Saturday, 31 August 2013

Terms and Conditions Apply

I blogged about bear demanding mayonnaise so I bought a cartload from Approved Food, then bear deciding he didn't like it after all.  It's okay, the mayo is steadily going down as we all like it.  Besides, bear has just complained that we don't give him enough mayonnaise and it isn't fair.

Today bear has requested a sandwich with the crusts on.  I nearly fell over after years of cutting off crusts.  It worked out that he ate more if he didn't have the crusts as I trimmed closer to the crust than his teeth did.

This hasn't helped with the looming shadow of School Lunch Box.  If he hadn't come back half starved last time then I would be tempted to put him back on school dinners.  His most recent request is pasta salad, like his friend.  I have no idea the form the pasta salad takes, so I shall be in touch with the mum and try it out.  Bear does currently like pasta.  As he has complained bitterly about every form of sandwich in his lunchbox it is at least a way of getting some necessary carbs into him.  Until he invokes Terms and Conditions and changes his mind about that.

School are quite liberal about lunches, taking the view that it is better for the child to have something before they return to learning.  One of bear's friend has, according to the mum, chocolate spread sandwiches, a chocolate bar and chocolate milk.  He looks a bit pale.  However according to his mum he now likes to have dry crackers as well.

Bear is pretty good.  He often eats cucumber, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, apples, soft peel citrus and sometimes I even stretch to berries.  I always include something fresh.  The big problem I am now facing is protein.  Bear is currently rejecting ham.  He is also rejecting cheese except on pizza or at my brother's.  I tried Fridge Raiders which are over processed and designed to appeal to children bits of chicken.  He liked those until the Terms and Conditions kicked in.  He will sometimes take a small lump of cooked chicken, but we rarely have cooked chicken hanging around.  Besides, it is not something I can rely on.  Tuna has been utterly rejected.

I think he will start the new term with just salad bits, his drink and a slice of cold pizza.  He will at least eat the salad.

When will I learn?

It was never my idea to start with.  The freezer needed defrosting.  It has needed defrosting for many months.  I have been putting it off and 'running down the freezer', especially after the last time the freezer door was left open.  I have not been in a hurry about it.  It is a job I loathe and detest.  Then the freezer is currently surrounded by clutter which is quite far down the 'to do' list as I need to do x y and z first.  Then I am looking at the grim corners of the freezer at the things I ought to do stuff with and thinking I'll get to those before I start.  I can think of lots of reasons not to defrost the freezer now.

Action has been forced upon me.  Tomorrow we are going to my brother's for a barbecue.  They have everything set up for barbecues and we have gone several times over the summer.  This time we insist that it is our turn to take the meat.

The best place to get the meat for the barbecue for us is a farm shop which has a splendid meat counter.  What is on the counter is what was in the field.  There are also sacks of local veg as well and some lovely home made cakes and buns.  If we go to the farm shop for meat for the barbecue then we may as well get the meat to stock us up for Autumn.  And if we stock up for Autumn I need to defrost the freezer first.

So I froze some water in bags, DF brought some cheap £1.41 for 20 nappies back from town and I unplugged the freezer.  I put the few bits that I was willing to keep in a cool bag with the ice, stuffed the freezer with nappies and threw out the bits of food in the freezer that I had been avoiding for so long - in some case I think it may be years.  If I was going to actually use them, I would have used them by now.  I regretted the money wasted and took it as a lesson learned.  They were certainly not fit to pass on for next door's pets.

Then I forgot all about it.  I tootled around, helped DH with bear's routine, browsed the net and then, just as I was ready for bed at 10pm I remembered.  Thanks to the nappies there wasn't a flood, but the ice was still firmly attached.

So I have spent the last two hours wrestling with swollen nappies (they are wonderfully absorbent) and towels and lumps of ice.  I finally got a drawer back in that hasn't fitted since before last Christmas and I think I have done something interesting to my shoulder.  I didn't do a perfect job, but it was good enough.  Tomorrow I have room to stock up!

Tomorrow I will also finish clearing up a stack of cloths, nappies, rags and damp patches.  For now I am winding down after the battle with a hot chocolate and a grumble on the internet.  Next time I will be better organised.  I shall also start saving for a frost free freezer.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Angela - thank you for the comment.  I shall grin and bear it and use the money saved to pay for the salt and rinse aid.  I'm still getting the hang of the dratted machine.  Though it has been a blessing!


I gambled on getting some dishwasher tablets from Approved Food which were Finish Classic, £9.99 for 90 so within a sneeze of my aim of 10p per tablet and they came with £5.25 off delivery.  I wanted some bits anyway as I seem to be feeding the entire street a constant stream of sweets so it seemed like a good idea.

First of all the instructions are in foreign.  I think the instructions are in a Scandinavian language and are at least in an alphabet I can recognise but apart from that I have no idea.  I may try typing some instructions into Babelfish and working my way around the Baltic languages.

I also have had a dishwasher for less than a year and I have never added things like salt or rinse aid.  We were advised to always get the 'absolutely everything in one tablet' type stuff and we have for the last ten months.  Apparently I need to add things like salt etc, though it is hard to tell.  I am going by the pictures. I am not even sure where to put things like salt as I can't find the dishwasher instruction manual.

I feel like I've been suckered.  However I will just bung the tablets in and see how they go.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

I found them!!!!

Poor DH, his birthday has come and gone and his presents had been so well hidden that he missed his them.  Again.  On the bright side, he is used to it.  I am carrying on a tradition that his mother started.  She would regularly appear months after the event with a toy or book and a slightly embarrassed expression.

I now need to wrap them (yeurk!) and practice a cheerful smile.  He did have other stuff to open on the day as I have a scatter approach to presents.  People usually get lots of little ones.

I already have the single September Birthday present, and I know the inexpensive present I will be getting for the November birthday.  As for Christmas, that is almost sorted.

I can't get too smug about Christmas.  It has just sort of happened.  DF gets the Daily Mail every day.  His father got the very first one in 1922 and he carries on the tradition.  I probably won't.  However until then I will carry on collecting the codes and the points that go with them.  I currently have over 13,000 points.   £35 of M&S vouchers need 14,400 which I should have by November and in time to cash in for Christmas.  I may go for the Morrisons vouchers or Tescos which are roughly the same points for spends depending on how I jiggle things around.  If I get the Christmas and New Year joints from the farm shop then the £35 will more than cover most of the extras.

I should add that the points are only worth collecting if you read the paper anyway.  If DF stopped getting his paper then I would find other ways to save.

I currently have just over £30 in Nectar points.  By the time Christmas comes it will pay (or nearly) for three 40% proof presents in Sainsburys.  I pick up Nectar points when I shop on ebay.  It is only ever worth collecting points if you are going there, buying it or doing it anyway.  As ebay is my friend the odd point here and there is an added bonus.

I must get back to doing surveys.  If I can get some Amazon vouchers then that will help.

Money is being stashed monthly for presents.  Bear will, of course, be ridiculously indulged, but I am keen on limiting his presents.  Once again he doesn't really need much, so I will go with the flow.  I know I have the really big costs to come.

Monday, 26 August 2013

I woke up before Bear!

It was amazing!  I woke up before bear and then hung on with my legs crossed until he woke.  I can't tell  you how odd it feels.  He didn't wake until 8am!

He then spoiled it a bit because he wanted a chicken sandwich for breakfast and we didn't have any chicken in.  Bear utterly rejected any breakfast product that wasn't Haribo and I was not caving in on that.  I think at a low point bear has had fruit in jelly for breakfast, but I few the line at this.  The negotiations that went on would have shaken Mr Cameron.  In the end we settled for porridge (with honey and raisins) and then one of the very small packets of haribo you get in multipacks.  It took about ninety minutes to reach this point.

Bear has a great future in sales.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Bear is not happy

The trip to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff has been hanging over me like the Sword of Damocles.  It is coming up to the fiftieth anniversary, bear adores Doctor Who and this Experience is supposed to be the best thing ever.  We would be mad to miss it.

So I'm considering and plotting and thinking about how to juggle all the costs and whether to go by car or train and where to stay.  Today bear broke down in tears as he didn't want to go.  At first his main objection was that he was going to be away from home on Halloween.  However when it comes down to it bear doesn't want to go away from home at all.

We go through this every time!  It needs dynamite to get bear further than the end of the street.  I am so fed up of having to drag bear to anything more than the computer.  I could cry sometimes.

I am torn.  On the one hand it will be really good for bear to go away.  We can't just leave him at home all the time.  On the other hand it is a long way to go for a lot of money when we could be physically pulling bear from train to hotel to attraction to train.  Bear has had a brilliant summer with the out of hours school holiday club.  He has gone to the seaside, parks, museums, attractions and generally had the opportunity to do all sorts.  He has objected mightily.  If he goes to the after school club due to emergencies or to cover for me having some time out then it is on the school premises and within sight of the house.  In the holidays he has to leave the postcode!  In fact he has been forced to go as far as leaving the county and travelling as far as fifty miles!  He objected to the backwards day when they did everything backwards and wore pyjamas because it was five miles away.

I am not sure that going to the Doctor Who Experience (which has some really awesome reviews) is a good idea.  I am, however, fairly sure that not going is sending the wrong signal.  I wish being a mum came with a handbook.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Lamb loaf

This is actually looking inexpensive.  It can probably be jazzed up by better cooks, but I think it may be worth a go.  The recipe is from The Classic 1000 Microwave Recipes by Sonia Allison

1 lb (500g) minced lamb, two large eggs beaten, half teaspoon each of dried rosemary and mint, crushed garlic, two tablespoons of flour, half teaspoon of salt, tablespoon of brown sauce.

Mix all ingredients together and put in a lightly greased dish.  Cover with cling film, slit it twice and microwave for eight minutes.  Leave stand for four minutes and serve.

So I bought the mince frozen from Morrisons and allowed it to thaw.  I stirred that together with three medium eggs (didn't have large), and I used garlic salt instead of garlic + salt as I didn't have any fresh garlic.  I forgot the brown sauce and didn't have the mint.  DH put it under the grill after it had finished cooking for the sake of texture.  It actually tasted okay, served with chips and broccoli.  We only used half and will have the other half cold tonight.

I am finding the cost interesting.  On the one hand the lamb cost £2.27, the eggs cost 33p and the other bits were just pennies, I suppose.  It will do us two meals.  The big saving is the method of cooking.  Even with using the grill at the end it was considerably less expensive to use the microwave for eight minutes than the conventional oven for around 90 minutes which is the conventional time for a meatloaf, although a lot of meatloaf recipes have bigger amounts.  I am determined to try and use my microwave and remoska more as well as checking what we are eating.  The cost of fuel is a significant part of cooking and I want to keep that in mind as well.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Not sure it was worth 6p

The idea was that a lot of trips were rolled into one day to save the bus fares.  We had the trip to town for DF's present from bear, we had the trip to Headingley to test bear's budgeting and then we were going to have a special 'meet daddy' time and have something to eat out.

The trip to town was fine.  Bear fell asleep and the trip only took twenty minutes.  Then we went  to WH Smiths.  I gritted my teeth as I wanted to pick up puzzle books for DF for a present and I knew that he had extensively raided The Works which is one of the better places to pick up a puzzle.  Bear assured me that he could do crosswords and please could he have this puzzle book.  What he meant was that his grandfather had allowed him to fill in some answers in his crosswords.  Bear examined one book and said airily, 'This will be fine, the answers are in the back.'  Negotiations followed.  I didn't want to discourage him too much, as I enjoy puzzles, so does DF and bear does seem to like a challenge. It became easier to come to agreement and persuade bear that he really wanted the cheapest option when I realised that bear was actually after a red puzzle book and the type of puzzle was less important.  At least I saved some money there, I seem to come away having spent a lot in WH Smiths (but DF is worth it).

Bear stayed awake on the bus to Headingley but decided that he didn't want to look for toys, he only wanted to look at books.  I think this is the budgeting working, as he was being quite clear about what he was willing to spend his money on.  This week it included a absolutely humunguos children's encyclopedia.  However he stuck to reading the Dr Who reference book in the cafe, where he ate the icing from a cake that he promised he would eat all of and then drank two inches of a berry smoothie because he decided he wasn't keen on the pips.  He insists on visiting this particular cafe and the only time he has actually finished anything on his plate is when he stole some of DF's toast and jam.

Bear went to sleep on the bus to meet DH and took some waking when we get there, although he insisted that he was just resting his eyes.  Then we went in to Morrisons to spend more than £40 to get 6p per litre off petrol.  I knew that this would be fairly easy, but I had underestimated how much extra I would spend on just 'bear junk'.  I ended up buying sweeties and goodies, and I even picked up some books with 1000 mental maths questions, 1000 English questions, 1000 spelling questions and 1000 calculator maths questions.  Bear is already racing through the English questions.  If I hadn't had bear with me I think I would have struggled to make £40.  However I winced a little as the bill came in at over £60.  It really is less expensive if I get a delivery.

Then we went to a fish and chip restaurant for a really lovely meal.  Bear was really well behaved, I was so proud.  I do think that it was a very bear meal.  We went to a fish and chip restaurant, bear adores all forms of fish, so he decided he was going to have pizza and ate every mouthful although he has been very clear that he doesn't like cheese.  Then he finally remembered that his meal was supposed to come with ice cream for afters included when all the adults had forgotten.  He then ate the toffee sauce.

Bear is a very tired bear at the moment.  Today he went to a museum with the out of school club, tomorrow we are visiting another museum with a friend, and on Friday he will be out again.  He will be glad to go back to school for a rest!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Keeping on keeping on

I have just realised how dull my blog is.  All the other blogs have recipes or ideas or patterns.  Mine just has wittering.

Today's witter is bear, again.  The plan today involves quite a bit of travelling.  We go into town to pick up a birthday present, then out to Headingley for the charity shopping - bear has double money.  Then we go out to Morrisons to pick up over £40 of groceries to get the 6p per litre off the petrol.  Then we meet with DH to go for a meal.  I think it will be the glamorous MacDonalds.  Bear suggested we took a taxi.  We are definitely taking the bus.  A taxi would be around four times the cost of the bus fare.

I suppose the blog is good for that, working out whether a deal is a good deal.  We are going to Morrisons anyway, as it is a good place to meet DH from work.  We will be able to manage £40 of groceries without blinking.  Sadly these days it is far too easy to rack up that amount.  Then we will have 6p off per litre off petrol at a Morrisons petrol station, which is where DH buys his petrol from anyway.

In the past we have had deals from Sainsburys for money off petrol, but it is so far out of the normal route that it isn't worth driving that far to get the petrol, we would  use all the benefit.  Getting the discount would only be worth it if it doesn't involve spending money we wouldn't otherwise.

There is another side to this.  It is more cost effective for me to get a grocery delivery than go shopping with bear.  Deep down I am wondering how much we will spend.  A full tank for DH, around every three to four weeks, is @ £50.  So a 6p per litre discount may well balance up against all the impulse buys.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Chips with Everything

The low fat chip fryer has turned out to be a halogen oven.  It is really actually quite good.  I am trying to empty my freezer (as ever!) and on Saturday we had a load of samosas, bhajis and spring rolls that were a pack left over from two snack teas earlier in the year.  I get big frozen packs from Makro and they are great for when no-one can face much.  They cooked in the new halogen thing in about two thirds of the normal time and had a really good finish.  Sausages also cook in there really well.

DH loves home made chips and as I haven't had an ordinary fryer since I set some chips alight he has been making do with oven chips.  Now the halogen thingy does almost fat free chips he can't get enough.  He wants chips with everything.  As DF wants mash with everything I am getting a bit challenged.  I am considering instant mash.

Tonight is chilli and chips, or possibly beeferoni.

I have an interesting cooking week ahead.  Today bear is on a trip with the school club so that means I will be bringing him in as DH is driving up.  I haven't got the stuff for a casserole so I am going with the quick mince dish.  Tomorrow I am not cooking as we are meeting DH from work.  Wednesday bear is out, but so am I.  I need to get out of the house as I am starting to find it incredibly difficult.  I am considering IKEA so that would be meatballs and chips.  If I don't make IKEA it will be egg and chips.  Thursday we are going to the Armouries with one of bear's friends so it will be frozen veggie burgers with the chips.  Friday bear is out again, and I may try and cue up a casserole so I am not worried about picking up bear then getting home and doing something quick.  Saturday we are out.  Sunday I am out so I will have to get something lined up for
DH.  It may involve peeling potatoes and cutting chips.

I have three big challenges this week.  One is to sort out a vast quantity of textiles.  One is to sort out the books so that the spares can go to the church for the sale a week on Saturday.  One is to get the freezer defrosted as we are going to the farm shop on Saturday to stock up with meat.

I am actually looking forward to the challenge.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Cherry stones

I really need to start putting tags on my posts.  Perhaps then I would be able to find out when I bought the cherry stones, as I blogged about it at the time.  It was some time ago.

Friday night DH was very poorly indeed with stomach cramps among everything else.  He was desperate for a hot water bottle, and the only one that we had was one that came with a teddy bear that belongs to bear.  This turned out to leak.  We improvised okay on Friday night.

Poor DH was still suffering a little yesterday.  As the excavations in the dining room had made some space I could find the cherry stones, so I cut up a pillow case and hand sewed a few seams. Filling it was interesting.  I started off using a basic kitchen funnel but the cherry stones kept getting stuck so I cut the end off a very small bottle of lemonade I regretted getting bear and after a wash and a dry it was an excellent funnel.  Bear has helped fill the bags and I will be finding cherry stones for weeks.  Then we bunged it in the microwave for two minutes and we had a lovely heat bag.  I've done three in total from the pillowcase.  They don't look like this...

... which is a cherry stone pillow on sale on ebay at @ £13.  They are more sort of scraggy, with bleached white cotton.  However they are a lot less expensive as the pillowcase I cut up was more of a job lot of former hotel pillowcases I bought that worked out about 50p each.  I still have dozens of them, and I am not wilfully getting rid.  Pillowcases are very useful.

I looked at the bag and thought about it.  It would be lovely to get some really nice fabric and make some really nice bags that are sewn with a square seam and perhaps even have a decorated featured, like some chain stitch.  I looked at fabric on ebay.  I winced at the price for 'nice' fabric.  I decided against that and as I am going to the charity shops on Tuesday I will have a look for things that can be re-purposed.  It will have to be something like 100% cotton to take the heat of the stones and the microwave.  There is also a jumble sale on next Saturday at DF's church and I will have a quick look there.

Then I thought about the sewing.  I hand sewed them, of course, as I got rid of my sewing machines as I was scared of them.  Actually one was mine and far too big, one was given to me, and both had long since seized up.  I thought about getting a little one, there's one on ebay for @ £30 that would do basic straight stitching, zig zag etc.  I got a big one over twenty years ago because I was told I had to get a sewing machine that would do button holes.  If I was incredibly stupid enough to make something with buttons today I wouldn't hesitate.  I would sew buttons on the outside and then press studs or snap fasteners underneath.  I also haven't yet made the curtains for the two rooms yet and that is a lot of hand sewing.

However the curtains I hand sewed years ago haven't fallen apart, my seams seem to hold even in the washing machine, and once I had made the curtains I can't see me using a sewing machine for another ten years.  I may as well stick to hand sewing for now.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Hello Saturday

I am exhausted, DH is shaky and tired and bear is on fast forward and this morning has made it his mission to argue that Black is White.

DF is now settling down for the start of the football season.  I believe kick off for his team is @ 1pm and by 1.30pm it will be illegal for him to operate heavy machinery.  For once I will let him off being incoherent by dinner time.  He does love his football.

It all could be worse.  Bear has let us off a trip to Headingley, though I will be required to cough over £20 next week as we missed this week.  I wonder whether I'll be able to carry it all home.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Normal for here

DH is poorly and so bear gets  his heart's desire and gets to sleep on the sofa.  I am a little baffled, but it means that bear doesn't have to hear noises from the bathroom.  Thankfully DH is feeling much better now.  It wasn't dinner as he was poorly before (heaves sigh of relief)

btw tried cooking sausages in the halogen oven.  After twenty minutes from not quite frozen they were looking very nearly charred, I just caught them in time.  It looks like the oven could be useful.  This is entirely coincidental.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Keeping your eyes open

Today I saw a heron on top of Matalan's roof.  It isn't the picture above.  That's a stock photo from Stock Free Images  It's a bit frustrating.  I have finally got the camera on my phone to work, but it had run out of juice.  I am always surprised to see something like that.  I forget about the beck being 'wildlife'.  DF has seen brown trout in there.  It really does pay to keep your eyes open.  I haven't seen any foxes, but then I haven't seen any rabbits either.  I think Matalan poison the rats.

Today I haven't really nibbled at the elephant.  I've dashed around a fair bit, the chairs have gone, bear has been fed and cuddled.  DF has been fed.  Darling uncle has been called several times.  Now lunch is over I think I shall consider socks.  I also need to consider how I am going to make two chicken breasts feed four (stir fry with lots of onions plus whatever veggies I can find from local shops).

Bear has been lovely today.  I usually only record when he is a Mr Mischief, but today he has been lovely, a real pleasure.  He helped me bring in the shopping.  My instinctive reaction is that a six year old shouldn't be helping lift and carry.  However he helped, lifting litres of milk and all sorts and was really good, so I gave him lots of praise and positive feed back.  He is my darling.

Mind you, the 'red' shirt that I purchased from ebay has turned up and it is very fine red and white stripes.  Bear does not approve of wearing a pink shirt.  This shirt may technically be striped but as far as he is concerned it looks pink.  Bear is being very clear on this.  So I have decided to get a dye and see what fun we can have with that.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

One bite at a time

As I am sleeping in a room full of junk, in need of clearing, the bed moving, a step ladder fetching, mold being treated, and completely redecorating I have of course been tackling the dining room today.

I've done okay.  I've moved heavy dining room chairs, shifted a tumble dryer (quite light, really), thrown out a great deal of general rubbish, bagged up a half a dozen carrier bags of stuff for a charity shop, shifted a table (that was really hard) and finally parted with a scratching post that belonged to evil cat.  That was a wrench.

The dining room is a serious block.  Once I have got that sorted then I can get into the walk in cupboard.  Once I have sorted that then I have options for putting a lot of the stuff in the kitchen into there, which will make it easier to use the kitchen.  The walk in cupboard (as big as the kitchen in our last house) is also where all the tools are stored.  This sounds more impressive than it is.  We have a variety of random, poor quality tool boxes filled with random poor quality tools - plus the tools of darling father.  At some point there will be a chance to sit down with the men of the house and decide which tools we are keeping and then donate the rest.  This will also get rid of a lot of the tools in the room I am sleeping in and start to make space there.

At the same time after getting the wardrobe set up I now can start putting my clothes away.  It will give me a chance to get rid of a lot of stuff that I don't really like.

So while I have still heaps of ironing, mounds of bedding and far too many socks that need pairing, today has been very positive.  I've taken a bite of the elephant (thank you Janet, I have a mantra!) and that is something.

Tomorrow is not likely to be as productive.  Bear is finding summer exhausting.  I keep sending him to the holiday club, to keep him away from some problems here, and he is finding it a bit more wearing than he expected.  He was there today, but not tomorrow.  So I am keeping tomorrow for cuddles.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Possibly a Good Thing

I am deconstructing the mound of fabric that is my 'dining room'.  I have to put 'dining room' in commas as it hasn't been dined in for nearly ten years.  Instead there is this huge heap of ironing, towels, bedding, more ironing, coat hangers, ironing and lots of clothes bear has grown out of (that need ironing).  I haven't been able to get to a large part of it due to the over large ironing board.  It sort of blocks things off and makes things murder to get to and if things slip down a mound then they are impossible to reach.  I have been saying that I will get on top of the ironing and when I do then I will sort things out.  However it has been looking less and less possible.  So I thought I would start by excavating.

It is incredibly depressing.  It just seems to keep on coming.  However I am don't want to outsource the ironing, even just temporarily, as I want to feel the pain of getting it straight and know that I will never do it again.  This may be wishful thinking, but it's a theory.  Another problem is that there is nowhere to put eg towels.  They do not have a designated home.  Neither do pillow cases.  There just isn't anywhere to put them.

I am just trudging on while bear is at holiday club, mainly in short, baffled bursts.  On the bright side, I've found a vacuum cleaner I'd forgotten we had.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Found a cat blog

Goodness only knows how I found this, but just sharing...

Better than evil cat...

The Royal Armouries

Lesley - During the summer there are loads of kids stuff on, & Fri & Sat there is jousting.  They were really good with bear.  Lots of cases full of weapons, bits of film, often there are displays or interpreters. Website  Look out for the Jesters Yard with kids activities (£2.50) or knight 'training' (over eights, I think that is @ £4 but don't quote me)

Parking is rubbish, a pay for multistorey car park, but not many options for casual parking around, you get out of the car park into a sort of plaza and across the road to the armouries, it's all signposted.  As a Leeds dweller, I can't think of anywhere inexpensive/free to park without a hike, but directions to the car park start around about Huddersfield with the brown signs for the Armouries.  TAKE SANDWICHES as food is unpleasant and a complete rip off!

Things like the falconry displays (Sundays), the jousting, the jesters yard and Knight School are all to pay for, but the museum itself is free and there are loads of little screens with films of reenactments etc.  They have Henry VIII's armour, Japanese armour, a stonking great model elephant from the hunting days of the Raj etc.  I think there may be elephant armour in there, but again don't quote me.

I could keep going back time and again, but despite everything there will be lots of walking past cases saying things like, 'that sword is taller than you.' They've done their best and at least the main museum is free.

btw They currently have a free display of swords and stuff used in the film 'Lord of the Rings'.  One does not simply walk past a display case containing Glamdring.  Link here


The Royal Armouries

Please note red socks.

We went to the Royal Armouries yesterday.  I really recommend it, though take your own sandwiches as the expensive food and drink isn't even nice.  We had a marvellous time, we held owls and hawks, saw exhibits and people demonstrating long bows and generally had a good time.

One of the exhibits I love best is the Tower of Steel, a tower filled with patterns of bayonets and muskets and pikes and all sorts.  They have a fancy sort of mirror console that reflects the ceiling so it can see it properly and I used it to take a photo.

When it first opened we had a season ticket and were there all the time.  Now it is free, and awkward to get to.  Once there were plenty of buses or I was more able to walk from the bus station and the parking was free.  Now the parking is expensive, I am yet to build up that amount of tolerance to walking and I haven't worked out the buses which appear to be every other full moon.  However we still go when we can.

This morning I made five separate trips to the Methodists not to mention belting up and down stairs getting rid of a lot of plastic storage boxes.  Most of them were empty or had an inch worth of junk in the bottom.  I have decided that I don't need more storage.  I just need less stuff to store.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Bear wears red socks

Bear was arguing bitterly about socks so I caved and started looking for red socks for him.  Bear is very clear that red is his favourite colour and while he has to wear black or grey school he is keen on something a bit more red for out of school.  So I indulged him and bought some bright red socks - from Amazon of all places.  So bear is happily strutting around in his red socks.

Added to that bear managed to get a taste of DH's pot noodle.  At 10.00am it was the first amount of food put before him this summer that he completely finished.  I could cry.

Resigning myself to looking for good deals in Pot Noodles.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

An Easy Mistake to Make

We all went to Headingley this morning as bear wanted to show DH the wonder that is charity shops.  We had yet another lovely snack in 'Love Rouge' which I recommend to anyone in Headlingley.  Here is a cupcake bear demolished previously.

Then we were fortified to go on to the charity shops.

I had a bit of a rummage in the children's books in one shop and while bear investigated all the possibilities of the toys and took one to the manager.  'I don't think this should be in with the children's books,' I said, 'As it's called Joint Rolling.'  The manager looked at me blankly.  'I don't think it means shoulder joints.'  I added.  She still looked blank.  'It's about drugs.' I said eventually.

It was an easy mistake to make.  There was a jolly cartoon hedgehog on the front and lots of jolly cartoons inside if you didn't look properly.  If you actually looked briefly at the pictures there were lots of cigarette type shapes, but it was all clean and not drawn on.  I can understand that anyone can make a mistake.  Mind you, I am not exactly hip to the groove, I have no idea what any word on the street is except possibly 'No Parking' and I don't even listen to Radio 2 and I still got it.

Bear came back with a toy truck making thing, two Famous Five books, which I am glad about as they cost a fortune new, a Ben10 annual and two atlases.  He is most taken with the atlases.  Both DH and I prefer non fiction, and so does DF.  I've really enjoyed a rummage in the charity shops.

I don't think I will be going with bear every week, though.  After the summer is finished I won't really bother.  Otherwise while I will not be so much poorer (apart from travel costs), we will have to prise off the roof and stick on an extra layer of rooms to keep everything.

(cost to go charity shopping with bear if it is just us - £6 for fares, £5 for drink and cake, £10 for bear's allowance and £x for what I am tempted with but usually less than £5.  It could be worse)

Friday, 9 August 2013

All about bear

It usually is.

Bear does not approve of me going out.  He certainly does not approve of me going out at night with nice hair and make up.  This is entirely not acceptable.  According to bear, a mother's place is in the home unless she is picking him up from school or taking him to the martial arts at the end of the street.

My mother didn't go out, and neither did DH's mother, at least not when he was small.  However while I am okay not going out, I am not sure that any future daughter in law would think the same.  I have decided I really need to get out more in the evenings.  I could do a night school course.

So far all the evening classes I have found so far have either been 'How much?!!!!' or 'I'm not going there after dark.'

I'm considering just leaving it for now.  Maybe next year.  I'm sure bear will be alright if I just do some knitting.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Bear has just asked.... many days until Christmas (133 at time of typing).

I'm going to have a lie down.

Doing okay, actually...

First of all, darling uncle seems to be more or less coping.  I will see how it goes, and I am still calling three or four times per day, but the tablet situation seems to have been sorted out and I am cautiously optimistic about almost all of the rest.  I just need him to get some sort of mechanism to sort out getting a loaf.  There is a milkman who would deliver bread three times per week, but that is apparently not acceptable.  I am keeping my options open.

Morgan - I never pre-plan stupid shopping.  It just sort of happens.  The only consolation is that it is getting slightly better over time.  I am looking at the initial list of equipment and already feeling extremely dubious.  Thank goodness I didn't spend a lot on the book.

Angela - I have done some prodding and the chip fryer is also a halogen oven, so I should be okay to avoid buying.  This has come as a relief to me.  As for the mold, I am keeping my fingers crossed, the roof is now fixed, the easy bits within reach have all been bleached and the dehumifier is on all day and every day.  The central heating has also been fixed so that room will no longer be quite so cold and damp.  If the coming winter is as bad as the scare mongers are muttering about I am not guaranteeing anything about warm.  However it should be dry.

Bear is playing out while looking like he is the victim of extreme sleep deprivation.  However he got me up at 6.32 so I have no idea of how to get him more sleep which he seems to desperately need.  I am sure it will catch up at some point.  Probably after tears.

I put together the wardrobe for my room yesterday.  The cover is too small and I used the entire month's ration of rude words before the dratted thing tore but for less than £16 delivered I now have somewhere to hang my clothes.

I used the new fryer for the first time and it worked!  Tonight we are having egg and chips.  I will be cooking the eggs on a griddle without fat and using around a teaspoon of fat for all the chips so that has to be a good thing.

So things seem to be doing okay.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Here we go again

I've lost count of the number of these type of posts I've made.  I feel like history is on a loop.  On my better days I think of it as more of a spiral.  There's an element of 'not again' but slightly higher up the level of competence.

I am feeling a lot better for sleeping on a bed, although bear is still not convinced.  I carefully treated all the black mold I could find, cleared a space and DH put up the bed.  Of course, when I lie down and look up I can see where the paper on the ceiling had shrunk away from a beam co-incidentally right above my bed and where black mold had started to creep in.  I have not been impressed but I have been full of cold since.

Today I was moving things around and I looked at it again and then just grabbed a corner and pulled.  I expected a small piece to come off and I was already starting to feel silly but the entire stretch of ceiling paper came off in my hands, with only a small corner left hanging behind some junk.  I was left with a piece around 12 foot by six foot and a lot of dust.

I looked at the piece of ceiling paper.  I thought about the narrow stairs going down, especially the nasty corner.  Then I dragged it across the steps and tried to push it out of DH's bedroom window.   I don't know what possessed me, and I have no idea how I managed to not fall out with a humungous piece of thin card shoved through a very small window but I looked out afterwards and one of bear's friends in the street was looking up at the window with a really stunned expression.  It was the 'she really is a mad woman and I have no idea what to expect next' expression which I've seen before and I daresay I will see again.  The end result is that when I go to sleep tonight I will be looking up at bits of polystyrene (thin insulation on a roll), dust and the bits of black mold that survived.  It still sounds better than the sofa.

Black mold continues to be a problem.  The room I am in hasn't had the window shut since May and I've had the dehumidifier on constant.  I suppose it will take time, I suspect the roof has been bad for a lot longer than I realised.

Then the delivery from the book people came.  I had been dreading this, as I bought at a time of emotional stress again.  In absolute terms I haven't spent a lot of money, and I am confident I will get my money's worth out of the Reader's Digest 'Meals for less than £2.50 per person' though I think unless prices stop rising it will be a bit optimistic.  Also beans on toast is inexpensive.  I am looking forward to cracking open the book on 5 minute bread.  I just wish I had realised before I pressed 'order' that all the halogen cookbooks will not really help that much as the chip cooker that I haven't yet got to grips with isn't actually a halogen cooker.  And it really wouldn't help if I got a halogen cooker from ebay as we have no room.

The fryer does actually use halogen thingies, so I suppose I can have a go.  Time to be creative.  I will share if anything good comes out of the other books.

(no, I haven't looked at Amazon, and no I haven't looked at halogen cookers, and I think that £22 for a halogen oven just because I bought some books is ridiculous, even if it could be economical and is advertised as self cleaning)

Details here

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Bear has his own ways

Last night bear slept on the floor.  I want to be very clear - he slept on the floor next to the nice, clean, warm, soft bed that was made for him.

I did try and heft him onto the bed, but he is a bit too big for me to do that these days, and he was sleepily resistant.  He wouldn't even put his head on the pillow I put on the floor next to him.  I have no idea why, and to be fair I think he just did it because he could.

This morning the first thing he said to me was, and I quote, 'There's a really hard knot in my shoe.'  And good morning to you too, bear.  Actually what I did was mumble something about pass it here and blearily unknotted his laces.  Then we had war about his socks.  Bear and I had significant views about whether he should go to holiday club in odd socks, one saying Wednesday, one saying Friday and the day actually being Tuesday.  He went in plain grey socks, to his disgust.

I suspect he will be better for an early night.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Painting has happened

I left bear alone with some poster paints, paper, water and a large pvc mat and he came down with two lovely paintings and a hug and left minimal mess behind him.  He had overset some water, but that was what the pvc mat was for.  I gave him huge amounts of fuss.

Bear is a much better artist than I am.

In case you don't see it in the comments, Angela at Tracing Rainbows recommended diluting pva glue 50:50 to stretch.  As pva glue seems to be involved in every craft project known to bear I think this is incredibly useful information.

Nice Mr Next Door has cleared the drain, which I am relieved about as it had started to back into the kitchen.  It hadn't done this for years so I was a bit fed up.  He said he will put a cover over it at the weekend.

I know darling uncle has visitors today.  He sounded quite upbeat when I spoke to him this morning, and I will speak to him tonight.

Art Attack

Bear is getting very keen on Art Attack.  I can't paint a wall and I can't draw or anything.  I can't see this ending well.

Thursday will be Art Attack Day.  Bear has the book (the book he went overdrawn for in the charity shop), DF has brought in plenty of PVA glue and I bought a pack of 12 uber cheap loo rolls as apparently the book requires a great deal of loo paper.

Bear is out tomorrow and Wednesday so I will brace for Thursday and nip out tomorrow to pick up some bits and bobs for him.

I really want it to work for bear.

Welcome to Monday

Bear is lying on the sofa, cuddling up into a blanket and complaining about aches and pains.  I think it is just because he is exhausted.  We took him to the park yesterday and he has been playing out a lot more.  I am ashamed to say that he is sporting a tan.  He is currently reading out entries from a Children's Dictionary to me.  He looks like he actually needs a nap, but a six year old is far too mature for that.

I can see an attack of craft this afternoon which is usually a bit haphazard, but we can have fun.  

I'm just going to see what I can get on with.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Today's dilemma

It's a very minor dilemma in the scheme of things.  Do I patch the jeans with the tear across the mid thigh region even though I loathe those jeans or do I bin?  I have some iron on scarlet fabric (it was a bear project) so I could do a massive iron on heart and then iron on some other hearts elsewhere to make it look deliberate.  However I don't actually like the jeans that much.

I may hold fire and get some other jeans next month.  If I get some from M&S online then I am sure of getting a fit for around £12.  I am too fat for most of the value jeans.  I will soon have somewhere to put my clothes, however, so I may find alternatives as I sort through the heaps.

It's such a petty dilemma but good to divert to something trivial.  My principles say mend and make do, but I really do not like them, they are sure to go in another place soon so I think I shall get rid.  They were inexpensive anyway.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Pity Party

After everything, the drain outside is blocked.  This will mean negotiations with Nice Mr Next Door to fish out the rubbish (drain is shared and open) then calling Yorkshire Water, then I am determined to get a cover for the opening.  The way things are set up Nice Mr Next Door will have to move a shedload of stuff so that we can just get the massive laundry basket lid, tyre and other 'stuff' out.  I don't know when that will happen because he is busy and eg was going to take the old water tank out of the bedroom a few weeks ago.  Possibly less, I am losing track of things.  This will make things interesting when the laundry/heavy rain/dishwasher combo happens next week.

Darling uncle is effectively housebound, and will see the District Nurse on Monday.  Nobody can get there.  There is no-one to sort out getting money out for him.  He could send me a cheque, so I could buy stuff for him, but he has no-one to get a stamp or post a letter.  And he won't do anything about it! 

I'll probably not post much about darling uncle for the next few days.  I have done absolutely all I can except go over, which I suppose I will have to do next weekend but if I can't get a lift then it will be three hours on the expensive train, half hour on bus, several hours heavy lifting, bus/train back (timetable permitting) and two days recovering.  My brothers are not in a position to do much, either.  It is so frustrating.  Darling uncle says, however, he is managing and all will be okay.  I am taking him at his word for the whole afternoon.

Friday, 2 August 2013

On a lighter note

Bear has an email account (on the very strict understanding that DH and I always have access) and used it to complain to DH that I had grounded him 'on purpus'.

He was leaning on someone else's car rubbing polystyrene into bits which always annoys me, and then carried on doing it after I told him to stop.  So I grounded him.  Bear continued negotiations and tears for some time, but eventually decided emailing his daddy was the way to go.

I was glad of the excuse to pull him in away from the kids he was playing with as the conversation was getting a lot more violent than I was comfortable with.  I am about to start trying to arrange play dates.  While still being glued to the phone in case of something happening.

Darling uncle is starting to realise stuff that we have all been telling him for some time.  It mustn't be easy for him, so I am keeping on with quick calls just to keep him in touch with the rest of the world.  Really worried about his tablets.  

Things continue

Darling uncle is doing okay but was discharged with insufficient tablets (apart from warfarin being in wrong dose).  The local GPs are not known to be helpful, or rather, the receptionists are very good barriers between GPs and patients.  According to darling uncle it will be difficult to get them to prescribe the tablets and get the prescription filled and to him.  A few years ago darling uncle collapsed at home and I rang the doctor's surgery, literally less than fifty yards away from his home, and they wouldn't send a doctor over or consider even sending the practice nurse even just until an ambulance could get there.  I don't think I will ever forget trying to get in touch with people who I really only know from darling uncle's conversations to try and work out who could get there to let the ambulance in.  I was a hundred miles away and unable to do anything.  At least then he was discharged properly.

The District Nurse hasn't been yet.  I am hoping that he/she will be able to sort something out.

I can't do stuff that needs to be done.  All I can do is ring regularly and be as supportive as I can.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Thank you

Just wanted to say thank you for the really helpful comments.

We are all doing what we can but there is no-one near that can feasibly help.  I do a lot of online shopping for him, others do cooking when they can or decluttering when they can.  Last time something like this happened on the day of the marriage of William and Kate when he was in hospital with a different infection I removed fifteen bags of rubbish from his not very big bathroom.

I'll float the Chester idea.  I'll see what I can work out.  Currently I am the one most able to spend time helping him.

You are right, caring at a distance is horrible.

Just passing through

Hazel - thank you so much.  I have talked to him about chilled prepared potatoes after reading your post and he has decided he will have another order later when he has used up the stuff in the freezer but thinks it is a good idea.  He is doing okayish this morning and the District Nurse should call in today.

DH will always have bear at the weekend, but can't get time off during the week.  It is @ 3.5 hours each way to get to darling uncle on public transport for me.  That's @ seven hours travelling, which makes it hard for me.  That is if I go by train, which is expensive.  Coach is cheaper but the time table means that I could only go if I stayed overnight and there's problems about where I could stay - probably b&b or travel lodge in Chester.

If it was deadly serious I would take bear with me (shudders at thought of seven hours on public transport with bear who loathes travel) but it isn't quite at that pitch yet.

I feel like my whole life is, 'Yes, but....'

Also I feel a bit guilty because I feel that darling uncle has refused all suggestions of getting a cleaner/home help/assisted living person in when there are funds so it really is down to him.  Just as not being able to get into two of the drawers of the freezer because he chose an impractical freezer is down to him.  Just as living in a house which full of hoarded stuff which he 'will sort through later' and which stops him being able to get around in his home is down to him.  Actually I feel a lot guilty about it.

Off to do ironing while the phone is quiet.  Thank you for your post, I hadn't thought of sausages, but it's probably what he meant.