Sunday, 31 July 2011

Hard decision

We have been offered the chance to take over two, two year old, completely pedigree Ragdoll cats. We know their owners, the husband is little bear's godfather, and they are having to get rid of some of their well loved and well looked after pets as they have more animals than Noah. They would not have asked for a penny, just wanted to know that the cats would be okay.

We said 'no' but know that the cats have gone to a good, loving home.

There were a number of reasons. The first one is that evil cat just wouldn't be up to two new young cats. She is currently quite clingy, and one of her eyes is starting to swell again. Her fur is feeling thin instead of being dense and soft and she is losing a bit more weight. She doesn't need the stress of other cats turning up. The second reason is, embarrassingly, I don't want to groom them. We have always had short haired cats who treated any attempt to groom as a hostile move. I don't want to start now trying to fit in the care that the cats would need, and I would never settle for doing less that a good job. Long haired cats are that way because of human intervention, we have to take proper responsibility for them. In the circumstances, I want to stick to short haired, please.

Also the two are typical Ragdolls, good natured and placid. I don't know how to deal with good natured and placid cats - it goes against all experience. When we do have to get a cat, and hopefully evil cat will be here for a good while, I know on a fundamental level that we will get a 'rescue' possibly from the cat's home, with the personality to follow malevolent cat, evil cat and psycho cat and I will feel comfortably resigned.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Hoarder in the making

Little bear is a bit concerned. He wants to keep ALL his toys. He doesn't want to lose one, he wants to keep them all. We are in ongoing negotiations on this because if he gets all the toys he wants for Christmas it will take several lorries to bring them all and we will have nowhere to put it, even if he does get rid of stuff. As it is, we are already overflowing. I mentioned a clear out tonight, and suddenly obscure soft toys were promoted to 'favourite' and placed on the bed, which barely had room for little bear at the end.

I can live with the sentiment, if not the practice. However he is showing signs of keeping things for the sake of it. He is moving to being left without a nappy at night. He is dry when he sleeps, so I am not fussed. I just told him that I was not buying any more nappies and that when they were gone, they were gone.

Little bear does not approve of this arrangement. However we have now run out of the preferred nappies and are in the process of working through the despised pull ups that he refused to countenance not too long ago. Except we have one nappy left - because he wants to keep it to look at it. This is worrying me, keeping things for security. It is not keeping a (clean and unused) nappy for 'just in case' but to look at.

I have no idea where this comes from as little bear has an overabundance of toys and goodies, but I shall be keeping a close eye on things. It is even more important now that I set a good example by clutterbusting.

Re clothes

Lesley - for all his faults, OH has never had the nerve to buy me clothes. At least not now. He did try at the start to influence (strongly) what I wore, but I think it was just too much hassle for him. Also I hardly ever buy clothes.

Though there was a wonderful moment when I hadn't bought more than stockings for about three years, and OH upset me. A lot. So I went out and (with my own money) bought £300 worth of clothes (and this is nearly twenty years ago) and none of the items were more than £15, and some a lot less. If you could have seen his stunned expression as item after item got displayed it would warm your cockles. The living room was draped in garments. I think it was then that he abandoned the clothing thing.

I have no fashion sense. My first question about clothing is usually 'is it comfy, and does it cover strategic areas'. I am dreading looking 'out of place' at the school gates, but I can live with the reputation of 'eccentric'. I have been known to buy some stuff out of catalogues because then I know it is vaguely in fashion.

One of the things that I was looking at was smart stuff. OH's work's do is the one time in the year that I go out normally, and I have worn the same outfit for several years, and it was also trotted out at OH's sister's 50th (red carpet theme, was unimpressed) and little bear's christening. It isn't really 'me', the colour just isn't quite right, and I have been wearing it with the same top as all my other tops don't go. So, without any sense of fashion, I am looking for something inexpensive, in basic black (because that goes with everything), vaguely dressy but not frilly, that will do for at least five years for Christmas do's and anything mildly fancy to do with little bear.

I do feel confident in my sense of style, however, which is something.

Darling father could never cope with even a bit of glitter or striped nail polish (quite something in the eighties) but my late mother, for all her faults, took the view that if I had the nerve to walk out of the door looking like that then all power to me. I hope I can take the same stance with little bear.

And yes, my hair was all colours, and in fact I rang the changes right up until little bear was born. I had my hair coloured every six weeks and as a matter of principle never had the same colour twice running, although by this time I was in a more responsible position so had to go for shades of blonde and auburn instead of blue, green and silver - I loved spray on silver!

Grumpy Sybil

Little bear woke me at midnight, and decided he had to sleep on the sofa. I was far too aware of darling father asleep on the other side of the landing and how exhausted he had been to push the argument, so little bear slept downstairs with me last night.

Fortunately he didn't wake up when evil cat vomited with gusto over huge parts of the study in the early hours. I did. I have managed to get most of it up.

Then 7am little bear bounced into the study announcing that he couldn't sniff, while he was sniffing. And he tried to help himself to the chocolates that darling father had put in the bin. Then he dragged me out of the loo (you know, sounding like an emergency) to look at the 'bl**dy toys'.

He is supposed to be going to a barbecue this afternoon. I am not so sure. Especially as it is at least an hour on two buses each way.

Then while I was hanging out some washing, Nice Mr Next Door had a good old grumble about the lbf (little bear's friend) and his older brother, and the trouble they are causing. I have a sinking feeling about it.

I need to ungrump.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Evil cat strikes again

Evil cat got herself locked out this afternoon. Again.

There was a lady sitting on the kerb outside our house while Mr Nice Next Door was mending her car. The poor lady nearly ended up with a heart attack as evil cat crept up beside her unnoticed and then yowled at the top of her tabby lungs.

Do not tell me it wasn't deliberate. This is evil cat, and she is called evil for a reason.

The nice man doing the Sainsbury delivery didn't think she looked as old as seventeen, he thought she looked a lot younger. Sadly I can see the marks of age. She is really still quite skinny, despite her best efforts to obtain tuna, and her fur is no long quite as gloriously thick and soft. Today I noticed one eye was looking slightly swollen. There was no gunk, and it was only a hint of a swelling, but it was there. Poor old evil cat, I shall be keeping an eye on her. In deference to the vet I will not take her there until there is some overt symptoms. It takes two vetinary nurses and a vet to get a urine sample from evil cat. It is cruel to take her there too often - cruel to the vet that is!


A clothing catalogue came today. I practically never buy clothes, and when I do I usually go for durability. However this catalogue is for clothes for the larger lady, the fuller figure etc and it is the only place to get the bras I like. I reluctantly got the catalogue to have access to the underwear.

I started leafing through it casually, noting that this looks nice, that's a nice colour, that's HOW MUCH! etc when darling father started looking over my shoulder and making suggestions.

I have a problematic figure. First of all I am grossly over weight, so I am not going to look like Kate Moss no matter what I wear. Then there is the problem of my bust. It is large, full and embarrassing. Other ladies with different temperaments could well enjoy it. I don't, and go for high necked outfits for a reason. So with a low and hefty bust and a high waist, it is separates only for me.

Then I have quite well defined tastes. I like plain and not patterned, long smooth lines (hides a multitude of sins) and despite my age I am keen on the slightly punk side of fashion. I don't wear punk or goth, obviously, I would look ridiculous. But I don't do pink.

Darling father has views as well. Nice, brightly patterned dresses with lots of flounces and low necks. Lots of frills. Lots and lots of patterns, and wide skirts, with bright and contrasting patterns. With extra frills. Basically, darling father's fashion sense has stuck in 1950. He wasn't that old then, but that is where it is stuck. He thinks that tartan is cutting edge. He pointed out some 'nice' clothes. They are actually nice, just something I have never, ever worn. He has known me for over forty years, he saw me in New Romantic get ups and some seriously extreme make up. I do not do flouncy skirts with big pink flowers.

He meant well. And he won't really grumble (at least to me) when I stick to the 'basic black, no frills, smooth lined trouser suit' type stuff.

One thing that worried me slightly. He said that the local ladies all wore long dresses. The local ladies at the Methodist Church whose average age is double mine wear long dresses. My contemporaries wear leggings, crop tops and quite often pyjamas to the shops. Please let darling father not see anything on sale that he thinks I would like, please!

Forty Six Days

It is forty six days until little bear starts school.

It is looming over me like a cloud. My little boy won't be quite so little. He will be going to a school where they have children up to 11 and he will be wearing a uniform, and there will be all the interesting bits of the school gates to navigate.

I don't know what I am going to do with myself. I feel all adrift at the thought of it. So in the forty six days before he starts school I am going to try and set myself some targets and timetables. The house is incredibly chaotic, so that is my first target. This includes get the home clean, organised, catching up with ironing, setting a rhythm to include baking, setting a budget etc. It all needs redecorating, so that is a second target. Working outside the home is likely to be difficult as I have no back up childcare, as I can't really ask darling father. So looking for work that I can do at home, like transcription, is a third target. I might be able to knit baby clothes for ebay or etsy for a small profit (though I don't think I'll get minimum wage) so that is target number four.

Target number five is writing. I am hopeful that I may be able to self publish stuff as ebooks, which may be a start, and perhaps I can make a few pennies then. I am looking into it tentatively as I think I can find an inexpensive way to do it. Of course, finishing off 'Digging up the Past' may be a good start with that! I couldn't self publish in actual paper books, some of those schemes can cost over £1000! And I need to keep badgering away to see if I can find an agent/publisher to get me properly in print. Writing something to badger with would be helpful.

Spending again

I still haven't posted off the card-with-money to my brother for his birthday. Must do that this weekend.

Asda and Sainsbury grocery deliveries have arrived. The kitchen is filling up again.

Birthday present for OH ordered.

Birthday present for darling father ordered.

I have to pay the deposit for next year's holiday soon or I will lose the slot. That is expensive. OH really needs it though, and will only consider one place.

School uniform for little bear ordered - except I could do with getting him a bag for his PE. I think I will hold fire on that until the school stuff goes on sale - and he has a Doctor Who bag courtesy of his comic. There is also the awful spectre of school shoes hanging over me. So, @ £50 plus bag plus shoes. It could be worse, and I was generous with the amount of tops and trousers I got.

I feel like I am sitting here watching the money drain away. Yes, a lot of it is from money put aside, but it is still draining. And now I have to pay out for the dratted tooth!

I am trying not to look at Approved Food.


I have had a number of disturbed nights. Also I have had a bit of a lurgy that has made me tired. Monday night I went to sleep around 7pm, woke up at 7am with little bear (made him breakfast, washed, dressed etc ready for nursery), saw little bear off with OH to nursery, slept another five hours and then slept again through the next evening and night.

I am finally feeling a bit better, and little bear slept all the way through last night (unlike the night before - nightmares about Dr Who monsters, who would have thought it!). However evil cat decided that she wanted water. It is serious for the poor old girl, but at 4.30 this morning I was not feeling charitable. Though she did get her water, of course. I just crawled downstairs, washed the water dish, put down fresh water and crunchies and then crawled back into my pit.

Little bear bounced downstairs full of life at 7am. I am so tired!

Thursday, 28 July 2011


I finally lost the broken crown so I am going to go and get it sorted out on Tuesday.

I am ignoring the other tooth giving me toothache, I can live with that better than the dentist's bill at the moment.

I don't want to pay out any more money!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

For the Record

I have just noticed in the adverts that there is one for bed bug eradication.

I would like to be extremely clear. This is not currently a problem in this house. I sincerely and truly hope that it will never be a problem in this house. I cannot imagine how it would become a problem as all new bedding is likely to be knitted blankets from myself and all sheets get a serious wash.


Just the thought of it makes me consider getting the steamer out.

Spending again

OH got paid today.

So I went out and spent and set up a delivery of groceries from Sainsbury and Asda - I went through mysupermarket for both of them, but couldn't remember exactly where I was so ended up with both shopping lists up and flicking between the two of them, madly adding and deleting to get the best deal. They are not coming on the same day, though that would be humorous.

I still spent over £200.

However I plan to try and use wisely everything that is coming, and to avoid shopping further. I have good deals on meat, frozen veg, bought pies etc. I am ashamed of bought pies, but I am more ashamed of my pastry. It is good to tile a kitchen floor, not so good over chicken and mushroom. I bought good quality meat etc, and intend to stretch as far as I can. As much as possible after that I want to try and shop locally. That way I hope to reduce waste. I can't believe how much food is going up. Frozen veg is ideal for me - no waste as it is already prepared and it stores well. Often it is marginally cheaper than fresh and it is only marginally less nutritious.

Then I went and ordered little bear's school uniform. I had measured his chest and got the next size up. It therefore may last until Christmas. I went to Asda, and that was nearly £60, but I got 8% cashback and it will all be delivered to me for the delivery charge of £2.95. I hope I have enough stuff. I got socks and polo shirts and PE kit and trousers and sweaters (though I don't expect him to wear them at least I can show willing to the teacher). I didn't buy a winter coat. I will wait until the one he has got is actually outgrown. And I am leaving the poor child in (good quality, new) trainers until the Saturday before school starts when I plan to get his school shoes.

I will have a quick look at Approved Food, this time taking into account the postage, as well as whether better bulk deals are available and whether I actually have any room (I don't).

I have darling father's birthday and OH's birthday, and apart from that I want to sit on my hands when I come to spending. There are too many costs coming up, and I really need to try and stop spending. I have said this many times before, but I must must must stick to this.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Washing powder

I have switched to Ariel, possibly the most expensive brand in the market, and the one my late grandmother refused to go without.

Actually, my late grandmother heard that if you put soap powder down it deters mice, and mice were endemic in her country bungalow, so she bought some cheap powder to put down. The mice loved it, they ate the lot, came back for more and even broke into her precious Ariel.

I am getting consistently better results with the Ariel. However it can only do so much. When you iron over a sleeve and there is a spider hiding in it you still get a mark.

Poor squashed spider. And Yeurk!!!!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Banging continues

The house behind next door continues to be worked on, although most of the walls appear to be knocked out now. The noise nuisance has progressed to drilling. Apparently it is going to be converted into flats, now that it has planning permission.

They were working on pipework this afternoon. I know this because our water was cut off when they turned their water off. I don't think it would be too much to ask, just someone knocking on a door and letting us know that the water was going to be going off.

It could be worse, at least the inconvenience is only during normal working hours, and the water went back on quite quickly. And it has windows now instead of boards which raises the tone considerably.
I am glad I have moved to moderated comments. Any fair comment I am happy to post. Actually, in the interests of free speech I will go for most unfair ones as well. But I draw the line at the latest spam one.

Not suitable for a younger audience. Probably only suitable for Nanny Ogg. And I dread to think what adverts it would attract!


I have a larder fridge that is the height of a worktop. It is next to the cooker, not ideal but the only place a fridge/freezer can go in the kitchen. There used to be a fridge/freezer there, but when little bear came along I insisted that we had a full height freezer with drawers in the walk in cupboard and a half height larder fridge in the kitchen, and because it was next to a plug that was where the kettle solely for little bear's bottles and all the paraphernalia of sterilising and formula preparation was there together in one place.

He doesn't have bottles anymore.

Now it is the tea stop where the kettle, tea bags, etc are plus the big spoons and slices that you use with pans stored in former Vanish tubs. I have a big spoon rest for when I am cooking and a little one for when I am making lots of different hot drinks. It is really convenient.

However the fridge top is now covered in gathering rust spots after all the years of being splashed by sterilising fluid. It is looking a bit shop worn. When I cleaned the fridge yesterday (not a very thorough job but if the fridge is not clean then at least it is cleaner) I noticed seals starting to split and the plastic coating wearing off a shelf.

Darn. I am going to have to get a new fridge. Okay, it will be in the next two years, probably, or definitely in the next five. But our last fridge freezer lasted for fifteen years and I only got rid of it because of the change in layout. The extra I paid for an A rating in energy use probably hasn't had time to pay for itself. I expected better than that!

Still, at least I can exercise my shopping impulse with window shopping for fridges.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Use up Sunday

Yesterday evening we had hot dogs for tea after returning home - it was hot, we were tired from travelling and that was all we felt like, one hot dog each.

However that left me with half a jar of huge hot dogs and some unsatisfactory hotdog buns - and half a dozen fresh free range eggs from a friend of darling uncle.

So lunch today was going to be omelets with a scattering of finely chopped hot dog with herbs and tea was going to be pepper and onion gently fried and then stirred up with tomato puree, olives and finely chopped hot dogs, then spread on the unsatisfactory buns and toasted in the oven.

Darling father brought in ice creams, so we ended up having those for lunch. Deep sigh. But I held on to the idea of the sauce-on-unsatisfactory-buns and went to a local supermarket to add to the small red pepper. They didn't have any. I came home still focused as I thought I could work round it. Then I remembered I had run out of onions.


So at this point OH stepped in and chopped up the remaining hotdogs and stirred them into two tins of baked beans, seasoned and spooned them into the abundance of pita pockets that I had somehow ended up with. Every one really enjoyed it except little bear who, after a busy few days, was the hysterical side of tired.

However tomorrow I have to do the sauce-on-unsatisfactory-buns thingy as OH really quite fancies that for a meal. I'll probably get another jar of hot dogs, use half, then have to use them up...

There is also a chorizo that darling uncle gave me. I am looking at it with suspicion, and I am not sure exactly where it is going to fit in to my very non exotic cooking. Possibly as part of the sauce-on-unsatisfactory-buns but I am not sure.

Sticking to the script

Little bear's bed time routine includes two stories, negotiated up from one some time ago. Little bear does make efforts to increase the number, but so far we are stuck on two. Normally I read them while OH potters.

Last night little bear asked for the 'ABC Train' to be read. It is far too young for him, but he likes it, so we agreed, followed by 'Big Mum Plum' which is a seriously recommended read. And for a change little bear asked OH to read it.

OH isn't a fan of the 'ABC Train'. Apart from anything else, the rhymes and the rhythms are absolutely appalling, really strained and artificial. It is a book with a pull out jigsaw, half the pieces lost, with an animal for every letter (x is for xylophone, played by a sheep). OH gritted his teeth and started. He lasted three letters then, 'D is for dalek that says exterminate, E is for elephant of such a great weight.'
'No!' yelled little bear. 'Do the proper words.'
OH sighed. 'D is for dog...' He got to 'P for Pandorica...'
'No!' little bear was cross. 'Not Pandorica, read it properly!'
The awful rhymes were really getting to OH. 'R is for Rory, with his Roman sword.'
Little bear was incandescent. "No! No! No! Mummy read the story, it's not fair!'

So I read the story word for word (it really is horrible) and little bear subsided and then flaked out at the end of the songs, worn out by the frustration of the Doctor Who references (and a day tearing around in darling uncle's garden).

OH is suitably reprimanded, and a bit upset that he didn't get to read the stories. I can't blame him though.

Long distance romance

We went to visit darling uncle yesterday. It was wonderful, lots of fresh air, little bear hurtling round at great speed, a barbecue, little bear getting presents, lovely quiet countryside, little bear stuffing his face with healthy stuff...

Last year OH convinced little bear that a troll lived under a nearby underpass. Alas, he is far more sceptical now he is four, although he did pause for a moment when OH pointed at the locked hatch and asked little bear what he thought would happen if that was locked when the troll was outside.

Some friends of darling uncle were there, along with a three year old girl who was lovely. Little bear played really nicely with her and they both had huge amounts of fun, hurtling round in the big garden. Little bear confidently told her grandmother that 'L (little girl at nursery that gives little bear hugs) is my first girlfriend but she (the little three year old) is my second girlfriend'.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Evil cat is foiled

I think every cat owner knows that sound - the awful sound of a cat yowling just before being sick. Evil cat had determinedly dashed out and then ate grass. Now she was reaping the benefit, and from the sound of it, it was going to be huge.

I was impressed by OH's bravery, he picked her up so that evil cat could be sick outside. First of all evil cat hissed loud and long and then swore in cat as she battled relentlessly to be sick on carpet. Evil cat will do anything to be sick on carpet, and when she was a younger cat she was sick on a regular basis - from eating too fast, I hasten to add. She always runs away from the lino in the kitchen so that she is sick on carpet somewhere, or clean washing or the equivalent.

So evil cat was grumpily sick on the concrete steps and not on the carpet. She did get her own back though and left a deposit on the carpet at the top of the stairs that I found with my bare feet first thing this morning when I went to put the kettle on.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Where's my postie?

Received an email from an ebay seller, letting me know that the registered post parcel they had sent me was returned by the Royal Mail as 'not called for'.


I'm always in. I am never out, I am always in the house. If I am not there is a good chance that either darling father is or that nice Mr Next Door is working on a car outside and will take a parcel for me, if I have nipped to the shops.

And, and, and... There was no card through the door saying that they had tried to deliver. So I had no way of knowing that there was the parcel waiting for me. I am so cross. It was something that was personalised and quite important - name tapes for little bear's new school uniform. Fortunately I am so over active on the shopping that I have ordered them well in advance (partly to spread the cost).

And fortunately for me the nice seller has let me know and is posting them back out normal mail.

Even if I hadn't seen the new postie I would know that my normal, reliable, safe postie wasn't around this week. I hope he is on holiday and is not taken off this route. All the local delivery people know that I am always in and that next door will take parcels if I am not.

Better, normal service had better resume shortly!

Hyperchondria hits hard

I feel awful, light headed, woozy, queasy - just exhausted. Darling father is taking little bear out of the house into the garden for a few minutes.

I have too much to do for this, and I thought I had seen the back of it, but these last few weeks have really dragged me down.

So fed up.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Little bear is imaginative

'I am the Emily of the Judoon!' Little bear declared.

For a moment I had a vision of a rhinoceros faced Dr Who monster in a pink pinafore dress with a matching pink bow between the huge and horselike ears. OH clarified.

'You mean you are the enemy of the Judoon.' he said.

Little bear nodded impatiently, 'That's what I said, the Emily of the Judoon'.

In six weeks time his teachers are going to have to deal with this.

More Lakeland

Hazel - there is definitely price rises all over. You have to be so careful what you put in ANY basket. I was drooling over the Tefal electric grater/slice (I love Tefal - incredibly reliable in my experience) and it was a penny short of £50! It is getting quite scary. Lakeland may just be hit, like everyone else, with the costs like fuel which are going up for everyone. But I noticed that all the things that I had mentally marked as 'buy one day' have gone up one or two pounds.

Don't get me wrong, I still adore Lakeland. But like you I now have to be more choosy than ever!

Also - they have Hallowe'en stuff in the catalogue. It's July! What do they mean, having Hallowe'en stuff in July?! Once upon a time you didn't get Hallowe'en stuff over here, it was all Guy Fawkes. Now you get cardboard spooky house cake stands! And it's only July! It's as bad as Christmas decorations going on sale in September.

btw, I once helped at a charity shop, in an area where there are a lot of charity shops, and one got their door superglued up because they upset someone by putting their Christmas cards out too early - and all the charities had to watch out for this because the supergluing was an annual problem. I will stick to grumbling, but it is so depressing watching the seasonal stuff coming out so early.

Another Lakeland Catalogue

Another Lakeland catalogue arrived yesterday, hot on the heals of the other one. I have briefly dipped in.

I wish I hadn't - there are too many goodies I want. But one thing struck me - prices are going up. Lakeland is usually good value for money, though not always inexpensive. I think that if these prices are going up then there really is inflation.

I suppose that I, like many, have become used to a time of stable prices. That has gone with the wind, I think, although I can remember the early seventies when the price of a loaf of bread would vary week to week. It is not that bad. I will be having a good read, but I am wary of buying more clutter for the kitchen. Also I could really do with saving the pennies.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Little bear is not covered

Little bear is adequately provided with a duvet and a choice of blankets. And no matter what I do, I can't keep the covers on him. Last night I crept up to use the bathroom, and little bear was completely asleep and on top of the covers. I covered him up, he snuggled down and I went in to the bathroom. By the time I came out the covers were off again!

Then he wakes up early as he is cold, even though he is exhausted. He will stagger downstairs and reject with scorn any suggestion of a blanket. And he very much disapproves when I refuse to put the fire on.

It was a problem last winter and it will be a problem next winter. However as little bear gets older it becomes more of his problem and less of mine. I shall just keep to woolly underblankets and let him get on with it.

Approved Food tempt me

I was foolish enough to click on the email from approved food. They were selling fruit shoots inexpensively. I will indulge little bear occasionally with fruit shoots, and love them for grabbing to dash out the house when on an outing - we have them a lot on holiday. However they only had orange which little bear doesn't like so much.

However they are doing granulated sugar really cheaply. I am only just getting into the hang of buying granulated sugar again after having bought ten years supply at Costco (a tray of three pound bags) about eleven years ago. Nobody here takes sugar in drinks, and little bear has honey on his cereal. I don't bother with sugar on cereal, darling father has pre-sugared sugar puffs and OH has toast. On the other hand, sugar doesn't really go off (I stored the bags in plastic bags) and the price just seems to be going up and up. And if I ever get back to proper housewifery and doing a spot of baking, it will be invaluable.


I think I will think about it. If I lose out then it is not to be, but the price is incredibly good for the sugar.

I need to go and look in the kitchen and think about what I am ordering - because I HAVE NO ROOM!


Actually, it's not the washing, it's the drying. Today is grey and damp and not drying weather, but I foolishly put in a load last night in the hope that the weather would be at least dry between showers. As it is, the weather is just damp. The washing is just hanging limply and looking soggy.

Our garden doesn't actually get sun between around November and February. There are 'bushes' that were supposed to be kept 'landscaped' opposite, and the laurels have now grown to double the size that they were when we moved in and are probably at least thirty feet tall. In winter the sun doesn't get high enough to hit the garden over the 'bushes' but does at least hit the house. So unless it is a very clear, dry day in winter it is not worth me hanging out washing then. When you factor in all the rainy days that British weather generates, you don't get many chances to dry outside. But when I do, I wash and hang out everything!

Little bear's martial arts suit cannot be tumble dried according to the label. I am unimpressed. It is a sturdy twill, 60% cotton, 40% polyester, and my instinct would have said to just throw it all in. However I daren't risk it. All I can say is thank goodness I have a dehumidifier and can hang clothes next to it.

Last night evil cat needed water in the middle of the night. I crept down, rinsed and filled her water bowl and then stood on not one but two slugs! And it was on a mat and not the floor. Ewwww! So I need to wash the mat - I NEED to wash the mat. However if it rains I will never get it dry, it is one of those hard backed ones that is supposed to trap dirt.

I think I shall wash it any way and leave it out in the rain if necessary. Squashed slug is not hanging around.

Little bear is morbid

Due to quite a lot of different factors, little bear is now telling me that he doesn't want to die. He doesn't say it all day, every day. But once or twice a week I get this.

I have no idea what to say.

At the moment I am taking the tack that it is okay to feel that, don't worry about it and then waving a distraction. I have no idea how long that will work. But I just don't have the words to give him reassurance.

And on the horizon is the cloud of if evil cat will pass away. Or really, when evil cat will pass away. The vet gave her a tentative year a few months ago. Her reflexes are pretty good when she wants a catnip toy or is trying to steal, but she is creaky and sleeping plenty. Mind you, she has been creaky for quite a while now and all cats sleep to professional standard. Just when I really start to worry, evil cat does something evil and energetic to reassure me.

So far I have taken the approach with cats we have had in the past, notably malevolent cat who doted on little bear, that sometimes people and cats are too poorly or too old to carry on and have to go to heaven, where they are really happy and well again. They can see us even if we can't see them and they still love us very much.

I hope that it will be a long time before I have to do the talk about evil cat.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Patience? Pass the dictionary

Okay, despite everything, I bought a copy of 'The Knitter' with an article on 'Judy's Magic Cast on' which is freely available on the interwebs.

And there was a gorgeous pattern for a knitted cushion cover, with smocking, which I have never tried. And I did happen to have enough of the right weight yarn around, funnily enough.

But I didn't have the right size needles. This baffles me, as I have heaps and piles and stacks of needles, but not in the right size. That needle is probably somewhere in a half finished project somewhere. So I thought, darn it to heck, I'll use the size up. The yarn is aran, the knitting needles are 4.5mm which is smaller than the 5mm-6mm usually recommended for aran and I couldn't wait (in my defence, I am feeling a bit poorly). So I used 5mm.

However that means that the knitting has a more open fabric (though still not very open) so when I stuff it I will have to line it in a matching/toning colour rather than just emptying an old pillow into it. Fortunately I have been given some fleece which is the right colour, so the cushion will be uber warm, and I will stuff it with an old sweater I knitted nearly twenty years ago, which really isn't fit to be seen any more but if I don't shred it then I will wear it.

After all, I am just making something to sit on. And the smocking is coming along lovely.

Evil cat has a counterpart

I was emailing my friend, who has a new kitten.

Anyone who has had an eight week old kitten will know how relentless they are, how determined, how inventively hazard seeking and how combative. Also how cute.

My friend has nicknamed him, 'Satan's little helper'. I wish I had thought of that.
Hazel - Code for thingy.

It says when ordering online put in your catalogue number in the coupon code bit. My catalogue number is LB14


I opened the catalogue - and it was all different from usual! Also it seemed very dark and gloomy, and the layout was very different from usual. I was not tempted, not even by the free caddy if I spent more than £59.99 - it was uninspiring.

If Lakeland have changed their marketing I could save a fortune!

Lakeland catalogue

The new Lakeland catalogue has arrived, it is sitting next to me as I type. On the cover it says, 'free sink tidy, see inside for details'. I haven't opened it yet, but I feel like it is ticking.

I could do without a sink tidy, the holder for the bottle brushes has worked really well, and in future I may be able to use other cut off pop bottles with marbles at their base to steady them. And why do I need a caddy for the washing up liquid - it's not something that you need to be ashamed of and to hide away. There is the matter of the Cath Kidston washing up bottle aprons that briefly attracted me, but I got over that... (ebay item number 370448618016 if you are interested)

I don't think I need anything, I should just throw it away unopened. I won't though. Sigh. I just need to keep repeating I HAVE NO ROOM

Ebay bingo

I came across the idea of ebay bingo a while ago. You ask where a delayed item is and you get a long message detailing a tale of woe and disaster.

Yesterday I got a line, when I asked where something was. I got a holiday, a funeral and a member of the family in the hospital. You only get full house if the budgie died.

I feel a bit heartless, and I truly hope that these bad things have not happened. However it is such a cliche that I look sceptically at irate and badly spelled messages insisting I am wrong to want my item this month.

Also, I feel it is a bit unprofessional. Even if your house had a direct hit from a Triffid, the professional response to 'where is my item' is surely, 'I'm really sorry, I have had a few delays, it will be in the post today.' or 'I'm sorry that you haven't received it, please can you let me know if there is a glitch with your post at that end and I will check at this end. If all else fails I will refund/replace'.

And I am a bit grumpy because I have a cough that makes it hard to talk and I sent my usual, 'I'm really sorry to bother you but I haven't yet had...' message that is really polite and nice and I got shouted at. And the message that shouted at me wasn't even properly written - if they are going to tell me off, the least they could do is punctuate!

I won't leave a negative because I feel that unless it is a truly horrendous experience, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. And I won't leave anything. However there is no way to block a seller. I don't want to buy from this seller again, and they are a business seller. I hope that a few months down the line I don't try and buy something from there again.

I am considering creating a 'bad seller' list and referring to it. It just seems a bit over dramatic. I haven't really had enough gruesome experiences to make it worth my while.

Two things in the last twelve hours have made me happy with my friend ebay. One item was a pair of new trainers for little bear. Almost immediately I got a polite email from the seller saying that they had mistaken the stock level, they gave a brief explanation that didn't involve drama and an instant refund. I have left positive feedback. And I bought a hat for little bear for some fancy dress coming up. I noticed that it came from a supplier of fishing hats and the note on the description said that they were being sold inexpensively as the supplier had sent the wrong size hats. The hat was inexpensive and arrived the next morning, well packed and without drama.

But I am going to try and stay away from my friend for the next few weeks BECAUSE I HAVE NO ROOM

Monday, 18 July 2011

Little bear is romantic

Sorry for the lack of updates - I am a bit under the weather. Again.

But I thought I would share that little bear has told us that he is going to marry one of the little girls at nursery - the one he likes because she gives him hugs. I am not choosing a hat yet. However he has been regularly sweet about this particular little girl, he is quite a faithful swain, even if other little girls give him sweets.

And when I can remember how to do pictures I will load up a picture of little bear standing next to the opening of the story 'Little Bear, Can't you sleep?' at the Eureka Museum. (just done!)

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Hester - I believe that there should be some magic that stimulates the imagination in childhood. Poor little bear has a shedload, what with widdled on Weeping Angels, Dragons and troll bridges. I don't think it does any harm at all!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Lots of hugs

It was so lovely tonight, after two days of grumpy little bear, to be able to have a lovely calm cuddle with him before bed. When he snuggled up to me at bedtime as I read the stories, it was lovely. Apparently he was lovely at nursery as well.

I have spent the last few days groggily reacting to the good behaviour (with lots of praise) and ignoring the bad (I love that I could doze through a tantrum) and I will be glad when I can get past this. Little bear can be so lovely. When he is grumpy like this it usually means something is wrong.

I think it is a tiredness issue. He is keeping himself awake telling himself about adventures of Dr Who etc and then wakes early without fail. I'll have to look at strategies to tire him more. It is also a tiredness thing with me - I have not been able to do things with him so much, like take him for a walk or such, and so tire him out.

And we are going out with Sister In Law tomorrow. I am already stressed to the eyeballs!

Lies to little bear

I told little bear that the Weeping Angels from Dr Who won't come near our house as they are frightened that evil cat and next door's dog would widdle on them.

A banging headache, a fretting child and walls being knocked down in a neighbouring house do not lead to delving into the different between story and real (which little bear knows anyway). Also it does lower resistance to my worst instincts.

That reminds me - I need to resurrect the dragon, as it is much more fun.


I feel low, headache-filled and fed up. I am sleep deprived, achy and the noise from behind is ongoing and relentless. Little bear is gorgeous, but I haven't given him enough attention today. He is safely at nursery.

And I saw the most horrific thing on my friend, ebay. It was a hand knitted sweater. I was having a quick look at the children's clothes to see if there were any bargains hovering, and there was this sweater. Someone had taken time and effort to knit a sweater in the most repulsive combination of yellows and sort-of-hope-it's-brown colour. The variegated yarn had worked out into the sort of 'sixties-special-effect' pattern to make the absolute worst as it looked like a visual representation of hitting your head hard with a baseball bat.

I looked at that and thought - my stuff looks okay to me, but that sweater looks like it was knitted as a migraine. Does my stuff look that bad to everyone else?

Also, someone took huge amounts of time and effort over it, it looks like it was never worn, and I don't think they will get the cost of the yarn back. There were no bids on it when I had a look and less than an hour to go.

So part of me really feels for the poor knitter who is not getting anyone interested in the item that probably took her/him a week, and part of me thinks - I know cats are colour blind, but I bet it would still work to keep Oscar off the flower bed.

I am sure that it is someone's taste somewhere. It really isn't mine (you may have guessed) and as I am grumpy I am being a bit cruel but it did get me thinking. How it is so hard to know when you start to knit whether something will do for someone. And how hard it must be to spend hours and hours knitting something, only to see the appalled expression on the recipient's face.

Also, I know the feeling of buying expensive wool, knitting lots of cables, and then having darling uncle complaining that my knitting is wrong because it all drops when he washes it (stuff I have knitted for myself never does). The spin setting on his twin tub is obviously not a factor.


I'll take a credit where I can.

Little bear was complaining bitterly that he wanted breakfast, but violently rejected my choices. 'What do you want?' I asked. 'I've run out of questions, you think of something!' Little bear demanded crossly.

It was 6.45am. I just dozed on the couch while he ranted. I let him get on with it. When he calmed down a little I suggested that he had some of the previously rejected cereal to keep him going until he could think of what he wanted. He agreed to that.

Dozing through a tantrum - amazingly valuable life skill.

To be fair to little bear, he usually only behaves like this just before he comes down with something horrible, and he is obviously still very tired. And we are going out with Sister In Law tomorrow with him...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

A tired day

Little bear has filled the day with imperious yells of 'Mummy!' He is too hot, he is too cold, his healthy tank is full (he has a number of different tanks in his torso, apparently, and when his healthy tank is full it is time for sweeties), he wants this, he wants that.

I have felt like an over used dishrag today, for a number of reasons, and so I have concentrated on damage limitation since 6am. We have managed some cuddles, and I have forced 'please' and 'thank you' from him a few times.

Food has been the theme. He wanted something for lunch, but wouldn't tell me what as he had run out of questions for tea. So I was coming up with suggestion after suggestion that were all angrily rejected, but he couldn't suggest a thing. Normally I would leave him until he could think of something after offering a choice of two things, but today I was humouring him. As it was I managed to survive some serious tantrums! I have managed to limit the amount of treats he was extorting as well.

Darling father is away for tonight, so has missed the worst of the storm. At one point I was so worn out I was lying on the floor in the study, almost comatose, as little bear played on the computer and roused me at five minute intervals to admire his computer colouring skills. All the pictures were completely covered in blue - apparently it was compulsory. Then I would collapse back again.

Then, a full fifteen minutes before OH got in, little bear went to sleep on the sofa. He hasn't stirred through some loud Dr Who, conversation, coughs, laughs and tea. Two hours later, OH will be taking upstairs to bed any second.

I hope tomorrow will be a bit more refreshed.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The tree is pruned

We now have less tree. Nice son next door has taken a saw and had fun.

I am worried that he has put the cuttings (huge branches) in a heap over the road. It may be green, it may be on a pile of rubbish, but I don't want to get reported for fly tipping.

But it does look so much better in the garden, with so much more light. I hope it will improve the tree as well, and at least we will not have to worry about the telephone wires.

Banging on

The sledgehammer noises from behind continue. I suspect that That Landlord is also doing work.

Also the sofa that was wedged in the porch yesterday a few doors down has now been placed tidily by the bin. The old one has been taken back inside. Oops.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Banging headache

The sledgehammer/rubble noises are not coming from the house behind - they are coming from behind the house next door and they still knocked a picture off my wall!

This house is a bit of a mystery. It is owned by a local firm, as far as anyone can tell, and has been boarded up for about five years. Every now and then he will send some lads in who aren't doing anything else and they will do some more. This usually involves rubble. This is the house where they knocked down the front cellar wall and the entire front of house was held up on two scaffolding poles. If it had gone then there would have been an interesting domino effect on the eight houses joined together. I have no idea what is currently involved. It appears to be extreme open plan. When we moved in to this area that house was an immaculate owner occupier house, beautifully maintained. Now the garden is indescribable and the house is a building site. It is very sad.

And a few doors down, where Her Three Doors Down used to live, they have a leather sofa stuck in the door. I am leaving them to it.

Banging noise

Tuesday I get a lie in - little bear goes to nursery and I go back to bed. This is normally the signal for the house at the back to be hammered.

This morning it is sledgehammer time. I have no idea what they think they are doing. After seeing the mess they made of their windows I have no confidence that they have any idea what they are doing, but I can hear falling rubble and a picture just fell off my wall.

If they come through I am going to get evil cat involved.

Actually, joking apart, I am not sure from the sound of it that they won't come through.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Depleted Bees

The bees are lessened. There used to be what looked like hundreds of bees flying round the chimney stack, now it only looks like a dozen. I suppose that means they have swarmed.

I am illogically proud of my bees, they are thriving when so many other places are losing theirs. It is completely illogical as it is nothing I have done. Of course, it adds an interesting dimension to the stove question, as how would it affect the bees (the smoke would come out of a neighbouring flue) and would it be fair to the bees to do it.

On a different note, we now have leaf curl in the flowering cherry and I suspect also the tomatoes. The tomatoes have just limped along this year, in previous years they have overflowed. The cherry is looking rather shrivelled. However Nice Mr Next Door is happy to cut it down a bit before it grows another two inches and entangles in the phone lines.

Best Foot Forward

Apart from being grossly overweight, I am now suffering from swollen hands and feet. I suppose I ought to mention it to the doctor, as I am now struggling to get shoes on.

So I bought a pair of Therashoes from my friend ebay. They are supposed to improve posture, help aching joints (I have a lot of those), give support and strengthen core. I am not sure what strengthen core means, but that's what the shoes are supposed to do.

I went for a walk in them today. I was planning a longer one, but I folded. Normally I can't manage very far anyway, but today I felt pummelled. The shoes gave me a work out! I can feel that my muscles have been stretched and I only went a few hundred yards over the road to the local NISA. I can feel my calf muscles!

Also I have had a problem since a baby that I tend to roll over onto the outside of my right foot. This can perhaps the sprained ankles that side and the regular feeling that a rusty nail is going through the ankle joint. Apparently the shoes are good for that as well, because dear heaven my ankle doesn't know what has hit it!

If I am able I am about to go and do some ironing - if I can manage it! But I shall be going for another walk in these shoes tomorrow, and the next day. No pain, no gain.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Little bear loves Dr Who

Little bear and OH are playing the Dr Who trading card game.

It is more or less staying on track but little bear's imagination keeps getting in the way. Also there is a card of Liz 10 and we keep trying to stop him saying a bad word.

I love little bear being so wrapped up in Doctor Who, though I am a bit nervous about some of the more frightening plots - little bear seems to deal with them better than me. At least the series (on the whole and by and large) have decent stories and are not solely solved by violence.

Also I think little bear has a crush on Amy Pond.

And OH is a HUGE fan of Dr Who and is perhaps a little tiny bit involved in encouraging little bear. I don't mind at all.

Evil cat has an appetite

I am, of course, keeping an eye on evil cat.

She likes being in the same room as us, she likes lots of cuddles and she is drinking lots and lots. She woke up little bear yesterday, yowling for more water. btw, her water is being topped up a lot.

Comfortingly, her appetite is not waning. Actually she is eating more than she ever has. She has a small tin of responsible tuna in water every day and she has medically approved biscuits, which she sneers at.

Regular food is supplemented with stealing. All cats love stealing, and a sneaky tabby paw creeping over the edge of a plate is no novelty. However as little bear is very hit and miss with his eating, there is usually meat of some sort to steal from his plate once he has left the table. Darling father is also passing on plenty of scraps to her - he brought home a small piece of beef from one of his lunches out and I thought her purr would damage the foundations, it was so loud. Last night she had pork from darling father, but she wasn't so keen on that. She also steals left over fish from fish n chips and any cheese or paste that are involved in any way with sandwiches.

She doesn't seem to be putting on much weight. I should also add that she has never been allowed to eat off human plates, and that rule continues. It spoils her fun but makes me feel a bit easier.

Little bear has been good

I just want to put into the ether yesterday that little bear was lovely yesterday, all day. He was gentle, affectionate, polite and well behaved.

Just to balance out all the posts where I am tearing my hair out with my darling.

Although he did get a bit upset about evil cat stealing his cuddles.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Old style

I am quite proud of my little fix.

To sort out the mini flasks for darling father's milk, I use a bottle brush. However I tried a few to get the right one, and besides, I like different ones for different tasks.

They were just lying everywhere and getting in the way so I decided I needed to organise them. I wanted them on the kitchen window sill as then they would be to hand and I think it is a little more hygienic. So I cut a used clear 2l pop bottle in half, for the height, so that the brushes would not easily topple over. To give it the stability it needed I put a cobalt blue glass from the back of the cupboard in the base. The stems of the brushes all fit in there, but it couldn't be used on its own as it was too short.

The weight of the glass and the height of the cut off pop bottle mean that the brushes are really safe, and as a bonus you hardly see the pop bottle but I do get a bit of sunshine through the blue glass. I am really pleased with it.

Anti clutterbust

Our bath towels are looking a bit shabby, with fraying edges.

That is not a reason to instantly replace, in my view. However I plan to still get rid of all the bath towels hanging around from my past and darling father and get new ones. Because I LOVE microfibre towels. They dry wonderfully, they don't smell, they wash and dry in no time and they are lovely and light to handle. The current bath towels are microfibre, but all the old towels are cotton.

Of course, this is eventually. I plan to buy them sometime next year, perhaps. But I can start shopping for them now!

Hint of clutterbust

Very lacklustre effort, but at least something.

I found a bottle of toilet duck, dated 1998. I tipped that carefully down an outside drain. After the next good downpour I intend to pour the other drain cleaners I have found of around the same vintage, well spaced out. I am not sure if they ferment, but I will be wearing strong shoes and gloves and standing well back.

I have pulled all the items out of the drinks receptacles cupboard, where glasses and mugs are kept, and given it a wipe over. It isn't a huge cupboard, but with one thing and another it isn't well organised. So I have rinsed all the glasses, including the dozen extra glasses that darling father brought and wouldn't fit in. Mugs are going in a different cupboard and all glassware is going in this cupboard. All surplus mugs and glassware are going in the cupboard under the outside steps, for the next charity shop run/bring and buy sale. I am still in the process of sorting that lot, but will post total of discards in the box.

I have thrown away the electric fairy cake maker that I really couldn't get to work. I was a bit upset, but I can live with it.

I have gathered most of the cake bars/flapjack bars that came in vast quantities from Approved Food and stacked them in the plastic cracker boxes I have just emptied the crumbs out of. I enjoyed the crackers, but bought the huge tubs from Approved Food mainly for the containers.

I have reluctantly thrown out the rye bread mix that I have not really had the chance to try since it expired 18 months ago.

I will be doing a further potter later on, but at least I am a bit further on.

I hate sugar puffs

I really hate sugar puffs. Darling father likes them for his breakfast. First of all it was the sugar puff container that broke, then it was the sugar puffs in the bag that spilled everywhere and had to be put in a second bag because the first split. Portion control went out of the window as I desperately tried to stop the stuff flowing everywhere when I poured from the bag. The cereal was obviously affected by the air as it was all sticking together. It was the sugar puffs that jumped off the shelf when I was in a different part of the room.

And what is more annoying is that when I finally got them into the expensive-but-worth-it lock n lock cereal container and went to pour them yesterday, they had congealed. They were stuff in a block. I had to chip them out of the container with a knife. And I scratched the dratted new box as I did it!

I threw the half box of sugar puffs out and opened the new box. Asda own brand multi grain hoops never do this to me.

Friday, 8 July 2011

I want a stove

I found out that we are in a smokeless zone. This means that there are only certain fuels we can burn unless we have an exempt appliance. I started looking through the list but my eyes got crossed. There are probably lots of options, if I sort through properly. Though round here I will probably be reported if I put a twig on that I shouldn't.

I really, really, really want a stove fire in our living room. I can think of dozens of reasons to have one (including burning all the junk mail we get and the two papers a day darling father goes through). Also there is something there that just calls to me. If there was no open fire in the cottage in Pickering we would definitely go somewhere else, regardless of what OH would say.

I can't see us getting one, not this winter, what with bees (who may be warm or overheated), cost, mess, etc. Where would we keep fuel? How about insurance costs? But I can still dream.


My junk mail folder is getting very full. It automatically deletes all messages over 7 days old, so in the last seven days I have received 532 junk mail messages.

I am not impressed.

I have had my main email address (not a sybil one) for years and years and years. I got the total down to around 20 per week at one point, which I thought was good. I don't seem to sign up to the sites that generate spam.

However some lovely person - gender unknown - has signed up to a zillion things using MY email address. If they were not pretty obviously based in Portland USA I would get quite cross with them in person. So now I am hovering around the 500 per week, and it is very irritating to be checking the junk mail folder for important documents gone astray to wade past emails from the firestation in Portland USA, or the art gallery in Portland USA as well as the usual scams.

(Having a grumpy morning)

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Must not spend

There are some really pretty poison bottles on ebay, who is my friend....

The thing is, I feel I ought to collect something so that people know what to get me. I thought Spode might do it, and there were some really inexpensive spice jars - then Spode went bust. I loved the Franz spoons, but OH never remembers to buy me them from little bear (and I feel guilty reminding him). I have suggested candles, but I am told, 'you'll only burn them' which is sort of the point at then I would get the benefit.

I keep pitching for cheap bubble bath, but so far not so good.

Odd and old glass bottles that looked pretty would be quite nice - as long as I didn't have to dust them!


Little bear is quite clear. Mummy's cuddles are just for him. Even evil cat can't have cuddles from me.

'What about Daddy?' I ask innocently. 'Can I cuddle Daddy?'
Little bear shook his head firmly. 'Daddy can cuddle Grandad.'
Lesley - re the bottles. My view was that I bought the bottle, not the water. They are on the windowsill as I type and a brief burst of sunshine has given them a stained glass effect.

I also buy my sister in law something forty percent alcohol for birthday and Christmas. I usually go for vodka in an unusual bottle, because it is fun. I got her Absolut in a leather sort of 'jacket' last summer. I am contemplating a bottle of vodka with a scorpion in it this time, but I want her to enjoy it so I will probably not.

Part of me would love to collect unusual and coloured bottles, but I hate the idea of having to find space and dust them etc.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

So low.

Darling father is going out after all.

The kitchen is a health hazard. Not only is it dirty but it is full! I have just had my second Approved Food order and the Lakeland delivery.

I wasn't even in the same side of the room when the new container for sugar puffs fell on the floor, split open and spilled everywhere. I think the brownies are making a point. I can't remember the last time I looked around the kitchen and felt calm, let alone capable. I could just cry. And I am bitterly aware that it is an open invitation to waste.

And while I was trying to sweep up errant sugar puffs, little bear was having forty fits because he wanted treats that came from Approved Food. We are supposed to be going out tomorrow, but little bear says he can't go because he will be too hungry - he will be very, very hungry all morning. It is somehow connected with the Go Ahead Apple cake bars that little bear thinks are so tasty.

Tonight I think I need a good night's sleep. Then I am going to see how much I can get done in the kitchen before the weekend. I am not doing a 'before and after' picture, because I am too ashamed of the 'before' but I am going to have to drag myself up from this. I cannot carry on otherwise.

Catering conundrum

Darling father is supposed to be going to a barbecue tonight but the weather is a bit iffy.

(He has already been out for lunch every day this week - he is not stuck in front of a tv all the time)

But they may relocate to the house or they may move somewhere else, or it may be cancelled. If it is cancelled do I use the huge stack of beefburgers he brought in before they go off?

Also darling father is currently having a nap.

I shall make enough for four and then any left over can be my lunch tomorrow.

And I have a confession. I bought some bottles of fizzy water from Approved Food just because I adore the bottle. One is already earmarked to contain the white vinegar for the bathroom when it is empty. I loathe fizzy water so I may have a go at using it for batter - if I can find the recipe.

Big School

Little bear went to see where he would be at school next year. It is a huge room with forty five children and two teachers with teaching assistants. The noise was incredible!

It is only a reception class so there are lots of toys and games and they were icing biscuits to look like spiders - just a step up from nursery.

All the children looked happy, relaxed and comfortable. Also I really liked little bear's teacher. On first inspection I was doubtful, but now I am really happy.

One thing that did occur to me. There were two slots for the children to visit - one this afternoon and one yesterday morning. Forty five children were starting, some already go to the nursery attached to the school. Even allowing for these and those attending yesterday I am really surprised that only six turned up to this afternoon's visit. I know the parents of at least three of those present took time off work to do so.

I expect it will be the same faces as we go through the next few years at pick up, drop off, school play and school fair.

Also, little bear didn't want to leave and he wanted to go back tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Close shave

They have sold out of the Tyrells crisps, thank goodness, so I can relax and not do another order.

Also, the Persil advertisement was up before I posted about soap powder. Is this a coincidence or conspiracy. I favour the most amusing.

Soap powder

Lesley - Food I am trying to resist from Approved Food. It's the Tyrell parsnip, carrot and beetroot crisps at 4 for £1 - I mean, you can't even get empty packets of these at the shops for that price. And Tyrells don't sell to supermarkets, only smaller shops, so you don't get any of the 'prices slashed' that eg Tesco do.

I bought some Ariel Stain Removal powder from there. I have been using the basics stuff, but it hasn't really been doing the job. I recently had a bit of a lightbulb moment and realised that I could get expensive powder and still use white vinegar as a softener, instead of needing expensive fabric conditioner as I don't really like the smell of fabric conditioners, also I like perfume and I like to smell of my perfume and not mango and metallic softener or whatever the latest whiff is. And I was thinking about going back to Ariel. My grandmother always used Ariel, would never consider anything else! My grandfather did lots of things with cycling and she had her work cut out with the washing and she would never budge from Ariel. And I really like the smell of the Ariel stain remover.

But Ariel is so expensive, perhaps the most expensive main brand, and surely the other brands can't be that different? I am still dithering about that. My grandmother passed away in 1987, so I think detergents have changed since then. Normally I am a complete brand harlot, depending what is on offer and what is inexpensive. I have had good results with Bold, but I prefer to have no scents. I may get some small packs of all the main brands and have a go of all of them. If I do this, I will let you know my opinion. It will be completely non scientific and subjective, but it will be honest.

I could try making my own detergent. However, at the moment I am having problems keeping up with making my own evening meals and not going for a takeaway, so I will put that on hold.

The parsnip crisps are really calling to me.

School Uniform

I have just been looking through the rules on school uniform and depressing myself. I am also weighing up mentally how long each item is likely to last. I think I shall be visiting Asda (online of course) for what looks like an endless procession of polo shirts, t-shirts, shorts, trousers, shirts, etc etc.

I had better start keeping my envelopes because there is one a week with dinner money, plus milk money envelopes and I will be very surprised if there aren't more.

And clothing labels - I have seen some good ideas on my friend ebay, and from what I have heard they will be necessary. I am also thinking of getting some labels for my darling father, so I can tell his underwear from OH's. I have found some that you iron on and it leaves just the name, and it can be tumble dried.

I have no idea what will be required in the way of pens, paper, folders, books, etc, but I am sure I shall find out.

And this is just the start. Little bear is in the smallest size. One day he will be a hulking teenager (if I do things right) and it will be even more expensive.

I think what has depressed me a little is the info from the school. The impression I am getting is that while the school will do its utmost to nurture and care for little bear, the parents had better toe the line.

Approved Food

Approved Food have a steady customer with me, and the delivery men find it amusing. It happens like this...

I put in an order. An email from Approved Food pops into my inbox. I check it in case it is about delivery but instead it is a flyer about all the other goodies that have just come in. I hum and hah and put in another order (typical gap is three days). Then another email comes, but it is not about delivery of the second order but some more goodies...

I have managed three orders in a week before now.

Today I had a quick look, and one of my favourite goodies is on sale. And it is on at an extremely reasonable price - unheard of low price that I would never get in the shops. This is a treat for me that isn't sold in the local shops, and is a rare temptation. But the second order still hasn't arrived and the kitchen is stuffed. I mean, flapjack bars are spilling all over the counters, it is ridiculous.

I am resisting. So far I have lasted 37 minutes.
Witch Hazel - forgot to say thank you properly as it was your info that led to us getting out the nice man who told us all the stuff about the bees being not in the attic, but a very large colony - thank you!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Update on bees

As ever, nothing is as it seems.

A very nice beekeeper came and looked at our bees. Apparently they have not got into the attic. There are just so many of them that they have 'leaked' into the attic and head towards any chinks of light, and so into a room.

So far, so good. It was very nice of him to come out and check, and I am grateful. Apparently it is an 'extremely large' colony from what he can see. He was watching the cloud of bees flying around and said that they should have been all tucked in the hive - the hive is full.

So in the next few weeks there may be a swarm. I shall keep an eye out. Hopefully nothing will settle nearby.

Sort of reassuring.

Bees in the attic

We have had honey bees in the chimney for the second year, and I am now quite relaxed about them, they pollinate all sorts of useful things and cause no bother.

Until today. Nice Mr Next Door pointed out that the bees were coming through holes in the ceiling where the light fittings were. I think this means they are in the attic.

There is no access to our attic from our house. It is all boarded over. This is a Good Thing because there are no partitions between the attics of the eight back to back houses and a few years ago the scally in the house behind next door but one used to dive into his attic every time the police came knocking and come down into the house of Her Three Doors Down. I have to say that it is unnerving hearing strangers wandering about in your attic - in my case it turned out to be police waiting for the scally in the house behind next door but one.

Mr Nice Next Door is going to try and seal up any holes. Failing that I will have to start pleading with a Bee Keeper's Association member to come and have a look via Mr Nice Next Door's locked and barred attic hatch.

Of course, if I got the stove then we could probably get rid of the bees that way, though it is far from an ideal solution for the poor bees. Also honey attracts other pests. If the bees are not guarding it then who knows what might move in.

I shall have to have a think. Finding the money for a stove with little bear starting school could be a challenge.

Grandma Dalek

I have asked permission, and OH has said that is fine to post his overview of Grandma Dalek.

Grandma Dalek is a legend. Davros paid for her to get a flat at the top of a social housing block more or less to keep her out of everyone’s way. She’s allergic to cheese (wind) but can’t resist a nice slice of cheddar and usually has some in the fridge. She misses her Sidney desperately since he was taken from her during the Blitz (not by the Germans, but by a floozy from Barnstaple) and her only company is the mouse that shares her apartment from time to time which sends her alternately and randomly into fits of outraged panic (“it was going through me Peek Freens, the cheeky little b******, nothing but crumbs left! And I can’t get into me nightie if it might be in the room looking!”) or comradely affection (“He’s me only friend is little Mickey, he comes out and sits on the rug watching Countdown with me.”)

She’s not a fan of newly arrived alien species, social workers, care assistants, or the Silence in the room above (“Silence? That’s a laugh. Keeping me up till after midnight with their bloody steel drums”). She’s always delighted when one of the family drop by (“Have you come up to see me? Have you? Come up to see me? You’ve come up to see me then?”) until she gets impatient with their presence (shortly after enquiring whether or not they’ve brought any food or come to sort out one of the little domestic problems in her flat). She is a happy companion of the same fraternity that includes Pratchett’s witches, Mrs Brady the Old Lady (from Viz), and Catherine Tate’s character Nan.

OH is incredibly fun when he gets going.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Little bear is romantic

OH took little bear to a park this afternoon.

When he got back, little bear told me about the little girl he had been playing with, who was very pretty with long hair and a beautiful dress. They had played on the swings together, they had played on the slide together and he had even had a bit of her lolly ice.

OH described a 'Brief Encounter' type moment, when the little girl was on the roundabout and little bear was running round saying, 'when I come here again you must ask your mummy and daddy to bring you here.'

They are starting young these days.

Ebay is OH's acquaintance

OH is tolerant of my ebay habit, but he doesn't indulge himself.

So I was surprised to find him sitting at the computer, little bear on his lap, carefully perusing the Doctor Who figures on ebay. OH muttered something about looking in on an acquaintance.

OH and little bear have an ongoing play story where there are baddy daleks and goodie daleks and it has got very soap opera and complicated. Apparently Grandma Dalek can't be doing with the Cyberman who runs the corner shop and she thinks he always gives her short change - and there is something up with his cheese. Grandma Dalek likes a bit of cheese but it gives her wind.

Terry Nation must be spinning in his grave!

Lakeland shopping

I have been shopping at Lakeland. I was quite good. I needed the cereal holders - I got two (ouch at the Lock n lock price but they are really worth it), some cobb stones for the barbecue for darling father, some bowls to supplement the acrylic bowls I already have that have been brilliant, and, because it was late and I was around £6 short for free delivery, I bought tea towels. I bought eight microfibre tea towels for £5.99 in the sale.

If you have never used microfibre tea towels I seriously urge you to try them, they are amazing! They dry, and dry, and dry, then they dry out themselves really quickly, they leave no fluff behind them, and they have antibacterial properties. They wash like a dream as well.

I DON'T NEED MICROFIBRE TEA TOWELS - I ALREADY HAVE A DOZEN. Okay, they are showing signs of becoming elderly, and perhaps are on the start of the journey to floor clothes, but they still do a good job.

To be fair, I am glad that the only random purchase was a tea towel.

However, for those who feel the cold, have the pennies and are fans of Lakeland, please have a look at the Cosypad which is also on sale. We have these, and they are amazing, they really keep the warmth in much better than a fleece or snuggle rug, they are lovely and they wash (although not tumble dry). I found them a lifeline over the last cold spell, and I wish they did them in double bed size. They are not inexpensive but are definitely worth every penny. Ours that have seen sterling service are looking the same as they did when we bought them.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Food Waste

The job of cleaning out the fridge is looming ahead of me. Apart from checking that the yogurts are still safe, there is a load of food darling father brought back from a do at the Methodists which never got used.

I know that there are some non UK readers, and so I will mention that the government is considering asking us to keep food waste separate and it can be used to generate electricity. The headlines are something like, 'a slop pail in every kitchen'. Food waste, minimal as it was, used to be collected during WW2 for feeding animals, but that really was part of national survival.

I know I am going to be throwing out loads - some pork that must have been on of the things affected by an open freezer door as it has defrosted a very funny colour, some fresh chicken that was unexpectedly from darling father and that was missed when the accompanying sausages were used up, the scraps and some end bits of cheese that could now be used to pave a road.

I am cautiously and tentatively in favour of the food waste being kept separate. It is better being used than being buried. It is one of the regular articles in papers, how much food is wasted and what are the worst products. If this is enforced, I think it will have a massive impact, however, because people will suddenly see just how much food they are throwing away. I cannot imagine it will not affect the way people shop and cook. I also think that suddenly there will be a huge explosion of products that could be used 'to make the food waste collection easier'. There is a business opportunity there, I am sure, and people will take it.

If it means less waste then it means more food to go around to those who are not so lucky as we are in the UK with relatively inexpensive food (at least for now) and good distribution, food safety laws and choice. I am very much in favour of that.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Spin Doctor little bear

Little bear had been duly told off for deliberately putting hand prints up the stairs' walls after being told not to. As he and OH headed for bed, little bear pre-empted any fallout.

'These are the marks I made when I said sorry.' He said carefully. Just in case OH hadn't realised that the telling off was over.

This afternoon he had been pathetically asking me if we still loved him even when he was naughty - and if we loved him we wouldn't shout.

I wouldn't mind, little bear hardly hears a raised voice. I am toooooo soft.

I'm a bad mother again

In my defence, little bear has been really subdued and refusing chocolate and lolly ices. He wanted to build the model of the pirate ship that darling father bought him.

So we stuck a few bits of wood together with glue, waited impatiently for the huge dollops of glue little bear used to dry and then it was time to paint. I was very happy for little bear to do this for himself.

Unfortunately the tiny pots of paint that came with the kit were dried up and quite inadequate so I got out the poster paint. Little bear had been very quietly painting in a very restrained way, so I got out some extra brushes for him and came on the computer, trying to stay awake. That was definitely a bad mother moment.

I heard a small thump, and turned round to little bear who was behind me with no door between us, about five yards away. He was paint to the elbows. Paint was everywhere - well, on the model, the newspaper on his little table and little bear, and the pirate ship was not black but an interesting colour that you get when you inadequately mix purple, red and orange.

And of course little bear put hand prints up the walls of the stairs - the white walls. To be fair the walls of the stairs have been in desperate need of redecoration since we moved in, but that is not the point.

He has just apologised. I have reassured him that I love him, and he is back to being all subdued. I will try and learn my lesson - and I am typing this in short bursts while hovering round him!

Hope dashed

I was looking through a booklet of knitting patterns for babies. I don't actually know any babies but thought that as the garments are so small I may have a remote chance of finishing one.

Little bear looked over my shoulder. 'Can I have that please?' he asked, pointing at a knitted baby pirate costume.

I nearly did a dance around the room - little bear was actually being half way willing to wear something I knit. He won't wear a sweater, and neither will OH, and little bear is very dismissive of the thought of wearing anything his mum made. But he actually wanted something from a knitting pattern and I could do it, where were my needles!!!

Actually he wanted a pirate costume that wasn't knitted, thank you so much. I feel so deflated.