Thursday 30 September 2021

Born to Shop

The fuchsia is still bravely flowering. I feel like I ought to brush up the fallen flowers, but they look so bright and cheerful when it is so grey. 

My grandmother was born to shop. She was dedicated. She had focus, determination, a plan and an endless store of gossip. Everyone knew her. I think I've mentioned her routine before. She lived in a small village between Chester and Wrexham, just about on the Welsh side. It did not have many shops, even before they all started closing down, and definitely didn't have the scope that she preferred. So she travelled.

On Monday she visited her brother and my mother in Ellesmere Port, the other side of Chester from her home. She would call in at the Kwik Save, Woolworths and sometimes the market and catch up with the news. On Tuesday she went to Birkenhead, with occasional stops along the Wirral, especially to her favourite shop in Rock Ferry. On Wednesday she would stay home, do the washing and bake. On Thursday she would visit Wrexham and have a look at the market there and the big superstore - I think it was Asda, but my grandmother passed in 1987, so I can't remember the details. On Friday she would be back in Ellesmere Port to catch up with her brother and my mother and play bingo. Sometimes she would call in at Chester on a Saturday if we weren't visiting and on Sunday she went to the Spiritualist Church in Chester. All of this travel was by bus. 

To be fair, this wasn't entirely set in stone. She would sometimes travel to places like Liverpool as there was only one store that sold her particular favourite nylons (never tights!) at a price she could accept. And she was always happy to take us on day trips to New Brighton or we would sometimes visit the cemetaries. But, on the whole, she shopped.

She knew all the shops, and all the shopkeepers, and all the assistants. She had favourite places for cheese and sugar and bread, and always had something to say when she called in. Back in the early seventies, when there was a sugar shortage and stores were rationing it to one or two bags per person, my grandmother came home with dozens of them. She was a regular at half the grocers within a twenty mile range so of course she got her sugar. It lasted her for a couple of years and was mostly used for jam. 

I think I've talked about her before. She looked after me before I started school and I have many fond memories of listening to gossip and trundling around the shops. What reminded me today is that I got a jar of DH's favourite coffee from Amazon. It was the only place I could find it. I've had another look around, and I think I may end up chasing to Sainsburys next time, which currently out of my way. 

When I was younger, I remember my mother and grandmother having to go to different places to get particular items. If my grandfather preferred a particular type of tea, then my grandmother would scour everywhere to make sure he got it. My mother would move heaven and earth to make sure that my father and then us had our favourite treats. I'm carrying on the tradition. DH doesn't make a fuss about much, and he really likes this particular brand of coffee. This means that I will be braving the ring road more often than I'd like.

There are a lot of gaps on shelves at the moment. A lot of it is to do with the disruption to supply chains and driver shortage. I suspect, however, that the days of having all the choice may have gone. I know that Tesco was already slimming down the lines it carried before the plague, and there isn't the same supply routes after Brexit. I don't think it will go back to the 1970s, when you couldn't get things like peppers, chillies or garlic, but I think that finding the less usual stuff may be more of a challenge. What can I say - challenge accepted. 

The reason this is being posted a little early is all to do with writing. I have a ton to do, lots of housewifery and from tomorrow it will be daily writing posts for a month.

Writing stuff - tomorrow is the first of October and I'm still halfway through writing the new piece that I should post for tomorrow on my writing blog. Remember, there will be something posted every day, and while some of the stories will be old favourites, there will be some new stuff as well. I'm also taking part in Fright Nights Blog Hop(10-15 October), and there are a few other writing challenges and possible promotions going on. Watch out for a gazillion and four posts about this over the next month.

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 29 September 2021

Still Driving

I was so lucky to have filled up just before the crisis, and so lucky that I can stick to the school run. I've been very careful to stick to the quickest routes, and I drive an economical car. I've still got half a tank left, so I shouldn't need to queue until next week. I'm hoping things will have died down a little.

Bear is doing drama, that is, there are rehearsals where they stay after school and work on whatever it is that they're doing. It's swings and roundabouts - I don't have to leave the house until nearly five, but it causes havoc when it comes to feeding people as it can be 6.30 when I get home. Still, he's enjoying it, and I'm getting on with my knitting while I wait. It's growing quite well, but the yarn is a devil to knit. 

I'm not even half way through the first 100g ball, and there are four of them! I may not use all the yarn. I think it will do well if I ever manage to make it to a steampunk fair, and it actually feels quite warm and cosy with a little weight to it, so I can see it being warm. 

And speaking of steampunk, I was looking for books about science and steam for around 1900, for background reading. And as I was scrolling through eBay's antiquarian books, I found one from 1982. I feel very old.

Hugs and good health to all.

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Choosing a Fun Explanation

The drive to collect bear tonight was awful - rain in sheets, water running down the road like a river and lots of spray. I've never been so glad to get home!

None of the clocks in the house currently show the right time. I've been too nervous to wind up our very old clock, and the one my grandparents got when they were married in 1938 hasn't worked in years. The clock that father brought with him is around an hour and twenty minutes slow, the fancy one in the study is fast and the one in the kitchen has stopped. The clock in the bathroom is losing around five minutes a day and the one in my bedroom has no relationship with reality at all.

Realistically, pragmatically and sensibly, it's a coincidence that the batteries have run down at roughly the same time. I personally think that it's more fun to blame fairies. 

Ghosts is another good one to blame. The old clock has a habit of not going unless it's wound by a man, which is incredibly irritating. However it was quite useful in the house where I grew up as it was the only clock that would reliably work. Other clocks would break, refuse to be wound or, in the case of at least two watches, disappear.

And there is my personal habit of totally befuddling any watch I possess. I have never been able to make a watch last. It doesn't matter what sort of watch it is, it's toast as soon as I start wearing it. The best I ever had was around thirty years ago, and it was a watch that came free with a packet of soap powder. It lasted for ages until the day it tried to tell me that it was the 34th of June - in October. 

I'll get around to switching out the batteries soon, and it will be fine. Until then, I'm not sure which would be more entertaining to blame - the fairies or ghosts.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 27 September 2021

Just Passing Through

A quick extra post as I saw this on Reddit. You can see the post here.

But for anyone who has read my stories from the White Hart - who do you think did this? I'm probably going to share it on my writing blog as well. It really made me chuckle. 

A Squirrel

We had a squirrel on our bird table today. It was chowing down on the fat balls that we put out for the robin and blue tits. The sparrows were all perched to one side in a state of baffled indignation. DH topped up the food, but I don't know how much the birds will get. I haven't seen the squirrel before. I've not seen many rats since we chased them, so fingers crossed that most of the stuff gets to the birds. I haven't seen the black cap since the bushes were pruned back but we are still getting wagtails, the robin, thrushes, blue tits, great tits and, of course, sparrows. The sparrows seem to have set up home in the fuchsia where they argue and squabble and then launch themselves out to heckle the magpies and pigeons as well as the occasional squirrel. 

We have had so much entertainment from the bird feeder. I may have to stock up on that. Today the bird food section at Tesco looked like this.

I'm not feeling very well. It may be partly my imagination, but some of it is real. The trouble with having a vivid and well practiced imagination is that it gets away from the 'writing stories' and ends up in 'getting into a silly state'. I woke up this morning around 4am and I couldn't breathe. It was awful. It was like I couldn't get any air in at all. I crawled into some clothes and staggered downstairs and felt a little better. I dozed on the sofa before getting up for the school run. On the way out, I had a thought. It goes something like this...

One of the next door neighbours is doing stuff that is feeding dust into my bedroom. I keep feeling like I've got a gritty cough and I get gunky eyes. Over the summer I got the habit of leaving my bedroom window open all the time. My bedroom window is directly over the exhaust for the boiler. The nights have been getting colder and the heating comes on whenever it gets to below 19C on the landing. It's coming on in the night, when I have had trouble breathing. Next door's boiler vent is also near to my window and I think there are issues with it. I could be suffering from the fumes. It could also be a panic attack (not good stuff happened over weekend). It's still hurting to breathe, and this morning was definitely real. I think I'll sleep on the sofa tonight and then reassess my bedroom. Also, I need to meditate.

Writing stuff - here's a piece that I was definitely not going to put in. It is only three more days to October, so brace yourself. There will be 'writing stuff every day. And watch out for October Frights Blog Hop 10th-15th October, as there will be a lot of stories on all sorts of blogs and there will be what Anita Stewart described as a book fair with links to lots of books on the supernatural theme.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 26 September 2021

Random as Ever

Witch Hazel - Thank you!!! I feel seriously and significantly hugged. 

I got lost in all sorts of bits yesterday, so decided that I would save my post for today. I was dotting about doing this and that, then DH and I had a bit of a play making potion bottles. We had a load of ideas from Cooking and Craft Chick on YouTube, and you can print the labels from her links. DH was much better at it than me. 

DH's is the amazing one on the left. Mine is the drab one on the right. The pics don't do them justice. When shaken, you get an amazing swirling sutble glitter effect. Well, in DH's potion at least.

We plan to have another play next weekend. We have shiny paint, glitter, hot glue guns and we are not afraid to have a go at things. 

I settled down to watch the first proper Strictly this year and very much enjoyed it and the surprises. I have finally finished the shawl that I started ages ago, when I was stranded with the car engine light coming on. I'm not giving too much of a close up, nor am I blocking it, as I made a mess of the increases - again.

I then started on another shawl straight away. It's to wear on any Steampunk adventures (if I ever get there). the ball band says 'misc fibres'. They are extremely misc. Three strands of different types of yarn, all of them fiddly to knit. I have used harsh language, but it seems to be knitting up quick. 

Today was also a quiet day. I decided that I'd try and clear the backlog of craft and have a knitting day. I made the mistake of mentioning this to DH. This is why I've got so much writing done.

Tonight we had mince and mash, which bear completely appreciated. It was a proper ribsticking mince, with lots of carrots, onions and peas, nice and thickened and with plenty of mash. Bear and DH mashed it all together with plenty of mustard and hoovered it up. I'm going to have to get another jar of mustard. It will look like I'm stockpiling, but really I just have men who like mustard. 

Mind you, I got the second delivery this weekend, this time from Morrisons. My freezer is now much more functional. I'm surprised I didn't get a raised eyebrow at the amount - two bags of peas, half a dozen boxes of the fake vegan chicken stuff (bear will always eat it and it's on offer), three pots of icecream (the men will definitely help with that), among other things. In fact, it's about a week's worth, possibly a week and a half. I would normally order a lot more, and aim to have a delivery once a month, but I worry about the whole stockpiling thing. Years ago I used to get a delivery once a month and the order reflected that. 

Writing stuff - Witch Hazel - thank you so much for your comment. It means a massive amount. I'm still working out how to go on with some of it, but I'll share as I go.

I've got quite a few plans and ideas, but I'm scared to share them. For example, I've told everyone that I won't be posting much in September as I'm gearing up for a post every day in October. That is why we have a new piece lined up for tomorrow. And, as I mentioned above, I got quite a bit of the overdue fantasy novel done as I told someone my plan to concentrate on knitting. I swear that I need a keeper. 

Anyway, brace for October because hopefully there will be plenty of news 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 24 September 2021

Proud of Bear

I'm always proud of bear in general, but today he got a voucher for a free drink at the school canteen for having the most positives in the class. I will be completely honest - I'm not sure I follow all of the hows and whys, but bear has done very well. I'm so proud. He's working out how to keep his position on the leaderboard and I think I will have to listen to a lot of explanations. He has also explained some maths to me. I haven't got a clue.

I have mentioned before about the whole 'if I make a plan it immediately sinks without trace'. I was planning to go on the motorway early tomorrow, to get some practice in for something that I honestly daren't put down just in case. As it happens, I filled up the day before yesterday as I was running on fumes, and it's just as well I did. There are queues everywhere. I couldn't get in to Morrisons car park for bear's pick up as the queues for the petrol station were blocking the entrance. I had to go the long way around and I got lost at one point. 

I have a nearly full tank of petrol. I also drive 160 miles a week on the school run. My little citroen isn't too heavy on the petrol, but it does take fuel. I've decided that I don't want to risk using petrol to wallop down the motorway for a few junctions and back. I am unimpressed. 

Tomorrow I plan to sit very still and do nothing. I'll let you know how that pans out!

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 23 September 2021

No Idea

I'm so tired, I'm not sure what I've done today. I went to the tip with all the spoiled food from the freezer, and I know I got a very small amount of writing done. Apart from that, and the moment when I went to get frozen onion from the freezer tonight for dinner before I remembered, most of the day is a blank.

Writing stuff - the White Hart is now available in the form of three ebooks - Tales from the White Hart, More Tales from the White Hart and Further Tales from the White Hart. I hope to get them available in paperback as well, but that can wait. When I work out how, I'll be putting them on offer for free on a regular basis, and I'll let you know. I hope I got the links right.

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Turkish Delight Ice Cream

Today I managed a walk. DH and I had seen a craft YouTube video that involved twigs and models of ravens. We agreed that it was aspirational. I had a look around the woods but it seemed very bare of twigs suitable to stick model ravens to. Most looked like this. 

I did see something nice and twiggy, but it was attached to a very large branch. I may take a hacksaw tomorrow. 

I don't know if I'll be in trouble if I take it - it's a public park, but the branches have been there for ages.

It is my Facebook birthday today, though it's not my real birthday. Perhaps it's just as well. Bear is having a crisis about a test coming up and the positives associated with the dratted thing, and I just found the freezer door open. Everything was defrosted. I think it was from either when I put in the Turkish Delight Icecream (from the farm shop - they do lovely icecream) or when DH sampled it. It doesn't matter. I'm about to cook what I can, bin what I can't and grumble while I make a new order for frozen food delivery. It's a great opportunity to have a clear out and make some decisions.

Also, Amazon and I are still emailing each other. I have no idea what is going on. But though it is a nuisance from my point of view, they are protecting the rights of authors and that is a good thing. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 21 September 2021

So Far, So Aaaarghhhhhh

I didn't post yesterday as bear wanted to talk. He was fretting about A levels. He won't even start them for two years. He won't even start picking them until next year. I think the school is heaping stress on the kids. Anyway, we talked for a few hours. I don't know what to do for the best. On the one hand, he's expected to get A, A+ or A+++ across the board (apart from, possibly, English). On the other, I don't want to weigh him down with expectations. Apart from anything else, I think school are doing that already. 

He was talking in the car on the way home (a rarity) and apparently the school assembly was talking about all the different ways that the kids should get involved. 

I think that they're shaking up all sorts at the school. The head teacher left a year or two ago and now there is a whole new behaviour points system and points for this and that and the other. It's very confusing to me. Bear is talking about all the stuff he can get into. I'm nodding, smiling and hoping he doesn't take on too much.

Yesterday I was sorting out more stuff in the kitchen and dining room. Today I had a small play in the garden and cleared some rubbish. This meant that both today and yesterday I went to the tip - but I went on the bypass! This means going on a slip road to join traffic going at speed, and I did it!!! It isn't the motorway, and it was pretty quiet, but I did it! 

I haven't gone on any walks, but I did get a pic of the fuchsia this morning. It was absolutely chock full of bees, but I didn't manage to get any in the pic.

Writing stuff - as I have been working on stuff with the White Hart, I thought I would dip into a short story. Of course, ideas multiplied, but here is a short snippet. 

I have also spent far too much time today trying to convince Amazon that I have the rights to publish the content from the White Hart. At the time of typing, Tales from the White Hart is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon, and Further Tales from the White Hart is available as an ebook from places like Barnes and Noble, but More Tales from the White Hart seems to be impossible to publish anywhere. I'm working on it, and I can always go back to the blog. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Sunday 19 September 2021

A Little More Interesting

Sharon - thank you. I am thinking hard about it. I am very grateful for the support I've had here.

Yesterday I didn't post because there was nothing to post about. I did a little tidying and some ironing, but it was all very dull. Today has not been dull. 

Yesterday evening, just before bed, I evicted some slugs, from the dining room. I made a few trips just before bedtime, and I think I got maybe four or five of them. I was unimpressed, but at least I could find them after the tidying. I found another one this morning when I moved a bag. I am not a happy bunny. 

Today I have washed clothes, ironed clothes, shifted and carried and generally tidied. My kitchen and dining room look like a cry for help at the moment - there are bags and piles everywhere. But it is getting sorted. I'll need to work like a navvy next week to get it to a fit state, but I can do this! 

I found that the drawer unit in the corner that had been hidden by a pile of stuff had a broken lid, so I decided to nip to Argos for a new one. I don't really like Argos, and I've had a few bad experiences, but I took the risk and ordered online to collect this afternoon. Of course, that meant driving down the ring road, which is scary, and more like the wacky races than sensible driving. There is a real risk of ending up in Hull if you get stuck in the wrong lane, but at least it was Sunday. There weren't as many crazed lorry drivers and mad vans hurtling around. 

I got to Argos, which is in Sainsburys in the White Rose Centre. I noticed this as I went in. 

The smoking bin was actually smoking!

I had a little look around Sainsburys and picked up a gluten free Christmas pudding and some gluten free lebkuchen and decided to pick up some rum. I carefully balanced the litre bottle in my trolley - and it fell out and smashed. It smashed loudly, emphatically and right at my feet. My slippers and jeans were soaked. If you had squeezed them out you could have made a cocktail. I don't think I had athlete's foot, but if I did, I'm sure that the tidal wave of rum will have sorted it out. I was mortified! And it took me ages to find a member of staff. They reassured me that it wasn't a rare thing, so that is something. 

I picked up the drawer unit and headed home. I kept the windows down and prayed that I wouldn't be stopped because I reeked of rum. I've never been so glad to get in. Bear put the unit together for me (he is getting to be quite the handyman) and we had an easy dinner. I gave the men bought pasties with coleslaw, which they were happy with and I was relieved about as the kitchen is really not fit for cooking. I'm going to heat a tin of soup for me in a minute.

I intend to spend the evening peacefully, but my plans never seem to work out. But as far as I can tell, everyone has clean clothes for tomorrow (especially important for me, as I currently smell like the barmaid's apron) and everyone has been fed. Fingers crossed for an early night.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 17 September 2021

Today Was Complicated

I went for a walk this morning. I didn't manage to catch a pic of the squirrel, but it was quite slim for the time of year. I hope it will be okay. I managed to get a pic of the evidence of what it was eating.

The remains are from a horse chestnut, but there are no horse chestnut trees nearby. I took some better pics later on, but they're sort of generic.

I may use them for my flash fiction.

Then I went into Dewsbury to pick up some shin pads. When I last went in for uniform, bear swore that he wouldn't need them. However he just learned that they are playing field hockey this term, so he changed his mind and I got sent in. I called in at the Range on my way back, but they didn't have what I wanted. I picked up an advent calendar, though, as shops ran short last year.

I've spent the rest of the day armpit deep in writing stuff, details below. I was glad to escape to the school run. Bear has done well this week, according to the record of positives. He was a little fed up though when he reached the car as there had been a fire alarm, and not a drill either. He said that it was due to a malfunction. I have a feeling that I'm going to be hearing about fund raisers soon.

Writing stuff - my awesome editor from Three Furies gave me a hand, and I submitted the books version of the stories from the White Hart to both Amazon and Draft2Digital (who distribute to practically everyone else). Both of them have bounced the stories as the content is available for free elsewhere - the old blog At the Sign of the White Hart. I am not sure how to go on. If I want the stories out there in book form, I can't have them in a blog. I've closed the old blog today. If you have any ideas or feelings on the matter, please comment and let me know. My instinct is to put it into books and put it on sale at regular intervals. It helps me with other books and makes it easier to promote my work. I am very aware, however, that I wrote those stories with the ongoing encouragement of the readers. Please let me know what you think. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 16 September 2021

Busy Today

Kate - I will take your word for it. I'm likely to get enough berries for a small pot of jam as the dratted bush is as wide as my car is long, but I'm happy to leave it to the sparrows. These are today's pics of the fuchsia.

I went for a walk this morning, and took a load of photos. I'm quite pleased with some of them.

The park was practically empty. I've never seen it so quiet. 

Then I called in at Tesco, but they didn't have the flavoured water that DH likes. I am not too stressed. DH is happy to drink other water, and if you have limited lorry space then it makes sense to use it on fresh food or stuff that has nutritional value.

I also noticed that they had posted a load of vacancies on the door. If I was fitter I would definitely apply. As it is, I'm pretty much on my knees at the moment just with a little walk. I spotted this, by the way, in the car park at the trolley hutch, and I thought it made an interesting picture.

I saw a good recipe somewhere which involved mushrooms and dried beans. I can't find the dratted recipe anywhere! It's so frustrating. I'm sure I saw it online somewhere last week. As I spend my life online, this isn't narrowing it down much.

I'm not for much else at the moment, though, as I've been doing some writing stuff, and my brain has gone into standby mode.

Writing stuff - I split the stories from the White Hart into three and they should be available to buy as an ebook or a paperback within the next few days. My editor, Rebekah (who is awesome and incredibly patient) at Three Furies Press helped me out so I have absolutely no reason to feel so flattened, but I definitely do! And the whole of the White Hart series should be available free on the blogger site. The link is here if you would like to give an opinion on how it should be laid out. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 15 September 2021

I Hate Commas

I was going to do a little shopping, but I decided against it. Instead I've spent most of today armpit deep in writing stuff. 

I had a small walk this morning, and I actually looked around me as I walked. The park opened in 1909, and there are a lot of walls and bits still around. I looked at a small piece of mud that I had passed so many times.

When I looked closer, it's a proper tunnel. Apparently a railway used to run where the path is.

There are all sorts of bits of stonework around. I shall see if I can get some good pics. I also got a quite nice pic of some fungus. 

Then I got home and got down to the writing stuff.

Writing stuff - I've got all the old favourites cued up for October with pics and links sorted. All I have to do now is produce the new stuff. I've got some ideas. Then I went through the White Hart stuff and created covers for three books. Rebekah Jonesy from Three Furies Press is kindly looking it over for formatting and so they should be along soon(ish). This is totally wonderful of her as I am so behind on my fantasy novel that it isn't funny and she's still helping me out.

October will be here in fifteen days, and I will be posting something new every day. This means that there will be a lot of writing stuff posts, so I hope that people are okay with that.

Hugs and good health to all.

Tuesday 14 September 2021

Waste of Day

I don't know what is the matter with me. I can't keep my eyes open. I dragged myself to get bear to school, had a sleep, picked him up, came home, nearly fell asleep again, I can't stop yawning and I've done nothing! 

I nearly fell asleep in the car waiting for bear as well. It didn't help that bear was around half an hour later than expected. I need to get on at him to text when he's going to be a little after 3.30, or, as in this case, quite a bit after. It isn't as bad as the hour and a half that I've hung on for in the past, but I'm unimpressed.

The nightmares I'm having are really taking it out of me.

But I did manage to take a pic. I was trying for some close ups of the fuchia blossoms with rain on, but they weren't working out. I did get a pic of the wall of colour that the fuchia is at the moment. It seems to be making a lot of bees happy, and hopefully the fruit afterwards will feed them in the later autumn. Apparently you are able to make jam out of fuchsia berries. I'm not going to even try. 

I need to get better at focus. 

Now I am going to have an early night and hopefully some decent sleep. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 13 September 2021

Blast from the Past

I can barely move as I am full of sneezes. I've had a good sort out in the living room and I'll be moving furniture tomorrow. This means that the dust has been flying and it has seriously set me off. I've gone through half a box of tissues. I'll certainly get through a lot more tomorrow. Bear ended up with a Co-op chilled lasagna for dinner as I felt far too sniffly to do anything more. DH had his usual pasta bake, which made him happy. 

DH has also been a hero, setting up a new phone and sorting out cables. The phone, router and all sorts of wire type things are in the living room and I have no idea. The phone has been waiting to be sorted for years. DH has completely sorted it out.

In between sniffing like a disapproving aunt, I've been doing lots of writing. Bear didn't have school today so I left him to it. Apparently something something flash cards homework drama instagram. He's on a roll and I'm happy for him.

As part of the writing stuff, I've been dipping in to a few old posts on past blogs, some as long ago as 2008. I've not improved. I'm still failing at housework, bewildered by bear and obsessed with shopping. One thing I realised is that I cook a lot less now. I found loads of recipes and ideas in the old blog. I wonder if I will still be trying to convince myself that I will get sorted out from the same havoc in 2034? I suspect that I will. 

I didn't take a photo today, but I'm not giving up on the idea. Here's a pic that I dug up while I was organising the October stories. I'm quite proud of it.

I mean, it's not brilliant, but it's okay. It was only taken last month. I wonder how autumnal it looks now. 

Writing stuff - I've been sorting through old stories and getting things set up for October. I don't want to just have old stuff, though, so I'm sketching out ideas and seeing what I can come up with that is a little spooky and fun to read. While I was looking, I found a totally non-spooky story and thought I would share it again. It was originally posted in May 2014, but I remember writing it. It's here if you are interested, along with some notes on what I'm up to. And speaking of which, if you want to chip in with ideas about what I can do with the White Hart stories, you can comment on this post

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 12 September 2021

I Love a Quiet Sunday

There has been no drama, no chaos and nothing unexpected. I got a little writing done, a lot of knitting and watched 'Analyse This' with DH this afternoon.

The honeysuckle has been stripped of its berries by the birds and is looking very leafless. I noticed it when I went to the bin this afternoon. I suspect it is the rust rather than autumn, though all bets are off this year.

I had a go at a different take on potatoes - peeled, diced, stirred with chopped onions and pesto, and microwaved covered for twenty minutes. They came out okay, but I think I'll try adding the pesto at the end next time. 

I think I'll settle in for a nice early night. Bear is off school tomorrow, but I have no idea what I'm going to do with the extra time. Fingers crossed that I'll be productive. 

Hugs and good health to all.

(I think I'll start taking a proper picture every day and seeing how I can get better. The one above is rubbish)

Saturday 11 September 2021

Can I Start Today Again

While I was out yesterday, I spotted a tethered tree.

I wondered what the tree had done to deserve being tied down quite so firmly. It looked like a new tether.  

I haven't moved much today. To be honest, I feel like I've spent too long in the spin cycle of a washing machine. I am a big fan of Lucifer, on Netflix, and the last season has come out. I haven't watched it all, but I've watched a fair chunk while knitting. I've got some washing done and some bits and pieces as well. I even successfully used the handwashing thingy I got without drenching myself and the entire bathroom, which has to be a win. I don't feel like I've managed much of a win, to be honest. I've also done a little writing stuff. I feel somewhat disappointed.

Writing stuff - I swear there is something wrong with me. I made the decision that I would focus on a spooky October and refashioning the Always Another Chapter blog to something more interesting. I wasn't planning on posting anything until 1st October. I was definitely wanting to concentrate on the scary stuff, to have a nice mixture of new stuff and old favourites. Which is why, no doubt, that I found myself writing the first few paragraphs of a nice and gentle story. It is not spooky or scary in any way. I'm saving it until November. 

While I was rummaging around, I found an old Blogger version of 'At the Sign of the White Hart'. It's nowhere near up to date, and looks, to be honest, a bit of a mess. However, I am not looking a gift hart in the mouth. I plan to get it tidied up a little, add the later posts and make it a place where you can still read it for free. I'll still be getting it put into ebook and possibly paperback book form, and I've added adverts to the site, but it started free and it seems wrong not to keep it freely available. 

For anyone who read and enjoyed the series - how should I go on? I've put a post on the White Hart blog here, and I would be grateful for any and all (polite) comments there on your preferences. This is about you, the reader. Let me know how you feel and what you want when it comes to the White Hart.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 10 September 2021

Finally Friday

Bless - I feel it. My entire house needs care and repair. Sending hugs, because it's hard to work it all out.

I had nightmares again last night and couldn't get back to sleep, so I was up early. I managed to get bear safely to school, which was something of a miracle, then dashed home for a very unsatisfactory hair cut. It isn't bad although I walked out looking like a dandelion clock at 8.20, which is quite an achievement with my limp hair. It was just all a little grim. Besides, getting my hair washed felt like getting assaulted. 

I watched an episode of the last season of Lucifer, which has just come out, and got a few bits of washing on. Then I set off early to pick up bear as apparently they were finishing an hour earlier than normal and I wanted to call in to Tesco first. There were a lot of gaps in the shelves in Tescos. I am starting to feel a little stressed about it.

When I got to Morrisons to pick up bear, I got a text asking if it was okay to hang out with his friends for a while. He arranged to meet me in the car park at Crillys. I had wanted to call in there for a while. It has all sorts of bits on the website.There is quite a variety of stuff in there, and I succumbed to some yarn. This is not good. I mean, I know exactly the sweater I want to knit with it, but I don't need another project, especially as two more packs of inexpensive yarn from eBay turned up today. 

But I took some pics. By the time I had walked up to the hairdressers and back and had a wander around Tesco, I almost made my step target so I walked a little further around the carpark at Morrisons and found a wild tomato plant.

I have no idea how it got there and I don't think that it's growing true to the parent plant, but I thought it was interesting. 

There are a lot of berries this year.

And it feels very autumnal.

Still, the fuschia is keeping the bees going.

And here is the yarn. 

And now I am going to sit and watch some more Lucifer and knit to clear the backlog (if at all possible).

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 9 September 2021

It Isn't Even Friday

I got bear to school without any problems, then dashed home as a plumber was due around lunchtime and I wanted to disinfect the bathroom and all the doorknobs and stuff and have a good clean. I got quite a bit done before the plumber came, but I was feeling a little out of sorts with the weather. It was incredibly close. 

The plumber (who is awesome) came to look at the bathroom sink that is falling off the wall. He put in some isolation thingies so that I can turn the water off to the taps if the sink does fall. The biggest part of the problem is that the tiles that the sink is attached to are falling off. The plumber recommended a block of wood. 

Bear had volunteered to come home on the bus, as I wasn't exactly sure when the plumber would be here. This let me nip to B&Q. I asked for help, but as I didn't know what I was looking for, the poor man was at something of a disadvantage. However he directed me to a bin near the door. It was full of offcuts, and you could help yourself for a donation to charity. I picked out a block of wood that I thought would fit on a stool next to the sink. I got home, thought again, went back and got a bigger bit. DH has cut it to size, so it should keep things in place until we can get the bathroom done.

Meanwhile the thunderstorm that had threatened all day had started. It was almost continuous thunder and the rain was coming down in stair rods. I was now worried about bear. If he had got on one bus, it would be a shortish walk. If he got a different bus, it would be a good twenty minutes in driving rain. I was considering texting him to see if he wanted me to meet him off the bus but he walked in - drenched. He squelched as he walked in. I've hung his blazer next to the dehumidifer and I'm just hoping that it will be fit for tomorrow as it was absolutely soaked. The school have a new strict regime so I have to send him in with this blazer, wet or not.

And while I mention the rain, the kitchen grew a puddle. It's happened before, but I've never been exactly sure what was going on. When I wash up, there is something of a blast radius as I slosh water all over the place. I can never quite be sure if it wasn't just me being enthusiastic washing a pan. Today it was definitely due to the heavy rain. I watched it grow. Unfortunately, I couldn't see where it was coming from. It probably seeped in somewhere, but I couldn't quite tell. The lino that's down was there when we moved in, back in 1994. It has seen some wear since. I don't think that it came in through the door, but I think there is a leak from the drain. I also think that there may be a leak at the back of the fridge as there was a large damp spot in the doorway to the dining room. 

I realised that I was running short of some bits, and that I wanted to top up with petrol as I had a list of stuff tomorrow and wasn't sure what I'd be doing, so I nipped out. I got to Tesco and half of the forecourt was coned off. They seemed to be running short of petrol. This did not help my headache. 

To be honest, the whole drive was a little stressful. There were unexpected flooded areas from the earlier downpour, and I watched in disbelief as a squirrel ran in front of my car, carried on in front of an oncoming car, stopped, had a think as the poor driver coming the other way had to brake, then continued to the other side. On the way home, the heavens opened again and it was awful driving. 

I did cheer up a little as I came down the street, though. I saw a bat. I don't know if it was our bat, but it was reassuring. And the trip to B&Q used to scare me and I managed it fine. So it could be worse. However I now have a banging headache and I feel tense as a board. I think I will try meditation, or possibly rum, and get an early night.

Writing stuff - I've signed up to the October Frights again. Brace yourselves, as I will be posting links all the way through October, and particularly to the October Frights Blog Hop. Lots of people take part, and it is a chance for us to air our spooky stories. I hope to have a couple of new stories for the event, plus an old favourite or two. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 8 September 2021


 I think the best way to describe today is that it's been a papercut type of day. There have been a lot of very minor irritations, but they have mounted up and now, at the end of the day, I could just sit and sob. So...

Do you know about Sporcle? It's a site where you can play quizzes and I have an unhealthy addiction there. They have quizzes that are just Dad Jokes, or puns, or Bad Jokes - I indulge on days like today. The first Bad Dad Jokes Quiz is here. And here's a spoiler for one of the questions.

I used to work at a calendar factory, but I got sacked after taking a couple of days off.

Back tomorrow, hopefully in a better state.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 7 September 2021

What Plans?

The meal plan is two days in and has been completely abandoned. I may still manage a casserole tomorrow, but so far the odds are looking against it as bear will be picked up around 1pm but wants to go climbing after. I won't be in to keep an eye on the stove - and I won't trust any appliance in my kitchen at the moment.

Bear is back at school tomorrow, for half a day. I let him get on with getting ready. I made sure that he had all the stationery, uniform and sundries that he needed and that all his shirts and trousers were clean and ready. The rest is up to him. 

I took him to the Works Outlet store today. That is, I gave him money and waited at a safe distance. He had fun, but commented that the stationery there was very girlie. DH and bear both adore stationery, but he is right. There is an over-representation of unicorns and pink glitter. He picked up some stuff for backing books, a couple of puzzle books and some pens which I need to take back as they are leaking before they even left the packet. I had a look in the Yankee candle shop, but I was somewhat unimpressed. 

I am still doing the calculations. If I drop bear off at his usual time, the earliest I can get home is 8.30, and if I call in anywhere before I start it can be as late as 10am before I get home. I saw the state of the car park this lunchtime at Morrisons where I would normally wait to pick up bear and it looked like the D-Day landings. I need to get there early, so perhaps leave home around 10.30am. If I don't go anywhere, though, I'm hanging around for four hours or so. I may take my knitting and catch my breath.

I may just come home. I can always call in at the Co-op for any necessities. I thought I would take a pic to give an impression of the size of my local co-op. These are all the supermarket trollies.

Writing stuff - I've done a brief note on my blog about my plans, but it's not particularly interesting. It's here if you would like to look. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 6 September 2021

Finally it's Warm!

The kids are going back to school, and finally we are getting warm and sunny weather! That's about typical. 
Image from WikiCommons, taken by Dietmar Rabich

Today would have been my mother's birthday. She would have been 83 but she passed in 2003.

Me and mother really, really, really didn't get on. At all. The rest of the family encouraged us to meet once a month and that's all. DH had moments of being absolutely appalled. But no-one is ever completely bad. I feel I ought to write more about her today.

She was difficult, contrary and stubborn. She had a phenomenal memory, had worked in weird places as an extremely good secretary, and would answer back to anyone. She held herself like a lady, but not necessarily a timid lady. If she had been born in a different time, she would have been a suffragette. 

She was incredibly well informed across an amazing range of subjects, and was always eager to learn more. She had a restless spirit. We travelled all over most of North and West Yorkshire by bus together, always looking for the odd and unusual. 

She adored DH, and she would have spoiled bear, if she had met him. He would have not been able to move for books and educational toys, and he would have been dragged out on adventures whether he liked it or not. She had an incredibly generous spirit.

She liked daffodils, which is why I chose the picture. She was of a generation that perhaps should have liked roses or orchids, but she was seriously contrary. She always liked pampas grass in the garden as well. I never told her that it was sometimes used as a sign that swingers lived there. She would have been mortified, but probably kept the pampas grass because what the hell.

She got a lot wrong, but she did her best. I suppose that's all that we can do. I know I get things wrong with bear even though I'm doing my best, and I keep hoping that my best is good enough. So right now I'm remembering her mischievous delight in new places and new ideas and being grateful for all the good she did.

And as an aside, when the minister rang to tell me that they had lost my mother's grave, one of my first thoughts I had was that she would very much enjoyed being so distinctive, memorable and awkward. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 5 September 2021

Taking a Risk

I've planned next week's dinners. Normally, if I try something like that, it all goes horribly, horribly wrong. This week, I'm taking a chance. I've made a long list, and, fingers crossed, I'm hoping it will work out.

I've got to fit around bear starting school again on Wednesday, and DH likes pasta bake on Monday and Tuesday which leaves me hanging a little for bear and I but bear doesn't eat a proper dinner on Monday so it's just me then something simple on Tuesday for bear and I. So I pencilled in bendy veg soup for me on Monday, then bear and I will have something like baked potato and beans on Tuesday. Wednesday we are having a lamb casserole as there is lamb in the freezer (reduced for quick sale so snapped it up at the time) and I want to get it used up. I want to make space for the run up to Christmas. Thursday is something easy like the herby veggie sausages from the freezer with mash and gravy, then Friday is a bean casserole. I got the recipe from Tesco, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it works out. It should be relatively inexpensive and healthy. Then next weekend I'll finally use up that Salt and Pepper chicken joint. 

I'm using too much convenience food and I want to break away from that. I also want to go for some healthier options. Shopping will be slightly different as I will be dropping bear off and picking up at Morrisons on weekdays, I'll be a stone's throw from Tesco if I go to the park for a walk and I come back via the farm shop and the Co-op. As I'm trying to get braver with driving, the quite scary bypass leads to a massive Asda which has some amazing gluten free stuff, so that's another option. 

Next week I plan to try the chicken cake at some point, and I saw a recipe of a sort of veggie bake in a loaf tin, so I'll see how it goes. I suspect I'm distracting myself from all the writing I need to do. I've also played a load of games on Sporcle and done some knitting. I'm going to settle down after this to going over the White Hart stuff. Then that is off the writing list. 

When I was waiting for the car to cool down, when the engine check light came on, I thought I would have longer to hang around and picked up some yarn and needles from Wilko. I didn't have as long to wait as I thought, but so far it looks like this, and it's quite relaxing to knit. I'm planning on getting on with it, though, as it should be easy enough to finish, and then that will be off the craft list.

I'm getting distracted. It sounds like bear is practising the shot putt with all the thumps and bangs. I daren't ask. He's a teenager. I'll ask tomorrow when it will probably be safe. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Saturday 4 September 2021


We haven't seen our rodent friends for a while. On the one hand, we stopped feeding the birds. On the other hand, we kicked and banged the bins and they ran away. I invested £7.98 in an ultrasonic rat scarer. You push it into the ground where the solar panel can charge the battery and it is supposed to send out a sound that frightens the rats without disturbing animals or pets. It came today.

I was looking forward to getting it so that I could start feeding the birds again. I ran outside, switched it on and pushed it into the soil. It went 'parp'. It sounded exactly like the party blowers that you put in kids' party bags that unfurl as you blow them, make a sad noise and become pathetically limp in a very short time. The rats around here look quite sleek and healthy. I cannot imagine them taking much notice of something going 'parp'. I can even imagine them turning up with their own party blowers (my imagination needs a talking to sometimes). I wouldn't be surprised if it disturbed the birds, though, and I don't want to upset our neighbour. He's lovely - and quiet! It looks like this.

(I had a few issues uploading this, as the phone has gone on to battery saver mode and I'm going to have to get bear to take it off again)

I didn't take a pic in situ as I am ashamed of the weeds. I've left it out hoping that it will get seriously charged and that the sort of despairing parp is just because of a flat battery. I'll let you know. 

Otherwise, it's been a quiet day.

I have just realised that I should have started dinner two hours ago. We will not be having the salt and pepper chicken joint that I had planned to use up. It's looking like beans. 

Writing stuff - I'm taking a risk and talking plans here. October is on its way, and last year I posted spooky stuff every day of October. Most of the stories had been seen before, but I put in some new bits as well. I tallied up all the spookyish stories currently hanging around on the Always Another Chapter blog and there are 28, not including the stories with Kane (the young man who can speak to ghosts and wishes that he couldn't). I hope I'll be able to mix it up a little with some new stuff. I'm planning on a sort of relaunch in November, with a little more activity. I'll add a little chat, perhaps some reviews and of course I will continue with a little flash fiction. It's really like the gym for my writing (and I've skipped a few weeks recently and I'm feeling it). 

I was considering making the collection into an ebook after October. There isn't a huge amount of content, not for a book of short stories. Even if I add in some new stuff, it's likely to be slim. But I'm not really expecting it to sell. It's just a way of keeping the stories safe and accessible. I'll kick some ideas around and see where I go. The ebook idea is more realistic when it comes to my poetry, as no-one expects a lot of words in a poetry book, and it's a safer way for me to save them than a memory stick. I have a bad record with memory sticks. So if I do pull a collection together, I may do things like advertise it on Amazon and that, but I'm not really expecting much. And I haven't forgotten about the White Hart that really needs to be made available. This time of year is a really good time for me to get stuff done, though, as I struggle in January and February, so I had best get my head down and get on with it. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 3 September 2021

Overall a Fail

 Witch Hazel - thank you soooo much for the hug. Really appreciated.

Today has been meh. I don't know what to call it. 

I called in at Aldi and Tesco for a few bits. Lots of gaps on the shelves. I'm trying to be meticulous in having a 'one out, one in' policy, that is, if I use something like a jar of mustard, I get a replacement straight away instead of just hoping to remember stuff. As it was, I forgot eggs. I normally get those from the farm shop, but I go to the farm shop if I'm coming back past Morrisons and while I should have gone to Morrisons in a way as I have vouchers that expire on Sunday, I couldn't face it. I think I would have saved around 15p, and it would have probably cost more than that in petrol. I'll make sure I use the vouchers when school starts again, as I pick up and drop off bear there. 

The reason I actually needed eggs was because I want to try making chicken cake. I found the video here and it looked interesting. It's chicken, sauteed in spices and then baked in a sort of batter. It looks a little like a form of toad in the hole. As I forgot the eggs, we had a rather disappointing chicken curry type thing. I'll try the chicken cake next week, if I can. 

I'm sort of getting a sort of meal plan. DH likes his pasta bake, and he likes a particular type which neither bear nor I eat. So I make a full pasta bake and he has it Monday and Tuesday. On Monday bear has a huge plate of something like chicken after climbing. I have whatever I can think of (I'll have to start getting creative on that). On Tuesday bear and I have something like beans on baked potatoes or similar. Wednesdays are usually something made with mince. I'm going to try and keep slotting stuff in that works around what we are doing, which will help. 

Anyway I also forgot to take the parcel that I should post. It's not too time sensitive so I can wait until Monday for that. On the way home from Tesco, I suddenly found an urgent need for a loo. I headed for a local park, by Oakwood Hall in Batley. The toilets were, of course, closed and I was glad to make it home in one piece. I must go back there at some point, though. It looked like a nice place to have a walk. On my search for the facilities, I found this sculpture. 

It shows miners at a coal seam. I really need to get better at pictures.

Tonight, when I was making dinner, I managed to break a bottle and have the splinters of glass go all over the runner beans and chillis that I had picked from the garden. I am not inclined to try cooking them, and I am desperately unimpressed. 

On the bright side, bear tells me that he has packed his bag for next week, that his shoes and trainers still fit and that all is good to go for school. If it turns out that it's all going horribly wrong at 7am next Wednesday, I shall let him know that it's his problem. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 2 September 2021

Sad Today

I was clearing a drawer and found father's medals. 

I wonder what he would think of me now - driving around, shopping in person and getting out of the house. It's only been six years, but I feel that a lot has happened. I finally had the strength to throw out his false moustaches. Yes, he had a pack of false moustaches that he sometimes wore to church. 

I think I will take some strong drink and have an early night.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Much Quieter

A lovely and boring day. I pottered around a little with some washing and I got a little writing done. I made mince and mash for dinner and the men almost inhaled it. 

I thought I would call in the shops tonight. It was quite depressing. Both Aldi and Tesco had a lot of gaps in their shelves. Bear and DH like the fizzy flavoured water from Tesco (no aspartame) but there wasn't a bottle on the shelf. It was completely bare. 

It did unnerve me. I've got some bits in, of course, and we are well stocked with stuff like herbs and spices. I consciously bought a little less. I bought two bottles of brown sauce, but I had completely run out and I like to have one on the table and one in the cupboard. Thinking about it, perhaps I should have picked up some ketchup as I am running low on that as well. Bear has recently become devoted to mustard. I picked up the last jar of wholegrain on the shelf. I am expecting prices to go up. To be honest, things seem dearer every visit.

On the bright side, DH and I had been discussing some craft projects and I picked up some very inexpensive paints from Aldi. I forgot to pick up NoNails, though, which means I will end up going out tomorrow after all. The bathroom sink looks like it is about to fall off the wall.

Hugs and good health to all.