that the Climbing Depot in Pudsey is a great place, with great staff and there is a really nice atmosphere about the place. I feel okay letting bear loose there. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Sunday 18 July 2021

Substitutes Accepted

It's still too hot. I'm dreading driving tomorrow. It should be okay first thing in the morning, but I reckon I will be a sweaty, red-faced, unpleasant mess by pickup time. For those who live in hotter climates, please snigger quietly as I'm complaining of around 30C or 86F. Air conditioning isn't common in private houses in the UK, and is completely missing in my south facing, big windowed house. I can't wait until I'm complaining about the cold again.

The summer holidays are looming. Bear has one more week of school left. Then I will be facing the dreadful prospect of feeding him lunches. When we were in lockdown, I managed with all sorts of different snack food. Unfortunately, he has gone off most of those and now wants to eat healthier and less meat. He is sneering at the noodles that he actually insisted on previously. I had a quick look in a cookbook by Hamlyn. It's called, '200 Fast Midweek Meals' and Hamlyn have always been reliable. I don't think it's brilliant for lunches, but I thought that the mains could be good. 

My mother and grandmother had their little ways. One of them was the complete inability to follow a recipe. That is, they could rub in, roll out and beat as instructed, but they substituted. They substituted a lot. I've followed in their footsteps. When I read a recipe I'm always mentally substituting stuff like bacon instead of proscuttio and onion instead of shallot. Bear is much better at sticking to an ingredient list, which has left me with a 500g of Kashmiri Chili powder that is still almost full and needs using up. I'm planning on trying one of the first recipes in the cookbook, which is turkey, chilli and lemon stew. 

It starts off with 875g or 1 and one half pounds of turkey. First of all, the men won't countenance turkey, so I would be substituting diced chicken straight off. Also, that seems a lot of meat off the bone for four servings. I usually find that 500g or around a pound is more than enough and sometimes 3/4 pound or even half a pound would be better. So the 875g of diced turkey is getting switched to 500g of diced chicken that I already have in my freezer. I'm in favour of (in general) more veggies than meat. You need enough, so that you are not playing 'chase the protein' but these days you need to be aware. The veggies are 8-10 baby onions (I'll be slicing up a large one, or perhaps two and adding them to the meat when browning instead of the stock later), two carrots and two potatoes. I'll definitely add another potato or two and perhaps some celery to add some veggie goodness. The recipe also calls for plenty of garlic, chili flakes - I mentioned about the Kashmiri Chili powder I need to use up, didn't I? Another substitution there. Then there's a tablespoon of smoked paprika. That's a lot of smoked paprika for a dish that's only going to be simmered twenty minutes. I can see that getting pruned on the first try, with potential to increase later. There's stock, salt and pepper, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and oil, all of which seem good to me. 

Then there is the 6 tablespoons of finely chopped flat leafed parsley. Six tablespoons! I think that would need around two of those living pots they sell in the supermarket, because if you chop parsley finely, you need a lot of the original plant to fill a spoon. Even if you keep in all the stalks and the dry, straggly bits, that's still a lot of plant. My garden is still under stress and there is no way that I could regularly provide six tablespoons of finely chopped parsley. Also, that's a lot of chopping, even with scissors. My dilemma is do I cut back on the fresh parsley, or do I use dried? At the moment, I'm considering using dried until I can provide enough from my garden. 

I'll share if I try the recipe and let you know how it goes. I think I may serve it with some broccoli on the side. Also, the weather would have to change before I would consider stew.

Here is a pic from Unsplash, taken by Brett Jordan, showing parsley that isn't yet finely chopped. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 17 July 2021

Friday 16 July 2021

Wonderfully Quiet

Shaz and Steve - thank you, it's good to know that the plant is a mahonia. I quite like the look of it, but I think it's too big for our garden.

I finally had a haircut. I think I last had one in 2019. Bear didn't notice. I warned DH and he was very complimentary. I feel like I have lost around six inches of hair at just the right time for this weather!

It's been a funny sort of day. I don't feel as if I have achieved anything. On the bright side, I don't think I've done much wrong, and I haven't been shopping. 

Also, I have managed to establish not only where bear's climbing clothes were, but also the key card he needs and got them all ready the night before! This is unheard of.

And, even better, there have been no bat sightings. This is a good thing. There was a sighting of a rat after the bird seed and bear noticed some of the flying ants (except they were walking, and I don't blame them in this heat). But no bats is a good thing, at least, no bats in the living room. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 15 July 2021

Weather Becoming Warm

Dawn - bear has Views!

Also, speaking of bear, he has just dragged himself out of his room to ask for food. He wandered down to the kitchen, fixed me with an accusing eye, and complained that he has never seen the fridge so bare. He obviously expects me to do something about that. As the summer holiday is approaching, I'm braced. He made do with cereal. I plan to stock up on a lot of cereal.

DH and I have thrown some ideas around and suspect that there are bats in the porch roof, at least for now. It's the right state of dilapidation, is undisturbed and it's a quiet household. The reason I think that they may not stay is because the porch heats up ridiculously hot over the summer. It's been pretty cold and autumnal so far, but the weather is supposed to warm up over the weekend. The porch is already like an oven, and in the hotter days (higher seventies for those in the US, over around 23C for the rest) the porch is more like a blowtorch. If they stay, though, I'm not going to complain as long as they don't keep coming in. There's something cool about having bat lodgers. 

Back to bear, his report came in late last night. He is predicted quite good grades (apart from English, of all things - his father has an English degree and I write books, but our child isn't rocking English. He may come out with a B!). I am most proud of the 'attitude to learning' score. A lot are around the 'at acceptable standards' but he has a few at 'above acceptable standards' and two at 'significantly above acceptable standards'. I am so proud of that. 

The bats may leave for the summer, but they may come back later. I feel like it may be another stormy winter. The berries seem to be very prolific this year. This is the rowan in Morrison's carpark and the bush whose name I don't know.

They seem very heavily laden.

I like snuggling down in the warm with DH and bear, all hanging out in the warm with the winter rain beating against the window. I don't enjoy driving in it though. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Going Batty

Heather - I hope I don't end up like one of those unpleasant old women. I'd rather be the sort of old lady that 'innocently' asks young couples if they are practising a lot for their wedding night, and who won't be fobbed off by shopkeepers. As for what I wear, I've never been too worried about that. The fashion around Glastonbury sounds perfect for me.

Fifitr - crisps have always been reliable when it comes to settling my stomach. As for the biscuits, I've got an order booked for the weekend and I plan to put on half a dozen packs as the offer ends 20th July. As bear's summer holiday is nearly on us, I plan to hide them and bring them out in small stages. Also, I agree with you about the football fans. 

Last night I had a small drink (honestly!), shut everything down and headed to bed. I opened the door from the study to the living room and froze. There was a bat flying around the room! It was a genuine, live, flappity bat. It was circling the room frantically. I tried opening the front door, but I don't think it could tell and, to be honest, I think it was just blindly panicking. I called DH down, because otherwise he would never have believed me. He was equally baffled and managed to catch the bat in a dressing gown and release it outside. 

We have no idea how it got in. There were three windows open after dark. One was my room, with a shut door. The bat would never have got out. One was bear's room which not only had a shut door but bear would have strenuously complained. The third was the kitchen window which was open around a quarter of an inch (it isn't now!). 

What was odder was that earlier DH and I were watching tv in there and there wasn't a hint of a creature of the night in there at all!.

It's sort of reassuring, as I've seen bats around a few years ago, but I was worried that they would have been affected by the dreadful weather. I just wish I had spotted the dratted thing in the garden instead of whizzing past the mantelpiece. 

And bear was not happy. When we discussed it this morning, he objected. We woke him up! I did point out that there was a bat. He complained about the time of the incident. I mentioned the bat again. He gave me a look that would have turned a volcano into an iceberg and sloped off to the car (or batmobile, as I insisted on calling it). 

Now off to check all the nooks and crannies for flying mice.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Not Moving Much

Kate - getting older is sort of liberating. I plan to be a difficult old woman. Have you seen the poem, 'when I get old I shall wear purple'? I may start working my way through the list. I quite fancy learning to spit. I was talking to a friend who is around the same age as me, and we agreed that aging can be wonderfully relaxing. I'm not talking about physical infirmities that come when you are very old, but the sort of age where you have seen so much rubbish that you don't care anymore and you get harder to shock. Mind you, I was never very good at being shocked or blushing. I was naive and need things explaining, but rarely shocked. 

When I was young, there were a lot of old ladies in hats who ran the church and the volunteer committees and could terrify a sergeant major. My mother had her moments, though she was generally too considerate to really flex her inner old-lady-in-hat. Her cousin was a lay magistrate and could organise anything. She's too elderly to do much now, but in her heyday was a force of nature. 

It's a mixed blessing that the women who once would have been busy terrorising the Parish Council are now having careers and businesses. On the one hand, the voluntary sector could almost certainly do with more ladies that can organise and run meetings with ruthless efficiency. A certain amount of curtain twitching and wondering what the neighbours would say does help keep some standards up. But I would hate to go back to the days when people (especially a subset of those old ladies in hats) would count the months between a wedding and the birth, and judge people for their romantic preferences. I would prefer to judge people for not being kind. 

(quick note - as a Christian, I'm not supposed to judge. That is supposed to be left to God. I'm tempted sometimes, though, especially if I think kids aren't getting properly cared for. I'm not a very good Christian.)

I failed to save again today. Every time I call in at the Co-op and buy something with my card, I get a coupon. One was running out today so I called in and redeemed my 50p off frozen fruit or veg (frozen peas, in my case). That is a pretty good coupon. It would have been even better if I hadn't picked up some Skittles for bear and some crisps for me (they settle my stomach). I also picked up some bread rolls for DH who likes the nice rolls from there. At the check out I got a coupon for 50p off McVities Club products. I had a quick look on the Co-op Home Delivery page and a pack of club biscuits are £1.80. With 50p off, they're £1.30. I can get them for £1 at Tesco, for at least the next week. If I use the Co-op coupon, I won't really be saving money compared to Tesco. On the other hand, the men in my life love Club biscuits and I'm not sure I've got the energy to go to Tesco while the Co-op is on the way home. I suppose I could get a Tesco Delivery, but we don't actually need that much and an order of £40 worth of Club biscuits could raise some eyebrows. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 12 July 2021

Sort of Expected

We lost on penalties. I'm quite unsurprised. It was sort of a relief.

The roads were almost empty on the school run this morning, which was just as well. The driving conditions weren't good, with lots of spray and heavy rain. I know when I crossed over the motorway and looked down, you could hardly see the cars for spray. 

I picked up a few bits from Morrisons this morning and then drove home. My girly bits are not playing nicely. At my time of life they should be doing absolutely nothing. Unfortunately they haven't had the memo, so I'm feeling a little grim. But I managed to iron some shirts, get some washing and drying done and I'm working on some writing stuff. The case for my new phone came today, so I'm finally switching it all over.

I took pics with the old phone and the new phone, but as they're both synced to the same account, so I have no idea which is which. It's a pretty case, though. 

I've switched over alarms, copied over contacts (okay, the phone did it automatically when I set it up and I'm seriously grateful), and it's just about good to go. I think I will try and keep the kindle books on the other phone and keep that going until it dies.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 11 July 2021

Three Lions

According to bear, the three lions on the England shirt, from the English coat of arms, originally was two leopards back in the time of William the Conqueror. 

I haven't checked. Bear is usually pretty good on this sort of thing and the brief glimpse I took was leading me into strange places. Leopards to Lions (possibly via Richard I) and the inflation of 2 cats to three seems normal for the stuff that happens over a thousand years of disputed territory. The English coat of arms above is quartered with the French fleur de lis, as there were claims to the French throne at the time.

I'm waiting for the call to collect bear. He is out with some pals somewhere around ten miles away and I will be required to give lifts. I can't concentrate on anything anyway, before the game tonight. I'm a nervous wreck.

Tonight I will watch the Euros 2020 final, probably sober as I have to do the school run the next day, and I'm not sure that my nerves will be up to it. And I dread to think of the standard of driving on the roads tomorrow. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 10 July 2021

So Many Emails

 I had a short run out and a little walk. It was incredibly misty and far more like autumn, but it was refreshing.

I got some great doggy cuddles on the walk as well. I'm nervous around dogs, but I love them, so it is a wonderful chance for me to get to meet up with good dogs being taken for walks by responsible owners.

When I got home, the new sim was waiting for me, so I dragged together all my courage and changed the sim over. It was actually quite straightforward and I survived putting a very small piece of plastic into a holder without too much trauma (I watched YouTube videos first, though). Then it came to transferring the info. They were both android phones, so it was okay. Except for emails. The emails were making the new phone come over all faint. 

This isn't exactly too surprising. I spent this afternoon deleting emails, and I must have deleted around four or five thousand, and moved a few hundred more into sub folders. My main email has now been reduced from an inbox of over 2.5k to 23, and I've been hunting around a lot of other corners as well. I had completely forgotten about some of them. I got rid of four years of unread Dollar Stretcher newsletters, which was a hefty chunk, and all sorts of strange notifications. I still haven't sorted out the writing email, where the courses are arriving. I think I'll work on the 1.5k emails there later. That is going to be tricky as it has contracts etc in, so I'll have to sort out some folders so I can find things easily and unclutter the inbox. 

I had a quick look over the garden as I was taking stuff out to the bin. Even the dandelions are wilting. I think it's rust.

These two photos were taken with my new phone. I'm quite happy!

I've had a rummage on YouTube and I've seen suggestions for home made fungicides, but I'm a litle wary. To be honest, all the garden seems heavily infected and the huge ants nest carrying aphids around isn't going to help. The tomatoes look on their last legs. The consensus for a bad infestation is to clear the site and even replace the soil! I'm going to go for something less drastic - lots of soapy water spray, lots of feed and I need to get stuck into weeding and clearing. I'm also going to get cracking on some slug traps. I found a great video here. As DH is eating a lot of eggs at the moment, I think I may start saving the eggshells as well. I'm not a gardener, but I really don't want to lose the plants that I have like the honeysuckle. 

I don't know if I'll post tomorrow. I'm a bag of nerves.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 9 July 2021

I Have No Idea

Jean - I swear that the sims are out to break me!

Sharon - I was on pins! I'll not be fit for rags after Sunday! 

I was trying to think of what I did today, and I realised I had no idea. I'm getting my pen and paper out and I'm starting to journal in detail after I finish this, just to have a clue what I'm doing and what I've done. I'm not going into the idea of what I'm going to do. That remains a mystery no matter how hard I try to plan. 

The phone went very badly. Apparently there is a little lever thingy inside. According to the schematic on the phone and the nice people on YouTube videos, I just needed to press that. I couldn't find the dratted thing. I think it withered away years ago. I can't remember how old the phone is, but I've had it a couple of years. I think it was reconditioned when I got it, or end of stock, so a G5 when they were about to release the next model. The screen isn't very touch screen, the connection is hit and miss and it faints when I get too many pics. It wasn't very expensive, so I suppose I shouldn't grumble. I hope the £92 replacement is as good. I have the even cheaper one somewhere, but I'm keeping that for pics and kindle. Anyway, I couldn't get the sim out. To my surprise, I managed to reassemble the phone and called Tesco, who were lovely. A new sim is on its way. 

I miss the Nokia that my late mother bought me, back in around 2001 when phones were expensive. It was just after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I was travelling a lot to visit her. She wanted me to be safer when travelling. I dropped it in a toilet around 2005 but I think if I had tried to save it, the thing would still be going. 

Tomorrow, all being well, I plan to pick a courgette. I think that they are ripe.

There are a few small blobs on the tomato plants as well.

I really need to (a) get some proper tomato feed and (b) take better pics.

I need to get the basil planted into pots now. I filled the pots with soil, but now I have a raging headache, so it can wait.

Writing stuff - I'm now settling down with some writing work. The White Hart website has gone now, so I want to get copies of the work tidied up and put in book form. I can't really afford to pay for nice book covers, but I hope to come up with something for ebooks and paperbacks. I can't get a good price on paperbacks as it will be print on demand, but I should be able to keep the ebooks inexpensive. Getting it fit to put into a book may take some time. There's over 300 pages before I've finished the formatting, and over 206,000 words. I have also learned how to punctuate speech correctly, and so that's a lot of pages that are usually heavy on the dialogue. However once that is done, I can forget it except for adding another link whenever I publish something else. 

I hope people have enjoyed it, and will be able to continue to enjoy it. I had enormous fun writing it, but the format just didn't work. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 8 July 2021

Wish Me Luck

 My car has issues again. Once again the check tyre pressure light is coming on. Once again they can't find anything. Once again they have equalised the pressure and then if (or when) the light goes on again I can go back and they can work out which tyre it is. They were very nice at Kwik Fit and didn't mind me knitting.

One thing I noticed as I was driving to and from Kwik Fit. I dropped bear off and went down a seriously main road at rush hour to get to the garage. The roads weren't that busy. They weren't that busy on the ring road either. I would guess that there's around 25% less cars on the road at the moment. Of course, the school run is quieter because years 11 and 13 aren't in, and all those people still working from home are still working from home, but it seems very odd. I was really nervous about getting there, but I was okay. I even had a go at getting a shot of a Burly Banksy, but didn't do so well. 

The Burley Banksy is a local artist who is going around Leeds and decorating BT exchange boxes. Some have been painted over by BT, and a huge outcry errupted. He has a shop now, here, and I'm sort of tempted.

Last night, when England won a semi final in a major competition, felt unreal. I mean, England don't win things. I don't agree with some of the fans' behaviour, though. But I think that on the whole, the team did us proud, and Gareth Southgate seems a great role model for young lads.

I am now about to try to get the dratted phone sims switched over. I've been mustering my courage, my new phone is charged and I checked and the sim should go straight from my old phone to the new one. I have just broken a nail getting the protective case off, so wish me luck getting into the actual phone, let alone panicking about things technical. Fortunately, I post from my laptop. I'll share tomorrow.

Hugs and good vibes to all. 

Wednesday 7 July 2021

Not Paying Full Attention

I remembered about posting just about at kick off so I'm listening to the audio of the match. That is, England v Denmark in the semi finals of the Euros, if you are somehow unaware. I thought I had better post now, as I will be the worse for drink later, no matter what happens.

My nerves are already in shreds.

Today has been a shopping day. I called in to Morrisons and took advantage of a coupon that came with the More cards and saved £2.28 on stuff that I would buy anyway, like gluten free pasta. Then I called in to Tesco to use up one of my 10% off shops. I picked up some Merlyn liqueur (surprisingly nice for something based on Welsh whisky) as it was on offer and I'll stash it away for later (I'm on the rum tonight). I also picked up a load of stuff I needed, with around two or three impulse purchases. I saved 16.52, which is two months of the Clubcard Plus fee, and was partly 10% and partly the clubcard offers. 

I'm working hard on keeping to what I would buy anyway. I will no longer buy Pringles if they are more than £1.50, and I keep a close eye on things like Heinz tomato soup. 

I took a moment to try and be calm when waiting for bear, and I enjoyed the scent of privet flowers. They are late this year. Sally Pointer said that a lot of plants were behind. I know that privet is usually out just before Wimbledon and that the orange blossom which is currently out near the ring road is normally out at the second May Bank Holiday. It still feels like autumn. But at least I got a pic. The red berry is from a flowering almond or cherry. 

I'm looking forward to a good evening, though I can't believe that we will win. Whatever happens, I hope to make a dent on the knitting.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 6 July 2021

I took Pics!

I got a load of pics today, of varying quality. It makes a change. I dropped bear off at school this morning and then went for a very short walk as it was raining, although not heavily. I took a few pics then, and it felt like autumn - cold, wet and windy. There were plenty of leaves on the ground as well.

I also got a pic in Aldi's car park as it looked like one of the trees along the boundary was shedding it's leaves in autumn.

I tootled home and had a very small play in the garden. I just cut a few bits back before the rain set in, and I added some string to the arch where the runner beans are. 

You can just see a few flowers starting. Up until the eighteenth century, runner beans were grown for their ornamental flowers. I hope we get a good display. If I ignore them over winter, they should come back next year and keep on with the displays. 

Of course I dropped the string and it just rolled away from me. And where else would it end up.

The neighbours no doubt think I'm even crazier as I was trying to beat the rain as I sprayed over the garden with soapy water. I'm not sure about taking on the aphids. There are a lot of them, and apparently the ants farm them, keeping them safe in their nests and taking them from plant to plant. I do not approve!

I'm really not a gardener. I have no idea what I'm doing. But it's fun seeing what's happening. I hope to harvest some courgettes at the weekend, if the ants don't get there first.

I've also had a little potter in the kitchen. I took some stale bread out for the birds and one sparrow got so excited that he flew straight into a window with a massive 'thunk'. He flew off again towards some nearby elder bushes, so I think he was fine. He must have had a headache. 

Now I am planning to have a good clean of the fridge before the bins go out for tomorrow and possibly an early night. I need to conserve my strength as England play tomorrow. 

Hugs and good health to all (and all gardening suggestions welcome)

Monday 5 July 2021


It's been a funny sort of day. As I left this morning with bear on the school run, I drove to the end of the street and a van parked across the end of the road in front of me! He was baffled when I tooted at him. I forgot to pick up the bread when I was out, which was a nuisance, but I remembered the painkillers for DH. Then, when I tried turning into the road, someone else blocked me as they were dropping something off! At least they were nice about it and not hanging around. I wouldn't mind, but it's quite wide and it takes a lot to block the flow!

The plumber was supposed to be here at 9.30 to check the leaking sink and fit new taps. Bless him, he rang to say he was running late. This is a miracle with workman. As it was, I had to text him to warn him that while he could theoretically park his van in the street now that the trees had been cut back, Yorkshire Water were now blocking the street. 

They were putting a camera down the sewer. I have no idea what they could have found and I dread to think. The men were pretty nice, though, when I asked about whether I'd be able to get out for the afternoon school run.

The poor plumber had a dreadful job putting in the new taps as the old ones were probably older than me. They had completely seized. But now I no longer have a dripping tap, and I can fit a jug, mug or kettle under them much easier. They do sing the song of their people when you turn them on, but they were cheap and I can live with it. 

Then I nipped into Tesco and forgot the bread again before driving off to pick up bear. I was tootling along happily until a DPD van decided to reverse into the flow of traffic. It looked like they had gone down the wrong street, as they happily reversed towards me, pulled out and then turned into the street about ten yards down. Fortunately I managed to stop, and there was no-one behind me to be affected when I had to reverse to give them room for their manoeuvre. I was actually quite shaken. Fortunately I then met up with my brother and his partner, which was nice. They had managed to get a self catering break with their dogs, and it was lovely to see them so relaxed. 

Then I got myself and bear home (he hasn't done brilliantly at exams), fed DH and gave bear a snack before dragging bear out to Climbing Club. I stayed in the car and read. Once home, I fed bear again, stuck his kit in the washer to get clean for games tomorrow and I'm about to collapse. 

I'm hoping that I have a few less blockages to deal with tomorrow, and that I remember the bread.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 4 July 2021

Challenged by Garden

 Yesterday felt very odd - England won! I really didn't expect that. I wonder how things will go on Wednesday? Denmark are an awesome side with a lot to play for. 

Before all that, I took the car in for a service and MOT. Red passed the MOT with two advisories. One of the tyres was wearing a little thin, but still just about legal. I got that replaced. Then apparently the discs on the brakes are getting worn, although the pads look nearly brand new. I may go and look up how car brakes work. I know I'm fairly easy on the brakes. I'll get those replaced in six months when I go for the next service. I can't afford to miss a service. I do so much 'stop and start' driving on the school run and practically no speedy driving so the poor car ends up all bunged up. 

Today has been relatively quiet. I had a quick look at the tomatoes when I went to the bin, and they are overrun with aphids as well, and they are not so easy to forcibly pressure-squirt. I think a spray with soapy water is going to have to happen most days from now on. I may also try dabbing some cinnamon around. It seemed to work on the ants last year, and apparently ants farm the aphids by sheltering the aphids' eggs in the ants nest and carrying the dratted aphids around. The tomatoes are looking very sorry for themselves. 

One of the red hot pokers has put up a small spike, but the other is too gnawed. I hope that they take off next year. 

I don't think that I'm a natural gardener. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 3 July 2021


I can't believe that England won!

Back tomorrow when the drink has worn off. 

Friday 2 July 2021

I Didn't Save Money

Riverside Hermit - I know! I think it's been a thing for years, that books have been gutted for their illustrations and I think it's a shame. I don't want to do that with this book. The watercolours are fairly loose and sort of in a mat already, so perhaps it was meant to be gutted, but I think I would rather scan the pics and keep it whole. 

There are a few of those sort of 'bits of books' around on eBay. I got this as a present for DH a few years ago. It looks like it was removed from a book.

I may try and get a better pic some other time, but that would mean taking it down and putting it back up and at the moment I don't feel qualified. I love it, though, and I wrote a series of stories to go with it. I have no idea who the artist is, though, which is a shame. I think it's beautiful and it does seem to have such a story inside it. 

Today has been an odd sort of day. I dropped bear off and nipped into Morrisons to pick up a pack of Mint Club. I had a coupon from Morrisons for 10% off Mint Clubs. I picked up a pack as bear and DH are very partial to them and they were £1.44 so I saved 14p.

But Tesco have the same pack of Club at £1 Clubcard Price (of course I have a Tesco clubcard - Tesco is my happy place). So I didn't save any money, and in fact I potentially lost 30p. I'm losing my touch.

To be honest, my brain is currently like scrambled cheese. I took down the White Hart website a few weeks ago, after saving all the stories. Today I was looking for the document. A friend had very kindly given a good review of the first third that are the only stories in book form, and I went to send her the manuscript of the rest. I couldn't find it. I had been trying to sort out my desktop, which looks like a bad example, and I stashed the doc somewhere. It took me hours to find it, and by the time it turned up I was in a state of nervous collapse. I thought for a while that I had lost the lot - and there is a lot of story there. I checked when I found the doc, and there's around 200k words! 

I think I'm going to get some anthologies of my stuff out, just to keep them safe. 

Then, on the way to pick up bear, I was overtaken at a traffic light again. I'd been a distance away from the lights when they turned red so I ambled to a stop and tucked in to the lane when I got to the lights, as one lane was closed. Then, when the light went to amber, I let out my handbrake and automatically checked my mirror as I was pulling out. It was as well that I did. The Audi behind me overtook me before the light had even turned green. I normally set off from traffic lights like a bat out of hell, so if I hadn't checked my mirror I would have gone straight into him. That shook me up as well.

Bear has finally finished his exams. He's already got the results of one back, where he didn't do so well, but he's quite optimistic about the others. He did okay this week in a personal way. He didn't let the stress rule him and, with a bit of luck, it will stand him in good stead in the future. 

Tonight may involve a large drink and an early night.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 1 July 2021

I Forgot Pics

Today I forgot to take pics. Mind you, I didn't see much that I fancied snapping. I went to Ilkley with my friend (who drove, which was just as well) and we had a browse in the charity shops before a quick lunch and then diving home to pick up bear.

It was a close run thing. We had a lunch at Betty's (that's taken most of my personal treat money till September) and it was lovely but I realised that not only were we running close to the time we would have to leave Ilkley to get me back to the car to pick up bear in time, but our parking ticket was running out. We almost sprinted out of the store. 

We trawled the charity shops first. I picked up three Next school shirts in bear's size, brand new in their pack, for £12.50. That was a result, especially given how many of his shirts are in stains. I picked up an inexpensive vase as well.

The rest of my splurge money went on this book from 1931. 

It's a collection of watercolours, including these.

I plan to scan them and I hope to mount them and hang them around the house. 

Hugs and good health to all.