Thursday, 30 June 2011

A lightbulb moment

The number of takeaways we eat, and little bear's comments about my size may possibly be connected...

Little bear tells the truth

Ironically there was a diet advert next to this before I started typing.

Little asked me why I didn't exercise and stayed fat, fat, fat this morning. He asked me again at tea time. Why I can't even do star jumps.

A brisk walk later on will be called for, I think.

As for starting a diet, I can't think of a better incentive than a tactless four year old.


We eat too many takeaways, partly because it is so easy. We have a pizza place around twenty yards from us that is not only extremely busy but delivers for miles. The food from there is great. We have an award winning chip shop just a bit further along. The local Chinese takeaway isn't very good but there is one relatively local that delivers, is reasonably priced and extremely tasty. There is also a very tasty curry takeaway that delivers, and it does some really nice deals.

A few years ago a survey said that the national dish of Great Britain was Chicken Tikka Masala. This did not surprise me, not did it upset me. Eliza Action in her book 'Modern Cookery for Private Families' published 1845 (no, not a typo, published when Queen Victoria had been on the throne for only eight years) had a recipe for curry powder and how to make fake mango chutney. I am trying to remember if it was her who had the recipe for fake bamboo shoots using pickled elder shoots, or it may have been Hannah Glasse. For centuries English cookery has been either basic or French/International. After the Norman conquest the ruling conquerors brought over their cooking preferences but the peasants maintained their basic and often subsistence diet. In the Middle Ages crusaders brought in oranges, rice, sugar and all sorts of recipes that can be traced to Persian or Arabic influence. The peasants continued with their basic diet. Queen Victoria had a French cook, and it was a French cook, Alexis Soyer, who toured the British Army in the Crimean and made several really valuable contributions. (he was a remarkable man, worth looking at his stuff)

Let us be fair, the English and the British have happily taken over and adapted all sorts of foreign bits and pieces, like huge swathes of language, fashion and food, and never turned a hair. I can stand in Leeds Market and see two old men having a right ding dong argument in what sounds like Polish, next to a stall selling sugar cane and Caribbean food. I love the variety and interest that this brings to our tables and our lives.

Yesterday, however, I was a bit parochial. We were having a takeaway as OH had seen another takeaway that he fancied - a British Takeaway. No, not fish and chips. Fish and chips are very British, but this was stuff like Yorkshire Pudding (definitely British!) with gravy and roast beef and pigs in blankets, and roast potatoes. I had sausage with Yorkshire Pudding and Gravy and OH had roast beef, but they had other cuts of meat. You could get a carvery meal, with meat, potatoes, veggies and gravy for £5. It is called 'The Roast Tin' and the meal was not only extremely tasty (though the roasties side portion wasn't very crisp, just tasty) it was extremely inexpensive.

I think today's dinner of chicken is going to be a bit flat after that.

More shopping

I remembered what I wanted to get on top of the Lakeland order. I want to get a few bits of make up from Avon so that I can look presentable for the school gate. The lovely, lovely lady at the local newsagents does Avon. And I have found a hole in the sole of my shoe. To be honest, I think that they can both wait a month.

The cereal holders really can't, I got sugar puffs all over the floor this morning, it was not helpful. Also darling father got a triple portion, as the soft bag that I had put the sugar puffs in after I broke the box gives a lot more than I expected.

And I have a 10% coupon off from Deramores. Deramores sell knitting supplies and they are marvellous. If I want something specific I go there first. You can search so easily, under so many headings, and the service in the past has been brilliant - can you tell I am itching to buy something from them. Well, I am going to try and save 100% and not buy, but I don't have that much faith in myself. I fancy knitting a light jacket to put on if it is a bit cool at the end of spring/beginning of autumn. Even if I started it, I would never finish it.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


OH's hard earned wages went in today. So I started spending.

Car tax was the main one. I am glad that has been done. What with the price of petrol, the car is a very necessary expense, but still expensive. I need to build up a bigger contingency fund. Do to luck (and nothing more) we have never had a car loan. OH learned to drive after he was entitled to a company car, so that was his first car. Then, due to luck and nothing more, we managed to pay cash for a little Suzuki Swift that ran on fumes sometimes and was a lovely workhorse. I miss that car, but it only had two doors and it was really coming to the end of it's life when we got our current car, at the end of 2007 when little bear was nearly one. Again, through good circumstances and not planning, we managed to pay cash for that. The car has run lovely (apart from the new gear box with all the ice a few years ago) and isn't dear on fuel. OH's driving isn't dear on fuel, either. But oh dear it is expensive to keep filling her up. Regardless, I really want to build up enough so that we can pay cash for our next car, hopefully in quite a few years time. I love our current car.

I won't build up much of a contingency fund while shopping like today. First of all I bought a large universal steamer as the one I have for my stove is just not big enough to do potatoes for all of us on the bottom and veggies on the top. Then new nail scissors - I have been putting this off for a while but my old ones are leaving my nails ragged. And a very inexpensive set of snips to use while knitting and that hopefully will not be 'borrowed' by little bear cutting out. Then there was the needed new mattress cover for little bear, and the new phone as my handset doesn't currently work and I am paying a fortune for unlimited calls and can't make any.

Then there was the inexpensive freezer lock - certainly not proof against little bear but a good reminder to ensure the freezer door was shut, as I am sick of losing food. I indulged in a pattern for knitted boots and a flower loom (neither expensive) and an inexpensive bundle of clothes from my friend ebay for little bear.

Then I stacked up a supermarket shop for delivery tomorrow, including lots of stuff for the freezer. That is an expensive shop. And there is an Approved Food delivery booked, but I have not ordered that much, mainly the flapjack bars that little bear and I like for breakfast sometimes.

I need to put in a Lakeland order for cereal containers (plus anything else that happens to fall into my basket). I am racking my brains, I think there is something else but I can't quite remember. I am sure it will come. Also big birthdays are coming up.

I think really that the rest of the month I need to keep my finger OFF the 'buy' button.

Normal times

Darling father has been out on a date. As he has been flirting with a lady of a similar age, I am not very worried about an outraged father on my doorstep with a shotgun, but I am keeping an open mind.

Little bear is poorly - his tummy hurts, his legs hurts, he is cold... Meanwhile he seems v warm to me and has been almost asleep all day while watching Primeval.

Meanwhile apart from internet shopping I have not managed to get anything done. I have been sitting here, almost frozen, trying to keep as still as possible to let little bear sleep, which he has nearly done all day.

Darling father is out tomorrow, and little bear has been dosed up with baby nurofen and kaolin, and is probably more of the same. I shall be doing duty as a cushion and cuddle pillow. To be honest, there are worse things.

And again

Police in the street again last night. Apparently someone had made an allegation against nice mr next door.

Apart from anything else, he and I had been discussing the vexed question of bollards in the street for part of the evening, so really not possible and I offered to make a statement, but the police just assumed it was malicious allegation more or less from the beginning.

It is all so petty, and a lot of nothing. I just don't understand it.

As for the bollards - That Landlord wants to have bollards across the road. This would be okay as it would stop white vans using this as a rat run and make it significantly safer for kids. The vans go at silly speeds along an unmade road and round a blind corner.

Of course, it would mess up my deliveries and make it impossible to get a car out on slippy mornings, like the ones we had for a month at a time the last few winters. That is, if the only entrance we would have wasn't blocked off like it usually is with cars parked across and the parking either side from the new flats across the way.

Generally I am not in favour of not being able to either get deliveries or get our car out. Having a safer road would be nice, however.

Big Dilemma

Little bear is doing 'dance' at nursery. I think I have already blogged about the odd way the lady asked for £13 for his costume (which I could have found cheaper on ebay, for a single purchase) and that it will be £10 per adult to see the show.

A further letter arrived. There is a rehearsal on x day, little bear will only be in the first half of the show and will join the audience for the second half (also need to purchase ticket) and this will happen and that will happen - it is written really oddly. It is hard to put my finger on. The letter is grammatically correct, there are no miss-spelled words, but the tone is, well, odd. You could imagine it in a Nazi accent.

OH read the letter, thought about it, and asked whether little bear really, REALLY wanted to be in this performance. Whether he would realise if he missed it. We could write off the £13 on the costume, and forget about £30 for the tickets (myself, OH and sister in law). It is a longish way away, probably about an hour's drive, to watch little bear looking baffled for the first half of the performance, when we would probably have to leave as little bear would be over stimulated and needing sleep. Then the nap on the way home and the interesting bedtime afterwards...

It is the huge feeling of being ripped off. The venue is not exactly the Albert Hall. It feels like the lady in charge is making a lot of money out of parents feeling that they ought to watch their children. Of course we want to dote on little bear, but little bear has got to get something out of it as well and I am not sure that he will be getting enough.

So after some discussion, OH and I have decided to use the money and take little bear to somewhere like soft play and then out to MacDonalds or somewhere similar. We don't mind spending the money, but I think little bear will be having a lot more fun that way.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Temperature control

Little bear was not happy at bedtime. OH had gone out - how dare daddy have a life away from little bear. So he was trying it on. He had stories, he had songs, then he decided he was cold.

It is 25 degrees centigrade according to the thermometer on the landing, and little bear's room is far warmer. I was sceptical. I was also sweating and almost too warm to breathe.

Little bear 'shivered' and hugged his arms around him and demanded a blanket. I was even more sceptical. When snow is on the ground I can't keep a blanket on him. I suspect that this is to do with bedtime.

In fact, when I thought he was finally settled and went out on watering can duty, little bear followed me out and nice mr next door chased him back upstairs with many (mock) threats. Little bear was shrieking with laughter. I would be worried what the neighbours thought if it wasn't that he was the neighbours.

Darling father has pulled up all the parsley. I am a little sad. I wasn't using it, and I am not that keen, and the dried stuff is convenient, and the fresh stuff is easy to buy. But it had flowered and parsley has lovely green flowers, I was quite enjoying them. Mind you, the thyme had been overrun and I doubt we have seen the last of the mint.

Snail Day

Today has been a waste of a day, nothing done.

So fed up with myself.

Also the inside of the house is still like an oven, I can't find the keys for the windows and I can't shut the windows downstairs anyway once they are open.

And despite the promise of rain, it looks like I will be on watering can duty regardless.

Darling father has done HUGE amounts in the garden and painted a lot of stones white - he is ex-forces!

Little bear is lovely and exhausted - dance at nursery and then martial arts. He is a bit hit and miss at the martial arts but he enjoys it. Though he was distraught a moment ago. He was chewing a balloon (don't ask) and missed and bit his finger - hard. He was yelling, 'don't kiss it! It hurts too much!' That rather put me in my place.

Monday, 27 June 2011


So far little bear has been quite reasonable about bed times. We have a strict routine and until the last few weeks it worked. However...

Tonight's gem was that he couldn't get into bed to go to sleep because of the invisible, imaginary bars around his bed. We are entering the '...and now go back upstairs and go to sleep!' phase, I think.

I shall keep you updated on any particularly good gems.

Too Hot

I can't cope with the cold and I can't cope with the heat. I am a complete wimp when it comes to weather. My circulation is a bit odd, so I don't always deal with temperatures - and this is suddenly so hot it is silly!

Only two weeks ago I was grateful for an open fire.

So I will be on enhanced watering can duty and I will be keeping my curtains shut.

As for what the weather will be next week, well, I wouldn't bet against a rain of frogs. British weather is notoriously changeable, and there has been volcanoes. According to Discovery Channel, volcanoes affect the weather. Of course, depending on the doomsday scenario they are predicting, it is either global warming (Permian extinction) or volcanic winter (That year without a summer, 1816, after the eruption of Mount Tambora, I looked it up on wikipedia)

However, while the weather lasts I am looking round for things to wash. I think I shall start rummaging round the old blankets, try and get them rinsed through while the going is good. Then I can either store or clutterbust.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Garden gardened

Darling father has been working in the garden. He has got rid of all the pinks. I was a bit sad about that, as I thought they were doing really well and they were very colourful, but he has binned the lot. We shall get some more in the autumn, however, as they flowered right through autumn, survived the cold winter and have flowered through until now.

Instead we have pink alyssum, lobelia and marigolds. Darling father doesn't do colour co-ordination but he does do a good job of looking after plants. The little fuschia that we bought a while back is flourishing. It had blossoms and buds when we bought it which duly bloomed. Then there were seeds. Now there are more blossoms coming. All the roses are doing well and the budlia is really taking off.

The only thing about this weather, though I have dried load after load of washing, is that I am on watering can duty twice a day. I don't mind it so much. The garden isn't really large and it is lovely and soothing watering the garden late at night.

Clutterbust revisited

Finally revisited the clutterbust.

It was quite nice really, I got rid of half a tray of jars of olives which had developed suspicious black splodges (bought ages ago from Approved Food) and some instant lemon tea that I fancied back when little bear was a baby - six unopened jars with an expiry date of August 2008.

Actually, I think one of the best clutterbusting things I can do is just not buy stuff.

I am passing the lemon tea jars on to people who make jam at darling father's church as they are lovely, but the olive jars are going to recycling. I was tempted to keep the tea jars myself, but consoled myself that I would be acquiring other jars in the future.

Seeing Red

The emulsion paint hasn't come out of the clothes with a wash...

As it is emulusion I suppose I will be sitting there with a bowl, rubber gloves and a large quantity of washing up liquid and see if that does the trick.

And I put the toilet roll on the wrong way round. I use the extra big rolls from Sainsbury that last ages and I can't get the loo roll holder out unless I tear the inner so I am going to have to put up with that extremely minor irritation for while.

I am going to risk ironing. I will post if anything further happens.

High Gravity continues

OH picked up a tin of paint - which split around the equator of the tin and splashed all over the walk in cupboard floor and splattered a lot of ironing.

Poor OH, he did his best to clean up. He put the clothes he thought were affected to one side. However I think he missed a few splashes and then the ironing pile got shuffled in the confusion. So I need to sort through looking for small splashes of bright red paint. At least the colour is easy to see. But I think the best way for me to sort it all is to work through ironing the lot. Not necessarily the quickest way, but the one with the best result, all clothes well checked AND ironed.

So on the day forecast to be the hottest in the year, I will be ironing. And from the size of the pile, probably all day. tbf, I should have cleared it last week, so it serves me right, but I am unimpressed.

Friday, 24 June 2011

High Gravity Day

I am having a high gravity day, and I am not enjoying it.

First of all, I am a bit croaky, have a bit of a cough and some glands are a bit bigger than normal, so I have a huge dose of self pity.

Then there are the accidents I have had. I have broken the top of the plastic cereal holder and I can't fix it. And you should have seen the ragged mess that was my first two attempts to tear plastic bags off a roll to put the cereal in. I did manage to fix the kitchen bin lid that I broke (no idea how I managed that). Knocking over the tin full of sardine flavoured sunflower oil as I was mopping up a spilled cup of tea in the kitchen didn't help.

Then the minor bits, like scattering teabags all over the floor when I was trying to refill the teabag jar. All sorts of niggles, stumbles and fumbles.

I feel I should lock myself in a little room until I am safe to come out. However that is not an option. Soon I shall have to go and pick up little bear from nursery, who will be wearing his cyberman helmet. Walking to nursery we were chased by Weeping Angels, with much diving into cover. I can't wait for the walk home.
Lesley - Big Brands for Less? I have not seen that but I am off to google now!!!

Not this time

Cravendale Milk is running a promotion where if you collect enough codes from their 2litre packs you can get a free thingy, you choose from a cup, bowl etc.

I only just noticed this and I have four more days to buy and log three more 2litre bottles of milk. But I have six litres of Cravendale milk in the fridge anyway, and I do not want to do a delivery so that means lugging six kilos of stuff back from distant shops.

Cravendale milk does last for ages, usually at least a week after the sell by date if pushed, and we would use it. There is tea drunk by the gallon, cereal, little bear's milk shake and all the other little bits and pieces. But I do not have the energy to trudge around getting six more litres of milk before we need it just to get a free mug. Our cupboard is full of mugs. If I notice the next promotion in time, and if I am using it anyway, then I am happy to get free stuff. Otherwise I am not interested.

Besides, I haven't looked at the p&p costs. Those can often turn free into 'free' and WE HAVE NO ROOM for more china and crockery.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Little bear's new school

There was a meeting at little bear's school to be this afternoon. I wore proper, office style clothing for the first time since little bear was born. The ladder resistant tights were laddered within minutes - I am lethal to tights, though not to stockings. But I was wearing trousers so that was okay.

Actually, I had an epic fail when my trousers were too long and the sticky tape I used to turn them up (the shame) fell off so I was two minutes late getting to the school as it took me so long to find the black cotton before hemming them at frantic speed. I don't think I missed much.

Lots of mums and dads took time off work, lots of mums and dads made an effort to be there. It was nice, I think, but nothing was said that couldn't have been covered in a letter. It was all a bit flat. I winced a little at the uniform, I think it could get expensive.

Mind you, little bear had a good time on his extra afternoon at nursery, so there was a good point.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


I went to town to buy the knitting magazine, and the shop didn't have it.


Of course, the knitting book and paperback were inevitable, and then there was the much needed summer jacket and actual proper trousers for tomorrow's meeting at little bear's school-to-be and actual shoes while I was actually in town...

Not buying the magazine turned out quite expensive.

How one thing leads to another

I had promised myself no more knitting magazines except the ones subscribed to, which are Christmas presents.

But on holiday I bought a magazine 'because I was on holiday' and bought Knit Magazine. Knit Magazine had a very interesting article on how to knit socks with custom sizing.

I can't knit socks. Double pointed needles are my enemy.

But it was such an interesting article, and I could really use bedsocks as my feet are notoriously cold, and the next magazine with part two of the article was coincidentally hitting the shops the next day. So I got the next one. The article was very interesting indeed.

However, it referred to casting on the socks using 'Judy's magic cast on'. I had never heard of this but it sounded intriguing as I am still using the cable cast on that my grandmother taught me when I was eight. But nowhere in the magazine did it mention how to do it - no mention anywhere of how to do Judy's Magic Cast On.

I was resigned to looking it up on ravelry when my subscription to Simply Knitting arrived. According to an advertisement in there, this month's copy of 'The Knitter' has an article on Judy's Magic Cast On.

So today I am actually making a journey to go and purchase 'The Knitter', as it is not on sale in the local shops and is not only far too advanced for me but also has projects that seem to take up far too much time, just so I can read about Judy's Magic Cast On. I could probably still find it on Ravelry, but where's the fun in that.

Also, part three about the socks is in Knit Magazine next month. Of course I will be daft enough to buy a magazine for an article (again a journey as it is not available locally) about something I don't knit.

I shall let you know how I get on.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Little bear likes counting

Little bear has his favourite books. One of them is a board book with numbers. Little bear is far too advanced for it, but he likes it and that is what matters. So at bedtime, as one of his two stories, I will solemnly read, 'One bouncy ball, two woolly gloves...'

However last time little bear was insisting that he read it himself, and he has memorised all the words. But he didn't just read the 'Twenty Cuddly Teddy Bears'. He counted them from one to twenty, just to check that the book wasn't cheating.

The highlight for me was when he got to the page with one hundred colourful flowers. He started off in his normal voice, 'one, two, three...' and then he got a bit higher so that he sounded a little falsetto, 'thirteen, fourteen, fifteen....' Then his voice was climbing higher and evil cat was looking a bit grumpy (her eyesight may be going but she can still hear her food cupboard door opening two floors away). His voice was still climbing, 'twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three...' and I imagined that dogs would be putting their paws over their ears. As he got into the thirties the pitch of his voice was climbing even higher into the range of special effects and I was imagining bats falling out of the sky. Then, as he hit 'thirty-eight' his voice suddenly dropped several octaves. Then, to my amusement, his pitch started going up again. He got to the squeak the second time around 'seventy-eight' and was still mid range when he hit one hundred.

I'm looking forward to hearing it again.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Another disaster

The freezer door has been ajar. At some time it was left open and then shut again. It is likely to have been me, although little bear has been getting ice lollies from there.

Today I defrosted some mince. It looked fine from the outside so I chopped up the last of the leeks and some onion and snipped up some sun dried tomatoes to go in with the mince. Except when I tipped the mince into the pan and started to break it up, the mince was green inside.


So we had tinned corned beef with the mashed potato and peas.

I am not sure what to do now. I think I will be using as much from the freezer as possible, as some stuff may have gone in there after the defrost/refreeze event. The chicken joint we had yesterday was fine. Then when the freezer is empty I will defrost and then restock.

Also I shall look on my friend ebay for a freezer alarm.


I have been knitting a v necked sleeveless pullover for darling father (OH will not, under any circumstances, wear a knitted garment of any sort). It is a nice little pattern. The v neck is quite deep, which would suit darling father. My late great uncle used to insist on only buying v necked sweaters, but then wore them the wrong way round to keep his chest warm. Darling father likes to show off his ties. It is knitted in aran - I think afghan weight for those used to North American weights. The needles, however, are a small size so you get a very dense stocking stitch which should be lovely and warm.

Knitted the front and back - took slightly longer than I thought because of the smaller needles but it was no problem. Sewed up the right shoulder sleeve with top stitching as instructed. Picked up 131 stitches for the neckband (grumbling all the way through), ribbed the correct amount and cast off.

Then I realised that at the start of the ribbing I had dropped two stitches - right at the front where the point of the v is. And I had cast off.

So I shall swear, grumble and use a needle and the yarn to sew the loose stitches in. But I am not happy. And I still have to pick up two lots of 99 stitches for the arm holes. However I am determined to finish it - if only so I don't have to look at it again.

I would also like to mention that as I was trying not to cry and picking up the dropped stitches with a safety pin, evil cat chose that exact moment to land on my lap and rub her chin firmly and lovingly all around the hand holding the safety pin with loose stitches precariously on the open point. It's reassuring to see malice still in the old girl.

Normal for round here

Today there was a police van outside the drug dealers a few doors down (well, alleged drug dealers, they have always been really nice to me), a dead bat in the street and the bees in the chimney have been swarming.

Normal for round here.

Oscar is bad

Oscar looks like the Basement Cat in the lolcats - he is large, dignified and completely black.

Last night I was hanging out washing when I heard some 'click, click' noises. I looked around but only saw Oscar, looking meditative and sitting on one of the bins.

I hung out a few more t-shirts and the clicking happened again. Oscar was still there, looking wise. Cats can look wise, but they aren't. They are just great at posing.

I put the last few things out and then turn round at more clicking - it is Oscar digging at the bin bags! Some kind soul has put their rubbish in our bin and the bin lid wouldn't close so Oscar was investigating.

Fortunately Oscar was too absorbed in his vandalism and thievery to notice me creeping up slowly. Then I whacked the lid of the bin (well away from the cat, I am far too soft) as hard as I could. Oscar bounced about two foot in the air and fled.

This morning the bin bags are looking quite intact. I don't think Oscar will have learned his lesson (he is colossally stupid) but it may protect them for a while.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Little Bear's first swear word

Honestly, the landmark moments that they have nowadays...

Little bear has become addicted to Doctor Who. All last week he was watching DVDs of the first series with Amy as a companion. In the second episode of that series there is a character called Liz Ten - Queen Elizabeth Xth. At one point she states clearly, 'I'm the bloody Queen.'

All things considered, there are worse swear words. And little bear was playing nicely with his toy Tardis and said that he was off to see the Bloody Queen. He wasn't saying it as a swear word or to be shocking (I think). It was just the name of a character.

My inclination was just to ignore it. However OH collapsed into laughter. 'You shouldn't say that,' he said between laughs, 'It's a bad word.'
'No it isn't,' little bear said solemnly, 'It's brilliant.' OH was nearly crying by this time.

I have nothing against an appropriate cuss. Everyone needs to have words to say when you drop a tin of beans on a bare foot. I try not to swear, though, as it means that when I do need to be rude it still has some impact. So little bear has reached the grand age of four and one half before his first bad word. But I will mention it to nursery, so they can enjoy the joke as well.

Castlegate Cottage, Castlegate

We stayed in Castle Cottage, Castlegate, Pickering. Again.

There are two reasons. The first reason is that getting OH to go anywhere on holiday can be a challenge. Now he has found somewhere he likes we are going back again and again and again. He likes it, and to be honest, so do I - it is a lovely base to go out or stay 'home'.

The second reason we are going there twice a year since little bear was in a travel cot is because it is lovely. It is definitely a step up from our place, with a dishwasher and dishes from M&S. It is a stone built cottage with an open fire. It doesn't matter what the temperature - we have a fire every night. As I have said before, it is only a few yards from the castle, near the market town's centre and just perfect (well, we can't get a signal for OH to get on the internet and one of us always ends up sleeping on the sofa, but apart from that, perfect)

I am a little embarrassed about how I left the cottage. I managed to have a brief wipe round the bathroom, washed up and swiped briefly. However I do feel I was at a disadvantage. Little bear woke up at six am - as per usual. And I was frantically trying to keep him quiet as the other two men needed their sleep. OH was driving and needed to be rested. Darling father had a hangover the size of Birkenhead, or if he didn't he ought to. Then I had to pack and clean between them coming downstairs and the check out time of 10am. I think I remembered to empty the fridge, but I am ashamed that I didn't get to clean the hearth. Especially as it had seen such service.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Memo to self

Memo to self. When knitting a pattern that should, theoretically, be really easy but you don't 'get' and can't fall into the rhythm of, don't drink. A very small amount of Tia Maria will make the pattern impossible. Every time. Don't even think about a glass of wine. You will regret it, and you will have to undo it all. Like that sweater that has been redone twice, after being under the influence of a measure.

Once upon a time I could hold my drink, but now I only need to sniff the label. Still, at least it doesn't cost a lot to get me tipsy.

I'm Back!

We are back from the holiday.

We had a marvellous time. Little bear got over heated in Flamingo Land, paddled in the sea at Whitby, ate scampi at every opportunity, behaved impeccably most of the time, and had a runny tummy.

OH relaxed, walked, failed to get an internet connection and was definitely far more relaxed at the end of the holiday than the beginning.

Darling father's whiskey consumption was down on last year but still significant.

I have knitted most of the back of a sweater I am beginning to regret and even had a few drinks myself. Okay, a thimble full of Tia Maria every other night isn't really going to affect me that much, but it was a nice change.

I will post more later when I have made dents in the unpacking, internet banking, updating and re-organising that always pounce after a holiday.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Need a reality check

I really shouldn't have bought the knitting magazine.

And I really shouldn't have looked at a particular pattern.

I would have to alter it to be at least six inches longer, but the measurements could hold it. And it is knitting from a chart which I loathe. Of course it is in 4ply which I loathe knitting with almost as much - make it chunky and quick! And I am not entirely sure I can master the stitches.

But it is such a lovely, lovely top in a style I love but can't seem to buy and ideal for summer...

Anyone want to bet how long before I start pricing up 4ply?

Thursday, 9 June 2011

British Barbecue

On Sunday we had a barbecue.

Darling father has bought a very very inexpensive barbecue that looks like it will be idea for us. We fired it up, shivered in the cool wind, coughed in the smoke, and then got rained on as soon as we started to eat.

It was brilliant!

I am going to be looking up barbecue recipes on the web!

Doctor Who

OH loves Doctor Who. That is fine. He has introduced little bear to Doctor Who, which I was a bit wary about. However little bear is suitably scared, very protective about Amy the Doctor's assistant and tells all sorts of stories about good Daleks and bad Daleks.

I am okay with it. I loved the Christopher Eccleston stuff, I think the last two series could end up real classic moments like the best of the Tom Baker stuff and I am amused by little bear's serious contemplation of the whole matter.

I have two observations with this.

The first is that I think Rory, Amy's husband, is much better looking than the Doctor and when speaking carefully has a more than a hint of Richard Burton tones. I am a sucker for a good voice.

The second observation is that during the last episode we were introduced to a Silurian warrior and her lady friend who were based in late Victorian London ('How was Jack the Ripper?' 'Okay - a bit stringy' after the Silurian Victorian vigilante had disposed of him). I would love to see a series with them, I really would. I thought that they were marvellous.

The next episodes are in autumn. Little bear can't wait

Whatever Next - again

I live at the bottom of a hill. At the back of the house, on the main road and up a steep slope is a pub, which has a bit of a reputation for having a few fights. In fact I heard that it was on its last warning for fighting.

I have never been in it (I am a very boring person and don't really go to pubs) but it looked okay, though possibly a bit rough, and I have tolerated the loud karaoke evenings and discos with as much patience as I could. People seemed to be enjoying themselves and I don't have a problem with that.

Now it has been sold.

Pubs are having a hard time as it is, what with supermarket drink and the smoking ban. If you add in a reputation for fighting it is a hard pub to sell. Because if you try and change the pub too much the regulars won't go, and if you don't change it the licence will go because of fighting.

That Landlord has bought it.

I am intrigued. He already has a pub which does not have trouble, but also doesn't have a good reputation for beer etc. He is not what I would consider a natural landlord, but what would I know. However, according to local gossip, he has decided to turn it into a restaurant.

I would not consider it ideal for a restaurant. The area immediately around the pub is social housing, and there are a lot of problems. There isn't a very big car park either, though it is directly uphill from a bus stop. It is opposite a takeaway that has orders from miles around and a really good reputation.

That Landlord, though, gets a bit carried away. For all I know he could be planning a swimming pool there next week.

Regardless I shall watch with interest. The house behind us has been 'being done up' for around two years now, and it isn't that big. That Landlord sort of wanders round projects and thinks about stuff and gets carried away. The back of his first pub has been half developed (breaches of planning permission, forgetting to pay people, changing minds) for years and years. The practical effect of That Landlord is that he has lots of plans, but talks a lot and stuff gets run further and further down as he doesn't do eg decoration or essential repairs.

I hope it doesn't get left as an eyesore - there are so many good things going on around here at the moment it would be a shame.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

An unknown evening

Darling father had bought tickets, but no-one was quite sure for what. There was no notice in the Methodist window and darling father was rather vague. So I actually didn't wear jeans but instead the slinky jacket and trousers that have been trotted out for every occasion since little bear's Christening and hoped for the best.

Regrettably, after a substantial evening meal, the event started with a buffet with cups of tea or coffee. We were not one of the first to arrive and ended up on a table by ourselves, or at least that is how it started. We ended up on a table with the Minister and two city councillors. I am not sure how that happened. Darling father was fine.

I would also like to say that darling father was the life and soul of the party, talking to everyone, flirting shamelessly with all the ladies and generally working the room. OH and I just watched and learned.

Then we all trooped into the chapel where the do was going to be. At the introduction the Minister confessed that she didn't exactly know what was happening. However it was a lady playing a flute and a man playing a piano - and they were brilliant.

I am not sure what everyone was expecting. It is usual to get a revue type thing or a brass band, but they started off with Elgar and they were brilliant. There is something about flute music that seems to go to the soul. I really enjoyed it.

I shall definitely want to go to other performances.

A Night Out!

OH and I had a night out together. It is becoming quite a habit. Since little bear was born, four and a half years ago, we have been to two work's Christmas do's and his sister's fiftieth birthday party (which was mandatory). Tonight we went to the Methodist Chapel with darling father. Darling father had bought tickets, but he wasn't sure what for.

So we scrabbled around for babysitters. My sister in law is a good candidate. She lives less than a mile away, adores little bear (mutual) and doesn't usually go out a lot. Unfortunately she couldn't make it, and I think she was a bit fed up because she couldn't. Also I don't want to make her feel like she has a duty to babysit. Some people seem to live their lives at the beck and call of other people's children. I told her we could meet up when it was convenient for her.

So I called my brother. I wasn't sure about that. He lives quite a way away, and it seems unfair to drag him out. He has also done a lot of running round after darling uncle recently and has been very active with decorating. It seemed a bit hard to take over his Saturday night. But he came, with his dog.

First of all little bear was overjoyed with the dog, who instantly found all the crumbs that my housekeeping had missed. They cuddled and played and little bear gave best dog treats. I cooked black lamb again, with a potato dish which I got from the Pauper's Cookbook by Jocasta Innes. You very thinly slice potatoes and layer them in a buttered oven dish, sprinkling fragments of fresh rosemary and bacon and garlic between the layers and then pour over cream. It is very toothsome. Best dog managed to snaffles some lamb.

Then evil cat appeared from upstairs and was unimpressed that a hound was in HER house. There was a woof and a bark and quite a bit of hissing. She ran into the study. Now all other cats that I have known would be in a place of hiding - under, on or in something. Evil cat was poised in the middle of the study carpet. I think she couldn't he bothered. She got shut in the kitchen, with comfy cushions around, access to litter tray and a dish of salmon. She didn't appreciate the salmon.

Little bear apparently was as good as gold and had two stories and best dog had a snooze on his bed as little bear went to sleep.

So I now feel a little more confident that we can leave little bear.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Poor little bear

Just as I was worrying about chicken pox, the nursery rang. Little bear has had an extremely mild reaction to his suncream, no need to come and get him, he is fine in himself.

Poor little bear, all hot and itchy with it. At least he hasn't got spots.

Timing is everything

There will be a slight gap in posting soon as I will be going on holiday in the next month or so. As my home is actually quite recognisable from anyone doing their homework, I like to be a bit vague about the dates. Also I can see me being v busy for the next week or so which will cut down my posts.

Evil cat will be on guard while we are away (if she can be bothered) and Mr Next Door will be keeping an eye out.

In a masterpiece of timing, as I dropped little bear off at nursery today I saw a notice that said that three children there already had confirmed chicken pox and can people not bring in sick children.

If I remember the incubation period for chicken pox is actually quite long, so depending on when little bear makes/made contact then he could remotely be in line to develop chicken pox just as we leave the house. Biology is one thing, but the awful inevitability of a child getting sick just before a holiday I think is a stronger law than anything Louis Pasteur formulated.

As we are only going to Pickering (again) we are not going into the wilds and calamine lotion is always possible. Sigh.


Late night browsing - I found some knitting needles made of casein, or milk! And you can get yarn containing 30% milk solids. So you could knit a milk sweater on milk needles. I don't need any more needles, I need to lose some, but I looked at these quite expensive needles and just for a moment was really tempted.

My shopping for knitting is focusing on some sort of receptacle for my patterns. I struggle to keep them all in one place, especially as my home is currently extremely chaotic. So plans for future knitting get overlaid and forgotten. And being me, I looked on my friend ebay. I didn't see anything I liked.

The thing is, I don't know what I want, but I will know it when I see it. That is a dangerous way to shop. Really I don't want a standard box file (the blindingly obvious solution) because I like to be quirky. It is not helpful to want to be quirky. It can be more expensive. Fortunately for my bank balance I like to have things that are reused rather than bought in an expensive boutique.

But I have realised that there is an old cardboard box that OH refused to get rid of - it is very sturdy and we thought it would come in useful. But while it is the perfect size, it is a surgical appliance pink. I don't like pink. So I can make it a bit more 'me' by covering it with paper. I was considering Cath Kidston paper. Yes, that is as logical as anything, to not like pink but getting strangely mesmerised by Cath Kidston. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, according to someone famous I can't remember, so I don't feel the need to worry about it.

But paper could wear off and get shabby quite easily. So really I could stick fabric on it, and put trim around the side. Cath Kidston does fabric. However I think I shall look in the mountain of textiles to see if there is anything suitable before I get carried away. I also have a stash of sticky backed plastic which would do the job.

And for the heaps of unsorted needles I have found a solution. For straight needles I plan to cover Pringles tubes to match the box and stand them upright in a sort of rigid leather hold all that came as a gift filled with smellies many years ago - before little bear anyway. For the circular needles (not quite such a selection) there are boxes that used to hold washing powder tablets which are remarkably sturdy and have a cute sort of opening lid. Things may be covered or left in all their Sainsbury glory - but it is curiously satisfying to have thought laterally and looked to see what I can reuse.

What time is it?

Last night we had fish n chips for tea, unsurprisingly really. And with the children's meal came a set of Ben 10 cards. Little bear is still besotted with Ben 10 and he still hasn't seen it. I am not in a rush to let him see it either, he gets quite carried away as it is!

I wouldn't let him play with the Ben 10 cards as he was about to go to bed, so it was very much a case of 'leave them in the wrapper so they don't get lost, we can look at them tomorrow'.

Little bear came downstairs at 6am and his first words to me were, 'Read this card for me, mummy.' I was not impressed.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Little bear's day out

My darling brother and his friend took little bear and I to the Royal Armouries in Leeds today. It was marvellous - for me.

Little bear had woken up in a very assertive mood, and I wasn't feeling much better as he woke me up at 3.30am to discuss the contents of the water bottle next to his bed, though he did go back to sleep in his own bed. But after negotiation, threats and promises I managed to get him ready to go out before his uncle appeared.

The Royal Armouries is foul to get to if you don't drive. As far as I know, the only bus that stops anywhere near the entrance is the open topped tourist bus. Once upon a time the Armouries stood in a sort of open peninsula, with the canal around it and derelict land and abandoned warehouses nearest. Now it is all built up with fancy shops, offices, hotels and designer apartments, together with a high rise, non free multi-storey car park. If I tried to walk from the nearest bus stop to the main entrance, I think I would get lost.

We had something to eat (ouch, the cost!) and then went to look round the tournament section with lots of armour. Little bear was okay, but I suspect he was thinking, 'yeah, yeah - another suit of shiny stuff' at the end. So while my darling brother and his friend had a look round the other parts I took little bear to the gift shop (ouch!) and then he raced around with a sort of collapsible plastic lance and a plastic knight's helmet with a movable visor.

One thing that unnerved me was little bear's complete confidence that he could just join in. He tried to gatecrash two brothers fighting with their new wooden swords and shields. The lads were around five years older than him, so I pulled him away. Then he was chatting happily to another lad who was nearby. Little bear just seems to wander into a group and decide to take charge. I think I definitely need to get him into sporting team hobbies, just to give him a bit more context.

Then we went to Hobbicraft. There is a big Hobbicraft store at Crown Point, Leeds, quite near the Armouries and we called in for some glass paint. I avoided the yarn, I avoided the knitting magazines, nearly avoided the children's crafts (make your own noise maker and make your own pirate ship sort of fell into the basket) and headed more or less straight for what I needed. Hopefully darling father will be converting his empties into vases with a glass cutter and then painting them and selling them at the Methodist's Christmas Fair. So I grabbed a random selection of glass painting stuff, hoped for the best, nearly cried at the total and came home.

Up until this point little bear had been pretty good. There had been some stern words needed in Hobbicraft and the Armouries about staying close and not barging past people, but really he was quite good. However things started to go wrong. I had left my keys at home and couldn't get darling father to hear the door. So we were locked out. We thought that we could go to darling brother's (@ forty five minutes drive) and little bear could play with the dog. Little bear loves the dog, who is remarkably patient. However before we had gone far we managed to get hold of darling father who promised to unlock the door.

Little bear was beside himself - he wanted to see his favourite dog, his best dog, it wasn't FAIR. He wasn't screaming or shouting but he was devastated. So darling brother explained to little bear that he could either see his best dog today OR darling brother would babysit on Saturday and bring best dog with him, and best dog could go to sleep on little bear's bed. Little bear brightened up immediately. I shall leave evil cat locked downstairs with a large supply of catnip.

I am impressed at my brother's negotiating skills.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


I believe that all parents make mistakes. Some make more than others and some worry more than others, but no parent is perfect.

I also I believe that I make many, many mistakes. And one I made yesterday was to give little bear a blopen.

He thinks it is wonderful, marvellous, magic! Not only is there a fine green spatter all over the brand new t-shirt that I bought for him to go to the martial arts in, but I didn't check when he went upstairs to wash his hands and now a fine purple mist has descended all over the sink area. I am not sure I will be able to get it off the grout - I shall be reduced to bleach.

I daren't confiscate them. He has already had a remarkable strop about where his yellow one is. However I am not impressed at all. Fortunately the pens were half price in Matalan so at least the reduced price will offset some of the damage.

Also, fascinated to see what adverts appear after this post. Seeing what adverts appear after I have posted a particular topic is becoming my hobby.

My little Ninja

Little bear went to a martial arts class yesterday. As he is an only child, and he is grossly indulged when it comes to attention if nothing else, I am desperate to get him into structured activities.

So yesterday we went to the British Military Martial Arts, which are classes run by former members of the British Military and have all the checks etc.

Little bear was sweet. He was the only one there for that class, which is tailored for 4-7 year olds, and blossomed under her attention. He did press ups in an age appropriate way - roaring like a lion! He stood to attention, he bowed, he stretched and did age appropriate sit ups (it was all very gentle and fun) and then the instructor showed him how to do a punch and a kick (front jab, reverse punch and leg raise apparently). Watching a four year old carefully trying to punch a mark on a cushion was so sweet.

The instructor was also very strong on discipline. When little bear forgot to shout when he punched he had to do two frog jumps and say 'ribbit'.

So, £26 per month plus £60 joining fee when he gets his suit (child related expenses now mounting up) and once a week he will go and do martial arts. He loved it.