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, 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 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


 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


 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, 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.

Sunday 15 August 2021

Funeral stuff

 I should clarify a bit about going up for the funeral.....

It normally takes us around 3-3.5 hours to get up to the Midlands, depending on traffic and how many times we have to have comfort breaks.  Well, BiL's funeral is taking place on the Thursday before Bank Holiday weekend - which means there'll be a lot more traffic, particularly on the way home on the Friday - there'll be hordes and hordes of cars, caravans, motor homes etc coming down from the Midlands to go to the West Country for their last break before the kids go back to school.  So the journey home will most likely take us around 5 hours, possibly more, which husband is loathe to cope with.....and I can't say I'm too keen either, being stuck in traffic for hours when you need a wee is not pleasant!  He doesn't feel able to cope with the journey there and back on the same day - fair enough, I understand that, hence why I've been looking at booking us in somewhere overnight, despite it meaning us having to travel home with the holiday traffic.  The trouble is....with it being BH weekend, I'm having difficulty finding somewhere with availability, and that doesn't cost the earth!  The place we normally stay has TREBLED their price for the one night, due to it being BH and because prices have risen generally due to Covid.  And of course we will have Betty with us, and finding a dog-friendly place can be difficult.

Husband's family aren't particularly close and he's quite ambivalent about going, whereas I'm of the opinion that if a family member dies, we are under a moral obligation to attend the funeral, regardless of how close/not we were.  The other thing is....I was quite looking forward to going - nothing to do with the funeral as such, but because my sister will be attending (she's friends with my husband's sister and they all live in the same area) and it will thus give me a chance to see my sister.....who I haven't seen, along with my younger brother who lives near her, since February of last year.

Husband is dithering about whether he wants to go or not, he keeps changing his mind.  I've now almost lost the will to live and have issued him with an ultimatum - I don't care one way or the other what we do, but he must make a final decision (and stick to it) within the next day or two.

Before anyone suggests it, I should say that for one reason or another, it isn't possible for us to stay with any of our relatives, we always stay in a hotel when we go up there.

I was initially irritated when husband arranged to take the car in for a service tomorrow, whilst we're at the van, having arranged to go there specifically to get the garden done.  Now though, I'm looking forward to having a couple of hours on my own (with Betty, of course, who is no trouble) - I shall take my art supplies and do some drawing and just enjoy the peace. 

Feeling the pressure

 At the moment, we're spending more time at the caravan than we are at home.  Which in theory is fine - we bought it to use it, after all, and there's only 2.5 more months left before we can't use it at all for four months over winter!  Oh, for those who enquired.....I asked and no it's definitely not allowed for us to even visit the van for a few hours during the closed season, it would be in contravention of the site's licence.  Any contravention of the terms of the licence could mean the Council withdrawing it, and obviously nobody wants that to happen.

Whilst we're at the van, we are still doing various different jobs, although there's no real urgency anymore, we do have breaks and we do get to chat with whichever neighbours are there.  Nevertheless, it's still work, not relaxing.  And then when we get home, for the few short days we're here, I seem to be rushing round like a blue-arsed fly doing tons of washing, housework, shopping both for our brief stay at home and for the first couple of days of our next van visit, then getting together whatever we need to take back to the van.  This weekend I've had the upcoming funeral to think about and plan for as well.  Husband says he's got the garden to do - well yes he has, both the lawns and the plants seem to shoot up uncontrollably whilst we're away.....however, as yet he's not really got a lot (anything!) done, I'd rather he got on with it of his own accord than me having to nag him.   I don't know why I say nagging - what is nagging anyway?  It's repeatedly having to ask someone to do something that they should have done the first time of asking!!  (Perhaps I should simply stop doing any of his washing and see how long it takes him to realise he's got no clean clothes, and ask me to do some washing!).  Well, he's got this morning to mow the lawns front and back, it's forecast to rain this afternoon, so I hope he gets his finger out.  We're back to the van tomorrow, a day earlier than we were planning to go, so that we can get going on doing the van garden.....only husband has suddenly booked the car in for a service so he'll be missing for half the day 😒

I'm just finding everything to be a bit (a lot) of a chore lately - I haven't slept very well at all the past few nights, for one reason or another (things on my mind again), and I'm feeling under the weather a bit too, nothing I can put my finger on, just not 100% - more like about 60%.  It'll pass soon, I expect.

I think we need to spend a bit longer at home, perhaps a week and then the next week at the van, to give me more time to get things done at home.  But that kind of takes the spontaneity away.  I don't know, we'll play it by ear I guess.  We've both got medical appointments and other commitments too, so it makes it a bit difficult to fit everything in and organise when to go.  Husband has a habit of making appointments any old day or time, without first checking what's on the calendar or whether it's convenient - which means I then have to juggle things around.  Trying to keep him organised, as well as everything I have to do and remember, is a full time job and leaves me tearing my hair out sometimes.  When we came home from the van last time, he forgot to pick up his phone and wallet, and had the cheek to blame me......for not reminding him!  We were nearly home by the time he remembered, he didn't want to turn around and go back for them and couldn't go back the next day, as we had an appointment to go to.  So it was a bit of an anxious couple of days before he could drive back to collect them....fortunately, they weren't in plain sight and nobody would have seen them unless they broke in.  Which isn't something that happens on our Park.....although there's always the possibility, I suppose.

The upcoming funeral is causing us (me really) a few problems.....I know it's an awful thing to say, and obviously it's terrible for husband's sister's family, but BiL did die at a bit of an inconvenient time.  Knowing what he was like (contrary and a law unto himself), he probably planned it that way and is enjoying all the fuss it's causing!  I am of course kidding, yes I'm a horrible woman, don't all beat me with sticks.  And it's not nearby, it's up in the Midlands, a few hours' journey away, and husband really doesn't like driving long distances nowadays.

I'm just feeling pulled apart by stress in all directions at the moment, and it's all on my shoulders to deal with everything.  Sorry, I'll get over it, everything will be fine and normal service will be resumed soon.  Oh and I've got ulcers in my mouth again, probably partly due to stress and partly because of that damn torture device the bloody dentist says I should persevere with (she's about 14 and clearly has perfect teeth....just wait till she gets to my age!).  I just need a big hug and a couple of hours to myself doing what I want to do!

Saturday 14 August 2021

Not one of our best weeks

 Sorry for being missing the last few days.  We've been at the caravan, ostensibly to get stuck into the didn't work out as well as we hoped, though.  It's been a strange week, a lot going on, including some not so good stuff.  Husband's brother in law died on Tuesday, he'd been unwell for some time, he was just 1 year older than husband.  We'll be going to the funeral if we can, it's up in the Midlands though and as husband can't cope with the journey there and back in one day, we'll have to book into a hotel overnight.  And it has to be one that accepts dogs, as we'll have to take Betty with us.

The weather has been a pain in the backside this week - initially the forecast was pretty good, but the reality was we had lots of showers, some heavy, and it was also very windy at times.  So we didn't get nearly as much of the garden done as we wanted to, which is a bit of a nuisance as we have 2 lots of friends coming to visit us at the caravan next week.  Oh well, they'll just have to take us as they find us.  We've had to come home for the weekend as I have a ton of stuff to do here.

A group of foreign (European, I don't know where from though) tourists arrived at the Park midweek, 2 tents and a motorhome, and they had friends visiting them from elsewhere too (not staying, just visiting for a few hours).  They parked their vehicles and set up camp very close to each other - and to our and neighbours' caravans, something which hasn't happened before.  In fact, I'm surprised the site owner allowed them to pitch so close to us.  They were quite noisy - not rowdy, just loud chattering and much laughter, quite late into the night.  Fortunately, they only stayed one night, which I'm sure our next door neighbours (the ones with the 2 yappy little dogs) were relieved about, as the group were closest to their van.  I know a couple of the neighbours put in complaints to the site owner, so hopefully it won't happen again.  

On Wednesday I had to go to the dreaded dentist again (it's about halfway between home and the van, so doesn't matter where we are when I have to go).  I had the painful wobbly tooth out, didn't feel anything as she gave me several numbing jabs - although one of those hurt like hell.  So now I have 2 gaps at the front of my mouth - well, one big gap as it's the 2nd bottom front tooth I've had out.  The dentist fitted my new denture - I'd opted to have a complete new denture with 2 teeth, rather than a new tooth added to my original denture, as that one has never fitted properly, in fact I eventually gave up wearing it as it constantly rubbed my gums raw and gave me ulcers, despite having it altered 3 times in the space of a couple of months.  All was well for the first few hours, as the jabs meant my entire mouth (and half my face and chin) were numb and I couldn't feel anything at all, nor could I eat or drink....but then the pain kicked in and the problems started.

I know it's early days yet, but the new denture is also very painful on my gums, which are generally sore anyway because of the gum disease but now sorer because of the tooth extraction.  I can't eat with it in, it's agony.  It even moves when I talk so clearly doesn't fit very well - even though, oddly, it's an absolute bugger to get out, it's so tight fitting against my gums on one side that it feels like it's going to wrench some more of my teeth out with it when I can finally pull it out.  And the 2 teeth are not even particularly well matched to my real teeth, so it looks odd.  I know I have to give my mouth time to heal, but right now I feel quite upset about it's a Catch 22 situation - I can't eat at all with the damn thing in because it's so painful, but with it out I cannot bite anything as the 2 teeth that are missing are my front biting teeth.  And without the horrible painful unsightly thing in, I feel like a toothless old hag, my voice has changed as I now lisp when I talk, and I'm so self conscious about the big gap that I'm wary about even talking to people, let alone laughing (not that I feel much like laughing right now).  And I can only eat soft food, like a baby.  The dentist stressed that I should try and wear the thing every day, even though it'll probably be sore (it's more than sore), and I should give it a few weeks(!!) before I ask for any adjustments to be made to it.

Sorry to moan, I know it's a very minor thing in the grand scheme of things, but right now it's making my life a misery.

Tuesday 10 August 2021

Fish pie!

 For my overseas readers (sorry for confusing you!!).

Fish pie is basically poached fish, broken up into chunks and mixed with a white sauce, topped with mashed potato.

I made mine using cod, smoked haddock and prawns - you can use any combination of fish you like, really.  I poached the cod and smoked haddock in milk, then broke the fish up into chunks (as mentioned).  I then used the poaching milk to make a parsley sauce and mixed this into the fish, along with the prawns (I used cooked ones, but you can use raw.....oh and I believe you call prawns shrimp?).  I also mixed in some sweetcorn and sliced mushrooms, then divided the mixture into 3 oven dishes.  Each dish I then topped with well seasoned mashed potato and a sprinkle of grated cheese.

Heat through in a medium oven for about 30 mins, or a bit longer if you take it straight out of the freezer.  Heat until it's properly hot right through to the centre.

Monday 9 August 2021

A mostly cooking day

 Busy day, just sat down after being on the go all day up till now.  And I don't think I'll get up again 😂

09.00 this morning I had a (phone) consultation with my diabetes nurse for my annual review.  Good and not so good points - my blood glucose level and my weight have both gone up....only a bit though, she said they weren't really anything to worry about and she knows I'll get them both down again very soon (her words, glad she's got faith in me!).  My blood pressure and cholesterol level though have both gone DOWN - woohoo!  BP is completely normal level now, cholesterol is only slightly above what they'd like it to be.  To be honest, I've never been worried about my cholesterol anyway, it's never been 'high', only higher than 'they' recommend.....and our bodies need cholesterol to make cells, hormones and Vit. D.  The drop in BP I put down to the caravan effect.....the cholesterol drop I've no idea.  Nurse said well keep doing whatever it is you're doing! 😂😂

Then we had to nip into town as I needed a few bits from the supermarket which I forgot to get last week.  I still forgot to get tin foil though, I'm completely out of it now - AND I even had it written on my list!  😒.  Oh well.

Got on with batch cooking for the freezer as soon as we were back.  I made 3 fish pies and a big pan of savoury mince which is portioned up for future spag bol, cottage pies or chilli.  I also made 2 batches of scone dough - one cheese, one fruit......I rolled the dough out and cut out the scones, put them on trays and open froze them unbaked.  Getting ahead for when we have friends over to the caravan for afternoon teas.

Had a power cut sometime in the early hours of this morning, no idea how long it was off for but the bleeping of the phone when the power came back on woke me up at about 04.20.  Must have knocked out the EE transmitter at the same time, as I've had no mobile phone signal since then - EE have emailed to say there's a problem (no shit Sherlock) and signal should be restored within 13 hours (wonder how they know that? 🤔).  As a matter of fact, EE are always having problems here, nothing new!

Thank you for all the flowering shrub suggestions, lots to consider.  There's a lovely garden centre in the next village not far from the caravan, it's an independent and grows the majority of their plant stock themselves.  We've only had a brief look around so far (although we did buy 3 roses for the caravan garden), we'll go back and have another look the next time we're at the van.

We had slow roast belly pork yesterday, which was melt in the mouth delicious.  Quite a bit left, so I've chopped it up and we'll have it stir fried with veg and noodles tonight.  I did a trayful of roasted Mediterranean veg and there's plenty of that left to stir fry with the pork.  So an easy virtually ready made dinner, thankfully, after standing up in the kitchen for a few hours.

Sunday 8 August 2021

Thanks everyone

 I want to say thank you for all the lovely comments I've had recently, you're all brilliant.  The van has been a lot of hard work.....mostly on the part of husband, he's done all the structural and hard DIY stuff, I've done the design ideas, painting, arranging furniture, holding things whilst he bangs nails/puts screws in, titivating - oh, and clearing up and cleaning after he's finished!  The end result, though, is worth every bit of all the effort, hard work and occasional small disaster, we really love it.  And we've really picked the best park and well and truly fallen on our feet there - we love the location and all the other residents - well, all the ones we've met so far - are just so friendly, we've been made so welcome.  A dear friend of mine lives with her husband on a retirement park on the Kent coast - you'd think they'd all be friendly wouldn't you?  Far from it though, their park is a hotbed of gossipy, spiteful old bullies who form cliques and make loud nasty comments about those they've taken an irrational dislike to.  It's such a shame, I do feel for them both, they are such a lovely couple and they just wanted a peaceful life in their final forever home, now they're wishing they hadn't moved there.

To answer some recent comments......Minigranny, you mentioned Gengigel - I bought some and it's been very good at easing my sore gums, thank you.  HappyHooker - muse!!!  Oh my goodness, nobody's ever called me a muse before, that's a BIG responsibility! 😁  I'm just glad that I've inspired you and Gemma's Person and others to get on (again) with whatever it is they enjoy.  We all have hidden talents, we just need to find and use them.  Annabeth, thank you for the recommendation of the Daphne, I shall look out for that - if anyone else has any suggestions for smallish, preferably flowering, shrubs that don't grow too vigorously and will survive happily through the winter, I'd be pleased to hear them.  Rambler, I don't yet know if we're allowed to visit during the closed season to check all is well, I'll have to find out (I've just made a note to that effect in my caravan notebook, thank you).  We definitely wouldn't be allowed to stay even just for one night, it would be in contravention of the Park's licence from the Council - whether we're allowed to have a quick checking visit though, I have no idea.  The owners live on site so they presumably keep a general eye on the vans and I assume would notice and let us know if there was a problem.  They do a bit of maintenance work during the closed season, so they'll be around the caravans.

Oh, and I seem to have a few new readers, and ones who haven't commented before - you're all very welcome.

We've had several friends ask if they can come and visit us at the van, so are arranging that, once we've done the garden we'll host a few afternoon teas.

Over the next couple of days I shall be making a few meals to freeze and take with us - when we're busy with the garden, it'll be useful to have a ready-cooked meal that just needs heating through.

Friday 6 August 2021

Caravan photos - Part 2

 So, on to the bedrooms and bathroom.  The main bedroom was easy really (well, in comparison with the rest of the caravan) was just a question of thoroughly cleaning everything, getting rid of the horrible old broken divan bed, plus all the disgusting rubbish we found kicked or thrown underneath the bed.  I know the previous couple were old and unwell, and I guess that excuses them to a certain extent - but, really, dirty (and I do mean worn and unwashed) underpants and socks, dozens and dozens of used tissues, and no end of general rubbish - honestly, why?!?!  Prising the filthy old padded headboard off the wall was a difficult job, it left a right old mess on the wall so we had to simply cover it up with some spare material off the new curtains, which I'd purposely bought in a long length so we could cut off and use the extra material.  We redecorated, cleaned the carpet, put in the new bed and job done:-

The bedroom as was.....the filthy cushions had been strategically placed (by the previous owners' son, I think) to hide the even filthier headboard.

And now, complete with Betty's seal of approval!  Sorry, not much of a photo, but as there's very little room to manoeuvre in there it's difficult to take an all round photo.

The small bedroom, which is only about 5'8" wide by around 7' long, had 3 child-size beds in it - twin beds with a tiny gap in between, plus a small fold down bunk above them, with a single wardrobe above a chest of drawers at the end of one bed, making it very cramped and claustrophobic indeed.  There was no way an adult could have slept in any of the beds, and they were in poor condition anyway, so they all had to go.  I had to scour the internet to find a short length bed (5'9") in a size wide enough for an adult (me) to sleep in....I wanted a 3' one but had to settle for a 2'6" one, which is ok, I'm not a fidgety sleeper.  The length is fine, I'm only 5'5 and a half.  Having decorated, put in a new rug and narrow pink chest of drawers to serve as both bedside cabinet and extra storage, and one of the original dining room stools which I recovered in spare curtain material, and added some of my pictures and a bed for Betty, I'm really happy with it.  The room as it was:-

And now:-

The bathroom was really grotty, absolutely awful, smelly, dirty and just horrible, with salmon coloured faded plastic fixtures and fittings.  The toilet didn't work - it's not a normal household toilet, it's what's called a Thetford cassette toilet - the waste is collected in a sealed cassette underneath and has to be emptied by hand into a septic tank - there's no mains sewerage system on site, all the caravans have the same system.  We're used to it as all touring caravans (we had a touring caravan for many years) have the same thing.  Once everything had the compulsory thorough clean and redecoration, some of the plastic fittings disposed of and new ones fitted, new flooring laid and the toilet fixed, it's now absolutely fine.  As it was:-

And all fresh and updated:-

So now the inside is more or less done and we are very happy indeed with the results, we love staying there, even husband who was very unsure at the beginning that we could actually do anything with it, is very pleased with how it's turned out (he should be, he did most of the work!).

We have big plans for the garden.  It's really just a fenced in yard at the moment, with a decent round patio but a very lumpy, uneven, weed ridden excuse for a lawn, with lots of bare patches.  All the dozens of broken plastic pots with their dead plants have been disposed of, there's just the pretty but extremely vigorous and highly invasive jasmine plant, tangled up with several other shrubs, at the front of the van - all that is going, to be replaced by a small raised bed with some pots of low maintenance and tidy plants.  We've already bought a couple of smallish ornamental grasses to go in there, we'll look for a small flowering shrub to go in between, a euonymus or hebe maybe.  We've also bought 3 roses, in shades of pink, to be grown in large tubs inside the fence.  One of them is a miniature patio climber, we'll train it along the fence.  We're going to dig out the current excuse for a lawn, level the ground off and put down new turf (the real thing, we've decided against artificial grass), we'll then get some more perennial shrubs - with the site closed for 4 months over the winter, anything we put in the garden needs to be low maintenance.  The area at the back of the van is currently unfenced, it is paved but is very overgrown and untidy, it backs onto the site boundary of trees and hedging which has all got out of hand.  We intend to fence it in (so the next door neighbours' little yappy dogs can't get in and use it as their toilet!), clear it all, put in a raised bed, clean off the paving and then we can sit out there in the's nice and shady, whereas the main garden gets full sun and is consequently very hot.

As it was....we temporarily cut back the messy jasmine at the front, just to keep it under control for the time being.  It will be dug up completely next week.

Thursday 5 August 2021

Caravan pictures - Part 1

 So.....the caravan.  We bought the van on 2 June, so it's taken us just over 2 months to do it up, and it's now unrecognisable as the dilapidated, dated, filthy, cobwebby almost-a-wreck it was when we first took it on.  The site owner didn't actually want to sell it to us - he wanted to get rid of it and move a newer, and obviously much more expensive, van onto the pitch.  There was no way we could afford that, but we particularly wanted the pitch this van was on.....partly because of the fenced in garden (and the fence is in very good condition and will last for years), and partly the position of the pitch, being quite high up on the terraced site and with lovely views.  So I talked him (and husband, to a certain extent, as he wasn't overly keen) into it, having had a good look at it and checked it over thoroughly with a professional damp meter, loaned to us by my caravan engineer friend, who gave me lots of useful advice also.  The van structure was basically sound and I liked the layout, I particularly liked the large lounge.  I could see the potential in the van, and knew almost instantly how I wanted it to look, the colour scheme, changes I wanted to make, etc - I had vision, if you like.  The site owner said he had fond memories of the van actually, as the previous (deceased) owners were great friends of his, so he agreed, with some reservations, that we could have it.  He actually didn't charge us for the van, he said in its present state it had no monetary value, he just charged us for the pitch - an entry into the park family as he called it - and the first year's pitch fees.

The first thing we did was to rip out the fixed seating in the dining area - the curved bench seats were really uncomfortable, the fabric was heavily stained and the whole thing took up too much room.  I wanted the lounge/diner done first, as we would need somewhere comfortable to sit and relax for coffee breaks when we were doing the rest of the work.  The lounge sofa, although being in the same fabric as the dining seats so very dated and stained, was actually quite comfortable.  So we took all the cushioned seating home and I steam cleaned it all, before recovering in modern loose covers.  So here's the lounge and dining area in the original state:-

and here they are now:-

There are curtains at all the windows in a shade matching the sofa throws - we got rid of all the old broken Venetian blinds.  I haven't got a photo of the curtains!  I steam cleaned the lounge carpet, but it still didn't come up very clean, so we got a new carpet.

The kitchen was a major job, it had the most awful iridescent tiny tiles on the walls, lots of which were broken and made the whole kitchen very dark.  There was no work surface to speak of, mainly due to an area of worktop being taken out to accommodate a large old fridge freezer.  There was an old gas cooker - we had no idea if it actually worked, it was old and dirty and I didn't want it.  The kitchen cupboards were ancient and falling to bits, the old ceramic sink was chipped and the taps leaked, the flooring was awful.  So the whole lot had to come out.  Husband and his mate ripped it all out, including the awful tiles, and fitted new white base units and a new stainless steel sink.  The wall cupboards turned out to be in reasonable condition once cleaned up, so we kept those, I sanded and painted the doors white and changed the handles.  We had a new fridge and small electric cooker - I didn't see the point of getting a full size cooker as I don't intend to be cooking 3 course meals or baking cakes whilst we're there!  And having a table top/half size cooker meant I could have extra cupboard space underneath for saucepans etc.

The kitchen as it was when we first viewed the caravan:-

and the awful tiles that gave me nightmares:-

The kitchen as it is today, bright and beautiful and very workable:-

I'll continue with pictures of the bedrooms and bathroom tomorrow, and our plans for the garden.

Wednesday 4 August 2021

An early morning unwanted visitor

 Have you noticed it's cooler overnight now, especially in the early hours of the morning?  For the last couple of mornings here in the caravan, I've had to put my dressing gown on when I've got up, there's been a distinct nip in the air - I like to open the van door and step outside into the garden and have a look round first thing.  Well, last night I kept feeling a draught, but was too cosy and tired to get up and see where it was coming from.  I have my bedroom door open overnight, it's a small room and would be claustrophobic with the door shut, besides which Betty likes to roam around during the night.

Anyway, this morning when I got up at 06.00, I noticed a black blob on my bedside chest....I put the light on and it was a dreaded 8-legged thing, one of those you usually see outside, with a big fat body and short hairy legs.  I got husband up immediately to dispose of it, which he does without question, bless him.  I went to open the van door, which is directly opposite my bedroom, so he could chuck the offending dead body out....only to find that the door, behind the curtain, was already open - not just unlocked, but open an inch.  So that's where the draught was coming from...and no doubt where my unwanted visitor got in too. 😳😒

Not the best start to the day! 

Tuesday 3 August 2021

Starting to relax

 We have almost finished the work on the caravan, just a couple of cosmetic things left.  Feels like we've been doing it forever, but in reality it's only two months.  I'm so happy with it, husband in particular has worked so hard and has achieved everything I asked him to do.

Today he's just got a couple of shelves to put up, and I'm sanding the kitchen wall cupboard doors.  Tomorrow husband is off out for a male bonding session with his mate for a few hours, so I'll paint the cupboard doors whilst he's out.

This afternoon we're off out for a walk with Betty along the Strawberry Line, a long distance footpath built on the old railway line.  Not been along there yet, but our fellow residents say it's lovely.

Sunday 1 August 2021

Art and Scotch eggs

 Thank you for all the kind comments on my drawings.  To those who say they wish they could draw.....all I can say is - give it a go!!  We none of us know just what we can do until/unless we try it.  Until these past few months, I had never drawn anything in my life before...other than at school, and I had no skill or particular interest in art then, I just did it as it was on the curriculum.  Once art lessons were no longer compulsory (from the 4th year of secondary school onwards, I think) I didn't do it anymore, and hadn't done since.

Having only taken up cardmaking in the last 2 or 3 years and found I really like it, it was just a few months ago that I suddenly decided to have a go at drawing things for cards - and found a talent I didn't know I had.  I enjoy doing it, that's half the battle.  I would never have said I was the creative type - other than crochet, I've always been able to do that, ever since I was a child.  But as for anything crafty or artistic....nope, never given it a thought before, and never would have guessed I could do it.  My Mum and sister are the arty ones in the family, elder brother is the brains (and oh boy is he brainy! plus he has a photographic memory).  Younger brother is the witty one....when he's not in the throes of deep depression, bless him.  I didn't seem to be cut out for anything much, other than crochet and cooking/baking.  Oh, I do have good organisational skills, so there's that.

So my point is......we all of us, every single one of us, are good at something or other, even if we haven't yet found out what it is.  There is no limit to what we can do......if we put our mind to it, and want it enough.  So, if you'd like to draw or paint - try it!!  You might find you're good at it, you never know.  There are plenty of video tutorials on Youtube, you don't need expensive equipment - cheap pencils, paints and paper from somewhere like The Works or Wilkos are fine to start off with.....why buy expensive stuff if you don't know if you're going to like doing it?

Another first for me yesterday - I made Scotch eggs for the first time ever.  We do like Scotch eggs but by and large, ordinary shop bought ones are horrible.  I know John Gray of Going Gently blog is a connoisseur of Scotch eggs, I believe he rates Marks & Spencer ones - can't say I've tried one from there as yet.  Anyway, I didn't want to deep fry them but bake them instead, to make them healthier (I never deep fry anything).  I also had some pork mince which needed using up, as it had been in the freezer for months and months, so I had the idea of mixing that with a small packet of made-up sage and onion stuffing mix and using that instead of sausagemeat.  I boiled the eggs for 6 minutes, so not too hard boiled, then immediately lightly cracked the shells and plunged the eggs into very cold water, to make them easier to peel when completely cold.  For the breadcrumb layer, I made crumbs from some defrosted leftover brown sourdough bread, into which I mixed some herbs and a sprinkle of paprika.  So the eggs (6 of them) encased in the pork mix, then floured, rolled in beaten egg and then finally crumbed all over.....I laid them on a tray lined with baking paper and baked them in the oven for about 35 mins, until they looked nice and brown.  Haven't tried one yet, they're wrapped and in the fridge, we'll have one each for tea today with some salad.  I'll try and remember to take a photo, and will let you know what they're like!