Monday, 31 October 2011

What next?

I suppose that it had to happen after little bear introduced OH to Rasta Mouse.

But Rasta Dalek?

I think I scared the teacher

Little bear was poorly the last day before the holiday. Which is why we didn't get the letter telling us that on the first day back he was supposed to be in fancy dress.

Ever stood in a line waiting to go in with a four year old where everyone else was in fancy dress? It isn't nice.

When I got in I pointed out that they had five phone numbers and an email address, surely they could have let us know. I think I may have been a bit icy - the teacher flinched.

Fortunately OH is off work and took in little bear's costume from his visit to Auntie, so I haven't yet got barred.

Little Bear as an Alarm Clock

I am trying not to panic.

Little bear came downstairs last night at 2am and went to sleep, very happily, until @ 7am this morning. He woke, as usual, straight awake, told me he was awake, got up, wandered into the study, picked up the glowing stick axe he had from his auntie, broke it and split the case, then got the liquid from it on his hands and then rubbed his eye. All before I have even managed to open my eyes properly.

It looked like it stung really badly. I got him upstairs and wiped gently over his eyes with a flannel, tried to get water washing over them (I am so squeamish about eyes it is ridiculous, I can't be in the same room as someone putting in eye drops). Little bear was so unhappy about it. I got the gunk off around the side his eye and soon his eyes seemed fine. OH was fine getting up to check and now little bear is happily complaining that I am not holding the torch for him to draw around the shadow. He seems unaffected.

I am sitting here shaking and close to tears. I don't have a clue what sort of chemicals they use in glow sticks and how they can affect a little bear. It must have only been a tiny drop, as there was not much that came out of the stick and then a bit on the hand that rubbed around his eye. I just don't know how bad it could be.

As little bear seems now unaffected and absolutely calm about it and without any sort of pain, I am not following my instincts to take him to A&E or ring NHS direct. I can't imagine either would be very useful. As little bear shows no signs of pain or discomfort I am not going to rush into anything. However I am still taking him to the Dr as soon as I can after school. Eyes are too precious to be neglected.

It is not a good way to wake up.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Need to adjust irony

Little bear and I went round the Beck Isle Museum in Pickering (which I LOVED). There was a little questionnaire which was supposed to be filled in by little bear, but I used mainly as a way of getting talking points. We missed one question, but got the others right.

The volunteer behind the counter said that, even though I had helped a lot, and even though he had missed a question, he could still have the reward of the 35p stick of rock (questionnaire cost £1 - it's to raise funds). Little bear's face lit up with joy at getting a small stick of pineapple rock. I said, ironically, 'He doesn't see sweets from one year's end to the next.' From the look on her face, I think she thought I actually meant that.

Little bear has just come back from his Auntie's Halloween do with enough sugar products to put the entire street into a diabetic coma. I am frantically wondering how to reduce his sugar intake, especially as he has all the adults in his orbit wrapped around his little finger. I was so ironic to the lady in the museum, but I think I need to make sure that use irony only to those who understand it.

Evil cat is glad to see us

I could barely move to get past evil cat's cuddles yesterday, last night I was her sleeping cushion and today has been much of the same.

It is a bit sad, because a week away means that we can see that evil cat is getting a bit shabby. In her prime, and up to a few months ago, she had the most glorious, soft, golden tabby fur that was not quite shorthair but had a sort of soft aura about her. If she sat in a patch of sunlight with the cat's contemplative expressions, she seemed to glow. She also shed with enthusiasm and in large quantities. Now it is a bit spiky rather than fluffy, a little greasy instead of cloud-soft, and just a bit thin.

A few years ago she lost a lot of weight and as a result got an eye infection (it doesn't make sense, but trust me, it's true). Now it looks like the start of the same inflammation.

While we were away she had vast quantities of food, lots of fresh water, plenty of fuss and cuddles from Nice Mr Next Door who adores her and lots of great kips uninterrupted in her favourite napping places. She is still having great quality of life - and tuna. But watching her is a bit like a thousand cuts.

Though many of those cuts are like the half dozen or so I have gained over the past 24 hours as she has dug in to climb the hard way up to my lap, up my leg, onto my shoulder, etc. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her claws

Glass not clean

I have thought about it, and I am not a glass half full sort of person. Although I am not sure I am a glass half empty either. I think I am a 'look at the state of this glass, it is filthy, honestly, that's secondhand lipstick on there and it isn't mine.' sort of person.

I think I shall try and work on my outlook.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Holiday fun

It's been a fun week, but there has been a bit of a 'back foot' feel about it. Poor little bear was really poorly with a cold (even a fussy mum like me can't call it anything more!) and so was darling father at the beginning of the week. OH suffered mildly (on the whole, through determination I think) throughout the whole week. I, with perfect timing, am suffering now, and I have the sort of messed up throat and tubes which means I can't speak. Little bear understands the individual words, but the concept that mummy can't read him a story or sing him songs just doesn't seem to sink in.

There are new owners from when we first went into the cottage. They are really nice, and very friendly. It just isn't the same, however, and they had a lovely vase of fresh flowers in the kitchen - and no tea towels. The rubbish hadn't been taken away from the last occupants. There were no fire making supplies (vital!!!). No kitchen towel and about a quarter of a roll of loo paper. There were the odd dirty spots, although the cottage was phenomenally cleaner than my own home. There was no grill tray so for the first time in my life I was frying bacon for OH's breakfast. All little, tiny niggles that aren't worth really complaining about. It did leave me with a bit of an off centre feeling

Little bear had his first cold sore. OH and I have been trying to police him prodding at it - not entirely sure how successfully. The chemist was pretty unimpressed at me trying to ask questions about what to give a nearly five year old. Little bear also had his face painted for the first time. I just haven't seen an opportunity for it before, but he was a very happy monster and I hope to post the picture.

Also, while I wouldn't consider this area a high crime area, I was impressed that we holidayed in a place where someone crashing into a lamppost with no injuries to anyone would make the local paper. Also a chip pan fire. As it was a weekly paper, it must be really quiet for news.

What do you call an undead budgie?

The Grim Cheeper

I'm back, and it's been a funny week. But all is well

Friday, 21 October 2011

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog is a sentence that doesn't contain the letter s.

Little bear has wanted to practise his letters

Edited to add - The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog is perfectly adequate for letter practice

Timing is everything

Yesterday I pulled everything out in the dining room, trying to find a place for four summer tyres. I put loads of stuff into heaps ready to be sorted today and mentally earmarked this morning for 'excavate the fridge and clean' as this week I have accumulated all sorts in there.

Last night little bear was sick. I also picked him up from school with scarlet cheeks, raging temperature and cough - though he hates coughing and will do all he can to suppress it. He is home today, and there are no doctors appointments.

Little bear is clingy, tired, grumbling and fed up. I need to spend the day cuddling him. We go away on holiday tomorrow.

I have no idea how I am going to get everything done, but I am sure that I will manage something. I probably won't be making many posts on here, though.

PS - little bear had a wonderful report at Parent's Evening.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Evil cat has old bones

Poor old evil cat. I was working in the kitchen and evil cat was loudly and insistently hinting that she wanted to go out into the garden. I'm surprised the pvc door didn't melt, she sounds like she swears worse than a sailor.

So I opened the door onto the bright, crisp morning. Evil cat took one snootful of the cold air and hissed - loudly! It was obviously not what she had ordered, nor, after basking in the sun all morning from behind double glazing, what she expected. She turned on her paws and went back upstairs.

Later she did venture out, but she was definitely not impressed!

Another washday disaster

I am getting seriously fed up with little bear's white polo shirts. Every single one has now been the victim of a colour run incident, some more than once! I go years between colour run accidents - or I did until little bear started to rely on school uniform!

I put the polo shirts in with a load of lights/whites and they still came out a tasteful shade of pale dove grey. I have washed them in the stuff used to lighten net curtains, without any success, and they are now hanging in the sunshine, hopefully being bleached in the sun.

Fortunately (I think) little bear is growing out of them at a swift rate, so after half term I will be picking up another half dozen, to be washed separately - definitely and completely separately! Regardless of the inexpensive nature of the shirts, the amount I have spent on chemicals and the possible cost to the environment is ridiculous!

I can probably hold out until after Christmas for the next installment of dark green sweaters, and his black trousers are still okay, possibly until as long as February half term. And yes, they are going to be washed separately, just in case.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


Little bear likes dressing up. Actually, he loves dressing up and the day after we come back from our holiday we will be heading to Sister in Law's for Halloween. So I succumbed and got him a Grim Reaper costume from Matalan for £10. It is a sort of tatty frock with a foam scythe (little bear has to concentrate to remember that it is a scythe, not a vampire stick) and a mask. To little bear's delight the chain on the front of the frock thingy is attached by velcro and it is on and off and on and off regularly.

Little bear demonstrated how much he liked it this morning. He woke at 6am, he doesn't need to leave the house until 8.45am. And the first thing he did this morning - insist on changing into his new costume. He changed out of it to eat his porridge, and then straight back into it.

I may have a scavenge for cheap costumes on sale after Halloween - to save for Christmas presents!


Little bear is starting with a cold. He is a bit green nosed and tired. He is complaining about a cough. He will tell me how his cough is hurting him and then give the worst fake cough you ever heard. I think he is feeling a bit under the weather, though he is still keen to go to school.

He is also complaining about a bad leg. Sometimes he has pains in his leg that wake him, and he cries. This time I have been a bit sceptical. I am grouping it under the 'old soldier routine/growing pains/Oscar winning drama over having to stand up and actually put something in the bin'.

We go on holiday next week.

I feel like starting a book - odds on that he comes down with a truly rotten cold just as we get away. We are still going!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Simply Wonderwoman

On the strength that it had been advertised in darling father's Daily Mail, and that I was feeling a bit fragile, I bought, 'Simply Wonderwoman'. by Joanna Gosling.

May I sincerely recommend the Old Style Board on forums.

Simply Wonderwoman recommended using white vinegar, diluted in the right proportions with water and 30 drops of lavender oil added for fabric conditioner. I know my place, I just dash a glug of neat white vinegar into the machine and it does fine. I suppose if I diluted it then the white vinegar would go further, but I would rather just put in a smaller glug.

There are lots of hints and tips, and some of them are more intriguing than others. I think it is more aimed at the yummy mummy than the crummy mummy like myself. However she did pass on as a divine revelation that you should find a place to put your keys and put them there every time. I already always do that! It is a brilliant sanity saver and if you do not have a key hook, bowl or box then I certainly recommend it. I don't think I will be laminating labels to put on all my keys, because I don't actually have many and it is really obvious which key is which for me. If I had more keys then perhaps I would reconsider. However I will be overseeing OH as he painstakingly takes apart the rats' nest of cables behind the tv and labels every single one of the plugs - dvd player, sky, tv etc. Also I shall be doing the same for the equally tangled mess of power cables sitting in the corner of the kitchen behind the small electric cooker, the slow cooker, the remoska, the blender and the popcorn maker.

One thing she recommended was making a wheat bag out of cherry stones. She said that you can buy them on the internet. With the assurance of someone who knows what designer labels look like, she assured the reader that they were not expensive. I checked. They actually aren't that expensive (really, when you think about it...). I read the recommendations for them. They are unlikely to hold damp or go musty like wheat, they can be microwaved or chilled, they are a natural product (but so is hemlock) and they hold the heat well. They can also be washed in a washing machine though it probably sounds like your washing machine is being sick while you do it.

I haven't bought any cherry stones. Yet.

If I am mad enough to believe that I will actually make the ludicrously easy bags (I have a zillion pillow cases that can be adapted) and that I will actually take the few minutes after tea to heat them up and put them in to warm our beds in the cold weather, then I suppose I should snap up the cherry stones before they get trendily expensive.

I will let you know how I resist temptation. Please do not snigger at reading this.

Chinese Food

You know that old joke that half an hour after finishing a Chinese meal you want another one? Well, last night we found the exception to the rule.

We hadn't gone to this Chinese before, even though it was local, as we already had a Chinese we knew and trusted. However, after a spectacular fail with boiling potatoes (yes, I can get boiling potatoes wrong!) a few days ago I had nipped out to get some chips and the Chinese were the nearest open. They did 'salt and pepper' chips with OH and darling father raved over. So last night, when I was on the floor with tiredness and couldn't face cooking, I said we would try them out.

Part of their advertising is that they have big portions. That is not false advertising, it is absolutely true. It is not padded either, but loads of really nice meat and veggies. I tried sesame chicken, and really enjoyed it, and OH had the same. Darling father is having the rest of his Special Curry for lunch.

Poor OH, he was enjoying the chicken so much he forgot to stop eating, and although he didn't actually finish his portion, poor lad was absolutely stuffed. He could barely move for the rest of the evening - He had stuck to mainly meat and he could barely move!

And for me, one of the best bits is the dinky plastic, resealable cartons that they come in - ideal for small plastic daleks and weeping angels, random pens and crayons and miscellaneous craft items.

I don't plan to have a lot of takeaways, we are having less and less of them, but I will certainly be going there again. Just perhaps one portion between two. With salt and pepper chips for OH and darling father, of course!

Monday, 17 October 2011

I am not an early riser

Actually, I don't want to be an early riser. Little bear, however, is, and I have not yet needed my alarm clock for school. This morning he was awake at 5.45am. As due to fretting over things I can't control or change I didn't get to sleep until well after midnight, I was loving, made breakfast, cuddled etc but wasn't bright and breezy.

To my shame, I tried to doze on the chair.

So this meant that when Royal Mail called at 7.15am - in the morning! - I was still in my nightie and had to peer cautiously around the door, shielding the postman from me. Calling with anything at 7.15 in the morning is surely an abuse of this human's rights.

Some people, notably OH's family, are early birds and 7.15 is nothing to them, they prefer that. They have been up for hours and can't see what the fuss is about. Being asleep at 7.15am is a sure sign of moral laxity and turpitude. On the other hand they are usually spark out at 10pm when I am going strong and hitting my creative peak. At the moment I am getting a bit squeezed for sleep. That will change when he is a teenager.

I am considering trying to doze on the chair again

(btw - parcel was a much needed coat from ebay, £21, and I am keeping all crossed that it is warm enough)

Money in, money out

The refund of overpaid direct debits has come at a handy time. OH likes one place when we go on holiday, so I need to get in early and get it paid before someone else snaffles it, and he really needs the holiday. I may speak to him later and see if he fancies anywhere else, but to be fair, it is a really good base for a holiday. To put it into context, the holiday will be for October Half Term 2012!

In addition there is the saga of the winter tyres. Most of OH's journey to work is on main roads that are automatically gritted and generally have a reasonable flow of traffic. That does not apply to the first few yards away from the house, and it does not apply to a steep hill B road, on the edge of the Dales, exposed to the wind across the fields, with very little traffic, which is his only way into work and the last leg of his journey there. It is the down side to the working in amazing natural surroundings. I also have vivid memories of coming home a day early from our last but one holiday at the end of November last year - the same place as we are about to go this year and probably the same place we are going next year. Sitting with my hands gripping the seat as we went down a steep hill in fresh snow is a very strong memory indeed. I have pushed for winter tyres. Kwik Fit do them, and they do storage for £50.

OH has sourced the winter tyres from a very reliable garage, at £30 less per tyre. But no storage. We have no garage. We have no secured outside storage. I am going to have to store the tyres under the bed!

Actually, once we get back from holiday we can probably store at least one in the boot. However I am clutterbusting this week to make a space downstairs to store four summer tyres, and then later to store four winter tyres. If I get an attack of housewifery I shall make a gingham cover to go over them. Otherwise they can stand in their glory!

Finding a positive

Feeling really pleased with myself. I have already changed tarriff for my gas and electric, and now that the supplier finally realises that the new boiler has an impact, I am getting a £500 refund and a lower direct debit, even at the start of winter!

This is very welcome, as apart from anything else, I am due to pay for the next year's holiday which OH will desperately need!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Imagination is wonderful

Little bear was trying to convince OH that Postman Pat had been replaced by Postman Dalek who kept trying to extermination Jess the Cat.

It's good to be cheered up sometimes.

I don't like mornings

I have had a foul night, with a lot of worry about a lot of different things that I can't influence but are likely to make things harder for me.

Little bear was up, perky and bright, at the late hour of 7am, so I had at least two hours sleep. He was singing happily to himself all the time he was in the bathroom so darling father has been woken.

Now, while all I want to do is crawl away somewhere and cry, little bear has found the book his auntie gave him, age 6-8 (little bear isn't quite five) with lots of adding and taking away. He is doing it by himself, with the occasional prompt from me. I am not giving him the support I should, I am doing my best, and being really enthusiastic and praising him lots and lots, but inside I am not coping so well.

So I am on here, as this is about the only place I can say - I can't keep up with little bear today, I am letting him down. Because OH doesn't really do this and darling father is getting ready for church. And I am struggling so much. I wish I was better for little bear.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The tip of things

Evil cat has an odd tail. It isn't kinked in the middle, like it has been, it isn't hanging around as if it doesn't belong to her which she has done since she was a kitten. It's just odd.

The base and middle of her tail are normal, or at least normal for evil cat. But the tip looks really odd, like a rat's tail. I don't know if she is losing a bit of sensation there, whether she has lost a clump of fur or whether she has stolen some brylcream, but the effect is extremely - odd.

It is still twitching with irritation when I am too slow with the food, so it can't be too bad.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Breakfast is a state of mind

Today I had left over apple and ginger crumble for breakfast. I refused to let it go to waste, and as it was homemade, it probably has less sugar in it than normal breakfast cereal, as I cut back seriously on the sugar and used some ginger marmalade that I wanted to use up in the apple.

Part of me says, it is just another meal and fuel for the day, and it probably counts as part of the five a day. But crumble, for breakfast...

Too late to quibble now. It has settled on my stomach like concrete and I am now going to crawl off and read 'Snuff' which has just arrived.

Evil cat is disgusting


After a bad night I was woken by evil cat, performing her operatic about-to-be-sick song. She went on and on and on, then produced half a teaspoon of froth. Of course, this meant she and I were truly awake, but I turned over and hunted for sleep. However evil cat was not satisfied with this. She knows that she gets her breakfast when little bear gets his, so she went upstairs and yowled until he tottered downstairs. It was 7am. I think little bear could have managed another hour's sleep, as one of the reasons I had a bad night was because he had a disturbed night. However he was now awake and raring to go. He doesn't need to leave for school until 8.50am.

I rather grudgingly fed evil cat and now she is asleep, shedding, on clean washing. No doubt later I will hear her voice raised in vomiting song and I will dash and get her off the clean washing in time - hopefully.

And in case anyone feels too much sympathy for evil cat, she has been being sick as a hobby since she was a kitten. I am unimpressed.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Feeling grumpy

I didn't want to go to Makro today, as the weather was yeurk. However darling father really wanted to go, and the buses are impractical, so we got a taxi. Without a tip it is not much more than the minimal bus fare as it isn't too far. The taxi came almost straight away.

I stood in front of it to stop it parking between two huge puddles, so we could get in without swimming. Then I left the door open as I adjusted my seatbelt. I hate it when they off while I am still trying to do my seatbelt up, it makes me feel very uncomfortable, so I leave the door open in the hope they will take the hint and stay until I've got the dratted thing on. I have to do this with OH, because he never waits and while we are bumping over the road it is much harder to fix the seatbelt.

The driver started off with the door open.

Didn't feel happy about that. I would have thought he would have noticed a door wide open, and wasn't quite sure whether he would notice something like a lorry creeping up on the driver's side. Didn't feel happy that I couldn't make the seatbelt stretch and lock - I couldn't get it on. I am not slim, and extremely bosomed, but I have always managed to get a seatbelt on without problems. And it would have been my problem if he was stopped! I was the one doing something illegal, and there was nothing I could do about it - I felt like getting out and walking!

I hate that feeling, when you don't feel safe, or comfortable, but you don't feel you have any right to say 'stop, I don't like this!' I was with darling father who is of the 'don't make a fuss' school. I think that innately that I am of a 'make a massive show of myself and a huge scene' school, but I have been trained. And then the driver complained that he shouldn't have to pick us up at the house but we could have waited at the top of the road. That was met with a lack of enthusiasm. Most of the time I am happy to do that, but once a flood he can come down the road so we don't get drenched in the rain.

I didn't feel sorry when I saw the scratch where he had dinged the door when he had moved off before I had shut the door. My sympathy was entirely absent. And when I phoned for a taxi back I told them why he had the (actually quite minor) scratch. Normally I would have been incredibly apologetic, but I felt so frustrated that I couldn't get the dratted seatbelt on.

The taxi back was without any problem and the driver was lovely. The drivers with this firm are usually really lovely. I just hope that I don't get that awful driver again.

Little bear's old coat

Little bear had a black coat, very nice, and has finally grown out of it. He is now proudly wearing a red coat to school.

This morning he looked at me with concern and said, quite randomly, 'I have my special stones in my black coat - where is it?'
'It's okay, the coat is safe,' I said, rushing him to get ready for school.

The special stones are random pieces of gravel he picked up walking to and from nursery. They are not special, or rather, I suppose they are special to their mother but they are not remarkable to me. But little bear has remembered from when he last wore that coat, in April, I think, that he had stones in there.

Little bear seems to have a great attachment to 'things' and a great memory. I have been trying to persuade him that he needs to get rid of stuff to make room for new things for Christmas, but no luck. As he remembers so much, a stealth cull of his books and possessions is tricky. However in the past when he asks I have always just looked at him blankly when he asked for something that has been donated and say things like, 'Where did you leave it? You had it last.' This is what I have done with outgrown shoes and slippers. We have some toys currently 'resting' in a box in OH's room, so they may be disposed of safely soon, I think.

In the mean time, I had better find a place for the 'special stones'.
Lesley - thought would get the comment out here rather than have it tail away. You are making extremely sensible and constructive points. I hate doing the 'yes, but...' stuff, but there are problems.

We have approached beekeepers in the past, and they have looked at the forty foot drop from the chimney and politely declined. Reasonably enough, I suppose. I wouldn't like to go scrabbling around on a roof trying to extract a bees nest from inside what I think is a blocked off chimney - it's the vent, I think, from OH's room where the fire is long since bricked up. I don't think there is a big hole, I think it is a little hole that the bees squeeze through.

Also, Health and Safety are actually very reasonable in insisting that legally when it gets that high, you need expensive scaffolding. Eventually it could get done in winter, when the bees are quiet, so I suppose that one day I will have enough scraped together, though not soon at the rate little bear is requiring funds.

It isn't insurmountable, in theory, because if we had a stove in the study you could use ladders to go up the house at the back, which is not as tall due to the slope of the land, and over the top as the chimney is at the roof ridge and not half way down, like the one with the bees. There are no nearby bees nests, and the bees the other side of the house have always been very placid when it comes to people climbing around on the roof. The chimney from the study has been repointed. Also the requirement to extend the hearth around the fireplace would be easier as the room is bigger. The wooden fireplace surround is gorgeous as well, at least eight feet tall with an inset mirror and sort of deco columns.

OH would never, ever countenance it.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


The meter man came today. A bill will surely follow.

We are in credit in our account - to the tune of a few hundred pounds. But they asked me to leave it 'on account' against winter. However now that we have got a new boiler, on an efficient timer, and I am using the remoska, microwave and little electric oven more and more then I wonder whether there will be a surplus I can pick up in April and ask for the massive direct debit to drop. I have even dropped to a lower tariff, which according to uswitch was the best for us. With the price rises, however, I will be lucky if we are a penny in front.

I bitterly regret the lack of stove. I shall be grumbling about that in my grave. As I cannot have the stove, however, I shall grit my teeth and get on with it.

The 'new' tumble dryer may help, as though it uses electricity it also vents warm air - next to a dehumidifier, so it should be just warm and not damp air circulating around. Door curtains, draft excluders and common sense will help. Lighting one or two candles can make a difference as well. I am hoping that the halogen heater will also pick up the slack rather than the twenty year old gas fire. And I shall be being meticulous about unplugging things.

It has made me think about all the electrics that go on in this house. Darling father's room has sky, a tv, a teasmaid, clock radios, trouser press, and a small fridge. I run another fridge and a separate freezer, a washer dryer (unplugged when it isn't on), microwave, remoska, kettle, iron, electric oven, computer, tv (always switched off when not in use), toaster and there are a myriad of gadgets around. There is the electric keyboard, lamps, and dehumidifier. In little bear's room I have left the monitor on, and OH's room has a full complement of clocks, lamps, laptop, etc.

So far I have resisted putting in plug in air fresheners, and I don't want to start.

I am glad I have the computer, the ease of an electric iron, the convenience of a microwave and the absolute bliss of tv to knit to. But I am looking at the cost and it is really adding up. Time for another 'unplug it' campaign.

Active little bear

Yesterday little bear hurtled into school, had PE (of a sort, apparently ring-a-ring-a-roses) and then Martial Arts where Miss was concentrating on fitness.

Miss, the lady in charge of the Martial Arts, is a British Champion, qualified fitness and nutrition expert and former military. She had them hurtling round like lunatics, and they loved it. She is also incredibly patient with them. I would recommend BMMA to anyone!

And he slept late until 7.25am!!!!! I almost needed my alarm clock! Utter bliss, waking up when the rest of the world is moving. Long may that continue.

Of course, give it time. When he is a teenager I will be threatening dynamite to get him out of bed.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Another Domestic Disaster

I could cry.

A nearly full, large bottle of dark soy sauce fell over. I don't remember hearing anything fall as I was hurtling round, and I definitely didn't see it fall, so my best guess is that evil cat jumped up to where it was and knocked it flying while we were at martial arts.

It has pooled all over the grey carpet.

The carpet is such a wreck anyway and needs replacing, but it is not going to happen soon - it is just too much money. So I am going to have to clean the carpet. To really clean the carpet properly (which it needs) I really need to deep clean the room - a big job! And I wanted to finish the kitchen and dining room first.

I am in the middle of a crash. I barely managed to get little bear to school this morning, it is hard for me to even wash up, let alone deep clean a room and clean a carpet. But if I don't I will be sleeping with 'eau-de-chinese-restaurant' all night and it will drive me nuts.

On the bright side, I will end up with a cleaner carpet.

Evil Cat Snores

I have managed to scrounge time for a bath (blissssss!) and I am sitting here drying off before dashing to pick up little bear and I can barely hear the keys as I am typing with the noise of evil cat snoring. It is cute, lots of little 'hnnnnn's and better than the 'broken drill on tiles' noise that psycho cat used to come out with, but it is loud.

Mind you, evil cat currently doesn't weigh much more than a bag of sugar, but she has the loudest purr I have ever heard, she always has. And as for when she 'talks', well, all I can say is she has the foulest mouth of any cat that I have known. When she 'meows' it comes out as a sort of snarling grumble - at volume! It sounds so like swearing that it is hard to imagine it being anything else, in fact, it sounds like if she was human her language would strip paint from the walls and make sailors blush.

Holiday coming up

We are away for half term. I am starting to work out what to pack and what needs to be shopped for and what we don't need to get until we get back.

It is a bit peculiar as Halloween is just after half term, and the day after we return little bear will be 'trick or treating' at my sister in law's. There may be sweets. However the costume needs to be sorted out before we go. I don't know whether I need to get sweeties in, as we sometimes get trick or treaters but sometimes we don't.

And I will need to make sure that as much as possible is sorted out for school before we go away. I am usually not fit for purpose the week after we get back, so I don't want to be caught out. Having little bear at school is making me much more determined to keep things organised and to look ahead. Those who already have a child or more than one at school will be used to the near military organisation that it seems to demand, but to me it is like waking up. I was used to thinking like this at work, it is time that I thought like it now.

So, lists of what to take. Lists of what to have organised so that it is ready to go when we get back. Lists of clothes and shopping and also things we can do. I am not anticipating good weather. Trying on clothes, sorting out clothes, getting winter tyres on the car, getting the car emptied before it is packed to the roof.

Tonight I will start making lists with little bear. I think it is a good idea to help him understand what we need to take and do. By our next holiday I think he will be writing the lists for me.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Little bear negotiates

Little bear wanted an egg custard from the sandwich shop on Saturday, and as he was good when he was disappointed - no custards left - the shopkeeper promised to save one for him for today.

So I got a custard for little bear, but also one for myself, one for darling father and one for OH - we all like them. Little bear came in from school and attacked the custard. I really, really fancied mine, so instead of holding back and giving it to little bear I actually ate it. Little bear attacked the fruit bowl, then one banana later came in looking thoughtful. 'Are those custards as well?' he asked carefully.
'Yes, one for daddy and one for grandad. In fact, grandad is in his bedroom and I will take one up now.' I was desperate for the loo, so it seemed a good idea to take it up as I was going up anyway.
'Do you think grandad will give me half?' little bear asked.
'Don't you dare ask your grandad for one, do not beg!' I said firmly, but I really had to go to the loo. So I dropped off the custard with darling father with the strict instruction not to give in to little bear's begging.

The conversation apparently went something like this.
Little bear: Will you give me half of that custard, we can share.
Darling Father (not really meaning it): Why should I share with you? You wouldn't share your fruit with me yesterday.
Little bear trotted downstairs and then returned with a very small apple: I share with you, Grandad.

Little bear got half a custard. At least he didn't get all of it.

Power of Dreams

Last night I dreamt that the kitchen cupboards fell off the walls. This is not entirely unrealistic, they are stuffed to the brim!

And I only have half an idea what is in them - goodies from Approved Food, baking supplies when I haven't baked in years, sauces that have been pushed to the back.

So this afternoon I had a clear of the surfaces under the cupboards which were more or less piled with stuff in a sort of mound. Out went all the unsuccessful wholefood stuffing (experiment from Approved Food) and the packets of white simmer sauces - what was I thinking with those?! I can manage a white sauce, it is one of the things I am good at, why did I think it was a good idea to get them? The kiwi jam that darling uncle got for little bear that was so unsuccessful has gone, and the red currant jelly that frankly was never fit for purpose went with it. I won't say it is clear, but the stuff is now more organised. Tomorrow the cupboards.

Operation Clutterbust is back in action!

So far, one bin sack of stuff and a determination to actively use up all the stuff that is there.

Frugal fail - again

I finally dug out the game 'Guess Who' that I had had stashed since Christmas, and little bear loved it, though I think he is only just old enough for it. He and OH played against me and it was a lot of fun. However it was the most inexpensive version I could find, and the little cardboard inserts that we needed to flick down when a character was eliminated kept falling out and it took ages to get them all in place when we were setting up again. And little bear wanted again, and again, and again...

I suggested sellotape. OH wasn't so keen, and ended up going out and buying the electronic version (not very electronic!) which still isn't brilliant but a little easier to use. I am just as much to blame as I sourced it for him and reserved it online for him to pick up at Argos. Sellotape would have been a lot cheaper than £20.99.

Mind you, I think we will be having a lot of fun from it, and will definitely get our money's worth. I shall consider getting some more games for the 'C' word and birthday.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Washday wonder

I was pondering the washing I have. It is nothing to what Nice Mrs Next Door has to deal with, she often is washing for half a dozen adults plus sundry little ones. And Mrs Next Door but Two has four children under 8, her washing line is never empty.

Then I thought of the washing my Great Grandmother would have known. I have lost the book I had on 'How to Do Laundry' which, I think, was printed @ WW1. The first washing machines, running on gas, were creeping in, but most ladies were still using coppers. I used to really enjoy dipping into it.

I was trying to remember how the washday should go. The day before washday you sorted the washing, doing all the mending and treating any stains. Clothes were expensive. It wasn't just the expense in money, many would be home made, like knitted socks, and also were a huge investment in time. If you had spent a week or two knitting the socks, then you were not going to do that again if you could save them with a few minutes darning. And you sewed on the buttons and mended any rips or tears. You treated any serious stains with a selection of home remedies that sounded very scary. I have enough trouble with ammonia, but there were all sorts of quite acidic concoctions recommended. I suspect some got rid of the stain, but also got rid of the clothing as well.

After checking over all the washing, you would clean the copper, fill it and lay a fire under it. You would prepare starch, soap and possibly blue for the next day. Then you would put everything that could be soaked into the copper overnight.

The next day - washday - the soaked clothes would be pulled out. The effort to drag out a waterlogged dress with as much material in it as some of the dresses you see in Victorian and Edwardian times must have been immense. Then the water was changed, the fire lit and grated soap added. Once the water was hot enough, clothes were put in to wash, in the order of cleanest first and scrubbed by hand. My hands are itching in sympathy at the thought of rubbing heavy material against a washboard, with heavy duty soap in hot water and no gloves. The water would be changed half way through for clean but slightly cooler water for fabrics that needed a cooler wash. Some washing would be boiled. Then it would all have to be rinsed, in two changes of water. Blue would be put in the second rinse for many items, there would be a small cloth bag of blue dye that would be swirled through the water to take away any yellow tinge from age or wear and brighten the colours. Having used an easy twin tub washing machine, just lugging the clothing from the washer to the spinner is a chore. It must have been hard work, and it would have been a miracle if the floor wasn't wet at the end. Some items would have been dipped in a starch solution before drying.

There was even an art to mangling - feeding the material between the mangle rollers folded so that the buttons would not be affected, or even taking all the buttons off before mangling. My grandmother had an electric mangle and I remember watching fascinated as she fed the items one by one through the rollers, sometimes twice, always folded with the buttons on the inside. At least she had two hands to feed the clothes in, rather than one hand with the other turning the handle. And then, heaven send it is a sunny day or heaps of steaming washing would be on the clothes airer for the rest of the week - or the clothes maiden as my grandmother called it.

No wonder so many Victorian Families sent their laundry out - it would have been a very worthwhile expense.

I feel very grateful indeed for my automatic washer. Also, I have failed colour sorting again, and the white polo shirts are once again grey.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

New Tumble Dryer

I have a new to me tumble dryer, courtesy of my older brother. I am very grateful indeed. As much as I can I have been drying washing outside or on an airer indoors. My normal rule has been everything is either on the line or on the airer except socks and bedding. I think, however, I may struggle with that now.

The weather is definitely not co-operating at the moment when it comes to drying outside. I have had some spectacular drying days, and some very poor ones. Due to the odd way that the street is laid out, between around November and February the line doesn't actually get sunshine except near midday, the shadows falling across the garden are too long. I can do a humungous wash the previous evening and overnight and hang it out and hope, but it isn't guaranteed.

I also have a washer dryer, but I am not currently as organised as I need to be to keep up with things. I am currently working on losing about half the clothes we have. OH has at least 20 work shirts, but some of them are becoming a bit thin and frail, and they need to retire - they are quite a lot older than little bear. I feel (clutterbust head on) that the less we have, then the less cluttered things are, and the less things like ironing and washing can pile up and the more room for all sorts of good things. I definitely feel that for little bear, as his polo shirts are, as I have mentioned, already looking a bit short. I could buy him twenty polo shirts, but they wouldn't last a full term. I am looking to have five at a time, and the same of trousers and sweaters. My clothes are definitely a bit limited, so not so much clearing out to do.

However if I get rid of clothes I will have to wash more often, or rather, I will be less able to pick and choose when I wash. If I have twenty shirts for OH and the weather is bad, I can hold off washing for a little while as he works through the shirts. If he has only six or seven then I may have to wash before the weather gets better. And little bear must have clean clothes for school.

At the moment, every week I wash five sets of school clothes for little bear (needed!), and five work shirts for OH (clean every day to give me a chance with the collars). Underwear is clean every day, of course, so that is added to the pile. I have the martial arts kit to wash, and the clothes that I get little bear to change into after school. Darling father is careful how he looks and likes to look nice, so I am happy to be washing quite a few changes of clothing from him. Then of course my stuff goes in, along with the casual stuff that OH wears at the weekend. Add in towels and bedding for us all and there is quite a pile. Having a separate tumble dryer will make things a lot quicker if the weather isn't kind. I am speaking as someone who was waiting up until 1am to make sure little bear's uniform would be fit for school the next day not so long ago.

Of course, adding the extra cost to the environment and the cost to the electricity bill isn't comforting. I shall be being careful how I work things. The washer dryer has a very high efficiency rating, I am not sure about the tumble dryer, so I will try and plan ahead. However if I have less clothes then I think it will be easier for me to keep track of stuff and easier for me to know where I am.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Running total

Running total of money given in to school so far this half term, and this is just for 'asks' and not lunch money, uniform etc, but for sponsorship, donations, non uniform days etc, is £50.10.

That is fifty pounds sterling and ten pence.

School photos are next week. Sigh. Copies to Sister in Law, Brothers, darling uncle, darling father, us (of course) and I suspect a few more aunties. I won't add in the cost of a hair cut before it, though, as he is due a hair cut anyway.

It all could be a lot worse, I suppose. I was keeping a total out of amusement, but it may be quite useful, if only to point out parental contribution to the staff.

Mother gloat

This is a complete gloat, so please avert eyes if you have enough of mums gloating over their precious darlings.

Little bear got a star for reading straight through his first reading book. And instead of having one reading book, he got sent home with two.

And, and this is the really good bit for me, all this evening he has been lovely with pleases and thank yous, and that's even better. When we were asking him about tea it was all, yes please and no thank you and I think that is brilliant.

Tomorrow is, of course, another day, and I am sure there will be mischief at some point, but I am so proud of my polite young man.

Ssshhh - don't say the name

The downside of grumbling about the C word means that the adverts are all now flagging up decorations, cards, gifts etc for the time of the C word


I blame myself for the unseasonal grumble. Bah humbug

Little bear is fashion conscious

Well, perhaps little bear is not fashion conscious, but he does like his new coat. The thin rain proof jacket is no longer warm enough, though it may hang on for a third summer (an ebay bargain that has really worked!) However, last winter's coat (which may have also had some wear the winter before) is no longer quite big enough. I could probably have hung on for another week or two, but I thought I might as well bite the bullet.

So I went into Matalan and splurged £22 on a red coat for little bear. Red, as he repeatedly tells us, is his favourite colour, and it has a scrunchable hood, velco patches, buttons, zips, pockets inside and out and an internal belt - all things guaranteed to appeal to young boys. For me, it has a warm lining, a hood and is a decent length as so many of the coats for little ones seem quite short. None of the jackets really seemed that warm to my fussy inspection, but a nicely padded jacket with some fleece in the lining, together with a vest, polo shirt, thick sweatshirt, hat, gloves and scarf should keep him okay in the 100 yards he has to get to school and the few minutes wait before we go in.

Of course, the worry about whether little bear will be warm enough is really my worry as I feel the cold and little bear doesn't.

Little bear absolutely adores it. He modelled it last night for OH and darling father, he checked it was still here this morning and insisted on wearing it while he brushed his teeth. I took my life in my hands and ironed a name tape onto a non iron coat and he has happily worn it to school. It seems to have enough room to last until April, but I am not betting. Some of the polo shirts I bought at the end of August are looking a bit on the short side - thank goodness! He is growing like a weed.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Christmas Comments

Morgan - it is like Halloween, and Valentine's Day, and even Easter. Some people make a lot of money marketing 'goodies' for Christmas. There seem to me more and more hysteria about it every year. And there are more and more magazines filling more and more glossy pages with aspirational 'Christmas Breakfasts'.

Humbug! Bah Humbug!

It doesn't mean that I won't try and make it special for us. There will be the goodies we want - this year I am planning an extravagant fruit basket from Fruit4U. We always have Lebkuchen, or Pfeffernuss. There will be a lot of opportunities for trifle. But those are the things we like, and I just refuse to do anything more because someone wants to sell me stuff. As for turkey, last year we had steak. A turkey can be dry, tasteless, and an entire bird is too much for us. The smaller joints are disproportionally dear. Steak wasn't an unfrugal choice for a Christmas dinner.

I think it is appropriate to have a celebration in the darkest time of the year, but I think it criminal that people are being pressured into spending more money than they want on more stuff that they want and wasting so much.

Bah, Bah Humbug!

(Also, ashamed I have started this topic, because it is still only October)

May be mugged again at school

Today is the sponsored fun run. I haven't taken in the sponsorship stuff, as I wasn't sure it would happen as there has been a lot of weather.

In fact, there has been a surplus of weather, I am not happy. We have had alternate June and November in fifteen minute slots all day and I am sick of it. Poor old evil cat's whiskers must be aching with the wind as well.

However, it has been at least a week since we were last mugged, so I will wait and see what else they come out with. Children in Need/Halloween/Bonfire Night are looming and I would be incredibly surprised if money isn't shaken out of us then.

But little bear is having such a good time at school, and he was so pleased he came home with a star, and he is so happy, that I don't really want to grumble too much. However I shall be parting with cash soon - new winter coat needed. Actually he will need new polo shirts soon - the shirts I bought him at the beginning of September are beginning to look a little small!!!!

Off the Christmas List

Things I do not need to buy for Christmas.

I am not buying (or making) mince pies. None of us is that fond of them really. I mean, they're okay, and when the packet that I don't really want inevitably lands on the table they will be eaten. Just not with great anticipation.

I am not buying or making a starter for Christmas dinner. No matter how hard I try with portion control, we are always too stuffed after just the dinner and we have Christmas pudding for tea. One year I forgot the meat and we didn't notice.

Nor am I messing about with Buck's Fizz cocktails for breakfast. I may be able to coax a spoonful of cereal down little bear but the odds are against it. He will be stuffing himself on whatever chocolate and sweets he can blag. Other options will be toast or porridge.

I definitely do not need to buy wrapping paper or cards - there is a minor mountain of both in the corner of the room, even without little bear's artistic contribution.

I am not getting a huge tin of sweets this year, nor of chocolate biscuits. There will be plenty of other goodies but all we do is eat them and then feel sick.

I am not getting outside lights. Nor will decorations go up in November. Unless you are uber cool, efficient and organised with the decorating sense of Anthea Turner, it is really hard to get them to look good for any length of time. My Nice Next Door Neighbour's decorations go up shortly after Guy Fawkes Night. It puts me right off the Christmas Spirit.

I am not getting forty five different kinds of pickles. We open them all, eat the top third and then I throw the rest out in February.

Bah humbug!

Christmas is coming

Sorry - I used the 'C' word. Christmas is looming over me, and yesterday darling father brought home a Christmas cake.

It was a home made one, made by a church member, and it looks full of fruit and very tasty. I really appreciate darling father bringing it home as he probably was forced to pay £6.50 (a really bargain - it's a decent sized cake!) at gunpoint to 'show willing'.

However, while all of us will eat Christmas cake, none of us are really that bothered, and we had decided not to bother with a Christmas cake this year. And it is un-iced. I will be icing and decorating it. I have never successfully iced a cake yet. I know the theory, apricot jam, marzipan, icing, decorations. It all sounds very straight forward. I am not sure that it is actually quite so straight forward though, and I am going to be braced. It is going to be ready roll icing (I am a coward) and I have no shame in patching and poking and if necessary I will stick a plastic holly leaf over a hole.

Actually, although I am being very pessimistic about it, I think it will be quite fun. There is a stall on Leeds market that does all the cake decorations etc, really lovely stuff, and all the glace citron and ginger that you can't easily find in the shops, lovely and fresh. They do the huge sultanas and scraps of crystallised ginger that we all love to snack on, and you can get loose herbs, spices and nuts there as well. I shall take little bear in and we shall choose decorations together, and then we can decorate the cake together. I am really looking forward to that!

Frugal Fail

I bought some handwash. I could stand the stuff that smelled like industrial drain cleaner, but was allegedly basics shower gel, no longer, and I couldn't find any other soapy stuff to stick in the container that wasn't just as dear. I spent £1 on some Palmolive.

In the grand scheme of things, it isn't too bad. And I can cheer myself up that we have had very few takeaways recently, we have been eating home cooked food and been doing fine. I wouldn't say it had been hugely frugal cooking, but I think it could have been worse. I am determined to get there.

Another cheering thought - there is no alcohol on the order coming today, just a few bits that are heavy to carry. That is a nice thought. Though the delivery driver will probably have decided that we are on the wagon and going to AA. I wonder if they do actually notice what is in a delivery? My mad imagination could have a field day.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Sour Puss

Last night was bin night as the bins are collected on a Wednesday morning. So we do the usual trawl round to make sure that everything is out that should be out, check the fridge and generally lighten the house a bit. The bin fills up pretty quickly. Last night we had chicken so I picked the bones (not really happy with the chicken, but it was okay, definitely didn't want stock from the remains though) and put the bones in a plastic bag with a good slug of vinegar. Because it was in the evening the bag got put in the bin quite near the top, but I thought it would be okay because it really was a generous slug of vinegar.

This morning the garden was a charnel house of bones strewn everywhere. Once small chicken generated a lot of remains, there were bits all over. According to Nice Mrs Next Door, their cat Oscar, the one that digs up darling father's flowers, the one that is entirely black and apparently still growing, the one that usually specialises in rats on the step, is the likely candidate. Especially as he likes vinegar.

How can a cat like vinegar? Evil cat will lick Olbas Oil from fingers, so I suppose anything is possible, especially if it involves being evil. So my normal method of protecting bones won't work. As Oscar is also fond of curry (I didn't even question this), pepper is probably no good either. I shall try a squirt of lemon next time and failing that I shall be digging out my bottle of household ammonia.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Evil cat is reassuring

Poor old, creaky, achy, grumpy, slow moving, tetchy evil cat. Today the weather caught her and she was dashing around like a furry lunatic. She shot up the stairs, down the stairs and round the corner. Then out, round and back again. She has always got giddy when it gets windy.

She has also managed to get herself locked out once and accidentally shut in the porch twice while I looked all over for the source of the indignant yowls.

It is so reassuring when she is like this.

She is currently sulking with her ears on amber alert. With iffy growths on her spine and losing so much muscle tone, she is probably feeling the effects. No doubt she will take it out on me later.

Housewifery Fail

I blogged earlier about things shooting out of the freezer as I was trying to stack them back in. Two things shot out and were missed in the general frustration - a packet of mince and two portions of breaded haddock. They shot under a bag of ironing and I only found them this morning.

I am just so fed up with the chaos that is going on. Last night I was trying to get washing dry and ended up putting little bear's trousers in the dryer for the first time. It seriously took the shine off them, they are now very limp and apologetic, and the socks I got him shrunk (okay, only until they got on his foot when they stretched back to normal) and I could have wept.

Approved Food are selling 5kg bags of pasta for £1.49. I am going to forget about getting them, though. The house is just so full of stuff that I just can't imagine where I would put it.

Need to resurrect Operation Clutterbust!

Monday drama

I didn't have the energy to appreciate the entertainment. The lady in the house that used to house Her Three Doors Down and who used to live two doors down (the one where the police carried out a load of plants and had to come back for a second trip) had an argument with the gentleman. I heard her shrieking for him to get out, and his clothes landed on the street. Nice Mr Next Door moved his car in the nick of time, as the clothes were followed by a computer tower landing with a wallop and a smash on the pavement.

It hasn't lasted in the past, it probably won't last now, and all seems to be 'normal' for them. I do feel for the little ones, though. The two oldest didn't make it into school, and they will be taking more and more in.

Little bear is full of bounce

The title says it all - he is full of life. The doctor said it was a viral ear infection, just keep giving the pain killers, and bless him gave us a prescription to get some more calpol free. Little bear is still doing great ghost impressions, but he is fine, full of life. At the chemist I spotted another mum there with a little boy with exactly the same as little bear. The little boy was at the same party as little bear on Sunday, so something is going round - again.

As I witter about all and everything, I will be posting at little bear's green noses and sniffles and coughs. It is stuff that every child gets and really only mums fuss. He seems to be doing just fine, thanks.

Monday, 3 October 2011


I think I gloated too much that little bear slept so well when he was put to bed by my brother, he slept like a little log.

Last night he was up at 11.30pm, 1.30am, 4.30am and 6am - ear ache. I am about to take him to the doctors. He has gone to school however. When I dropped him off he was in a better condition than I was. However I have a doctors appointment for him - twenty five minutes after he gets out of school, so not really worth coming home for. I am sure I can keep him entertained.

Little bear is spoiled

Little bear has had a very rich weekend. First of all he had a trip to Temple Newsam. Then he had his uncle babysitting (good for an extra story!). Then he had a trip to a party for his 'girlfriend's' birthday at a softplay with an extremely hazardous slide - kids were, without exaggeration, bouncing off the netting at the bottom of the slide, little bear told me with glee that he flew over the bumps. He did his Christmas card for school and then he visited his Auntie.

OH's sister is lovely, and we dropped off some late birthday presents. And then the goodies for little bear appeared. Honestly, he could do no wrong. I sit there and fret as little bear is treated to a tour of the cupboards (in case there is anything in there for him, a strangely productive pastime). We cuddled the rabbit and had a nice chat.

I shall be sorting out a spread sheet as we have been given a float by both SIL and darling uncle, just in case something for little bear is needed. Sigh.

We have agreed that we will do something for Halloween, albeit on 30th October. My approach was, 'do you fancy doing something like letting little bear come trick or treating - you don't have to, but I know you have in the past and we could pop in.' This was met with, 'we have already spotted some great stuff to decorate for Halloween, and some great jokes, and I will be putting on a buffet.'

I have promised to do stripey jellies. I used to do them for OH's niece when she was little. First you make up a batch of red jelly and pour a layer into a few clear plastic cups. Then when that had set I would do a layer of green jelly, then purple jelly, then yellow jelly. It can be a bit of a naff raff as you have to wait for each layer to set, but the aid of a fridge and putting ice cubes in with the cold water topping up the jelly mixture can speed things up. I am also planning on making some CLEARLY MARKED adult versions, with the green layer spiked with gin.

(btw, you can set sweetened coffee spiked with rum or Tia Maria with gelatine and top with cream and it does look rather posh)

May need a hat

Little bear went to a birthday party Saturday morning. It was at a soft play, and he had a ball. However the big thing about it for little bear was, and I quote, 'it's a birthday party for my girlfriend from nursery'.

They both looked really happy to see each other - she is now turned four and he is nearly five so that cruel fate and the education system have wrenched them apart. The little girl is still at nursery. Next year they will be probably at the same school, but different playgrounds. The cruel twists of fate that keep them apart.

Little bear asked OH what to do if the little girl held his hand. OH said, seriously, that little bear should squeeze it really gently. 'I couldn't do that!' little bear said, shocked.

I should add that he has told us very seriously that he is going to marry the little girl, and also told the lady who sold him the present we chose for the little girl. According to the little girl's very nice mum, she has also declared that she will marry little bear.

It may be a bit early to start talking hats, but they just seemed really happy playing with each other that I am happy to just accept that they have phrased a friendship in an odd way, and I'll get in touch with the little girl's mum to arrange playdates for them.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Evening of entertainment

It must be nearly ten times now since little bear was born that both OH and I have gone out together leaving him with a babysitter. An average of twice a year. Part of the problem is that I currently rely on my brother or sister in law to help out. And they are both so nice and pleasant about it, and they both have busy lives, so I don't want to take advantage of them. I can't be sure that they would say 'no' if they needed to say 'no', so it seems unfair to ask them, just in case.

I shall just mention that little bear had his story, his wash and then went out like a light. He was absolutely no trouble. Evil cat was more trouble and nailed my brother's friend - he was assuming that she was a cat, therefore a gentle stroke of the head could be acceptable. Evil cat was evil.

We went with darling father to the Methodist's Harvest supper. I suppose I could pick holes in this and that, but it would be hard work, and truly we did have a marvellous time. There was a meal, which I was impressed with, as the thought of mass catering terrifies me but the ladies on duty did wonders. Then there were a choir which was excellent and some truly wonderful solos. Some members of the choir did monologues or humorous readings and the MC did some wonderfully groanworthy jokes. There were some small children, up at nine at night, looking hollow eyed, exhausted and bewildered as they 'danced' prompted by the usual assortment of adults bent at the waist - but they were actually adorable. I gave them a huge round of applause.

I did taste dust and ashes a little. The choir sung like a formal choir, with soprano, alto, tenor and bass - I could see the sheet music they were holding and it was the lines for each part to sing. Once upon a time I sang in a choir like that. Our school choir had an ambitious music teacher and we joined with the local amateur opera society and sang things like Verdi's Requiem and Vaughan Williams Donna Nobis Pacem (scary stuff when it goes into the dies irae part). I couldn't exactly sing on first sight, but I could have a pretty good go. Now, although I could soon pick up the music reading quickly enough, and the range I have, judging by my singing to little bear, is much the same as it ever was, my health is too bad to cope. I would be literally unable to stand after the first five minutes - I just couldn't do it. I used to love singing. Now I can only sing to little bear, if I am sitting down and the volume is not to ambitious. Once I dreamed of having singing lessons, just for my own pleasure - my voice is extremely medium. I could never manage it now. I just don't have the energy or strength to sing like I used to. I found that a bit hard.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Morning out

OH and myself took little bear to Temple Newsam. The weather was glorious, and it seemed a shame not to go somewhere. So off we went to Temple Newsam, to the old fashioned farm there.

We went early, and there was little traffic as we pulled up. The first thing little bear noticed was the playground next to the car park. He was insistent that we went there first. 'We can go round the farm first, then any energy left you can use on the playground.' I said briskly. 'My energy tank is full,' little bear insisted, lying as the heat had taken its toll. But he dragged himself with us to the farm.

The farm has lots of the rare breeds, like Tamworth pigs and chinese geese. I really enjoyed going round. I spotted a farm moggy sloping between the old buildings, in these old places there are bound be good hunting spots. It is all the old stone farm buildings with the slate roofs. Some of it is seventeenth century, and still solid. It was relatively cool in the stone buildings but I did feel for the sows about to farrow. I remember how uncomfortable I felt just before little bear and I can't imagine that an animal doesn't have the same sense of, 'for heaven's sake isn't there one position I can be comfy' even without the heatwave.

There was also a sheep in the stone stables. I really, really felt for that sheep. It had a full fleece of dense wool. Great for early September when people were packing away their suncream and turning on the Central Heating but rubbish for late September when people were digging out their suncream and longing for Air Conditioning. It was just lying there, panting, though obviously healthy.

Little bear was unimpressed by the pigs, and the cows, and the geese ('too smelly, too noisy, too big, yuk!') because they weren't the playground. He wasn't even impressed with the toys at the gift shop (not playground) though he told the lady all about the present he had bought his girlfriend from nursery whose party he is going to tomorrow. And he was unimpressed by the cafe. He didn't want an ice cream or ice lolly, and he didn't want a cake or a sandwich, or even a piece of fruit and he would only tolerate a drink (wasn't the playground).

Eventually we went to the playground.

Little bear had a marvellous time. There was a huge slide which was actually a tunnel, curving round so kids could slide part way up the sides like they do in bobsleighs. Little bear came down feet first, head first, on his back, on his tummy - any way he could think. Almost worth putting up with a load of animals for.

Effects of shopping

Today, in the hottest October day so far, I took delivery of two snow shovels and a pair of thingies to put on your shoes to stop you slipping on ice. I shall still totter around like an idiot, but with less skidding.

I also took a delivery of a cookbook - thank you Ian! I shall dive into it! Cookbooks are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me - I possess hundreds, I read hundreds, I cook from, well, umm, possibly half a dozen. Almost certainly from this one, and if I get a go at a really good recipe I shall share.

Still at least in this weather I can get rid of the lolly ices clogging up my freezer. I have just spent an entertaining ten minutes after getting lolly ices for little bear, darling father and the grandson of next door, trying to fit everything back in to the freezer. It has been challenging. Just as I thought I had one box of mince slotted in, a packet of cut price casserole beef would come hurtling out and I would be nervous about bending down to pick it up in case an inexpensive frozen turkey drumstick (the real ones, not the reformed-and-breadcrumbed ones - the real ones with the bone still in make a great soup followed by stir fry the next day) would land on my head like a brick.

According to the weather forecast I need to enjoy the weather while I can. It can't last. And I can't wait from going to grumbling about being too hot to complaining about being too cold.