Saturday, 30 October 2021

Time off

 The tablets are helping me to sleep marginally better - they don't stop me waking up in pain every time I turn over, but I don't lie awake for hours now, I go back to sleep fairly quickly.  They're not doing anything for the pain during the day as yet, but it's early days, hopefully they will help with the pain in due course.

Thank you for all your supportive comments and kindness, it helps a lot.

I'm going to take a few days off blogging, I have nothing to write about right now (and nobody wants to hear about my backache all the time!) and blogging when I have nothing interesting to say is just a chore - and boring for you lot!

I'm just going to draw and make a few simple cards over the next few days, biding time until my osteo appointment a week on Monday, there's nothing much else I can do, I can't concentrate on anything right now.  Maybe a bit of crocheting too.

Take care of yourselves, I'll be back soon.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Better, and savings

 Well, I managed to shower and dress without incident, hate sitting around in my dressing gown during the day.  We already have grab rails strategically placed in the bathroom, husband put them up years ago for when my Mum came to stay, they're proving very useful when getting in and out of the bath to use the shower.  The pain is easing up a bit - standing in the shower (holding onto the grab rail) and having the hot shower spray directed at my lower back was bliss.

Marlene, thank you for the info regarding the electric heat pad, I've ordered one.  Annabeth, I do sometimes use cold compresses on my back, yesterday though I felt heat was needed.  Viv, thank you, I rested most of the day, and yes, getting up for a little walk round every hour or so, to stave off being stiff.  HH, I can't ever imagine being pain free, I think the best I can hope for will be less pain and being able to live with that, which I'm sure will be achievable with osteopathy.

Husband got the washing out of the machine (I put it in and set the timer the evening before) and pegged it on the line - he pegs it out in a very strange way I must say, but so long as it dries it doesn't matter much.  It was very windy yesterday so dried quickly.

I see Sue of A Smaller and Simpler Life is going to do a new savings challenge, using her lovely big enamel teapot.  We used to save all our copper and 5p pieces in a big jar, and £2 coins in another jar, this went towards fuel costs for our holidays.  Well, now we don't go out shopping much (even less now I've stocked up) and almost never use cash anymore, so we no longer have coins to save.  So I've restarted doing something I used to do - transferring small amounts of cash from our main bank account to our savings account....I got out of the habit of doing it regularly.  It works like this - twice a week I check our main account and round it DOWN to the next whole, if there's £555.55 (as an example) in there, I'll transfer £5.55 into our savings account, leaving £550.00 in the main account.  Doing it twice a week, even with small amounts the savings build up quite quickly, and I don't even notice the little amount missing from our main account.  I already have a standing order set up to transfer a set amount monthly into another savings account to cover our caravan site fees and our Council tax, both of which are paid annually.

There was a calculator thing in the paper yesterday morning, if you input some figures it worked out how much better or worse off you'll be following the Budget.  I did ours and the calculator estimated we'll be £10 p.w. worse off.....not really a surprise with the way prices are going up, and the Chancellor failed to mention any good news for pensioners.  So cutting costs, and saving in any way we can will be even more important.  Husband's surprise small pension windfall (which enabled us to buy the caravan) isn't going to last forever, only a few more years in fact.


 My back is absolutely killing me this morning, worst pain I've had for a while, and balance is totally off - I can hardly stand without holding onto something for fear of falling over.  I don't feel able to even have a shower, as our shower is in the bath and there's no way I'll be able to get in and out of the bath.  I'm sitting in my armchair with a hot water bottle behind my back, hopefully the pain will ease in a bit and I'll be able to get on with things (like having a wash and getting dressed!!).  Just sitting around doesn't do any good, I need to get moving, but right now the pain is defeating me.  At least I can use the time to get a few lists (menus for the next week, things to do) written, and a few Christmas cards drawn.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Some minor Christmas preparations

 Popped to the caravan this morning, husband wanted to collect some tools he'd left there that he decided he needed at home.  All was well inside, outside some of the Spring bulbs I planted in pots are just beginning to poke through the soil, can't wait to see them all in flower next March!

This morning, husband had his NHS text telling him he could now book his Covid booster - all done, he's having it on 9 November.  It's being done at the rugby club in town, so not far to go, certainly nearer than his and my first 2 jabs.  Mine won't be for another month or so yet, I wasn't eligible for mine until about a month after husband had his.  Booking it for husband online today was a doddle.

We've just had an early lunch of a bought my back's so painful and stiff, I'm not doing much in the way of cooking, thank goodness I've got lots of home cooked and ready made meals in the freezer.  Well, the quiche was completely tasteless - husband asked what flavour it was supposed to be (cheese & onion) as it tasted of nothing, if we were blindfolded we wouldn't have guessed what we were eating.  Shan't be buying those again!

At the weekend I made sausagemeat, sage & onion stuffing.....we had some with the roast chicken on Sunday, the rest I froze for Christmas.  Tomorrow I'm going to make sausage rolls - quick and easy using chipolata sausages and ready rolled bought puff pastry, so it won't involve much standing around in the kitchen.  They'll be frozen for Christmas too.  I usually make my own mincemeat for mince pies, but think I might just buy the mincemeat....or even ready made mince pies(!!) this year.  Effortless convenience is winning out right now.  I quite like mince pies (husband loves them) but I'm not very keen on common or garden shop bought boxed ones - the pastry especially is too sweet and soft for my liking.  Husband will eat any, shop or homemade, so I might just as well buy them and save myself a job, I can happily live without most sweet things, I prefer savoury things.  I made a large rich fruit cake a couple of weeks ago and froze half, so that'll come out at Christmas too - luckily, I won't have to marzipan and ice it as husband hates both, he just likes plain fruit cake.

I've got a design in mind for friends and family Christmas cards, so I might go up to my craft room and have a go at drawing it this afternoon.  Got a couple of birthdays and an anniversary coming up, so need to make cards for those also.  Or I might just sit in my recliner armchair in the bedroom and read (or snooze!).

Oh, and I've wound the lights round the Christmas tree......😁  I switched them on to check how it looks, of course, but won't be having them on again until December (says she, tongue in cheek 😂).

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

A step or 2 forward, at last

 Finally had a phone consultation with my GP today.  He's had the hospital report and MRI results back and is in agreement with the consultant's findings.....that the numbness in my big toe, pains in both my legs and my lower back are all caused by the prolapsed disc.  He also agreed that the extra vertebrae in my lumbar spine is responsible for the unusual L3/L4 damage, rather than L5, which would be the normal position for these symptoms.  He apparently specialises in sports and orthopaedic injuries, so does know what he's talking about.  What a good job it was him I saw! (he's a locum I think, not one of our surgery's permanent doctors).  It was lucky that he recognised that the problem wasn't just about my numb big toe, but was a symptom, in conjunction with my various other leg and back pains, of disc and nerve damage in my lumbar spine.

He's prescribed amitriptyline (I've had it before, it does help me sleep, as well as helping to alleviate the nerve pain) and said he will refer me to the orthopaedic department, and try and get me seen quickly (I won't hold my breath!).  He asked that I ring him in a fortnight to let him know how I'm getting on with the medication, he said there's plenty of scope for it to be increased, or another medication added, if it's not doing much.

He's in agreement with me going to see an osteopath (my appointment is in just under 2 weeks), but said the NHS physiotherapy would do just as which I replied well it might if I actually got to see them and they hadn't discharged me without even telling me!  He was dumbfounded at that, but suggested I try again (it's now self referral apparently) - I declined and said I'll see how I get on with the osteo.

I now feel like there's a glimmer of light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel.

My lovely Betty is 5 today, seems impossible that we've had her for nearly 5 years, she was such a cute wrinkly squeaky little thing when we first got her at 8 weeks old.

She's grown into (most) of her wrinkles now!

Monday, 25 October 2021

Rising prices and not being bullied

 Everything is going up in price, we all know that - partly to do with the cost of oil/gas, partly Brexit, partly pandemic related I guess.  To be honest, I don't know enough (well, nothing actually) about politics, finance or world affairs to make informed comments, it doesn't interest me and my view is that it matters not to the powers that be what I think anyway, they're not going to take any notice of the likes of little old me.  But I think there comes a point where you have to stand up and say NO.

Husband's car fuel costs rise every time he puts fuel in, he's always exclaiming about the price whenever he fills up (at least the fuel crisis seems to have disappeared, well here at least) - the only thing we can do about that is not make so many journeys, save up journeys until we have several things to do at once.  The fact of not going to the caravan for 4 months will save a bit of fuel.  

The price of our food/household supermarket shop has, I estimate, risen by about a third on this time last year.  And it always seems to be the cheaper version of products that are missing off the shelves, meaning we have to buy a more expensive product, or go without.  Cutting back on meat is one way I'm trying to get our food bill down a bit, but the price of fish and even vegetables is also going up and up, so it's still difficult.  We had thought of not growing any produce at all next year, as we'll be spending lots of time at the caravan and won't be home to do regular watering of the produce.  We're now thinking, though, of investigating which veg crops can or will survive with little watering or looking after, as it seems sensible to grow food if we can.  We might also grow a few things in pots at the caravan, things like cherry tomatoes and salad leaves.  As an aside, I've noticed that because of the carbon dioxide shortage, bags of salad leaves, eg, don't last 5 minutes now once they're opened.  So it would be better to grow our own.

Our electricity price has gone up about 3 times in the past year - not much we can do about that, as the finance guru Martin Lewis (I can't stand him personally but he does know what he's talking about) is telling everyone not to change suppliers.  I did resist our supplier's latest attempt to get me to increase the direct debit or make a one-off payment though - we're in credit so why should I give them more money?  So I said NO.

And the other day we received a letter from our oil supplier (we have no gas here in the village so oil it is for our central heating and water) saying they're planning on increasing our monthly direct debit by £40, more than double!  Now, we had a new boiler and associated pipework installed a couple of years ago, and it's incredibly efficient and cheap to run - we only need a delivery of oil every 18 months to 2 years.  We had the tank filled about a month ago and it's still showing as full up, the needle hasn't moved at all.  This refill will last us probably until 2023.  So, although we have a relatively small debit balance on the account right now, it'll be back in credit within 4 or 5 months - so by the time we need to order another refill, we'll be well and truly in credit.  So we've rung them and told them we are not prepared to put the direct debit up by that amount, we feel it's utterly ridiculous even taking into account how much oil prices are rising.  Once again we've said NO!

Everybody wants more money off us, be it supermarkets (and their suppliers/producers), garages, domestic utilities, insurance, everything.  Well, our pensions (husband's state and my private) haven't gone up by £40 a month (the domestic oil increase, never mind all the others), they've only increased by a few pounds in husband's case, and just over £1 on my private pension.  So where do all these companies think we're going to get the extra money from to pay all these increases?  

I know everyone wants more money to survive, but sometimes you just have to put your foot down and say NO!


Sunday, 24 October 2021

Nothing happening, sorry

 I feel like I've got nothing to write about at the moment - nothing's happening, life is just plodding along, husband is still waiting for his hospital operation date, I'm waiting for my next GP consultation (postponed till tomorrow) and my first osteopathy session (8 November).  We're not going anywhere (Covid cases are rising so I don't feel inclined to go anywhere there may be crowds), we're stocked up so don't need shopping for a few weeks, we've got nothing planned.  Husband wanted to take me to the pictures to see the Bond film for my birthday, but I really don't fancy the idea of sitting in a cinema for 3 hours with a load of strangers who may or may not be wearing masks.  I've noticed over the past few weeks whenever I've gone shopping that more and more people are not now wearing masks.  We always wear ours.

We did go to the craft fair yesterday, we got there early to avoid the crowds - right thing to do, other than the stallholders, there weren't many buyers at all, although there were quite a few people arriving as we left.  There were rather a lot of jewellery stalls, which I wasn't really interested in, but I did get a couple of small pretty fused glass Christmas tree decorations and a Christmas present for a friend.

I didn't plant up the pots with bulbs the other day.....I had every intention of doing it, but it was so cold and windy outside I thought 'not blimmin likely' and came back indoors, wimp that I am!  I'm really feeling the cold nowadays, highly unusual for me.  I might get husband to put the picnic table up in the utility room and pot up the bulbs in there today - it's unheated, but at least it's indoors and therefore not so cold and windy.

Husband says he's left some tools at the caravan that he'd really like to have here (typical of him), so we may pop back there one day this'll give me a chance to check I've remembered to do everything during the close up we did last week.  The site closes for winter in exactly a week's time, the gates are locked so we won't be able to go after that.  I don't feel sad about it anymore, I'm just looking forward to next Spring.

Well, I've managed to fill a few paragraphs writing about nothing in particular, so better stop before I bore you readers to death! 😂

Friday, 22 October 2021

One job at a time...

 ....then a little rest, then another job, I think that's the way to go from now on.

Husband has this morning hoovered upstairs (the downstairs needs doing again, but it's not likely that will happen for another few days 😉....anyway, at least he did the upstairs) and cleared off the bed in my craft room.  It had accumulated lots of stuff, mainly his spare pillows (he constantly changes pillows and just dumps whichever ones he's not using on that bed), a couple of overnight bags (which are meant to go on top of his wardrobe, ditto his spare pillows), some of his junk which he's now removed, and a bag of my yarn and an unfinished crochet project...these have gone into my craft drawer set on the landing.  So now I can stack all the caravan stuff we brought home on the spare bed....we're unlikely to be having any visitors staying overnight anytime soon.

I've made pastry this morning, divided into 4 lots and frozen 3 of them.  With the 4th lot I'm going to be making pasties for our dinner tomorrow evening, probably bacon, potato, onion and cheese.

It's currently looking quite cloudy out, hopefully it'll blow over so I can go in the garden and plant up some pots with Spring bulbs, husband will get the fold up table out of the garage and put the pots on it for me, so I don't have to bend, and lift them down when filled.  The remaining half of the front garden needs pruning and weeding, that may or may not get done today.....probably not.  Well, definitely not.

Haven't had my phone consultation with my GP yet following the MRI scan - apparently they're very short staffed at the surgery this week and it's been postponed to Monday.  Well, I've had the pain for so long now, a few more days isn't going to make much difference.

Thank you for all the kind comments and useful information, it's appreciated very much.

Every time I catch sight of my new Christmas tree in the corner of the lounge, it makes me smile 😀  I'm itching to start decorating it, but will resist the temptation - I don't want to peak too early 😂😂

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Knowing my limits, and when to ask for help

 In common with lots of women, I expect, I do most things in the house, always have.  We don't have children (husband has grown up children and grandchildren from his first marriage - I never wanted any myself) and husband always worked far more hours than me, even when I worked full time as a secretary.  So it seemed only fair that I did most of the cooking and housework....even when he retired I carried on doing everything, as he took on lots of gardening and DIY work for neighbours.  He doesn't do as much of the gardening and DIY maintenance jobs as he used to, as it got to the point where he was working more or less full time, taking too much on and wearing himself out, now he does perhaps 1 day a week.  He's still known as the 'go-to' handyman around here for odd small emergency DIY jobs, he also dog walks for neighbours sometimes and puts bins out/feeds cats when neighbours are on holiday.  He's not now doing much in his veg garden, as we've made a mutual decision not to grow much for next year, as we'll spend most of our time at the caravan.  So he's pretty much abandoned the back garden, other than (very gradually) clearing the beds and cutting the lawn.

He does have a couple of jobs indoors - one being emptying the indoor bins and putting the rubbish out on dustbin day, the other doing the vacuuming.  He's always done the bins, the vacuuming he started doing a few months ago as he knows I was struggling to do it as it hurts my back so much.  However, I generally have to ask him to do these jobs, he doesn't seem to notice when bins are full up and the rugs are covered with dog hair 😒😖

I do almost all the cooking, he will occasionally make lunch (more often than not, something on toast or simply serving up something I've made, like a quiche or soup).  He'll also usually do a cooked breakfast if we're having one at the weekend - we don't always though.

Husband will do whatever I ask him to (although it might take several days of asking before it gets done!), but isn't very good at offering to do things, or even noticing when something needs doing.  I guess I'm partly to blame for this - as I've always done everything, he's simply used to me doing it.  And I've carried on doing it, even when my back, hips and legs are killing me and I'm worn out because of pain and not sleeping.  I'm not being a martyr, I'm just like my Mum was - if something needs doing, I generally think it's quicker and easier to do it myself, rather than having to explain to someone who forgets things instantly, how to do it.  I could tell husband what vegetables to serve with dinner, e.g., and by the time he gets to the kitchen he will have forgotten what I said!

Anyway, I sat him down yesterday and said that with my back and legs the way they are at the moment and the amount of pain I'm in, I just cannot carry on doing everything, I need him to help out more.  He said he'd already thought of that, and agreed he would.  I've also realised that I can't push myself to the limit and try to do everything - I've got to be realistic about what I can do.  Doing too much in one day just results in me having even more pain and aches, and then I don't sleep very well at all, meaning I'm fit for nothing the next day.  And when I'm in pain, aching everywhere and worn out, I'm VERY crotchety (as husband and best friend will testify to!).

So I'm taking a step back and only doing what I can manage fairly easily - if a job doesn't get done, well there's always tomorrow, or the next day.  I'm not going to be doing all the cooking from now on, there are plenty of meals that husband can easily manage.  There's loads of home cooked ready meals in the freezer that he's only got to pull out and add veggies to, there are also several bags of various chicken pieces, fish, cubed pork or beef all frozen, jars of cooking sauces, packets of rice and plenty of frozen veggies.  So easy meals to be made.....although I will have to tell him what to do!

On a happy note, this afternoon I took the Christmas tree I bought last week out of the box and put it together.  Considering it's the first one I've ever bought, and (obviously) it's an artificial one, I really like it, it's quite realistic looking......although I wish I'd bought the next size up (it's a 4 foot one, to go on a coffee table in the corner of the lounge, I think a 5' one would have been better).  I know it's still October, but the tree can now stay there in the corner of the room!!  Don't worry, I haven't gone mad, I shan't be decorating it until December 😂😁

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Feeling better

 Thank you ladies for your kind words, it means a lot.  FB, welcome, and thank you for your suggestion to take the pain meds every 6 hours for 2 days at a time, that's a good idea and I might try that.  The hospital consultant also suggested, as well as the codeine, another couple of meds that she said may be useful - amitriptyline, which I've had before for back pain (it's an antidepressant, but in lower dosages is a good muscle relaxant and has the added bonus of making you sleepy, so a good one to take at night), and one I've not heard of before, gabapentin.  Apparently, it's for epilepsy but, like the amitriptyline, can also be used for other purposes, in this case nerve pain.  I shall discuss these with the GP when I speak to him in a day or two.

As I was feeling so down and the pain was really bothering me this morning, I suggested to husband that we go out for lunch at our favourite garden centre, so we did.  Had frittata and salad with a massive pile of chips which I only ate a couple of, they really weren't necessary, the salad was huge as well.  And then we looked around the Christmas display, which was lovely, really took my mind off things.  Husband bought me a couple of nice tree decorations (oh, did I mention I actually bought a Christmas tree last week?) and a box of the new Lindt salted caramel chocolates, to be put away for my birthday next month.  He also told me to choose a few more tree decs (there's a Christmas craft fair on Saturday) and he'll pay for them.

Having seen and been thoroughly checked out by the GP, and then going to hospital, I can honestly say, and with gratitude, that every single medical person I came into contact with yesterday, was unfailingly helpful, kind and extremely cheerful.  Yes, there was a lot of waiting around, especially at the hospital, but people came to check on me regularly (I was in a wheelchair the whole time, because of the possibility of this serious spinal emergency, the cauda thingy).  We are so lucky to have our NHS, despite the problems it has.  

I'm also very grateful that I had the MRI so quickly - not only for ruling out the serious thing, but also because it diagnosed my prolapsed disc.  I feel kind of vindicated, if you understand what I mean - I was beginning to feel that people around me had little sympathy for me, thinking 'oh why's she moaning about a bit of back pain, everyone gets backache occasionally!'.  Well, there's a genuine reason why I'm in so much pain - and it's not even the first time I've had a prolapsed disc.  Hopefully though, medical stuff has advanced since my first one 42 years ago, and I'm hopeful that a combination of the appropriate medication, and the osteopathy I shall be having soon, will sort it out this time.  It would be so nice to be pain free, or at least for it to be manageable.


 It's 02.54 and I'm downstairs drinking a cup of Horlicks, having been awake, tossing and turning, for the past hour and a half.  I'm in so much pain from all the prodding, poking and yanking the GP did yesterday morning (he did keep apologising), and the very uncomfortable 20 mins spent lying flat on my back under strict orders not to move a muscle in the MRI scanner.

I'm just so tired of being in constant pain, it colours everything about my life.  I can understand why and how people become addicted to pain medication, but I'm not going down that route....hence why I don't take painkillers regularly, although the consultant I saw yesterday said I should, and that codeine would be the drug of choice.  Well, it makes me terribly constipated, and it's addictive, so it's not something I am inclined to take with any regularity.

I feel downright miserable at the moment, sorry to be on such a downer.  I'll snap out of it eventually.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Been to docs, and hospital

 Having examined me this morning (not just my foot, but everywhere!) very thoroughly and done loads of tests on my feet and legs, the very nice youngish GP changed his mind.  He didn't think it was a vascular or heart problem, he thought it was a nerve or spinal problem, probably related to the ongoing back problems I've had for 40 years.  He tested the strength in my toes and said I have very pronounced weakness in my right big toe - I hadn't even noticed, but when he did the test it was blindingly obvious.  He thought that was probably related to nerve damage.  Anyway, he said he would get in touch with a spinal consultant, told me to go home and wait for him to call me back.

Which he did about an hour later, and things moved rather quickly after that - he told me to go straight to A&E to have an emergency MRI scan, he said I was booked in and they were expecting me.  He said both he and the spinal consultant were concerned that I might have something called Cauda Equina, never heard of it but it's some kind of nerve damage that is a spinal surgical emergency (good to know! 😳).

Well, to cut a long story short - I don't have that, thank goodness.  But I do have a prolapsed disc (for the 2nd time, I had one when I was 19).  The consultant said to take painkillers REGULARLY (she stressed that, having ascertained that I don't take them at all regularly), she was referring me back to my GP and said it was up to him to work out the next moves.  She said my numb big toe is caused by the prolapsed disc pressing on a nerve.

However, she said my case was unusual - the particular numbness and back/leg pain I have is normally caused by a prolapsed disc at L5, whereas mine is L3 and 4.  And, even more unusually, I apparently have one extra vertebrae than normal, which the consultant said may exacerbate my back pain and may possibly be the reason why my particular prolapse is not the usual L5.  (So I'm special! 😉😂😂).  I was so astonished to find out only at the ripe old age of 61 that I have this extra vertebrae, having never been told before, despite having back scans and xrays over the years, that I didn't even think to ask what it means for the future, if anything at all.  I will apparently have been born with this extra vertebrae.

It's very strange, this isn't the first time I've found out I have a problem that no doctor has ever thought to mention before - when I was in my late 30s (may even have been my 40s), I was told by a GP at the new practice we'd joined, having moved house, that I have a mild congenital liver disease, it showed up on blood tests.   What?!?!  I've had loads of blood tests, nobody ever mentioned it previously!  It doesn't actually affect me in day to day life, but could give me jaundice if I'm ever seriously ill or in an accident.  So really something that's useful for me to be aware of!

I'm very tired (having not slept much last night) and in even more pain now, the MRI scan is not a pleasant experience - very claustrophobic, very noisy and having to lie perfectly still and not move a muscle for about 15 or 20 minutes, flat on my back, gave me pins and needles and cramp.

I do feel better for knowing the cause of my problems, but don't yet know what's going to happen next.

Bit of a shock

 Well, I had an interesting (and somewhat shocking) end to the day yesterday.

For about 3 weeks now I've had loss of sensation in my right big toe - if I prod it with my fingernail I can barely feel it, it's like there's a rubber sheet covering the toe.  Sometimes, if I knock it with my other foot in bed, e.g., it's quite painful - as if I've suddenly been stabbed with loads of needles.  I assumed it was probably a diabetic problem, maybe the start of neuropathy, so rang the surgery yesterday to speak to the diabetes nurse....only to be told that she left last month (pity, she was lovely and really knowledgeable about diabetes).  When I explained the problem, the receptionist said I needed to speak to the duty doctor.  He duly rang late afternoon...after asking me lots of questions, he then said, rather disturbingly, that he didn't think it was a diabetic problem, but that the symptoms I'd described pointed to a circulatory/vascular/heart problem.  He said he would speak to a vascular consultant at the hospital and ring me straight back, he indicated that I'd most likely have to go to hospital straight away and spend the night there being tested! 😲

However, when he rang back he said the vascular consultant didn't think I needed to go to hospital immediately, but that I certainly needed an urgent referral to him.  The consultant said the GP should see me early the next morning to assess my foot face to face (well, face to foot 😂) and in the meantime, whilst waiting for the urgent consultant appointment, start me immediately on anti-platelet medication.  The GP also said that if I noticed my foot changing colour during the night, or I had severe pain in it, I should go to hospital straight away (he mentioned gangrene)......well, that ensured I had very little sleep last night 😒

My toes haven't dropped off (or turned black) in the night, so I'm still here.  My appointment with the GP is at 10 am, I'll be on tenterhooks until then.  I've resisted the temptation to google anything, no point in scaring myself to death.

Monday, 18 October 2021

For Brenda

 Brenda, to answer your questions.....

Where we live here in the West Country is about 45 miles or so from Bristol, and around 150 or 160 miles away from London.  Not a long way by American standards I know, but it's certainly a long way for us!  

Joy (A Retired Teacher) and Sue in Suffolk both live on the eastern side of the country, also a long way from London, although I don't know how far, and a very long way away from us here in Somerset.

Thank you for your always kind comments on my blog, I know you're a long time reader.

Put to bed

 Well, the caravan is put to bed for the winter.  We left everything neat, tidy and clean, did all the necessary draining down etc, pulled mattresses and sofa cushions away from the outer walls, opened all room and cupboard doors, defrosted the fridge icebox, cleaned and dried the fridge inside and left the door open, made sure everything was switched off and all plugs, aerial etc pulled out, gas boiler drained and the gas switched off outside.  Put tubs of cat litter everywhere (for moisture traps, a recommendation on the static caravan forum I belong to) with some of those Unstoppables scent booster washing beads in, for a nice fresh smell when we go back to the van.  I'm sure it'll be fine for when we go back next year.  There were quite a few people there yesterday, more than we've seen for a few weeks, they were all obviously closing up too.  Husband kept wondering on the way home if we'd remembered to do everything....I think we have, but the beauty of living not far away is that if we do think of something we didn't do, we still have a couple of weeks to go back and rectify it.

Regarding the furniture - as I said, we're only thinking about it, it's not a done deal.  And we do know it's got to fit through the caravan door!  That's our biggest concern - once we've ensured that we can safely remove the old sofa without affecting the stability of the van walls, that is.  We had a good look at the structure yesterday, having taken off the sofa cushions.....we think that leaving the back board in place will continue to provide the required stability, we can paint it in a neutral colour and it'll be hidden by any new furniture anyway.  Thousands of people have taken out their fixed furniture and replaced with freestanding, it's one of the biggest topics of conversation on the static caravan forum, so we know it's doable.  As for fitting new stuff through the door.....well, again, loads of people have done it.  Obviously, we would measure up. 😉 Some sofas or chairs have backs that can be removed for transportation and ease of access, some people go to the extreme of taking out the front window to get the furniture in that way - not something we have any intention of doing, though.

Our preferred choice would be a 2 seater sofa and a recliner armchair, or possibly a 3 seater sofa with each end seat a recliner.  But we've got the whole winter to think about it and look at possibilities.

Today I have the task of finding places to put all the caravan stuff we brought home.  I think I'm going to have a good clear out of my craft room (it certainly needs it) and put most of the stuff in there, on and under the spare bed.  Our garage leaks like a sieve (we have tried, on numerous occasions, to get the Landlord to do something about it, but he's a skinflint who doesn't see it as a necessity 😒).  It also has a rodent problem, husband's found evidence of mice often, so we don't keep anything valuable or mouse destructible in there.  So the spare bedroom/my craft room it is.  We could put some stuff in the loft, but as we don't have a dedicated fitted loft ladder and husband has to bring his ladder upstairs from the garage, it's not something we do often.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

A Good Thing!

 Had some exciting news yesterday from our friends from Kent who we saw a couple of times last week when they were here on holiday....if you remember, they visited us at the caravan park and really liked it.  Having put in that cheeky offer on the vacant static (owner is asking way too much and our friends can't/don't want to pay that much), they've now decided they'd really like to have a touring van on a seasonal pitch at our park.  I'm going to find out details from the site owner when we go there today.  There's even a vacant seasonal touring pitch very close to our van, so it would be fantastic if it all worked out and they put their tourer there.

It's going to be a bittersweet day, going to the caravan, having a last meal there (lunch) and then putting it all to bed for the winter.  It's possible our other next door neighbours, the ones with the 2 little yappy dogs, might be there to close theirs up, when we were there last week it was evident they'd been back (some of their outside things had been moved), but they have stuff still outside which I'm sure they'll want to put away for the winter.  Their dogs are a bit of a pain, but they themselves are a nice couple.  There's hardly anyone left there now, so it's very quiet and means husband isn't fond of going there now as he's got nobody to talk to!

We're toying with the idea of taking out the fixed sofa seating next year and having freestanding furniture instead.  Loads of people have done it, both on our park and on the static caravan forum I belong to.  We need to have a proper look behind all the sofa cushions and work out how the sofa was fixed in, and whether it provides structural stability to the van walls.  It may be possible to leave the wooden battening behind the sofa cushions in place and just have freestanding furniture (we're thinking a 2-seater sofa and a recliner armchair, although that's not set in stone) in front of it, we don't know yet.  The middle part of the sofa isn't bad, but each end seat is quite uncomfortable to sit on for any length of time.  And both of us like a recliner chair (we'll have to take turns in it!! 😂).  We'll have a look today, and talk/think about it over the winter.

I've not put any Spring bulbs in the front garden as yet, just concentrated on putting loads in the caravan garden.  I might get some today though, before they all sell out.  I might buy my first ever Christmas tree too!  We don't normally go in for Christmas decorations in any meaningful way.....husband is a right Grinch when it comes to Christmas, although I quite like it.  But I do have mixed feelings about Christmas, at the same time - my beloved Nanna, who I had a very close relationship with (I'm the eldest grandchild) died many years ago on Boxing Day, and of course my Mother died on Christmas Eve the year before last.  So Christmas brings a mixture of emotions for me.  But this year I'd like to put the sadness aside and maybe have some nice decorations to make me smile whenever I look at them.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

Thanks for caring

 Re my leg and the falling over.....thank you for your concern, but I don't think it's anything sinister.  I've fallen over 4 times now in the past few weeks - twice outside, both on uneven ground (a beach and a field), and twice indoors, both times when I've just got out of bed, so am very, very stiff and very groggy as still half asleep.  I think the sciatica is the result of my current bad posture caused by my hip bursitis, obviously something pressing on the sciatic nerve - I've had lower back problems, including episodes of sciatica (always down the back of my left leg) ever since I was 19 and had a slipped disc, so it's nothing new.  I'm sure the osteopathy on the 8 Nov will sort it out.  Anyway, if I go to the GP (assuming I can actually see one), I expect all they'll do is try to throw more codeine at me, or give me another referral to physiotherapy - and seeing as they have a massive backlog (and cancelled my last referral without even telling me!) I'm not at all confident that I'll get an appointment anytime soon.  But thank you very much, it's nice to know that people are concerned for me.

Very misty this morning but not at all cold, apparently it's going to be warm and wet next week.  It should be dry tomorrow when we go to the caravan to close it up for the winter, which will be good.  Our lovely van neighbour Jean has texted me a few times with little tips for getting the van ready for winter, which is nice of her.  They're old hands at it, having been at the caravan park for 10 or 12 years.  I'm sure the van will be ok - after all, it had been empty and unused for 2 years when we took it over and it was fine with no leaks at all.

Today I'm not doing much.....the indoor freezer to defrost, making some dog food, cooking a gammon and prepping veg to have when we get back from the van tomorrow.  For dinner tonight we're having homemade pasty and chips out of the freezer.  This afternoon I might watch a film and do some crocheting, husband will be out cutting a hedge for an elderly neighbour.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Bloody leg

 My leg gave way under me again this morning, if I hadn't grabbed onto my bedroom chest of drawers (knocking off some books and toiletries in the process), I'd have been on the floor again.  Interesting that it's currently my left leg with the sciatica, rather than my right hip with the bursitis, that's giving me the most trouble now.  It makes me a bit wary of going anywhere outside the house, but I just have to take my walking stick and be careful.....I can't (and won't) become a hermit and stay indoors.  A minor problem is that, bearing in mind both my legs give me problems, I'm not really sure which hand to have my walking stick in - I generally go with the right, as I'm right-handed.  Perhaps I'll ask the osteopath when I see her next month.  And no I'm not going to use one of those walking frames - I'm not ancient or an invalid just yet!! 😜😜

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Brunch with friends

 Another lovely sunny day, very warm indeed this afternoon, our friends from Kent have had beautiful weather for their holiday here this week.  We met up with them for brunch, then had a mooch around the shops, I bought some books (3 for £5, my favourite thrillers, bargain) and some dog treats, friend D bought a bagful of books! (she does a lot of reading when her husband is on late shifts).  We didn't take Betty, she's not keen on shopping and high streets, especially if they're busy, she gets a bit anxious.  We left our friends early afternoon, to get back home to Betty, D and C went to do some more geocaching - around a nature reserve I didn't even know about.  We're finding out about places here in Somerset we didn't know existed, all because our visiting friends love to go exploring.  They're off home tomorrow.....well, not straight home, they're stopping off somewhere en route tomorrow night and Saturday night.  It's been lovely seeing them.  C retires in January, so we might see a bit more of them next year, they do love holidaying down here.  As for the 'cheeky' offer they put in on the vacant caravan on our park....we knew it wouldn't be accepted, our park owner has already turned down a few higher offers.  The van has been vacant for a long time now, you'd think he'd stop being greedy and set his price a bit lower, then he might actually get a sale!  After all, he's not making any money on pitch fees whilst the van is empty, the previous van owner died a couple of years ago and there were no family members to take it over.

I'm very tired again now, even though I slept reasonably well last night.....I seem to go through the odd phase of feeling totally worn out, I think it's a diabetic thing.  I'll watch the Hairy Bikers and then have an early night.

Going shopping tomorrow to stock up on store cupboard tins and packets, toiletries and cleaning supplies, the idea being that I won't then need to go shopping for a few weeks, as the 2 freezers are well stocked.  With being at the caravan so much this summer, we didn't have a lot of garden produce, but we do still have 3 growing bags of potatoes (husband grows all our spuds in bags), and lots of apples.  I've already prepped and frozen about 6 plastic tubs of sliced apples, we've certainly had a good apple harvest this year, both eaters and cookers.

Husband still hasn't had a date for his prostate op, he rang Yeovil hospital again today and was again told that they haven't yet had a referral from Taunton hospital.  Goodness only knows what's taking so long - the lady he was speaking to at Taunton hospital last week who said she was sending the papers to Yeovil is apparently off now until Monday, so he'll have to ring again then.  It's all so frustrating trying to get treatment nowadays, as most of us know.  

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

A quiet day

 Went to get out of bed this morning and my left leg (the one with sciatica) gave way underneath me, so I ended up on the floor.  At least I was right beside the bed so could pull myself back up fairly easily.  No damage done.

I've had a pretty easy day.....put washing out on the line, weeded and pruned a small flower bed, prepared dinner this afternoon (bbq pork and beans, using leftover roast pork).  Other than that, I've just sat in my recliner chair crocheting and reading.  Husband's been out this afternoon, so it's been quiet.

We had a lovely time with our Kent friends yesterday, they love our caravan and park and even put in a cheeky offer on a vacant van (it was refused, as we knew it would be!).  We're seeing them again tomorrow, meeting up for brunch and then a beach walk.

There was hardly anybody at the caravan park yesterday, seems strange not having any of our van friends around to chat to.  We're going back on Sunday to finally close up, that'll be a sad day, but we've got a few ideas and plans for the van to keep us going till next Spring.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021


 Finally - I have an appointment for osteopathy.  8 November, so 4 weeks away, but at least I have a date!

The osteopath, a very well spoken lady called Felicity, seems very nice and certainly well informed about my hip condition, we had a long chat on the phone and she asked lots of questions which showed a good knowledge of hip bursitis, and the sciatica which is now affecting my left leg.  Probably a result of poor posture caused by the bursitis - well, that's what I think anyway, my back is a bit twisted and I do walk with a limp, so have probably trapped the sciatic nerve.

An elderly neighbour is dog sitting next week, looking after her son's lovely Golden Retriever whilst they're on holiday, she's unsteady on her feet (I know the feeling! 😂) and has asked if we'd help with dog walking, a rota has been organised amongst some of us.  And another neighbour is going on holiday in a couple of weeks and we've been asked to feed and check on their cat whilst they're away.  It's no problem, we all help each other out here in our tiny hamlet, we check on each other's houses when anyone's away, water plants, take in parcels, put out/take in bins on rubbish day.  That's the beauty of living in a small place where we all know each other.

Monday, 11 October 2021

Another nice day

 It's a beautiful sunny and warm day again, it's going to be like this most of the week, very lucky for our friends from Kent who are down here on hols this week.  They're keen walkers (they do geocaching) so they'll have a lovely time being out every day, they think nothing of walking 6 or 8 miles at a stretch (we won't be doing that with them, a light stroll on the beach maybe!).  We're going out for lunch with them tomorrow, so the most walking we'll be doing is to the pub (which is next door to the caravan park), and then a little stroll around the park - as it's small, that won't take long 😉

We actually have been out for a walk today - for the first time in ages, we went to our local lovely nature reserve, haven't been there for months.  I couldn't walk as far as I have in the past, and couldn't keep up with husband and Betty - I found a bench to sit on whilst they carried on.  It was so nice sitting in the sun and listening to the birds - and I even saw a stoat (or maybe a weasel?) pop out from the bushes and run across the path.  Behind me I could hear some kind of waterfowl in the stream, hidden by the thick swathes of bulrushes, and there were dozens and dozens of starlings on the pylon cables overhead.  It was really lovely.

Got the bed linen and towels out on the line this morning and made 2 cakes....Sue's marmalade cake, which husband has had a slice of and pronounced really nice, and a boiled fruit cake.  It's such an easy cake to make, the dried fruit is placed in a large saucepan with brown sugar, spice, water and butter and brought to the boil, then turned off and left to cool in the pan.  When cool, eggs, flour and baking powder are stirred in, then poured into a cake tin lined with parchment and baked for just over an hour.  I'll cut both cakes in half and freeze half, the other halves will be taken to the caravan tomorrow.

I've chopped up all the leftover veggies for our Bubble & Squeak tonight, now I'm off upstairs to sit in my bedroom recliner chair and read my book - husband is flicking through the TV again 😒.  I'm waiting for the osteopath to ring me back to arrange my appointment, she rang whilst we were out on our walk and left a message on the answerphone.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

A nice day and a thank you to Sian

 It's a lovely sunshiney and warm day, makes you feel good.  Have got last night's washing (I always do the washing overnight on the economy rate.....all the more important now energy bills are rising rapidly) on the line, the bedding has been changed this morning so lovely fresh bed linen to get into tonight, which is always nice.  Just been to town and bought a gorgeous very comfy pair of ankle boots for winter, and a pair of slip on trainers (bending over to do up laces is out of the question these days).  

Just about to prep all the veg for dinner (roast pork today) - I'll do plenty of veg so we can have the leftovers for our vegetarian day tomorrow.  It'll be bubble & squeak (that's chopped leftover vegetables, all mixed together and fried until it's crispy on the bottom, for overseas readers) with a couple of fried eggs for tomorrow's tea.  With brown sauce, of course - well, for me, husband hates it.  After I've prepped dinner and got it in the oven, I shall depart upstairs to sit in my bedroom recliner chair and do some crocheting or read my book - husband is watching his favourite saloon car racing on the tv and the constant drone of the engine noise, and the commentators talking over it, drives me nuts.  Well, he says he's watching it....I'd say he's asleep!! (his eyes are closed and he's snoring 😒😡).

Tomorrow I'm going to soak dried fruit for a rich fruit may become a Christmas cake, or may get eaten before then!  I'll also make a Marmalade cake, using Sue in Suffolk's recipe, we'll have slices of that with a cuppa in the caravan on Tuesday when our friends come to visit.

Sian - thank you very much for the YouTube video re lack of oestrogen causing collagen loss after the menopause, which may explain why women my age get hip bursitis - very interesting, especially since I stopped taking HRT (because my male GP kept badgering me to stop it!) 2 or 3 years ago and my bursitis started after that!  Coincidence?!  I see there are other videos by the same therapist on the subject of bursitis, I will watch those also.  Very helpful, thanks.  Blogland is wonderful.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Light at the end of the tunnel. And good friends

 The Bowen therapist seems fairly confident they won't all have positive Covid tests, her child who had a slight temperature is now fit as a fiddle, and she says they all feel completely fine.  They get their results today, let's hope they're all negative - for their sakes.  She's hoping to book me in for the initial free taster treatment for late next week.  Meanwhile, the osteopath I spoke to is fully booked until November, but will have me in for her first available appointment that month.  Fingers crossed it's not when husband will be in hospital, or unable to drive when he comes out!  I'm hedging my bets and having both treatments, well at least one of each anyway, then I'll decide which one I want to continue with....whichever seems to be the most helpful.  It's annoying that I have to pay to be treated, and it's not cheap (at a time when energy, food and fuel bills are all going up massively), but our NHS system is so overwhelmed and has clearly let me down.  I'm not even bothering to ask my GP for another physio referral, I have no faith whatsoever that it would result in an appointment anytime soon.

My hip, oddly but thankfully, is nowhere near as painful today....but my back is, and I'm now getting sciatica in my left bum cheek radiating down the back of my left leg.  If it's not one thing, it's another.

We were going back to the caravan today for a few days, for the final time, but I've decided against it, I really don't feel like it at the moment because of my aches and pains.  And the fact that I'm not yet ready to say goodbye to the van for this year.  However, we will be going there on Tuesday, just for the day - a lovely thing, our good friends who live in Kent and who we see a couple of times a year, are coming down here on holiday.  They want to see our van, so are meeting us there, we'll spend an hour or two showing them around, catching up and having a coffee, then we'll go to the pub next door for lunch.  We'll see them another day as well whilst they're here on holiday, hopefully we'll find somewhere to go for afternoon tea.  We'll go back to the van to close up another day.

My best friend called in to see us a couple of days ago, that was nice, as was the picture they texted me yesterday which made me smile - I need all the cheering up I can get at the moment.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Sod's law strikes again

 The Bowen therapist rang me early this morning - one of her 3 children has had a positive Covid lateral flow test this morning, so they're all having to go and get tested at the official testing centre.  Obviously, she's had to cancel my appointment, well, can't be helped, it's just one of those things.  She is going to ring me this afternoon for a chat, and book another appointment - although I guess that won't be for another week or 10 days, once they've all finished isolating.  

Meanwhile, I've rung the hospital physio department to find out if I'm any nearer getting an appointment with them - only to be told that as my referral was so long ago now (I had an initial phone consultation with them back in January, then Covid intervened!), I have to go back to my GP and ask for another referral.  And how long is that going to take, for me to get a new physio appointment?  Bloody weeks and weeks, I should think.  

To say I'm pissed off is an understatement.

I've now contacted a local osteopath and am waiting for her to ring me back - I have to do something, get some form of help, I'm at my wit's end.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

No arthritis

 Following on from the earlier post, and to answer Cherie and HH.....

I don't have arthritis, I've had x-rays and scans which showed no trace of it.  I do sometimes say it's arthritis, for simplicity's sake, rather than having to explain what it actually is.

It's something called Trochanteric Bursitis, although it's now called Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome I think.  Basically, it's inflammation in the fluid filled sac on the outside of the hip joint, although the pain also affects muscles and tendons around the hip.  It is very painful indeed, it causes a severe burning like pain from just above my hip down the outside of my leg to my knee, and sometimes beyond.  I can't lie on my right side (the affected side) in bed.....obviously I turn over in my sleep and the pain wakes me up constantly.  It also causes stiffness, especially when getting up from a chair, and makes me limp.  I can't stand on my right leg to get dressed without holding onto something, or I'd probably fall over.

It affects my posture, which in turn gives me backache - well, it makes my ever-present backache (which I've had since I had a slipped disc in my lower back at the age of 19) even worse, particularly if I've been standing in the kitchen for any length of time doing veg or meal preparation, or baking.  I can only walk very slowly, and not for any great distance - the pain gets worse and I get slower.

I've seen a GP twice - 2 different ones - both were sympathetic but not very helpful, just more or less throwing pills at me.  I can't take anti-inflammatories, I have an adverse reaction to them (it's on my medical record), so it's either paracetamol (which does next to nothing) or codeine.  I don't like taking codeine because it makes me very constipated indeed, and that just seems to exacerbate the pain problems.  Both GPs said a hip replacement isn't usually done for bursitis, and in any case would be a very last resort.  They both suggested steroid injections.....they don't do them in the surgery, they have to be done by a consultant or physiotherapist as it's important to get the injection in exactly the right place.  I was referred to physio - I've not yet seen one, but had an initial telephone consultation with one back in January - she said it's not up to the GP to suggest injections, that's their job!  And an injection wouldn't be their first choice anyway.  Before I could start actually seeing the physiotherapist, they were all taken off to help with Covid injections and all physio appointments were suspended.  I have recently had a letter from them saying although they are now back to doing face to face appointments, they have a huge backlog and will get to me eventually - when, they couldn't say.

The only thing that gives me a bit of relief from the pain is using a freeze gel or an ice pack, but both only lessen the pain for a short while.  I've got a TENS machine but that doesn't help my hip at all, although it does help my back pain a bit.

When we went for our flu jabs the other day, we were given a leaflet for some new service offering classes for things like losing weight, management of long term health conditions, and living with pain.  I was interested in the pain thing so went onto the named website to see if there was a class locally.....there isn't 😒

I can't wait around indefinitely for a physio appointment, so it looks like my only option is to pay to have some sort of therapy, hence why I'm going for this free Bowen taster session tomorrow.  I've had (paid for) osteopathy and chiropractic in the past, for my lower back pain - both worked (for a few weeks anyway), but gave me so much more pain for the first few visits, and I'm so fed up with continual pain, I don't think I can take much more of it.  The Bowen treatment is supposed to be very gentle.

Thank you for your concern, it does help 💜

I could spit....but it's not ladylike

 But then who said I was a lady?!?!

A while back husband was told by his consultant that he could go to Yeovil hospital for his prostate op if he wished, as our local big hospital in Taunton is snowed under and he wouldn't be able to have the op there for probably another year - he's already been waiting 2 years.  He said yes to Yeovil and was told he should hear from them with an op date within 4 weeks and, if not, to ring for an update.  Yesterday, I suggested he do that - he reckoned it was only about 3 weeks ago though.  I checked back (good job I keep notes of dates) - it was actually 5 weeks ago, and he's heard nothing.

So I got him to ring yesterday.....after being passed from pillar to post, put on hold etc, he finally got told that yes Taunton had passed the paperwork to Yeovil, but hadn't heard anything back.  They suggested he ring Yeovil direct and gave him the number.  Which he wrote down wrong 😒 (well, he is dyslexic so not surprising), so I googled and found the number for him.  After yet more being put on hold and passed around to different departments, he was eventually told that Yeovil have received no such referral and knew nothing about him!  So he rang Taunton back again.....his consultant's secretary wasn't there, but he's been told a message has been left for her and she'll ring him today.   Let's hope she does.

I was really hoping he would have had his op by now, or at least have an op date very it looks like it won't be anytime soon - it wouldn't surprise me if he gets it in the middle of winter.  Which is just what I didn't want.  He'll be in hospital overnight, possibly 2 nights, and will be out of action for X amount of time afterwards (we don't yet know how long, but it will definitely be several days).  Which means I've got to do absolutely everything whilst he's recuperating, not that I begrudge doing that, and take the dog out twice a day, possibly in bad weather, just like last winter when husband had his foot op and was on crutches and incapacitated for 6 weeks.  But now my hip is so much worse than it was this time last year, so walking by myself is hard enough, without having a strong dog to contend with.  And falling over worries me, I've done it a couple of times in the past few months (fortunately, once on a sandy beach, and the other time in a field, so had soft landings).  Naturally, with being older and having a bad hip, I worry about breaking bones. 

Obviously I want him to have the op - 2 years is a long time to be waiting for his prostate and bladder problems to be resolved, and to have to take 3 different meds for it daily, on top of all the heart meds he already takes.  Before anyone suggests it, a couple of neighbours have offered to help out by walking Betty - however, Betty is a very strong and stubborn dog and needs careful handling, particularly as she's anxious around other dogs and can be reactive on occasions.  The 2 people who've's very kind of them but, for differing and valid reasons, I wouldn't feel confident about either of them doing it.  I WILL cope, I always do, but it just wears me out, mentally and physically.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Cooking and gardening

 Thank you for comments, I feel much better today.  Took a dose of Night Nurse last night, as my sinuses were blocked and I felt a bit sniffly, although it could have been a slight reaction to the flu jab, I suppose.  Anyway, I slept like a log - Betty having a 'woofy' dream woke me up at some point, but I must have gone back to sleep immediately.  Then I woke up early this morning - 05.36 according to the clock - needing the loo....I would normally have gone downstairs then, but thought no I'll get back in bed for another half hour (the effect of the dark mornings!).  However, when I went back in the bedroom I realised I'd read the clock wrong and it was actually 06.36!!  Well, a couple of minutes later by then 😂.  And, you know what - I still got back in bed, eventually getting up around 07.20.  A lie in - unheard of for me!

I got all my clothes sorted yesterday, there's a large bagful to take to the charity shop and my summer clothes have been put in a lidded plastic box under the bed.  But, sod's law, it's bright sunshine today and, other than a few showers forecast for tomorrow, the next few days after that are predicted to be a mini 'heatwave'!  I doubt it's going to be hot enough to get the summer stuff out again though, just pleasantly mild I should think.

This is the first week of our new way of eating (just 3 days of meat meals, 2 days of fish and 2 of vegetarian) and it's going very well.  Yesterday was a 'fishy' day, we had prawn risotto for dinner, and for lunch I did something we used to have a lot when I was a child and haven't had for years......tinned pilchards on toast.  I mixed a bit of horseradish and a splash of lemon juice into the mashed pilchards, piled it on the toast and put it back under the grill to warm through.  Then I topped it with sliced vine tomatoes (I'm not keen on them cooked) and it was absolutely delicious....even husband, who looked a bit dubious when he saw what I was making and said he wasn't sure he'd like it, decided he actually really did.

Today it's a meat day, I'm going to make sort-of Cornish pasties - except that I won't encase the filling entirely in pastry, it'll be in a shallow dish with just a puff pastry lid (I want to cut down on carbs).  It'll be thinly sliced swede, potatoes, carrots and onions (more swede than potatoes, as swede is slightly lower in carbs) topped with minced beef, and plenty of pepper and salt.  I'll also make some apple turnovers with the rest of the pastry - husband loves them and he's not bothered about cutting down on carbs.

Husband's tackling the garden today, cutting the grass, pruning, pulling up the finished veg plants and generally tidying for winter.  I'll have to supervise the pruning of the front flower garden (or do it myself), as he'll just chop it all off willy-nilly if he's left to his own devices - he's a demon with the shears! 😂😒

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Rough night and Bowen therapy

 Thank you all so much for all the supportive comments yesterday, after my nasty experience in the freezer shop.  That altercation upset me quite a lot, it preyed on my mind later on and during the night.  The woman was just so unhelpful, so rude about me, loudly, to another customer, and didn't even seem bothered about the fact that some of our shopping fell on the floor, as a result of her ridiculous piling up of it all in a very small space.  As a result, I didn't sleep at all well last night as I felt rattled - the heavy rain didn't help, nor did Betty jumping off my bed and making gagging sounds either.  I thought she was going to be sick - fortunately, she wasn't.  Perhaps she'd swallowed a fly!  She soon settled down again though, which is more than can be said for me.

I'm going to have an easy day at home today, sorting out all my clothes.....some to be bagged up for the charity shop, and summer clothes to be put into a lidded plastic box to go under the bed.  I will try and persuade husband to do the same.  I'd like to do some more rows on my caravan blanket too, but have an aching shoulder this morning so that might not happen.  My hip is really painful too, one of those days where I can't sit or stand comfortably.  

On the subject of which....there's a therapist who lives and practises (practices?) in the next village to us, she advertises a lot on our local social media pages and has a lot of glowing reviews.  She does something called Bowen therapy, which I gather is some sort of muscle massage, for all sorts of aches and pains.  It's apparently very gentle, rather than the chiropractic I've had before which was quite brutal.  She offers a free 15 minute taster session, so I've enquired about that - what have I got to lose?  Her full hour sessions cost £40 and she reckons people generally see good results after just 2 or 3 sessions - so if she's right, that'll be money well spent.  Have any of you heard of (or had) Bowen therapy?

Monday, 4 October 2021

So I'm a 'stupid woman'! (according to a till operator)

 I've just had a very unpleasant experience in the freezer shop - I'm not naming them as I don't want to give them a bad press based on the actions of just one unhelpful and rude employee.  Suffice it to say that it's a big shop (supermarket sized) selling mostly frozen food, with some fresh foods, tinned & packet and some household goods.  We shop in there about once every 3 months or so, to stock up the freezer - we like it in there as they have wide aisles, sell larger size packs and it's generally not at all busy.  I do have to be selective about what I buy and read labels carefully - some of their frozen meat, for example, isn't British, and I prefer to buy British where possible.  But that's just a personal consideration.  They also sell quite a lot of ready meals and what I'd call rubbish food (cheap carb or sweet stuff with no nutritional value, aimed at kids mostly) - none of which I buy.  But they do have good offers on frozen fish, seafood and veg, in particular.

Today the shop wasn't busy, as usual, but by the time we'd got to the checkouts there was a big queue and only one till open.  The cashier did eventually ring for another operator, but had to ring again after a few minutes of no response....another person (I won't call her a lady as she certainly wasn't!) did eventually arrive, scowling - perhaps she'd been on her teabreak 😒.  She plonked herself down with a big sigh and opened up.....the man in front of us in the queue said we could go to her as he was next in line to be served on the original till.  Big mistake!

Our system is that I take everything out of the trolley, husband goes to the end and packs it all - he's a bit obsessive about packing everything carefully into the right bags, so I let him get on with it!  In this shop you're not supposed to pack your bags at the checkout, you put everything back into the trolley and pack your bags at the long shelf at the front of the shop.  However, as we were the first customers at this till and I was unloading the trolley, husband did begin to pack some of the stuff into bags.  I had my back to the till woman whilst taking stuff out of the trolley, so didn't see what she was doing - apparently she was working very fast and piling everything up on the small area at the front of the till, much faster than husband could pack.  I heard a noise and turned around to see a huge pile of our food all balanced precariously on the end of the till, with some of it falling off!  I said to her "Can you stop please?" then carried on unloading the trolley.  She didn't stop, or even slow down, she simply continued scanning stuff really fast and adding it to the massive pile.  Which annoyed me so I said "This is ridiculous, how are we supposed to put food back into the trolley when I haven't finished emptying it?  And there's no room and you're just making it fall on the floor!".  She gave me such a filthy look and just huffed, although did slow down marginally.  Anyway, we got through the till, went to the shelf and started to pack. 

And that would have been the end of it.....until I heard her say to the next customer "Did you hear that woman having a moan?  Stupid woman(!!)".  She clearly hadn't noticed me at the shelf, as her mouth dropped open and she flushed deep red with embarrassment as I marched back to the till and said "Yes that was me!  And I 'had a moan' because what you were doing was ridiculous.  And if you wanted to complain you should have had the decency to do it to my face, or at least wait until I was out of the shop!".  She had the grace to look ashamed, although didn't apologise.

I did briefly consider asking to see the manager, but immediately discounted that idea - in this day and age people need their jobs and I didn't want to risk her losing hers.  And, who knows, she might be having personal problems or had something on her mind, so I prefer to give her the benefit of the doubt.  She wasn't even a youngster, she was around 40, so should have known better really.  But at least I stood up for myself and told her what I thought!

Anyway, we won't be going back to the shop for another 3 months or so, and as they have a fairly rapid turnover of staff she most likely won't even be there next time.

I am finding that the older I get, the less likely I am to suffer fools gladly and if something or someone annoys me or there's some injustice, I will say so.

Sunday, 3 October 2021


 Home now, mostly unpacked and first lot of washing in the machine.  Jean promised to keep in touch by phone, it was still quite sad saying goodbye to them.  We all said how much we're looking forward to next year.  Just relaxing this afternoon and writing a shopping list - we're going to the freezer shop tomorrow to stock up on frozen foods (obviously 😁).

I made a few cards whilst we were away in the van, I've drawn all the designs in coloured pencils, art gel pens, watercolour pens or crayons, or a mixture of all of them.  I'm really getting into drawing now.

Baby ones, all on a similar theme, for my brother and his family (brother's son and DiL had baby Robin a couple of weeks ago).

Wedding card for my nephew, he gets married on Tuesday (he doesn't read my blog so won't see it).  I really like the way this card turned out.

Anniversary card for my best friend.

And a couple of pics of my lovely Betty, all snuggled up with fleece blankets in the caravan:-

She used to give me a look as if to say "Mum what the hell are you doing?!" when I covered her up with a blanket, but now she quite likes it (actually, it's more a case of giving in for a quiet life I think 😂😂).

It'll be fine!!

 Well, both me and Betty (yes I know, bad grammar!) slept better last night, although I did have to get up for a wee and took a while to get back to sleep, but did eventually.  It poured with rain a few times, which woke me up (rain is very noisy on a caravan roof!) but I did fall asleep again quite quickly.  This morning there's blue sky with a few fluffy clouds and the sun is already trying to shine.  Brilliant.

Although the van gets toasty warm quite quickly with the electric fire on, there's no doubt that it does get very cold during the night, now the temperature has dropped quite a bit.  Getting up to go to the loo in the night, it feels decidedly chilly.  I'm glad about that, in a perverse kind of way - it means I'm not really very keen to stay here when it's going to be very cold, so softens the blow of not being able to come here over winter.  Once next March arrives though, I shall be chomping at the bit to get back here, I'm especially looking forward to seeing all the Spring bulbs I've planted in lots of tubs and the garden itself.  I do love Spring bulbs.

We were going home tomorrow but have decided to go this afternoon, once we've seen Charlie and Jean off, there'll be less traffic about today.  Our home garden has been somewhat neglected this year and it does need a lot of pruning and tidying up, the broken gazebo needs to be taken down and the garden furniture put in the garage - we'll be bringing the furniture here to the van next year, so we want it safe in the garage over winter.

Sunny weather is forecast for this coming weekend, so we might come back again then, we'll see.

I have been worrying a bit about leaving the van over winter and hoping it'll be fine with no problems.  But then I remembered that when we took this van on, it had been unoccupied and untouched for more than 18 months and, other than being very cobwebby and dusty (and very dirty!), it was absolutely fine - no leaks or problems caused by the weather.  So we have no reason to think it won't be the same when we come back next year.  And our neighbours (who have been coming here for years) have said they rarely have problems either.  So now I'm not really worried.  C and J have told us everything they do when closing their van down for winter, and I'm going in their van to have a look when they're ready to leave, so I know what to do in ours.  It's been such a help having them next door.

I'm not worried about security either over winter - the owners (father and daughter) both live on site with their families in separate houses, and the site manager also lives here in their caravan (that's allowed under Local Authority regulations).  The site gate is locked over winter, and there are CCTV cameras all around the park.  The site manager has a dog which barks at everyone who walks past (a Labradoodle, she's actually very friendly), so is a good guard dog in that she's noisy.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Restless night and jabbed

 For some reason, Betty was really restless last night - jumping on and off my bed several times after only settling for a few minutes, wandering around the caravan, even wanting to go outside around 3 am.  Whether she'd heard something (I didn't hear anything, but then I am partly deaf) or just wanted to go for a wee I've no idea - I did let her out in the garden but as it was pitch dark, I couldn't see what she was doing, if anything.  She didn't appear to be unwell, just restless.  Which meant I didn't sleep much either.  I sat in the lounge with her for a while, she did settle down eventually, around 5 ish, so I went back to bed then.  She stayed on the sofa, thankfully.  Consequently, I'm a bit knackered (again) today.  And we had to be up fairly early this morning to nip off back home to have our flu jabs.  All very well organised, lots of staff there directing parking, taking names, directing us to the appropriate rooms (several medical staff giving the jabs), so we were both jabbed and out of there within just a couple of minutes.  Nipped home to take a few things home that we no longer need in the van, and to check the post - still no hospital appointment letter for husband - then came straight back here to the van.  

It's poured down all day today, relentless neverending rain, it's so depressing.  At least we're warm, cosy and dry in the caravan, I've got books, crochet and some limited art supplies and husband has the TV (but in a confined space I can't get away from the TV!).  Never mind, it's forecast to tail off this evening, and we should even have some sunshine again tomorrow morning.  That'll be good, it means neighbours Charlie and Jean will be able to close up their caravan and pack their car in the dry.  Yes we will miss them, but we'll keep in touch via text and phone during the winter.

There had obviously been pretty strong winds back at was a bit windy here at the park but not overly so.  At home though, our garden furniture and some pots had been blown all around the garden, and a pole of our gazebo has snapped.  Pity, it was a nice one too, we only bought it in Spring this year.  And we didn't even get that much use out of it, having spent more time here at the van than at home!  Oh well, we've enjoyed our summer at the van, even with all the work.

We'll come back probably once more for a few days this month, not sure when, it depends on the weather.  It's obviously going to get colder and darker, we don't really want to be here in bad weather, especially if there's not many others around.  Right now, there are only 3 other vans occupied besides ourselves, and obviously our neighbours are off home tomorrow.  Oh, there's someone in one of the seasonal touring vans right down the bottom of the site, I wouldn't think they're going to be here much longer.....unless they're working nearby and using it as a base.

Friday, 1 October 2021

A tear shed

 Yesterday wasn't a good day and I didn't sleep well because of it.  Not dwelling on it though, following a bit of rain this morning this afternoon has been lovely, sunny and warm.  We've had some nice chats with our wonderful van neighbours again today, husband and Charlie did a few little jobs together, whilst Jean and I chatted about plants and garden and van plans for next year.  Jean finished by saying she's become very fond of me, we've made their summer and they'll miss us over winter - that brought tears to my eyes, they really are a lovely couple and in truth it's them who have made this first season in our van such a brilliant and happy one.  Having lost my mother on Christmas Eve 2019, Jean has become almost a surrogate Mum (although she's not actually quite old enough to be my mother!), and we've discovered we have a shared love of crafting and flower gardening, so have lots in common.  We've both said we'll look forward to meeting up again here in March next year.

Thinking about keeping warmth in the van, I've decided I'm not getting new curtains for next year.....I like the curtains I bought this year, they just need to be a bit thicker.  So I'm going to buy thicker linings - the curtains already have a built in lining but it's quite thin, the new thicker linings I'll just add on.  And I'll see if I can make some sort of cover or blind to cover the 2 skylights, to reduce some heat loss there.  The bathroom window needs a thicker blind or some sort of insulation too, Rambler suggested cling film (thank you) but I think we'll go for window film I've seen on Amazon, it's stuck onto the frame with double sided tape and you then use a hairdryer on it to seal it.  Cheaper ones have mixed reviews, but pay a bit more and the reviews are better.  

HH suggested rugs - the new carpet we bought for the van is laid on top of the old carpet (which I'd steam cleaned first), so the lounge floor is quite well insulated.  The bedrooms have rugs on top of the original carpets.  I think we're very lucky - we've had some really heavy rain showers this week and the van hasn't leaked at all, anywhere, and there are no damp patches, not bad for a 30 y.o. van.  Whereas 2 of our van neighbours have both had leaking skylights.

Going off early tomorrow to have our flu jabs, booked at our home surgery.  We'll nip home to drop off a few things we no longer need at the van, and to see if husband's hospital appointment letter has come, then we'll be coming back to the van.