Monday 31 January 2022

Two challenges

 We're joining in with Cherie's potato growing challenge, to see what yield we can get from planting ordinary supermarket spuds rather than garden centre or seed company seed potatoes, which are much more expensive.  We've actually been growing ordinary supermarket spuds for years anyway, as well as the proper seed kind - if we had a few old wrinkled spuds that had sprouted, husband just planted them rather than throwing them on the compost heap.  I can't say whether they yielded better or worse than the seed kind though, as husband never labelled them and had forgotten which was which by the time he came to harvest them.  This year though, they will be kept separate and properly labelled.  This morning I bought a 1kg bag of Charlotte potatoes with my supermarket shop, I'll be weighing out 500g (or as near as dammit) to set aside for chitting.  They cost £1, so 50p for the ones we'll plant - which incidentally will be in bags, husband has several old compost bags (he never throws anything away!).

The other challenge is to spend as little on the supermarket shop as possible - for the month of February I want to see how long we can go without shopping at all.  

When I did all the financial stuff the other day, I worked out a food budget for each month - once that budgeted amount is reached for the month, that'll be it, I don't want to spend any more than that so we'll have to make do until the next month.  However, if we have any surplus at the end of the month, that'll go into the savings account.  For February, I would like to put away a big chunk of the shopping budget come the end of the month, it'll go towards the expected huge rise in energy prices.  At the moment, we're quite a bit in credit with our electricity (no gas in the village), although I'm expecting that to drop considerably when the price goes up in April or May.  Our heating is oil-fired and is very economical indeed, we only need to have the oil tank filled once every 18 months.

This morning we went and did a top up shop - I'm now confident that we have enough food for us and Betty, baking supplies, toiletries, cleaning products etc, to last for several weeks.  The top up shop, which included washing capsules, kitchen roll and some dog food, came to £49 and I had a £6 off voucher, so spent just £43, which I'm happy about.

As an aside, we've recently discovered that the family member with all the problems spends around 3 or 4 times as much as my normal weekly shop, which we were absolutely gobsmacked about, especially since they live alone, whereas there's 2 of us plus a dog.  It's mainly because they buy crap - snack or rubbish foods with very little nutritional value, loads of crisps, biscuits, cakes and fizzy pop.  And all brand names at that, rather than own brands.  Whilst they don't have financial problems, it's been pointed out to them that they will have if they carry on like that, along with even more health problems in the future as a result of their poor diet.

I'm considerably less achy and stiff today, thankfully, although still feeling very tired.  It's cold and very windy again today, with the occasional flash of sunshine and spit of rain, a 'can't make its mind up' kind of day.  I've asked husband to try and clear up the back garden when he can - he can do it in short bursts on days when the weather is ok.  We won't be growing nearly as much produce in the garden this year, as we won't be at home all the time to tend to it, but it does need to be kept tidy, he more or less abandoned it last year and it did get rather overgrown in places.  It's all raised beds - the beds he's not using need to be covered over with old carpet (he has some) or weed control sheets or something, so they don't get overgrown again.

Sunday 30 January 2022

Working things out.....problems, logistics

 All 3 of us slept like logs last night....Betty went downstairs at some point but I didn't wake up when she jumped off the bed, she was fast asleep in her basket when I came down just after 7 am.  I'm one big mass of aches and stiffness today, with my left knee being particularly painful - it's been getting worse the past few weeks, I'll have to ask Felicity to do something about it the next time I see her.  I'm normally in and out of the shower very quickly in the mornings, but instead stood under the hot water for a longer time today, which has helped to ease some of the stiffness in my back, hips and shoulders.  Husband says he feels very tired despite sleeping well and has some achiness in his neck and shoulders.

We did a lot of catching up and reminiscing the past couple of days, lots of "Do you remember when...." moments that had us all crying with laughter.  There was one point when I suddenly felt very old - nephew and niece and their partners were all chatting away, talking very fast about techie or social media stuff with lots of "yeah yeah, that" shouts and rapid searching on their phones and showing each other the results.  Sister and I looked at each other, both shrugged and burst out laughing, we'd both been thinking the exact same thing:  "I have NO idea what these kids are talking about!!".

Sis and I only really got chance for a couple of shortish 'deep' conversations about things that have been troubling us both, but it helped.  Although she's 4 years younger than me, she's so wise, my sister.  She's thoughtful, calm and measured, whereas I'm hotheaded and emotional.  She's very selfless and has spent her life doing things for others, without a thought for herself or her needs/wants.  I've also done the same thing my entire adult life.....well, since the age of 12 or 13 actually, but I'm not as selfless as my sister and do get a bit cross when people don't seem to care about what I need or feel.  I think my sis should step back a bit from her constant caring for others and take time out for herself, she probably thinks I should relax a bit and not overthink everything.  But, and here's the thing - neither of us would ever say that bluntly or tell the other what to do, or what WE THINK they should be doing, we're too respectful of each other's differences and ways of doing things to do that.

It would be so nice if we lived near each other, but both of us agree we each love where we live and wouldn't want to move.

Pre-covid, sis used to come down here to stay with us a couple of times a year.....covid put paid to that, but she's said she wants to start again this year, she's going to try and come late Spring/early summer.  I'm thinking that we'll get husband to drop sis and I off at the caravan for a couple of days of 'sister' time, she said she'll like that very much.  Sis, who doesn't drive, gets the coach down here, she gets a saver ticket - it's a very long journey (around 5.5 hours, with all the stops the coach makes) but it's direct without having to change coaches.  Unfortunately, the saver ticket journey only stops at Bristol bus station, it doesn't come down any further, meaning we have to go and collect her, not that it's any trouble, although it is an hour's journey from here. 

Hazel asked if it would be possible to get the, that's not an option, I have looked into it before.  Just out of curiosity, I looked again this morning - it would involve 3 train changes (which I would find very stressful indeed) and is eye-wateringly expensive - around £100 single (each), or £174 return for each of us.  Sister lives several miles from the train station, so we'd also have to factor in taxi fares to her home.  There is the coach option, loads cheaper, but once again it would be from Bristol, meaning we'd have to fork out for taxi fares if we both went, or husband would have to take me to/from Bristol if I went on my own.  The coach station is nearer to my sister's than the train station, but still a few miles away.  And I'm not sure I would fancy the 5.5 hour journey, 3.5 hours in the car was bad enough.

We'll work things out somehow.  I guess another option for us would be to break our journey midway and stay overnight in a hotel each way, there are +/- for that as well.  Right now, we'll just focus on sis coming down for a week in 3 or 4 months' time.

Thanks ever so much for your kind comments.  We're having a restful day today.

Saturday 29 January 2022

The visit

 We got home about an hour ago.  All 3 of us, Betty included, are shattered.....Betty ate her dinner as soon as we got in (she'd not eaten much the past couple of days, due to a mixture of excitement and anxiety) and has been asleep on the sofa ever since.

Sister and I caught up on 2 years' worth of seems daft, but I'd almost forgotten how tall she is, she's about 4 or 5 inches taller than me (I'm the shorty in the family, despite being the eldest).  Both my nephew and niece tower over me too.  So we all cuddled, cried, chatted and laughed non stop, cuddled some more - well, when Covid and circumstances have kept family apart for 2 years, keeping our distance was just not going to happen.  We'll do LF tests again, Monday and Wednesday probably, just to check we've not caught Covid, and don't plan on going anywhere unnecessarily next week.  All I want to do is catch up on sleep anyway!

We are finding it more difficult to go all that way now - it took us nearly 4 hours on the way up, 3.5 hours coming home.  My back and hips have coped, although I am stiff and will, I'm sure, be even stiffer tomorrow.  Husband finds the long drive very tiring, physically and emotionally, as do I.  We did break the journeys, of course.  Although the hotel room was absolutely fine with regard to cleanliness and comfort, we do find them very noisy - budget hotels have very little sound insulation so we could hear people walking up and down the corridors, doors slamming, talking loudly and laughing - all throughout the night!  (What are they doing, and why is it necessary to be so loud about it, don't they realise - or care - that most guests are trying to sleep in the early hours of the morning?!).  Betty, being the self appointed guard dog with superhero hearing that she is, kept jumping up and running to the door and woofing gently every time she heard someone, so that kept me awake too.  And because she's out of her normal routine, she gets a bit anxious and goes off her food.  So we don't know how much longer we can keep making the journey, it does take it out of us, much more so we found this time.

Sis's new bungalow (they moved 7 months ago) is really lovely, as is the garden, she does love gardening and has big plans for it this year.  We were so busy catching up and her showing me everything that I totally forgot to take any photos - I don't think I got my phone out of my bag once, until we got back to the hotel yesterday evening (when I posted that quick update).  

Right, we've just had a quick tea, I'm going to watch the musicals thing that's on at 7 pm, and then I'm going to bed.  I'm feeling very emotional right now, sis and younger brother, who we also visited, have lots of reminders of Mum in their houses, I brought home a garden ornament that used to belong to Mum, sister had been keeping it for me.

Friday 28 January 2022

OK but knackered

 Journey uneventful (other than thick fog on the motorway near Bristol this morning).  Hotel room spotlessly clean and smelling of antibac spray.  Lots of tears and hugs with ALL relatives.  Lovely day.  Now I'm totally shattered, have a massive headache (too many people all talking at once, and all the stress leading up to the journey) and am already in bed.  Picking sis up tomorrow for a morning's browsing in an antiques centre we both like, then lunch before dropping her off and coming home.  

Thursday 27 January 2022

Some concerns

 Whilst I am very much looking forward to seeing my sister tomorrow, I do have some concerns about the whole trip, the journey up there and back being one of them, as I've mentioned.

We're staying overnight in a budget hotel - we've not stayed in a hotel since the last time we went up there, 2 years ago, just before the start of Covid restrictions.  I am a bit concerned about the standard of cleaning and the amount of people there may possibly be in the hotel.  All I can do is take some antiseptic wipes to clean surfaces, if I'm at all worried about whether the room has been properly sanitised, and wear masks/keep our distance in public areas of the hotel.

I will enjoy seeing my sister - and having a big hug with her.  She doesn't go out much, as she herself has underlying health issues and is very careful.  I'll also enjoy seeing her son and daughter and their partners, as it's been longer than 2 years since I saw them.  However, they're all young people, in their late 20s/early 30s and, unlike my sister, they all go out to work and socialise.  At least one of them has had Covid (sister's son had it during the first year of Covid) and they're all vaccinated, but it seems there's no guarantee that you can't catch it again, or if you've been jabbed, although if you do it does seem to be a milder infection.  So I am a bit concerned all the same.  Thing is, we're a very 'huggy' family, so everyone is going to want to hug - even me!

I'm sure it will all be fine (fingers crossed), they wouldn't be seeing us if they weren't sure they didn't have the infection, and husband and I will test again (our tests this morning were clear) when we're back home.

I'm probably worrying over nothing, but that's me all over.

Almost ready

 I'm feeling much better today, not nearly so achy and sore, and not even much stiffness when I got out of bed.  I slept better too, which helps.

I got loads done yesterday, everything that was on my list and a couple more things besides.  The lamb hotpot was lovely, we've got it again today so it'll be even nicer (as stew type things generally are, the next day) and it means I don't have to cook a meal today.  The rice pudding was nice too, I had a small bowl of it.  I also made dumplings for the stew - our low carbing has gone out of the window a bit this week, I've been too busy to concentrate on it.....that's ok, we'll be back on it next week.  Anyway, we seem to feel the need for carbs when it's cold, and it's certainly been cold the last week or so.  Quite a bit warmer today, 11 degrees apparently, but mostly cloudy.  Managed to dry most of the washing out on the line yesterday, with just a few things needing 10 minutes in the tumbler.  It was actually very pleasant yesterday afternoon, fairly warm even in the sunshine, albeit with a bit of a cold breeze.

Today I'm making a cherry and almond cake and chocolate muffins, to take up with us tomorrow - it's my contribution to dinner, which my sister is cooking for us.  It'll be lovely, my nephew and niece and their partners will be there too, it's been so long since I've seen them all.

First of all though, husband and I will be doing lateral flow tests.....obviously we won't be going at all if they're positive.  I'm pretty sure - well, hopeful - that they won't be, neither of us has any symptoms and we haven't been out other than Tuesday to my osteo, and the tiny bit of shopping afterwards, and obviously masks were worn.  On the subject of which, I know that mask wearing is now no longer compulsory, but we will continue to wear ours in shops and crowded indoor spaces.  I wonder whether there will come a time when we feel safe enough to stop wearing them......And to think once upon a time we used to think Chinese people were odd when they came over here to visit, as they all seemed to wear masks!  I don't like wearing a mask, don't suppose anybody does, and it's said that they don't protect anyone unless they're proper medical grade,  However, the fact is that husband and I have not had a cold or flu or any other illness (apart from some sort of virus thing that only lasted a day or two) since we've been wearing masks, so I do think they offer protection.  And anyway, they keep your face warm in cold weather!

The packing is done, mostly, just our medications to pack tomorrow morning and a sandwich to make for the journey, I'm not bothering with a flask, we'll get a coffee when we stop for a break.

Wednesday 26 January 2022

Feeling meh, but busy day will take care of that

 I didn't sleep at all well last night, couldn't get comfortable and was tossing and turning all night, got up at one point and sat in the recliner chair for an hour.  I'm really achy and sore this morning, Felicity always says I'll probably feel sore for a day or so after her session.  I'm sure it'll wear off later on, but in the meantime I feel right crotchety today.  Well, I'll be busy all day, got lots to do today and tomorrow, so no time to dwell on feelings......although it's probably best if husband keeps out of my way!

Just about to prep ingredients for a lamb hotpot to go in the multichef on slow cook.  Husband has been asking for a rice pudding, so I'll do that in the little slow cooker as well.  Oh, I've got washing to put on the line before that, the forecast is for a better day - 2 or 3 degrees warmer and even a bit of sunshine, so hopefully the washing will dry outside for a change.  It's certainly less grey and murky than it has been of late.

Got clothes and toiletries to get out and pack for our Midlands trip on Friday, the dog's things too and some gifts for my sister.  Must remember to take a cushion for my back, and a travel blanket too - this new (to us) car is blimmin cold, it takes forever to warm up inside - unlike the last one - and I can feel a draught round my legs, where it's coming from I have no idea.

33 days until we can go back to the caravan.....when I first put the countdown thingy on my laptop, it was more than 90 days to go, the time's really racing along.  Can't come soon enough for me, I'm really itching to get back there.  I'm hoping to get everything done in the van by the end of March, that's taking out the old fixed sofa and disposing of it at the tip, putting in battens to strengthen the walls and some insulation stuff, insulating the floor and putting a remnant of carpet down (it's only old lino underneath the old sofa at present), repainting as necessary, putting in the new sofa and recliner.  Adding some extra shelving to the kitchen and rearranging the cupboard contents, swapping the pink plastic drawer set in my bedroom for the new white wood tallboy I bought 2nd hand, putting a couple of new rugs in the bedrooms.  Aiming to get it all done by the end of March means we'll then have 7 months to just relax and enjoy the van, what a treat to look forward to.  We won't be staying over there permanently, we will have to come home for a couple of days every week or 2, to check post, do washing, tidy up the garden, catch up with our neighbours.  

Tuesday 25 January 2022

Everything sorted now

 The car is now shiny and clean, let's hope it stays that way until we go on our trip up north.  If necessary, husband can just give it a quick wipe over, after today we're not going out anywhere so it shouldn't get too dirty again in the next few days.

I didn't make the sourdough starter - when I did the freezer inventory I found 2 forgotten (bought) sourdough loaves, so will use them up first.  I also found a few other things that I'd forgotten about or had got pushed to the back, including some previously made and frozen ready meals (a couple of risottos and a pork stroganoff), a pack of salami, some bacon and some chicken pieces.  I also have 2 whole chickens, one stuffed, the other corn fed, a large gammon joint, 3 packs of pork chops, 2 packs of mince (1 lamb, 1 beef), 3 packs of sausages, 2 packs of beer battered haddock, salmon steaks, and loads of vegetables, chips, leftover cooked veggies that I freeze for future bubble and squeak.  And several pots of frozen stock to be used for soups or stews.  There's enough in the freezer for a couple of months' worth of meals, I reckon, plus tinned soups, beans, tomatoes, sweetcorn, rice, couscous and pulses, so with just getting some extra milk, butter, Greek yogurt and cheese today, I should be able to get through February without sending husband out to the shops.  Might just need to get eggs in a couple of weeks, I've got 2 dozen at the moment.

I finished off the banking and financial planning and now have a clear picture of exactly what I need to do to budget for the next year or two, so that's pleased me a lot and taken away some of the stress.  Now all we need to do is stick to it!  Should be doable, with clear goals in mind and an emergency fund.

Got my osteo appointment late morning, then the little bit of shopping.  Soup for lunch, jacket spuds with bbq beans, mushrooms, cheese and salad for dinner.  I'll take it easy this afternoon, crocheting I expect, as I'm always a little sore after Felicity's done with me, with a marked improvement the next morning.

Yet another dull, cold, grey day - hope we see some sun soon, it's getting boring now.

Monday 24 January 2022

A paperwork, admin and planning day

 I'm having a paperwork and admin day today, got some banking to do, also sort out the paperwork on top of my file cupboard, and some that has migrated upstairs to my bedroom.  Husband's desk is a total mess of paperwork, I can't face doing that, he'll have to do it himself.  I also need to do a freezer inventory and write a menu plan for the next fortnight.  We'll need a tiny bit of shopping this week, so must write a list.  I'm hoping to have a no spend month for February - should have been this month but it hasn't worked out like that for one reason or another.  It should be possible to go without shopping for the entire month, especially as it's a short month - we've only been getting mainly dairy and fresh veg this month, well if we get enough milk and some extra cheese to freeze this week, we shouldn't need to buy that in February.  As for veg.....well, although we both prefer fresh veg, we can make do with frozen.  Some of the fresh veg will last a few weeks anyway, it's mainly salad stuff that won't.

We've got 2 or 3 bread mix packets, so that'll keep husband going through February, hopefully, he does like his toast for breakfast.  I'm still avoiding bread during the week but do indulge a bit at the weekend - we had garlic bread Saturday evening, and toast yesterday.  I think I might have another go at sourdough, that has less impact on my guts.  Yes, good idea, I'll get the starter on the go today (talked myself into it lol).

It's another grey, dull, cold nothing weather kind of day, not good washing drying weather again.  As I suspected yesterday, the washing I put out on the line had barely got any drier at all by the time I got it in mid afternoon, so half went in the tumbler, half on the airer upstairs.  I did another wash overnight but am not bothering to put it out on the line.  Blimmin  nuisance trying to get washing dry this time of year.

Husband's going to wash the car - he said that last week, but didn''s now so dirty we can barely see out of or in the windows.  Living in a farming area where there's lots of mud, or in drier weather dust, both of which are churned up by the many tractors and farm vehicles, the car always gets filthy anyway - which is husband's excuse for not washing it more regularly "What's the point when it'll only be dirty again in a day or two?".  I can see his point, but I don't want to go up to my sister's with a really filthy car, and it's not like he's got anything else more important to do anyway.  It also means he won't be in here with the telly perpetually on, intruding on my mind when I'm trying to do the paperwork/banking.

Sunday 23 January 2022

You what? Say that again? I beg your pardon? Eh?

 I've put washing out on the line, whether or not it dries remains to be seen.  No frost this morning but it's still blimmin cold - grey, no sunshine and no wind either, so not really good drying weather.  I dare say I'll have to finish off the washing in the dryer this afternoon.

Got a busy week ahead, stuff to get packed for our trip up to see sister - we're only going for one night, but there's still quite a bit to pack, especially with a dog.  I've got cakes to make on Thursday - a cherry & almond and some chocolate cupcakes.  Tuesday I'm having another osteopathy session, to hopefully ensure that my back and hips are able to cope with the long journey.  I'll take Felicity's advice and we'll stop 2 or 3 times on the journey, so I can get out of the car to have a little walk round and do a couple of stretches, Betty can have a wee and husband a break from the strain of driving - he does find it a mental strain to drive long distances nowadays.  And fingers crossed the car behaves!

I know my hearing is deteriorating - at my last hearing test I had 25% hearing loss, that was 3 years ago and I'm pretty sure it's got worse since.  I'm constantly having to ask husband to turn the volume up on the TV (on the few occasions when there's something I actually want to watch), and I can't hear him speak (not such a bad thing!! 😂😂) if his head is turned away from me or he's in another room.  I constantly tell him I cannot hear if he's not in the same room - does it sink in?  Of course not. 😒  Anyway, I've booked another hearing test (at the same place I get my glasses know, 'should have gone to - '), as it'll be quicker, much much quicker I should think, than going to the NHS hospital hearing test place.  Mind you, if I need new hearing aids, and I reckon I will, I'll have to get another referral to the NHS anyway, as I can't afford the private aids.  I've had a hearing test at the opticians place before, a lovely, extremely efficient and helpful lady did it, and it was a more thorough test than the NHS one I had.

I have got NHS aids but stopped wearing them ages ago - at least a couple of years.  I didn't find them at all helpful - all they seemed to do was greatly magnify the background noises (which I wasn't even aware of before), meaning I found it even more difficult to hear people talking, as I was constantly distracted by the, now loud, background noise.  And the NHS aids are so very basic, no way of adjusting them, it's just 'on' or 'off'.  And the batteries run out so quick!  Still, they might have improved a bit since I last had them, and I don't have much choice in the matter anyway - if I want to hear better, I'll just have to wear them and get used to them.  The test is booked for 11 Feb, so nearly 3 weeks away, it'll soon go, time is galloping away....soon be Spring and caravan time!

We've seen quite a few daffodils in bloom when we've been out and about, also lots and lots of new lambs, which is lovely.  One field of sheep and lambs we passed the other day, when we were on our way to see our friends, caught my eye - all the lambs appeared to be wearing bright orange jackets.  I've googled it and it is a 'thing' - specially designed polythene jackets for newly born lambs to protect them against hypothermia in cold countries such as ours.  The jackets are called 'Lammacs' - how appropriate.  What a considerate farmer, to protect his flock like that.....but then I guess he doesn't want his stock dying of cold - he'll lose too much money.  I have tons of respect for farmers, they work so very hard in all weather conditions, and so many hours - obviously it's not a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job.

Saturday 22 January 2022

Not fixed yet but not my problem

 Not much progress on the car problem.....the garage husband took it to yesterday said they were too busy to do it and recommended somewhere else, a main dealer.  Husband went there, they were also too busy to do a full diagnostic on their testing equipment, so have booked the car in.....for a week on Monday.  After we come back from our Midlands trip.  Sigh.  The mechanic had a very quick look at the car and said, purely based on a quick visual glance and husband's description of the problem, that the car 'should' be ok for our 3.5 hour each way drive......I hope he's right!

Meanwhile, husband rang a mobile mechanic recommended to us by our friend - he left a message on the guy's voicemail but he didn't get back to us - presumably he won't now until Monday.  I guess people have to have some time off.  As there's now just a few days before we go on our trip, there's very little time to get the car problems diagnosed and sorted, if necessary, anyway.  Which is precisely why husband should have done it weeks ago and why I was so annoyed that he didn't, despite me asking him to several times over the past few weeks.

The trouble with garages/vehicle workshops is that they quite often have a bad reputation, and unless you have a personal recommendation from someone you know, there's no way of knowing if you can trust them.  After all, online reviews can be written by anybody, how do you know they're not written by the business themselves, or friends/relatives of theirs?

Anyway, it's husband's problem and I'm leaving him to deal with it.  He knows how I feel about it.

I'm just trying to focus on the caravan and our (well, my) new plans for it this year.  My craft room, the little spare bedroom, is full to overflowing with new stuff for the van - all the cushions, legs, loose cover and new throws for the new sofa, a lovely white 4 drawer tallboy to replace the pink plastic one in my van bedroom, new bedding, new garden shoes, some new kitchen equipment.  It's one big clutter in there (which puts me off sitting at my craft desk, but never mind), but it does make me smile to go in there and just have a look at all the nice new stuff and imagine it in the van.

I've done all the necessary housework jobs this  morning, got tonight's dinner prepped (homemade pork, sage and paprika burgers with new potatoes and salad).  So this afternoon I'm going to sit and crochet whilst watching a film.  Seems there's nothing worth watching on TV tonight, it's all game shows or reality TV, neither of which we're interested in, or films that have been repeated dozens of times.  We did record quite a few things over Christmas/New year, so I expect we'll watch one of those.

I've got a pork loin out of the freezer to roast tomorrow, it's quite a big one so I'll have to plan pork meals for the next few days.  I do like cold pork sandwiches with stuffing and mustard mayo on sourdough bread, so that'll be Monday's lunch, and probably a pork stir fry for the evening meal.

Friday 21 January 2022

Loveliness yesterday, steaming today

 We had a really nice time yesterday afternoon with our friends D & C down here on a short break to celebrate C's retirement.  We picked them up from their hotel and went to a nearby pub for lunch, nice place and good food.  They're a lovely couple, similar age and on the same wavelength as us, similar lifestyles and interests, conversation flows freely and we always have a good laugh.  After lunch we took them back to their hotel and had a look round there - it's a big former manor house (it's where the old TV series To The Manor Born was filmed in the late 70s/early 80s) which has diversified and extended massively to what it now specialises in - all inclusive holidays for people of a certain age (oldies in other words!), with plenty of leisure activities, coach trips out, evening entertainment, pool & spa, golf, bowls, croquet etc, bars and restaurant and loads of sitting rooms, even heated 'pods' in the gardens.  The grounds are extensive, over 100 acres, lots with livestock but plenty of well kept gardens - no restriction on where guests can roam.  There's a lovely little church in the grounds too, with some beautiful stained glass windows.  The house itself is gorgeous inside, typical big old English manor house with a rabbit warren of rooms and corridors, all beautifully maintained.  The room our friends were in was really nicely decorated, a large room with lovely comfortable furniture, luxury bathroom, their own patio outside French doors with garden furniture (bit cold for sitting out though, although it was very sunny).  And that was just a 'standard' room apparently (they do 'luxury' rooms too), I was pleasantly surprised at just how nice it was.

All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon, we had such a good time with them.  And, bonus, I slept like a log last night, don't think I woke up at all, until 06.20 when I heard husband putting the heating on (the boiler is a bit noisy).

And then after yesterday's loveliness.....I'm up to my eyeballs in stress today.  Husband cannot make a decision for the life of him, he dithers, procrastinates, puts up feeble excuses, sticks his head in the sand, and leaves things to the very last minute, when it's almost too late.  It drives me crazy, as I'm very much a 'get on with it' type of person.  It also drives me crackers that he won't actually do something until I've worked up to boiling point and have to jump up and down and get really annoyed before he'll realise he's just GOT to do it, whatever it is.  By which time my nerves are in shreds.  He's supposed to have been doing something with an annoying problem on the car, he should have got it sorted weeks ago but hasn't, for one (pathetic) reason or another.  The problem arose again this morning and I blew my top - if he doesn't get it sorted, preferably today, it could have an impact on our journey up to the Midlands next week.  If we break down on the way and have to call a recovery service, that will REALLY annoy me, I'm shitting bricks about the journey up there and back as it is.  So now he's gone off to the garage with a flea in his ear, and I've got a king size headache and blood pressure through the roof.

I went shopping with him this morning, for the first time in several weeks since he's been doing it on his own.  I needed several baking items (I'm making a couple of cakes to take up to my sister's next week) and some herbs and spices......if they didn't have exactly what I wanted, then I can look at what else they've got and make appropriate substitutions, whereas husband wouldn't have a clue, hence why I went.  As it happened, I did have to make a few subs, so it's just as well I went.....but going in a supermarket again just reinforced why I'd stopped going - I bloody HATE shopping with a passion!  Too many people, who dither about and get in your way when all you want to do is get what you want and get out.  Loads of empty spaces on the shelves necessitating making substitutions or going without, changes made to where things are kept so you have to search around, or find a staff member (who are thin on the ground nowadays) to ask.  So that put me in a bad mood to start with.

I think I'm going to shut myself away upstairs this afternoon, quietly reading or crocheting.  

Excuse my crotchetiness and bad language......I'm sure I'll be fine tomorrow (well I bloody hope so!).

Wednesday 19 January 2022

New furniture for the caravan

 The recliner chair arrived halfway into the given time window, we unpacked it (with Betty's help, of course, she just loves boxes of stuff) and put it together in no time, it was a doddle - screw the feet on, slot the back into place and hey presto.  It's compact and comfortable, just what we wanted.

(Betty's rear end in the background!)

And here's the sofa - well, a file picture of, obviously it's in bits scattered around the house at the moment:-

It's equally compact and comfortable (we both sat on it in the shop).  I'm really pleased with them, they're exactly what we wanted for the caravan.  Can't wait to have them in place.  Not long to go now, every day is a day closer.

On the up

 Thank you for comments, I am feeling a lot better having changed my focus on things.  It helps that we've had some sunshine lately, although it was dull and grey yesterday, no rain, very little wind but it's cold - well, it is winter.  But also signs of Spring are appearing everywhere, more and more bulbs poking up through the soil, my camellia is in bud (neighbour a couple of houses away has hers in flower already, mine is a different variety).  And we've seen blossom out on a few trees when we've been out in the car.

The recliner chair for the caravan is coming today, I'm awaiting a text to let me know the time window (at the moment it could be anytime between 07.00 and 19.00).  Husband has an appointment with the nurse at our surgery, and then he's going straight to town to have the car looked at - a minor (we hope) problem.  I shall be staying home, of course, awaiting the delivery, it'll be nice to have a couple of hours to myself without having the TV on all the time.

A while back I'd started crocheting two throws for the caravan's two bedrooms, both are WIPs (works in progress).  I'd not done anything on them for ages, but have now started back on one of them as I feel in the mood for doing it again....also, it's nice to have a warm wool throw on my lap whilst it's cold.  The one I'm doing at the moment is a big granny square, in shades of blue and white.  The other is stripes, mainly pinks and purples.  It would be good to get them both done by the time we go back to the van (40 days now).

Tomorrow we're going to meet up with our lovely friends D & C from Kent, we're picking them up from their hotel and going to a nearby pub for lunch.  It'll be so good to see them for a catch up, we usually meet up with them 2 or 3 times a year as they love coming down this way for holidays.

We're doing well on our diet, having salads for lunches (cottage and feta cheeses on Monday, ham yesterday, tuna today) and loads of veggies with a small amount of meat for dinners.  We had roast duck on Sunday, Monday I did roasted Mediterranean veg and shredded duck with a very small amount of pasta stirred through, yesterday we had the remains of the duck in a stir fry with tons of veggies.  Today we're having salmon steaks, foil baked with ginger, olive oil and lemon, with green veg and a small portion of carrot & parsnip creamed mash.  My guts and joints are feeling the benefits already, and I'm peeing for England - I always do when I cut down on carbs.  I've also slept quite well the past 2 nights, so that's good.

My sister says she's really excited about us going up there next week, as am I, it'll be so good to see her again after 2 years.  We're very close, when we lived near her up in the Midlands, she and I would meet up for lunch and shopping 2 or 3 times a week.  I do miss that, one of the very few things I miss about living up there.  She's cooking us dinner and has invited her son and daughter and their partners round as well, so it'll be a bit of a family reunion.  The following day we'll probably take her out for lunch somewhere, before driving home.  Can't wait.  

Just had a text to say the chair's arriving between 11.00 and 15.00.

Monday 17 January 2022

Less bad, more good

 There's so much stuff that I have very little control over going on in my life at the moment, and it's causing me no end of stress.  So, having had a good think and considered things over the past few days, I've decided to more or less let go of the stressful stuff and just concentrate on things that I CAN control and/or that give me pleasure. qualify a bit, I can't totally let go of the stressful things, I have to be involved to a certain extent, but I am trying not to let the stuff invade my thoughts 24/7, and to take a step or two back.

So, the better stuff.....

Obviously, the caravan is what makes me really happy and as I said before, I intend to spend a great deal of time there this year and next.  We don't know how much longer we'll be able to keep the van beyond the next 2 or 3 years, so I want as much use out of it as I can, whilst I can.  Having lived in it for the last few weeks of the season last year, I now know what works, what doesn't and what we can improve on to make it better, more useful and more comfortable.  As well as the new lounge furniture, we need to increase insulation in some areas to make it warmer early/late season.  Without spending loads of money, I think the way to do that is to put some insulation sheets (the kind DIY shops sell for behind radiators, or something similar, eg) down on the floor underneath the rugs, and fit thicker linings behind the curtains.  We need to fit something to go over the bathroom window (it's a normal roller blind in there at the moment) as it's blimmin freezing in there when I get up in the night for a wee!

I also need to make better use of the kitchen cupboards and get husband to put up another shelf or 2 for additional storage.  I also want him to construct some sort of store for outside the van door, so the kitchen bin and our wellies/outdoor shoes can be stored outside, instead of taking up space (and dropping bits of mud off our shoes) in the kitchen.  

So those plans are what I'm focusing on and keeping me occupied now.  Another thing is our health - both of us have put on weight since before Christmas - husband says he now weighs more than he's ever done before, largely due to his inactivity.  I've not put on as much as him, but have still gained half a stone or so and it's affecting my joints.  So I'm putting us back on strict diets - not so strict that we'll rebel against it and give up after a couple of days coz we feel so deprived, it'll have to be doable for us.  The main thing for me is cutting down drastically on carbs, I know full well that too many carbs don't suit me at all.  For husband, it'll be getting him to stop snacking between meals (he's terrible for that, it's not that he's hungry, it's just a bad habit) and to have smaller portions.  And he's got to be more active, we both have - but for him it means getting up off his fat backside, turning the damn TV off and actually doing something.  He does agree that he needs to be more active, so that's a start.

So just those couple of things are enabling me to feel a bit less stressed, have a bit more control and have some good things to focus on.

Friday 14 January 2022

Moving plans - furniture not house!

 Betty had been sick on the front door mat when we got up this morning, she does that periodically - either just bile when she hasn't eaten much the night before, or sicked up her food after she's had a particularly exciting few hours beforehand (when a friend visits, or she's had a few energetic games with another dog, eg).  It's nothing to worry about, she's fine, it's just not a nice thing to have to face first thing in the morning!

I'd mentioned to husband that we needed to rearrange the furniture in the lounge this morning.....well, he's already raring to go and has started shifting things about before I'm even properly alert (although I get up early, it takes me a long while to actually come to).  I wanted to read a few blogs, write this post and have my 2nd coffee before we started - bearing in mind I have to tell him where all the furniture is moving to (I've already told him a couple of times, but he's forgotten, of course) there's not a lot of point in him doing it until I'm ready.  So I've asked him to stop and go find something else to do whilst I get myself together.  Which means he's now sat at his computer fiddling about with games again, and muttering loudly all the time.  Honestly, I do sometimes wish I had the peace of living alone!  (Well, with Betty, of course).

The reason I want the lounge furniture rearranged, is to make space to accommodate the new recliner armchair we've bought for the caravan.  We'd decided that a small 2-seater sofa (already bought, as you know) and recliner armchair would be suitable for our needs in the caravan.  The recliner will be an extra temporary bed for when we have guests with us in the van, probably my sister - she'll have my bedroom, I'll sleep on the recliner.  It needs to be a narrow-ish one (most recliner armchairs seem to have huge wide arms, too big for the van) and be at least part assembly, like the sofa, so it will fit through the caravan door.  After a lot of searching, I found one at a good price and ordered it, it's coming next Wednesday.  Having already got parts of the new sofa in the dining room and my craft room upstairs, the only other available space would be in the lounge, once the furniture is shifted around.  I don't want a big box cluttering up the place for the next 2 months, so we'll assemble the recliner and have the use of it here until it's time to take it to the van sometime in March, disassembled of course.

I'm gradually ticking things off my list of things that need doing, which is helping me feel less stressed.

The hotel is booked for our visit to the Midlands at the end of the month....I'm not looking forward to the journey at all, in fact I'm quite worried about it, but it will be so nice to see my sister again, 2 years is a long time.

Thursday 13 January 2022

Needing a break

 Some of the things that are causing me so much stress at the moment:-

The family member, when they get a bee in their bonnet about something or other (usually trivial) will bombard us with WhatsApp messages.  I have my phone on silent overnight, which is just as well as the other morning when I woke up and looked at my phone to find out the time, there were 32 unread messages from them, all sent between around 00.30 and 02.00.  Grovelling apologies the next day, but then the same thing happens again.

Husband has a new computer (his old one died) - he's not techie minded at all, even worse than me and that's saying something.  So I set it up for him and put on some of his favourites - ebay, autotrader, his banking app, a chess game.  I also showed him how to put on other games.....which he did, half a dozen or so, but has somehow or other now lost them.  I can't find them either, who knows what's happened?! (It's like the blind leading the blind).  His anti-virus program keeps showing pop up boxes (whilst it's learning, I guess), and he's always pressing the wrong thing and getting error messages, and every time he gets a pop up box or an error message he calls me expecting me to drop everything and 'fix' it.  It's Windows 11, which I'm not familiar with as I still have Win10 on my laptop, so it's all a bit of a mystery to me.

Husband books appointments for things without first looking at the calendar, on which I write all appointments.  Consequently, things get double booked which obviously needs rectifying.  Or he forgets not only to write things on the calendar, but also doesn't even tell me, meaning I have no idea what he's doing when.  The other day I answered the phone to a physiotherapist who was ringing for a phone consultation with husband......only he was out walking the dog, hadn't told me about the appointment and hadn't even remembered it himself as he'd forgotten to put it on the calendar.  I could only offer my apologies to her.

He often orders things on the phone, then can't remember his mobile phone number or email address and so I get called over and handed the phone to provide them, it's happened twice this week already.  I've written both his number and email address down for him countless times - he loses them constantly, puts them somewhere and then can't remember where.  I've tried putting them on post-it notes and sticking them to his desk, or even his computer - they get knocked off and mixed up with the general muddle and mess on his desk, he's so untidy.

I'm up to my eyeballs in financial and caravan planning at the moment, I try to get all my home jobs done in the morning, so I can spend time upstairs in the afternoon doing the planning.  Although lately I've nodded off a couple of times, as I'm not sleeping well at night.  So when I'm busy with housework or food prep stuff in the mornings, and plans in the afternoons, it's irritating to keep being interrupted.  Roll on Spring when husband can be outside more - it's too cold and muddy for him to be doing things outside right now, the cold exacerbates his heart failure and makes him breathless.

The osteo went well, Felicity said all my muscles were really tensed up again, she's loosened them up quite well but I'm having another session in a fortnight.  Hopefully, that'll loosen me up sufficiently for me to not suffer too much on the long car journey up to the Midlands.  We're planning on going at the end of the month, I'm going to book the hotel today.  Felicity said to try and stop 2 or 3 times on the journey (we would anyway), get out of the car and walk around a bit and do a few of the stretches she's shown me.  I am worried about the journey though, both for me and for husband - he really doesn't like driving long distances nowadays, and he's not as alert as he was when younger and driving lorries.

I think when March comes and we've done the work in the caravan, I'll spend a few days there on my own and husband can stay home with Betty, give us both a break.

Tuesday 11 January 2022

A friend when I need one

 I've been trying to pretend that everything's normal, but it isn't.  Nothing I'm going to talk about on here, but it's causing me no end of stress.  I am trying to change things, the way I feel, think and react to things, but it's a slow process.  I am taking more of my anxiety meds to help at the moment, but that's a short term solution, it's not something I want to be relying on long term.

One good thing that has cheered me up a lovely friend and her lovely husband (the most laid back and kind man I know, he never has a bad word to say about anyone) who live in Kent (the other side of the country to us), are coming down here next week for a short break in a hotel.  It's a retirement present for her husband.  D and I get on so well, we're on the same wavelength, it's a pity they don't live here as we would see each other every week, I'm sure.  She's coming down at just the right time, when I'm in sore need of a friend to talk to who understands me.

I've got osteo this afternoon, thankfully - my back and particularly my hips and left knee are a real problem again, not as much pain as before, but a load of stiffness and aches.

We've both tested negative again this morning and the bug or virus or whatever it was seems to have gone now.

Thank you again for comments, I do appreciate them very much.

Sunday 9 January 2022


 Although we're not 100% yet, this morning we both felt the need to get out of the house, go for a drive and get some fresh air, once we'd had breakfast.  It had stopped raining, the sun was breaking out and a reasonably nice day was forecast.  We (or rather I, husband has no imagination) decided to go to Porlock Weir, a very small village with a nice harbour a bit further on than Minehead, we hadn't been there for ages.  We took Betty.  Unfortunately, it started drizzling when we arrived (must have known we were coming!) and there was also a cold wind, so it wasn't that pleasant, but at least we were out and about, and it wasn't busy at all.

I've said this before and will say it again - I wish people would either keep their dogs on a lead when not in a field or park, or have better control over them and, most of all, realise that not everyone and certainly not every dog likes a strange dog running up and bothering them.  Our dog is unpredictable around other dogs - some she gets on with, some she doesn't, and we don't really know what triggers her some of the time.  Having been attacked a few times in the past, she's certainly anxious around strange dogs.  Hence why we NEVER let her off the lead when other unknown dogs are around, and she's always on the lead on pavements/roads - isn't it law that dogs have to be on a lead on a pavement or road anyway?  I could be wrong, I can't be bothered to look it up.  We were coming out of the car park and another woman came along with a big black dog not on the came running straight up to Betty.  Now, Betty wears a bright red lead and harness with CAUTION printed on them.....people seem oblivious to it though.  (And strange loose dogs can't read, funnily enough!!).  The woman made no attempt to call her dog back, until Betty growled at it to warn it off and we asked the woman to call her dog away - she did call it back then but scowled at us as if we were at fault!  For goodness sake, you may well think your dog is friendly and no trouble, but you have no way of knowing if the dog your dog is trying to get friendly with, or play with, or even get aggressive with, is friendly towards other dogs!!!  It really pisses me off, actually.

So what with that and the drizzle and cold wind, we didn't stay long.  By the time we got back we were both feeling pretty tired, husband dozed off on the sofa, I washed up the breakfast dishes, prepped the veggies for dinner then went upstairs for a sit down on my recliner armchair.  Whatever this cold or virus or bug is, it's wearing us out.  I'm not sleeping well at all, feeling feverish during the night.  And anxiety and stress is keeping me awake.

Thank you so much for all the comments, it's lovely to know that people care - more so than some friends or family.  Cherie and Rachel, I hope you're beginning to feel a bit better, or at least no worse!  Sorry to read you're still suffering, Scarlet.

Saturday 8 January 2022


 Full on anxiety, stress and worry here, several things going on, and both of us are feeling rough physically (negative LF tests, so it's normal colds/coughs - hopefully).  My guts are awful again (not poor diet now, just stress) and I've got earache with the cold.

Family member who is problematical has been a nightmare recently, bombarding us with literally dozens of messages.  As it's husband's birthday today and we both feel so rough, I'm keeping my phone and computer switched off all day, once I've finished this post and a couple of emails I need to send, we could do without the hassle.  We're just going to have a quiet day huddled up on the sofas, with blankets, TV and books, and plenty of hot drinks.  It's peeing down so not a day for going out anywhere, even if we did feel like it.

Regarding family member, the solutions to most of his problems are in his own hands, he simply refuses to do them.  Engaging with him just makes the situation worse, so we tend to keep contact minimal.  The guilt factor I suffer when doing that though is pretty bad.  Hey ho.

The sofa arrived well within the 2 hour time slot we were given in the morning.  The box (well, it was 2 boxes, one containing just the loose covers) was absolutely huge, there's no way it would have fitted in the car and we certainly couldn't have heaved it up onto the roof bars.  We've taken it all out of the box, the main part is in the dining room, the cushions upstairs in my craft room.  The component parts, out of the box, should all fit in the car - just - when the time comes to take it to the caravan.  If we have to make two trips, so be it - that's the beauty of the van not being too far away.

Thursday 6 January 2022

Turkey all done, and itchy

 Tests negative still.  Neither of us feels unwell, but we've both been sneezing a bit, so we'll continue testing regularly just to be sure.  Had my feet done at the chiropodist yesterday, Grace my chiropodist tests daily too, as she's seeing clients every day.  And obviously she wears full PPE and cleans her room (in the local hairdressers) after every client.  Only 2 clients are allowed in the hair salon at a time, it's all very professional and safe - well, as safe as it can be.  It's a case of learning to live with the situation, I think - the other alternative is locking yourself indoors, and I'm not doing that, not good for mental health.

The dining room is all sorted, ready for the sofa arriving today.  They initially said between 7 am and 7 pm, but said they'd text this morning to give a shorter time slot.  That's good, as we (well, husband) have to take Betty to the groomers this morning, and then obviously collect her again a couple of hours later.

I took all the rest of the turkey meat off the bones yesterday, then simmered the bones and skin for stock, which has now been frozen.  As my guts were still feeling delicate, I didn't want to make a turkey curry as I mentioned yesterday.  Annabeth said she was going to make a turkey cottage pie - great idea, that's what I did, so thank you.  Base layer of diced turkey, onion and courgette mixed with a white sauce flavoured with sage and thyme, topped with mashed swede with black pepper and a sprinkling of grated cheese.  It was yummy, had it with long stem broccoli.  So with the cottage pie, that makes 14 portions of turkey, and there's enough remaining (frozen now) for another 2 portions of turkey something-or-other.  So 16 portions altogether from that 'serves 8-10' turkey crown, plus stock for soup, and Betty's had 4 or 5 meals out of it too.  Well worth the money.....whatever I paid for it, I can't remember, I know it was on special offer at the time.

Yesterday I had no breakfast (not a big breakfast eater anyway), homemade parsnip soup out of the freezer for lunch - no bread, I'm avoiding that during the week - and the cottage pie/broccoli for dinner, so a very healthy eating and relatively low carb day.  My guts are thanking me for it, settling down a lot.  Cottage cheese and tuna salad for lunch today, liver & onions with veg for dinner.

I was a bit stressed yesterday, so did succumb to a bit of comfort food (chocolate), then went to bed early so I couldn't eat any more.  Worst time to eat chocolate, as I was itching like mad in bed (it's a diabetic thing, sugary stuff makes my skin very itchy....drinking plenty of water eases the itchiness, but then of course I had to get up to go to the loo!).

Wednesday 5 January 2022

Healthy eating resumes

 Last night I felt really unwell - back and both hips very painful and back to finding no comfortable position in bed.  Gut trouble too, I think my guts were finally protesting at all the Christmas/NY foods - not that I've eaten loads of chocolate or crisps, only a few here and there, but certainly more of the bread, pastry things and loads more carbs than I usually do.  And my guts and joints really don't like it.  My guts are the first thing to be affected when I'm stressed or anxious, too.  So from today onwards, it's back to healthy, low carb stuff only.

Re the turkey with yesterday's turkey & cranberry sandwich for lunch, and turkey salad for dinner, that brings the total to 12 portions out of the turkey crown serving 8-10, according to the pack.  Today I'm taking the rest of the meat off the bones, some will be used for dinner today and the rest chopped and frozen.  I was going to make a turkey curry, but as my stomach is still unsettled, I'd better keep off spicy stuff for a few more days.  No inspiration as yet for today's evening meal, but I'll think of something soon.  It'll need to be low carb, and not salad - I want something hot.

We were going to put the new sofa upstairs in my craft room for the time being (the component parts would have to go on top of the single bed in there), but I've now decided that us two old cripples will find it very hard to get it upstairs.  Therefore, it'll have to go in the dining room.  Which means sorting it out, moving some furniture around and folding down the drop leaf table.  More often than not we eat off lap trays in the lounge anyway, so it won't be much of a problem not being able to use the dining table for the next couple of months.....except we won't be able to have anyone round for a meal.  Not that there's much of that happening right now anyway.  It'll be a good opportunity to sort out the dining room anyway, it's become a bit cluttered with 'stuff'.  

This afternoon I'm going to the chiropodist - assuming my lateral flow test this morning is still negative, yesterday's was.  We know someone who had a positive result a few days ago, so at the moment we're testing every day, as we've got things on nearly every day this week and obviously would have to cancel them if we test positive too.  I hope we don't.  So hopefully I can still go this afternoon, so will have lovely soft feet and feel like I'm walking on air later.

Some weak sunshine and bits of blue sky this morning, which is always cheerful.  It is very cold though, the temperature has dropped a lot.

Tuesday 4 January 2022

The Ikea experience

 We arrived there around 10 am, it wasn't crowded at all.  It was chucking it down with rain and blowing a freezing gale though and husband parked outside rather than under cover, as he said it was probably busy under there (he didn't look and it turned out to be nearly empty).

Husband hates shopping (don't we all?!) and moaned the entire time - he was like a moody teen, slouching around with his hands in his pockets, saying "Haven't you finished yet?" and "where's the exit?" every few minutes.  He moaned about not being able to find out where we were or the quickest way to the checkouts, and exclaimed at the prices ("I thought Ikea was supposed to be cheap!!".  He thinks anything over a fiver is extortionate 😒😠).  I don't particularly like shopping either, but my view is that it's a necessary evil and we just need to get the job done.  As for finding the's not rocket science, there are big arrows on the floor and big signs hanging from the ceilings, it's just a case of following the directions!  Yes it's a bit annoying that the route takes you through EVERY department and there doesn't appear to be a direct A to B route (well, I dare say there is if you're in the know), but you get there in the end.

I got everything I wanted - the big chopping board, some kitchen utensils (I think they're brilliant for utensils) and some bedding half price in the sale.  We found the particular sofa we wanted very quickly, tried it out - very comfortable - and chose the colourway, it comes in about 6 different colours.  One fly in the ointment - husband had measured the inside of the car with the seats down, and it turned out that the sofa in the box and packaging wouldn't fit.  It would have if we'd taken it out of the box, but didn't fancy doing that in the car park.  We do have roof bars, but the car is so high that we can't put anything on the roof without a stepladder!  And then there's the problem of heaving the sofa up onto the roof, and down again at home.  So we opted to have it delivered - fine, not a problem.  Except that we then had to go to FOUR different checkouts/desks to arrange delivery (and payment of the delivery charge), each checkout operator/desk person directing us somewhere else for whatever reason.  Husband was clueless as to what was going on, he didn't understand what we were being told.  As I have a hearing impediment and the background noise (music, various announcements, people talking and pushing trolleys) was quite loud, I had difficulty hearing a couple of the staff and had to ask them to repeat things a few times.  And one of the staff admitted it was her first day there and she didn't really know anything - poor girl, we all have to start somewhere!  Anyway, finally, after what seemed like hours (but in reality was probably only 20-25 minutes or so), we got delivery arranged (Thursday) and got out.

I did feel quite frazzled by then, it's not a place I'd want to go back to anytime soon.  And if we do have to go again, I think husband can stay in the car and have a nap whilst I go in on my own 😒, it'll be far less aggravating.  Still, I'm happy with our purchases and it's all done now.

Turkey dinner pie and Ikea

 My back and left hip (odd, it's normally my right hip that's the problem) and left knee got progressively more painful throughout the day yesterday....fortunately, I was busy all day so able to ignore the pain.  My knee though, kept feeling as if it was about to give way, so made coming downstairs a bit precarious.  By the evening I was in proper agony though, so took some tablets and went to bed early.  Didn't sleep at all well, I had to get up in the night to take more tablets and sit in the recliner chair for a while with my electric heat pad.  Still in pain this morning, but more achey and stiff than pain - we're busy again today, going to Ikea, so that'll take my mind off it.

Here's the turkey dinner pie I made yesterday, which was delicious:-

Base layer of turkey, sliced pigs in blankets and cranberry sauce

Next layer of sliced roast potatoes, carrots and stuffing.  I moistened it with the remainder of Sunday's gravy.

Pastry top on and ready to  bake.  I used bought pastry in the end to cut down on standing in the kitchen time because of my back, I had a couple of packets in the freezer.

Just out of the oven.  Cut into 6, we had 2 portions for dinner, with more leftover veg, the other 4 portions frozen.  So that's 8 portions of turkey so far......2 for the roast dinner, 2 slices of pie last night, and 4 slices frozen, there's still loads left.  Oh, and Betty has had some for 2 meals.  We're having cold turkey, the remaining pigs in blankets and salad tonight, taking the total to 10 portions.

I'm quite looking forward to Ikea, not been for a few years (and never to the Exeter one), although we do find it a bit of a confusing shop......we seem to have to walk through every department to get to the ones we're interested in, which is obviously the way the layout has been designed.  I just hope it's not too busy.  We know what we want, so hopefully won't be spending ages in there, I don't like to leave Betty home alone for longer than 5 hours maximum.

Monday 3 January 2022

Bad back and 2nd day of the turkey challenge

 My back and hips have steadily been getting more and more stiff these past couple of weeks, had a few twinges of pain, and this morning it's well and truly painful again, although not quite the severity it was before.  My last osteo was 4 weeks ago today - prior to that, I was having sessions every fortnight, my next one is Tuesday of next week.  It's going to be a long week.  I haven't slept very well at all the past few nights, due to stiffness and being uncomfortable, so am really tired too.

I'm guessing the fact that we've not been out much recently, combined with a lot of standing in the kitchen busy with food prep, and much more sitting down than usual over the Christmas/NY period, has contributed to the back and hip problems returning.  We sat round the dining table at our friends' house for a few hours on NYE and by the time we got up to go outside to see the fireworks at midnight, my back and hips were really protesting.  I'll try and be more active this week.....we've got a busy week ahead anyway, we'll be out nearly every day, so not much time for sitting around.

I'm making a Christmas dinner pie this morning - basically all the leftovers from yesterday's turkey dinner put into a double crust pie.  I'm planning for it to be 6 servings, so 4 portions will be frozen.  I'll take all of the remaining turkey off the bones, some will be sliced for tomorrow's cold (salad) dinner, the rest diced, then I'll boil up the bones and skin.  This afternoon we need to go to town, husband has an appointment at the opticians.....oddly, as it's a bank holiday today, but they made the appointment for him over the phone last week, so we assume they're open today!  I need a few things in Wilko, they're definitely open.  Washing was done overnight, so I need to get that out, hopefully I can get it dried outside on the line today, it's dry and breezy at the moment.

Thank you for all the comments yesterday, and I seem to have some new readers, or people who have been lurking but only recently started commenting - Sam and Poppy51, e.g. - welcome and thank you for reading and commenting.

Sunday 2 January 2022

Clotted cream and the turkey challenge

 I'd got 2 pots of cream, 1 single, 1 double, left in the fridge since before Christmas, they had both just gone beyond the use by date - we just hadn't eaten much in the way of puddings.  The last time I had a surplus of cream, I used it to make butter.....this time, as the creams were beyond their use by date, I decided to 'cook' them and make clotted cream.  I did check the creams first, by smell and taste, they were both fine.  Upon googling, I discovered clotted cream could be made in a slow cooker on the low heat for a few hours, so that's what I did.  After leaving it to cool in the fridge overnight, this morning I spooned it into a lidded bowl - oh wow, it's thick and rich and gorgeous.  It did leave a little very thin watery cream, whey I suppose, behind in the slow cooker.....apparently this can be used for baking, putting in quiches, etc, but I didn't (stupid of me, I wasn't really thinking straight this morning, I could have used it for scones!).  So I will make some scones today or tomorrow to use a bit of the cream, and freeze the rest.  So it looks like our back to low carbing will have to wait a few more days.  We still have some crisps and chocolates left - the crisps will get eaten but neither of us fancy eating any more chocolate, so that will just stay in a cupboard in the utility room.  

It's so mild again here today, with a lovely blue sky.  Still quite breezy though.  Loads of bulbs coming up, and when we were out in the car the other day, we even saw a couple of trees with blossom on.  It's so odd, isn't it - winter has really only just started, but there are early signs of Spring all around.  It's supposed to get colder this week though, I think.

We're having roast turkey today, the large crown I bought weeks ago when the media was first panicking everyone by saying there'd be a shortage of turkeys at Christmas....that turned out to be rubbish didn't it, just like most of what they say.  They'll come out with anything to sell papers.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm going to challenge myself to see how many meals I can make out of this turkey - the wrapping says it serves 8-10.  Today will be a more or less traditional Christmas dinner, with homemade sausagemeat stuffing, pigs in blankets, homemade cranberry sauce, roast spuds, parsnips and carrots, sprouts with chestnuts, red cabbage braised with apple.  As well as the turkey, there'll be loads of leftovers of everything else, I'm deliberately cooking loads.  I intend to make a turkey dinner pie tomorrow, I'll make hot water crust pastry to hold up better, as it'll be a deep filled pie.  I'm intending for the pie to serve 6, so four portions will be frozen.  The obligatory turkey curry will be another meal, that'll probably serve 4 so another 2 portions to be frozen.  We'll have some of the turkey cold, with leftover pigs in blankets, salad and pickles, that'll be for Tuesday I think, as we'll be out most of that day (going to Ikea then).  I could make a cottage pie or pasta bake or risotto with chopped turkey.  I'll also boil up the carcass and skin (there's a bag of chicken bones in the freezer to add to it) for stock, that'll make a soup or stew with any remaining bits of turkey off the bones.  I could make it a 'cream of' soup with some of my clotted cream added, that'll be yum.

Right, off to get started on the veg.  

Saturday 1 January 2022

Planning our caravan summer

 Happy New Year to all my lovely readers, I hope you all have a very good year ahead.

We were invited to see in the New Year with best friend and family again, they cooked a lovely roast lamb dinner.  I'm very fortunate to not have had to cook for either Christmas Day or NYE, my bestie is a great cook.  Had a lovely time, got home just after midnight (they only live 5 mins drive away).  I didn't drink very much, so haven't got a sore head!  Nor did husband obviously, as he was driving - like me, he hardly drinks now anyway.  We left Betty at home for the first part of the evening, but husband came to collect her and took her back to friends' house an hour before midnight, just in case any neighbours had fireworks - they don't usually, but we thought it best to have her with us at midnight.  Somebody reasonably nearby had let fireworks off earlier, which Betty heard and wasn't too keen on.

Our best bit of last year was, without a doubt, having husband's windfall pension and buying the caravan, it's given us a whole new lease of life.  I'm not going to dwell on the bad bits of the year - we've all had them, we just have to put them behind us and move on.

I LOVE new year, it's always full of hope that it's going to be a better year than the previous one.  We're particularly looking forward to spending a lot of time at the caravan this year - last year we missed the first 3 months of the van season as we didn't actually buy the van until the start of June.  And then of course we spent so much time working on doing the van and garden up - whilst we enjoyed doing it all (for the most part, although there were times when husband was cursing me under his breath 😂 and even I wondered once or twice if we'd done the right thing!), it didn't leave us much time to actually relax and enjoy it before the end of the season.  Whereas this year, once we've got the old fixed sofa out, strengthened and made good the wall and floor behind, and put the new furniture in, we'll be able to just relax, have fun with our lovely van neighbours, and go on trips out round the local area.  We're aiming to have the work finished by the end of March.  Jean, our lovely van neighbour, texted me to say she'll be taking a photo if she sees us relaxing, as she doesn't believe it'll actually happen! 😂😂

We're off to Ikea one day next week.  There's one at Bristol and another the other way at Exeter, we're located more or less in the middle of both.  According to Google maps though, the Exeter one is an easier and slightly quicker journey, so that's where we'll go.  We'll have a look at the 2-seater sofa that loads of people on the static caravan forum say they've bought - if we like it we'll buy it and bring it home, it comes flat packed (seems odd to think of a sofa coming flat packed!).  It has removable washable covers, so that's another plus point.  I also want to buy a large wooden chopping board, they do a big square one in there (it's actually made of bamboo), it's to go on the top of the caravan cooker when not in use, to give me another work surface - to put our sandwich/panini press on when I'm using that, rather than on the worktop, for a start.  I must just remember not to put the board on top of the cooker when I've had the hob rings on though....!!

I want to have a good look at the van kitchen and have a think about making better use of the space, too - there's an open shelf area that could be made better, and possibly another area where we could fit another shelf.  It would be nice to have a covered area outside the van door too, where we could keep the bin and our garden shoes.  I'm sure husband can do something about that.  We need another couple of plastic lidded boxes as well, to go under the bed to store spare bedlinen, towels and 2 already, but space for 2 more.