Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Things aren't so bad

Thank you for all the supportive comments yesterday, today is another day.

I had a lovely long catch up with my best friend via technology yesterday, it did a power of good, I feel heaps better today (thank you M 😃😘).  WhatsApp chats with my siblings too, which was brilliant.  How we would manage without technology I don't know.  Speaking of which, the printer cartridge needs changing....having never done it before, I'm not looking forward to that but I expect it's easy enough, I just need to read the instructions and put my Big Girl's Pants on.

We're very lucky in comparison with so many others, I really need to remember that.  Both of us are in relative good health (we don't have any virus signs, I mean), being on fixed State and private pensions means we aren't affected financially, our landlord has suspended the planned rent increase until the crisis is over.  We're actually saving money by not driving anywhere.....and no days out means we're not spending anything.  We're not totally isolated, going out to walk Betty means we still see neighbours....albeit from a distance, just waving and a brief shouted from a distance conversation.  Husband does go dogwalking with a neighbour and his dog every afternoon, but they keep a safe distance apart (the dogs haven't had the memo though!).  

And all this spare time means we have the opportunity to get on with jobs that have been overlooked or put off.  Husband is now finally finishing off the work in the front garden that he started way back last year - laying a patio and relaying the paths, the bad autumn and winter weather put paid to that and it was half finished and looking a mess.  He hadn't got round to starting again, until I asked him nicely to get on with it 😉

Today I'm making jam - not that we eat a lot of jam, hardly ever in fact, but it's useful to have a few jars of homemade jam, they make nice gifts.  I need to use up the last of our homegrown blackcurrants that have been in the freezer since last summer.

Oh, and thank you to Ann and Lexie for your suggestions for antler chews for Betty.  We have in fact got her those in the past, not recently though and I'd completely forgotten about them.  Yesterday when we went to pick up our click and collect grocery order (waste of time really, so many 'out of stock' and substitutions with things that I wouldn't normally buy, I won't be doing that again), I went in the pet shop and got an antler.  It kept Betty occupied for a full hour yesterday, and it will last for weeks.  The field behind us has been ploughed now....well, they'll be finishing it off today, then seeding it, they grow animal feed in a couple of days she'll be able to be off the lead and running around it again.  

And to make me feel even better.....there was a lovely sunrise today.

Keep safe everyone, and count our blessings.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Missing the contact

I know people keep comparing the present situation to wartime, and saying our grandparents had it worse and they coped.  Well yes, there are some similarities, and I'm sure the war killed a damn sight more people.  

But there's one big difference - during the war, people could meet each other, they could get together and hug and chat and have fun together.  We can't - except via technology.  And that's what I'm missing the most - seeing and hugging friends and family.   It's really got to me the last day or 2 and I've had a few tears.

I'm sure we all feel the same.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Bit daft, could have been worse

Bit of drama this afternoon - the young family next door, presumably looking to keep themselves occupied, decided to clear out their garage.  The local recycling centre is closed until further notice, so nobody can take any stuff to the tip - the young husband therefore decided to burn what he could.  He did use a purpose-built incinerator bin in the back garden, but was throwing all sorts of stuff in it, piling more on when it burnt down a bit.  It's been very windy today, bit of an odd time to have a fire though.  After a while, they moved to the front garden (our front gardens are very sheltered and much warmer than the back) and sat outside eating their lunch.  To cut a long story short, the inevitable happened and the dustbin fire got out of control, the flames fanned by the wind, and set fire to their big double gate.  Luckily, my husband saw it and raised the alarm with them, he got our hosepipe connected up and between them he and the neighbour put the fire out.  It's a good job the neighbour had the sense to move their 2 cars back out of the way before he started burning stuff, doesn't bear thinking about what might have happened if he hadn't.  I don't think they'll be doing that again in a hurry.

I've done nothing today, too much pain.  Couldn't do any exercise and had to resort to taking paracetamol.  It is easing off a bit now though.  I feel totally fed up and a bit depressed today, hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Dog, shopping, backache

Thank you for all the comments yesterday re Betty.  Yes she does need more stimulation to make up for the fact that she's not getting lots of free-running exercise and we're trying different things.  Part of the problem in trying to keep her occupied is that she's a chewer, she has massively strong jaws and chews/tears apart everything we give her to play with.  Cheap toys last just minutes, literally, before she's torn them apart....even the expensive supposedly tough toys she can chew through.  Not only does she chew it, she also eats it if we don't take it off her in time.  I'm very careful to try and avoid her eating anything (plastic, rubber, bits of cloth) as I don't want to have to rush her to the vets because she's got some kind of intestinal blockage!  We do give her the toys you stuff with treats or peanut butter/pate sometimes, she does like them and they keep her occupied for 20 mins or so, until she's got all the food out of them and then she chews the toy itself.  

Hopefully, it'll only be a few more days before the farmers have ploughed the manure into the fields and seeded them, then we'll be able to take her in the fields again and let her off the lead.  Husband did manage to find a field yesterday that seemed to be lying fallow, so she did get a run....however, she obviously found something to roll in (probably a dead animal or an old cow pat) as she came back dirty and stinky.  It's a good job we love her!

This morning I was up early as usual and went online to my grocery order, I'd ordered it a couple of weeks ago, it's a click n collect slot for tomorrow, it was all I could get at the time.  Having gone shopping last week for fresh stuff and managing to get most of what I needed, I wanted to delete some of it off my order - no point in getting more than we need.  A quarter of my order was listed as out of stock anyway, and I deleted another dozen or so things, it wouldn't surprise me if even more is out of stock when we arrive to collect it tomorrow.  It won't matter though, we'll manage with what we've got, I'm not going in the shop to try and replace anything.

I've got terrible backache this morning, it kept me awake a lot last night.  I know why, it's because I spent a lot of time in the kitchen last week, baking (including some cakes for neighbours) and batch cooking meals and veggies for the freezer.  Standing in one position, as you do when you're making cakes or bread, chopping veg or standing over the stove, has always been a killer for my back.  And my hips are painful too, as I forgot to take my CBD oil last night.  If ever I thought that the oil doesn't work, this proves it does - on the few occasions I've forgotten to take it, my hips are agony the next day.  I've taken it now, and will try and do some gentle exercise today, and then lie on the bed with my cheapo TENS machine pads on my's not brilliant but is better than nothing.  I don't want to take paracetamol as we haven't got loads of them and they can't be bought for love nor money at the moment.  Would rather do without meds anyway.

Mixture of sunshine and clouds this morning, there's a blooming chilly wind though, I won't be doing anything outside.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Struggling a bit

It's difficult to walk Betty at the moment....well, give her a good run off the lead I mean.  Where we live it's all narrow little lanes, just wide enough for a tractor, with ditches and tall hedges on both sides and laybys so vehicles can pass or walkers can take refuge from tractors, and lots of farms.  Most of the farmers round here don't mind locals walking their dogs in their fields, provided they're not being used for livestock or have newly planted crops.  There is one farmer who objects and orders people off his land, but he's a minority of one.

However, right now the farmers are all getting their fields ready for crops, so they're spraying with weedkiller first, then a few days later it's muck spreading (we used to shut all the windows when we saw them doing that, but now I really don't mind the smell!).  And then they plough it all in a couple of days later, followed by seeding.

And during all this, we can't take Betty in the fields - we don't want her coming into contact with weedkiller obviously, and we certainly don't take her in a field that's been covered with muck - she adores the smell and throws herself down and rolls around in it.  I may be used to the smell now but I don't want it indoors on a filthy stinky dog!  It takes ages to wash it off her, we know from experience, the smell still lingers on her fur for days, and the college grooming salon has closed for the duration of the virus lockdown.

We can't take her to the beach or the Marshes nature reserve either, not allowed to drive to anywhere at the moment.  So that means right now we can only walk her, on lead, along the lanes.   So shes's not getting much proper exercise and is consequently full of beans at home.  We do play with her every day, she loves tugging toys and chases after the toys we throw, but it's chaos - our house isn't very big, nor is our front garden - husband doesn't like her in the back garden because she tramples over all his veg beds and likes digging in them.  So playing with her results in the house looking like we've had a party for toddlers, or big scrape marks in the front lawn where she's skidded across it chasing her toys, and bits broken off my shrubs after she's crashed into them.  She's a chunky little bruiser who creates havoc when she's charging around.  But she does make me laugh, all the same.

Who can resist that face anyway, she's adorable and I love her to bits.

I'm suffering a bit with cabin fever too, am sure we all are.  Nearly a week into lockdown and still weeks to go.  Wouldn't surprise me at all if it turns out to be longer than 3 weeks.  But I guess staying safe at home is better than the alternative.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Must check larder more often!

I had a cauliflower that needed using up quickly, so made a big pan of cauli mac and cheese, 8 portions - 2 for dinner last night, 2 for lunch today and the rest frozen.  I didn't really want to use ordinary milk for the cheese sauce, as I want to save our milk for tea/coffee/cereal, and I knew there was an unopened pack of skimmed milk powder in the larder that had been in there ages.....ideal time to use it up.  When I got it out, the date on it was July 2019....oops.  It looked alright, it was free flowing, so I made up a small amount to check - it smelt and tasted fine.  Made up another 1.5 pints and used it for a cheese sauce, I added a heaped tsp mustard and some sage.  Used a pint for the cauli/mac and froze the remainder.

I diced up 2 end crusts of stale bread and lightly fried them in a butter/oil mixture, then sprinkled them on top of the cauli mac, along with some grated cheese.  It made a lovely crunchy topping.  We had the cauli mac n cheese with some Sainsburys quinoa, sweet potato and lentil veggie burgers....not had them before, they were surprisingly nice.

Well, we're still alive this morning so the out of date milk powder was fine!  I must use up the rest of it in the next few plenty of homegrown leeks left so I'll do leeks in cheese sauce to freeze.  Husband wants the leeks out of the ground anyway as he will soon need the space for planting new stuff, so yesterday he distributed some to neighbours, leaving them on their doorsteps.  I'll make a rice pud as well, that'll please husband (and I like cold rice pud for breakfast!).

We're going to venture out to the supermarket this morning, we have no salad veg left and very little fresh green veg, although we do have frozen veg but it's not the same as fresh.  It's very inconsiderate of this virus to occur at a time when we've not much homegrown veg left from last year, and the new stuff for this year hasn't started yet!!  😉😁 I hope they've got some flour in stock too, people have been saying on social media they can't get flour.  I guess we're all doing lots of baking now, I'm certainly doing a lot more.

It's daunting to think we have to carry on with this lockdown for at least 3 weeks, but if it saves lives and takes a bit of pressure off the NHS, so be it.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Blooming technology! fine when it works. And the beer bread

I was going to upload photos I took of the beer bread....however, for some obscure reason my laptop has decided to delete my phone off of it.  After a bit of head scratching and googling, I've managed to get the laptop to recognise my phone, but now it won't transfer the pics over.  Grr, bloody technology, I hate it.  Have given up for now (too much trying to work things out confuses my brain no end and gives me a headache), I'll try again later.

So.….the beer bread - actually it's cider bread, the can that I thought was beer turned out to be medium sweet cloudy apple cider.  Oh well, I thought, nothing ventured nothing gained, so gave it a try.  I used 400g flour, a mixture of white plain flour (I rarely buy SR, just use baking powder with it) and wholemeal baking flour, I added 2 tsps baking powder and 1 tsp salt.  Various recipes I've seen say to add between 1 and 3 tbsp (yes, tablespoons!) of sugar.....that would have made the bread far too sweet, especially using medium sweet cider, so I just used 1.5 tsps sugar.   Then poured in the cider - I didn't measure it, just kept adding and mixing until the dough seemed about right.....on the sticky side, wetter than normal yeasted dough.  It doesn't need kneading or proving.  I used about 3/4 of the 440ml can of cider.  I put it in a lined tin and baked at 180 deg (mine is a fan oven) for about 45-50 mins, turning the tin round halfway through.  It rose quite well, although not nearly as much as a normal yeasted loaf.

The texture is good if a bit crumbly, it's a little on the doughy side and resembles a cross between soda bread and cake more than normal bread.  However, it tastes really nice, although is definitely on the sweet side, because of the cider I guess, it was lovely buttered and topped with a slice of cheese.  I doubt it will have good keeping quality, so it might be better to slice and freeze it after a day or two - although whether it will fall apart when defrosted remains to be seen.  I reckon it will make lovely toast though after the first day, we'll have some toasted for lunch today.

To sum up, it's really very good as an emergency bread when you have no yeast but some beer (or cider!) knocking about, I've read that you can even use sparkling water instead of beer.  In that case, you wouldn't have the raising qualities of a yeasty beer, you'd have to hope that baking powder and the bubbles in the water would do the trick.  I might give that a go.  I would just say that you shouldn't expect to be able to make sandwiches with it, it's a bit too crumbly for that.

IF I can get my blimmin laptop to download the photos off my camera, I'll put pics on later.

Photos added later

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Using up odds and sods

Thank you for comments yesterday, and welcome to a new reader, Terra.

The nice man in the bank sorted out our problem yesterday, he couldn't have been more helpful, all is well now.  The town was virtually deserted, not many people about at all, it was relatively easy to keep the required 2m distance.  Half of the shops in town were closed indefinitely, some still open but with less staff.  We did what we needed to in the bank and Wilkos then went straight back home, we're not planning on going anywhere else for a while now - well, we can't anyway, other than dog walking.

I had some veggies going wrinkly as they were left over from a week or more ago - half an orange pepper, an aubergine, a large courgette and a handful of chestnut mushrooms.  The obvious thing to make was ratatouille, I have several cans of tomatoes and plenty of leeks in the garden.  I also had some limp long stemmed broccoli, so that went in too.  Fried the raw veggies off first, before adding the canned chopped tomatoes, swishing the can out with water and adding that.  Big squirt of tomato puree, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a couple of teaspoons of Italian herbs, then simmered for half an hour.  We had it for dinner on what Joy calls 'posh rice' (one of those microwavable pouches of rice and grains), with feta cheese crumbled over the top.  Delicious.  

I'm trying to make sure I don't waste anything at all in the way of food.  Not that we waste much anyway.....leftover cooked food goes in the freezer, along with bread crusts, broccoli and cauli stalks go in a bag in the freezer as well until there's enough to make soup.  Stock from chicken carcasses or boiling gammon joints is used for soup, gravy or sauces.  Any odd unusable bits of raw veggies are put in the compost bin, we have beautiful crumbly homemade compost.

I'm going to have a go at making yeast free beer bread tomorrow, we have a couple of cans of beer that husband isn't drinking....of course the yeast (and fizz) in the beer is what makes the bread rise.  Allegedly!  I'll let you know how it turns out, if it works it means I've saved a couple of sachets of yeast.  We've run out of the last lot of jam I made a couple of years ago, so jam making will be on the agenda this week too, I have one bag of our homegrown blackcurrants left in the freezer, there might be some strawberries left as well.

How are you using your time, are you doing anything different to keep occupied?

Monday, 23 March 2020

Gardening and still fine

Well, the front garden's all done now, yesterday husband and I weeded, pruned and tidied up the two flower beds and all the pots.  We planted dahlias and gladioli, and some foxgloves that I'd bought weeks ago very cheaply, which had been sitting in their pots waiting for good weather to be planted out.  Betty enjoyed following me around, sticking her nose into everything, pulling out prunings from my garden tub as fast as I put them in, little monkey.  She does like to be into everything.  My back and hips are killing me now, but it'll wear off in a day or 2.

I mentioned yesterday that 2 of my extended family members have had the virus, my nephew and cousin's husband, both of them were cared for at home by their wives.  Nephew is 30, strong, fit and healthy and has come through it relatively easily.  Cousin's husband is a different kettle of fish, however, he's in his 50s with an underlying (although thankfully not too serious) health condition.  My cousin said he'd been very ill indeed for 3 days, she was quite worried.  On the 4th day he woke up and asked for eggs on toast, he's now on the mend although still very weak.  I haven't seen nephew or cousin and their spouses since Mum's funeral (they live some distance away) so haven't been exposed to the virus from them.

Husband and I are both still fine, neither of us is showing signs of being unwell.  Although my hayfever is in full swing (I always get it early Spring, it's even earlier than usual this year), meaning I sneeze occasionally.....that will ensure people keep their distance when we have to go to the bank this morning!  Fortunately, I don't sneeze a lot with my hayfever, it mainly gives me a terribly itchy nose and eyes.

I did a chicken, veg and rice casserole in my Multichef for dinner yesterday, it meant I could just bung everything in and forget about it whilst I was busy in the garden.  The rice was a bit too soft (even though I used brown basmati), so I know to set it for a shorter cooking period next time.  It's all still a bit experimental right now.

One of our neighbours told husband yesterday that we only need to wash our hands when we've touched people!!  Does he not watch or listen to the news?!  What about all the surfaces, door handles, cash and cash machines, goods and food products, etc etc that millions of other people have touched before him that he's now touched too?  Honestly, beggars belief.

Lovely blue sky and bright sunshine again this morning.  Stay safe everyone.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Mothering Sunday and a reluctant town visit

Mothering Sunday here in the UK today (is it the same in other countries?), so I'm feeling a bit sad.  Mum was the first thing on my mind when I woke up this morning....well no, the second thing actually.  The first was a wish that husband would stop stomping round the bedroom and talking to was 06.30 and although I'm normally up a lot earlier than that, I went to bed late and was planning on a bit of a lie in.  Oh well.  Although when I get up around 04.00-04.30, I creep out of the bedroom and definitely don't speak to him!  So getting back to Mothers Day, I'll try to concentrate on happy memories.

I'll be working in the front garden today, it's blue sky and bright sunshine again and although not exactly warm as there's still that cold breeze, it is warmer than it has been so I'm happy to get out there.  So I can have Mum near me in the pots where her ashes are whilst I'm busy weeding, pruning and putting new plants in.  I'll probably even talk to her! (everyone knows I'm a bit bonkers anyway lol).

Got a problem with one of our bank accounts, I tried to resolve it on the phone the other day with no joy - the call centre was in India and the 3 foreign gentlemen I was passed between were all clearly just reading from a script on their screens and didn't seem to understand just what it was I was trying to get them to do.  Had a follow up letter from the bank yesterday with THEIR interpretation of what I'd been asking for....nothing like what I was actually asking!  So a breakdown of communications.  So we have to go to the town tomorrow and visit the branch....I didn't really want to but don't have a lot of choice, I need the issue fixed.  I will take the opportunity to nip into Wilkos and pick up a few more pots I need for my front garden, then straight back home and that will be it, we don't plan on visiting any more shops, banks or the town for a while. 

Wishing all you mothers a happy day, sorry if you can't see your families, and I hope all those of us who have lost our mothers can concentrate on the happy memories.  And I hope you all keep safe.  Two members of my extended family have had the virus, both thankfully are recovering well at home.

Friday, 20 March 2020

War rations!

It's strange, I feel totally calm about all this virus stuff now.  I know if either husband or I catch the virus, the likelihood is that we could be very ill indeed with our existing health problems, husband especially so.  But what will be, will be, we'll just have to cross that bridge if we come to it.  We have no symptoms as yet....husband did have a bit of a sore throat last night and felt very achy, but the sore throat went away without actually amounting to anything and I think he's just overdone the gardening, causing the achiness.  He was loading and dragging barrowloads of bark chippings and compost for a couple of neighbours and ourselves, he seems to forget he's almost 70 with a heart condition 😒

In the meantime, I'm satisfied we have all the supplies we need for certainly the next few weeks, and have a click and collect food shop booked for a fortnight's time.  How much of that ordered shop we actually get, remains to be seen....and that's assuming we're still well enough to go and collect it.

Anything we run out of - well, we will just make do.  If our parents and grandparents could manage for months/years on war rations (2oz butter or cheese, 1 egg a week, or things like that), then I'm sure we can.  We have plenty of provisions for Betty too.....even if we didn't, back in our parents/grandparents time, dogs were fed on scraps from the table, and they seemed to survive alright, if not thrive.

But we're fortunate - as I said yesterday, we're on fixed pension incomes so will suffer no loss of income, lots of others aren't that fortunate at all and I feel very sad for them, it must be really scary.  And the prospect of having your children home from school until possibly September - well, that could be a huge problem, both for parents' sanity, finding the kids something to do for all that time when you have little or no money, and of course having to find childcare or stay at home yourselves....that's if you haven't been laid off! 

Several villages nearby are quickly arranging neighbourhood volunteer schemes to help out anyone in need, and small local shops are offering to deliver goods, the crisis does seem to be bringing out the best in people (well, most people).  

I've seen some funny cartoons, jokes etc on social media or sent to me, think I might try publishing one every time I do a blog post - we could all do with a laugh!  So here's today's one, apologies if it causes offence, it's just to raise a smile!  😁

If someone knocks on your door and says they need to feel your boobs to check for Corona virus....

Turns out it's a con.

I feel so stupid....


Thursday, 19 March 2020

A plague of locusts

Last night I did an online shop - no home deliveries to be had from any of the local supermarkets for 3 weeks, but I did manage to book a click  and collect one for 2 weeks' time.  Which is fine, it's when I wanted it anyway.  How much of it we actually get picked and packed though remains to be seen when we go and collect it....I read in the paper yesterday about one couple who'd ordered £50 worth of shopping, but only received one bag containing just a few items amounting to £7 in total!  The world's gone mad.

Anyway, it was announced that Sainsbury's were opening for the first hour this morning just for the elderly and husband is in his 70th year and in the at risk category because of his heart failure, and I am too due to my diabetes and liver disease, we decided that included us.  Fortunately, neither of us is showing any symptoms, but it could be just a matter of time before we do.  We decided to go and get some fresh veg, milk and bread flour, and some Vitamin C, honey and lemon.

We arrived at the store at about 07.15 (it opens at 07.00).  The car park was almost full, nobody queueing to get in but the store was really busy.  What surprised us was that there was no member of staff or security on the door vetting who was going in (if they were old enough eg), and the store was full of - well, basically everybody, all age groups.  Now I know you can't always tell if someone is disabled or vulnerable by their appearance (husband is a prime example, despite his heart failure and list of medications as long as his arm, he generally looks perfectly well), but lots of younger people in there didn't look disabled or vulnerable at all - eg there were several workmen in building gear and hard hats, young men and women in suits, all clearly on their way to work.  So no adhering to the dedicated 'elderly and vulnerable' rule at all.  Out of interest, on our way out husband asked a member of staff why there was no one manning the entrance....she said they'd rung Head Office to ask if they should and were told not to bother!  So what's the point?

The shop itself was decimated, empty shelves everywhere.  Hardly any veg - in fact the entire section where they keep most of the root and green veg was literally totally empty.  Almost no potatoes, hardly any salad, no apples, only a few pears.  Loads of bananas, bizarrely.  Husband managed to get the very last bag of bread flour.  No yeast or baking powder.  Not much milk left - no 4 or 6 pints, only a few 2 or 1.  Only about half a dozen of my lactose-free milk, the same of soya milk - and only the branded high cost one at that.  Almost no eggs, other than a very few boxes of very expensive 'artisan small producer' type eggs.  No toilet rolls, paracetamol or liquid soap....other than some fancy posh one costing £9!!! a bottle - who pays that much for soap?! (nobody clearly, since that was all that was left).  The entire shop looked like it had been looted or had a plague of locusts in.  We picked up a few things that were on our list, whatever we couldn't get we'll just manage without.  We won't go hungry, nor will Betty, we have plenty for our needs even if we end up having to self isolate for several weeks.

We feel very lucky indeed, actually.  We're not infected (as yet!), we're retired and on fixed pension incomes, so won't suffer financially and aren't in danger of being unable to pay our rent or bills.  With Spring on the way, we'll be able to get stuck in to the gardening, husband's already made a start on getting some of the veg beds ready and sowing some seeds, he's going to plant his seed potatoes in bags at the weekend.  We'll probably grow more produce than last year.  Everyone in our little hamlet knows each other and we're all looking out for each other, so I'm sure we'll be fine.  Hopefully the shopping situation, which is madness at the moment, will be sorted out soon - the Government seems to have been very slow in reacting thus far, but things are evolving very quickly indeed now.  

I hope we all stay safe and get through all this as unscathed as we can.  If nothing else, we'll have a very clean and tidy house, a very full and productive garden and some 'interesting' meals to be made in the coming weeks as our store cupboards and freezers get emptier!

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

The apocalypse

We had a fab time at the beach yesterday, Betty absolutely loved it, she was racing around like a loon, digging big holes in the sand and even darting in and out of the sea, but only in the shallows (she doesn't do that normally, seems a bit scared of the waves).  Despite the beautiful blue sky and glorious sunshine, there was a bitterly cold wind - by the time we'd finished our walk (about 1.5 hours) my face was so frozen I could hardly speak.  It was good to sit back in the car, eat our lunch and have a hot drink, we had a nice view as we were right in front of the sea.  The sunshine and the fact of it being an open space (as opposed to closed in places like shops etc) had brought out lots of people - the car park and beach was far more crowded than we've ever seen it on a weekday and at this time of year.

After lunch we drove to a supermarket, I only needed a couple of things I'd forgotten last week, we're well stocked up other than those 2 or 3 things.  Up till then I'd not really noticed many empty shelves - stocks of lots of things were low, and no hand sanitiser or paracetamol, but that was about it.  Well, the shop yesterday was decimated, I was quite shocked, it looked like they'd had no deliveries of pretty much anything for a couple of weeks (I'm sure they had, they'd just sold out).  There were empty shelves everywhere in the shop, pretty much every aisle (can't speak for the alcohol aisle, I didn't go down there).  

The things I wanted were white bread flour (I mix it with wholemeal), a dozen eggs and some fresh green veg - there was NO flour, of any kind, whatsoever, only a very few boxes of 6 eggs (I took just one box), no 12s or 15s at all.  Not much in the way of fresh veg and fruit either.  I did get a couple of cabbages, some broccoli, a bag of potatoes and some pears, but they didn't have much left of anything.  I also got another 4 individual trays of dog food - even the pet food shelves were half empty.

We won't need any shopping for a fortnight, but will be running out of things after that.  One blog yesterday (think it may have been TrishWish) mentioned that she'd looked at getting a grocery shop delivered but found there were no slots for 3 weeks.  I was curious to see if that's the case here, as I was thinking of getting shopping delivered from now on, as we're both in the 'seriously advised to self isolate' group.  To my complete shock, the 3 supermarkets I checked have NO delivery slots available at all for the next 3 weeks.  It's all very well being told to stay at home, but if you can't get food shopping delivered for weeks to come, what are you supposed to do?  Ah, I didn't think to check click and collect.....will just go and do that now.

Right, so only 1 supermarket in our area does click and collect, and by some miracle they do have a few slots available from the middle of next week onwards, but I bet they'll get booked up quickly now that the Government are actually telling us to stay home.  At least collecting our shopping outside the store is less risky than going in and doing it ourselves.  

Omg, it's really getting frightening now isn't it?  How are elderly people  confined to home who don't have the internet going to cope?  Or even if they do, they can't get a shop delivered for weeks?  In our tiny hamlet, we're all a similar age, or older than us....there are a couple of households of young families, with several young children each, so they have more than enough on their plates and we wouldn't expect them to look out for us.  It's beginning to feel a bit like the apocalypse.  

I think the one thing I will miss the most is not being able to socialise and see friends and family, I know we can keep in touch via phone and internet, but it's not the same as chatting face to face, having a coffee together and having a cuddle.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Crap night

There's a very bright moon - well, half moon - and lots of stars, it must be very cold out there, usually is when it's a clear night like that.

It's been one of those nights when I've been awake more than asleep.  Lots on my mind.  I can't just switch it off, wish I could.

Don't you wish people would just say things, rather than skirting round the issue or keeping quiet in the hope that it'll just go away?  I'm all for plain speaking and having everything out in the open - no room for ambiguity that way.  I'm feeling very vulnerable, unsure and confused right now.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

The 'C' word

Thank you for comments, I am glad that one of our major problems has now been sorted out.  But then there's the new big problem that's affecting all of us, wherever we are....

Funny how the dreaded 'C' word is no longer Christmas!  I was thinking about it this morning in the shower....thinking how actually impossible it would be to avoid all contact with the virus.  The government are apparently now saying that everyone over the age of 70 should self isolate for 4 months.  4 months!!  (Husband is 69, so he escapes that by the skin of his teeth).   How on earth could anyone really do that for 4 months?  I don't see how it would be possible - people visit, postmen and delivery people come to your door, engineers and workmen need to come in, dogs need walking, we have GP and hospital appointments and medications to collect.  And that's just off the top of my head.

What about shopping?  If we couldn't physically go to the shops, then we'd have to have everything delivered.  But if you believe everything you see in the media, then half our shopping might not even arrive, the shops might be out of stock.  And then the delivery people are allegedly supposed to just leave it all on your doorstep.

Therein lies another problem....literally everything we buy, be it food, toiletries, clothes & shoes, equipment, etc etc.....has been touched by countless people, in the manufacturing process, in the shops and warehouses.  Ok, so lots of manufacturing processes nowadays are automated and done by robots, but humans still touch things as well, somewhere along the line.  So how do you(we) avoid picking up infection via something that someone else has touched?  What about our phones, keys, vehicles?  Doors, handrails, gates?  Money - coins and notes are notoriously filthy and germ (and cocaine!) ridden anyhow.  Cash machines when we get cash out, and card machines when we pay by card, unless it's a contactless one.  It is literally impossible to avoid touching everything, or to sterilise everything.

Worrying about all that though is the way to madness.  All we can do is to carry on being sensible, avoiding crowds, not having close contact with people, especially if they're not family or friends.  They themselves might not be infected, but how do any of us know if we've come into contact with someone who has themselves been in contact with an infected person without even knowing it?  Just being sensible is all, don't cough or sneeze on anyone (and hope they don't do it to us) and wash, wash, wash our hands.  

The one thing I try to cling onto is that many, many more people are surviving and recovering from being infected, than are dying.  This is a new illness (although there have been several other previous types of Coronavirus....SARS being the most well known) which is evolving all the time, none of us yet know what the eventual outcomes will be.

Right, that's enough doom and gloom, it's raining (for a change) this morning but apparently will be clearing up this afternoon.  And tomorrow is forecast to be dry and sunny....all day!  Will be going to the beach tomorrow, Betty will love it, we'll take lunch and a flask of coffee and some treats and water for Betty.

Stay safe everyone x

Friday, 13 March 2020

Sometimes officialdom does get it right

We had our official interview yesterday, following on from Monday's debacle when I wanted to punch someone.  The woman (well, she was more of a girl really) clearly had no idea what she was talking about, wouldn't admit that they were wrong, just kept bleating about company policy.

Yesterday, by contrast, we had a department manager who knew what she was doing, was efficient and helpful and put everything right.  She admitted there'd been errors on their part, apologised, then efficiently and without fuss set up exactly what we wanted.  All done and dusted, so one big headache now out of the way.

Husband will be out all morning, so it's just me and the dog here.  I did briefly (for about 2 seconds) consider spending the morning in bed reading, but that's just not me really.  So I'm going to do some baking, which is something I haven't done for weeks - nothing very exciting, just cheese scones and brownies, and make soup for lunch.  Dinner will be chilli, a homemade one pulled out of the freezer, with spicy wedges and salad, so nothing to do there.  Will do some cardmaking this afternoon.  A nice easy day to build up my depleted reserves.

We're well stocked up with food, toiletries, dog food etc, so don't need to go shopping anytime soon.  We're not planning on going anywhere where there's loads of people, if we do go anywhere it'll be to our favourite's actually forecast to be more Spring-like and settled weather next week.  That beach isn't crowded, especially this time of year - there are no shops or arcades for a start so nothing for tourists to do.  We're not self-isolating, just being sensible.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Waste of time

Well that was a waste of time and fuel.  Dentist appointment today, my dentist isn't exactly local - I did a lot of research before choosing this surgery, as I'm very nervous about going, having had a dental phobia for years.  The one I chose is a small friendly practice and my dentist is very compassionate and kind.  It does take 35 minutes to get there though, over 40 mins today because of roadworks and a diversion.  Still got there 5 mins early, 10 mins later the receptionist said Emma (my dentist) was running a bit late and was I alright to wait?  I said as long as it wasn't too long.  

30 mins later, with no further update forthcoming and my anxiety levels now through the roof, I spoke to the receptionist again, who apologised and said she didn't think it would be too much longer, although wasn't too sure!  I'd had enough though and left, just couldn't cope with it today.  

I'm not in any rush to make another appointment, my teeth aren't causing me any problems right now anyway and I can do without further stress, I have more than enough as it is.

Tomorrow is the 'official' interview, following on from Monday's debacle, more stress as I'm not holding out much hope of things going the way we want.  Friday I'm planning on having a day doing absolutely nothing, I'm so stressed right now it's making me unwell.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Bloody jobsworths!

Every day brings new problems at the moment.  We had a run in with officialdom this morning, had to go and see an official to try and sort something out (I realise this is all cloak and dagger and won't mean anything to anyone else, but I can't give details).  Something has been done that isn't right, so we needed to see if we could get it sorted.  Well, let's just say they were worse than useless - completely intractable and unhelpful, even when I pointed out the problem, they still refused to budge, nor could they answer my questions.  There wasn't anyone more senior available to help, so an appointment was made for us to go back on Thursday.  

It just annoys the hell out of me that 'they' have done something which isn't right, which is causing us problems, and there's no good reason why they can't put it right.  "It's company policy" they kept saying - well your policy is wrong and there isn't any good and valid reason why you can't change it.  I can't honestly see that Thursday's appointment will bring us a satisfactory resolution, but whatever the outcome I will be putting in a formal complaint for the way they've mishandled the situation. 

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Planted Mum today

It's not been a good morning, lots of problems rearing their head again (all to do with an ongoing situation which is taking ages to resolve) and which have had me in tears all morning.  I would have loved a hug from my Mum or my best friend (who knows all about the situation), but can't have either.  

So I did the next best thing - husband and I potted up three new plants, with Mum's ashes in the pots, to go beside the front door.  One is a Magnolia Susan (my given name, although nobody calls me that), a Lychnis Coronaria and a Hesperis Matronalis.  Unfortunately, it's a very windy day (when hasn't it been recently!) and some of Mum's ashes got blown round the garden whilst I was tipping them into the pots.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry (I did both).  At least Mum is everywhere in my garden now.  

It's bloody horrible out there!  Bitterly cold wind and spots of rain, it just feels like Spring is never going to arrive and the ground is never going to dry up.  I feel sorry for the farmers round here, they're all saying they're unable to sow anything (the local farmers mainly sow crops for feeding their livestock) because the fields are so waterlogged.  And the cattle are still inside in sheds, they've not been turned out to pasture yet, which means they're having to be fed.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Veggie burgers, yum!

For the past couple of months, in an effort to eat less meat (and specifically red meat), we've been eating more chicken and fish, but having more days when we don't have any meat or fish at all.  From having 1 veggie day a week, we've now moved to probably 3.  Most of the time I cook something vegetarian, but lately we've tried a few bought veggie things like various makes of sausages and burgers.  By and large, we've been quite impressed with them, they've certainly come a long way over the past few years.  Yesterday we tried Linda Mccartney Mozzarella 1/4 pound burgers, they're made of textured soya protein.  Wow, they're lovely!  The texture isn't quite the same as a beef burger, but the taste is indistinguishable from a meat burger.  A big plus too is that they don't shrink at all, unlike meat burgers.  And it didn't repeat on me afterwards, as meat burgers tend to do.  We'll definitely be buying those again, we were both really impressed.

Guess what, it's raining again today, although not as heavy as yesterday, apparently 😒

Do you remember years ago when postmen used to come early?  We always used to get our post around 07.30, then it got later and later.  Down here in this rural area, I didn't really expect it come early, around 10.30 was the usual time.  For the past couple of weeks, though, we've not been getting our post until about 2 pm, the post lady says she has parcels to deliver first (wonder why she can't deliver the letters first, and then the parcels?).

Betty sees the arrival of the post as a game when we're in - she generally hears the post van pull up before we do.  When the letters come through the flap she races to the door and grabs them, before running off with them.  Fortunately, she doesn't eat them, just likes to run around in the hope that we'll chase her.  When we're out, however, she doesn't touch the post, it's just sitting there on the doormat when we get home.  Little monkey.

Just look at that angelic, butter wouldn't melt, face!

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Rain, rain, go away (and the troll too!) *UPDATED

Well, after 2 days of lots of sunshine, albeit still pretty cold, yesterday was back to normal - it rained pretty much all day.  It just makes you feel like shouting 'oh for goodness sake, bugger off!!!'.  Well, it does me anyway.  It feels like we've been stuck indoors for weeks and weeks now and it's so damn frustrating!  Husband likes being outside doing garden jobs and helping out elderly neighbours with a bit of gardening or DIY, but he's not been able to do any of that (well, hardly anything) for ages.  He's bored stiff indoors, can't find anything to do unless I find him something, he ends up just sitting watching rubbish daytime TV....well, the TV's on (all the time!!) and he's resting his eyelids in front of it.  Or else he's under my feet in the kitchen, just mooching about and getting in my way.  I do occasionally get him to cook a meal, but he's always coming to ask me for instructions, and he makes a right mess, so I'd much rather do it myself.  He does do the hoovering sometimes....well, the middle of the floor at least, he doesn't move chairs or pick anything up off the floor.

Yesterday we changed the bed (he is helpful with that), I did a wash load which had to be dried in the tumbler.  Then I went through my chest of drawers which holds my tops and jumpers and sorted out a pile for the charity shop.  Sat in my craft room for half an hour, sorting through some bits and working out a few ideas.  Did a bit of paperwork, then got dinner organised.  Husband said he would cook it....all that means is that he fried the liver and dished up - I'd prepared and cooked all the veggies to go with it.  And that was it really.  Oh for some warm sunny proper Spring days so we can get out in the garden, and take Betty to the beach!  This winter just feels like it's dragged on forever.

Re the's not bothering me.  For some reason, it seems to be targeting one of my regular readers, making rude, stupid and juvenile remarks on this particular reader's comments.  It doesn't have a blog (of course), however, I noticed when I checked the user profile that there's an email address, which appears to give the troll's real name!  The comments it makes won't ever get published, but if it keeps on making all these silly remarks then I will publish the name.  Shows how daft it is....if you're going to make a nuisance of yourself, then it would be basic common sense to cover your tracks!  😂😂😂

*Added later to clarify...

The troll leaves comments here on my blog - but the comments aren't to me, they're made as replies to one of my regular reader's comments (who is blissfully unaware as I don't and won't ever publish them).  Catherine, no it's not a computer programme leaving the comments, I can tell you that by the very nature of the comments - they're very personal in nature, and also very bitchy and childish.  They seem to have a bee in their bonnet about this particular reader and are targeting them specifically, I have no idea why.  And that's the last I'm saying about it, not going to waste any more time on a pathetic little troll.

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

You silly person

To the stupid rude troll who keeps trying to leave obnoxious and pointless replies on another (genuine) lovely reader's comments:-

You started off as Anonymous, then put a name (made up of course) assuming that I would publish just because you've added a name....

No I won't, so you're wasting your time.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Thank you, and are you prepared?

Thank you for all the comments on my new hair colour, and so complimentary, how lovely!  The photo didn't do it justice really, it's much more vibrant in real life.

On the subject of comments, I've been getting a lot of anonymous comments lately, and with some it's not immediately obvious whether they're genuine readers or spammers.  I've mentioned by the comments form that I won't publish anonymous comments unless they give a name.  I don't want to turn off anonymous comments altogether, some people don't have a Blogger account so have to comment anonymously.  However, I want to know who you are, or at least that you're a genuine reader.  So if you want to comment, please will you give a name at the end of your comment.  Thanks very much.

Re coronavirus.....the papers are scaremongering (dire warnings about food shortages, pics of empty shelves, and today I read in the paper that 80% of people could be infected!) and I don't believe everything I read in the paper.  We went shopping this morning and I was able to get everything I needed and didn't see any empty shelves....well, no worse than usual.  I think we all have to be sensible though - we make sure we wash our hands as soon as we get in when we've been anywhere, and try to be conscious of what we touch when we're out.  Living down here in rural Somerset though, we're pretty unlikely to come into contact with loads of infected people.  Both husband and I have compromised immune systems though, so it pays to be mindful and prudent.  We have good stores of food (including for Betty), toiletries and medicines and am sure we could survive without much of a problem if we had to self isolate for a couple of weeks.

It's been another lovely sunny day, although a bit colder than yesterday.  I really hope Spring is finally on the way.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Sunshine! And new hair/face

What a beautiful day, blue sky and lots of sunshine, very little wind (that's amazing in itself) and not freezing.  Ironically enough, a photo memory came up on my FB page this morning of 2 years ago today, deep snow!

So glad it's not like that today (although Betty absolutely loved the snow, she was playing out in it for ages and didn't want to come in).

We've been to Exeter this morning, needed to do a couple of things there.  It was a flying visit, we didn't want to take Betty into a busy city centre (not fair on her, she doesn't like crowds) and we don't like leaving her home alone for too many hours.  We used the Park & Ride and got into the city about 09.30, did what we needed to, had a coffee and popped into a couple of shops.  Got the bus back to the car for 11 am and were home by 12.15 pm.  

Whilst there I popped into Boots to the beauty counter, a novelty for me.  As I've mentioned before, I almost never wear makeup, gave up with that a few years ago.  I have been conscious lately though that my skin tone on my face is a bit patchy and uneven, I have lots of little thread veins and my skin has become quite dry, so wanted some advice about tinted moisturisers.  I also need a bit of help with my eyebrows, they're not bushy at all, never have been, but the colour of them has faded so much (with age, I presume!) that it almost looks like I have none now.  A very nice young lady (I know they're on the makeup counter, but why do they have to wear SO much makeup?  She and the others were practically caked in it, it seemed like they were wearing the entire range!) did what amounted to a mini facial on me.  She started off by applying a nice light moisturiser to the whole of my face, then tested 3 or 4 tinted ones to find the right shade for me.  She then did my whole face with it.  Same with the eyebrow pencils, tried a few to get the right shade, then demonstrated how to use it.  I bought the products she recommended.  Must say I'm very pleased with the results, and even husband commented favourably (gold star for him).

I suppose the reason I'm more conscious of my face now is that I've coloured my hair again, this time with a silver one (the one I wanted in the first place).  At first it came out quite significantly blue - I was horrified....I know I've had blue highlights in the past, well electric blue highlights are fine, an all over old lady blue rinse is not!  I washed it 3 times over the next 2 days (with a dandruff shampoo, renowned for toning down colour) and it's now the exact shade of silver on the dye box, and the colour I wanted.  The only thing is, I'm not sure if I want to keep it.....I do like the colour, I like it a lot actually, just not too sure if I like it on me!

It's actually a much brighter silver in real life, the colour looks a bit washed out in the photo.  I think I'll live with it and ponder on it for a couple of weeks, before making up my mind whether to keep it or go back to my normal light honey blonde.