Thursday, 30 September 2021

Preparing for colder weather

 It was lovely coming back here to the caravan yesterday, we were met with big smiles and friendly greetings from our fellow vanners, asking me how I was feeling following my kind of them.  We feel so welcomed here, finding this place and buying a caravan here really is one of the best things we've ever done.  And it was a lovely sunny day so we could spend time outside chatting.  So nice.  

Apparently there had been torrential rain and thunderstorms during the previous night - I must say I'm glad we weren't here in the van, I don't really fancy being in a tin box whilst a thunderstorm is raging.  Betty wouldn't like it either, she's not a fan of thunder.  We did have the thunderstorms at home too, but, amazingly and a first, I actually slept through it!  Our van neighbours' skylight leaked during the rain, so before we arrived yesterday morning, 83 y.o. Charlie had been up on his van roof resealing it!!  Honestly, he's Superman in disguise I think.

Showery this morning, we're nipping out in between showers (hopefully) to get a couple of things - I need chicken breasts for a recipe this evening.....what I thought were chicken breasts in our home freezer turned out to be skin on, bone in thighs.  I could have adapted the recipe or done something else, I suppose, but I can't be bothered!  And husband needs to buy another pair of tracksuit bottoms - he only brought one pair with him, thinking he's got some here, only he hasn't - only shorts, and it's not going to be shorts weather for the next few days.  I might get another couple of fleece blankets too, can never have enough fleeces.

It was chilly overnight here in the van for the first time, although with fleece blankets on top of our summer lightweight duvets we were toasty warm in bed.  Husband had the electric oil filled radiator on in the bedroom for an hour before bed, it warmed the room up nicely, the electric fire in the lounge does the same.  I'm glad we're here experiencing what it's like living here when it's cold and raining, we can see what we might need to do to improve comfort levels.  There's a chill coming from the single glazed windows in the lounge, so we'll have to think about that.....thicker thermal curtains, or some kind of secondary glazing, perhaps.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

A big shop (and opening husband's eyes!)

 We're back to the caravan this afternoon, once Betty's back from the groomers, having had her bath and brush out of all the loose hairs (she moults constantly) and claws clipped.  We're only staying a few days this time though, back early next week probably.  We'll have to nip home Saturday morning, as we have our flu jabs booked.  We've not really had bad reactions to flu jabs in the past, other than a bit of a sore arm, so hopefully we won't this time either.  Our van neighbours (two sets) are both going home early next week and won't be coming back till next year.....we've got on so well with them throughout this summer that we'll miss them for the next few months, as much as the caravan 😕

Went shopping yesterday morning and got fuel on the way (we last put fuel in about 10 days ago) - the first garage we came to had petrol (no diesel, but our car is petrol anyway) and hardly anyone queueing, no limit on fuel purchase either.  So husband filled up (we were on 1/3 of a tank), this will last us at least a fortnight, more if we don't make unnecessary journeys.  We passed Morrisons on the way, there were queues for fuel there.....Sainsburys where we shopped had closed the garage as they were out of fuel altogether.  What a ridiculous situation, all caused by the media's totally irresponsible reporting, publishing pictures of huge queues and people fighting at fuel stations.  They'll do anything to sell papers!  And then it causes idiots to panic buy.

Husband came into the supermarket with me, for the first time in ages....he was very surprised to see so many shelves with big gaps, and positively shocked at how prices have risen.  I've been telling him for ages how much food has gone up in price, I reckon he's been thinking I've been splashing the cash left, right and centre on frivolous things (he always asks how much it cost and exclaims how much?!).  Well, now he knows I haven't!!  In view of the fuel situation, I did do a big shop, stocking up on meat and fish for the freezer, and tinned/packet stuff for the larder, so won't need to go shopping for 2 or 3 weeks.  I've got plenty of milk, bread and veg in the freezer too - frozen veg isn't as nice as fresh, obviously, but it'll do, it's just as nutritious, and there are ways of making them taste better.  I've found out that roasting frozen Brussels sprouts is much better than boiling them, frozen baby carrots taste nice cooked in just a very little water with a big knob of butter, tsp honey and some fresh parsley, e.g.  And frozen cauli and broccoli, boiled then pureed and mixed with cream and soft cheese make lovely sauces to stir through pasta.

I did some baking yesterday afternoon, to use up some bits and pieces in the freezer - a sheet of puff pastry, some sliced apples from our garden, and a small amount each of Mediterranean roast veggies and some pulled pork in bbq sauce.  I made 2 apple turnovers, and 2 pasties using the combined veg and pulled pork, with a bit of grated cheese added.  Easy things to take to the caravan.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Home and a bargain

 Got home early afternoon yesterday to a pile of post - nothing important though, and certainly no hospital appointment letter.  I unpacked everything, got the first wash load on and then went upstairs for a lie down, as my head was beginning to pound again.  I'm alright this morning, just tired.

We've really enjoyed this last period at the van (other than the migraine), think we were there for almost 2 weeks.  We had pretty good weather, did a few touristy things, had lunch and coffee out a few times, planted up the rear bank garden, in conjunction with our neighbours, and a couple more pots and some winter pansies.  Had lots of lovely chats with our fellow van neighbours and had a really good time.  I got quite a bit of my crocheted blanket done, and made several cards, whilst husband sunbathed (well, slept) in the garden.

Yesterday, before we came home, we had a stroke of luck.  As I've mentioned before, the plumber said our gas boiler (which is a water heater only, as we don't have central heating in the van) is around 20 years old and will no doubt need replacing, sooner rather than later.  Anyway, the site owner's partner told us that another resident, one we hadn't yet met as he and his family haven't been much this year, had a newish gas boiler they didn't use, in fact they'd taken it out.  Turns out they have an autistic son of 13 who is terrified of naked flames, even the pilot light on the boiler, so they'd had to take out the boiler and change to an all electric system.  The resident turned up yesterday morning, by himself, to do some decorating work in his van, so husband went to see him and offered to buy the boiler.  A price was agreed, which husband is more than happy with, and the very nice man even threw in an almost full gas bottle and a CO2 detector as well, for no extra cost.  The boiler just happens to be the exact same make as our present one, just a much, much newer and more up to date model - which is good, as the plumber told us our make of boiler is actually a very good one.  So we have a boiler ready and waiting now, for when it's needed, at a fraction of the cost of a brand new one - just needing fitting by the engineer.

We've decided we're going to eat less meat and less often from now on, no more than 3x a week.  The rest of the time it'll be fish or vegetarian dishes.  I've always liked fish and over the past couple of years have realised I actually prefer fish to meat, although husband is a big fan of steak.  We do both like veggie dishes too, preferably cheese based, we really like cheese.  So I shall be meal planning now based around more fish/seafood and veg meals.  Husband has said he wants smaller lunches too, as he wants to lose some weight....but we'll see how long that lasts, he does have a big appetite!

Monday, 27 September 2021


 I've had a migraine the past couple of days, it floored me.  I used to get migraines a lot during my teens/20s (lots of stressful things going on then)....they tailed off though and nowadays I hardly ever get them, just on rare occasions.  They usually only last a few hours, a day at most.  This one, though, started on Saturday afternoon and raged on until now - I woke up around 5 am to torrential rain and thought thank goodness, the searing pain is gone, it's just a manageable dull pain now.  It's one of the worst I've ever had, the pain was ferocious, the slightest hint of light or noise was excruciating, I felt dizzy if I moved at all, and very nauseous, light and noise were agonising.  Spent most of the time lying on the bed with the curtains and door closed and a cold wet flannel on my head.  After 3 doses of co-codamol I gave up taking any more tablets, they just weren't touching the pain at all.  The only thing I could do was lie perfectly still and try to do relaxing breathing techniques (not easy when every muscle in your face, scalp, neck and shoulders seems clenched impossibly tightly).

The searing pain may have tailed off to a dull ache, except for a thudding pain when I bend over, but I'm left feeling absolutely wrung out, like a limp rag.  I'm guessing the migraine was down to the stress and tension of the past few weeks - not only the family stuff, but other things going on too.  I've been bottling it all up and trying to put it out of my mind - obviously it's got to come out somewhere though.  I've also had trouble with blocked sinuses for the past few days, so that's not helped I don't think.

We're going home today, I just want to be home whilst I'm not feeling like doing anything much.  And we're running out of food here at the van, we'd have to go shopping today if we stayed and I really don't feel like doing that.  At home though, we've got a well stocked freezer and cupboards so I wouldn't need to go shopping for a few days at least, except for some fresh veg which husband could go and get.  I don't know when we'll be back here to the van, it depends on how I feel, and the weather to some extent.  And also whether/when husband finally has his long awaited prostate op appointment (he's been waiting for this op for 2 years).

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Friday and Saturday

 I slept very deeply last night, for a very rare change.  Woke up just before 6 am in the middle of a dream where I was on a small boat.....can't remember any details but I did feel panicky.  No doubt it means something profound in dream language, but I'm not googling to find out!  It's now an hour later whilst I'm typing this and still not properly light....I really don't like these dark mornings.

Going to a plant sale in the neighbouring village this morning, apparently there will be stalls selling garden related things too and, somewhat bizarrely, sailing related things.  Well, not that bizarre I suppose, as it's in aid of the RNLI (lifeboats charity, for overseas readers).  It's dry, if a bit grey, at the moment...showers forecast this afternoon though.  Some sunshine forecast for tomorrow, then showery for the whole of next week.....good job we're going home on Tuesday.  We've had very welcome good weather for our last long period of time here at the van - we will be back at some point in October, for the last time this season, to do the draining down and all the other things associated with closing the van up for winter 😭

Husband went home to do a few things yesterday, I had a lovely morning here at the van with Betty, who slept virtually the entire morning, apart from when I took her for a little walk.  I made a couple of cards - one for my nephew's wedding, I'm really pleased with it, the other to say thank you to our lovely van neighbours for helping us settle in here and making us feel so welcome.  I'll put up photos of them in due course.  I've got baby congrats ones to do next.  I also did a few more rows on my crochet blanket, which is coming along nicely.  Not too much to do on it now.  I love the colours, it was Lucy Attic24's sweet pea blanket pack, although I'm doing my own thing, not following her pattern:-

Husband's still waiting for his prostate op appointment letter (one of the reasons he went home yesterday, to see if it had come).  They'd told him he would get an appointment within 4 weeks....well, that was 3 weeks ago.  He's been told to ring up if he doesn't hear within the 4 weeks.  

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 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


 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 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 😉😂