dEAr diary ~ in preparation for the party

Yesterday we had a trip up to North Yorkshire to see my mum.  We took her out for lunch at a large garden centre near Northallerton, mainly to be undercover and avoid the biting cold weather.  The queue in the restaurant was long because of the school holidays and the staff had been taken unawares so there was a 30 minute delay for food orders.  Luckily we were not in any rush and didn’t mind the wait – it gave us a chance for a good chat.  Mum and DH had cheese and chutney sandwiches which were rather like doorstops and I chose a jacket potato – all came with coleslaw and salad but like many places these days the portions are very large – too large in my mind and not helping the obesity problem and we end up paying for a proportion of the food we cannot eat – I do wish these places would offer a smaller sized portion.

Afterwards we had a wander around the ‘shop’ part, they sell decorative homewares, gifts, clothes and crafts as well as gardening products – a bit of a mini shopping centre.  It was too cold to take mum outside and look at the plants so we  moved on to Northallerton town centre.  I love this market town – it has a good balance of independents and chains and you can find most things here.  We ended up as we always do in Boyes for a mooch around while mum stocked up on a few heavy items like washing powder.  We had to go and warm up again in a nearby Costa before taking her back home.  She was so grateful that we had taken the trouble to drive up and take her out for an hour or two as my sister is away at the moment – it is a costly hour or two though when you add both the fuel and eating out costs but well worth it to see the smile on her face.

Today I felt quite drained from the car journey and a little stiff so I decided to take it easy and sit and make a list of what I need to do this week for the 40th birthday party preparations.  There is a bit of cleaning to do, a bit more tidying in the garden and a bit of this and that to decorate the place.

Did I mention I am also going to attempt to make the celebration cake – if my oven doesn’t work then I will have to put the cake mixture in the car and drive round to my daughter’s house to use hers.   DH thinks the problem with the oven might be a faulty element that surrounds the fan at the back of the oven.  If we could fix this it would make meal planning and baking the birthday cake so much easier.  He managed to buy an element and tomorrow he will have a go at replacing it.

Fingers crossed.

After all the listing and planning we went to town this afternoon to do our weekly shop and had a go at the self scanning system, new to Sainsbury’s – it was slow especially as I kept forgetting to pass the items over to DH to scan before putting them into the trolley.  I think it will get quicker as we train ourselves to the new process.

On the way to town we had a detour down a country lane to some nearby woodland so I could get a small branch for my Easter display that will hold the eggs I have decorated.  I will post a picture once I have something assembled.

I thought some outdoor Festoon lighting might be nice for the party – a bit of an investment perhaps as it is not very cheap – we cannot decide between some from IKEA that we saw on display or the cheaper ones in Dunelm which are in a sealed package so I cannot see the quality but they are a little bit longer.

Decisions, decisions.

Tomorrow is Yoga again – maybe it will iron out some of my tight muscles.  If the oven is fixed I will bake the cakes – if not it will be the garden tasks as my daughter is out for the day.

A day of plentiful planning and skillful scanning. x

Advertisements

dEAr diary ~ a day of ideas

Hello there – it seems a while since I was here in my little space and I can’t even remember now where I have got to so apologies if what I say here has already been said once.

You might have guessed I have been busy – what’s new!

We had a weekend at home and to ourselves – if I remember we were both in the garden and I also did a few more cards – but more about that later.

This week began with our usual shopping trip on Monday, first into town for a few bits and pieces and then round to the big Sainsbury’s on the ring road for the weekly food shopping.  I say bits and pieces which they were individually but the cost collectively was surprisingly a bit much for one day.

I went to Primark first to look at jackets.  I have a brilliant hooded jacket I bought from Primark for £6 in 2004 when we bought the cottage.  It is so useful in the garden in Scotland – an all-weather coat – it has a light waterproof nylon fabric on the outside, so no bits of vegetation or the like sticks to me, with a warm fleece lining and the hood is small so doesn’t blow off with the first puff of wind – absolutely necessary when you live by the sea.  It is still going strong after many washes.

The reason I want to find a similar jacket is because I have recently taken to bringing it back down home with me to wear in the garden here but I know the day will come when I will forget to pack it when we go up to the cottage and so I thought it would be a good item to duplicate.  I looked in the ladies section of Primark but their lightweight duvet style jackets have no hoods and are very fitted; then just as we were leaving I noticed the men’s display ah ha …idea….I went to the men’s section and they had a perfect one with a hood and just a little bit more roomy which is much better for gardening.  I came away with the extra small but I will need to go back and change it for the small size for a little bit more ease so I can wear a thick jumper underneath should I need to!   Cost – a cosy £15

Then across to Wilkos to look in the gardening section for Tomato food to feed both the bulbs and the tomatoes (when I get them sown) – it was much cheaper here than anywhere else at £3.25. White DicentraOn the way I noticed (as you do) a white Dicentra for £2 hung in the packaged bulbs display – I was tempted as I have wanted one for the garden at home for a long time but in the garden centre the plants are £10 which I thought a bit steep.  I bought one and have planted it in the garden but I am doubtful about it growing as it just looked like a bag full of dry peat but I thought for the price I would give it a go – I also treated myself to a white indoor plant pot for £2.Before leaving the store I had a rummage in the crafts section as they have a lovely range of inexpensive Easter crafts to keep the kids busy. I came across these garden signs for £2 which will be useful for the Easter egg hunt we intend to do for the children at the party on Easter Sunday, weather permitting of course and, for Libbie, a sew your own felt chicken Easter basket £1.50.

I then popped into the Works as I had a £0.50p voucher and wanted to buy some polystyrene eggs  – ten for £0.50p with the voucher – I have an idea to cover them in printed tissue papers for Easter decorations for the party.  It goes against the grain to buy polystyrene but I will be keeping them for a long time to reuse – had I got more time I would have done some hand painted real eggs – but that will be another year.  I also bought a pack of stronger dowels to attach the garden signs to for £1.  The bamboo basket in the photo above was a great find in Sainsbury’s for £2.50.

The final stop was one of our local independent whole food / health shops – I often alternate between the two as I like them both and would hate to see either of them close down.  I prefer them to Holland and Barret as they sell more organic foods and are often cheaper.  Here I bought Almond oil which I use as a face cleanser and for massage, my high dose Solgar Vitamin D capsules, some Omega 3 oils and two packs of Kalo tomato stock cubes for the soup and to add flavour to rice – a grand ‘sit down’ total of £39.03.

The food shopping was pretty normal and came in a bit cheaper than usual at £52.38 this included a few extra salad bits and some nice breads for the lunch I prepared today for my sister and brother-in-law when they called in on their way up north.

I made sure to carefully whiz past the clothes and magazines – but I did buy these.I bought myself one for my desk at the beginning of the year and I love it (see here).  Now you might be wondering what I would want with five more calendars that are all for this year especially now we are in April…..well I had another idea ( I think they must have put something in the water recently!!)…. Sainsbury’s had reduced them down to £2.10 and the metal stands which are gold or black are very sturdy and allow you to remove each calendar page by unscrewing the little nuts – my idea is to keep the stands and attach my own version of next years calendars using photos DH and I take throughout the year and give them as presents to my friends at Christmas.

It could well be a gift that keeps on giving because you can use the stands over and over again so in following years I could keep giving a new set of calendar pages to  my friends to fix onto their stands.  Each year I might choose photos of a different theme such as seaside, towns, gardens etc.

Did I mention last week I bought this cardboard Peter Rabbit egg from an old-fashioned sweet shop in Saltburn.  I then bought a £1 Cadbury’s chocolate Easter egg and my idea is to remove the wrapper and decorate with little iced flowers and Libbies name to put inside.  If the chocolate egg is in two halves then I will put some of those tiny shell coated eggs inside.Easter EggSo as you can see I am full of ideas – oh and they don’t stop there  – oh no – nothing that simple – somehow I am now doing the 40th birthday cake for my SIL’s (son in-law) party on Easter Sunday …..mmmm…how did that happen…..retirement – exactly what is that??

A day of dazzling ideas and bargain buys. x

Before I go welcome to my new followers.  I will be back with more on my craft cards, the March Tally, the cottage update and a host of other things.

 

dEAr diary ~ home again, home again

…but not for long….

Back at home now – it was quite a long day yesterday; there are always little bits to take care of in the garden before leaving, watering in the plants I have moved and putting chicken wire around the emerging ones to ‘bunny’ proof them.  Then I pack and clean the caravan.  By the time we are on the road I am feeling rather shattered sometimes, but it was a good journey, not too much traffic and no motorway closures.

Today I was up and showered, finished the unpacking and then took time to catch up with the post, the messages and life at home in general. I always clean the house before we go so it is nice to walk into when we arrive home so no housework needed today.  Once everything was unpacked I then had to repack for our trip up to North Yorkshire tomorrow to stay with my younger daughter, Libbie and Sweetie for a couple of days.

In the afternoon we had to collect a parcel, return some library books and go to Sainsbury’s to buy some fresh vegetables, milk and yoghurt.  I have a Quiche to make to take with us tomorrow for our evening meal at our daughters.  Whilst in Sainsbury’s I bought my mum, who we will visit on Saturday, a lovely indoor basket of plants for Mother’s Day.  So once the car is repacked we will be all set to go again.

I am not sure if I will manage a post in the next few days but I will as soon as possible.  I am looking forward to looking after Sweetie for the day on Friday;  Libbie (Little L) will be at school and their mum will be having her dental work done.  Ouch!

A day of unpacking and unwinding, repacking and rewinding. x

 

 

dEAr diary ~ signs of new growth

Signs of new growth everywhere – Spring is well underway now.

Today at last was bonfire day, calm and sunny.  We couldn’t light it yesterday because as soon as the caravaners had gone home and it was safe to start the fire the weather turned and the wind was far too strong.

Once lit we burned the box full of old file papers from home to save having to shred it all and then I had to run round pruning everything in sight, that can be pruned at this time of year, to get it all on the bonfire before the fire went out.  I do like to wait until I can see some nice new buds appearing so I have something to cut down to – I am always nervous about pruning too hard lest I kill the plant altogether but most of the shrubs had plenty of strong healthy buds.  As usual I did not manage to get all the pruning done – we have far too many shrubs and so the rest will have to wait for another visit if it is not too late in the season.

I did give our new loppers a good testing though and my arms a serious workout.  I now have serious aches and pains too and extreme muscle fatigue and can hardly lift them to drink my cocoa tonight – but it did get me out of doing the washing up.

Hope they recover for the morning we have packing and cleaning to do.

After the mammoth pruning session I attempted to weed the stream bank border that is full of …you guessed it campion.  Such lovely wild flowers but a border full of campion is a campion too far.  Hidden amongst the campion I came across some more of those annoying wild garlic plants posing as bluebells, the leaves are similar, but their days are numbered as I have now become an expert at differentiating between them.

I managed to uncover the two Hydrangeas and Geraniums that I knew were somewhere in there and barrowed away 4 bags of weeds which will go to the landfill site on our next visit.  So by the end of today I have part cleared all of our borders but actually finished none…oh well tomorrow is another day and the weeds will still be there on our next visit.

DH has done better and has completed the ditch clearing and the water has drained away so quickly that in an instant the muddy puddle where the pond had overflowed is now completely dry again.  I can’t say the Primula are happy about that though as they were enjoying being waterlogged.

Tomorrow before we go home we need to cut some chicken wire to put around some of the more attractive plants (attractive to bunnies that is).  They seem to love nibbling the young new shoots of my Delphinium and Dicentra and chicken wire is the only way to stop them.

I didn’t even stop today to take photos – hopefully I will tomorrow when I try to get some pictures of the inside of the cottage to do my long overdue update.

A day painstakingly pruning – producing positive results. x

Thank you for all the lovely comments about my cards – there really was not much effort to it but I enjoyed making them and using up some of the craft mountain I have accumulated –  and will enjoy the savings I make too.

Welcome to my new followers – I hope you enjoy the journey.

dEAr diary ~ a simple life for me

If you want to live more simply then try living in a caravan and you will undoubtedly satisfy that desire.

There is no room for any extras on board – only the basics.

Clutter is not a word that I would recognise living here as there is none – everything in the caravan is a considered item and has to have a home otherwise you would soon find yourself falling over things.  The cupboards are few and none too generous in size so sometimes you have to be very creative with the space.

We have just enough dishes to make and eat a meal, nothing to bake with but then that must be healthier, although I did bring an apple cake with us, we just eat fruit or nuts, oat cakes, crackers.  No puddings either but we have the occasional ice cream treat.

We have only a minimum of bedding and towels – one of each in use and one spare, just enough clothes for gardening and trips to town and a few necessities like toiletries and cleaners. We do have a small Dyson, a small bucket and a tiny hand brush and pan…that just about sums up the cleaning aids.

We eat very simple food as we have no electrical equipment like a blender or food processor.  Our pans consist of a large 3 tier steamer, a milk pan, a medium pan with a lid and a frying pan with a lid.  We also have a colander and I might consider buying a lettuce spinner for the summer as my one luxury.

Above the fire-place there are three shelves for decoration and display.  I display only a few decorative items on here – a glass vase with a collection of tiny seashells inside, an empty vase for when I pick a few flowers, a little bowl full of dried rose petals from the garden, a lino cut picture of some geese by a local artist (our only picture) and a tiny set of wooden houses.  The other items come under the useful rather than decorative category – a small china mug, a water jug, some heavy stemmed wine glasses that we use for most cold drinks and a clock with a lovely soothing tick.

We keep a small selection of books mostly gardening books for information and ideas and a novel or two.   I also keep a box with a few stationary items – stapler, sellotape, scissors and the like, some coloured pencils and a notepad.  We have a folder for instruction manuals and another for the few bills we have, water, electricity, council tax and that is our filing system.  At home we have a large filing drawer with the archived papers in the loft.

Of course there is no loft here – instead there is a little storage space under the beds but they are empty – we have no need of anything to store – we use everything we have here.   I don’t even keep any spare bedding for the 2nd bedroom – I am not expecting anyone to stay.   I can look at something and think – yes I have used that in the last couple of days and it is a good feeling.  If I were a nomad and had to pack all this stuff up to move on I daresay we would have even less.

For entertainment we play cards, read, write blog posts, of course, or listen to the radio.  We have no television nor want one and at one time we had no internet connection so only brought the lap top with us if we just needed to access our documents and didn’t need to access the internet – now I can attend to my blog while I am here but that is all I do.

The mobile signal is quite pathetic at times so no-one tries to contact us and we rarely phone anyone other than my mum to check on her and my daughters just to let them know we are still alive.

Being so disconnected from the world might not suit everyone but I love our little retreat here – I could easily live here full-time but on the other hand I do not want to miss our new grandchildren growing up.

It is a dilemma not easily solved.

Today was another sunny day in the garden, slightly cooler but pleasant.  I have been on weed patrol again digging over boarders and filling in the rabbit holes where they have scratched the surface to get at the plant roots.  I will have to get more chicken wire to protect my young plants.  Funny they don’t like the campion – there is plenty of it.

DH did a bit more of the ditch – here he is with his shovel and barrow (he is a bit blog shy – so only half of him).Hopefully it will stop the pond overflowing onto the path, though the primulas quite like the water.……. And then he shimmied up the old apple tree to lop the top off. All our best apples grow at the top.  It is a half standard tree that was planted by the previous owners and was left to grow unchecked so it is a bit of a beanstalk and we have to wait for the apples to drop off rather than pick them.  Now it has been checked I have no doubt it will retaliate by not producing as many apples this year.

A day of pleasant pottering and pondering.

Total spend at the village shop for 6 yoghurts, a bag of peas and a  2 x Magnum £6.60

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ mud, mud, glorious mud

We woke up to the sound of rain today and the power was off until Scottish Power could get their temporary generator going.  So with the weather and the power we had no need to rush as there was very little we could do and opted for an unusually leisurely breakfast.  The SP team worked all day renewing the transformer in the farmer’s field and the power went back on at 3.30 just as they had said in their letter.

I spent the morning updating my garden plants list – removing those that have not survived the winter or the rabbits and checking on the best pruning times for the different clematis and shrubs we have.  Most of them I can remember but I find that is beneficial to the plants if I refresh my memory occasionally.

After lunch we listened to the Archers followed by a play and Gardeners Question time (someone had the same problem as us with the over abundant wild garlic – there is no easy way to eradicate it apparently and eating it was their best suggestion – eating a few tons of garlic sounds like a killer to me!), by which time it had stopped raining and was dry enough to go outside.  As I went down the garden towards the Woodland Walk a rather large bunny scampered away up the banking quite shocked at my presence, I was more shocked at all the little holes he had left behind in the borders.

I decided to tackle the border that runs below the banking on the left side of the garden by the lane – it is a side of the garden that never comes together no matter what I do.

To one end of this border is the large conifer tree with spreading branches – nothing wants to grow under it save the Montbretia.  At the other end we have a Viburnum Tinus which is blooming well at the moment and a self-seeded Fuschia now the size of a small tree – but I like it so I let it stay.  The little group of Mahonia Charity are becoming a little leggy and I have threatened them with the chop – this seems to spur them on to producing some new side shoots – I will still sneak up on them and chop them down a bit though.A while ago we dug this patch over…and lay some grass seed… but it only partly helped for a while and now it is just another spot for the buttercups to take over if the campions don’t get there first.

It is heavily shaded for most of the day in summer and the water from the lane above filters down through the banking and ends up at the bottom making a very soggy patch with quite sticky heavy loam and it is really hard work getting anything to grow other than buttercups.  The banking itself is much more peaty.  Ferns of any type are attracted to take root here – but as I have said before you can have too many.

I am still not sure what possessed me to dig in this part of the garden today as the soil is usually squidgy here on a good day but with the rain it was even worse; the soil clung for dear life onto the roots of the weeds I lifted.

Meanwhile DH was on ditch clearing duty – the ditch separates the lower wood from the upper wood and runs at the back of the pond.  If the ditch gets blocked over winter with all the leaf fall and does not drain down to the burn it overflows through a pipe into the pond and then eventually the pond overflows.   He dislikes this job as intensely as his ‘waste management’ duties (the bins) at home.  The process of ditch clearing is to jump in and sink in with a large shovel and heave the mud up to shoulder height and over in one streamlined manoeuvre like a Golf swing and deposit said mud onto the bank of the ditch.  Quite a demanding job and one that can only be done in small doses before exhaustion takes over.  Of course he chose the light grey sweatshirt over the navy one and came out of the ditch splattered with specks of wet mud resembling a spotted dick pudding.

The bonfire is on hold at the moment as two of the caravans nearest to us have the owners in residence – Mr E who is about our age and has bad knees and prefers to drive the short distance up the lane in his car to the pub for his meals – (he lost his wife to a heart attack a few years ago she hadn’t made 60; she was  a heavy smoker), and Mr and Mrs Fixit who appear quite regularly and are always fixing something on the caravan – this time it was their satellite dish that had been spun round in the strong wind during the winter.  We politely asked each of them in passing how long they had planned to stay – Sunday seemed to be the favourite day to go back home – we dare not ask the exact time – so the bonfire will just have to wait until we see them pack up and leave!

After a couple of hours we ran out of light and good weather so made our way back indoors.  We had a no spend day too.

As you can tell we have such exciting times here!

A day of splodging around in icky sticky mounds of mud…

 

dEAr diary ~ times they are a changing

Yesterday was such a gorgeous day – too nice to be travelling – but that is the British weather for you– when I needed a nice warm day to dry the washing…..it rained.

There seemed to be more packing than usual.  We had to fit the old water-butt into the car – we have bought a smaller one for home and will use the larger one at the cottage – good job we hung on to the estate car as it is most useful for ferrying things up and down.

I also had a box of old papers to take for the bonfire and a bag of items to drop off at one of the charity shops in Stranraer.  The two Christmas trees will have to wait until our next visit.

As there is less room in the caravan and less storage space I am not able to keep as much stuff like gardening clothes, towels and bedding and I forget what we have up at the caravan when we are down at home.  We keep a few extras but nothing like we had in the cottage.  So I really need to work out a better packing plan – one that takes me less time to get it all together.  When we were both working and set off for Scotland on Friday tea time I could get the car packed inside an hour – now I seem to take well over two hours and I cannot put my finger on why.

As it was such a lovely day we pulled off the motorway for lunch at the South Lancaster junction.  We had packed a flask of homemade tomato soup which is far nicer than anything you can get at the services.  The area to the right of the M6 is one of outstanding national beauty within the boundaries of the Forest of Bowland and has a wealth of delightful little villages with pretty cottages and those quaint country village churches.  But it is an area we have never explored before.  We drove through Hornby and stopped for lunch on a quiet country lane just outside Gressingham (famous for its ducks) to admire the view.  The flatter plains of farmland are enclosed by the surrounding hills  – not hills like the Pennines at home but a gentle rolling landscape and so green.  We felt like we had driven into another world – no busy roads – just a few sheep grazing and an occasional tractor.  It was so peaceful you could have heard a pin drop.   We will be back on another visit to have a better look around but yesterday we had to press on and reluctantly head back to the motorway.  We made it to the cottage by nightfall but as is often the case it was too dark to see the garden – that is usually a surprise for the morning.

We awoke to more sunshine streaming through the caravan windows today and the temperature was warm too, so after a meeting with a lovely man from highways this morning over a wee problem that affects our woodland we set to in the garden.

A day working in our cottage garden is far more punishing than any Yoga class and we have to be very careful on the first day not to overdo things.  So after lunch we had a walk along the beach and into the village, bought an ice cream (a rather lavish £3.80 for 2 Magnums) and sauntered back. On our first walk to the village after the winter it is surprising how much has changed.  When we first bought our cottage in 2004 it seemed like life down here on the Mull never changed; but increasingly year on year brings more.

This flight of steps that take you from the beach up onto Shore Street at the bottom end of the village by the little harbour used to be fully hidden  by willow bushes that have now been chopped down.  It is actually someones garden but they do not mind you using them – I preferred it when it was a secret entrance hidden by the bushes.At the far end of Shore street you can just about see the Ship Inn – once a thriving little pub but has suddenly closed and up for sale again.  It has been sold on two or three times in recent years and each of the new owners just cannot make a go of it.

The Queens Hotel in the middle of the village is looking so very run down now this could be next.  The notice in their window is supposed to be a joke – but might well be true – either way I am not sure it is helping them draw in more custom!The pub at the top of our lane might end up being the only watering hole in the village soon.

We also noticed that the door of the old corn store down by the harbour that used to be locked with the aid of an old shovel and has been like that for all the time we can remember… has now had the broken windows  boarded up properly, a proper padlock put in place and a notice pinned to the door. …but I thought the little wicker heart a very cute touch.Wards garage in the village now looks very forlorn; the forecourt has been stripped of the petrol pumps as under new laws the owner is no longer allowed to have petrol pumps within 2 metres of the road (he is allowed a Palm tree however!) and without the sale of petrol has been forced to close – such a shame this business had served this man and the community for years and now we all have to drive over 15 miles to the nearest petrol station in Stranraer.  This is a picture we took before the recent closure – such a sad end. On the way back to our cottage we passed the community garden – the person who looked after it is not able to carry on and the local community council are appealing for another volunteer.  Sadly it cannot be us as we are not here permanently.  This might end up being yet another casualty.

So many changes each year – they may only be little but sometimes are quite significant and are just another example of our ever-changing world even in backwaters like this.  I am sure that even in the Forest of Bowland that looks as if it never changes those who live there will see plenty.

A day of contemplating change and munching mouthwatering Magnums. x

dEAr diary ~ busy making life calmer

I finally took the plunge and started a Yoga class today.  It is the same lovely teacher Anita that I had a few years ago and she now does a class in my own village – so within walking distance if I choose to walk.  I went in the car today as it was quite drizzly and I don’t have anything large enough to carry my Yoga mat in to keep it dry (well that is my excuse).

Spending time to listen to and notice how my body feels and moves felt rather strange at first – it takes practice to be still and calm and breathe.   It all went quite well but there is a limit to the amount of arm lifting I can do on my left side – which is partly the reason I am going to try to retain flexibility.  Doing Yoga certainly highlights any problem areas – I never knew that anyone could bend and twist that far!!!  I came away a little more creaky but things had loosened up here and there and I felt all the better for it and I must make an effort to practice at home between sessions.

Yesterday was spent dodging around the house doing a bit of this and that interspersed with phone calls – why does everyone call on a Monday?…I shouldn’t complain, and I am not really, it is always lovely to hear from people.  Both my daughters can chat away easily for a couple of hours – even when I am about to see them in person and I would never cut them short unless I had some good reason like an appointment to attend – after all what are mums for but to hear the ups and downs of their lives and either rejoice or commiserate with them and offer advice if it is wanted, though I am pleased to say they are both very good problem solvers which makes me quite redundant.

I was a bit frustrated yesterday that I could only put the washing out on the line for brief periods between the almost constant drizzle – didn’t the weather man know it was Monday either and I needed to get my washing dry!  The reason for the rush is we are heading up to the cottage in a day or two for a few days and I realised that when we came back from Scotland a couple of weeks ago I never quite finished washing all our gardening clothes – they get so grubby I always pre-soak them in a bucket but I had mum visiting at the time so pushed the washing basket in the ‘soon to be Pantry’, old cloakroom out-of-the-way and then promptly forgot about them.

I managed to fit in some baking too – an apple cake to take to Scotland made with the last 2 eggs and the leftover portion of cooked apple we took from the freezer to accompany our Nut loaf on Sunday so by the time we went shopping yesterday afternoon the cupboard really was bare as we had worked our way through the very last of the food.  I spent £58 on groceries for this week taking advantage of the offer on Oatabix and Lurpak butter.  We will be making some meals to take with us to Scotland – Tomato soup and Shepherd’s pie.  I also bought some Higgedy Cheese and Onion rolls for the journey – unfortunately they were not on offer but still cheaper than buying food on or off the motorway.  We will get a free drink at Booths cafe if we take our own cups.  I do take a bit of food up with us as it is almost impossible to buy Cheshire or Wensleydale cheese up there and I like a crumbly cheese.  I do like to buy from the local shops in Stranraer to support them where I can.

Whilst we were out shopping yesterday afternoon we had other bits and pieces to attend to……the bits being an urgent need to look for decent loppers for the garden yet again.  We need extra strong Anvil loppers, preferably geared and preferably telescopic and definitely light to handle.  We had recently bought what we thought were the perfect pair made by Spear and Jackson but when we used them in the cottage garden on our last visit, although they cut through old branches brilliantly, by the 2nd day we noticed the handle on one side had bent inwards preventing the telescopic handle from working.  So back to Argos they went for a full refund but we are now on the search for some that cut just as well but won’t bend out of shape.

I made a quick visit to The Range to check out those ready printed messages for some cards I made (this will be another post).  I was not impressed by the price but reluctantly bought a couple of sheets and a packet of assorted messages as I intend to do more of these basic cards using up my stock of decorated papers – cost £3.  The silver and gold typeface and borders on these pre-printed labels does make a difference and I cannot print these metallic colours on my printer or I would have made my own.  A silvery grey is the best I can do.

I also returned my four pillows to Sainsbury’s for the full refund – so I am now on the hunt to replace these.  Whilst in Sainsbury’s I decided to buy two more long-sleeved T-shirts, they had a black one and a white one – so now I have four all together with the previous two grey ones I have. I am thinking that might be my total spend on clothes for the year this year and then I remembered I would need a ‘posher’ outfit for the Christening(s).  I noticed in passing that Roman have some nice inexpensive spring dresses in at the moment.  The drawback with this shop is you cannot return for a refund – they only give a gift card so you are then committed to buying something from them.  Trying on in the changing room is not the same as doing it at home with all the right accessories to hand.

Well I have chattered on enough it is time to do some more packing.  Hopefully we will have internet connection at the cottage so there will be no long intermission here.

A day of sorting out contortions – me after the Yoga class and the loppers.

……Oh and before I go welcome to my new followers – enjoy the journey – not sure where we might end up!  For those who have their own blogs I will be over to your place for a read soon.

 

 

dEAr diary ~ what the postman brought today…

It has been wet, wet, wet today and windy – I felt sorry for the postman – the last two days he has had nothing to deliver here and walked passed but today surprisingly there was a bundle of letters landed on our mat and before lunchtime too.

Firstly, the handwritten one – they are always the most exciting as we hardly receive any mail this way now.  I opened it eagerly to find a lovely invitation to granny and granddad for Sweetie’s christening in May at Healey church up in North Yorkshire.   I think granny here might just be making her a Christening dress for the occasion – we usually use our family heirloom made of fine cotton lawn and lace but Sweetie is a little pudding and she will be older than 6 months by May so it is doubtful it is going to fit her then and the fabric is getting very delicate now and we do not want to risk a rip.  So granny is on standby to make one.

Next, I opened the envelope from Boots containing some money off and extra point’s vouchers, valid until June – always useful to keep in my purse, although I don’t buy very much from Boots now but when I do I take advantage of their offers and buy 3 at once, if I can claim extra points all the better.

A curious letter with an Argos franked stamp on the envelope but actually from Sainsbury’s with a product recall on the Goose Feather and Duck down pillows I bought in the sale after Christmas – there is a fire safety issue with them and I can return them for a full refund.  I found mine a bit too full anyway so I won’t be too upset to give them back – but not sure what mum will sleep on when she comes!

We also had a credit card statement with a zero balance as we have not made any internet purchases during the last period – I was extremely pleased with this – I don’t shop a lot on the internet but it is useful for DH to buy obscure hinges and man stuff when he is doing one of his maintenance projects and mending broken bits and pieces around the house.

So all in all mainly good news and no bills…

…and then there was the usual pile of junk leaflets which I put straight into the recycle bin – I have even got past the point of reading them first before I dispose of them – what a waste of paper and resources.

We spent the rest of the day with little Freddie who is also growing each time we see him and is much more alert now.  He tends to sleep well at night  but not so much during the mornings – I suppose that is the better way round.

Tomorrow we travel to Leeds – we have decided on park and ride as we are attending three free seminars in the centre of Leeds delivered by Hargreaves and Lansdowne.  They are all to do with pensions, planning and advice and we certainly need some.  I am hoping we will hear something to our advantage.

In between all this I am continuing to clear clutter and simplify.  I have been in the shower room – this is an easy room to do as it is one where I have invested a lot of time previously to reduce the stuff that accumulates in there so it was more of a maintenance activity this time round.  The craft room and office that I am clutter clearing at the moment is more difficult to negotiate.  I have still got mounds of special craft papers, blank cards and envelopes, embellishments etc but I am loath to get rid of things just in case I find time to make some cards – but I ask myself just how likely is that?

A day of delights and dithering.

dEAr diary ~ just a little thank you

Thank you for all your lovely supportive comments and suggestions  from my last post – I have obviously connected with a lot of people in the same boat, or similar boat, but of course each of our lives and problems are different but I think we all agree on a few points –

  • Caring for the elderly and looking after younger grandchildren even at a distance is hard work and falls hard upon our generation – mainly the women –  to deliver care as best we can, often whilst running our own homes and working at the same time.
  • It can be very frustrating at times in our own advancing years to care for 80 and 90 year olds. I feel like I have spent my middle years caring for firstly my grandparents and then my own parents as well as the in-laws.  We try to keep them going in whatever way possible attending to their needs as it becomes too difficult for them to take care of themselves but this route we follow is one that becomes harder to manage, placing additional stress on our own lives and reducing any free time of our own to take care of ourselves and which can often lead to resentment building up – as one or two of you said life starts to feel as if it is passing you by.
  • Health problems that require doctor intervention and prescribed drugs, although intended to make us better, could be making us worse or indeed creating new problems for the future.
  • Soon we will be the ones who are old and need medication – I hardly know anyone now in my age group who is free of taking any medication.

Mum is back home now and once again my sister is doing the day-to-day care, meanwhile I can at least carry on with a few more of my tasks until it is time to have her to stay again.  I have spent the week winding down a bit as I had begun to feel I was welded to the car seat with all the trips up and down the country and I was exceptionally tired after looking after her and her needs.

I have lots of other news to tell you and maybe I will get to share it with you now.  It is impossible to blog when my mum is here and I spent last week catching up with myself in the house and with shopping.

I feel like I am back on track now. x