Monday, 30 May 2011


According to the news we are having the driest spring since 1976.

I am old enough to remember 1976 and I remember the scorching heat and the water shortage, though I am young enough to not have had to deal with a burning question of how to feed a family inexpensively in hot weather when the first thing I think of is cold sausage and salad. Inflation was bad then, worse than it is now, and it must have been a struggle to manage - especially without the resources of the internet.

The thing about the weather of 1976 that I really remember is the huge storms in the autumn, and great aunt's green house blowing away. It was amazing - for a young child!

It will be interesting to see how this develops, although we have had another volcano in Iceland and apparently (according to the Discovery Channel) volcanoes make for cold weather.

Black Lamb Recipe

I cooked Black Lamb, from the Recipe from Help for Heroes Cookbook, contributed by Squadron Leader Jon Pullen. It was absolutely fantastic, really nice. I don't really like lamb, but OH and darling father do, and this made the lamb so tasty and tender that I could manage fine.

Ingredients: Large shoulder of lamb, 1 level tsp dry ginger, 1 level tsp dry mustard, garlic salt, 25g (1oz) plain flour. Sauce: 1 small onion, 30g (big tablespoon) of melted butter, 4 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 4 tablespoons brown sauce, 4 tablespoons mushroom ketchup, 2 level tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoons vinegar, 140ml water.

Mode: 1. Preheat oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 2. Trim fat and weigh meat. Season with salt and pepper and rub with the ginger, mustard powder and garlic salt. Sprinkle the joint with flour and put in roasting tin 3. Finely dice onion and mix with all the other sauce ingredients and pour over the lamb. 4 Cook joint in oven for 30 minutes. 5 After 30 mins reduce heat to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and continue for 30 minutes for every 500g of lamb. 6. Baste frequently. The joint goes black, that is okay. Add more water if required. 7. Serve with mashed potatoes and peas.

Next time I make it I plan to make gravy with the juices left in the pan, and I will make it again and again and again.

Also I recommend the Help for Heroes cook book. The recipes are good and interesting, and the contributors include celebrities like Nick Clegg and Judi Dench, serving soldiers, veterans and professional chefs. The best bit, for me, is that with each recipe is a little bit by the contributor about who their hero is and why. The Black Lamb was contributed by Squadron Leader Jon Pullen who didn't follow the herd by naming people like Shackleton or Gandhi. His hero is Blackadder.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Self pity

Can't breathe very well.

So I decided today was going to be a knitting day. With a yarn stash rapidly overtaking the house and some new patterns just arrived to add to the pile I have already plus the patterns from the knitting magazines, I was quite eager.

Little bear had also thought about knitting.

The blanket/rug that I had started with around 150 stitches of very loopy boucle had been pulled off the needle it was on. I was not happy, I managed to pick up probably stitches (v loopy yarn) and probably the right number (knitted v tight as I plan to felt it). And the pair of needles I had put with the pattern for the change of needles from the welt had mysteriously disappeared. Apparently knitting needles make very good drumsticks.

So I got out my stash of needles to find a pair so I could carry on. Not only have I randomly bought more complete sets of needles than any sane person ever needs I have also inherited my mother's and grandmother's. I did get given my mother in law's needles, but I have put them separate in case her granddaughter ever takes up knitting. Of course there are also all the free needles that you get with magazines etc...

Little bear thought it was wonderful, especially the larger floral needles that I had got free with magazines. Cirucular and straight, long and short, size 15mm down to 2.5mm, all were scattered with abandon all over the living room floor. I was gasping like a fish out of water as I dragged them together and put them back in their bag (really must sort out and donate at some point).

I have a knitting evening planned. And I really must update my started/finished box. Although if it is not fulfilling its purpose (stopping me starting new things before finishing old) I may delete. My blog feels a bit congested.

Friday, 27 May 2011

The diet starts now

As I picked little bear up from nursery, he commented that one mummy coming in was thin, and I was fat.

He also pointed out yesterday at around 3am (not my best time) that when I got bigger my nightie won't fit me.

He is fine, I am on a diet.

The small start

It is a small start, but I am sure things will grow. The demand for money for school activities is gaining. At Christmas it was a particular trousers and tshirt.

This morning I got a phone call from the lady who does the dance at little bear's nursery. They are putting on a performance and they are having costumes sorted out. She said I needed to pay £13 for the costume. I hadn't heard of this before, but I was happy (sort of) to pay. 'I want it by the end of the week,' she said. I blinked a bit. 'It's Friday,' I said. 'Then please can you drop it in today.' She won't be near the nursery again until Tuesday according to the nursery staff.

I am sure that the £13 is small change compared to what will be asked soon.

And of course there will be extra curricular activities. I am really keen on him doing these when he is quite young (within reason) as I think they can be really helpful. I have booked for him to have an initial session with a martial arts group. When I say martial arts, it is not likely to be very martial. It is a class for 4-7 year olds for thirty minutes. It is run by the British Military Martial Arts people, so I am hoping that it will be fairly steady. That is £26 per month. I can see it creeping slowly up and up.

Little bear is worth it!

Thursday, 26 May 2011


It's that time of year again. The flowers are blooming, the grass and leaves are bright and tender, the weather forecasts alter by the hour - it's spring.

And that means that the poplars along the beck are shedding the fluff that goes with their pollen. There is a huge stand of them and they shed with enthusiasm. It isn't too bad at the moment, the wind has taken most of it away, but there is enough fluff to look like several cheap duvets have been put through a shredder and the fluff is filling the air.

We will soon have banks of the dratted fluff piled up in all sorts of corners unless the wind takes it away.

The brambles are starting to blossom here, and that feels very early to me. Mind you, I am not complaining. They add to all the blossom around, the air smells lovely round here. And pretty soon I am going to have to have a late night wander by the ring road because during the day the roar and fumes of the cars drown out everything but at this time of year there is a long stand of mock orange blossom that smell delicious, if you can get past at the right time.


I have a minor cough. I cannot claim that it is anything more. I ache, I cough, I sniff and sneeze - this is not unheard of, especially when little bear brings home all the germs from nursery.

So I am taking things steadily.

It is a little frustrating as because I am having a bit of trouble breathing I can't do much at speed, and mentally I am just in the mood to clean and clutterbust. Mentally I don't feel poorly at all. However the urge to curl up and nap is becoming almost irresistible.

(woohoo! I spelled 'irresistible' right without the spell checker!)

Fortunately it is no longer fit for drying outside so that will slow down the accumulation of ironing.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


For those who don't know, this is the remoska It is the most amazing thing, that cooks the best baked potatoes ever, and lots of people use them all the time, myself included. I'm not on commission, but I use mine at least three times a week.

Except I've dinted the pan. It's the base that I have dinted, and it doesn't fit in the stand and the lid won't go on. Also, when I bought mine it was @ £25 less expensive than it is now (though I think I have saved my money by using it to save electric). Fortunately I can buy the base pan separately for a good deal less, but I am still not best pleased. And I can't manage without it, I just can't.

I am wondering what else will go wrong now.

Wandering evil cat

I don't know if it is the weather or her age but evil cat is suddenly a lot more adventurous. I came out with another basket of washing, and she leapt back into the garden over the wall - I have no idea where she has been. I shall have to keep an eye on her.

On another note - I watched the lady cat from next door looking a bit irritated and jumping up at their front door. Then she swung off the handle with what looked like a practised move and opened their front door.

I was impressed. Evil cat doesn't open doors, she just runs into them.


I am quite enjoying watching the adverts on my page.

However Approved Food have sent me a link to pass to a friend and when that friend orders I get a credit to my account.

Actually, I don't feel comfortable with that. I recommend Approved Food freely, because I think it will help people out. I don't think I could ever do party plan because it is like mugging friends for money.

Anyway, I am off to water the garden - darling father has been working miracles but the wind is taking all the moisture off the soil.

Washing blues

I have literal washing blues. Even though I had a pricking in my thumbs and put a colour catcher in the wash (they were on offer), something blue has run. Whatever fiendish garment shed its colour (betting on little bear's new jeans) it has dyed one white pillow case a lovely, even pale blue.

This pillow case was one of a batch I bought in a moment of madness from ebay. It was second hand, but had been used in hotels or a guest house - it was the most gorgeous heavy, soft cotton. And white. It was brilliant white.

Still, the new colour will match the duvet on OH's bed, so it could be worse.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Weather affects evil cat

She is still grumpy.

I took a risk and hung out some washing to blow overnight. While I was out gossiping with Mr and Mrs Next Door evil cat strolled out. Not only did she wander round the garden, not only did she venture out through the gate (very rare) but she was off and across the road.

Evil cat's personality and attitude fills a room with ease, but she is actually quite small and she looked almost tiny when she wandered back over the road at our insistence. There are local rats bigger than her. I hope she doesn't get a sudden, senile bout of wanderlust.

Little bear has been good

Little bear was good at nursery, good going into town, good in the market, good coming home, and is actually being quite good now.

It's unnerving.

He is quite tired and full of cold, however, so I am sure I will get the full benefit later. And I have been pretty indulgent with him with strawberries, yogurt coated ginger etc.

Also,I have been watching the adverts and seen how they link into the posts. Some of them I wish I could click on, but I have to go to separate browsers or I am breaking the rules.


I had a missed call, didn't get to the phone in time (evil cat plays roadblock to professional standard). I pressed 1471, didn't recognise the number and so pressed 3, to call the last number that called us.

Didn't hang up properly.

I noticed that the phone was still ticking up the minutes after coming back with little bear from Leeds, one hour and fifty six minutes later. Ouch! I'll try and find out the cost and see if I need to make a lump sun payment.

Must not shop...

I got an email today from Approved Food including their latest offers.

I wanted loads!

But I am staying strong. I need the space in the kitchen more than I need to spend money. Especially as a load of things arrived from my friend ebay this morning. The scissors I want as a reward for being a non spender on there are no nearer.

I need to get my courage up to do driving lessons. If I could drive little bear could go to dance lessons, which he would love. It would be like a military operation getting everyone in the right place, but it could be done if I could drive.

I am dreading it.

Monday, 23 May 2011


The rain has been heavy at times here, with breaks. It was during a fortunate break that I had the Sainsbury delivery.

While I was waiting for the nice man to finish his paperwork and get out of the van I noticed that the two potted scented geraniums (the ones that I really shouldn't have bought from ebay, and I should never go near ebay when half asleep after dreaming about shopping) had tumbled over in the high wind. And what really surprised me was that the pots were bone dry. Because the wind is so strong, the rain is coming down at an angle and the fence that protects the geraniums has also protected them from any rain. They need to be watered, as does the border against the fence.

So if you are passing my area you may see a mad woman trying to water a border and some pot plants in the driving rain.


Like most of the UK, the winds here are extremely strong. I just popped out to the shop and nearly got blown off my feet - and I am a larger lady!

This is not going down well with evil cat. I don't think any cat likes the strong winds. If I understand it, strong winds are caused by lots of changes in pressure and cats are sensitive to it. When we had three young(ish) cats, windy weather could be a bit of a challenge.

All evil cat can manage at the moment is to look grumpy. Poor old girl. But inside she is doing the wall of death up the bathroom window, I can tell.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Emily Who?

Little bear has announced that his sister is called Emily.

Emily is a lovely name, and if I hadn't been keen on a Bible name, and I had had a girl, Emily would have been in the frame (as it was, should little bear have been a girl she would have been Sarah Elizabeth).

Regardless of the name, I am sure I would have noticed. I am sure OH would have noticed. I don't think that there is an Emily at nursery.

I think I shall watch this stage with wonder.


My body is not having a good time with sleep.

Little bear came down at 12.30am, and he eventually settled but his snoring kept me wakeful. I went to bed when OH got up and had managed to get out for stuff @ 11am and slept until 6pm. It is nearly 10pm and I can hardly keep my eyes open.

I blame the weather.

Approved Food II

Mum of all trades -

It is a store that sells food that is past its sell by (but not use by) food, old packaging, stuff where offers shown on packs have expired, over runs etc. It currently has a bountiful supply of Easter Eggs (or did when I last looked).

You can never tell what is exactly going to be on there, as it just sells what comes in, often chocs or sweeties but sometimes good deals on things like pearl barley. I love the 'Go Ahead' style bars that they have, I trough them down for breakfast.

I believe that there are other stores like this, but I have never really used them, and I like Approved Food, I have had really good service from them.

I have decided not to order this time. One thing that was attracting me was the rolls of 300 sandwich bags for 69p. They aren't the strongest I have ever had, but they aren't the worst and I use them for all sorts. I have been buying them when they come in, but I reminded myself that I currently can't shut a drawer for the bags. Still, at least they don't go off.

Approved Food

I love approved food, I get lots and lots from there. Today I got an email - 10% off if I spend more than £35 before 10pm Sunday.

10% of £35 is £3.50. The postage is £5.25. Mind you, there are a lot of things you can get for £3.50 at Approved Food. I could get a nice tin of chocolate biscuits, 17 snack sized bags of maltezers, or even 35 bags of yogurt coated blackcurrant flakes.

The big question is - do I need the stuff, really, honesty, and where do I put it if I do get anything? And is it really worth £3.50?

Of course, if I spend £100 then I will save £10, and there is even more you can get from Approved Food with £10...

This way lies madness!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Staying within the rules

My first big advert is showing. I was quite disappointed that it was for just clothes. I was hoping for something eclectic. However it looked really intriguing and I really wanted to go and have a look.

But I am not allowed to click on ads on my pages.

So I went to a different browser and had a look there.

I have nothing to say about clothes except little bear is doing fine for clothes and I can't find any tops I like in the colour and length I like at a price that I like, even on my friend ebay.

At least that saves me spending money.

More money spent

I am not avoiding ebay, my friend. New trainers for little bear, a bottle brush, all the odds and ends that normally mean a rummage in the shops that I can't just make.

The worst thing I have done so far this week (which isn't over until tomorrow) is bid on some yarn. It actually comes in at less than 1p per gram, which is where I aim, and it is a useful amount and colour - not that I actually need it. I noticed it because it was listed in a wrong category and so was not getting the bids it should have done.

I've fallen for that before - remember the nine baby blankets? Although one is now a draft excluder and a useful cushion for little bear.

Need to learn to sit on my hands.


I have activated adverts. I am curious to see what will turn up in connection to my ramblings.

I hope that no-one is offended by this.

Bienvenue, willkommen, welcome

I have found a 'stats' button on the blog, and I have noticed that there are people reading from outside the UK.

I hope you feel very welcome reading this. I am aware that I can be a bit old fashioned and parochial with my writing, so if you need to try and work out what on earth I am talking about, please ask. I honestly don't mind.

I am really flattered that anyone reads my blog, so if I can do anything to make things easier then I will.

And I don't think I will be able to resist getting adverts. I can't help it. I get some Google ads when I am logging out and the variety in that is fun. I can't wait to see what comes up when they try and sort out my posts. I hope nobody minds.

Price of everything

In a fortnight the price of two litres of Sainsbury's own diet cola rose from 48p to 55p.

Now I have read an article that said that French wheat is likely to be affected by the poor weather this spring.

I think I will eat a lot healthier, but I will still be needing a black belt in shopping. I can see things getting quite tough.


Bought some more yarn yesterday. Darn!

However it is designated for a specific purpose. I plan to make a slipover for darling uncle to help replace some of those items that he lost. It is a very basic and plain one. It isn't a lot of yarn. It shouldn't take too long too knit up. I should manage it fine.

Who am I kidding?

However, while I now avoid the shop at the bottom of Eastgate in Leeds (absolutely awful and v rude to customers), I went into a long established yarn stall in Leeds Market, near one of the entrances to Vicar Lane. Not only did they have what I wanted and a very reasonable price, they helped field little bear while I was trying to find the stuff, and they were lovely with him!

Doting mother that I am, my friend ebay now has strong competition when it comes to buying yarn.

Still not managing old style

I have just dragged in three loads of almost dry but rain dampened washing. Sigh. I am in too much confusion here to have places to hang.

I now have huge pieces of fleece in the washer. I wonder how safe it is to tumble dry.

Takeaways are too frequent in this house and a huge piece of (too tough and not very tasty after all) beef was found to be mouldy before it was used up. And you wouldn't believe the snack food that seems to be coming in and disappearing.

On the other hand, the little box containing squares of newspaper is now a fixture next to my bin. In the past if I have been scraping out greasy pans etc I have used kitchen roll. Now I use pieces of darling father's old paper, and I can't think of a better use for the Daily Mail.

I finally decanted the very basic shower gel into a pump dispenser (from the last lot of handwash) and I have really liked it. It was Sainsburys basics and it has a lovely apple scent. I now need to refil it and I was wondering how much I would really save with some pleasant looking hand wash at 59p. The basics shower gel from Sainsburys was 10p. I'll go with the basics shower gel.

Perhaps the most interesting development involves darling father's whisky bottles. He isn't drinking quite so much at the moment (although all bets are off if Liverpool are playing) but we do accumulate quite a few glass bottles over the week. It is really hard for me to recycle them, as the bin men don't take them, and it is hard for me to get them to a recycling point. However I found in my excavations a kit for bottle cutting. It cuts the top off bottles and you then have a glass/vase/container etc. Also possibly a candlestick. Now that darling father is a stalwart of the Methodist (non-drinking) church he can recycle his whiskey bottles into vases to sell at the Christmas fair. Add a few transfers and some glass paint and they could look very nice indeed.

I hope to eventually get there.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Charm offensive

Self indulgent note - achy throughout today. It could be worse.

Little bear insisted he wanted to go to the butterfly house as his brain was there and when he got it back he would have his Ben 10 powers. He has still not seen Ben 10, but this is not holding him back. I told him that Ben 10 was a story. Little bear explained carefully that it may be, but his powers weren't. I think he was winding me up.

So off we go to Tropical House at Roundhay Park. On the way in we passed a little girl with her family, picking daisies. She gave one to little bear who clung onto it like a token from a lady at a joust. The little girl was about the same age as little bear.

In the tropical house little bear was going at speed. I don't think we got the value of the entrance fee, he was moving with purpose. He was obviously concerned about his brain, which he found (as far as I can tell) near the bats. Co-incidentally that is roughly where he lost his daisy and he was distraught. He consoled himself by persuading me to buy him a rubber snake in the gift shop.

In the cafe little bear was pretty good, sitting there quietly and eating almost all of almost everything. An old gentleman next to us asked little bear if it was a bad snake. Little bear explained patiently that it was only a toy.

On the way out little bear had a wander around and walked on the stepping stones (around an inch gap between them, but over real water!). He was really upset because 'the pretty little girl' wasn't there, as he wanted another daisy.

We broke the journey near Leeds Market and went on the roundabout there. Little bear got a second ride for half price. On the first ride around some other kids (who were a bit too old for the roundabout) were fooling around and the man stopped the ride a bit earlier than he would normally. So little bear who had been well behaved got another go.

Then waiting at the bus stop, sitting nicely, a lady gave him a present of a packet of cheese string.

It worries me that I didn't have to make any of this up. Of course when he got home he made up for his angelic behaviour while out by being a monster once we got home. He still gives very good cuddles.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Father's Day

Father's Day is looming. Being me, if it isn't delivered we don't get it so I need to plan in advance.

Darling father is easy enough. He is having a joint teasmaid from all his children which he has had early and loves. It is really helping him be comfortable. A small miniature and glass from little bear will be great.

But what to get OH from little bear? I am absolutely stumped. He rarely drinks from a mug, and he has 'Dad' mugs. He has a 'Dad' glass, which he regularly uses. I don't want to get him clothing, as I believe it is OH's job to choose his own clothes and I refuse to get him socks.

He hasn't got any outstanding books he wants, he doesn't drink much and when he does it is darling father's whiskey. None of his hobbies actually require anything buying for him. There are only so many ornaments you can give a man.

Darn and Poot!

No Dance

Struggling to find anywhere close that does dance classes for little bear. We seem to live in a dance desert.

Now as a doting mother I want to indulge my little darling, and he loves the dance at nursery, and he really enjoyed dancing at the party at the weekend. However what I look for him doing is enjoying himself with other kids, getting exercise and having fun. This does not necessarily mean dance, but it would be nice if I could find a suitable class.

I shall continue searching.

Not looking forward to tomorrow

Little bear does not have nursery tomorrow. He wants to visit the butterfly house. He said, and I quote, 'I want to go to the butterfly house because my brains is all there'.

I have had a sore throat since lunch time and I am feeling v achy. I forsee lemsip, nurofen and a stiff upper lip tomorrow.

He is worth it.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


Little bear loves dance at nursery. So I tracked down the dance teacher that visits nursery once a week.

It's a long, long way away. Not really miles, but two bus rides and if I am going to make the class for 4-9 year olds then after he starts school we would have to get a taxi there, at least £10, plus the dance fees, then a long two buses home.

However I have made enquiries closer to home and I am quite optimistic I can find him somewhere. To be fair, I am not bothered about him learning to dance. But turning up on a regular basis to meet others and take exercise sounds good to me.

And I confess, it looks like the dance teacher that visits nursery is setting up the little ones to take part in a production. Of course I want him to be part of it, of course I will be going, and cooing and admiring that my little bear is sooooo talented (I'm a mum!). But I still am not taking it seriously - as long as he is having fun, that is all that matters.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Not quite sure about this.

Asda delivered. A young man opened up the van, got the first few boxes out and stood there looking at me. I don't get the boxes into the garden - I am militant about that. I will lug stuff up and down stairs, but not into the garden. In perspective, he had to move the crates four feet.

Well I am usually fairly chatty (adult company!) and comment on the weather. He asks what I am doing in the afternoon and I say relaxing with my little bear at nursery.

I am finding it hard to have general chit chat, as he doesn't seem to 'get' what I am saying, but that isn't unusual. I know I witter on. He asks me if my husband is working and what he does. I start feeling uneasy.

After all is unloaded he asks for a glass of water. I offer him a can of cola that has just been unloaded, but he said he would prefer a glass of water. So I give him a glass of water - in the garden.

It just seems odd. All my instincts are telling me that it is odd. And I can't quite put my finger on why. He seemed perfectly reasonable, if a little odd.

However at my age I believe in trusting my instincts. There was no way he was coming inside the house for a glass of water, or anything else.

I had already planned for Sainsbury to deliver groceries next week. I feel a bit more comfortable about that. I just wish I knew why.

My crystal ball is blinking

Little bear has nappy rash again. He may only be in night time nappies, but that isn't holding him back.

I would just like to say, looking back, when he was tiny I don't think he went more than two hours between a change, I was really, really careful. I didn't like the idea of sitting in my own waste and I don't see why my child should. When I say two hours, when he was tiny I think that was about right. As he got older it became less frequent, but he never asked for a nappy change, I was always proactive.

So when I say that I have seen his bum go from perfect to red raw in two hours, it is bitter experience and no exaggeration. I wish I knew why.

And when little bear has nappy rash it usually means that he is about to come down with something. He is currently green nosed and has sore bumps in his mouth. I'm going to go and get age appropriate Bonjela for him while he is at nursery. I think it is going to hit on Wednesday.

My Health Visitor is coming on Wednesday. She is coming at 1.15. The earliest I can drop little bear off at nursery is at 1.00. And he is not looking good.

So yet another session where I can't actually talk properly to her because little bear will be there as I can't get back from drop off in time, will hear all I say and work around it. And I am not sure I need a session with a health visitor. I need time to do housework. I need time to sleep. I need time to try and research options for earning money. Sitting there trying not to say anything for two hours is not high up on my priority.

I am not feeling cooperative.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Unsuccessful pudding

I got some Polish chocolate pudding from Approved Food. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the only instructions were in Polish.

If I ever need to re-tile a bathroom, I know where I can get chocolate flavoured grout. At a thinner consistency it would probably make excellent chocolate flavoured wallpaper paste.

I think I need to have another go at the instructions

Saturday, 14 May 2011


The windows at the back are confusing me. The windows in the kitchen, that looked pretty good but may not have been, were ripped out and replaced with smaller ones, being bricked up slightly at the bottom. Then last week the windows in their living room were ripped out and replaced with smaller ones and the bottom half bricked up. Sort of foamy filler has been squirted around the sides and it looks like a badly filled Victoria Sponge. The windows face due North, and have no natural light directly on them.

The property is owned by That Landlord, and his track record on logic and consistency isn't good, but surely there is a good reason. When he finally gets tenants I am sure I will get some sort of explanation.

Guile and little bear

Little bear went to a party tea next door. Apparently he was the life and soul of the party and won a prize for dancing. He came home eventually concentrating fiercely on eating a plastic bowl of jelly and ice cream and carrying a sugar laden goody bag.

We tried to confiscate all things that contained sugar for tomorrow (at the earliest), but he managed to get away with a small tube of parma violet sweets.

He dashed upstairs and then came down and told me that he had hidden his sweets in his bedroom where we would never find them. 'Oh yes.' I said carefully.
Little bear nodded seriously. 'In my drawers.'

Not quite a master of deception, but he is only four.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Grumpy Sybil

Little bear had a disturbed night - well, he spent a lot of time disturbing me. I couldn't nap when he was in nursery as darling uncle kept ringing me. Worst of all - I have PMT, which is still a relatively new experience for me. I don't like it.

Under its influence I have been shopping. New trainers for little bear, as he has scuffed the others to pieces. A few bits here, a few bits there, and a pair of pyjamas for me - cheapest I could find online was from M&S!

And the Lakeland catalogue arrived, which is never good.

Now all I have to do is wait for the parcels to arrive.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

New way home

Little bear told me that he had to go home from nursery, in glorious sunshine, with his umbrella up, 'because the secret passway is dark.'

Gives a whole new side to a few hundred yards at most across a zebra crossing and past the hairdressers.


At the back they are once again bricking up the lower half of a window. This time it is on the living room side.

As mentioned, the window faces directly north. There is no direct natural light at all. I suppose they thought that they might as well reduce their heating bills.

Unless there really is a tax on windows coming in and nobody has mentioned it?

Little bear is driving me nuts

Little bear is, as the title says, driving me a little nuts, as you would expect from a four year old. For lunch he had nearly a full can of tomato soup - cold and drunk through a straw.

I am feeling a bit tired. I could not get comfy last night, the fall I had rattled my bones a bit and so I went from the fold out bed to the couch to the fold out bed to the couch and finally settled on the couch, drifting off nicely...

...when little bear came down at 3am because his feet were hurting and he needed to sleep on the sofa. Then he kicked up a fuss about me sleeping in the study (such a neglectful mother, sleeping yards away from him!) and I couldn't get off again for ages. And then he woke me up again at 6.30, because his feet were better.

7am was the first meltdown as I didn't have Rice Krispies in. I had a variety pack of cereal from Approved Food, which he was working his way through and he was devastated that he had already eaten the one pack with Elves on. I just stayed very calm and matter of fact until he decided cornflakes would be acceptable. I have no particular plans to buy Rice Krispies or Supermarket Value Crispy Rice or any variant in the near future, the wind will have changed by then.

7.30am was when he was completely devastated that I didn't have any pots of Greek Yogurt with honey in the fridge. As it is the first time he has wanted them for over a month, this is not a huge surprise. My attitude was that it was tough, there are other yogurts and that was that. He settled for a large bowl of cheerios with honey. Again, I will get in that type of yogurt when it suits me and not before.

But the thing that tried my maternal patience was a silly thing. Little bear went to nursery carrying his open frog umbrella proudly over his head. As it is a dome and it was open it meant he had a tendency to bump into things and dither at the road. It wasn't raining.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Literate little bear

Just before bed I go to the bathroom, do all the night time bathroom things, then take the book out of little bear's sleeping hands and pull the blanket over him. This is almost set in stone. Tonight the book I took from him was 'Britain at War: The Unseen Archives'.

First point - I have absolutely no idea whatsoever when that book came into the house. It isn't exactly the sort of book that OH buys, and it isn't really the sort of book that darling father buys, although both could have theoretically picked it up. I didn't buy it, any books on history I buy are usually firmly set in the Middle Ages.

Second point - please let him not ask any awkward questions at nursery tomorrow.

One of those days

Didn't do too bad with little bear, he slept quite late. I suspect it is the tactics for tea that are affecting it. My take is that if he doesn't eat his tea then tough, he goes hungry. So quite often he doesn't eat much at tea time out of stubbornness and being four. Come 5am, he's really hungry, wakes up and wants breakfast.

Last night he ate LOADS so he slept late.

However I think tiredness is catching up with me. Just the other day I was admiring my kettle and thinking how well it was doing for its age. It must be ten or twelve years old, a fast boil tefal kettle that has a flat base so you only boil the minimum at one time. It cost a lot at the time, but has worked out a very good deal, at the most it has cost £3 per year. This morning it wouldn't go onto the thingy that connects it to the electric to boil it. It was broken, just as I was about to boil the three litres of water for darling father's teapot (not a typo, huge teapot, takes two kettles).

So I asked him if he would like a hot chocolate to start the day. He thought it wasn't a bad idea. That was when I smashed the mug full of (thankfully cold) milk.

Darling father went to have his usual Monday bacon butty at the Methodists and then went off to town to buy a kettle. Not long after negotiations started for little bear's lunch.

Ham sandwiches were apparently acceptable, until he found that the ham was too bumpy. He would accept the tin of pasta and sausage which he normally has cold, but this time it was too cold. Then it was too hot and he wanted pudding. Desperate to get at least something in him before nursery and be back in time to get the delivery scheduled (Approved Foods - chocolate - I may eat a lot of it) I made up a full pack of banana Angel Delight (previous Approved Food order) and brought it up from the kitchen.

For some reason I missed the tiny ledge that I have been stepping over since 1994 and tripped flat on my face. Half a pint of Angel Delight went everywhere, you have never seen anything like it! I suspect that the smell of banana flavoured milk may linger for some time. I will have to wash a throw, a door curtain and have another go at the carpet. Little bear burst into tears. He wanted more pudding NOW. I really need to learn how to do guilt trips.

He is now at nursery. I suspect I have skinned my knee (at my age), I have jarred my left knee and hip, given myself a shock and a headache and jarred my right shoulder. My right shoulder hasn't been dislocated for a while but it was bad when it went last, so I am feeling a bit wary.

Feeling sorry for myself.

On the bright side, darling father has instructions to buy a cheap, cheap, cheap kettle for now. I get the thrill of the hunt checking around for a nice new kettle. Ebay is my friend!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Some clutterbusting

Today I cleared out the medicine cupboard.

You know all those times when you realise you have a headache but no tablets in your bag, and so you buy a packet when you are out, or don't realise that you have a packet in (I bought another packet of paracetamol yesterday)? Well, we have enough painkillers to keep us until Christmas as we don't actually take that many. Thinking about it, they will last us until Christmas 2014! We also have an abundance of plasters, for now, until little bear really gets into his stride.

OH and little bear put together a gingerbread house from Approved Food. It tasted foul, but they had a lot of fun.

Also, Stardrops bathroom is very good indeed.

Darling uncle has rung several times and I put in a Tesco order to be delivered, they are very good where he is. I have had several alternatives rung through over the day, he is sounding a lot better.

Darling father is a bit under the weather.

I do feel a bit flat, but little bear came down at midnight, woke at 5am but then went back to sleep until 7.30am so I have not done too bad for sleep.

Saturday, 7 May 2011


For the second morning in a row little bear decided he wanted to be up at 5am. 5.20am saw his first tantrum - I didn't cave but I felt very grumpy.

Then I got a lift with darling brother and his friend to darling uncle's house where I cleaned. I didn't do as much as last week, but managed quite a bit. I got rid of a kitchen curtain that had been chewed by a mouse. It had also chewed through several plastic bags and then stopped when it started on a bag of curry powder. I wish I could have seen its furry face!

I really don't like mice and I will set none humane traps - they could be widdling on my wiring!

Darling uncle has come home. He is more tired than he should be, but remarkably well. I am still on extra worry duty.

And now it is daft o'clock at night and the local boozer over the road, the one with all the car park fights, is playing loud music. I have no chance of getting to sleep before 2am, as it is karaoke and I defy anyone to sleep through that.

Please use swear word of choice on my behalf. I am too exhausted to think of anything more than 'fiddlesticks'.

Friday, 6 May 2011


I am enjoying all the flowers. Thanks to darling father the garden looks lovely. The rosemary is going crazy, the wallflowers are fantastic, the pinks are really blossoming well - it looks and smells beautiful. However it does seem a little early.

At the end of a street a privet hedge has grown into a tree. I love looking out for the blossom and its scent and it usually flowers about the same time as Wimbledon. This year there are buds already, which would make it about a month early. The mock orange blossoms along the dual carriage way are also full of buds and that is early as well, I think.

Being a gloomy soul I also look at the mass of flowers on the hawthorns and think - that means lots of berries, perhaps another hard winter ahead? But who knows. Good harvests don't mean bad winters, and I am looking forward with hopes for a glorious summer.

Darling father has bought a barbecue

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Missing conversations

I am used to speaking to darling uncle at least once a day, often two or three times. And I have been driven to distraction when I am trying to wrestle a recalcitrant little bear or sort out darling father's breakfast. But I have always had those calls.

It is now a fortnight since darling uncle went into hospital. I really miss those calls.

I am getting so many confusing messages about how he is doing, but I am really worried about him. He is so much better, thank you for all the wishes and prayers, but now I feel that everything has changed because even if he is so much better, what if there is a next time? What if it is worse? He has been a rock for me and my brothers for years. Now that seems suddenly less safe.

There is very little I can do. What I can do, I will do, and I continue to pray. I just really want him to be happy.

No sense of direction

I don't have a good sense of direction at the best of times. And I can never remember which is left and which is right, though I have a marginally better chance of getting port and starboard right. But my subconscious is even worse.

I have noticed over the last few months when I have been sleeping on the sofa with my head towards the west that in the instant before I open my eyes when I wake I automatically expect to see the world as if my head towards the east. It is a really strong feeling, and if I am woken suddenly I can be really disorientated as I feel I am facing the wrong way.

Last night was even odder. Little bear came down and slept on the sofa so I was on the fold out on the floor. Finally I was drifting off to sleep, but while my eyes were closed my body was telling me that my head was towards the south, when in fact it was towards the north. It was really an unnerving feeling - I felt I was completely the wrong way round and I couldn't tell you what the right way was.

I am probably coming down with something


Little bear today took delivery of an extremely inexpensive fireman's helmet from my friend ebay, purchased because it has a movable visor. The nursery lady (I don't like to refer to them as helpers or assistants as they are extremely well qualified) asked whether mum had been shopping on ebay.

I always natter, and joked about my mad shopping spree and that we would not be short of boxes. The lady said that she would have them, they were doing construction next at nursery.

I don't know if she understands what she has let herself in for. 'Some' boxes may be an understatement.

Grocery shopping

I had a refund on my account with Approved Food, and they added a little, it wasn't significant but it was a nice gesture. And when Asda delivered two dozen eggs and found that both boxes had one broken egg in, they refunded me both, but let me keep the 22 unbroken eggs, which I didn't expect.

Today I had a delivery which included smartprice Asda mushrooms. I plan to make mushroom pate with them with a recipe from the cookbook that provided the Onion Pie. To my surprised delight they were in a smart price box, at a smart price price but were mis-shapes and over sized chestnut mushrooms. That should make a splendid pate and I shall put the recipe up if it works out.

I feel I shall have to pay forward, I have been treated very kindly.

Little bear gets in trouble

After we had done all the talking, the songs, the bedtime stories, OH and I went to go downstairs but little bear dashed up to the next floor. OH shouted for him to come down. Little bear squeaked and locked himself in OH's room.

This was not a good move.

Not only was OH shouting at him (quite rightly, just being loud telling him to open the door) but as the curtains were closed the room was very dark - and he couldn't unlock the door! That scared him.

He was beside himself when we finally managed to negotiate little bear out of the room. However I am taking no bets on him trying again. He seems to get over frights far too quickly!

Theology for four year olds

We had had the usual battle to get little bear into bed, and I had just finished singing Molly Malone in jig time when little bear looked at me and asked, 'What's dead?'

Where would you start?

So I said that sometimes people were poorly or hurt and they couldn't keep living so they went to heaven. We can't see them anymore but they can see us (theologically unsound) and that they still loved those who left behind. They were safe in heaven which was a lovely place where they could be happy.

He seemed happy enough. OH can handle the birds and the bees discussion.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Onion Pie Recipe

This actually worked quite well for me. It is a recipe from a book called 'The Humble Crumb' by Elizabeth Jones and the book focuses on using up leftover bread.

Onion Pie

6oz (175g) breadcrumbs, 2 large onions finely chopped, 2oz (50g, half a stick) butter or margarine, 400ml (2/3 pint) milk, salt and pepper.

Generously grease a pie dish and line with breadcrumbs. Fill with a layer of onions, salt and pepper to taste, pats of butter and a further layer of breadcrumbs. Continue in layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with a layer of breadcrumbs. Pour the milk over the top and cook in a hot oven (Gas 6, 400F, 200C) for 1 hour, when the top should be golden brown.

Next time I do it I will leave the dish to stand for a while before cooking, to allow the breadcrumbs to take up all the milk, and I will put something like sage or parsley over the onion layer.

The author of The Humble Crumb has a lot of interesting recipes, which I plan to try, but she does use a pressure cooker a lot and I got rid of mine because I was scared of it.

Shopping in spades

Okay, we could do with a little less shopping this month, but...

I have ordered three separate orders from Approved Food this week. The first one was just the usual, bits and bobs, odds and ends, stuff that comes in handy, especially for darling father who has happily ignored the link between salt and poor health for years and is the reason we now need a salt shaker.

The second order was because I followed a link in an email and clicked on gifts, and found a stack of books. So I picked up some fairy stories for little bear at 85p instead of £2.99 as it is a great chance to get some new reading material for me to tell him of a night time - there are about a dozen coming, and I picked up a few extras to make up the parcel.

The third was a chance to pick up a box of 36 two finger kitkats for £3.39 - ideal for rationing for little bear! Also some of OH's favourite treats were going at a very reasonable price.

There is a Lakeland order on the way, with darling father's early Father's Day present. It is a teasmade, and it would be really helpful for him, along with a small flask (on offer) for milk. I will be putting in a second order later, for bits and bobs and to use up the money off voucher that I have.

And I have just put in an order to Amazon. That was partly at the prompting of darling father who wanted a particular toy for little bear and it was about cheapest at Amazon, but a few of the books I have been wanting sort of fell into the order as well.

We will not be short of cardboard boxes!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Nearly flat cat

As usual, I glanced briefly behind me and sat down. For some reason there appeared to be an extra cushion - evil cat!

For years evil cat has been jumping onto seats the minute I was about to sit down. Finally the thing I feared most happened and I sat on her. I didn't sit directly on her, I think I had her pinned. Regardless she is fine, although I aged ten years.

She tried the same trick later, so it seems that evil cat's intelligence is unaffected by her age - she is outwitted by dust.