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Thursday, 23 September 2021

Hot water and new life

 Betty was absolutely bursting with energy this morning (more than can be said for me!) so we took her back to Uphill beach for a run around.  Unfortunately, it was high tide (duh, should have checked!) so there wasn't a lot of dry beach available.  Being a damp cloudy day, it was also very blustery, there were several wind surfers in the sea, and the hovercraft rescue people going up and down the beach, keeping a good eye on the surfers:-



Sorry, I know the photos aren't up to much, taken on my phone as usual.

Betty doesn't like the sea much, so doesn't really go in it (just as well, being a short faced brachycephalic dog).  Considering just how blustery and cloudy it is today, with spots of drizzle, and the high tide, there was a surprising amount of people - and lots of dogs - on the beach - although there aren't any in my photos!  So we could only let Betty off the lead for a short period of time - she's somewhat unpredictable around other dogs.  She did have a little run around though.  Another dog, a retriever type which wasn't on lead, was intensely interested in Betty and kept running over to her - fortunately, she was back on the lead by then.  Now, Betty wears a bright red harness and lead with CAUTION printed on it in large letters, but people either take no notice or always say things like "it's ok, he/she only wants to play" whilst letting their own dogs run around Betty off lead.  Well, that's all very well, but they don't take account of the fact that OUR dog most likely doesn't want to play!  Several times I've had to ask people to come and collect their dogs - I do always explain that Betty is anxious around strange dogs and isn't always keen to play, and they're generally ok then.

We didn't stay too long in view of the amount of other dogs (there must have been 12 or 15, with more arriving all the time).  Betty wasn't keen on the blustery wind either, her tail was between her legs whereas, being a Shar Pei, it's normally straight up in the air.

The plumber and his mate are here at the moment, sorting out the boiler - fortunately, it's fixable, just needing a new part (luckily they had it in the van).  Will still cost over £150, but that's better than hundreds for a new boiler.  They've fixed it now, we have hot water again, thank goodness.

And the other good thing.....my elder brother and SiL have become grandparents, their son and wife had their first child, a little boy called Robin, on Monday, mother and child are well, he was 2 weeks early.  It's the first baby in our family for a number of years, so lovely to have a birth instead of a death.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Lunch out and the garden finished

 We went to the lovely garden centre in the nearby village today, to have lunch.  We sat outside the cafe - would have preferred to sit inside as they have large picture windows looking out over a beautiful view towards the Mendips, but dogs aren't allowed inside the cafe.  Never mind, it was still nice sitting outside surrounded by some of the centre's gorgeous plants, on another lovely sunny day.  Husband had a Coronation chicken baguette, I had a brie & cranberry toastie, both really well filled and served with salad and the cafe's own homemade delicious coleslaw.  They even brought out a sausage left over from the breakfast serving, and a bowl of water for Betty - how nice is that?

I bought a few plants from there (of course!  Can't resist plants), they grow their own plants rather than buying them in from elsewhere and they're all very healthy looking.  I got an anemone, hellebore and some cyclamen, to go in the semi shady area behind the caravan, now husband has finished clearing it.  The entire area there has been transformed, with the help of our wonderful van neighbour, from the dark and overgrown mess of plant growth and rubbish tip that it was previously, to a lovely partly open, partly shaded bank, with quite a large patio area beside it:-


Both the neighbours and ourselves have put plants in, once they get established and grow they'll fill out the area.  There's a plant sale in the neighbouring village on Saturday, so we might get a few more.  The bird bath is the one we found hidden amongst the rubbish behind the caravan.....can't imagine why the previous owners didn't use it, it's lovely.

The plumber is coming tomorrow to have a look at the boiler....I do hope he can fix it, it's a blimmin nuisance having to boil a kettle all the time.  How people managed years ago when nobody had running hot water I don't know, we really are spoilt nowadays.

I'm getting on quite well with my crocheted caravan blanket, another 6 or 8 rows should see it finished, apart from sewing in all the ends and doing a border.  I've decided to make another one for the van, that'll be a good project to keep me occupied during the winter months at home.  We'll also have a good look on the maps to see about places to visit next year, and will have a chat about the caravan in general, and whether there's any more work we want to do or anything we'd like to change.  Husband has said about putting shelves up in the wardrobe, which is a great idea - shelves would be far more useful than just a hanging rail.

I don't know how long we'll be able to keep the van - I guess it depends on our health (well, husband's health really) and assuming that the van doesn't fall to bits anytime soon!  Well, it is 30 years old after all.  It's in pretty good nick though and provided we keep it well maintained, which we would do as long as we are able, I hope we can keep it a good few years.  Site fees are paid up until next June, and I've already got the following year's fees saved up, so hopefully we'll have the van for another couple of years at least.  It's become such a big part of our lives that I can't imagine not having it.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Finally becoming tourists

 It's a lovely morning, chilly but bright, I've been for a brief walk round the site, it's so peaceful and pretty in the early weak sunshine, not a soul to be seen (other than the dustcart, it's dustbin day).

We're carrying on with the back area clearing today, husband needs to make another couple of tip trips and that should be it for rubbish clearance.  He's then got to relay some of the slabs which are very uneven, and lay a few more to make a path from the garden round to the back area.  Charlie, our absolutely lovely next door van neighbour, is insisting on helping him - now, my hubby is 70, C is 83!!  But he's as fit as a fiddle (he and his 75 y.o. wife go walking every day) and, amazingly, takes no medication.

Once that's done, which it should be within the next couple of days, then we're going to be doing no more work and doing touristy things instead, having trips out round the local area, lunch out, taking Betty back to the beach, etc.

Several of our van neighbours (there's quite a few here at the moment) are saying this will be their last visit here for this season, they all live a fair distance away and don't really fancy coming in October if the weather isn't good.  Also, a big factor is the nights drawing in - they all like to sit outside in the evenings, chatting and enjoying the evening sun, it's been lovely, a real sense of community.  Well, now it's starting to get darker earlier and earlier, and it's definitely much cooler in the evenings, they don't really want to sit outside, so that's half the enjoyment missing for them, which I understand.

I don't want this to be our last visit though, now we've got pretty much everything done I don't want to give up on the van until March next year, it's too long a period.  We have to go home sometime next week as we have another couple of appointments, but I would like to come again for at least a week in October.  It'll be a pity if all our nearest lovely neighbours aren't here, but there will always be some van owners here, until the season ends - people will be coming to get their vans prepared for the winter, if nothing else.  I'm just trying not to think about 4 months without my lovely van, but am already looking forward to coming here in March and seeing the garden filled with all the Spring bulbs I've planted.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Two lives

 This morning when I got up, my feet were cold, for the first time in months.  Think it's time to stop wearing my flip flops all the time and wear slippers instead - at least early morning and evening.  The evenings are really drawing in, I hate it - and it'll be even darker in the evenings at the end of the month when the clocks go back.  I'm really not keen on this time of year, definitely Spring and early summer for me.

It's a blimmin nuisance not having hot water - have to boil the kettle for all the washing up, and to have a wash - there was no way I was going over to the cold shower block (with the assorted wildlife) this chilly morning.  I'll have a shower when we go home today so I can wash my hair, leaning over to put my head in the sink isn't easy with a bad back and hip - although we can't go home just for a shower every day!  We'll ring the engineer this morning and hope that he can come asap.

We began clearing the very overgrown area at the back of the caravan yesterday, husband took 6 bags of rubbish to the tip, only a couple of which were plant prunings, the rest being dozens of broken plastic flowerpots, assorted bits of wood, broken old tools, half empty tins of paint and bottles of liquid - who knows what, the labels had worn away.  There's at least another 8 filled bags waiting to go.  I've said before the previous owners were old and unwell in their latter years, and it shows - there must be a couple of years worth of rubbish they'd just dumped behind and under the caravan, not to mention all the very overgrown shrubbery.  We've got a couple more days worth of work to do out there, but will have a very nice and useful paved area when it's done - the slabs are already there, they were buried under the tons of rubbish and plant overgrowth.  Lots are laid already, but there are several more spare ones that were just hidden under everything, they'll be useful to create a path from the garden gate to the back of the van.  Husband even found a large and very attractive decorated stone bird bath hidden round there.  Not sure yet where we'll put it, but I'll find somewhere.

Whilst we're here at the caravan, I'm aware I'm kind of putting off stressful issues that are going on in the background, but will have to be addressed soon.  It's like a different world here, largely free of worries and tension.....the only thing we've (the collective 'we', all the residents here) had to worry about is the fact that the owner hadn't mowed the grass for getting on for a fortnight! (he'd been too busy with other things, apparently).  The grass is so wet with dew now in the mornings, another sign of the time of year, which meant we were all getting wet feet and ankles walking back and forth.  Ah well, only a minor thing, and the owner finally got round to sitting on his ride-on mower and doing it all yesterday evening (his ears must have been burning 😁).  I've got a lot of thinking to do the next few days, can't keep putting things off indefinitely.  

My nephew is getting married early October, having had to postpone the wedding twice due to Covid.  It's up in the Midlands and, once again, we would have had to book a night or 2 in a hotel, and then there's the problem of what to do with the dog whilst we were attending the wedding/reception, so again we've chosen not to go.  They understand.  It's not all down to Covid, it's health problems too, both husband's and mine.  And as I get older, I find everything so much more stressful and hard work to organise.  All the organisation always falls to me and I do find it a big strain nowadays.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Oh to be a dog

 Having watched Betty frolicking around on the beach with such joyful abandonment on Friday, I was thinking how lovely it must be to have such an uncomplicated life and be able to absolutely lose yourself in the simple pleasure of rolling around on a beach in the sunshine, without a care in the world.  If only life were like that all the time.

Well, enough of that, I'm not getting maudlin.  It was supposed to be a rainy horrible day, but it isn't - it's not raining for a start, there's plenty of blue sky in between the clouds, no wind to speak of and not very cold, so there's a bonus for a start.  

I watched the first Strictly show last night and enjoyed it - despite not knowing who half the 'celebrities' were - they do seem to be scraping the barrel a bit now.  Although admittedly, some of these people I don't know because a) I don't watch a lot of television, and b) I'm not a teenager!  I'm guessing the Olympic swimmer will be a good competitor - sports people are very driven and disciplined (and he's got lovely big shoulders and arm muscles, he'll have no trouble throwing his partner around).  The Loose Woman/comedian looks to be a good laugh - whether or not she'll be a good dancer remains to be seen, she's a very big girl.  Not that her size means she won't be - Lisa Riley did really well in a previous series.  And I was quite impressed by Gordon Ramsay's daughter - I didn't realise she was some sort of celeb with her own cookery show, I've never seen it, nor her TikTok videos she apparently does with her father.  I don't watch Gordon Ramsay's shows either, can't stand the bloke.  But having him for a father, she seems quite confident and unfazed by the likely criticism from the judges.  As for the actor Greg Wise - ooh yum, he's a bit of alright, and being an older man, is confident and charming.  Dan Walker I do like a lot on the morning news show, I hope he does well, although he's a bit gangly and didn't seem to have much rhythm in the group dance.  I shall enjoy it all every Saturday anyway.

Went to bed straight after the show, my hip has been giving me a lot of trouble lately and I've had to take more painkillers than I'd like.  I did sleep reasonably well though, having taken a Nytol.  Bit of a nuisance this morning, the gas boiler here in the caravan isn't working, the pilot light is out and husband can't relight it.....he's swapped the gas bottles over in case the gas had run out, but it still won't light and there's no clicking sound when he presses the igniter.  No idea what's wrong, he'll have a word with some of the other vanners when they're awake.....but it does mean I can't have a shower here (I'm not a fan of cold showers!), so will have to go over to the shower block.  Not that it's a problem - except that I'm not really keen on sharing my shower with assorted wildlife - daddy long legs, moths and those 8-legged things with weeny tiny bodies and long spindly legs.  I'm not as terrified of those ones as they're not what I'd call real sp**ers, but still.....I'd rather they weren't in there.

When we had the boiler serviced back in June, the engineer did say that the boiler is very old and we'd most likely need a new one sooner rather than later, so we may have to bite the bullet and do that.  

Decided we'll nip home tomorrow rather than today, apparently we can now book our flu jabs so I'll do that tomorrow at home, my mobile phone signal is a bit unreliable here.  We'll go in the morning so I can get a few jobs done at home, but will be back here in time for tea.


Friday, 17 September 2021

Betty at the beach

 Betty had a wonderful time at the beach today:-



As can be seen, there was hardly anyone there, it was lovely.  She tears around like a mad thing, stops suddenly and digs big holes, then throws herself down and rolls around in them.  She loves it, and I love watching her have so much fun.

Feeling loads better

 I've had a couple of days free of family problems now and feel so much better for it - well, that and being here in the caravan, which is definitely my happy place.  And the lovely weather we've had, and I slept really well for the first time in ages last night.  And then yesterday we had such a great time with the friends who came over for afternoon tea, 3 neighbours from home.  They're a lovely couple who recently got married, despite having lived together for many years, and are one of the most romantic and loving couples I know.  The 3rd lady is an elderly widow neighbour, American (from Indiana) and so smiley and nice - she's lived in our little hamlet for about 30 years and knows everybody and everything about our area, she has some very interesting stories to tell.  She made us a beautiful cake, courgette cake with walnuts in it and a lovely lemon buttercream topping, it was just like a passion cake.  S & D, the couple, brought us a beautifully presented basket of fruit from their garden (they have the most gorgeous garden) - apples, pears, plums and a big bowl of raspberries.  Such nice people, we're blessed to have so many lovely neighbours, both at home and here at the caravan park.

There's an autumn chill first thing in the mornings, half an hour with the electric fire on in the lounge soon warms the place up.  We're forecast another couple of sunshiny warm days before showers kick in on Sunday, and then another couple of warm sunny days Monday and Tuesday.  We're going to take a picnic and have a couple of hours on the beach today, for the first time since we've been here at the park.  There's a lovely sandy area of beach near Weston, it's called Uphill, there's free parking on the beach (costs a fortune to park at Weston) and as it has none of the facilities of Weston, it's pretty quiet.  From there we'll go on to the retail park, I've got a little bit of food shopping to do and a warm cardigan I ordered online to collect.

We might pop home on Sunday to pick up our post, husband's waiting for his hospital admission appointment, he was told it will probably be within 4 weeks and that was over a week ago.  I'll probably take some washing home and put it on the eco quick wash - it's very handy living so near to the caravan park....yet far enough away for it to feel like we're having a good break away in a different area entirely.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Decision made

 I've decided I'm going to block my brother for a week.  I've also unfriended him on FB, he's been posting stupid stuff on there and then deleting it a couple of hours later.  My nerves are in bits right now and I just don't want any more stress.  He's making all sorts of promises about changing behaviour but, to be frank, I've heard it all before, many many times, his good intentions don't even last a few days.  I'd be happy to be proved wrong, but doubt it will happen.

I've been to the chiropodist today and had my feet pampered, which was nice.  Now we're back at the caravan, it's been a beautiful warm sunny afternoon, some of our lovely van neighbours are back here, and we're going to spend time just relaxing and maybe having some days out.  We've got friends coming tomorrow for afternoon tea, for our now regular get togethers, looking forward to that.  I did make a lemon drizzle cake today, but the rest of the buffet foods I've bought, so no stress involved in getting it all ready tomorrow.

Very tired, having had next to no sleep the past couple of nights, so will be early to bed tonight.  I've also got gut trouble, which is down to stress, it'll settle in a day or two.


Tuesday, 14 September 2021

The problems continue

 Thank you for the support, it means a lot.

I've now muted him again....having initially sent very apologetic texts, he's now back to abusing me again, after I sent him a short plain speaking text saying if he continues to make ridiculous demands and hurl abuse at us when we don't respond how he wants, then he'll find himself alone, as that behaviour isn't the way to seek help.  He didn't like that one bit and responded by calling me all sorts of names and being generally abusive.  I don't care what he thinks of me, his opinion matters not a jot to me, but I'm not sitting back and letting him abuse me.  Incidentally, he wasn't under the influence of alcohol, as far as I'm aware he rarely, if ever, drinks.  He's carried on like this for years - outrageous, downright stupid and abusive behaviour, followed the next day by grovelling apologies.  And then a few days later the cycle begins again.

I took care of him and Mum (as you've probably gathered by now, it's my youngest brother I'm talking about) for years and years - since I was little more than a child myself  (I'm the eldest child of 4) - as Mum found it terribly difficult to cope with him and his problems on her own after our father left.  I nearly lost my job because of it years ago, I received a final written warning for taking time off to go and help them out, when I kept receiving panic stricken phone calls from them when I was at work.  I've helped them in the past to the detriment of my patient, kind, long-suffering husband, who always did what I asked without complaint, bless him.  To be honest, it was one of the reasons we moved down here to Somerset, as our patience was stretched to the limit.

The only thing that is preventing me from cutting all ties with him is the knowledge that if I do, my sister (who lives very close to him) and elder brother will suffer the brunt of the problems he creates.  And I can't do that to them.  Husband, having seen the texts brother sent me this morning, is of the opinion that I should cut him off, but says he'll support me whatever I do and understands why I'm reluctant.

Changing the subject completely....I've noticed that for the past few days, several of my readers' profile pics have disappeared, leaving blank spaces - if I hover over the pics the names are still there, just no pic.  A Blogger glitch, or just me?

Problems with relatives

 As I've mentioned before, briefly, we have a close family member who suffers from numerous physical and mental problems, the mental ones being the most bothersome.  He lives alone now and doesn't cope very well with that - but he doesn't do himself any favours because he frequently stops taking some or all of his medications.  He's also flatly refused to accept any more help from his 2 social workers - one to help him with day to day living, shopping, bill paying etc, the other with mental health.  As he's an adult (he's 50) we can't make him do anything he doesn't want to do, even though we know it will help him.

Every so often (increasingly more so lately) he has a meltdown, usually over something very silly or trivial, and bombards us with texts and phone calls, which become more frantic, ridiculous and very abusive in nature as the minutes/hours pass.  He did that last night.  

I wasn't feeling at all well and was in agony with my hip - I couldn't find anywhere or any position to sit comfortably, so ended up going to bed around 8 pm, having taken codeine and a Nytol and used my freeze gel.   Unfortunately, D chose then to have a meltdown - all because his shopping is being delivered today and he feels he can't cope with opening the door.

He proceeded to send one text after another asking for, then demanding help.  I explained I was in bed and suggested a couple of things he could do.....he just wouldn't listen.  His demanding texts became more frantic in nature, and were coming every couple of minutes.....when we didn't respond he then took to trying to phone and then video call us.  I didn't answer, and put him on mute, as he'd ended up being highly abusive and trying emotional blackmail by threatening to take an overdose (he wouldn't do that, he's basically too scared).  I eventually switched my phone off completely as, although I'd muted him, I could see that he was continuing to bombard us with messages and attempted phone calls.  Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night through worrying.  As is his usual pattern, this morning he's sent several texts apologising profusely.

This is becoming ever more regular now and it wears me out, emotionally and physically, not a week goes by without one of his dramas.  I'm not a trained social worker and I live 160 miles away from him, it's not like I can go round there at the drop of a hat.  He refuses to accept any professional help, doesn't go out anywhere (he suffers with agoraphobia, amongst many other things) and doesn't work or have any friends, so it's difficult to know what to do to help.  But it is becoming more and more of a problem and I can't see it ending well.

Monday, 13 September 2021

Phobias

 As I've said before, I have a deep-seated, longstanding phobia of 8-legged things - I can't even say the word or see it written, never mind see a picture of one, without breaking into a cold sweat.  Some people don't understand just what a phobia means and how it affects people, they think of it as a joke and something silly you can just brush aside if you put your mind to it.  I've even had people (and it's always men) who, despite knowing I have this phobia, think it's amusing to keep mentioning the word loudly to me whilst telling me a supposedly funny story about one, or something even worse.  I was a moderator on a caravan forum years ago, the forum owner (whom I had met and actually knew personally) thought it hilarious one day to publish a massive picture of one on the forum and laughed uproariously at my shocked reaction.  Someone else texted me one day to say there was an interesting item on the TV news at that moment - when I switched the TV on, it was a section about 8 legged things, showing them live on TV.  The friend claimed he didn't know I was that scared of them - well, why did he go to the trouble of getting me to watch it then?  He knew alright.

I know you can have therapy to try and get over the fear - a relative had it once, it involved talking about your fears, looking at pictures of them, and then the real thing, and eventually working up to actually handling them.  She didn't complete the course - and neither would I, even the very thought scares me to death.

Obviously, this is the time of year when they all start appearing indoors - whether they come in from outside, or they're indoors already but just choose this time to come out (where are they the rest of the year then?  Not that I really want to know) I don't know.  Last year we didn't have many at all, for some reason - however, in the past week at home we've had about half a dozen.....and they've all been GINORMOUS.  I've been a nervous wreck.  Yesterday morning when we were packing the car to come to the caravan, I picked up my bag of wool and current blanket project, and noticed a big ball of dark coloured fluff on the floor underneath the bag.....only when it uncurled its legs and moved I realised it wasn't fluff at all.  Needless to say, I gasped and ran out of the room.  Husband deals with them, he doesn't make a fuss or make fun of me, he just kills them and disposes of the bodies - sorry to anyone who feels they're creatures who deserve a life too, I'm afraid in my house it's them or me, and if they're put outside alive they'll probably come back in again!

Last night when I was alone in the caravan (albeit with Betty), that was the one thing that worried me - what would I do if I saw one, especially if it was a huge one?  Betty doesn't usually take much notice of them, unless they move.....if she catches one she eats it, which I find just gross and turns my stomach.  In the event, though, it was fine - didn't see a single one, thankfully.  And I slept pretty well, with one loo trip - in the dark, purposely so I couldn't see anything!  And I went back to sleep straight away when I got back in bed.

My sister is also terrified of them, as is my youngest brother, which he finds really embarrassing.  But I tell him lots of men are scared of them, he's not the only one.  And in any case, everybody is scared of something.

Do you have any phobias?

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Peace and quiet

 Well, we're back at the caravan and it's so quiet here it's almost eerie - I could count on the fingers of one hand how many of the other vans are currently occupied, although our next door neighbours (the ones with the 2 little yappy ankle biters) have just arrived.  There are a few tourers right down the bottom of the park, they all keep to themselves.  None of our other neighbours are due to come until next weekend I think, so it'll be very quiet here all week.  We're lucky to live so near, so we can come and go whenever we feel like it.....most of our other van neighbours come down from the Midlands, the neighbours to our other side from Chichester, a 3 hour journey away, so they can't come as often as us.  When they do come, they generally stay for 2 or 3 weeks, sensibly, as they have longer journeys.

We arrived just before midday, I immediately unpacked the food and then watered all the flower pots, before putting away the rest of our stuff whilst husband took Betty for a walk.  We'd had brunch just before leaving home, so didn't want any lunch.  It's been very warm here this afternoon, although only intermittently sunny - too warm for indoors so we've sat in the garden in our recliner chairs most of the afternoon.  I tried to do some crocheting on my caravan blanket, but gave up after 1 row - the wool was just sticking to my fingers.  I just listened to the birds instead, and watched a mouse (well, I think it was a mouse, could have been a little brown bird I suppose) darting in and out of a compost bag underneath a neighbour's van.  Husband was snoring beside me, as was Betty 😒.  She was having one of her noisy dreams where she woofs and her legs are jerking as if she's running.....chasing squirrels or rabbits in her dream, I expect.  At least husband doesn't do that 😂

Husband is going back home after dinner, to let the electrician in early tomorrow morning.  As there's a new series of Endeavour starting on TV tonight, it means I get to watch it in peace!  If husband was here, he'd be doing a running commentary ("I used to have one of those cars!  Oh and one like that as well"), whilst sitting there with the remote control in his hand, doing the man thing checking out what's on the other channels.....drives me crackers.  We're forecast showers tomorrow, so it'll be a good day to sit in the van crocheting.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Mostly Betty stuff

 Been busy making dog food today, amongst other jobs.  Went to the big pet store this morning to get some more frozen mince....instead of the minced chicken I normally buy, I got a big bag of minced beef and another of frozen white fish cubes (Betty loves fish).  I also scrutinised all the bags of kibble, and bought one that's both grain and chicken free.  I cooked up a big panful of the minced beef - it's actually meant for giving to the dogs raw but, oddly enough, Betty isn't that keen on raw meat, she definitely prefers it cooked.  I also cooked a half butternut squash that was left over from a meal we had the other day, and some frozen broccoli, and mashed the two together.  I've portioned up the beef and veg (it's made 6 double portion meals) and frozen most of them....I'll give Betty one portion with a small handful of kibble one day, then alternate the next day with a bought grain & chicken free tray meal.  I'll do that for a fortnight or so and see how she gets on with it and whether it has any positive effect on her ear problems and general itchiness.

Last night I gave her an antihistamine tablet - she slept through virtually the whole night on my bed, wasn't at all restless and didn't wake up scratching several times during the night like she normally does.  So that's a result!

Lola's Mum (another new commenter, welcome), you mentioned Thornit powder.  I googled it, seems it's for ear canker/mites and comes highly recommended by breeders and even some vets.  Betty's had her ears swabbed and tested, she doesn't have mites, it's an overgrowth of a yeast infection.  But thank you, I'll keep it in mind.

I'm having to write lists for this coming week - as we're going to be spending time both at the caravan and home during the week, with Betty and me at the van alone Sunday and possibly Monday night and husband at home, then we're all at home Tuesday night, then back to the caravan Wednesday afternoon.  It's all a bit confusing (well, it is for me, and husband certainly won't know whether he's coming or going), and I have to plan meals to take with us, make sure husband has food for his days home alone and milk for his and the electrician's teas.  At least now I've made all those ready meals, I won't have to do any actual cooking for a fortnight or so if I don't want to.  During the next fortnight when we're at the van, we're going to have a few days out - weather permitting, it'll be nice to finally do a few touristy things now most of the van work is finished.  We'll also be cleaning out the van gutters (well, husband will be, I'll be holding the ladder) and washing the outside van walls down, and clearing the messy bank area at the back.

Husband's sister, brother and sis in law said that next year they're going to book a holiday place near to our caravan, so all of us can get together for bbqs and do all the touristy things together.  That'll be fabulous, we're all looking forward to that.

My rotary washing line broke yesterday, bought a new one but the blimmin ground pole is a bigger size and didn't fit in the existing hole - why can't things like that be one standard size?!  So husband has had to enlarge the hole - not as easy as it sounds, it took him a while, so I had to tumble dry the washing.  Ah well, it's done now, and seeing as we're not at home at least half the time nowadays but at the van, we're not using as much electricity at home.

I'm nodding off over my laptop now, run out of energy again so am off upstairs for an old lady nap.  I'll leave you with a photo of my lovely Betty.


She'd just come back from the groomers, they put a pink bow on her collar (she wasn't impressed).

And one of the gorgeous rose bush my friend got for me:-



Friday, 10 September 2021

Things and people to be thankful for

 We've had a lovely couple of days, despite me still not feeling up to par.  

The afternoon tea with the neighbours yesterday was wonderful, we were all well spaced out in their large dining room, with windows open for plenty of fresh air.  We had such a lovely time, it was great to spend a couple of hours chatting with neighbours, catching up - although we've seen them all lots of times in passing and had brief over the garden fence chats in the past year, this was the first time we've had the opportunity for a good get together and proper conversation since pre-Covid.  We've all agreed to make it a regular thing.....provided there's not another lockdown!  Next week they're coming over to us at the caravan, the following week we'll be in a different neighbour's house.

And then today husband's sister (the one whose husband died recently) and his younger brother and sister in law came to us for lunch, on their way to a holiday cottage for a long weekend break.  We haven't seen them all since January last year, when they all came to my mother's funeral.  Oh it was lovely to see them and, again, catch up with everyone's news.  Husband's sister J is doing remarkably well since her husband died, she seems lighter and brighter, as if her joie de vivre has come back.  Which I suppose it has - her husband had been very ill for several years and had gone downhill severely in the last year or so, which meant her life was very difficult.  Now she's free of responsibility and can live her own life, how she wants to.

I'm so thankful we have lovely friends and family - we've once again had offers of help to take husband to hospital for his upcoming operation, and for me to ring any of the neighbours, anytime, should I need help whilst husband is in hospital.  Husband's sister brought me a gorgeous plant, a purple Calla lily, it's beautiful - how lovely of her, when she's recently bereaved.

Mundi - a new reader (or new commenter, at least - welcome) - you mentioned your vet brought up the possibility of food allergies, eg grains and chicken.  We've also talked about allergies with our vet - Betty does get itchy skin quite often and I have wondered about allergies.  We live on farmland surrounded by crops, which are sprayed with all sorts of chemicals (the farms nearby are not organic) and we have wondered whether that might affect Betty.  Our vet suggested giving her brewers yeast tablets, or even Piriton (a hayfever tablet).  The brewers yeast didn't have much, if any, effect, the Piriton just made her dozy.  I was aware of grain allergies and do usually buy grain-free food (she has good quality wet food, interspersed with home made food), although I hadn't thought to check whether the dental chews and treats we buy for her are grain free (twit!!).  However, I'd never heard of a chicken allergy....upon googling, it seems it's quite common.  Which maybe could be the problem - Betty loves chicken and eats a lot of it, the homemade food I give her I usually make with (pet quality) minced chicken, and whenever we eat chicken (which we do a lot), she always has some of it.  Oh dear!  I'm going to do a trial of a few weeks reading labels carefully, cutting out all grains and chicken from her diet, and see if that has any effect on her ears and her itchiness.  So thank you for that.

I'm very, very tired, my sleeping hasn't got any better at all and I really need to break this cycle of heavily disturbed nights.....I've only been getting around 3 or 4 hours sleep each night, or even less, for what seems like weeks and weeks.  So tomorrow I'll get some Nytol - not the herbal one, the chemist only one, and take that for a few nights, it generally works reasonably well.  I've got to do something, the lack of sleep is affecting me a lot.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Suddenly I'm an old lady

 I'm feeling somewhat better now, although still worn out - my energy disappears very quickly and I'm having to stop and have a lie down almost every afternoon.  It just means that I try and get all my jobs done in the morning, including any food prep for that day's evening meal, so come the afternoon I can go up for a snooze without worrying I've still got things to do.  And if there are still jobs outstanding - well, there's always another day.  I've been very down about things this week.

This week I've had the slow cooker going every day, I've batch cooked ale braised steak & kidney, smoked haddock & salmon chowder, bolognese and Lancashire lamb hot pot, so there's loads of ready meals boxed up and frozen.  I also made and froze a batch of cheese scones earlier in the week.  I was intending to make a couple of quiches and some cakes for husband's relatives arriving tomorrow but have run out of energy so bought some this morning on a quick shopping trip, I'm sure they won't mind.  I can only do what I can do and I'm having to learn to accept that.  It's the neighbours' afternoon tea party today, so I shall go and have a nap soon before we go - wouldn't look very good for me to nod off at the table! 😂  The party was supposed to take place in their gorgeous garden, but unfortunately it's forecast to rain all day so I guess we'll be inside their (equally lovely) old cottage.

I had a physio appointment yesterday, over the phone(!!) for my ongoing bladder problem....they wanted to do a course of phone appointments but I said I'm not willing to do that, as I'm not at all confident I'm doing the exercises correctly - I certainly wasn't getting the feelings/sensations the therapist was describing during the exercise procedure, and her instructions weren't particularly clear.  In any case, both my consultant and the specialist nurse I saw months ago said I should have the physio face to face, as it was very difficult to be taught the correct procedure over the phone.  So a face to face appointment has been arranged, but November was the earliest appointment available.  Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for the physio for my back and hip - I've had a letter to say there's a backlog....no shit Sherlock 😒.  The walking stick I'd ordered arrived in the post the other day, it's a snazzy purple flowery folding one, nice enough looking but it did upset me a bit that it's come to this, needing a walking aid.  What with the walking stick and needing a nap every afternoon, I feel like I've aged about 20 years practically overnight.

We're back to the caravan briefly next week, I shall be there on my own for a couple of days at the start of the week whilst husband has things to do at home.  The intention was for us to stay at the van for a fortnight, but we now have 2 or 3 appointments that will necessitate us being home midweek.  We'll go back to the van again though once they're done, hopefully we'll be able to stay there for a good while then.  On the subject of the caravan, I'd emailed the before and after photos to the site owner, at his request - he's replied saying he's very impressed and intends to publish them in the site newsletter, which will be nice.

Betty's had quite a severe ear infection again, necessitating treatment this week and a follow up next week, it affected her a lot and she was very out of sorts at the beginning of the week, she's picking up now though.  The vet suggested we might think about an operation to widen her ear canals, which might help to resolve the recurring infection problem.  I'm not sure about that at all - whilst I don't like the fact that she gets these repeated infections, I really don't like the idea of putting her through an operation.  I'll have to do some research and find out more about it, and also whether our pet insurance would cover it....I suspect they'll say it's a pre-existing condition that's therefore not covered.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Spoke too soon

 So much for feeling better.....I'm not well again, and nor is poor Betty, so I'm definitely having a few days off.  Back soon, I hope.

Monday, 6 September 2021

Better and busy

 Thank you for your good wishes, I'm more or less ok now.  Every so often I have what I call a sort of diabetic thing.....well, that's what I put it down to, in the absence of anything more definite.  I just feel very unwell for a couple of days - like a limp wet rag, absolutely no energy nor desire to do anything other than lie on the bed reading or dozing.  All my limbs ache as if I've run a marathon or been run over by a steamroller or beaten up by a gang of football hooligans.  I just have to give in to my body and go lie on the bed and do literally nothing for as long as it takes to start to feel human again, usually 1, 2 or 3 days.   This time, it could also be a combination of a long run of disturbed sleep and all the garden work we were doing at the caravan.  Whatever, I feel a lot better now, although not yet 100%.

Just as well I'm back to normal(ish), as it's a busy week.  Today I've got the slow cooker full of a steak and kidney casserole with lots of veggies in it, it'll be portioned up and frozen, I anticipate it'll make 4 or 5 meals for the two of us.  I've also picked and prepped a load of our homegrown cooking apples - I can't remember what variety they are, they're not Bramleys, that's all I know.  Most I've just sliced, put into a big bowl of lemony hot water and cooked very briefly in the microwave, then dried off in a clean tea towel and frozen in bags.  The rest I shall make a couple of crumbles with.  We're having cold roast pork, apple sauce, poached eggs and sweet potato oven cooked fries for dinner, the rest of the pork (from yesterday's roast, cooked by husband, which I didn't really feel like eating much of) I'll shred for a stir fry for tomorrow.  I'll also chop up all the veggies for the stir fry.  Some of the leftover veggies from yesterday have gone in the casserole today, the rest will be used in the stir fry tomorrow.

I have my diabetic eye screening tomorrow morning, the drops they put in my eyes to dilate the pupils affect my eyesight a lot, my eyes are extremely blurry for several hours.  Hence why I'm prepping the pork and veggies for tomorrow's stir fry today - I'd chop my fingers off if I did it tomorrow!

I also intend making a big pan of smoked haddock chowder to portion up and freeze during the week, and the slow cooker will be on again later in the week full of lamb stew.   Sometime or the other, when I get time, I'll do a panful of bolognese too.  So that'll mean we have numerous ready meals in the freezer, mostly to take with us to the caravan, with some to have here on our return home.

Thursday morning I shall be doing some baking, for husband's relatives who are coming here for lunch on Friday, I'll probably make a lemon drizzle cake and some blueberry muffins, using our own homegrown blueberries.  We've been invited by some neighbours to afternoon tea on Thursday, looking forward to that, there'll be a few other neighbours there too.

It was foggy when I got up, couldn't see over the fields, very muggy and humid too, the fog is still here at 10 am, it's being very slow to clear so I've had to put washing in the tumble dryer.  Apparently, it's going to be up to 30 degrees tomorrow and Wednesday, for once I'm glad we're not at the caravan - it would be far too hot there.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Back soon

 Taking a break for a few days, I'm not very well.  Back soon.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Busy week at home

 Thank you all so much for the lovely comments about our caravan garden, it's been a lot of hard work but well worth it, we're so happy with the way it looks now.

I ache like mad today, my shoulders, arms and back are all killing me, as a result of all the garden work, digging, lugging heavy pots around and general bending down and carrying stuff.  No gain without pain!  Today I have washing to do (first load already done), the big upright freezer to empty and defrost then refill, shopping to go and do.  And that'll be it for me today.  Husband's going off to the big hospital in Taunton this morning for an ultrasound scan, he'll be doing a bit of tidying up in the garden later.

A month or so ago the Landlord sent an electrician round to do a full check of all the electrical systems in the house.....he was the one who switched on the immersion heater, which we never use, and left it switched on and we didn't notice it for a whole week (as we never use it!).  Well, the same electrician rang yesterday to arrange to come again, he's got to spend a whole day here doing all the necessary remedial works his checks brought to light.  Last time we left him alone in the house doing his checks and went out for the day.....this time, husband wants to be here (to keep an eye on him!  Although he has been reprimanded by the boss of the firm, after I complained, so hopefully he won't do anything silly this time).  I don't particularly want to be in the house whilst the man is doing all the work, it'll be noisy and disruptive and Betty will be on high alert on guard duty all the time.  So husband will take me and Betty to the caravan the day before, then come back here and stay here alone overnight (the bloke will be arriving early the next morning).  Once the work's done, he'll come back to the van.

Now that Autumn is upon us, I want to do some batch cooking this week - casseroles and soups to portion up and freeze.  Our cooking apples are all ready to pick now (we've had some stewed with cream already, lovely), so I shall be making a few crumbles, pies and cakes too.  

Oh, here are some of the Christmas cards I did whilst at the van:-



They're all just the initial drawings, they're not finished by any means.  I'll be adding more detail to the drawings, then borders and sentiments on the cards.

Busy this week, I've got my diabetic eye screening and yet another phone consultation for my ongoing bladder problem.  Then on Friday we have husband's younger brother and SiL, and his sister whose husband died recently, all coming to see us.  We haven't seen them since January of last year, when they all came to my Mum's funeral, so it'll be lovely to meet up with them and have hugs, they're coming for lunch on their way to a holiday home for a break.


Friday, 3 September 2021

Van garden pictures

 Back home now, having spent the morning tidying up and cleaning the van, changing the beds, packing and leaving the van all fresh and ready for the next time.  Husband tidied up outside and mowed around the van - each van owner is expected to keep the grass immediately surrounding their own van mowed, unless you make a separate arrangement with the site owner.  He also watered all the pots and plants in the ground.  It's such a friendly little community there, we all water each other's plants when our neighbours aren't at their vans, how nice is that.  

So, the garden pictures.....firstly, here's the monster hedge in various stages of being chopped down:-


As it was when we first saw it




The plastic ivy trellis, and the raised bed husband built



And finished, with the lovely stone pots we found buried beneath the monster hedge.  The large middle one contains a hebe, with French lavenders either side, and ferns on the outside edges.

And here's the garden as it was on the 2 June, when we first bought the van:-



Knee high weeds and tons of pots full of dead plants.

And now, neat and tidy with artificial turf and pots of roses, flowering shrubs and ornamental grasses:-






Sorry, the sun had gone in when I took the photos this morning.  The freshly dug border at the front fence edge is full of Spring bulbs I planted yesterday, there are about 10 or so pots also full of bulbs at the far end of the garden.  The front corner has a miniature climbing rose planted there, to be trained along the fence.  There's a purple clematis planted in the rear corner, to cover the upright piece of trellis.

When we go back the next time, I'm going to rub down and repaint the wood rail along the top of the metal fence, and husband will be tackling this:-


The messy bank area behind the caravan.  There's a paved patio (just visible on the left of the photo, it was completely covered with rubbish and overgrown shrubs when we first bought the van, we didn't even realise the slabs were there!  Once the area is cleared of rubbish and the bank soil dug over, we'll plant it up with shade loving plants - it's very dry there and is dappled shade because of the trees.  Husband will have a tool store (there's one there already, it's hidden at the moment) on the slabs, he'll fence off the far side so next door's 2 little yappy dogs can't keep coming round, and I might have a little rotary washing line there.

As the summer is nearly over, we decided in the end not to take over our nice rattan table and chairs set from home.....we'll take them next year, and swap them over with the wooden ones.

Yesterday we took Betty for a walk round Cheddar Reservoir, which is 10 minutes drive away from the Park.  It wasn't busy at all, hardly anyone there - there were far more ducks and wildfowl than humans!  Along with numerous ducks, Canada geese and some grebes, we saw several egrets, and a white heron - never seen a white one before, only the normal grey heron.  Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of it, as it was too far away for my phone cam to pick it up.  I did get one of an egret though:-


You can just about see it in the middle of the photo!  And here's a wider view of the Reservoir:-







Thursday, 2 September 2021

And the garden is finished...

 The monster hedge is gone and the front of the caravan is totally transformed, with a new raised bed built by husband, and the lovely stone pots found buried under the hedge now filled with plants.  It looks absolutely gorgeous, pics to follow when we get home and I upload them from my phone cam.

The van front was all discoloured and marked from the horrible hedge, so we've covered it up with expanding trellis covered with plastic ivy - looks so much better than it sounds, thankfully!  After we'd found bits of the monster jasmine actually growing inside the caravan, we didn't want any more real plants anywhere near the van, hence the plastic ivy, which actually looks very nice.  The ground in front of the van is full of thick roots from the hedge, it would be too much hard work for husband to dig it all out.  So husband cut it all as low to the ground as he could with his electric hedge trimmer, then we used a root killer product - not keen on the use of harsh chemicals, but needs must.  Husband built a wooden raised bed box which we put in place, lined with thick weed membrane, then filled the box with first sand then chipped bark.  The lovely stone pots have been stood on the top.

As usual, husband has done all the hard work, following my ideas and design, I just helped him out when he needed an extra hand, and then planted up the pots and helped to position them.  We've also put up a spare piece of trellis at the end of the garden fence, and planted a purple clematis to go up it.  Husband's loosened up a strip of hard ground along the front edge of the fence and I've planted the last of the Spring bulbs there.  And that's the garden all finished - hooray!  

We're going home tomorrow afternoon, having been here for our longest period yet - 11 days I think.  We've both got a number of appointments next week, necessitating us being at home all week.  We'll be back here again in a week or 10 days, when we'll be tackling the untidy overgrown bank behind the caravan, our last remaining job.  We've had a really lovely time here, some more work completed but lots of rest and relaxation.

Husband had a phone call this morning about his prostate operation, which he's been awaiting for a very long time, about 2 years or so.  He's been asked if he wants to have the op, which will involve an overnight stay, in a different hospital to the one he'd chosen......our local large hospital in Taunton have a massive backlog and if he holds out for that hospital, he'll be waiting for probably another year.  The other hospital, Yeovil, is further away from here, but not excessively so - he was originally offered Reading or Newport, Wales, both 100s of miles away!  He's still looking at a wait of around 4 weeks, but that's ok, at least there's finally an end in sight for him.  Now I just hope that I'll soon get an appointment for physio for my hip - I had an initial phone consultation in January, having waited several months for that, only to then be told that all physio appointments were suspended so the staff could be seconded to the Covid vaccination programme.  Which is fair enough, all hands to the pump etc, but in the meantime my hip is increasingly painful, to the point where it's becoming a real problem and I'm now in need of a walking stick.  Hey ho, we all have problems of some sort.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Another grey day

 It's very dull and cloudy here again today, quite chilly and there's spots of rain in the air, I hope it cheers up soon as I've got lots more plants to pot up and some remaining Spring bulbs to plant along the fence line.  Husband has just gone home again, to collect a few things.  Yes he is a treasure (and a keeper - well, I've kept him for 40 years so far 😂), but he's not infallible - he still does the odd idiotic thing.  Yesterday, he needed to do a job here at the van requiring his drill.....only he'd taken it home, along with a few other tools, when we nipped home at the weekend.  The thing is, he hasn't only got the one drill, he's got several, at least 3 or 4 (who knows why?!?!), so it would be sensible to leave one here at the caravan, you'd think 😒.  Oh well, I get a couple of hours of peace here with the dog.  And thank goodness we live close enough to pop home now and then.

We've all (that is, the few residents here at the Park at the moment) been commenting on how quiet it's been, especially over Bank Holiday, and how few owners have been coming here the past few weeks.  No idea why they've not been coming, everybody has different circumstances.....there are several vans here that haven't been occupied at all so far this year, and even a few that have remained unoccupied since before Covid started.  Just seems daft to me - people pay out enough to buy the caravans in the first place, along with a one-off payment for the plot, and then a yearly site fee - which everyone has to pay regardless of whether they use their van or not.  So to then not come and stay just seems a total waste of money.  Still, each to their own, I'm sure they have their reasons.  At least it stays quiet here!  We intend to be here as much as possible, we're definitely getting our money's worth.  I'm already feeling quite sad about not being able to come for 4 months during winter....I'll be dragged out kicking and screaming on the 31 October, and will be first through the gates to come back again on 1 March next year 😁

Another two owners turned up yesterday, they're siblings each with their own van, they always come together, so more bodies around.  Having said that though, another owner went home yesterday, so it's not really much livelier here!  The one that went home is nicknamed 'Chatty Man' - he could talk the hind legs off a donkey, he's always walking around looking for some poor unfortunate soul to stand still long enough to get his ears bent.....I avoid him as much as possible 😂.  I wouldn't mind, but he has a (well deserved) reputation for moaning all the time, so he's not really my favourite person to talk (listen) to.  We hardly ever see his wife, she stays inside their caravan most of the time.....probably enjoying the peace and quiet whilst her talkative husband is out boring the pants off everybody he can find.

We had a little drive out yesterday, went to Cheddar first.  Haven't been there for a few years, it wasn't particularly busy apart from a few tourists, I was surprised at how tacky it's become.  It's always been geared towards tourists, naturally, but now there's a few really naff shops opened up, some boarded up ones (including the big hotel in the centre) and generally looks run down.  Such a pity, as it really is a pretty place.  Shan't bother going there again.  We stopped off in Axbridge on the way back, it's only just up the road from the Park.  It's a small mediaeval town with several ancient half timbered buildings which are fascinating to look at - they're all leaning and on the slant, with big heavy old crooked timber doors and windows which look like they're about to fall out - how they've survived all these 100s of years I don't know.  Shows how well they were built I guess, especially without all the specialised equipment builders use nowadays.  Betty found no end of really interesting smells, she's such a bloodhound, got her nose quivering on the ground all the time.

Well, it's not getting any warmer or showing any signs of the sun coming out yet, so I guess I'll just have to put a jumper on and brave the garden....can't have husband coming back and thinking I've sat on my backside indoors all the time 😉😂

Monday, 30 August 2021

He's excelled himself

 Husband has worked so hard on the garden and getting rid of that awful hedge, I'm so proud of him.  

He's got so many things against him - his age (70), heart failure for which he takes a cocktail of meds, arthritis in his hands, his severe dyslexia which means he's the most disorganised and untidy man I know (it doesn't just mean he has difficulty reading and writing, it affects a whole lot more things than that).  He's clumsy and accident prone, can trip over nothing, drops things every single day, his hands aren't connected to his brain which means that when he puts something down, he instantly forgets where he's put it.  Living with him can be very....challenging, shall we say.  

But he's one of the kindest and most helpful men I know, he will do anything for anyone, he helps out several of our neighbours at home with gardening and DIY jobs, despite some of them being quite a bit younger (and fitter) than him.  In fact, sometimes I have to put my foot down and tell him (or neighbours) that he cannot do something, because it's beyond his capabilities or he's simply not qualified, he can't do it safely or it'll be too much for him.  Eg, he was asked recently to cut down a huge fir tree in a neighbour's garden, the tree is taller than her 2-storey house....he was actually considering it, until I pointed out that he's not a tree surgeon and it simply wouldn't be safe for him to be up a very long ladder with a huge chainsaw, given how accident prone he is!!

He will do anything I ask of him - when we first came to look at this caravan, he was aghast, he actually said to me "Are you sure about this?".  I said I was, it was basically sound beneath the awful old fashioned, dirty and broken state of everything, and that between us we could make it lovely.  "Ok, if you're really sure....".  And we have.  He's worked incredibly hard, both inside the caravan and out, and it's now a wonderful holiday home that we love to spend more time in than in our actual house.  I've made sure that he's had plenty of breaks during days when he's been working hard, kept him fed and watered, and arranged for us to have half or full days off, when we go out for a jaunt or just stay here and have a day relaxing in the garden in the sunshine, chatting to our lovely neighbours.

His work isn't perfect - but then I've never asked for nor expected perfection, I've only ever asked that he do his best.  And that's exactly what he has done, he's done all these many, many jobs on the caravan and garden to the best of his ability and within his limitations.  I've told him over and over how pleased I am with everything, and how proud I am of him for tackling everything.  And now we're enjoying the fruits of our labours (yes, I have done a bit of work too! 😇😂) and I couldn't be happier.

Husband's now watching the Edinburgh Tattoo (I hate bagpipes but he loves them), I'll be settling down in a minute with some crochet - a lap blanket for chilly evenings here.  Betty is stretched out between us on the sofa, and it's been a very satisfying day.

Dull this morning - me and the weather!

 We went out early this morning to a boot sale.  I was a bit concerned that it might be busy, being a Bank Holiday, but it wasn't at all, only perhaps a dozen people there.  There weren't many sellers either, probably about 20 in total, and several of those were young mothers selling toys and baby clothes - obviously of no interest to us.  Husband bought a hammer (for 50p!), I bought nothing, I didn't see anything I wanted.  I was hoping to buy some plants for the van garden, but there were only 2 people selling plants, and they were bedding plants - I don't want those, I want perennials and small shrubs.  Disappointing, but never mind, I'll get some elsewhere this week, I expect.

Having popped home yesterday, we brought back a bagful each of courgettes and cooking apples from the garden at home, we've given some away to caravan neighbours.  There's a plum tree here on site, the plums look like they're ready so I might add some to the apples.  Stewed fruit and clotted cream or Greek yogurt will be lovely, or just the fruit with cereal for breakfast.

We've discussed it at length and decided we probably won't grow much (if anything) in the way of produce at home next year, other than the tree fruit which obviously is already there.  We intend to spend a lot of time here at the caravan, so won't be at home much to take care of growing things.  We might grow a few things....eg, cherry tomatoes, one(!!) courgette plant and a wigwam of beans in pots here in the van garden.

I feel sluggish this morning, several nights of not sleeping very well.  And it's wall to wall cloud and a bit chilly at the moment.  Husband has just gone outside to carry on with chopping down the monster hedge (he's now using his electric hedge trimmers, having brought them from home yesterday - trying to do it with the shears was just too hard), so I'd better put a jumper on and go help.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

The caravan garden

 I'm so pleased with the way the garden here at the van is turning out.  Husband went with the artificial grass in the end.....I'd rather have had real turf, but it was his choice, he's had to do the bulk of the work digging up the weedy excuse for a lawn and levelling out all the many lumps and bumps and hollows.  He wanted to cut down on future work - not having a proper lawn to mow constantly - and I fully understand that.  And I must say the garden does look lovely and neat now.  It does mean that I can't really have many plants directly in the ground (I could cut holes in the artificial turf, I suppose), but I can of course have lots of plants in pots.  The basic structure is now there, along with some planted up pots - plenty of room for more though.  Husband put trellis all along the bottom of the van, to improve the appearance - it does look nice.  We've got a spare length of trellis, so I'll get him to fix it to the fence at the end of the garden and I'll plant a clematis to grow up it, I like the big flowered purple (of course!!) ones.

We made a start yesterday on taking up the awful monster hugely overgrown jasmine at the front of the van - well, husband was tackling it, cutting bits of it down, I just held the bags open and helped him shove the cut off bits in.  There's so much of it, and it's so overgrown and has such thick stems that he's decided it will be much easier if he uses his electric hedge trimmer to cut it down, we're going to collect it from home today.  We'd assumed that the jasmine is planted in the ground....it appears though that it was actually planted originally in a pot, but over the years has grown massively and runners have rooted everywhere in the ground, so it's now a full-blown big hedge that is totally out of control.  Behind the bits that husband has so far managed to cut down, he found a long wooden trough, which fell to bits as it's so rotten, and several stone pots of varying sizes, thankfully all in good condition and looking very nice when cleaned up.  I'm pleased about that, I can reuse them all.  We were going to have a raised bed at the front planted up with (small!) flowering shrubs and a couple of pots of flowering annuals, but there are so many thick stems and roots from the blasted jasmine that husband reckons the ground will be very poor indeed.  Plus it'll be hard to get out all the roots.  So we're going to put specialist weedkiller (root killer) on the roots and then lay paving slabs, and put the lovely stone pots on top.  I've got a hebe, some French lavender plants, a couple of ferns and some ornamental grasses to go there.

I will of course photograph it all and put the pics on here....before, during and after.

We've had some lovely weather this past week here at the van, and more forecast for the coming week, so it's great to be able to get stuck into the garden in the mornings, then relax in our lovely new comfortable recliner chairs in the afternoon/early evenings.  Although it's been warm (too hot the other day) during the days, it's noticeably cooler in the evenings and early mornings - distinctly autumnal.  We've had the electric fire on in the lounge a couple of mornings when we've got up, it warms the lounge up quickly.

Friday, 27 August 2021

Still feeling sad

 I didn't sleep at all well last night - unusual for me in the caravan, I generally sleep much better here than at home.  Watching the funeral affected me more than I thought - partly because we're all getting to the age where our family and friends are passing away, and we have had quite a lot of deaths in the family (both husband's and mine) in the past couple of years.  Husband comes from a very large family, there were 10 siblings, and he's now the eldest of them, both his elder brother and sister, and the oldest of his in-laws having all died recently.  Apart from 1 aunt and uncle (and my uncle is in very poor health indeed and isn't expected to survive much longer), I am now the eldest surviving member of my family, both close and extended.  It feels strange, and quite uncomfortable.

The quality of the live feed from the funeral wasn't brilliant, so I couldn't see everyone clearly, I did get a brief glimpse of my sister and some of husband's relatives.  According to my sister, there were quite a few of his family members there - siblings, in laws, nieces, nephews and cousins, it really did sadden me that we couldn't be there.  I got a text from husband's sister last night, following the wake - their brother and SiL are bringing her down here for a break in a couple of weeks, a long weekend, and they're going to come and see us, it'll be so good to see them and give them all a hug.

I'm so tired of not being able to see friends and family on a normal and regular basis - although it's not just down to Covid.  I expect everyone is.

Anyway, in an effort to cheer myself up (after our neighbours informed us this morning that there are only 8 weeks left before the Park closes for winter - thanks a bunch!!), I've been out in the little garden this morning, planting up lots of pots with Spring bulbs.  I planted some in the raised bank area behind the caravan too, we share a largish raised bed area with our next door neighbours.  Now I know the garden is going to look glorious when we come back next Spring after the long winter break.

Husband is still off his food so, although he says he does feel quite a lot better, he's obviously still not right.  Whatever the infection is (either the GP didn't say on the phone, or husband just can't remember what he said), I don't appear to have caught it.  Seems husband was lucky to have blood tests at the beginning of the week, as apparently there's a shortage of the little vials they take blood in and doctors are restricting who can have blood tests!

It was distinctly cooler this morning when we got up, especially noticeable after the heat of yesterday, husband even put the electric fire in the lounge on for 30 mins, to take the chill off.  I don't think I've put up a photo of the fire now it's installed and I've put tile stickers all around it - I'm really pleased with it, I think it looks fantastic.  I'll upload a picture when we get home.

There's a car boot sale here in the village on Bank Hol Monday, we're planning on going....I hope it won't be too busy though, I'm still nervous about being amongst crowds, even with a mask on.  We love boot fairs and used to go regularly pre-Covid, in the last 2 years though we've only been to one perhaps 2 or 3 times.  I'm hoping to get some more plants for the garden, I've still got a few pots to fill, and we'll have a new raised bed area at the front of the caravan.  We're going to nip home at the weekend, there's a few things we need to bring back (I need to do a quick clothes wash too).....I could dig up and bring over a couple of plants from the front garden, it is rather crammed now.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Funeral

 Husband's BiL's funeral this afternoon was livestreamed so, thanks to the MiFi, we were able to watch it on my laptop.  The service was quite nice, not religious (taken by a neutral Celebrant lady), fairly well attended.  It did make me sad to see so many relatives, including my sister (who is friends with husband's sister) who we haven't seen in such a long time - since before Covid.  Hopefully, we'll be able to see them soon, we're planning on going up there (husband's health permitting) and staying overnight in a month or two.  I think that's the only downside of having moved down here to Somerset 11 years ago - the fact that most of our family live several hours' drive away.  It's not easy when we're all getting older and health is deteriorating.

Feeling melancholy today.....the funeral and not being able to go, I suppose, and it bringing into sharp focus the fact of not having seen our family and friends for so long.  Even my best friend who lives nearby, I don't see nearly enough of.....although that's not so much to do with Covid, more busy lives and different priorities.

It's been too hot here today, the caravan is like an oven again.  Shouldn't complain, but the heat really takes it out of me, I feel like a limp wet rag and don't feel like doing anything.  I don't think I'll have Betty on my bed tonight - she's like a hot water bottle, and a heavy one at that.

Husband is feeling much better, but his appetite still hasn't recovered, he's still leaving food on his plate and that's highly unlike him.  I'm serving up smaller portions too, so hopefully both of us will lose a bit of weight!

We're thinking of popping home over the weekend and bringing back our lovely outdoor dining set - it's a very nice rattan & glass topped table and 2 lovely comfy rattan chairs with cushions.  We're spending more time here at the van than we are at home, so it would make sense.  There is a wooden table and chairs here, left behind by the previous owner and included in the sale when we bought the van, so we might take them home and do a swap - they're ok, but not as nice as our rattan set.

I did some drawing today - a few Christmas cards!  Decided my theme for this year will be monochrome Christmas trees with a little splash of colour - a few baubles maybe, or a gold star on top of the tree, or maybe a robin in the tree or a wrapped present underneath.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Holiday

 I've finally got my MiFi connected, after a bit of trouble.  I tested it out at home first - initial problem was that the instruction leaflet supplied with the thing was utterly useless - very scant instructions and didn't really tell me anything.  So I had to google to find a more comprehensive (and easy to understand) manual on the internet and download it.  Much better.  Then, having managed to get the SIM card installed, I couldn't get the laptop to connect wirelessly to the MiFi - no idea why, it just wouldn't.  Having had a read through the manual again, I discovered that I could use the cable supplied with the thing - which I thought was just a charging cable - to plug the MiFi into my laptop.  And then it worked fine.  Now we're back in the caravan and I'm on the laptop - hooray!  And as husband's BiL's funeral is being livestreamed tomorrow, we can now watch it on the laptop.  Assuming I can get the link to work!  I've never done anything like that before.

Husband's been a bit unwell the past few days, and had to go to the GP yesterday, who checked all his vitals, took bloods and arranged for him to have an appointment for an ultrasound scan in 10 days.  The GP doesn't think it's heart related, more a stomach problem.  I asked husband how he felt about coming to the van, I said we don't have to at all, it's entirely up to him.  He said he wanted to.  So we're here, and I've said we're on holiday this time, he's not doing any garden work.....well, not unless he wants to and feels up to it in a few days' time.  The weather's glorious, our lovely neighbours are here, we're all sitting outside in our recliners enjoying the sun.....well, I'm now hiding indoors as it's too warm for me, I can't take the heat and too much sun gives me a headache and makes me feel queasy.  Our immediate next door neighbours said they were planning on going home tomorrow, but now we're here they've decided to stay a bit longer - isn't that nice of them?  I was really touched.

I'll pot up all my Spring bulbs over the next few days, in the mornings when it's not too hot.

Thank you for all the info re the SmartShop zapper things.  So what happens when you finish your shop and go to the dedicated Smart till?  Can anyone tell me how it works and what you do?

Husband's just had a phone call from the GP with the bloods results - apparently he has a mild gut infection, which is what the GP suspected and gave him medication for yesterday.  He feels a bit better today already.

Monday, 23 August 2021

Self service

 It's been dull as dishwater here all day - the weather, that is......wall to wall cloud.  According to the weather app on my phone, it's supposed to be sunny this afternoon.  My brother, who lives in Cornwall, has just said it's been a beautiful sunny day there - he's obviously holding onto the sunshine and not letting it up here!  Ah well, I've been busy today so no time to go and sit outside.  Ironic really that it's been so cloudy, we had a pair of sun lounger chairs delivered earlier, don't fancy sitting in them at the moment!  They're to go to the caravan anyway.

Several times recently when shopping in Sainsburys, I've been given a voucher for money off my first SmartShop - that's the handset zapper thing that you bleep your own shopping with, pack it as you go along and then simply pay at the dedicated SmartShop tills.  Well, apparently that's how it works....I don't actually know as I've not used it before.  All the supermarkets seem to be pushing us into self service, they have fewer and fewer manned checkouts - in fact I think I may have read somewhere recently that Morrisons are intending to do away with manned checkouts altogether.  No doubt the others will follow suit.  They want everyone to go cashless presumably, and employ fewer staff.  Obviously, since the start of Covid, most shops etc have been wanting us to use cards rather than cash - in fact, I can't remember the last time I took any cash out of a machine.

The self service checkouts are all very well, but what about people who still use cash? (I presume there are some).  And people, elderly predominantly, who aren't ok with using those checkouts....maybe because they don't know how, or because they like having a chat with a real person?  I've used the self service checkouts a few times, but always seem to have a problem arise ('unexpected item in the bagging area', or some alarm goes off and a supervisor is requested).  Perhaps it's just me!  But it's obviously the way things are going to be in the future (I think it's called progress or change), so I guess we'll have to get used to it.  It would be nice though to have a trained staff member to show you what to do for your first time - but our Sainsburys has had a distinct lack of staff lately.  There used to be someone greeting you as you came in, and always someone watching over the self service checkouts - they've been conspicuous by their absence though the past few weeks.

I've downloaded the app onto my phone and think I'll have a go at a small shop initially, just to test it out.  But what about if you're buying loose fruit & veg, how does that work?  And what do you actually do when you get to the checkout?  Can anyone enlighten me? (seeing as there are hardly any staff available in the shop, and they seem to have done away with the Customer Service desk).

How long will it be before supermarkets are fully automated with no human staff at all?

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Age is just a number!

 Thank you again for all your comments, you're all very supportive.  And welcome to a few new readers, I hope I don't bore the pants off you 😏

Brenda, caravan parks here have to have a licence from the local Council, either a residential (mostly open for permanent living in all year round, although even some of those have a 1 or 2 month closed season), or a holiday licence, which is for holiday accommodation only and is usually for 8 to 10 months of the year.  I don't know what the criteria are, or who chooses the type of licence - park owner or Council.  Whichever licence type the Park holds, they (and we) are under obligation to conform to the terms of the licence, or the Park owner can be fined or even have his licence taken away.  Therefore, as our Park has only an 8-month holiday licence, we cannot live in our van for the full 8 months (we have to have a permanent home elsewhere), although we can visit as many times as we like during those 8 months.  Which we are certainly doing!  I don't think I'd want to stay there much over the winter anyway, the van doesn't have double glazing or central heating (we have an electric fire in the lounge and portable electric oil filled radiators for when it gets cooler) so I'm guessing it would be quite cold.  The site is on a hillside and terraced too, so if it snows it could be a bit dangerous at our old age....I don't really fancy sledging 😂😂

Speaking of age.....we met another of our fellow van owners last week, she's a little old lady aged 90 who is on her own, she drives down from Birmingham every couple of weeks to spend a week or so in her beloved van.  She told us the other day she's been coming to the Park since the 1970s, she's had several different vans in that time and absolutely loves the Park, she considers it her second home and the other owners her extended family.  She's a happy little thing, loves pottering about her van and garden, she was busy arranging her smalls to dry on the back of her metal garden furniture when we were chatting the other day, having just hand washed them in her van.  She doesn't look 90.  Our next door van neighbours are 75 and 83, they're both extremely fit and don't look their ages either.  And yet my Mum died at the age of 84 and looked much older than that, but then she'd been in poor health for a few years.  I'm 61 and feel about 80 sometimes when I'm very tired and my hip/back are paining me, but most of the time I find it hard to believe my age, I don't generally feel that old at all.

Been shopping this morning.....lots of gaps on the shelves in the supermarket, and couldn't get half the things I wanted in a couple of other stores as they're getting rid of their summer stock and filling up with Halloween, back to school and even Christmas stuff 😡.  It's still summer, for goodness sake!  Got 2 lots of washing out on the line, thankfully....as it's sunny and breezy today it'll dry in no time.

Husband's got his diabetic eye screening tomorrow - despite only being borderline diabetic and not even needing to take medication for it, he has some diabetic nerve damage showing in his eyes already....oddly, as I've been diabetic for 10 years now and have no signs of eye damage.  They said the last time that as long as his diabetes is kept under control (which it is, he had his annual review not long ago and the results were all fine), the eye damage shouldn't progress too much.  I'm having my hair cut tomorrow, and Betty is going to the groomers first thing Tuesday morning.

Another odd thing - I've been sneezing this morning....I know it's hayfever as I have very itchy eyes and nose as well, which always happens when I have hayfever.  The odd thing is that, in previous years, I've only had hayfever at the start of Spring for 2 or 3 weeks, then that's it, it doesn't trouble me anymore.  This year, however, I've had it on and off throughout all of Spring and Summer.  How strange, and very annoying.

Saturday, 21 August 2021

MIA, sorry

 Sorry for being missing in action, we've been at the caravan this week, and the difficulties I experience trying to blog on my phone, when the signal keeps disappearing, meant I didn't even try.  That should soon be solved though, I'm getting a MiFi on the advice of my lovely friend who knows all about these things.  I didn't even know what one was, but apparently it's a sort of mini wireless router that will work anywhere, you put a SIM in it like you do in your phone.  I can then take my laptop and, hey presto, the laptop should pretty much automatically introduce itself to the MiFi and then it should all work together!  Or so my techie friend says.....I have my doubts 😂😂 (nothing is ever uncomplicated when it comes to me and tech related stuff).  He came over with his MiFi to test it works in the van, it's a tiny thing, smaller than a mobile phone, it worked just fine.  He sent me the link for buying one, along with a SIM card preloaded with 24 G of data, which should last for 2 years - dependent on usage.  They're arriving tomorrow, so I'll be taking them with me and trying them out the next time we go back to the caravan.

It's been a funny old week.....we did manage to make a start on the van garden, but rain stopped play yet again, the weather has been a right mixture of sunshine, clouds and very sharp showers.  As well as my lovely friend, we had 2 sets of visitors come for afternoon tea on Wednesday and Friday - well, to have a look at the caravan and park really, which was nice, they all thought it was lovely.  Betty was beside herself with glee, having so many friends come to visit us.  She always sleeps like a log for a couple of hours after we've had visitors, she wears herself out with excitement.  So rather than working all the time whilst at the van, like we have done up till now, we actually had some relaxing time this week, for a change.  And I've now got the packing stuff to take there, unpacking when we get there, and packing up again/unpacking at home down to a fine art, I do it in no time at all.  Within 10 mins of getting home today, I had the couple of bags unpacked and the first lot of washing in the machine.

It's been chucking it down this morning, we dodged the heavy showers to put the bags in the car and fortunately it had stopped raining by the time we got home, although it looks like it's about to start again at any minute (so the washing won't be going on the line).  Thunderstorms forecast for this afternoon but sunshine tomorrow, so husband should be able to get out in the garden and start taming the jungle it's become.  And then apparently we've got some good, warm and sunny weather coming on the horizon, a fairly prolonged period of it, which will be marvellous - we'll be back to the caravan and should be able to get the garden finished.  I intend to plant up several pots with Spring bulbs, so when we get back to the van on 1 March after the winter break, we'll have lots of lovely daffodils, crocuses, anemones and tulips to greet us.

After some deliberating, husband decided we're not going to his BiL's funeral, the hotel would have cost us £120 (for one night and not even breakfast included!  Talk about a rip off just because it's Bank Holiday), plus the fuel costs there and back, and he really didn't feel he could cope with sitting in traffic for hours and hours on a motorway.  I'm glad really....he's spoken to his sister and she's absolutely fine about it, she understands fully and said another sibling who also lives down this way isn't going either, for the same reasons.  We will go up there and stay overnight in a few weeks' time, when it's not a bank holiday or school holidays, so we can then see both husband's and my family at a more relaxed, less stressful and emotional time.

I did some drawing whilst away (haven't uploaded any pics to the computer yet), I've left a bag of art supplies in the van so can do it whenever I feel like it.  I'm also thinking about taking up crocheting again, I've got lots of odd balls so might make a scrappy blanket.  I might make a cake to take with us when we next go back to the van, it'll be nice to start up an afternoon tea tradition with the van neighbours.