Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Living with Mr Bean - EDITED

 Yesterday morning we did the things we needed to do in town.  The tip was virtually empty, we drove straight in (sometimes we have to queue).  It's surprisingly thrilling chucking a load of old metal baking tins and saucepans into a big skip, it makes a load of satisfyingly loud noises!  Good for releasing frustrations....or perhaps that's just me feels like that 😂😂.  I'm still baffled by some of the new signage on the various skips.....'Energy from waste', 'Residual waste' e.g.  Oh well, there are staff there to guide you to the right skip.  So that's another load of unwanted stuff gone.  

After lunch (I had crackers and cheese and an apple, husband had a ham and pickle sandwich), I got on with sorting the rogue bit of paperwork, took me about half an hour.  Now I think I can safely say that ALL paperwork has been dealt with.....what's the betting I'll find another little pile somewhere?!

Husband didn't do the utility room, he wasn't feeling too good so went to bed for the afternoon.  It's nothing worrying, he's just having a couple of down days with his heart failure, some days he's relatively ok, others he's lacking in energy and feeling very tired.  And on Sunday he had a couple of minor accidents - spilt a mug of tea he was carrying (his hands were particularly shaky that day) and in the evening he fell up the stairs...luckily he didn't hurt himself.  Both of those are regular occurrences, his balance issues are always worse when he's having a bad day, he's always been a bit uncoordinated and clumsy anyway (he's a right Mr Bean!), but the heart failure and some of his meds do make it worse.  I often say despite his health problems and him being 9 years older than me, it'll be me who dies first, he'll be the death of me from shock one of these days....he's always tripping up, dropping things, knocking things over, bumping into people or doors or cutting himself 😒.  I did mention all of these problems (his problems, not me dying of shock lol) on both the housing and the Attendance Allowance forms.  Speaking of the housing dept, I received a reply to my email late yesterday afternoon, saying our application is still waiting to be assessed for banding and they are extremely busy at the moment.  So patience it is.

This morning I'm going to do some baking - the salmon, prawn and broccoli tarts I mentioned yesterday, and a lemon drizzle cake as I have a couple of wrinkly lemons, I'll also prep some veg to go with the fish tarts for dinner.  Then I've got my physio early afternoon.....from past experience (I've had physio loads of times for back issues over the years) the first 2 or 3 sessions generally leave me aching, if not in even more pain - it's always worse before it gets better.  So I most likely won't want to stand in the kitchen preparing dinner afterwards, hence why I'll be doing it this morning.


Whilst I was in the shower, we had a phone call so husband took was the physio dept cancelling my appointment for this afternoon.  They tried to give me a phone appt for later this week - husband said No, she needs a face to face one (good for him!) so it's now next Monday.  As I've said before, having had a couple of them, a phone appointment for physio is as much use as a chocolate teapot. 😡

Monday, 30 January 2023

Like a log

Well, I slept like a log last night.  I vaguely recall half waking up when Betty suddenly woofed, jumped off my bed and ran downstairs (she'd obviously heard something), but I've no idea what time it was and was too tired and comfy to get up and see what it was.  I must have gone straight back to sleep, Betty was on my bed this morning when I woke up at 06.15 so she'd obviously come back up without disturbing me.  So I'm set up for the day.

This morning we're going into town to do a few things.  A tip trip first, the large boxful of old saucepans and baking trays has been on the table since I filled it up a couple of weeks ago, there's no room anywhere else for it and it's getting on my nerves, it needs to go.  As I mentioned, despite asking on a few of the local village FB pages, no scrap man has got back to me, the only one named hasn't answered any of my messages so I guess he doesn't want the job.  There's a few other things to chuck as well, so that's the first job.  Then we're going to Wilko's, there's a few things I need from there.  After that we'll be going to Matalan, I need a couple of pairs of plain leggings to wear when I'm having my physio (tomorrow!  I'm so glad I've now got the appointment).  Ironically, I'd sorted out 2 or 3 pairs of old but still with some life left in them leggings last week and gave them to a charity shop, in a carrier bag of stuff....sod's law.

I'll be sorting out the rogue small pile of paperwork this afternoon, whilst husband makes a start on his junk in the utility room.  Dinner tonight is a homemade cottage pie out of the freezer for husband, some little (bought) cheesy risotto balls for me, and veggies left over from dinner yesterday, so I've got no cooking to do.  Oh, mine and Betty's tummy upsets have gone, we're both fine now.

Sue from A Smaller Life put on some pics of little salmon tarts she made the other day....they looked so yummy I'm going to make some tomorrow, I've got pastry and salmon in the freezer, there's also half a bag of raw prawns so I think I'll get out a few of them too.  I'll use chopped up broccoli (not keen on spinach, which Sue used) and there's a ball of mozzarella in the fridge that's almost on it's use by date, so they'll go in as well.  Thanks for the idea, Sue!

Sunday, 29 January 2023

Enthusiasm returns

 Well, I didn't sleep at all well last night.....was up half the night with a stomach upset.  Oddly enough, the dog has one too, although she's now eaten something and seems a lot better, having been very subdued and sleepy all morning.  My stomach is still unsettled now, although I feel well enough, just knackered again from lack of sleep.  Oh well, at least I had the good sleep the night before!  I think it'll be a day of plain food today.  Maybe just a cuppa soup for lunch, and fishcakes (not homemade, but the lovely posh ones without breadcrumbs from Morrisons) for dinner, with some green veg.  Husband is having gammon, I've put his joint in the slow cooker.  Betty had a few plain (dog) biscuits, I'll give her some plain cooked chicken or scrambled egg later.

We're still planning for more decluttering and downsizing in the future, e.g. we have a huge solid antique pine wardrobe that's very big and heavy, which we're not keen on taking with us to a bungalow (it will most likely take up too much space), so we'll probably sell it.  We have a hanging clothes rail and a few chests of drawers which I'm sure will be sufficient, once we've gone through and got rid of a load more clothes.  Both of us have far too many clothes and, in husband's case, he doesn't wear probably more than half of his, just wearing the same 2 or 3 changes of clothes over and over again.  We'll probably sell our old oak dining table and chairs too, we'll get a much smaller drop leaf table and 2 chairs for the new place, when we get it.

I've had no luck trying to get hold of a scrap metal man to come and collect our broken tumble dryer and large box full of old saucepans and metal baking tins.  One did ask for our address, but we've not heard back from him since, despite me messaging him several times.  I asked on the local FB pages if there was anyone else who'd come and take the stuff away, but no takers.  So it looks like we'll have to take the stuff to the tip ourselves.  Never mind, we'll be making tip trips regularly anyway.  Husband will need someone to come and help him get the tumble dryer out of the utility room and into the back of the car though, he can't do it by himself and there's no way I can help him with it.  One of the neighbours will help, I expect.  There are plenty of staff at the tip to help him get it out of the car.

I'm ready to get on with the sorting and decluttering again now, I'll start with the rogue small amount of paperwork I found on the little shelf unit behind the sofa the other day.  As the weather has warmed up considerably, husband can get on with clearing his clutter out of the utility room, he's already said he'll  do it this week.

I've sent an email to the housing dept, advising them that husband is now in receipt of Attendance Allowance and asking for an update, they're certainly dragging their heels - I applied for the housing a couple of weeks before the A/A.

Saturday, 28 January 2023

More good things (on a roll here)

 Apart from the fact that I was absolutely shattered, having had another really bad night, it was quite a good day yesterday.  I thought I'd better start off with having a look at the Carers Allowance form online - my brain functions best in the mornings.....however, if it was too long or difficult, then I'd save it for another day.  One where I'd had more sleep the night before!  Well, amazingly, the form was an absolute doddle - easy, short, no difficult (or even husband's medical) questions to answer, just basic information really, it took me all of 10 minutes.  Such a relief.  I should hear back within 6 weeks.

And then in the afternoon, the post brought a letter offering me a physiotherapy appointment - I rang as requested and the appointment is.....Tuesday next week.  An actual face to face appointment.  The last time I had NHS physio it was only telephone appointments - that was during Covid, and a phone appointment for physio is as much use as a chocolate teapot.  I had one appointment and then declined any more, it was ridiculous trying to do exercises relayed to me over the phone and then tell them how I was feeling - how on earth did I (or they) know I was doing them right?!  Having waited around 5 months for an appointment, I'm amazed that I've been given one for next week, I fully expected them to say it would be February or even March.

And my sister, who as you may remember lives up in the Midlands and we don't see each other very often, today said she and her friend would like to come down and stay for a week in April or May.  That'll be lovely.....we'll spend a few days at home, and a few at the caravan, as she's not seen it in real life yet.  The van isn't big enough for them to stay with us, but there's a Premier Inn right next door to the Park, so they could sleep there and spend the days with us at the van.  I know sister's friend well, they've been friends for years, they've been down to stay with us before.  Looking forward to it already.

And I slept pretty well last night!

Thank you all for the kind and supportive comments, it means such a lot to me.

Friday, 27 January 2023

I had no choice

 Thank you for all the comments yesterday on our good news.  Some of you commented on me being strong minded and sticking with it.  Well, the bottom line is.....I HAD to, I had no choice, if I didn't do it, nobody else would or could have.  We don't have children (as a couple, husband has from his first marriage) and our families all live a long way away.  We don't really have close friends who are able or willing to help, for whatever reason.  So everything is down to me.

I don't mind admitting that I've found things extremely difficult over the past couple of years, to the point where I've felt like I was having a nervous breakdown a few times.  Some of you may remember that I posted a while back that I thought my marriage was over, we were going through a particularly difficult time and I really was at the end of my tether.  There are things that happened that I didn't write about - some things are best kept private and are certainly not for public announcement.....I didn't even tell family or close friends.  The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that my husband would really have been in very dire straits if I opted out - I couldn't do that to him.  But it has been hard, very hard indeed, coping with everything all on my own.  Thankfully, I come from a family of very strong women, none of whom have ever given up, despite some serious troubles.  My own life hasn't been a bed of roses by any means, but that's all in the past (even though some of it still has ramifications now).

Sometimes, I do wish that someone (and I'm not just talking about my husband) would give me a big hug and say "Take it easy, sit yourself down and stop worrying, I'll do what needs doing, take care of things and of you".  But whilst that's a really lovely dream, that's all it is - a dream, it's not going to happen.  So I have to put on my big girl pants (actually, I've been wearing them for years!) and just get on with things.  I've been doing that since I was 13 years old, so it's not like it's anything new or that I'm not used to doing.  I know this sounds a bit self-pitying - I'm not feeling sorry for myself, not at all, just being pragmatic....this is my life, for better or worse.

And just to put it out there - husband and I are fine now, things are going really quite well, we've come to a better understanding of each other and work together well.

We had a nice morning yesterday, we drove out to Minehead - the weather finally was considerably warmer.  We went in Wetherspoons for brunch.....I know the place isn't to everybody's taste, but they do some lovely breakfasts at very reasonable prices.  Husband had a big fry up, I had Eggs Benedict - some places do it with bacon, others using Yorkshire ham - I prefer the ham, which Wetherspoons do.  My only criticism, and it's nothing bad, the opposite really, is that there was too much ham for my liking - thick slices folded in half so it was double thickness, I cut out and left half of the ham.  The poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce were delicious.  Oh, it would be better if they offered wholemeal muffins as a choice, instead of only white, but never mind.  We both enjoyed it all anyway, and their coffee is lovely.  Then we had a wander around the charity shops, of which there are several in Minehead.  And, guess what, I didn't buy anything - I resisted the temptation as there's no point in buying more stuff when we're in the process of getting rid of loads.

I'm currently going through a severe insomnia phase (too much on my mind, I expect), I'm awake for 2 or 3 hours generally between 02.00 and 05.00 every night and it's really wearing me out.  It'll stop before long, it always does, but in the meantime I'm shattered.

Thursday, 26 January 2023

Some really good news

 No, not confirmation from the Housing Dept yet, but the other thing we've been waiting for, for weeks and weeks.  Husband has been granted Attendance Allowance - not that we've yet heard from them officially, we haven't.  However, somebody on a heart failure forum I belong to (on husband's behalf) mentioned yesterday that they'd applied for AA some time ago and noticed a large credit in their bank account recently, from DWP, and a couple of days later they received their letter confirming their AA.  So I got husband to check his bank account yesterday and, lo and behold, a large credit from DWP paid in the day before, this will be the backdated amount.  Good job I asked him to check - he rarely does.  We're so pleased.  Now we know husband is getting the AA, it means that I can put in a claim for Carers Allowance.  I guess it means yet another long form to fill in, but that's alright, and at least I have a copy of the completed AA form to refer back to.  Which will make things a lot easier.

It's a pity we're still waiting for confirmation from the Housing Dept, as this week they have a really nice bungalow on a small sheltered housing development in a nice area on their books.  Obviously we can't put in a bid for it though as we haven't had official confirmation.  Never mind, our time will come - hopefully.  I'm sure there's a bungalow with our name on it out there waiting for us, sooner or later.

The weather is forecast to be warmer......dull with not much sunshine, but definitely several degrees warmer from today, which will be so good, I'm so fed up with feeling cold all the time and not wanting to go out because it's been so bitingly chilly and icy underfoot.  I haven't wanted to do much whilst it's been cold, just been hunkered up in my recliner chair with a blanket, book and hot drink.  It feels like it's been a long and cold winter - and it's not over yet.  I did notice a few blue anemone blanda flowers in a couple of pots in the front garden, a nice little cheery sight, a taste of things to come.

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Fed up with freezing weather

It's cold again and also foggy this morning.....we've been threatened with fog a few times recently but it never happened, until now.  In fact it's so foggy we can't see any lights from the power station, it's quite eerie being so completely black.  

We went off to the charity shop again yesterday, with a dustbin bag full of cushions, another dozen books and 4 or 5 handbags I no longer use.  Gone are the days when I used to change bags to match with whatever outfit I was wearing.....I can't be bothered with that nowadays, I have just 2 bags I use - a black leather one for winter, and a flowery one for summer.  We also stopped off at a friend's on the way to collect 3 boxfuls of stuff she'd asked us to take.  When we got to the charity shop, the big Cancer one we normally go to, they would only take one item (a box or bagful) as they are currently inundated with donations!  So we drove to the next nearest and luckily they would take all the rest.

I had to laugh (ironically) yesterday - I found another stack of paperwork, on a little shelf unit behind the sofa.  Luckily it's only a small pile, so will be easily dealt with.  I just hope there's no more lurking in places we haven't looked yet!

The cold weather seems to be really affecting my bad's always stiff and painful when I first get up, but eases off once I get moving.  Yesterday morning, however, it took most of the morning before it started to ease, and the pain was dreadful.  I know I keep on saying it but....roll on Spring!  And here's hoping my physio first appointment will come soon too, it must be 4 or 5 months now - although I think it said on the news that physiotherapists will be joining the list of health workers on strike.  I have every sympathy with the striking health workers, I really do, but at the same time it just makes the backlog of appointments even lengthier.  Our poor old NHS is really on its knees.

Thank you Joy for the suggestion to write notes on what needs doing - and to those who commented what a good idea it was - I agree, excellent idea.  I've found about 6 or 8 notebooks (I do love a pretty notebook) during my sorting out, so have plenty of note space!!

I'm eating too much carby stuff during this spell of very cold weather, it seems to be what we're fancying the most.  Last night I made toad in the hole, using chicken sausages and putting chopped sage in the batter, it was yummy.  We didn't have spuds with it, just a pile of green veg and onion gravy.  Another reason for looking forward to Spring, healthier foods and less carbs!

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

No longer drowning.... paperwork.  Yesterday we finally got all the remaining paperwork sorted out - husband has another burn up to do today of stuff with personal details, the rest to be kept I sorted through and put into folders.  It's a good feeling to know it's all been dealt with, and I am determined that any paperwork we get through from now on will be dealt with straight away, either filed, binned or burnt.  I never want it to build up again.

I also tackled the mess on my craft was covered with remnants of cardmaking bits, lots of Christmas card supplies, assorted drawing pens and pencils, glues, sticky tapes, ribbons, stickers, etc etc.  No excuse for all the mess, as the desk has drawers and I have several storage boxes and shelf units for all the stuff.  I threw a bagful of general rubbish (small bits of paper and card, pens that had dried up, a broken stapler, lots of practise paper with card and picture ideas drawn on them, etc etc) in the wheelie bin and tidied everything up.  The storage boxes still need sorting out, another day.  But at least it looks tidy and clear now, and I know where everything is.

Had a phone call yesterday from a firm who are dealing with the insurance for the great uncle or 2nd cousin (who we didn't know we had) who died intestate about a year or so ago.  Probate is close to being settled apparently, and the insurance lady was just seeking confirmation of family details which she already had.  I'm not holding my breath, I don't think my siblings and I are direct inheritors, and I'm fairly certain that our previously unknown great uncle or cousin (or whatever relation he was) wasn't a millionaire!  All we know about him is that it appears he was unmarried with no children, and was a bit of a dark horse, it seems only 1 member of my extended family actually knew him, and he only met him a handful of times during childhood.  As that family member is old and now very ill, it's unlikely we'll find out anything further.

My enthusiasm for all this decluttering and sorting is beginning to flag.  I'm very happy with what we've done so far, but this feeling of being in limbo is dragging me down a bit.  The weather also is hampering us - it's far too cold for husband to be out in the garage or shed, or even in the loft, and the utility room, being unheated, is also too cold right now.  The scrap metal man seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth, he's not replied to my messages at all, so I'll have to look for someone else.  So I think we may as well slow down with the sorting out for a couple of weeks.  After all, it's not like a house move is imminent.

Monday, 23 January 2023

Plodding on

 We had a nice relaxed day yesterday.  I did a bit of banking and sorted a bit more paperwork.  Made a few plans for the coming week.  Sorted washing out and put it in the machine to do overnight.  Read my book upstairs for an hour, whilst husband was watching TV downstairs.  Cooked a roast chicken dinner.  Husband usually has a long phone chat with his daughter on Sundays, but couldn't get hold of her yesterday.  

We've been chatting about our wedding anniversary this's our 40th, quite an achievement.  We debated whether to have a week away in a cottage somewhere, but decided against it - it seems daft to pay for a cottage when we have our own holiday home, and our anniversary falls in Whitsun week which means everywhere will be busy with families.  So we've decided to have a week of days out, somewhere different every day.  Seeing as it's in May, we'll most likely be at the caravan, so we'll be looking at areas around North Somerset.  Maybe Bath, e.g. - it's been years since we last went there.  Of course, we don't have to have these days out during Whitsun week, it would be better to have them the week before or after, when the schools aren't out.

I want to carry on with sorting out my craft room this week, even though I gave a carrier bag and small boxful of surplus stuff to the neighbour on Saturday, there's still plenty more I don't need or use anymore.  Husband needs to get up in the loft (he said before it gets to the stage where he physically can't!), there's quite a lot of stuff up there that's been there for years.  I also want to finish sorting the paperwork.  That'll be enough for this week.  The forecast is for the weather to get warmer this week, which will be good - although we've had several lovely sunny days in a row recently, it's still been blimmin freezing.  The older I get, the more I really don't like feeling cold, and certainly not going out whilst it's freezing.

Aren't the days getting noticeably longer now?  Lovely, it'll soon be Spring.  However, according to a report I read in one of the papers (and we all know we have to take what we read in the papers with a pinch of salt!), there could be a very wintry and snowy period in February.  I hope not, we'll just have to wait and see.

Thank you for all the comments yesterday about our months living on a farm....I wish I remembered more of it.

Sunday, 22 January 2023

We'll miss this


The view from our front bedroom windows.....apologies for the poor light quality, it was taken with my phone around 8 am yesterday morning, when the sun was just coming up over the frosty fields.  We have similar views from the back bedroom window, albeit with the big cranes at the Hinkley power station in the distance, not that they're that noticeable really.  Sometimes there are sheep or cows with calves in the front field, the back field never has animals, they grow crops for animal feed in that field.  Moving to a bungalow near to facilities and civilisation means we most likely won't have this sort of view, which we both will miss a lot.  But we can't have everything!

I don't come from a farming background (neither does husband), although my family did live on a farm, with my paternal grandparents, for a few months during my childhood.  My father had just finished his term in the RAF and we lived with his parents whilst my parents were looking for a house.  My grandparents didn't own the farm in Hampshire, they just worked and lived there, in an old cottage.  I think my grandmother was the housekeeper and cook, grandfather helped with the farm work.  I don't have loads of memories of the farm, I was only about 7 at the time, but do have some snippets of memories.  One of my strongest memories is of my brother (1 year younger than me) and I peering nervously out of the door before we went out to play, to see where the geese where - the farm had a flock of around a dozen big white geese.  They weren't for food, they were pets.....well, strictly speaking, sort of guard dogs really - they were extremely noisy and used to chase anyone who appeared, honking loudly and flapping their wings.  They frightened the life out of my brother and me, although I don't suppose they were dangerous really!

I also clearly remember sitting on the back doorstep of the cottage with my grandmother, shelling peas - I think I ate far more than I put in the bowl, not that grandma minded, they grew tons of them, both for themselves and the farm owners.  Another strong memory is the day when part of the old plaster ceiling in the cottage kitchen collapsed - I wasn't in there at the time, only Grandma was and she luckily wasn't standing under where it collapsed.  However, she ran outside into the yard yelling for Grandpa and I was astonished to see her absolutely covered in white plaster dust from head to foot - she had black hair but because her hair and face were covered with the white dust, she looked like a ghost!

I didn't know much about farming until we moved down here to Somerset, having lived most of my life in or on the edge of towns, as did husband, other than those few months on grandparents' farm and a couple of years in RAF married quarters in Gibraltar.  Since we've lived here, both husband and I have become full of admiration for farmers and just how hard they work - they never stop or have weekends off and rarely even take holidays - they're working all the time, every day.  Livestock have to be fed, watered, checked over, cared for and rounded up and taken to market - every day, rain or shine.  Crops have to be sown, once the ground is prepared first, looked after and harvested - during the harvest season in late summer, the tractor drivers are working until the early hours of the morning to get the harvest in, they are governed by the weather, often having just a small margin of dry weather over a couple of days.  It's fascinating watching them get the crops harvested, transferred via a chute from one vehicle to another, the 2nd vehicle taking away the harvest to a storage barn.  It's like a giant production line, with 1 or 2 combines harvesting the crop, and another 2 tractors/trailers for each combine, collecting the crop - the tractors take it in turns to follow the combines around.  The farms around here share the work and vehicles, each farm being done in turn.  It takes hours and hours of constant hard work and they're always short staffed, hence why all the farms here help each other out.  They have a high turnover of young staff, I guess youngsters leave when they realise just how hard the work is and what long hours they have to work, and of course they're on minimum wage.  Unless they're born into a farming family, I think the workload will come as a bit of a shock.

Another thing we've noticed since we've lived here is just how fond the farmers are of their livestock, and what good care they take of them.  I know (without wishing to get all political or offend the eco warriors) it's often said, increasingly so nowadays, that farming harms the planet as well as the animals, but I can only speak as I find, and I'm gratified to see just how well the animals are taken care of.  

Saturday, 21 January 2023

Don't be daft, woman!

 What a beautiful day it was yesterday, hard frost to begin with but then the sun came up and it felt really quite warm in the sunshine, and there was a lovely cloudless clear blue sky.

We decided to go and have a look round Dunelm (a big homewares shop, for you readers overseas), one of my favourite stores - it's up near where the caravan is, so we haven't been for a few months.  I bought quite a bit of stuff there in sales when we were doing up the caravan - bedding, soft furnishings and kitchen stuff....I particularly like their kitchen things.  Whilst we were looking around yesterday I saw several things that were calling out "buy me!".....I had to give myself a stiff talking to, it would be daft to buy anything else kitchen related when I've just got rid of a load!  They have a nice cafe, so we had lunch there - an all day breakfast (veggie one for me) and a big latte and very nice it was too, and an extremely reasonable price.  Consequently, we didn't want a big dinner later, so just had toasted crumpets with cheese for supper.  Other than lunch, we didn't spend any money at all, but it was nice to browse around and even think about a few new things for the caravan, or possibly even the new home!

I still think it'll be a case of years, probably, before we do move - the Housing dept website does say it could be up to 5 years, and it does depend on what's available.  E.g., this week there are only 2 bungalows on their books, neither of which would be suitable for us - one is too far away for us to consider, the other has a shower over the bath, like we have now, and of course we want a shower cubicle or wet room to avoid the problem we both have of climbing in and out of the bath.  Although that one is in a good, nearby area with lots of amenities, it also states that preference would be given to existing tenants of that particular Housing Association.  (So, HH, I don't think it'll be a case of months, more like years really.  No matter, we'll get there eventually).

Sue, you mentioned us putting the stuff for the scrap metal man outside.....unfortunately, the tumble dryer needs 2 people to move it - the utility room has a big step and with husband's balance and breathlessness problems, and my back and hip problems, he would need another fit guy to help move it as I certainly can't help him.  But it is a good idea, I expect one of the neighbours would help husband move it outside.

Today I'm going to sort out my craft room, I can already think of a lot of things I'd bought very cheaply in craft shop sales but have never, or rarely, used.  The young lass next door will be getting at least a carrier bagful of crafty things, which will make her happy I expect, and it'll make me happy to thin out and declutter!  Husband is having something done to the car today, I'm not sure what (not my department!), a mobile mechanic is coming to the house, so I won't be expecting husband to do any jobs today.

Friday, 20 January 2023

Day off

 Husband was alright yesterday, I think he was just tired the day before.....the 10 minute snoozes he has every time he sits down obviously weren't enough 😂.  We went to the tip and dumped a load of stuff - gone are the days when everything went into one of the big skips, now it all has to be sorted and go in the appropriate skip.....although some of the new signs above the skips are a bit baffling, they don't mean much to me....good job there are staff on hand to tell us!  Why they couldn't just stick with 'Plastics', 'Metal' and 'Wood' etc I don't least they were easy to understand.  Another boxful of stuff to the charity shop as well, then to Lidl for the few bits we needed.

As it was a sunny, calm day and not too cold, husband went out in the garden and burnt all the personal paperwork, so that's done now.  I put the paperwork we're keeping into plastic wallets in folders and labelled them all.

Today we've decided to have a day off and go out somewhere, possibly for lunch.  We both feel a bit jaded and in need of a few hours away from the house, it's all been a bit intense and full on, physically and mentally, for the past couple of weeks.  I hope we hear from the Housing dept soon, it'll give us the impetus we need I think.  Although we are getting on with sorting stuff, we do feel like we're in limbo.  It would be nice to hear from the Attendance Allowance people too.

Still not heard back from the scrap metal man - he asked for our address and not heard a word since, despite asking him when he wanted to come.  I hope he's not planning on turning up today out of the blue whilst we're out.  If we've not heard by Monday, I'll have to try someone else.

I slept fine up until just before 3 am...after lying awake tossing and turning for an hour, I put the light on and read my book for a while, until I felt sleepy again.  Still took me another hour or so to get back to sleep, it was about 05.15 the last time I saw the clock.  And then husband woke me up when he got up at 06.30.  So another reason why I don't feel like doing much today, my brain is very sluggish this morning.  After a day out, hopefully we'll feel ready to get on with the job again tomorrow, and then another day off on Sunday.  Tomorrow I want to sort out my craft room.

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Any old iron? (in the words of the old song)

 So that's the final kitchen cupboard cleared out....well, other than the food.  In the end I threw out 6 old saucepans, 3 frying pans, a couple of old pie tins and a big metal chicken roaster dish with lid - can't remember the last time I used it.  They're all in a huge box now, along with all the old and battered baking trays we sorted out last week, awaiting collection by a scrap metal man, who will hopefully take the broken tumble dryer as well.  I've asked on the local FB page for him to get in touch.  I've asked husband if he has any broken or old bits of metal or tools in the garage.....he says not, but I think it's more a case of him not wanting to go out and look - the garage is half full of junk and it's blimmin cold in there, so I can't say I blame him.  I'm pretty sure there will be no end of stuff to get rid of, but I'm content for him to wait until the weather improves.

All the cupboards in the kitchen and dining room are now cleared and cleaned and the things we're keeping put back in - they're all half empty now, it's amazing the amount of stuff we had that we no longer use.  I also emptied out the large drawer in the sideboard beside my armchair, more of the dreaded paperwork which I sorted through and dealt with.  There were other assorted bits and bobs in there, which have either been put in their proper places or thrown out.  When husband was sorting out the filing cabinet, he found a couple of ring binders complete with dividers and clear plastic wallets - one full of ancient paperwork, now in the 'to be burnt' bag, the other empty and unused.  So my task today is to put all the saved paperwork into the ring binders, and then sort through the bottom cupboard of the sideboard.

We've got a lot of stuff for the tip now, so we'll be making a tip trip today.  I don't need a full shop this week, but do need a few items, so we'll do that at the same time.  Actually, I might send husband out to the tip and shop on his own, to leave me in peace to sort the paperwork.  He was like a bear with a sore head yesterday, grouchy and snapping at the dog for no good reason (she was full of beans and just wanted to play).  I did ask what was wrong and he insisted there was nothing wrong with him at all....clearly there is, I expect it'll come out eventually.  In the meantime, I think we all need a bit of space.

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

No snow for Betty

 Freezing cold and black ice everywhere when we woke up yesterday morning.....bad accident just outside the village, a double decker bus full of workers for the power station overturned, completely blocking the main road.  I don't think there were any fatalities, but several badly injured people taken to hospital by air ambulances.  Awful thing to happen.  Fortunately, we didn't need to go out anywhere.  Husband took Betty in the back field - safer than walking on the icy lanes.  Snow was forecast for us throughout last night, but there's none - I'm quite glad, although it would have been nice to have some that lasted just a couple of hours(!!) as Betty loves playing in the snow, she charges around in it like a mad thing.  It's bitterly cold again.

I was going to get husband clearing out his junk from the utility room yesterday, however, it's unheated (except for one of those electric tube greenhouse-type heaters, which just takes the chill off) so I didn't think it was advisable for him to spend a couple of hours in a cold room.  So he stayed indoors in the warm and cleared out his desk instead, I started on the small sideboard beside my armchair.

The letter from the GP was emailed to us yesterday morning, as promised, so I've uploaded it to the housing dept, hopefully that's it now and they can give us a firm decision soon.

I've just remembered that somehow during the kitchen sort, the saucepan cupboard didn't get done, so that's on the list for today.  I know there are 2 or 3 saucepans and probably 3 or 4 frying pans I don't use anymore, including a cast iron one that's just too heavy for my weak wrists.  Husband has now started to come up with ideas for decluttering jobs that he could do next, rather than just waiting for me to tell him - brilliant.  He's quite keen to move, too.

Well, I say keen......the fact is, we both really like it here - we know there are lots of disadvantages to living here, especially as we get older and more infirm.  But the views are so magnificent - we're unlikely to get those lovely views from a bungalow in or near a town or village.  And it's so quiet here, exceptionally so, and also extremely safe - we've had no crime at all in the 10+ years we've lived here.  I doubt it'll be the same wherever we move to.  We've discussed getting a burglar alarm and camera doorbell at the new place, depending on where it is.  We also have such nice neighbours, a big advantage.  But we know we have to move.

Yesterday I did a stirfry, I had plenty of green veggies that needed using - husband had some pulled pork out of the freezer with his, I had a homemade veggie burger.  Today I'm going to make a potato, cheese and caramelised onion pie, and bake a trayful of jacket spuds whilst the oven is on.

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

A good start to a new week of decluttering

 A very busy day again yesterday, with renewed enthusiasm after having the weekend off and rethinking some plans.  Oh and the good night's sleep helped too.

We took the carload of stuff to the charity shop as soon as they opened at 9.30 am.  It's a Cancer UK shop and as both my sister and mum had kidney cancer, husband's mother had both breast and bowel cancer (although she died from heart failure) and his father died of lung cancer, it's a charity we're more than happy to support.  I firmly believe that, hopefully in our lifetime, there will be a cure for cancers, I think they're already on the way with one or two types.

Husband cleared out the small filing cabinet.....finding paperwork from more than 10 years ago!  Plus several ancient broken mobile phones, none of which would be worth anything, we've never had iPhones or Samsung Galaxys or any of the other expensive makes.  In the event, he couldn't go out and burn any paperwork - although it was sunny nearly all day, it was bitterly cold and still very windy.  Never mind, it'll be done sooner or later.  We've now got another dustbin bag full of stuff for the tip.  Our wheelie bin is now almost full, it's a pity it only gets emptied every 3 weeks (thankfully this Friday is bin day).  And the dustmen won't take extra bin bags, only what will fit in the wheelie bin itself.  The tip, charity shop and supermarkets are all roughly in the same area, so it's no hardship to take unwanted stuff and do shopping on the same day - saves time and fuel.  The recycling boxes/bag are taken weekly, so I've been putting appropriate stuff in those for the binmen to take, which is a help (thanks to whoever suggested that, I think it was Sue).

I sorted out a few more books and a load of veggie seed packets - most of them were opened and even some 4 or 5 (or more!) years old so they wouldn't be viable anymore.  And in any case, we're not growing any veggies this year.  Husband found some old photos which we reminisced and had a giggle over, and a thank you card my mum sent us after she'd got home from her very first visit to us here in this house, 10 years ago.  Surprisingly, it didn't make me cry, just smile - it was a long chatty message and Mum always wrote just as if she were sitting in front of us chatting, so it was almost like hearing and seeing her again - lovely.  I've kept it, of course.

I made some dog food and chopped a load of parsnips that were going a bit bendy, to make soup with for lunch today, I also made some mini light fruitcakes (in a muffin tin), to use up half a jar of mincemeat.

Husband went to the surgery to get the GP letter - he was told it was dictated but hadn't yet been typed up as it turns out our GP is on holiday this week, so the secretary was planning on leaving it until he gets back next week.  However, she said that as we wanted it urgently, she'll get it typed up and signed by one of the other GPs, and then she'll email it to us, today or tomorrow.  Fine by me.

Bit by bit, we're getting things done, which is so satisfying.

Monday, 16 January 2023

Wow! Genius readers, and a lie-in

 Thanks so much for all the helpful comments yesterday on listing, and even photographing, the contents of packed boxes - you lot are wonderful!

This morning I didn't wake up until 07.15, which is practically unheard of for me, I normally get up around 6 am.  I obviously needed the sleep!  I wouldn't say I feel raring to go 😂😂 but certainly feel better for getting some decent sleep.

The plan for today is that we're going to the charity shop first, to take all the small electrical kitchen stuff - I've had very few enquiries about the stuff listed for sale, even though I priced them cheaply, and I don't want it hanging around cluttering up the place.  It's all on the dining table right now, so is just taking up valuable space.  I also have a boxful of small items to go, and some more books, so we'll have a carload.  Then we're going to empty out the small filing looks like being a nice day (no rain forecast and not too windy, with sunshine!) so husband can probably have his bonfire for the discarded paperwork.

Husband will have to go to the GP at some point today to collect the letter the GP is doing for us, the final (I hope) piece of supporting evidence required by the Housing Dept, then I'll upload it to them.  

Tomorrow's plan is for husband to clear out all of his accumulated junk from the utility room, whilst I sort through my craft room - the couple next door have an 11 y.o. daughter who's into crafty stuff, I've already asked her Mum if it's ok to give her some of it and she said yes please.  I'm pleased about that, I'd rather it goes to someone who will use it.

The turkey hotpot was delicious, should taste even better today, and there'll be enough to freeze for another meal for both of us.

Sunday, 15 January 2023

Regrouped and new plans

 Right, I've been thinking about what is troubling me the most about the decluttering, and it's definitely the vast amount of paperwork.  So it makes sense to get that sorted and out of the way ASAP......we've done one load, but there's still a couple more.  Oh, and husband's desk is strewn with a ton of it as well, but I'm afraid that's his problem - any paperwork that's on top of or in his desk drawers is all his stuff, none of mine, so he can sort it out.  So that's what we'll be doing tomorrow and Tuesday, hopefully husband will be able to get all the discarded paperwork with personal details burnt in his incinerator dustbin this week, and the rest can go in the recycling box.  And we're not saving up tons of paperwork from hereon in - anything that comes through the door will get binned immediately if it's not important.  I'll feel relieved when it's all done, it's really been preying on my mind and I've just been procrastinating and putting off dealing with it.

I think once the paperwork's done, then the utility room needs sorting next, as we'll have to store boxes of packed stuff in there.  So sometime later this week, I'll see if I can get a local scrap person to come and take the broken tumble dryer and all of the old metal baking trays I stacked in there.  I'll ask on the local FB pages if anyone will take the old fridge and freezer, but I'm not hopeful, I know there's a chap in the next village who takes scrap metal, but specifically says no fridges or freezers, as I said before.  If we have to take them to the tip ourselves, so be it.  And speaking of the tip, we must do a tip trip this week, we'll have enough for a full car load.

Once we've decluttered the whole house, then we'll start boxing up things we want to keep but won't need immediately.  I must remember to make a list of what's in each box and tape it to the box and not just write 'Kitchen' or 'Lounge' etc on the no doubt at some point we'll want something that's in one of the boxes and don't want to have to search through each one!

Went and collected a load of assorted size boxes from our friends this morning, so we now have plenty to be going on with.  I need to buy another roll of dustbin bags the next time I go shopping, for stuff that's going to the tip or charity shop.

I don't need any shopping this week, we have plenty of everything here.  I'll go through the freezer and fridge and write out a week's worth of meals in a minute - once again they'll be either easy and quick cook stuff, or batch cooked and frozen things.  I've put a sort of Lancashire hot pot thing in the Multichef today - I say sort of as it's turkey mince rather than lamb, seeing as I don't eat red meat.  It'll do us for dinners today and tomorrow and I expect there'll be enough left to freeze for another day as well....2 days is fine, but I don't really want to eat the same thing 3 days in a row.  Besides, I only eat meat a maximum of 2 days a week now, although of course husband has meat nearly every day.

A couple of days ago I had a quick look through one of the food cupboards and found some packets of sugar-free jelly crystals, Angel Delight (how retro!) and various tins of fruit, so I made a trifle, I'd got some homemade sponge cake in the freezer.  The jelly and A/Delight were both out of date by several months, but they looked, smelled and tasted perfectly fine and we're both still alive!  There's another couple of packets of each so it looks like we'll be eating trifle for the next week or 2....I know I could throw them out, but am reluctant to throw perfectly good food away nowadays.  I'm not really a great pudding eater, but husband is, so it'll keep him happy.  So I'm decluttering the food cupboards bit by bit as well.

Saturday, 14 January 2023

Weekend off to gather my thoughts

 Torrential rain and winds again during the night, although admittedly it didn't keep me awake all the time - I think I slept fairly well out of sheer exhaustion.  It kept husband awake though, apparently.  It's brightening up a bit now, there's even a hint of sunshine.  Temperatures dropping again next week, especially overnight, with the possibility of some snow.  From my kitchen window I can see the green of bulbs pushing up in the 2 new flower beds we planted up last year.....I planted early Spring bulbs like Iris Reticulata and mini narcissi, if I remember rightly, so there'll soon be some colour.

We've come to a bit of a temporary halt with the decluttering - well, I have, which means husband has as well.....he doesn't really need much of an excuse to down tools but, to be fair, he wouldn't really know what to do if I didn't give him the jobs.  I guess I'm just feeling a bit overwhelmed with it all - silly really, as it's not like we have to do it all at once, there's no real rush.  Yesterday it was getting to be a case of things being moved from one place to another, rather than being disposed of - husband has difficulty making decisions about what needs keeping and what doesn't.  E.g a broken watch that's not been worn for literally years - neither of us has worn a watch for donkeys years, so what's the point of keeping it?  It's not worth anything, it was only a cheap one.  And a step counter thing....from what I remember, it didn't work very well - it had a habit of adding steps when the wearer was either standing still or perhaps moved an arm, so not very accurate at all.  So I keep finding things like these that husband has sorted out, but then put on a cupboard or work surface as he didn't know what to do with them - just bin them for goodness sake!!  We sold another kitchen item yesterday, so another small amount for the moving fund.

We've now got a large carrier bagful of discarded paperwork containing personal details, so needs burning.  There's still loads more to go through yet.  

So I think we're going to have the weekend off, so I can gather my thoughts together and work out a plan for next week.  Tomorrow we're hopefully going to collect some more boxes from a friend, to go with the dozen heavy duty boxes from Amazon that were delivered the other day, and husband bought 2 extra long rolls of parcel tape.  I think once we've decluttered every room, we'll then start on packing things that aren't needed immediately.

According to the Council housing website, if and when we're offered a property, we are supposed to be ready to move in within 2 weeks 😲, so the more we can get done now in the way of decluttering and packing, the better.  I suppose we could always pay a month's rent and that will effectively give us 6 weeks to pack everything up, our landlord here is quite easy-going and won't be breathing down our necks for us to move out....they'll be wanting to do some updating of our present house before they move anyone else in.  We could possibly use that time to take over some things in the car to the new property, say 2 or 3 packed boxes or the odd item of furniture, to cut down on the amount of stuff needing to be moved on 'Moving Day' itself.  I'll be able to unpack a few things then at my leisure ready for when we move in, rather than it all being one big confusing stressful chaotic day all at once.  Moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do, isn't it, so it's not really something I'm looking forward to.  But of course we'll hopefully have a nice new home, in even more hopefully a nice area, so there's that to focus on.

Friday, 13 January 2023

It's all working out quite nicely

 We went to the GP yesterday afternoon, for the remaining piece of medical evidence required for the housing application.  The GP couldn't have been more helpful, he said he'd dictate the letter straight away and it would get typed up ready for collection either today or Monday.  If and when we do move, it'll be a shame if we have to change GPs, as we will if we move out of the area, our present ones are lovely and we have no complaints about them at all.  I know lots of you aren't so fortunate!  Oh, incidentally, the GP said Covid is on the rise again in our area, he said it's gone through the surgery staff like wildfire recently, so everyone attending the surgery is requested to wear a mask again (we hadn't actually stopped wearing them when going to medical appointments....surgeries and hospitals are full of sick people!).

I got all the unwanted stuff photographed and put on the local selling pages online, we sold one item, a huge slow cooker, virtually straight away, a chap came and collected it within an hour.  I've had several enquiries about some of the other things too, although nothing has come of it yet.  Early days yet.  One thing that frustrates me is the fact that lots of people don't read the ads properly, they ask questions which they wouldn't need to ask IF THEY READ THE ADVERT!  And if I state it's collection only, then no I won't be delivering it or sending it by courier.  😡

Husband cleared out the cupboard under the kitchen sink - we have enough supplies of kitchen and bathroom cleaner, floor cleaner, window cleaner, oven cleaner to last months!  Also dishcloths and washing up sponges.  The trouble is, they all get pushed to the dark and cobwebby depths of the back of the cupboard, where I don't go!  Anyway, some old practically empty bottles have been thrown out and everything else put back tidily, and a few things that didn't belong there (husband's stuff mainly) taken out and added to his pile of shed stuff in the utility room - that'll be tackled next week.  He also emptied out the big plastic box containing tons of Tupperware and other plastic boxes, throwing out some old ones or ones missing lids (where do the lids go?!?!) and re-stacking them tidily.

I've gone through most of the cookery books and boxed up a load for the charity shop, a few left to go.  Today I'll finish off the books, then tackle the small filing cabinet.  It has 2 very ancient non-working laptops in it, as well as a load of old paperwork, I'll get husband to take the hard drives out and then the laptops can go in the tip box.

Horrible noisy weather again during the night, aren't we all just fed up of relentless rain and galeforce winds.  The sun did come out briefly yesterday, which was nice.  The roads and fields around here are muddy and half flooded, not nice for walking.....I feel like I've been cooped up indoors for weeks and weeks, only going out for shopping (husband does most of the dog walking).  I know I keep saying it, but roll on Spring!

Thursday, 12 January 2023

Too tired yesterday

 We didn't get very much done at all yesterday, neither of us had slept well Tuesday night and were both very tired.  All I did was gather together a few more stray no longer used items for the charity box, then some banking and a bit of research on the internet.  Sorted out another wash load and cooked dinner.  Husband had to do something with his shed door - a neighbour wanted to borrow some tools but husband couldn't get the shed door open, it had warped with all the rain we've had and was stuck fast.  He managed in the end.  Other than that, he snoozed in front of the TV most of the one time in the afternoon both he and Betty were flat out snoring their heads off (and then when I coughed and woke him up, he denied being asleep 😒 - I should have recorded the pair of them on my phone!).

Slept much better last night.  Today husband is tackling the cupboard under the kitchen sink and the corner cupboard with all the Pyrex and ceramic bakeware in it.  I'll be photographing the small electrical items and listing them for sale, and sorting through all the cookery books, most of which will go to the charity shop - the jobs put off from yesterday.  We've decided to hold off going to the tip until we have a carload of stuff.

One of the things I'm really not looking forward to dealing with is the paperwork - there's loads of it, and it's in several different places.  I know a lot of it can be thrown away, and everything with personal details on it burnt in husband's dustbin incinerator (although he needs a dry, non-windy day for that and they've been few and far between lately).  I guess the thing to do is to tackle one cupboard, drawer or pile at a time, perhaps in between other decluttering jobs, so it doesn't become too boring or overwhelming.

All the meals we're having this week I've planned to either be easy and quick to cook, or something ready made out of the freezer which just needs heating up and some green veg added.  That's where batch cooking and freezing comes into its own.  Tonight it'll be the other half of the pasta bake we had the other day, tomorrow we're having either jacket spuds with beans, cheese and coleslaw, or lemon pepper dusted plaice with chips, peas and coleslaw.

Had an email from the housing dept yesterday afternoon to acknowledge receipt of our medical evidence, but saying they need one more specific piece.  We'll have to see the GP to get it, which shouldn't be a problem, I'll organise that today.

EDIT - Got an appointment for this afternoon.

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

How many?!?!

 Busy day yesterday.....washing out on airers upstairs, then went to town.  2 boxes of kitchenalia to the charity shop, then I went shopping whilst husband went off to the vets to get Betty's flea tablets and book her in for her annual jab next month.  The food prices continue to rise, but I more or less stuck to my list and was reasonably pleased with the bill.  One big bargain was a bag of dried kibble for Betty, a high end top quality expensive one, because of short date it was reduced to 75% off.  Well, I dare say dried kibble will last quite a while so am not worried about the short date - Betty will eat it fairly quickly anyway.  Pity there was only one bag on the shelf or I'd have got a couple more.

After putting the shopping away and having filled wraps for lunch, we carried on with the kitchen cupboards.  The airing cupboard first, old tea towels kept for cleaning rags, the decent ones put back in.  Some more excess stuff sorted out for the charity shop - I discovered several packs of tea light candles I'd forgotten we had, probably enough for several months of power cuts!  Far too many, so some for the charity box.  Yet more loose batteries, and a carrier bag full of lightbulbs, including old obsolete ones, goodness knows how long they'd been there.  You can tell I don't go in for regular Spring cleaning, can't you?! 😂

Then it was down on my knees to turf out the baking tins cupboard.  I'd already sorted out a pile of old ones yesterday out of the 'Welsh dresser' cupboard, I honestly didn't realise I'd got so many still.  Why I didn't throw out old ones when I bought new ones I don't know.....and there was me saying husband is the hoarder!  Well anyway, they're all now in the utility room for the scrap metal man, the cupboards are wiped clean, the decent stuff to be kept put back - and there's so much more space in the cupboards.  And it'll stay that way, I'm not filling them up with anything else just because there's space! (that would kind of defeat the object of decluttering, wouldn't it 😉).  Then I had to stop, my hips and knees were protesting and I kept getting pins and needles in my toes when kneeling down.  Husband had backache and of course gets dizzy when he bends over, so we decided we'd had enough for one day.

This morning we're going to tackle the under-sink cupboard, which is full to bursting with cleaning supplies.  Well, I say we.....I actually mean husband, as I know there are some 8-legged inhabitants at the back of that cupboard!  Whilst he's doing that, I'll photograph all the small kitchen electricals and list them for sale, and sort through the cookery books and probably charity shop most of them.....nowadays if I want a recipe, I generally look it up online anyhow.  And then we'll have the afternoon off.

I've got the bit between my teeth now, I'm determined to forge ahead and declutter everywhere, we'll do it one room at a time.  It's surprisingly cathartic actually, albeit tiring.  I do have to organise everything we do and let husband know exactly what he's doing - left to his own devices he's so haphazard and disorganised, and has this terrible habit of flitting between jobs and never finishing any of them.  Whereas I just stick to one job at a time, until it's finished.

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

A good, if somewhat stressful, start

 Well, that's the dining room decluttered, other than a 2-drawer filing cabinet which we haven't tackled yet.  It took us nearly all day to take everything out of the big so-called 'Welsh dresser' cupboard, drawers, side shelves and double wall cupboard above, sort through it all, clean out the cupboards and put back the things we're keeping.  Then we cleared off the big shelves that are in the space where the condemned old Rayburn used to be, and the boiler/airing cupboard (why it was built in downstairs and not upstairs I don't know, practically every house we've lived in before had the airing cupboard on the landing upstairs).  We've filled 2 boxes of crockery etc to take to the charity shop, another 2 boxes for the tip.  The old wonky baking tins are stacked in the utility room for the scrap metal man to take, when we get him to come and take away the broken tumble dryer and anything metal from the garage.

I've now got several small electrical kitchen items we no longer use, to photograph and list for sale - halogen cooker, sandwich toaster, very old big Kenwood mixer, smaller food processor, large slow cooker, bread/meat slicer.  If it's not used more than once or twice a year, if that, then it's going - I'm not hanging onto equipment just because it 'might' get used at some far-off time.

Things got a bit fraught now and then - for a start, husband's habit of walking backwards and forwards carrying ONE item at a time frustrates me.  And he puts things down in a space I've just cleared, rather than putting it where it's actually meant to go.  He took out a small box from the big cupboard, it was filled with all sorts of odds and ends - corn on the cob spike things, oddments of cutlery, a few stray plastic bags, batteries (who knows whether they're new or old when they're not in the packet?), screws, nails and other small tool items, etc etc.  He said "Oh I'll just put that there for a minute" (a favourite expression of his late mother, whose house was the most cluttered I've ever seen) and put it in another cupboard!  I took it out again and said no, we'll sort it out now - otherwise it's just moving the problem from one place to another. 😒  At this rate I'll be tearing out clumps of my hair by the end of the week.

Kath, I went on the Council website to see if they would take the old fridge and freezer - erm yes they will, but they'll charge £61.80 for just those 2 items!! 😲.  We'd rather take them to the tip ourselves, even if we can only fit one at a time in the back of the car.....we'll no doubt be making several tip trips over the next few weeks.

We've decided we'll get rid of our big 3-seater sofa, 2 of the 5 armchairs we have (they're not all in the same room) and our old upcycled oak dining table and 4 chairs.  I'll try selling them first, if nobody wants them then I'll see if a charity shop will come and collect them, as per Kim's idea.  That's assuming that the lounge furniture has fire safety certificates still on them, I'll have to check, as the charity shop won't take them if they haven't.  In due course we'll look to buy a 2-seater bed settee for the new home, as we'll have one bedroom less and will need somewhere for occasional guests to sleep.

This morning we're going shopping, and taking the filled boxes to the tip and the charity shop - they're all roughly in the same area.  After lunch we'll start on the kitchen cupboards - not the foods, the saucepan and bakeware cupboards.  I've also got a big plastic tub filled with all manner of Tupperware and plastic boxes, some of which probably don't have lids anymore, so they'll all need sorting out.

It's feeling satisfying already, albeit somewhat stressful.

Monday, 9 January 2023

Starting with a woolly head

 Thank you for all the helpful and encouraging comments, I really appreciate them.  Marlene, you mentioned scrap people - I know there's a man in the next village who collects metal scrap, including some white goods....unfortunately he won't take fridges or freezers, I guess it's something to do with the gases they contain.  Whether anyone else will, I don't know, I will ask on our local FB pages though.  Sue, good idea to fill up the wheelie bin (ours is never full, so there'll always be plenty of space) and the recycling boxes each week, that'll cut down on tip trips.

I've told husband we'll be sorting out all the dining room and kitchen stuff into 4 piles - 1 to keep, 1 to sell (I have a halogen oven and huge slow cooker that I don't use, for a start), 1 for the charity shop and the 4th for the tip.  We picked up a couple of large boxes from the supermarket the other day, to house the charity and tip stuff.  It'll be a good opportunity to give all the cupboards a good clean too - I can't remember the last time I did that (no way am I a domestic goddess!).  

Husband wants a good cooked breakfast (he's doing it!) before we start, he needs the energy he says.  I'm feeling very woolly-headed this morning, after a terrible night - galeforce winds, heavy rain and a very loud hailstorm during the night, which frightened Betty and kept me awake for hours.  Breakfast and a few coffees should help to wake me up.

It was husband's birthday yesterday (72, how on earth did that happen?) and I cooked him a roast beef dinner with Yorkshires and the full works....I had nut roast.  I don't buy beef joints very often, too expensive, but got a half price joint in M&S a couple of weeks ago.  There's plenty left for him to have again tonight sliced in gravy, and for sandwiches the next few days, so he's happy.  I also made him a fruit crumble to have with custard, his favourite, and a neighbour made him a little cake.

Gemma's Person (B) - I've sent off, well, uploaded, loads of medical info so I'm hopeful that will be enough to upgrade us.....apparently everyone, once approved, is automatically put on the Bronze banding unless and until one can provide supporting evidence.

I can see bits of blue sky in amongst the clouds now and the sun is trying to come out.  The weather forecast for this week is very mixed - a bit of everything, sun, wind, showers or heavy rain, fairly mild temperatures one day, a few degrees colder the next.  Typical British can't make up its mind weather in other words.

Sunday, 8 January 2023

Making a start

 I've made a start on planning things - I've ordered some strong packaging boxes online and decided which rooms we're going to start decluttering first - the dining room and kitchen, followed by the utility room.  The dining room has a big built-in sideboard thing with a double cupboard above and crappy storage shelves to each side, built by the previous tenant. The cupboard is full of assorted crockery, storage containers, bakeware and glassware, most of which we don't even use nowadays, or only rarely.  So there's no point in keeping it all.  There are a few things I might try listing for sale on the local Marketplace selling page, otherwise most of it can go to the big Cancer charity shop.  I suppose I could offer some of the stuff (dinner service, cookware, glasses) as free for someone starting out in their first home.  I do have a lot of baking tins (most of which I certainly don't need now I've just bought the shiny new ones) and saucepans that I've had for donkeys years, I expect most of those will go to the tip, they're a bit battered and not really good enough for giving away.  I've also got quite a lot of cookery books which I rarely even look at, let alone cook from - if I need a reminder of a recipe nowadays, I generally look it up on the internet on my phone.  So most of the books can go.

The utility room is quite big and is full of's not really a proper utility room as such, more a breeze block outhouse stuck on the side of the house as an afterthought years ago, although it had a very small washroom built into it and has no heating.  The previous tenant had put up lots of wall cupboards (mismatched old ones he got from who knows where), he also took out the toilet and basin that used to be in the tiny cloakroom there and instead used the cloakroom as a coal shed! (the house originally had a Rayburn, long since condemned and taken out, and an open fire in the lounge, capped off years ago).  We did up the room a few years ago, a neighbour who's a plasterer replastered the ceiling and laid a new concrete floor (the landlord paid for the work).  We painted all the walls white (it was a very dark room, with only one window), laid vinyl flooring and recovered all the cupboard doors with sticky backed vinyl to make them look better and more uniform.  My washing machine, tumble dryer, large upright freezer and an under-counter fridge and small freezer are all in there.  The tumble dryer gave up the ghost ages ago and the under-counter fridge and freezer, which were both given to us, are old, going rusty and currently unused, so all of those can go to the tip.  I do keep quite a lot of tinned and jarred food, long life milk and juice cartons, etc, in the cupboards and a couple of big plastic lidded storage boxes, but husband also contributes to the junk - tools mainly, much to my annoyance, empty boxes from things he's ordered online, and loads of who knows what else - it's basically several piles of junk!  He can sort that lot out.  I want as much cleared out of there as possible, as we'll need the space to stack boxes as and when we pack up stuff we're taking with us.

Saturday, 7 January 2023

It's wearing me out already

 Yesterday morning I gathered together the medical evidence the Housing Dept requested - 3 GP and consultant letters for husband, 1 consultant letter for me.  I don't have anything in writing though for my hip, knee and back problems (I'm still waiting for my first physiotherapy appointment, the initial referral having been done over the phone).  However, everything is noted on my medical record online, with my back, knee and hip problems going back years - there's an option on the website for people to 'share/export' their records to others, but, surprise, surprise, our surgery doesn't offer this option.  I pondered over it for a while, but then realised I could simply screenshot the relevant pages and then upload the screenshots to the Housing Dept.  I hope they'll accept them, I don't see why they wouldn't, it's all clearly stated on my medical notes from our surgery.  In any case, husband's evidence by itself should be sufficient to upgrade our application.

Now that things seem to be getting underway, my head of course is buzzing, meaning I didn't get much sleep for the past couple of nights and I'm having difficulty remembering what day of the week it is.  I must sit and make some lists and definite plans of what needs doing, so I feel in control....otherwise I'll just get more and more stressed.

We're £hundreds in credit with both our home and the caravan electricity accounts, so I know I can always get refunds and put the money into my new removal expenses savings fact it might be worth doing it now, why should the elec company be getting the interest on my money when the cash could be in my account?  And when we leave this house, we'll get our initial £500 deposit back, which will help a lot.  For all our previous house moves, we've done it all ourselves - husband hiring a 7.5 ton van and us loading/unloading with the help of friends and family.  However, that's not an option now - husband's age means he can't hire a vehicle now, as we found out when we were trying to hire a van to take away all the old furniture and kitchen fittings and cooker we took out of the caravan.  I assume it's something to do with insurance.  So we'll be hiring a removals firm to do it for us - in any case, our age and health means we're not really up to lugging heavy furniture and boxes around nowadays.  Just out of interest, I've already checked out a few local removals firms, to get an idea of costs.  But this is all getting ahead of myself, we won't be moving anytime soon.

I'll try to get the lists and plans done over this weekend, so next week we can begin the decluttering in earnest, and get a few things listed for sale on the local social media pages.  I'm trying not to get overwhelmed by it all - obviously all the planning of everything is down to me.  Husband is still saying about putting our excess furniture and belongings in storage, or hiring a garage from the Council to put it in (Council properties don't generally come with their own garages, but one can usually be hired in a block not far from your property).  I've already told him, but he doesn't seem to grasp it (or has forgotten) - what's the point of storing excess stuff?  If it doesn't fit in the property, then we won't ever be using it!!  We WILL have to downsize and get rid of quite a bit of excess furniture - we'll be leaving a 3-bedroomed house with dining room and utility room, garage and large shed and going into a 2-bedroom bungalow with, almost certainly, no dining or utility rooms.....certainly no garage and probably not a shed.  I'll just have to keep reminding him, and go ahead with listing excess stuff for sale.

Friday, 6 January 2023

Progress at last!

 Yesterday morning husband wasn't feeling very well - dizzy and nauseous, with a headache.  He had a couple of slices of toast and felt a bit better (nothing seems to affect his appetite) but only took Betty out into the garden.  So after another hour I said we'd both take her out - she needed a walk, but neither of us is really safe walking her on our own!  Honestly, we were like 2 old crocks - he's slow, a bit breathless and gets off balance easily, my bad hips (and yesterday my left knee was playing up as well) mean I can't walk fast and I limp.  We didn't go far, not that Betty minded, she didn't seem to be in a lively mood either, but by the time we got back husband was fit to drop and I could barely walk.  I suppose we're lucky that Betty isn't a particularly energetic dog, she doesn't go in for really long walks.  After a cup of tea (all 3 of us, Betty likes the occasional bowl of tea with my lactose-free milk) and a brief rest, husband went upstairs for a lie down, whilst I got on with things in the kitchen.  If I don't get stuff done in the mornings, I'm generally flagging by the afternoon.  On a positive note, I'm now down to just 2 or 3 coughing fits a day, so the virus is buggering off.

I did a chicken (using drumsticks), potato, lemon and herb traybake, with cauliflower cheese and peas on the side.  I also peeled and sliced a load of apples and lightly cooked them, some for breakfast with Greek yogurt, the rest frozen.  Think there's about 12 or 15 apples left now from our tree.

I've decided that this year we won't be doing anything in the garden, other than keeping it tidy and the weeds down.  Husband has just gone off gardening completely, he's got no enthusiasm for growing veg and I don't have the time (my bad hips and knees mean I can't easily bend anyway).  And I don't see the point of buying and putting in any new plants when we may hopefully be moving house sometime in the not too distant future.  All I'll do is get some bedding plants to fill the pots in the front garden.  The 2 flower beds we planted up last year in the back garden should hopefully look nice from the kitchen window this year, all the other raised veg beds will be covered over with old carpet or membrane, just to stop weeds.  As we intend to spend a lot of time at the caravan again this year, we don't want the home garden to become a jungle.  I won't be growing tomatoes or salad stuff in pots at the caravan this year either, with the excessive heat we had last year they didn't do very well, the heat and lack of daily watering pretty much finished them off during the short periods we spent at home.  The two things that thrived in the heat were pelargoniums and petunias, they put on a lovely show, flowering their heads off all summer, so I'll definitely have those again, both at home and at the van.  I do like to sit looking at pots of colourful flowers.

And the big news....late yesterday afternoon I had an email from the housing dept.....looks like they're accepting us on the housing register, but they want medical evidence in support to put us on a higher band.  No problem, we both have letters (husband has loads) from GP and consultants, although mine aren't as recent as his.  The cheeky thing though is that they want the evidence uploaded within the next 7 days - actually it's 6 days as I didn't receive the email until late afternoon yesterday - whereas they've taken 8 WEEKS to even look at our application!  If people needed to get in touch with their doctors and ask for written evidence, they'd stand little chance of getting it within 7 days, so we're fortunate we have it already.  I'll sort out the letters and upload them today.

The banding for the housing register is bronze, silver and gold - everyone is assessed for need based on factors such as homelessness, present housing too small or in poor repair, health needs.  When people put in bids for a property (a bid is an expression of interest, it's not a monetary thing), the Council offers the property to whoever fits the criteria best and has the highest banding - e.g. if 3 people bid, one each of a bronze, silver and gold banding, the property will initially be offered to the people holding the gold band,  If they refuse, it'll be offered to the silver banders, and so on.  So we would stand more chance the higher the band we are allocated.  As I keep saying, it's unlikely we'll be offered a suitable property anytime soon, but that's fine.  At least things are under way now, and it'll spur us on to get on with the decluttering and hopefully selling of surplus items.

Thursday, 5 January 2023

Spending money wisely, and post-viral

 We managed to spend all of the Christmas voucher money in the garden centre yesterday, and I'm very happy with our purchases.  The big garden centre sells all manner of kitchen and homewares, clothes and footwear, food and drinks, along with all the garden stuff and houseplants.  They have lots of Christmas stuff, which was all half price, not that I looked at any.  Nor did I give more than a cursory glance at the clothes - I don't need any.  However, I got some high quality (20 yr guarantee) oven baking trays which were in the sale, so I can throw out several of the old battered ones I've had for years.  Husband spotted some reductions in the cheese cabinet in the food section - packs of XX mature proper Somerset cave-aged Cheddar, very similar to Parmesan.  They were two-thirds off the original price as they were short-dated - no matter, it'll freeze well.  I got five packs (there were lots) - we, me especially, are very fond of cheese and that will keep us going for a few weeks....along with all the other cheeses left from Christmas.

Stopped off at Aldi on the way home and stocked up with loads of fresh veg and salad - I decided against fruit as we have a boxful of homegrown apples still, some of which I'll be processing today to go with breakfast yogurt.

We had a homemade potato, cheese and caramelised onion pastry topped pie out of the freezer for dinner yesterday, along with lots of green veg.  Today it's a chicken and potato, lemon and herb traybake, with something green alongside.  For lunches for the next few days we're having a bed of salad, topped with tinned fish, cheese or hardboiled eggs.  It's not really salad weather I know, and obviously the salad stuff available right now isn't British grown, but I think we need it at the moment.

Joy mentioned on her blog Diary of a Retired Teacher yesterday that she felt a bit 'post-viral'.  I know exactly what you mean Joy - whilst I feel heaps better, and even the cough is going, there are days when I'm suddenly overwhelmed with tiredness and just have to stop whatever I'm doing and go upstairs for a nap - yesterday afternoon was like that.  And it does come on suddenly, it's like all the energy just gets sucked out of me all at once.

Washing, housework and meal planning today, just mundane stuff.  I had a few texts from our lovely caravan neighbour Jean yesterday, she said now that Christmas is over, the height of their excitement is doing a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle, she reckoned it would take them till Easter to do.  She does make me laugh - and smile, she said they really miss us and can't wait for the start of the caravan season in March.  How nice, we miss them too.  It's a pity they live so far away from us.  55 days till the start of caravan season!

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

Carb bloat and lack of exercise

 Thank goodness everything feels like it's getting back to normal - now all we want is for the weather to be better.  It's become quite mild, but is also cloudy and very dull with a lot of rain and wind (yesterday's weather) - today there's apparently a few sunny spells forecast, not that you can tell right now.  The next week ahead is very mixed - showers, wind, some sun, one of those weeks when the weather can't make up its mind.  

Over the Christmas period when I wasn't well, I didn't eat much in the way of regular healthy meals - it was more carb-laden stuff - sandwiches, cheese on toast, pizza, sausage rolls, crisps, chips - because that's what I fancied.  Carbs do me no good at all.....I feel bloated, sluggish and achey.  But we have a lot of carby frozen food to use up still - homemade pies, tarts, sausage rolls, bread and rolls, pasta bakes, roasted root veg and root mash.  We've got to eat it, throwing food away nowadays is not an option.  And the big upright freezer in the utility room is in dire need of defrosting, especially the top 2 drawers, they're very iced up.  So we need to eat through whatever's in there pretty quick.  

I guess the best thing I can do is try to eat just one carb-heavy meal out of the freezer per day, and make breakfast (if I eat it) and lunch very low carb.  Husband could eat something carby for lunch, carbs don't affect him like they do me.  Today we'll be going shopping for green veg, salad veg, fruit and Greek yogurt, we don't need anything else.  I'm really craving some fresh veg.  

Husband was saying the other day that when Betty dies (charming subject!!) we won't get another dog....hmm, we'll see about that!  I pointed out that if we didn't have a dog, he certainly wouldn't be going out for walks twice a day - he's been told by his cardiologist that he must exercise, I need to as well, but my painful hips make that difficult right now.  We both know we each need more exercise, hopefully when the weather is better we'll start walking more - I don't do walking in bad weather.

Monday, 2 January 2023

Using up leftovers

 I've got quite a lot of leftovers - gammon, cheeses, veggies - so am using them up as best I can.  I also had a few things in the spare fridge in the utility room which needed using quickly, two of which were already out of date - a carton of Greek yogurt and a ready-rolled sheet of puff pastry.  Examined and smelt both of them and they were fine.  An unopened wedge of Brie had a use-by date of today - it too was fine, although oozingly ripe.  So it's a cooking day.  We had a swede and a bag of carrots that were going a bit soft and limp, so I got husband on those - he peeled, chopped and cooked them together, then added herbs, seasoning and a bit of butter and mashed them.  I'll portion it up when cold and freeze.

The gammon left over was quite a big lump - husband had some as a roast dinner yesterday, I had homemade nut roast with my veggies.  I got him to slice up enough ham for lunchtime sandwiches for him to have for the next 3 days.  I shredded some to make a puff pastry open tart with - spread cranberry sauce on the out-of-date pastry sheet, scattered over the ham shreds, halved a load of going-soft baby plum tomatoes and put those on, then cut up the Brie as best I could and put that on top.  A little sprinkle of grated Cheddar and baked, that'll be dinner tonight with some veggies left from yesterday.  The rest of the tart will be frozen.  I got husband to dice up the rest of the ham and split it into 3 bags to freeze - it'll do him for a ham, leek and mushroom pie (his request), a pasta bake and a risotto.

I bought 4 jars of mincemeat on Saturday, all reduced to 50p.  I've used half of one of the jars this morning to make mincemeat scones, which also used up half of the carton of yogurt.  I always use yogurt for scones, it makes them nice and light.  The other half I'll have for breakfast tomorrow with some stewed apple - we've still got loads of homegrown apples in a box in the cold utility room.  I'll mix the other half of the open mincemeat jar with some sliced apples to make a crumble to freeze for husband.

So that's most of the leftovers used up and dealt with, although I did have to throw away a piece of Stilton - it had got pushed to the back of the spare fridge and forgotten about (the pack had already been opened).  It had gone slimy and very strong-smelling, I didn't want to take any chances with it so it had to go.

Sunday, 1 January 2023

Observations on the last year

 During the 10 years + that we've lived here in this tiny hamlet surrounded by farmland, nobody living here has EVER set off any fireworks....too much respect for the livestock (cattle, sheep, pheasants and chickens) I expect.  Well, last night at midnight, the family living 3 houses away set off several big rockets, ear shatteringly loud, which obviously woke us all up (Betty and I went up to bed around 9.30, husband about an hour later).  Betty was terrified, she was whimpering, panting and licking her lips, her fur was standing on end, she kept getting behind my legs (I was sitting on the edge of the bed) and even tried to get under the bed.  It took over an hour before she eventually calmed down enough to stop pacing around the house and get back on my bed and go back to sleep.  Sometime during the night she was sick on the stairs.  My poor baby.  It's not like that family are newcomers, they've lived there for 3 or 4 years, and the father initially worked on the nearest (dairy) farm so should certainly know better.  And the thing that annoyed me the most - he never even warned any of us that they were having fireworks.  Bloody irresponsible prick.  

Some of the past year was good, very good in fact, and some not so good - quite bad actually.

The time we spent at the caravan (more than 12 weeks in total) was wonderful, buying that caravan was truly one of the best decisions we ever made.  I love the van (I expect you noticed! 😂  I bored you all to death with my constant talking about it), we've made such fabulous friends there, it's a real friendly little community.  And the lifestyle we have there is just so relaxing.  I think that's the best thing about it - unlike at home, I have very few responsibilities or jobs to do there - it doesn't take long to tidy and clean a static caravan, and I don't do very much actual cooking, we eat very simple meals there.  It's a pity that we do have to go home every week or 10 days, so I can do washing, tidy up the garden, do a bit of batch cooking of meals to take back to the van, go through the post and action whatever needs doing.  Oh, and for husband - and occasionally me - to attend a few medical appointments.  We fully intend to do more of the same next year, we'll spend as much time as we can there at the park.

Health matters weren't so good, husband's heart failure got a bit worse, resulting in him being prescribed yet more medication (3 extra meds), he had more problems with his feet, and my hips became much more of a problem.  I still haven't heard anything from the physiotherapy department, but they did tell me there's a very long waiting list.  In the meantime, I just use my walking stick when I have to, have a sit down and rest when I've been standing in the kitchen for a long while or doing housework, and take codeine when the pain is really bad.  I cope, and that's enough for now.

There was a time when I thought my marriage was probably over, I'd become so resentful of just how little husband did around the house and even the garden, which he's completely lost interest in.  And he was so oblivious to everything I did and I really felt taken for granted.  It was noticeable more when we were with others - other husbands thank their wives for doing even simple things, mine never did.  I felt I was little more than a skivvy, housekeeper, cook, admin clerk, carer, etc etc, and felt completely taken for granted.  He was literally happy to do nothing, just lounging in his chair and watching TV - all day long if I let him.  And he moaned like hell every time I asked him to do anything or take me anywhere.  After a few rows, where he promised to help out more but which only lasted a couple of days before he went back to his bone idle ways, and my realisation that I couldn't leave even if I wanted to, I knew things had to change, and I was the one who had to make those changes happen.  The reality was that I had nowhere to go (and with Betty in tow, I wouldn't leave her behind) and couldn't afford to support myself on my small private pension.  Nor would my conscience let me leave husband on his own - he'd find it next to impossible to survive without me, with his health problems and his severe dyslexia.  Taking steps towards moving sometime in the foreseeable future to an area closer to amenities, and a bungalow with a wet room, was the first thing - it would make our lives so much easier.  And applying for Attendance Allowance, and then Carers Allowance - my sister, who has both for her husband, who has numerous health problems, had been telling me for ages to apply but I honestly didn't think we'd be eligible.  Seeing the lovely advisor from Age UK though made me think differently - she was of the opinion that we would almost certainly be eligible (prior to joining Age UK, she'd been a benefits advisor for the DWP).  If we get those allowances, not only will it help a lot financially, especially with our eventual moving costs, it kind of underlines all those things I've been doing for husband for the past year or two - it's a sort of validation of my existence, if you like.

Also, my attitude towards husband has changed - instead of feeling resentful, I now just take charge and ask him to do things when I want them done, and say "Now, please" so he's under no illusion that he can get away with not doing it if he just ignores me.  I do appreciate that there are times when he really doesn't feel well enough to do things, so I take account of that.  But he also has to realise that I'm sometimes not well enough either, but I just do it regardless - as I've said a few times lately, someone has to!

So I'm going into 2023 with a positive attitude, and with plans and changes on the horizon.  But then, having said all that......yesterday husband said something that was just so ungrateful and spiteful, so much so that I felt like whacking him round the lughole with my slipper.  Instead, I took myself off upstairs for a couple of hours, so I didn't have to see or speak to him.  He did eventually apologise.  I shall still be positive!  And self reliant.

Wishing all of you good things for the coming year, and sending thanks for the unending support you've given me for the past year, and for all your lovely blogs.