Monday, 28 February 2022


 A few of you have mentioned how organised I am - thank you.  There are a few reasons for this.  I HAVE to be organised - it keeps me grounded, I get very stressed if I'm not organised and on top of things, I am a bit of a control freak.  And besides, one of us has to be organised - husband certainly isn't!  He's the absolute opposite of me, you'd be hard pushed to find anyone LESS organised than him, he's a total nightmare.  And getting everything organised the past week or so has kept me busy and sane, what with the bloody nuisance car stuff going on which is stressing both of us more and more.  We went for a short test drive yesterday, the thing went into limp mode within 5 minutes of leaving home.  Switching the engine off and then on again after a couple of minutes does seem to reset it - but just how many times are we going to have to do that on the way to the caravan (a 40 minute journey)?  Could end up taking us a couple of hours! 😒  We did think about hiring a Transit van, but obviously that's going to cost and it seems husband's age is against him....the hire place we've used a few times in the past has an age limit of 70, and he's now 71.  I guess it's their insurance requirements.

Husband is beating himself up about the car, but it's my fault as much as his - I should have trusted my instincts.  Last year after closing up the caravan, we'd talked about what we wanted to do for this year and planned for the work - taking out the old uncomfortable original fixed seating and putting in new freestanding 2 seater sofa and recliner chair.  We also want a divan style bed with storage drawers under to replace the noisy creaking metal framed bed, it'll be a second hand one, in good condition, obviously.  So we knew our little Fiat, lovely though it was, wouldn't transport everything, hence why we traded it in for a bigger van-like car.  We don't need to have a car of this size once the work is done, although if it wasn't so problematic, we'd probably have kept it indefinitely.  When we went to see and test drive this car, I didn't want it right from the off, for several reasons.  I should have just said No there and then, but again for various reasons, I didn't.  Silly me - hindsight is a wonderful thing.  It won't happen again.  We'll probably go for an estate car next, that'll suit our needs.

I was busy again yesterday - washing done (I'm trying to get that all done before we start caravan stuff, as I won't have time then), rice pudding made, veggies all prepped for dinner yesterday and today, menus planned for this week.  Got a couple of pies to make and freeze today, then I'll have a (more) restful day tomorrow, whilst the car is in the garage having one of the warning light problems sorted.  We most likely won't be having the rest of the problems dealt with, as we don't want to be spending loads of money on a vehicle we'll be getting rid of.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

All prepped and ready

 I'm all prepared for the caravan now, only 3 more sleeps!

Yesterday I made 2 fish pies, to join all the other home cooked and portioned up meals in the freezer.  I also made a load of pastry, enough for 2 or 3 pies - I've got diced chicken, bacon, leeks, mushrooms, chopped part cooked sausages, little stuffing balls, cooked chestnuts and cranberry sauce left over from Christmas all for pie fillings.  I'll probably make the pies tomorrow.  We have plenty of veg, fresh and frozen, to go with all the meals.

I've written out lists of everything we're taking to the caravan (provided the car plays ball!) over the course of 3 days, along with lists of stuff to bring out of the caravan to be disposed of each day on our way home (we pass the Council tip on the way back).  We're taking Betty with us each day, as we're expecting to spend several hours there doing the work and we don't like to leave her home alone too long.  She'll be excited to be back at the caravan anyway.

The knee support is working really well, it's got long plastic rods each side of the knee, as well as the big firm elasticated straps that do up by Velcro above and below the kneecap, so it all supports my knee very well.  So 3.5 days of wearing it now (I don't wear it in bed, obviously) and my knee hasn't given way at all.  The pain is still there, but that's not really bothering me, I can cope with that.  I don't really notice it when I'm busy anyway, only when I'm sitting watching TV in the evenings and when I go to bed.

Oh, and I keep forgetting to say Welcome to some new readers and commenters, this is a very down to earth account of our life, warts and all (and with the occasional swear word!).  I hope you find something interesting in my very ordinary and mundane life, are not bored by me continually going on about our lovely old caravan, and aren't upset by some of the things I say!

Saturday, 26 February 2022

Support, emotional and physical

 Thank you for all the lovely comments, it does help a lot.  As I've said, I am very worried about the car, we are restricting journeys to essential trips only, every time we go out in it the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, particularly when it goes into limp mode or more warning lights come on, which is happening more and more now.  As mentioned, as long as it transports all the stuff to and from the caravan next week (even if we do have to keep stopping and switch the engine off, to allow it to reset itself), then it will have done what we wanted it to do.  If it doesn't - well then we will have a problem.  But we'll just have to cross that bridge if we come to it.  It is worrying the life out of me though.

Again I haven't rung the GP - to be honest, I don't see much point, I'm sure all he'll do is give me more painkillers (cocodamol, as that's pretty much all I can take, and I don't like taking them because they make me very constipated, which means I then have to take something else to counteract that).  He'll most likely refer me to physio too, but they're so behind they're taking weeks and months to see anyone, and then they want to do phone consultations, which frankly I think is ridiculous for physio.  The knee support I got from Amazon is actually very good, here it is:-

I've worn it for a day and a half and my knee feels much stronger for it and hasn't given way once, which is marvellous.  Having my knee give way when I'm coming downstairs is bloody scary, and it was happening every day, I daren't come down without holding onto both banister rails.  The support makes me feel more confident that I'm not going to fall downstairs and break assorted bones, or worse.  And it's a pretty pink and soft grey!

We were informed yesterday by our electricity supplier that our monthly payment will be going up by 50% from April, which is pretty much what I expected.  We'll cope, but it is getting harder, especially when food and fuel prices are going up weekly.  I am confident though that I can feed us well on a reduced budget, I'm pretty good at grabbing bargains, making meat stretch and making meals out of leftovers.  

Friday, 25 February 2022

Shit happens (edited)

 Thanks for the supportive and sympathetic comments, at least some people care!  It does sometimes feel like we are continually taking 2 steps forward then THREE back, and I wonder who has got it in for us and feel like I must have been a Very Naughty Girl in a previous life and am now getting payback for it.  Of course I know we're no different to anyone else, shit happens to everyone.  I'm trying not to dwell on it, and just focus on the caravan instead.  It is disrupting my sleep - and my guts - again though.  Oh, and I didn't ring the GP about my knee, the knee problems have been superseded by the car stuff.  Anyway, my knee support thing came yesterday (at least that's a good thing, it was supposed to come today) so hopefully that will help, it does feel quite supportive.

Yesterday, I did what I always find helpful in times of stress.....more baking, that always takes my mind off things for a while.  I used the remaining sheet of puff pastry to make 6 bacon and cheese turnovers, and then another dozen muffin sized cakes - marmalade and cinnamon this time.  All bagged up and in the freezer for caravan lunches, whilst we're doing the work, joining the sausage plait slices and mini fruit cakes I made yesterday.  One less thing for me to do in the mornings before we leave home, I can just grab a couple of bags out of the freezer and take them with some fruit, job done.  The lunches are a bit carb heavy, but I'll counteract that by having berry and yogurt smoothies for breakfasts, and meat/fish and green veg dinners.

I know our car having problems is a first world problem, and we have so many advantages and blessings - and we're not at war!

But here where we live, there are NO amenities (like shops, doctor, post office, vet - essentials like that) of any kind within walking distance, and NO public transport.  So a working reliable car is a necessity.  Also, without said car, we cannot get to our beloved caravan.

We can't afford to pay out unknown large sums of money, and potentially ongoing at that, on a car which is possibly going to keep going wrong - at the moment it seems every other time we use it, another warning light comes on or it goes into limp mode again - drivers behind us when that happens tend to get very annoyed.  We're trying not to use it unless it's absolutely necessary right now.  Hence our decision to get shot of it once it's (hopefully, everything crossed) transported all of the necessary stuff to and from our caravan whilst we're doing the work.  

Buying another, newer and hopefully more reliable, car is going to take a big chunk of husband's windfall pension he got a year ago.  That windfall is going down quite quickly, and will certainly run out altogether way before I'm eligible to receive my State pension.  So that's another big worry.  Worry is affecting both of us - headaches, gut problems and sleepless nights for us both.

Thursday, 24 February 2022

I spoke too soon

 Husband having spoken to the RAC (who we had to call out - again - last Saturday) and done some research, it seems the car has, potentially, much more serious and expensive problems than first thought.  The work being done by the local garage next Tuesday will only address one lesser problem, not the more serious one.  It will, hopefully, enable the car to be used for transporting the stuff backwards and forwards to/from the caravan, so we can finish the work there.  After that, we will have to get rid of it (the car that is, not the caravan!) - we cannot afford potentially expensive repairs on a car we no longer trust.  At least - hopefully (I have to keep thinking that) - the car will have fulfilled the purpose we bought it for, before we get shot of it and get another, hopefully more reliable, one.

I know there's always a risk when buying a second hand car, we have no real way of knowing whether it has potential problems that the seller has seen fit to conceal.  Or the car may develop new problems in the future, which again we have no control over.  But having had a couple of cars in the past few years that have caused us no end of headaches and expensive, ultimately futile, repairs, we don't want to have to go through that with this car.

Bloody nuisance, and a worrying one at that.

Not so bad after all

 It's 3.30 am and I can't sleep.

Husband's alright now, he thinks it was all down to lack of sleep through worrying about the car.  He phoned a local garage yesterday morning, they can fix the car next Tuesday.  He then went back up to bed for a couple of hours and felt better when he came back down.

Next Tuesday is of course the 1st March....Caravan Day.  However, I'd already checked the weather forecast for next week and it's supposed to be showery that day, but sunny the rest of the week at the caravan park.  So I'd already thought it would probably be better to wait until the Wednesday, bearing in mind we'll have a car full of stuff to carry into the caravan, and more stuff (the old sofa cushions and fittings) to bring out, load into the car and take to the tip.  With the car being poorly (it's an electrical fault that keeps putting the car into limp mode, meaning it can only crawl along), and the mobile mechanic (who is a friend of a friend) not being able to come to fix it until the 10th March, I wasn't best pleased but was resigned to it...C'est la vie and all that.  However, now the local garage can do it on the 1st.....brilliant!  One day late to the caravan is nothing, especially when the weather will be better the day after.

I can definitely hear better now, following my ear microsuction on Monday.  It was a bit of a strange experience, didn't hurt at all but did make me shiver a bit and it was quite noisy (imagine a tiny vacuum cleaner actually inside your ear).  The very nice lady insisted on showing me the wax and going into great detail about it.....then saw my expression 😳 and said "Sorry, I am a bit of a geek about ear wax!" 😂  She said I'd probably feel a bit of fullness in my ears for a day or two, and most likely wouldn't notice much change to my hearing until that feeling had worn off, which it now has.  I think I'll still go and have my hearing tested, though - it's been 3 years since I last had it done, when I was given the hearing aids.

As for my knee, I completely forgot to ring the GP yesterday morning.  I rang in the afternoon, when I remembered, only to be told to ring again tomorrow - they organise the GP's phone appointments in the mornings.  I've stuck a note by the phone to remind me to do it when they open this morning.

Thank you to those of you who recommended particular types of knee braces or supports, I've ordered one, it should arrive tomorrow.  It's an adjustable one with stiff supports either side of the knee, a hole over the kneecap, and does up with velcro straps.  Should fit over the top of my jeggings - well I hope so, they're too tight in the leg for it to fit underneath.  And thank you Kim, I've also ordered (as they're out of stock at the moment but will be in next week) the phone from Argos - £7.00 bargain - so at least we'll have use of a phone if we have another extended power cut.

Baking yesterday - I made a sausage plait, which will do us for 2 lunches at the caravan with an apple and cake, and 2 easy dinners - one with chips and beans, the other with salad and coleslaw.   I also made a dozen muffin-sized individual light fruit cakes, most of them frozen to take to the caravan but I did leave 4 out for husband. 

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Invalid in the house

 Husband did a covid test this morning, he's not very well, had snotty nose, sore throat and headache for 2 days.  It's negative, so he's just got man flu (a cold).  So he'll be lying on the sofa watching change there then! 😂.  Well, except he'll no doubt be requesting hot drinks and a sandwich, in a weak voice.  I might take pity on him and make him a fruit cake, I'm sure he'll be able to manage a slice of that.  As you can tell, I'm not a very good nurse, very unsympathetic bedside manner 😉😁😂

Means I'm confined to barracks, apart from dog walking.  Hopefully my knee won't give out whilst Betty and I are out, I don't fancy falling over in our muddy narrow lanes with tractors squeezing past.  Thankfully, it's not forecast to rain today, at the moment there's blue sky with some clouds and the sun is coming out.

Well, at least I've got plenty to do here....I plan on doing some baking for the freezer this morning, then this afternoon I'll be upstairs crocheting, I should finish my latest throw today.

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

A new problem (well, 2 actually)

 Well, it wouldn't be my life if I didn't have a problem or two, would it!!

It's been around 4 weeks now since my last visit to my osteopath, and I'm still somewhat surprised that I have no back or hip pain - after being in constant 24/7 pain for so very long, it's quite astonishing that the osteopathy cleared it up in just 2 or 3 months.  I know I had to pay for it, but it was worth every penny.

However, I do have another left knee.  I've been having trouble with it (pain, mainly, especially when coming downstairs) for about 6 months or so, but over the past month it's got significantly worse.  It's not so much the pain that bothers me (after living with chronic pain for so long, and having quite a high pain threshold anyway, the pain is nothing really), it's the fact that I can't straighten my leg or lock the knee, and the knee keeps giving way under me.  Several times I've had to grab onto something when it's happened, so I don't fall over - at my age I'm worried about breaking my hip or wrist if I do fall over - or, worse, fall down the stairs.  I'm going to ring the GP tomorrow (a phone consultation, no doubt) to see what he says.  

In the meantime, I've been looking online for knee supports.....the trouble is, there are dozens and dozens of different ones, and I have no idea which type would be the best.  I guess it depends on what the cause of the knee problem is, whether it's arthritis or some kind of ligament or muscle damage, maybe (what do I know, I'm not a doctor).  When I had a scan I was told I had no signs of arthritis present (unusually for my age!! so the doctor said 😂😒) - but that was in my hips, they didn't scan any other joints.  I expect the GP might suggest referral to physio, but the waiting list for physio is very long here.  I could go back to Felicity, I suppose, but without a scan or a proper diagnosis it might be difficult for her to treat - we knew what was wrong with my back, so she could treat that accordingly.

If it's not one thing it's another, but then that's to be expected as we get older I guess.

Rachel, I've made the Campfire Stew today, it smells divine, we'll be having some for dinner today.  And yes, it does make loads!  I'll be freezing several tubs of it, which will come in very handy when we'll be spending days working in the caravan and coming home for the evening, as I won't have to think about cooking.  A week today we can go back to the caravan, but we've got a bit of a problem with the car right now, which might mean we can't go next week.....bloody nuisance.  The mobile mechanic can't come until the 10th March, I don't know whether husband can get it sorted somewhere else before then.  I'm not very happy about it.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

How lucky we are nowadays

 Having no electricity, and therefore no heat, lights, hot water, landline phone, cooker (no gas here in the hamlet) or electronics entertainment for 18 hours, really highlighted just how pampered and used to what we consider essential home comforts we are nowadays.  Whereas our parents/grandparents, and still millions of people in Third World countries faced and still face the reality of none of that every day.

We had torches (with loads of spare batteries), plenty of candles and battery operated Christmas lights, so weren't in total darkness.  We've got several blankets, fleece and crocheted, so could keep relatively warm.  We have a small gas camping stove, with 6 spare cans of gas, so the means to heat water for hot drinks and washing, and cook simple meals (scrambled eggs on fried bread, a pan of savoury mince I'd made the day before).  We went to bed early Saturday night, mainly to keep warm as the temperature fell even more.  So we were fine really, just a bit bored and with cold extremities, and Betty found it all a bit anxiety inducing, although she was alright really.  The only real problem was that we had no landline and my mobile is on the way out and doesn't hold a charge for very long (I've already had 2 replacement batteries for it, I've had it several years).  So I need to buy a new phone, and we need to get hold of an old analogue type landline phone that we can just plug in to the BT socket and it will still work in the event of another extended power cut.

Thanks to my best friend, who offered us round on Saturday (their power was only off for 2 hours) for a warm up, a hot meal (we'd already eaten so that was alright) and the ability to charge up my phone again sufficiently for it to last until the power came back on again in the early hours of yesterday morning.

And with no real damage done here, we've actually got off very lightly, for which I'm very grateful.

I was intending to spend today baking bread, cakes and sausage rolls, and Rachel's campfire stew in the slow cooker.  However, having seen the weather forecast of very strong winds for today and tomorrow (not like Friday's but still gusts of 50), I decided not to, just in case the power goes off again.  There are a couple of local villages very near here who still have no power as there's so much damage to power lines, which the engineers are still working to fix, so in view of all that damage I wouldn't be at all surprised to have another power cut.

In the end, I didn't need to throw out as much food as I first feared, I just used my judgement, senses of smell and taste and good old common sense when deciding what to bin - some dairy stuff (yogurt and soft cheeses), pate, an opened pack of ham from the fridge.  From the freezer, a couple of homemade rice based risottos, one with meat, the other fish, and the 2 turkey and veg pies which were mostly defrosted.  Better to be safe than sorry - husband and I had food poisoning once many years ago, from some dodgy takeaway chicken and it's not an experience I'd like to repeat.  The cost added up only came to roughly £20, so not worth claiming on the contents insurance.  Still feels wrong to throw food away though.

And it's now only 9 MORE SLEEPS until Caravan Day! 😁😁😍

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Back on

 The power came back on at 03.11, the phone pinging and various lights coming on woke me up.  It's been off for 18 hours.  I doubt I'll get back to sleep.  It's been a downright bloody nuisance having no lights, heat or power - how people cope when their power is off for days and days I just don't know.  The house feels freezing, like it does when heating has been off for ages, the cold seems to seep into the walls and takes ages to warm up again.  

I got up because I thought I'd have to start on a mammoth cooking session, cooking things that had defrosted.  Well, I've just checked the freezers and amazingly most things are still frozen, more or less, there's only a few things that have partially defrosted and I will throw out, just to be on the safe side.  Things like 2 turkey and veg pies I made from Christmas leftovers, a few homemade and then frozen ready meals such as a couple of risottos, pasta bakes with meat in them, and some fish.  I'd rather throw them out than run the risk of getting food poisoning.  There's bacon, milk, yogurts and soft cheeses in the fridge I'm going to chuck out too.....I've checked official advice and it says they're no longer safe after 4 hours without power.  I'll photograph everything, add it up and see whether it's worth claiming on the house contents insurance.

Other than that, we've escaped relatively unscathed.....unlike our neighbours whose shed roof blew off, and falling tiles off their roof narrowly missed their car.  Plants in pots and various bits and pieces have been blown all round the garden, we have a few odds and ends of things now in our garden which belong to neighbours (having been blown in), and a couple of things are missing from our garden which have obviously been blown elsewhere.  Never mind, it's all over now (hopefully).

Oh, one annoying thing is that our broadband, never particularly reliable at the best of times, is currently in and out like a fiddler's elbow, no doubt as a result of the power outage.  Hopefully it'll get back to what passes for normal out here in the sticks (at a speed of less than 1 mbps, no fibre round here!) soon.

Friday, 18 February 2022

Storm prep

 I cancelled my ear microsuction appointment and rearranged it for Monday - living in a rural area with narrow lanes and loads of trees, it didn't seem sensible to expect husband to drive me to town this morning.

Well, it was a quiet night, didn't hear any wind until the last part of the night/early morning, and even then it's only been a few strong gusts.  It is supposed to get stronger this morning, up until lunchtime, we're not planning on going anywhere.  Betty will just have to go in the garden until later on this afternoon, when the weather has calmed down enough for husband to take her for a (probably short) walk.

Our neighbours 2 doors away have a huge conifer tree in their garden, much taller than the house, it engulfs the pole which has all the electricity cables leading to our 4 houses here that are owned by our farm landlords.  Well, the electricity company had finally arranged for the tree to be chopped down....the men are supposed to be coming to do it TODAY.  Somehow, I don't think that's going to happen!  Let's hope the tree isn't blown down and wrecks 2 of the houses - and if it does come down it'll bring the power cables down with it.  We are expecting a power cut anyway, we frequently get them here in any case.  We've already filled our vacuum flask with boiling water and charged up our phones, we have torches and plenty of candles.  We have a camping gas stove and several cans of gas for it, we also have plenty of blankets (both fleece and crocheted) in case the power is off for hours.  It's not actually very cold at the moment though, nor is it raining, just windy.  As I'm typing this, the wind is picking up now.  We wouldn't be at all surprised if our internet goes off as well - there's another big tree (loads of trees here) round the corner in the lane which presses on the internet cable (no fibre broadband here, we're too rural).  BT have been saying for years they'd come and prune/chop down the tree, but to date they haven't, I guess it's because we're such a tiny hamlet here with not many households.  I have internet on my phone, so if the home broadband goes off I can still be connected....unless the storm affects my phone wifi too.

In circumstances like this, I often think well our parents and grandparents didn't have all the mod cons we have, and they managed perfectly well, it was just a way of life for them.  So I'm sure we can do the same, we're just too used to having everything on tap (so to speak) and very few real hardships.

We had to take Betty back to the vets yesterday, she'd somehow split one of the claws on her back left foot right down the middle, very low down.  It was clearly bothering her, she kept lifting that foot up when standing and when sitting she was constantly licking and worrying at it.  It did look a bit pink and I was concerned that her constant licking might result in an infection.  The vet examined it, clipped the nail as best she could and wiped her foot over with some antiseptic.  She said although it's clearly sore, there's no infection at the moment, we're to just wipe it down with warm water when she comes back from a walk, try to stop her from the constant licking, and keep an eye on it.  They didn't even charge us at the vets, which was nice of them.  Betty seems to be feeling much happier now, she's hardly licking the foot at all and isn't lifting it up anymore.

Oddly, the wind seems to have dropped a bit again, so husband is just taking her out for a short walk during this lull.

I'll publish this now whilst we still have electricity!  Stay indoors and keep safe, everyone.


Well, our electricity went off just after 9 am. I hope it's not going to be days before it's back on.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Boots, finally, and keep safe everyone!

 The slipper booties I'd ordered online came yesterday.....they're far too loose, I'd have to wear a couple of pairs of thick socks with them, which rather defeats the object.....I don't much like wearing socks so wanted a nice pair of (long lasting) slipper boots so I didn't have to wear socks.  I guess that's the trouble with ordering stuff online - you can't try them on first.  So they have to be returned.....blimmin nuisance.  Anyway, I looked online again and saw several pairs of nice booties in M&S, but was reluctant to order any without trying them on first.  So this morning we went to Taunton (our nearest M&S) so I could actually see and try on the slipper boots.....chose a lovely comfy well fitting grey pair with a very sturdy sole, they should hopefully last a few years.

Whilst in there, I did a small top up shop in the food hall, spending £9.36.  So that, along with my 'big' shop costing £68.75 on the 10 Feb, and the £20 Valentines meal deal the other day, comes to £98.11 spent on food and toiletries so far.  I'm happy with that, I'd set this month's food budget at £240 and will come in well under that, so quite a big chunk will be transferred to my savings account at the end of the month.

This morning has been gloriously sunny with a lovely blue sky and not much breeze.....such a contrast to the galeforce winds of Storm Dudley yesterday, and the forthcoming scary Storm Eunice tomorrow.  The winds were really noisy throughout last night, kept waking both Betty and I up, I opened the curtains this morning expecting to see some damage in the garden but we seem to have escaped unscathed, only a few pots and bits and pieces blown around the garden.  We might not be so lucky tomorrow though, the forecast is for even stronger winds.  I've got my ear microsuction treatment in town tomorrow morning, I'm in two minds whether or not to postpone it, it might be safer to just stay indoors.  I'll see how bad the weather is in the morning.

And finally, my only comment on Prince Andrew - it's a good job (for him) he didn't live a couple of centuries ago....he'd have been locked up in the Tower and the key thrown away....and a bloody good job too.  He's an arrogant, entitled, snotty, pompous liar, who's a disgrace to the Monarchy.  Just my opinion, of course.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Using up leftovers

 I had some cooked veggies left over from Sunday dinner that had been put in the fridge.  Normally, small amounts of leftover veg get put in the freezer until there's enough to make bubble and squeak....this time, though, I had an idea and thought I'd do something different with them.  So yesterday I roughly mashed the veg (4 roast potatoes, a few carrots, some Brussels sprouts and a few peas) and mixed in some Philadelphia-type soft cheese to bind it and plenty of pepper, to make a sort of vegetable spread.  I piled it on hot toast, sprinkled it with a bit of grated cheese and stuck it back under the grill.  We had it for lunch yesterday - it was blimmin lovely!  I like leftovers, I like the challenge of turning them into something else, something different to what they were originally.

Today it'll be the leftover Coronation chicken in sandwiches for lunch, and to continue the curry theme I'm going to make Sue's lentil dahl, with added diced potatoes, for dinner, served with brown basmati rice.

I did manage to get the washed bedding and towels dried on the line on Monday, but not much chance of putting washing outside to dry the rest of this week, showers or heavier rain forecast all week, including the two named is already here by the sound of the wind howling outside, the other (worse) coming on Friday.  Never mind, at least it's not cold, and apparently the weather is going to be much better next week.  I hope it stays nice for the following week, when it's Caravan Time!! 😁😁  Meanwhile, I just hope our caravan is ok....husband keeps saying well it was perfectly ok whilst it was unused and not maintained for 18 months after the previous owner died.  I'm sure he's right....but then again, I'm a bit worried about all the pots I have in the garden - there were pots there before we took it over, but they were all buried under 18 months worth of uncut grass!

This morning we're taking Betty to the groomers at the local agricultural college - she loves it there, they make a big fuss of her.  Then we're going to town for a couple of things, and collecting our medications - and Betty of course - on the way back.  She'll be smelling lovely and have the pink bow they insist on putting on her round her neck.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Sleep is the key

 For the first time in about 10 days, I didn't sleep at all well last night.  Having felt really well during that time, this morning I feel like death warmed up.....proof that a good night's sleep cures all ills, and a bad one makes me feel like crap.  Still, never mind.....two weeks today I shall be going back to my caravan!  (Just in case you didn't know 😂 ).

All the M&S Meal Deal food we ate yesterday was delicious, I couldn't fault any of it.  And no actual cooking for me to do either, just a case of bunging everything in the oven.  Well, the duck I seared skin side down first in a hot frying pan before putting it in the oven.....that was the extent of 'cooking'.

Betty hasn't got an ear infection, luckily for both her and husband's wallet.  The vet looked in her ears and said one of them had what she first thought was a grass seed stuck in there.....when she carefully pulled it out with long tweezer things, it turned out to be a ball of wax with some matted fur stuck in it.  No wonder Betty's been shaking her head trying to dislodge it, poor thing.  So even with her annual booster jab, 3 months supply of tick and flea tablets and washing out of her ears, it wasn't as costly as we'd expected.

I've just ordered myself a decent (i.e. better quality and therefore more expensive) pair of slipper booties - I get very cold feet nowadays.  For the past few years, I've had cheapo slippers/booties, they generally just about last the winter so I need to buy a new pair each year - well, the ones I bought last autumn are falling to bits already, so I need a new pair now.  I've decided to splash out on a quality pair in the hope that they'll last longer than one season.....if they don't, I shall be taking it up with the company.  I don't mind buying cheap for some things, but sometimes it really does pay to fork out more for better quality and a longer life.

Not got loads to do today, the main thing is making some dog food, and rearranging the freezer drawers which have become a bit disorganised again.  I do like to have everything in a certain place inside the big freezer, makes it easier to find what I want and to see what's there.  Husband tends to just shove things anywhere there's a space though, when he's putting shopping away or putting something back into the freezer, hence why I can never find anything when I need it.

I was pleased with our electricity bill, it's coming down nicely, it's dropped two months in a row now.  So our small cost cutting measures......doing the washing on a short economy programme, not using the tumble drier nearly as much, filling the kettle to the brim each morning and pouring the excess water into a big flask for use in hot drinks throughout the day rather than boiling the kettle numerous times....are all working well.  I did say to husband that he could help by not having the TV on constantly, but he reckons it doesn't use much electricity.  Well, he would say that wouldn't he - I have no idea whether he's right or not 😉

We're having Coronation chicken with a jacket spud, salad and homemade coleslaw tonight, there'll be enough chicken for a lunchtime sandwich tomorrow.

Monday, 14 February 2022

Valentines and other expenses

 Ok, so it's Valentine's Day......not that it means much to us, husband isn't the lovey-dovey type and never has been, I could count on the fingers of one hand (with a couple of fingers missing) the number of times he's got me a card or flowers for Valentine's.  So I'm not expecting anything today, and am sure I won't be disappointed!  Never mind, I know he loves me.

However, and despite our low spend food challenge this month, we have bought one of the Valentine's Meal Deals (from M&S, no less) for today - simply because we both fancied it, having seen it advertised on TV.  We chose Leek & Cheese Souffle Tarts for the starter.....well, we never eat 3 courses, just too much food in one go for us nowadays (well, for me anyway, husband could probably manage it).  So instead of having it as a starter, we're having them for lunch with some salad.  For the main course we've picked Duck Breasts with Plum Sauce - we both really like duck.  We're having Dauphinoise Potatoes as the side dish, I'll do long stem broccoli as well.  The pudding is Billionaires Pots, a sort of caramel and Belgian chocolate mini cheesecake affair.  A bottle of wine or fizz or box of chocolates is included in the deal - well, I don't drink wine (or any alcohol now come to that), husband's not a great wine lover, so we chose the chocolates.....and very nice they were too, we had them over the weekend.  So whilst the £20 cost is much more than I would pay for a dinner I've cooked at home, it's actually 2 meals for us (lunch and dinner), plus a really nice box of chocolates we enjoyed over Saturday and Sunday.  Which makes the cost much more acceptable, and anyway, you have to treat yourselves now and then!

It's an expensive day today, well week actually, one way or another.  Husband is taking Betty to the vet this morning for her annual check up and booster jab, she's also having ear trouble again so no doubt will have ear drops put in husband won't get much change out of £100 I don't think.  And Wednesday she's going to the groomers, another £15 (which is cheap, it's the local agricultural college who do it).  Ah well, she's worth every penny.  And I can't complain, not that I would anyway, I'm having to pay £50 to have my ears vacuumed (wax removal by microsuction) on Friday!  And apparently it only takes about 10 minutes! 😱

I've finished both caravan throws now.....haven't yet taken photos, I will do when I remember!  I've been so enjoying crocheting again lately that I've already started another throw - you can't have too many throws can you?  And anyway, I've got plenty of yarn to use up.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Yuck day but it'll soon be growing season!

 It's really horrid out there today, galeforce winds and rain being chucked sideways at the windows, and it's forecast to last all day.  Husband put on all his wet weather gear (he looks like he's about to go out to sea on a fishing trawler) and put Betty's big rain mac on her, which she doesn't like but tolerates.  They weren't out long, just long enough for Betty to do her business, and then she practically dragged husband home, bless her.

We're going to sit down with the veg gardening book and a notepad this morning, listing what we want to grow, both here at home and at the van.  We won't be growing much at home as we're intending to spend a lot of time this year at the van, although we (or husband) will come home once or twice a week to collect the post, water the garden and do some washing.  There's no laundrette at the caravan park, I do have a small rotary airer for the garden so can do a bit of hand washing and peg it out to dry.  So whatever we grow in the garden needs to be something that doesn't need a lot of looking after or watering every day.  We will grow the Charlotte spuds at home to join in with Cherie's challenge.....we've got a large pot we could take to the van and put a couple of the spuds in there.  I also want leeks grown at home, and probably carrots and beetroot.  No salad greens, cucumbers or tomatoes at home though, nor courgettes, as they're thirsty plants that need a lot of watering.  I want a pot or 2 of cherry tomatoes at the van, and some radishes and salad leaves which we'll also grow in pots.

I've nearly finished the striped van blanket, just 2 edging rounds to do.  I was further forward with it than I'd remembered, as it had been several weeks (months even) since I last touched it, I only needed to do 6 rows so it was quick to do that.  So hopefully I might get the edging finished today.

I'd got the van windows measurements written down in my caravan notebook, so I cut out one curtain sized piece out of the fleece the other produced lots of fluff whilst cutting, but it doesn't fray (as I'd hoped it wouldn't), so that'll save me having to hem all the pieces.  I'll use my hole punch to make holes along the tops to hang the liner pieces on the existing curtain hooks, and then job done.  I'm glad I had that brainwave to use cheap fleece blankets - I surprise myself with good ideas sometimes 😂😂

Free range cornfed roast chicken for dinner today, I bought it reduced to half price before Christmas, I think.  So that'll do us for several chickeny meals this week.

Saturday, 12 February 2022

A minor miracle

 My run of good sleeps continues.....last night I slept all through the night, didn't wake up at all until just after 05.30, then closed my eyes and went back to sleep for another hour.  A miracle, practically unheard of for me to sleep right through.  I can only put it down to being relatively stress-free at the moment (and of course caravan day rapidly approaching 😁).

I'm having my hair cut this morning - I normally have a trim around every 6 weeks, but this time it's been 12 weeks and I feel like a shaggy dog!  I'm going to leave trim times to about 10 weeks or so from now on, another small cost cutting measure.  Not that my haircuts cost a lot anyway - my friend and neighbour 2 doors away does it, she's a hairdresser, so I get mates rates.

Not up to much today, nothing really we need to do.  Oh, might pop to the big Cancer charity shop in town, I'm down to my last book to read and they do paperbacks 2 for £1, I'd already read most of the last bagful of books I got from the neighbour I exchange with, in fact I think I gave most of them to her 😂, we obviously need new stock!  I'll take a bagful of clothes I've sorted out to the shop at the same time, and nip into the pet store next door as Betty's nearly out of treats.

I just fancy a day off cooking today - for those of you who cook from scratch all the time (most of us, I imagine), don't you find it a bit of a bind having to think up and cook healthy and tasty meals every single day?  So husband's going to cook'll have to be something easy - not that he can't cook, he can, he just tends to ask me so many questions I end up thinking it would be quicker and easier if I did it myself 😒.  So steak pie and chips it'll be tonight, his choice of peas or baked beans (although he'll probably ask me which I prefer!).

Friday, 11 February 2022

No hearing test, and electricity saving

 Well, I didn't have my hearing tested today - the very nice audiologist lady stuck a camera in my ears first (I saw the pictures on her laptop) and said one of my ears was almost completely blocked with wax, so it would be impossible to do a meaningful hearing test.  So that may explain why my hearing has got worse lately 😂😒.  She recommended I have the wax removed prior to going back for a test - apparently Specsavers do this procedure, but not at that particular branch (of course they don't, nothing is ever that simple is it).  Nor does our GP do it anymore!  So it was suggested that I google for a private registered practitioner.  Oh, and apparently things have moved on and they don't generally do it by syringing the ears out with water now.....and don't recommend that anyway, as it's apparently possible to damage the eardrum or middle ear if not careful.  So now they do it by microsuction - using a vacuum pump thing to literally suck the wax out 😳.  It's recommended that you use oil or drops for a few days running first, in order to soften the wax and make suction easier.  So there you go.  I guess it's possible that once the wax is removed, my hearing will be so much better that I won't need another hearing test!  I've found a clinic online in our nearest town, so will probably make an appointment there soon.

It's been a nice mostly sunny day but very cold again, the temperature dropped quite a bit from yesterday.  I had washing to get dry but didn't bother putting it out....even with the sunshine, as it was cold and with next to no wind, it wouldn't have dried on the line.  So I had to put it in the tumbler, for the first time in a couple of weeks.  I'll have bedding and towels to wash over the weekend, but the weather forecast isn't looking good for the next week or so, so I guess that'll have to be tumbled too.  I've been using the slow cooker more, rather than the oven, and when I've had the oven on I've tried to make sure I cook several things at once (eg half a dozen jacket potatoes which I then wrap in foil and freeze, I cooked them at the same time as a pasta bake and a loaf of bread the other day).  We've got a large insulated jug flask, now in the mornings I fill the kettle right up to maximum when making our morning coffee/tea, the rest of the boiling water goes in the flask, it keeps the water hot enough for 2 or 3 more drinks each and saves boiling the kettle each time.  So I'm beginning to make a few energy savings where I can.  We've also not been having the heating on during the day - just an hour in the mornings and then again for 2 or 3 hours in the evenings.  And we have it a couple of degrees lower than we might previously have had.  The monthly leccy bill is due in a couple of days, it will be interesting to see how it compares to last month when we weren't really making any savings.

I've got a casserole in the slow cooker today, turkey & ham using up the last of the Christmas meats.  Husband requested dumplings, so I've just made them - not remotely low carb but it's not like we have them every day.  I had Greek yogurt with berries and nuts for breakfast, and shop-bought quiche (I didn't eat the pastry) and salad for lunch, so my carbs for today have been pretty low anyway.  Oh, just remembered, I did have a few pieces of Galaxy chocolate earlier - naughty me!! 😈

Good news for neighbour, and NHS chaos for husband

 My shopping yesterday came to £68.75, which I was very pleased with - it's the first time of shopping since 31 January, and is enough, along with what we already have in the freezers and larder, to last the rest of this month, hopefully.  So a very cheap shopping month, and the remainder of my shopping budget will be transferred to my savings account at the end of the month if I don't need to shop again.  I also stuck to the list....other than some pate husband sneaked into the trolley, and a half price quiche I got which will make a quick lunch with some salad for tomorrow and Saturday.

We did the neighbour's little bit of shopping, husband rang her bell, put the bag on the doorstep and stepped back when she opened the door.  She's just let us know via an excited email that she's now tested negative this morning, which is good news.

I'm going to Specsavers for my hearing test this morning, it will be interesting to see if my hearing has actually got worse, as I think it has.  If it has, then I'll have to get in touch with my GP for another referral to the NHS hearing clinic.  I'm going to Specsavers first, because it's far quicker to get an appointment that way, and their test is actually much more detailed than the NHS one.  If I do need new hearing aids, it'll have to be NHS ones though, much as I'd like the private ones - I just can't afford them.

Some readers may recall that towards the latter part of last year husband opted to change to Yeovil hospital instead of Taunton for his prostate problems, on the advice of Taunton who claimed that Yeovil had a shorter waiting list.....which we've subsequently found out isn't true at all.  Since then, he's had various letters and phone calls from Yeovil, during which it's become obvious that they are in complete disarray - the left hand doesn't seem to know what the right hand is doing, his notes either get lost or aren't put on computer, one consultant says one thing which is the opposite of what another says.  Last week husband had a letter giving an appointment for bladder tests - at South Petherton hospital, which is even further away than Yeovil.  Yesterday, he had another letter, giving him a telephone appointment with a consultant at Yeovil hospital - on the same day and almost the same time as the bladder tests at S.Peth.  He rang Yeovil to query it and tell them he couldn't be in two places at the same time......only for them to say they knew nothing about the bladder wasn't on their system!  As I said, one hand does not know what the other hand is doing.  The phone consultation has been rearranged for later in the month.  As a result of him transferring to Yeovil, it appears they are treating him as a new patient and going back to the beginning, doing all the same tests and consultations as he has already had - several times, over the past more than 2 years at Taunton hospital.  It's ridiculous, a resolution for his ongoing prostate problems is just getting further and further away......

Thanks for all the comments, seems we all agree that Boris really has gone bonkers.  It occurred to me also that if nobody has to self isolate from the end of the month if they've tested positive, then presumably people won't even bother getting tested - what's the point if it no longer matters if you are positive?  So you can just go out to work, shopping, socialising, whatever, and breathe your Covid germs over everyone (because you no longer have to wear a mask or wash your hands) and infect everyone around you.  Well, we will still continue testing every few days, wearing masks, using hand sanitiser when out and washing hands the minute we get back home.  But it's going to be more difficult - practically impossible I'd say - to avoid catching the virus from the end of the month.  Let's just hope that those of us who are still vulnerable (our vulnerability doesn't change!) and catch it, have a mild dose and don't end up in hospital.

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Boris's latest madness, and Royal stuff

 And yet another good sleep last night......what's going on?!

I don't really know what to think about Boris's announcement yesterday that all restrictions will probably be lifted at the end of this month.  My first thought was that it's madness - especially the bit where he said people who have tested positive will no longer have to self-isolate.  So you can be infected with Covid and carry on going out and spreading it to everyone else?  So how will we know who's infected?  Frightening.  Husband just looked at me with a resigned expression on his face and said "We're going to catch it, aren't we?".  It IS scary, especially when we've been so careful to avoid it up till now.  I think Boris has just said it to try and save himself from being booted out.

Thank you for all the lovely comments, once again.  Sam, yes the Jubilee is the 70th anniversary of our Queen's accession, after her father died.  I hope she actually survives until the celebrations in June, I can't imagine she's going to live much longer, she's certainly got more frail looking since her darling husband died.  I understand her sense of duty, she's said her entire life will be dedicated to the service of her people, but it seems a shame she won't abdicate and pass on the reins to Prince Charles.  If anyone deserves a rest, it's her.  Oh, and just for the record, much as I liked Diana (despite her faults), I do think Camilla will make a great Queen Consort, she's much more suited to Charles than Diana was, and she's not put a foot wrong since she married him, she's quiet and dignified, but also has a great sense of humour.  I also think Kate, William's wife, is a wonderful asset to the Royal Family.  I'll keep my thoughts about Harry and Meghan to myself, except to say I do feel a bit sorry for Harry - but he's made his bed, he's got to lie in it, as the saying goes.  I feel more sorry for Charles and Meghan's Dad, not being able to see their grandchildren growing up.

Neighbour has emailed a short list of stuff she needs when we go shopping this morning, she's still showing as positive but says she still feels fine.

I've finished the blue throw - I did take a photo of it but have just looked at my phone cam pictures and it didn't come out, for some odd reason, user error I expect.  Will try again later.  So I'll be continuing the striped one now, hopefully that'll be finished by the end of the month.  Another day nearer Caravan Day!  (There, I almost got away with doing a post without mentioning the caravan! 😂😂).

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Jubilee and Covid

 I like the idea of us all decorating our own vans and having afternoon tea outside.  Only a few of us actually have proper fenced-in gardens, the rest are open plan.  It's nothing to do with the site owner dictating anything, it's just down to personal preference, I think.  We particularly wanted a fenced-in garden to keep Betty contained, we didn't want to have to tie her up on a long lead attached to a stake in the ground.  Owners aren't allowed to have their dogs loose in the Park - and quite right too.  

Last season I made cakes quite a few times (at home, not in the caravan) and shared them with our van neighbours, I'm quite happy to have a big baking session at home the day before the Jubilee weekend and have a cake table for people to help themselves.

Yesterday morning we went with Betty to the Marshes, our local nature reserve, not been there for ages.  It was a grey, cloudy but very mild day, with very little wind, we had a nice walk.  I didn't take any photos, it was too cloudy for that, everything looks so dull in a photo on a cloudy day.  I did some more edging rounds of the blue blanket in the afternoon.  I've decided it's not quite big enough yet, so will be doing another 3 or 4 rounds.

One of our elderly neighbours, a widow living alone, has tested positive for Covid - the first person in our little hamlet to have it, I think.  She says she feels absolutely fine, no symptoms at all, not even a sniffle - she only did a routine LF test as her son, DiL and baby granddaughter were due to come for a visit....obviously they're not coming now until she tests negative, she's had 3 positive tests so far.  I've told her we'll pick up any shopping she might need when we go and do our own tomorrow (provided our tests are negative) and leave it on her doorstep.  I've not had any close contact with her or any other neighbours recently, husband has seen and chatted to a few.  He cut the Covid-positive lady's lawn last week, that was before she tested positive, although he only spoke to her from a distance.  But just to be on the safe side, we're testing every couple of days, negative so far thankfully.

This morning husband is going out for brunch with his mate....they were supposed to go last week but mate had to postpone it.  I'll use the peaceful time to write my shopping list for tomorrow, it'll be our first shop since last month.  I'm going to list only what we need to add to the menu plans I've written for the rest of the month using up freezer stuff, plus a couple of toiletries and some kibble for Betty, and I intend to stick to the list! (famous last words haha).

Finally, I'm almost loath to say it in case I jinx myself.....I've slept really well every night for the past few nights.  Makes such a difference when you get a good night's sleep.  It would be lovely if it continues!

Tuesday, 8 February 2022

And more caravan stuff!

 Aww bless you all, you are lovely.  Obviously the caravan means a lot to me and I do go on about it a lot, especially when my head is bursting with ideas about what to do next to make it better for us, the time we want to spend there and our way of life there.  I put it all down on my blog as a record, for myself mainly, but at the same time I don't want to bore you all.  But then again, if you get bored by it, you don't have to read it do you?

Anyway, I'm glad you all think using fleece blankets as cheap curtain linings is a good idea, I got some yesterday.  Whilst husband is doing the making good work when we've got the old sofa parts out, I'll be cutting the fleeces to size and fitting them behind the curtains.

Just three weeks today till we can go back to the caravan 😁

I'm a great fan of the Queen and the Royal Family....well, with one or two exceptions 😒.  I'm wondering whether our caravan park will put on some kind of celebration for the Jubilee weekend, must ask the park owner when we go back.  However, I don't want to be press-ganged into being the organiser.  Knowing our park owner, I think he's very likely to say "Yes ok then Sue, you can be in charge of that!".  I won't do it, but am sure one of our near neighbours would be delighted to, I reckon she'll be very good at it.  But even if no official celebration is planned, I think we'll put up Union Jack bunting on our van and fence for the Jubilee weekend and have afternoon tea on our patio 😁.  Well, assuming it doesn't rain!

Don't know what's up with our internet, it's been exceptionally slow the past couple of days, even worse than usual - and our usual speed is less than 1 mbps.  It's taking so long to open up pages (on my laptop, husband's desktop, or my phone) that we could almost go and make a cuppa whilst waiting 😲😠 .

I'll stop now, else it'll take me all day to publish this post!

Monday, 7 February 2022

Another caravan idea

 I will shut up about caravan stuff soon, I promise!

I've finished the main body of one of the throws, just need to do 2 or 3 rows of edging now.  I'll be glad to see the back of it.  Sue, yes I'll be picking up the ends and crocheting them in with the edging - trouble is, there are still lots of ends in the middle part to weave in....if you see what I mean!  It's a big granny square - well, it started off that way - I changed colours every 2 or 3 rounds.  Anyway, it looks nice, even nicer when it's finally finished!  The second throw is all stripes, no ends in the middle to weave in, so will be easier.

We won't be staying overnight at the van for the first couple of weeks, not until we've finished taking the old sofa out and making good before putting the new furniture in.  We do have several fleece throws in the van, both in the lounge and the bedrooms - well, they're not in the van at the moment, we brought them all home at the end of last season.  The crocheted throws are additional, to give a bit of colour (the fleeces are all plain ones) as well as extra warmth.  

I've not had much luck getting curtain liners, well not in the sizes I need anyway - I would have to alter them all and you know how much I hate sewing!  I've had an idea though - think I might just buy some cheap cream fleeces and cut them to size - should be able to just use iron on hem/webbing stuff, or maybe even get away with not doing that at all - I don't think fleeces fray do they?  Then it's just a question of fitting them behind the curtains, using the existing curtain hooks.  They're just for extra insulation on the single glazed windows, they'll be hidden behind the curtains, so it doesn't really matter what they are.  Everything we do in the caravan, we try to do on a budget, with an eye to practicality and comfort as well as saving money.

I didn't get round to doing the menu lists yesterday, too busy with other things, so that'll be a job for today.  Had a nice dinner yesterday - pork loin chops in a homemade cider cream sauce with sage and thyme.  Roasted parsnips and new potatoes, which I parboiled first then squashed prior to roasting, to get more crispy bits.  Savoy cabbage and green beans.  Today it'll be a pasta bake of some sort.

Finally there's now a little bit of colour appearing in the front garden, other than the roses round the front door which have continued to flower, albeit small flowers that sometimes don't get past the bud stage.  There's one lovely deep pink cyclamen (I planted several, but only one seems to have survived), and in pots some yellow crocuses and some tiny narcissi.  Very welcome signs of Spring to come.

I'm going to try and get the final edging rounds of the blue blanket done today, if not the remaining ends to weave in, that'll be done tomorrow hopefully.  One job off the list.

Sunday, 6 February 2022

A day for staying indoors

 It's really windy again today, it was howling through the night, kept waking me up.  I hate wind and rain, especially together - I don't think it's actually raining at the moment but there is some forecast for mid morning.  We've got the strong winds all day, I think.  

I'm going to do another quick freezer and larder inventory today.  There are a couple of things I'm getting low on, but they'll last another which time we'll need some dairy and fresh veg.  No shopping done or needed as yet, so nothing spent for the first week of our low spend February challenge.

I've decided to do the menu planning a bit differently - I normally plan what we'll have for lunch and dinner every day, but it doesn't always work out exactly like that - we might not fancy a particular meal on that day, or I notice something needs using up quicker than anticipated, so my week's plan gets quite a bit of crossing out and rearranging.  So instead today I'm going to plan 2 or 3 weeks' worth of lunches and dinners, but just as a list, not on set days.  Each evening I'll look at the list and decide which lunch and dinner we'll be having the next day, based on what needs using up first or if we're going to be out or busy, necessitating a quick meal - something that needs minimal prep and cooking.  So then I can just tick or cross off each meal as we have it.  I don't plan for breakfasts - I often don't eat breakfast and if I do, it's usually just Greek yogurt with a bit of dry cereal and some nuts thrown in for a bit of crunch.  Husband does his own, usually toast, sometimes cereal or porridge.

Quite a busy week, we have 4 appointments between us, one of which is my hearing test, I'm pretty sure my hearing has deteriorated.  I want to make a list of the things we'll need to take with us on the first day we go back to the caravan, and I'll take a notebook to write down some measurements and anything we might need to do the work we're planning.  We're intending to get the work done by the end of March so we have the rest of the season to relax and enjoy ourselves.  I had a text from our lovely van neighbours Jean and Charlie, to say they're planning on coming to their van towards the end of March, that'll be nice.  Unlike us, they live a long way from the Park (3 hours drive for them), so they can't just pop in when they feel like it.  It'll be so good to see them again, Jean said they're really looking forward to it too.

I'm cracking on with the crocheted throws for the van, I want to get them both finished by the time we go at the beginning of March.  I'm now 3/4 of the way through both of them, so it should be doable.  To be honest, I'm getting a bit fed up of doing them now, I'll be glad to get them done.  The worst bit will be weaving in the ends.....I know I should do it as I go along, to make it less of a daunting task at the end, but I never do.

Well, it's now raining as well as blustery, husband and Betty have just gone out, both wearing their macs - I'm so glad husband doesn't mind walking in the rain, I hate it!  I'm not sure what Betty thinks of it, she's not terribly keen I don't think, bless her.

Saturday, 5 February 2022


 I slept like a log last night, no gut problems, so am feeling much better today.  We're off out for a walk and some window shopping this morning, just to get out of the house for a few hours.....husband wants to sit watching TV all afternoon, it's the start of the 6 Nations rugby, which I don't mind being on.

People's opinions do upset me sometimes and I do have a habit of dwelling on them.  But I need to remember - they're just opinions, someone else's, and what they think is not what I think, we're not all clones of each other and we don't all have the same priorities.  And they don't walk in my shoes!

Thank you for your supportive comments, ladies, I appreciate them very much, they help to get me back on an even keel.

Friday, 4 February 2022

Shit (literally)

 This morning's post about the caravan was a pre-written one, scheduled to post automatically, which was just as well as I really didn't feel like typing one this morning.  Last night I didn't sleep much at all, it was one of the worst nights I'd had for a long time, tossing and turning all night, things on my mind, sore hip and couldn't get comfortable in any position.  And in the early hours I had gut trouble too, which lasted most of this morning.  So I did nothing today, just stayed upstairs (near the loo!), reading or crocheting.  It was all stress related, always affects my sleep and my guts.  I worry too much, I know that, but I can't just flick a switch and change the way I think, not after a lifetime of doing it.  We all live our own life, nobody else's, and shouldn't presume to tell others what to do - we don't walk in their shoes, nor do they walk in ours.  Nor should we give advice if it hasn't been asked for - unless we know it will be welcomed.

Sorry for sounding a bit deep and down, it's not aimed at any of you, it's just the way I'm feeling and things are going right now.

Everything will work out alright, tomorrow is another day, and there's only 24 days till we can go to the caravan.  And you all know how much I'm looking forward to that.

Collection of caravan stuff

 We've now got a nice collection of furniture and equipment to take to the caravan.....some replacements for things we're getting rid of (like the built in sofa), others added extras we've picked up that will enhance our usage and enjoyment.  Some have been bought full price, using our dedicated caravan savings account (which is now quite depleted and I'm trying to build it up again), most things we've got reduced price in sales or bought second hand from local selling pages.  We also had £50 worth of vouchers given to us for Christmas by a very kind friend, all of that has been spent on things for the caravan.

So here's what we will be taking to the caravan during March.....not all at once! (the car isn't that big haha):-

The new sofa, very reasonable price in Ikea, and new recliner armchair, special reduced price from Dunelm.

A second hand white wood tallboy for my bedroom, to replace the pink plastic one (which will be used for storage outside).

Another small oil-filled electric radiator, boxed and in excellent condition, bought from local FB seller for £5.

2 new rugs, bought very cheaply in a local discount store, and a carpet offcut the same as the present lounge carpet to go under the new sofa (there's just old lino under the present built in sofa).

A large square bamboo wood chopping board to sit on top of the hob when not in use, as extra work surface (work surfaces in the galley kitchen are limited).  Very reasonable price indeed from Ikea.

A new snazzy dish drainer for the kitchen, to replace the cheap plastic one we currently have.

A pair of very nice solar powered lanterns, half price sale, for the van garden.

A hand held hoe, also reduced price.

Lovely purple pair of fleece lined garden shoes (for me not husband), also reduced in sale.

The last four things were bought using the Christmas gift vouchers, all things that are lovely/will be very useful for the van, but that we wouldn't necessarily have bought ourselves with our own money.

Husband has wood of various kinds in his shed to add extra battens to strengthen the walls as necessary when we take out the fixed sofa.  We have mould inhibitor stuff, should it be needed (I hope not), and plenty of paint for the new wood or to touch up the old wood.  He has double sided tape and a heavy duty staple gun, glue, nails etc - everything required, hopefully.  So we can get straight on with the work when we go at the beginning of March.

Had another very stressful day yesterday, for one reason or another, so thinking about caravan stuff and seeing all the bits we've collected for it (even though they're cluttering up the whole house) is the only thing keeping me sane at the moment.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Getting lots done

 Annabeth, Ham Wall reserve is renowned for the starling murmurations (as you probably know) - when we first moved down here to Somerset we lived out that way and often saw the murmurations in winter.  Spectacular.  Wells is one of my most favourite places to go, it's so pretty, with lots of interesting little shops including some nice charity shops.  And I love the Cathedral, I never tire of going inside to have a peaceful wander.  

Rambler, no our car is a Fiat Doblo, very similar to the Berlingo I imagine.  It's nowhere near as nice looking as the lovely little Fiat 500L Trekking we had before but, lovely as that little red car was, it was just far too small and gutless as well.  Whilst I don't like the looks of this Doblo, it's perfect for what we require - gutsy enough to get up hills with no trouble (the 500L struggled up the big sloping hill road to the caravan), loads of room for Betty's travel cage in the boot, which we couldn't fit in the previous Fiat, and when the back seats are folded down it's as big as a van inside.  It also has big sturdy roof bars for anything we might not be able to get inside.....but will need a set of steps to do it as it's so high!

Thanks everyone for all the kind comments, I'm glad I'm not boring you!  The fingers are fine now, although did sting when I was washing up in hot water.  Rae, very good idea to put the oven mitt on the handle, must remember to do that.

There are no appointments on the calendar for this week, other than husband going out for brunch with his mate on Friday.  They do that about once a month or so, his mate (a neighbour) is a lovely chap and hilariously funny.  They've invited me to go with them sometimes but I always decline - it's a boys bonding thing and, to be perfectly honest, I really appreciate the couple of hours home alone time it gives me!  So the lack of appointments is giving me plenty of time to get some small odd jobs done, such as sorting out a bagful of books to take to the charity shop, going through my clothes and bagging up unwanted ones, clearing out my spice and herb cupboard, binning the very out of date ones which have little aroma or flavour left.  I was prompted to do this by a chilli I made last week.....which had no chilli flavour or heat at all when we ate it.  Upon checking the use by date on the pot, it was easy to see why!  2 or 3 things were about 2 years out of date and smelt of nothing at all. 

It's been fairly nice weather so far this week, several degrees warmer than of late, not a huge amount of sun but no rain either, other than a few spits here and there.  It's also been a bit breezy so good washing drying weather.....well, other than earlier in the week when it was very blustery, too blustery to risk putting washing out.  I've now got several loads dried outside, doesn't the washing smell nice when it's been dried outdoors?

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

The reasons why

 My sister commented at the weekend that it's clear how much I love the caravan, as I talk about it a lot - I know I do, and probably bore the pants off some of you!

I've been reflecting on just why I love it so much, there are several reasons.

Firstly, we don't own our home, it's privately rented (selling our house years ago and not immediately buying another, but renting one 'temporarily' - ha, look how that turned out! - was one of the worst things we ever did.  But that's another story).  We DO own the caravan, it's totally ours and we can do with it as we please.....we can't with our rented home, our Landlord is pretty easy going but it's still his house, not ours.  Owning our own home, albeit a holiday one we can only use for 8 months of the year, feels wonderful.

Secondly, the caravan, park and our van neighbours are lovely, it's like being on very long holidays, or living in a friendly little retirement village, with people of a similar age who have the same interests as us.  And there's lots of nice places to go nearby, which we don't really get to see when we're at home, as we live in a different part of Somerset.

Thirdly, and this might sound daft....I don't feel as if I have the same responsibilities and stresses when I'm at the caravan.  I don't wake up in the morning thinking "I've got this, this, this, this and this I must do today", as I do when at home....about the only decision I have to make at the van is what we're having for lunch and dinner.  I do take my laptop (I have MiFi) and phone, but signal for both is a bit patchy, so I don't feel as permanently 'connected' as I do at home.  So I just feel so much more relaxed all round.

Changing the subject.....for dinner yesterday I did sticky sausages, basted with a sauce made of honey, grainy mustard, soy sauce, tomato puree and some of my homemade Christmas cranberry sauce, delicious.  Served with bubble and squeak - as I had the oven on for the sausages, I put the B&Sq in my ovenproof deep frying pan so that too could go in the oven.  Ooh yum, loads of burnt crispy caramelised bits both underneath and on top, we both liked it so much I'll always do it in the oven in future.  (Think I've said this before, but for my overseas readers, bubble and squeak is leftover cooked veggies, whatever you have, chopped and mixed together and fried, usually.  I put all leftover veggies in the freezer, until there's enough to do the B&Sq).  

Anyway, whilst I was serving up, I forgot that the frying pan had been in the oven and took hold of the handle - fortunately only my little and ring fingers touched it, and it was my left hand (I'm right handed).  Boy, did it sting.....I immediately ran the cold tap and put my hand under it, whilst husband finished dishing up.  It stung for a few hours though, silly me.  It's ok this morning though, just a shiny patch and a bit sore.

I've certainly been sleeping better the past few nights, which I put down to being - well, let's say less stressed, things have been falling into place and going quite well, dare I say (I expect the ceiling will collapse tomorrow, the dog will be sick everywhere and the car will explode 😂😂😒).

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

Still planning for the caravan

 Just 4 weeks today till we go back to the caravan, that thought is really buoying me up right now.  Husband keeps muttering 'hmmm, depends on the weather'.  Which is nonsense really - well, unless we are deep in snow drifts!  I doubt we'll be doing any garden work when we initially go back, we'll be concentrating on the indoor stuff first, and we won't be staying there overnight until the old sofa is out, the making good works done and the new furniture is it doesn't matter much what the weather is like.  Now we have a bigger car again, which has loads of room in the back due to it having the same chassis as the vans they make, we can take all the old sofa cushions and associated parts to the tip ourselves, rather than having to hire the 'man and van' again.  Shaun, the man with the van, was very friendly, obliging and helpful last year when we were doing the van up, but we'll be saving around £100 by taking the stuff to the tip ourselves, just the fuel cost - and the tip isn't very far away so not much in fuel.

I'm doing a few rows of crochet every day now, I'm nearly halfway through one of the throws for the caravan and about 3/4 through the other.  I'm hoping to get them both finished by the time we go back, they'll look lovely on the beds.

It's so nice to have something to look forward to, my head is full of plans.