Tuesday, 28 February 2023

A beautiful morning, and 1 sleep to go!!

 Another hard frost again this morning, but an absolutely beautiful sunrise.  It felt very cold when I got up just after 6 am, but soon warmed up when I put the heating on.  We don't have our heating on the timer, we just put it on when needed.  Once again, I'm so glad we are fortunate enough to be able to afford the heating (helped by the Government these past few months), so many people aren't in the same position.  I've just been watching the news on TV, seems that runaway couple have been found - but without their 8-week old baby, and police are now searching for the baby.  Presumably the baby must be dead - else why would the couple not have it with them?  And even if the baby were alive when the couple was arrested, surely it couldn't have survived a bitterly cold night on its own out in the open? (they apparently have been camping all this time).  I've never had children or been pregnant, but I fail to see how a new mother could be so without care for her newborn child.....they must know where the baby is, but it seems they're not saying.  Which makes one assume they know it's already dead.  

The plan for yesterday was that I'd be doing the little bit of shopping required whilst husband was at the dentist, then I'd go in the in-store cafe for a lovely latte on my own - a real treat I was really looking forward to, as it's something that I almost never get the chance to do.  However, husband came into the supermarket before I'd even finished my shopping - he was in and out of the dentists (he didn't need anything done) almost before I could catch my breath.  So I didn't get my solo coffee treat.  Oh well, never mind.  

Today I've got physio, as my hip is responding well to the exercises I'm guessing my physiotherapist will probably say I don't need to go again.  Physio treatment nowadays is vastly different to how it was years ago - I've had loads of sessions of physio over the years, dating back to when I was 19 and had a slipped disc, and had ongoing back pain ever since.  Back then, I went to physio 2 or 3 times a week and had loads of different treatments, having a few months off and then a new set of sessions once the pain became unbearable it's 'here, do these couple of exercises every day and come back in 3 weeks'.  Well, at least the exercises seem to be working, so I can't complain.

This afternoon we'll pack the car with all the caravan stuff, so we'll be ready to go after rush hour is over tomorrow.  Tomorrow!!! 😁😁  Can you tell I'm excited....have been excited for a couple of weeks now?!  I can't wait to see what it's like there.....the garden as well as the van.  Obviously I'm a bit concerned that there might be some sort of problem with the van - loads of people on the caravan group I belong to on FB have said about leaking skylights, burst pipes, boiler not working, etc etc.  We had no problems whatsoever with the van last March though, so there's no real reason why we should have one this time, it's just me worrying.  About nothing, hopefully.

Husband had a phone call from his younger brother and sister in law yesterday evening, he put the phone on loudspeaker and we all chatted for an hour.  Seems his brother has now also just been diagnosed with heart failure and has just had 2 stents fitted, the two of them were comparing notes.  They're planning on coming down (they live in the Midlands) to see us this summer, they want to stay in the hotel next door to the caravan park and spend the days with us at the van, just like my sister and her friend are doing in April.  Husband's family are not particularly close, unlike my family, but we do get on very well with this brother and SiL and it will be lovely to see them.

Right, must get showered and dressed, things to do!

Monday, 27 February 2023


 Yesterday was a lovely day - for looking out at it from the inside!  Bright blue sky and lots of sunshine, but very cold.....8 deg apparently but felt much, much colder with an icy wind blowing.  Still, I'd rather it was cold and sunny than cold with rain or snow!

We discussed the garden again.....we're definitely not growing any veg this year, there's no point when we won't be here at home for a lot of the time, so veg won't get watered and looked after.  We have asked a neighbour in the past to water for us, but he's a bit (well, a lot actually) unreliable - he often forgets and is very haphazard in his approach when he does water.  And, to be honest, we'd rather not be beholden to him, he does tend to ask a lot of favours.  I've said to husband that all I want is for the garden to be kept tidy and to keep on top of the weeds....oh and also for him to not fill it up with junk!  He's always had a tendency to 'rescue' stuff that all our neighbours are about to chuck out - he always says 'oh I'll have that, it could come in useful'.  Only it never does because he rarely does anything with it, it all just gets added to the rest of his junk.  His nickname should be Harold Steptoe.....but I've said I don't want the garden looking like a junkyard - I'm sure he was a rag and bone man in a previous life!  Given the fact that we'll be moving from here sooner or later (later, probably), I don't think there's any point in us adding anything extra to the garden, so it'll just be maintained as is.  I might get some bedding plants for pots, but that's about it.

While I folded and put all the dry washing away, having been on the airers all night, got another washload ready and put it in the machine, and prepped all the veggies for dinner yesterday morning, husband hoovered the house.  For once he did all of it, upstairs and down - he normally only does one room (the lounge usually) and even then not the whole room - just the rugs in the middle, he doesn't move any furniture.  When he'd finished he was worn out (not surprised, it wears me out too) and breathless.  I said he didn't have to do it all in one go (I hadn't asked him to do it, unusually he'd done the hoovering without me asking this time) and it would perhaps be better for him if he did it over 2 days....downstairs one day, upstairs the next.  But he said that meant he'd have to work 2 days instead of one!  😂😒

I think when we finally move to our retirement bungalow, with hopefully a nice size garden (not too big but not postage stamp sized either), I'd like a cottage style garden - lots of oldfashioned flowering plants like lupins, foxgloves, sweet peas, honeysuckle and roses, and a couple of raised beds for husband to grow a few veg in.  Must have a lawn in the middle, a small one, for Betty to lie on in the sun, and a patio for a table, chairs and a parasol or gazebo.  A small water feature with a fountain would be nice too, I love the sound of trickling water.  It's nice having a dream, isn't it?

Two more sleeps until C/Day! 

Sunday, 26 February 2023

Earwigs, silverfish and Russian salad

Thank you for all the comments (and Gemma's Person, bless you!)

Slightly more interesting things to talk about today! 😁

This morning there was an earwig in the bath - not for the first time.  I always wonder where they come from and how they get in there....well, I know they can climb, of course, so that's self explanatory I guess.  But their usual habitat is in the garden hiding in a flower head isn't it, so what's so irresistible about my bathroom?  Years ago when we were children, we used to get loads of silverfish - I have no idea of their real name, but they were tiny little silver, fish-shaped insects, hence why they were called that I suppose.  They would all be on the fire hearth in the living room first thing in the morning and would scatter madly when anyone came into the room.  We sometimes get the odd one or two of those in the bathroom too, along with moths, we seem to get plenty of them.  At least it was an earwig and not an 8-legged thing!  Any beasties get washed down the plughole, I'm not sharing my shower with anything!

I've written the new menu plan, incorporating lots of protein (meat for husband, fish or cheese or eggy things for me) and mostly non-carby veggies.  Saturday evenings we have something takeaway-ish out of the freezer, so I don't have to cook - usually something like a pizza or Southern fried chicken strips or fish in batter (if we didn't have that on Friday), all usually with chips, or a curry with rice.  Yesterday we had the Southern fried chicken, but with salad instead of chips.  Along with the lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber, I made a Russian salad.  Somebody on a blog mentioned Russian salad the other day, so sorry but I can't remember who.  It's something we used to have when we were kids at home, loved it but I don't think I've had it since.....cubed potatoes, carrots and peas in a mustard mayo dressing.  Ok, I know they're carby veggies, but better than chips and we didn't have mounds of it, just a tablespoonful each.  It made a nice change.

Today for Sunday lunch (actually, it's dinner, we'll be having it later on) husband is having belly pork, I'll be having the last piece of my homemade nut roast.  I shall be doing roast potatoes - a Sunday roast requires them doesn't it?!  We'll also have cauliflower cheese, tenderstem broccoli, peas and sprouts.  No stuffing or Yorkies though, to cut back the carbs.

Tomorrow morning husband has the dentist (just a check up), I'll get him to drop me off at the supermarket so I can stock up on more fresh veggies.  I've run out of fresh salmon and canned tuna, so will get more of those.  Tuesday I have my physio....the exercises seem to be doing some good, my hip is noticeably less painful and stiff, most of the time, although it still lets me know about it when I've been on my feet for a long time or done a fair bit of walking.  And then Wednesday is Caravan Day! 😁👍😍 

Saturday, 25 February 2023

What's going on lately?

 I woke up ridiculously early this morning, around 4 am.  I just knew I wouldn't get back to sleep but didn't want to get up, I was warm and snuggly in bed with the dog lying pressed against my side (she sleeps on top of the duvet, not underneath it).  So I read the papers on my phone.  I see the lovely Ken Bruce (of Radio 2's mid morning show) is annoyed, rightly so, about his treatment by the BBC.  He had been planning to honour his contract and leave the BBC at the end of March, but apparently yesterday he was called into the boss's office after his show had finished, and told he would now be leaving next Friday - he said there was no real reason he could understand given (he put out a statement to that effect).  I love Ken Bruce and have listened to him for years, after his show finishes next Friday I will no longer listen to Radio 2.  They've now got rid of pretty much all my favourite presenters, the ones who are over 60, in favour of much younger ones.  Luckily, several of them - including Ken who will be presenting his new show on there in April - do shows on one of the commercial stations, Greatest Hits radio, Simon Mayo who I've also loved for years does his Drivetime show there in the late afternoons.  So that's what I shall be listening to from now on....well, from next Friday when Ken leaves.  The producers of Radio 2 seem to be wanting to turn it into Radio 1 with the new younger presenters - why, when they already have Radio 1 for that?!  And the Radio 2 audience (I guess made up mostly of older listeners like myself) are all saying they'll be leaving in their droves and following Ken to his new station.  So I cannot understand why they're alienating so many of their listeners, doesn't make one iota of sense to me.

I'm feeling very bloated and sluggish lately, I know it's a result of eating too many carbs.  Winter and cold weather always makes me want to eat carby things, but they do me no good at all.  I weighed myself this morning, I've not put on loads of weight, only a couple of pounds, but feel like I have gained loads.  Husband says he's put on over half a stone recently.  So today I shall sit and write a new menu plan, incorporating less carbs and more protein and veg.  I know eating that way will help me feel so much better, lose the bloated feeling and give me more energy.  Roll on warmer weather, both so we can start staying over at the caravan and go for more walks.  In winter I practically hibernate, I really don't like it.  The days are getting longer and longer now, which is lovely - that and the Spring bulbs that are out everywhere, blossom starting to appear on trees and newborn lambs in the fields show that Spring is very nearly here.

Incredible to think that it was a year ago when Russia, under that madman, first started the war against Ukraine.  Obviously they've been showing lots of images of Ukraine on the TV the last few days, the total devastation in some of the cities is heartbreaking, as is the aftermath of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.  It makes me wonder just how they can ever rebuild their cities when all that's left is massive piles of rubble.  We are so very lucky to live here, our problems with rising energy and food costs, the crumbling NHS and tomato shortages(!!) are nothing.  Makes me feel very humble.

Well, it's a very introspective, serious and negative blog today isn't it?!  Sorry about that, I'm not meaning to be negative, I actually feel absolutely fine, content and happy with the way life is going.  I'll try to do a happier blog tomorrow, I promise! 😁

Friday, 24 February 2023

Even husband can use it!

Brr, it's turned cold again, I'm so glad we have heating - and can afford to have it on.

I managed to sign into my housing account yesterday, so it must have just been a glitch the day before (or possibly user error....😏😂).  There are just 2 bungalows available....seems to be 2 every week, albeit different ones.  One is in the town, right in the middle of a very large housing estate, totally overlooked and with no nearby suitable dog walking area, so that's a definite no-no.  The other looks to be a very nice bungalow, in a nice quiet area with fields nearby, it's a cul de sac of sheltered housing bungalows.  Problem is.....there's no garden!  Each bungalow has lawned areas front and back but it's all communal and open plan (they have a gardener who cuts the grass) and nobody has a fenced off garden.  So again not suitable, we must have a secure garden for Betty....and anyway, I want a garden to grow flowers and a bit of veg and to sit in.  Never mind, we'll keep looking, there's no rush.  Incidentally, when I looked yesterday we would have been no. 93 in the queue for the housing estate bungalow, and 16 for the no-garden one!  As time goes on we'll move up in the longevity rankings, so this time next year we'll stand a much better chance of getting a suitable place.

I tried out the new caravan AF yesterday.  I made a batch of little cheesy suet dumplings, to be frozen and used in, they came out absolutely perfect!  Crispy on the outside, fluffy and soft inside.  I used 100g SR flour, 50g suet (I used veg suet but beef would be fine) and a handful of finely grated strong cheese, I didn't add salt because the cheese is salty enough.  Used enough cold water to mix to a stiff dough, then rolled into a long sausage and cut it into little lumps for rolling into made about 22.  Baked for about 10 mins on 170 deg in the AF, turning once halfway through.

I then did a cheese & tomato toastie for my lunch in the van AF, that came out really well too, lovely and crunchy toasted bread with beautifully melted cheese and soft warm tomato in the middle.  I talked husband through doing his own, so he'll be able to manage easily - the caravan AF is an easy to use one with manual controls, whereas the Lakeland dual drawer one is digital electronic.  He'll never remember how to use that so I'm not even going to show him....I'd have to explain it again every single time due to his short term memory loss.

I got husband sorting out his clothes yesterday, with some gentle encouragement.  He hasn't done all of his wardrobe/chest of drawers but made a good start, he's now got 2 carrier bags full to take to the charity shop.  I've also sorted out some more books to donate as well, and a bit of craft stuff I'm not going to use.

We had Mediterranean veggies roasted in the AF for dinner, with half a bought tortilla....I know it's lazy to buy a readymade tortilla, but when it's yellow stickered down to £1.50 for a 4-portion size, it's such a bargain.  I put a slice of cheese on it and air fried the tortilla too, it was perfect, we'll have the other half for lunch today with salad and coleslaw.  Incidentally, when we shopped on Wednesday in Sainsburys there was no restriction on fruit and veg, they had slightly less salad stuff than usual but no big gaps.  Whether that continues, remains to be seen.  I shan't be bothered if we can't buy any of the usual salad stuff, we'll just eat something else....grated carrot and sunflower/pumpkin seeds dressed with a little balsamic vinegar, e.g, or a bean salad made with dried beans, of which I have loads.  I'm making a big fish pie today so I can freeze some.

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Ghostly figures in the dark

 I forgot to take my shopping list yesterday, but fortunately managed to remember pretty much everything on the list, with a couple of additions!  The only thing I forgot was some dried sage, which I use a lot, it being one of my favourite herbs.

One of the extra things I bought yesterday was.....another air fryer, a smaller (1 basket) one for the caravan.  It's a perfect size for the van and I'm looking forward to using it there.  I'll test it out here today, just to make sure it works ok.  Speaking of the van, I now have everything packed and ready to take back there next week, can't wait for next Wednesday.  Our intention is to go for day trips there a couple of times a week until the weather is warm enough for us to start staying over.

Husband had a letter yesterday saying how much his state pension is going up in April, we were both pleasantly surprised, it's certainly a lot more than the, frankly, pitiful amount it went up last year.  However, any increase is a welcome one of course, we count ourselves very fortunate.  We did start watching Martin Lewis, the money expert's, programme about pensions a couple of nights ago but eventually gave up - it's all so impossibly complicated (well, it is to me) and quite honestly, his voice and manner irritate the life out of me.

I was closing my bedroom curtains last night after dark and had a bit of a shock - there was a figure in a yellow jacket (a man, judging by his height) wandering around in the field at the back, he had a torch but seemed to be wandering quite aimlessly.  I then spotted an illuminated strip darting around - it turned out to be one of our neighbours, with his dog - a black spaniel, wearing a flashing collar.  The field is pitch black at night, what on earth possessed the chap (he's 70) to be walking his (black and practically invisible) dog in a very lumpy and tractor-rut-filled field in the dark I don't know.....must be mad.  Supposing he fell over, hit his head and knocked himself out, or broke a leg?  Who would know he was there, it was quite by chance that I happened to spot him as I was closing the curtains.  He's married, but I doubt his wife (my hairdresser neighbour who's the same age as me) would want to be looking for him in a dark field if he didn't come home!  Bonkers.

I tried to sign into our housing account yesterday to look at this week's available bungalows, but the account wouldn't let me in, it came up as 'account not found' 😮.  No idea why, perhaps it's just a glitch on the website, I've emailed the housing dept just in case.

Pescatarian now

 Cherie, in answer to your question yesterday.....yes I do think the AF is a worthwhile investment.  I've used it pretty much every day in the week and a half that I've had it, and not used my big oven once.  Things cook quicker than they do in the oven, it means I don't feel guilty about having to put the big oven on if I only have one thing to cook, or feel pressured into cooking several other things to fill the oven.  Having 2 drawers means I can cook different things, or just use the one.  Large cakes don't seem to cook very successfully, although cupcakes might - not tried them yet.  I have cooked cakes twice in 1lb size tinfoil loaf tins, even they needed 10 mins more than the cake programme.  I've not mastered the art of green veg in the AF yet, stems (broccoli eg) don't cook before the florets have.  Root veg cubed and tossed with a tiny bit of oil do very well, as long as I keep shaking or stirring them around every few minutes.  Glass dishes, tin bakeware or tinfoil dishes can all be used, provided they fit of course.  Chicken pieces cook very well, the skin crisps up beautifully.  Apparently joints of meat, or a whole (small) chicken can be cooked in it, although the AF group I belong to on FB advise getting a meat thermometer to ensure the meat is cooked through thoroughly.  I've not yet tried cooking a joint, as it's only husband who will eat it.  I'm sure others will comment on how they use theirs.  Chips, hash browns, jacket potatoes (precooked in the microwave) all come out nice and crispy.  I wouldn't be without mine now, and as I said, I'll be getting a smaller one for the caravan.

I went through all my clothes yesterday afternoon, with the intention of throwing some out - however, I did that only a few weeks ago and found nothing this time around that I don't want to keep.  I know for a fact that husband will have loads, his wardrobe and chest of drawers are stuffed full of things he never wears.  He didn't feel like doing it yesterday though, and probably won't unless I'm in the room with him, prodding him.

This morning we've got a little bit of shopping to do in Sainsburys, and a few things to get from Home Bargains for the caravan, along with a new dog bed - we threw out Betty's old one from the caravan when we left last October.  The forecasters are still going on about the possibility of much colder weather coming up, so it's doubtful we'll be staying overnight at the van anytime soon.  We'll still be going for day trips though.

After cooking the big panful of turkey mince yesterday, I really didn't fancy eating it, so husband had his portion and I had tuna and cheese with my jacket spud.  Another 6 portions put in the freezer for husband.  Right now, I think I'm done eating meat, it'll be fish only for me from now on.  I won't say I'll never eat meat again, it's possible I might have a sausage or two occasionally, or maybe a corned beef sandwich (I've gone off bacon).  Roast meat or stews just don't appeal to me anymore.  Funny how tastes change as we get older.

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

An unsuccessful AF experiment, and changing tastes

 Well, I didn't get started on the upstairs sort out yesterday.  Husband needs some new trousers, he's put on weight and says most of his jeans/cargo pants are now too tight on the waist.  I had noticed he's been wearing only tracksuit bottoms lately, even when we go out somewhere, which is not something I'm a big fan of as it looks like he makes no effort with what he wears.  Which is pretty much accurate actually, as he has no interest in clothes.  So we went to the big outlet village in Street (which, confusingly, is the name of the town!) - Clarks Village, the name of the outlet.  He got 2 pairs of cargo trousers there, with part elasticated waists - I made him try them on to make sure they fit, he hates trying anything on but it's too far away (a 45 min drive) to take them back easily if they didn't fit.  Luckily, they did.  Hopefully, as the weather gets warmer (although it's forecast to be colder for the next week or so), we will both feel like going for walks again - I'm definitely a fair weather walker, I hate walking in the rain or windy or very cold weather.  Husband will only go out for walks if I suggest it, other than dog walking locally.  Betty's also put on a couple of kilos, due to only having short walks, so she's also in need of more exercise.

Today I'm making the big pot of mince, using the multichef.  I got the 2 packs (500g each) of turkey mince out of the freezer, I'll cook it up with onions, tinned tomatoes, mushrooms, pearl barley, herbs and spices and stock, then portion it up and freeze when cool.  I can add kidney beans and chilli powder, or top a portion with mashed potato or serve with spaghetti or rice, or make into a lasagne.  It's very useful to have several pots of base mince cooked and ready to use for whatever in the freezer.

Yesterday afternoon I tried cooking a banana and walnut cake in the AF - a full size one, rather than splitting the mixture into 2 smaller tins like I did last week.  Well, it wasn't a success - after the specified time on the cake programme, the cake was cooked on the top but nowhere near done underneath, I had to take the tin out and wrap it around the top and sides with foil and bake it for the same length of time again, but even then it wasn't totally cooked in the middle.  So will stick to smaller cakes in future, and even they need another 5 or 10 mins longer than the pre-set cake programme.  Actually, with husband's expanding waistline it'd be better if I didn't make cakes at all!  😂  It's all a learning curve, but overall I am really pleased with the AF.  And I'm definitely going to get a smaller one for the caravan.

We had the remaining chicken pieces left from Sunday yesterday (the AF cooks chicken pieces really well) with a packet of savoury rice done in the microwave, into which I added some frozen chopped mixed veg, and stirred through grated cheese when it was cooked, so that the cheese melted into the rice and veg.  The rice was delicious, I'd happily eat a bowlful of that cheesy veggie rice by itself, and probably will in future, leaving the chicken for husband.  I'm rapidly going off chicken as well, although I will still eat chicken or turkey mince, for the time being anyway.  I'm fairly sure that very soon I will only eat fish, no meat at all.  I'm just going with how my body feels and being aware of how my tastes are changing, I'm really not liking the texture of meat anymore.  We'll have a portion of the turkey mince with a jacket potato and some green veg today, and that may well be the last time I eat meat.  

Monday, 20 February 2023

Time to resume sorting/decluttering

 I didn't post yesterday because I had nothing newsworthy to say - it was just a normal quiet Sunday.  I did several little jobs in the morning, felt like I'd been on the go for hours but actually had little to show for it.  Cleaned the bathroom, shifted a few things around in my bedroom, sorted out a washload, got husband to go through some stuff on a shelf by his desk.  Prepped veg and cooked dinner - chicken pieces, spuds and carrots roasted in the AF, green veg in the microwave.  Wrote a menu plan for this week.  Gathered together some supplies for the caravan.....toiletries, cleaning supplies and some tinned food.  Bedding and towels all packed ready to go.  Now I can finally say it's next week we're going back!

We've got a fairly quiet week, husband has his diabetic review (he's only borderline diabetic, not even on any meds) on Thursday but that's it for appointments this week, for a change.  So I might do some sorting and decluttering upstairs, we've not really done much upstairs as yet.  Husband could carry on with the utility room, he started a week or so ago but never finished it.  I need to make some more dog food, Betty had her last homemade one yesterday.  I've got two packs of turkey mince in the freezer, I might make a big batch of something or other.....chilli, lasagne, cottage pie maybe, to freeze in portions.  I've got lots of fish in the freezer too - smoked haddock, salmon, pollock and king prawns - so I could make some fish pies as well.  And a couple of cakes, now I know that they bake easily in the air fryer.  All things that can be frozen ready to either take to the caravan, or have as a quick ready-made meal with some frozen veg when we get back from a day at the van.

Looks like that missing woman has been found in the river, tragic for her family, whatever the circumstances of her death turn out to be.  I kept thinking about her poor dog, frantically running around loose on the riverbank, in a state of high anxiety.  Broke my heart.  I hope the dog copes alright in the future, along with the family.  I wonder how Betty would cope if I was no longer around - she is quite devoted to me, she follows me around the house and sleeps on my bed every night.  But I don't want to think about that, so let's change the subject!

I've put some more numbers in husband's phone, and done a load of updates on it for him.  Showed him how to answer a call and read a doubt I'll have to show him again in due course! 😂

Lots of Spring bulbs starting to flower in the garden now, I have narcissi, anemone blandas, grape hyacinths and even a couple of early tulips flowering.  The iris reticulata I planted last year have all thrown up quite tall leaves but no sign of any flower buds, they've all come up blind.  Any number of reasons, according to google!  (frost, planting too deep, not enough sun, insufficient nutrients in the soil eg).  Must buy a pot of hyacinths next time we go shopping, I love the smell of them indoors.  Spring is definitely my favourite time of year.

And it's already light at 7.00 am now, lovely.  I woke up just before 6 but didn't want to get out of bed this morning, I was so warm and snuggly. so laid there for half an hour reading the paper on my phone.

Saturday, 18 February 2023

Idiot-proof phone, AF and getting supplies ready

 This morning we've had to go to town to get husband a new mobile phone, as his has finally given up the ghost after about 10 years!  He only uses his phone for texts (receiving, he doesn't send any!) and calls and taking the occasional photo, so didn't need an all-singing, all-dancing one.  We went to a phone shop and explained what he wanted (a simple idiot-proof one), and the charming young man picked out a nice fairly basic Galaxy one for him, he even fitted husband's SIM card into it and gave a brief demonstration of how it worked.  I've added his most used contact numbers for him, and a photo of Betty for his home screen.  I also set a ring tone, after he chose one from the options.  That's all he needs really.  

Betty certainly seems to love the new sofa, she's stretched right out on it again.  I must get some new throws for it, to keep it clean.  For those who were wondering, husband and I both sit on recliner chairs, so Betty has the sofa all to herself.

Well we've had the air fryer for a week now and I've used it every day, not used the main oven at all.   So far I've made cakes twice, cooked chips and hash browns, cauliflower cheese, fish cakes, cottage pie and fish pie.  Today we're having battered fish and chips, tomorrow I'm doing chicken pieces and roast potatoes and carrots.  Green veg I do on the hob or in the microwave.  I'm still learning with the AF, but love it and can't imagine having to use the main oven again, unless I was cooking for a crowd.  I shall definitely get a smaller one for the caravan.

Just 11 days to go now until caravan day.  I shall spend this coming week gathering together the supplies to take over to the van on the 1st, ready for when we start staying over there again.  I'm looking forward to seeing the garden and all the bulbs I planted in pots and the 2 beds, before we left last October.  I'll definitely get geraniums and petunias to plant up there again, last year they put on a wonderful display and flowered their hearts out all summer.  I think we might get a gazebo for the caravan garden this year, the garden gets the sun most of the day and is too hot for both Betty and I.  We do have a large garden sunshade umbrella thing, but a gazebo would give better shade coverage I think.  

Friday, 17 February 2023


 The lovely leather sofa bed is here.  It had to be dismantled and reassembled to get it into the lounge (fortunately it was actually designed to be dismantled if necessary), but husband managed with the help of two good of whom had just popped round for a coffee (bet he wished he hadn't haha).  It's really nice, I'm so glad we got it, and Betty clearly approves - she slept on it all evening.  It is very comfy.  The old sofa has gone to the tip, and the hired van back to the hire people.  

Betty claimed it already!

We had another pleasant surprise yesterday - an email to say that we've been given £200 by the Government to go towards our heating oil costs, it's gone into our electricity account, not sure why.  I was totally not expecting that, so it's most welcome.

I'm almost loath to say it, but everything is going so well for us at the moment, I'm pleased to say - I am stress-free, not worrying about anything at all, all of our plans seem to be coming to fruition - or already have.  Our health conditions are being well managed, the sorting and decluttering is going well, our savings accounts (I have 3, all for different purposes, plus 2 current accounts again both for different purposes) are all looking very healthy.  Family members are all well and enjoying their lives.  The car is trouble-free, having had a bit of work done on it recently to fix an issue....and that didn't even cost as much as we had thought, seeing as cars - well, our previous cars anyway - can often be money pits.

It's actually quite scary that things are going so well - with my track record, I wouldn't be at all surprised for it all to come crashing down around my ears sooner or later 😲😂😂.  Of course, I hope it doesn't!

And the week after next, we'll be back at the caravan.....which I am hoping has successfully survived the winter with no problems.  No reason why it shouldn't have, it did the previous year, and for a couple of years prior to our ownership when it was totally neglected.

Thursday, 16 February 2023

Shopping differently

 For the past week or two, I've been having a good hard think about the way I do my shopping.  I'd been trying to stretch it out so that we only go once a fortnight or so, but have come to the conclusion I don't like doing that - it takes too long doing a big shop, meaning I'm in the supermarket too long and I really don't like that.  It also means I have to buy everything in that one shop - as I don't want to have to spend even more time going to 2 or 3 other shops to get the things I prefer (or are cheaper) in there.  So I've decided that from now on, we'll go shopping every few days.....I don't mean every other day, perhaps every 4, 5 or 6 days.  And we'll choose a different shop each time.  That way, I can pick up the stuff I like in that particular shop and hopefully get several of the item, to stock up.  E.g. I like Aldi's baked beans and packet sauces, also their own frothy coffees (I don't like them as much as the Nescafe ones, but I mix the two together as the Nescafe ones are much dearer).  In Lidl I like their spreadable butter and their sourdough crumpets, both of which are much cheaper than Sainsburys, and husband likes their seeded bread.  I prefer Sainsburys for fresh fruit and veg.  So yesterday morning we went to Lidl and I got 4 packs of their butter (long dated) and 4 packs of the sourdough crumpets, which have gone in the freezer....although I noticed that both items had gone up 20 or 10p since I last bought them 2 or 3 weeks ago.  I also got a few other things, we like their cereal (much cheaper than Sainsburys) and some crackers for cheese.  Next time, we'll go to Sainsburys, the time after that will probably be Aldi.

I expect it might work out a bit dearer going more regularly - unless I really rein myself in and don't deviate from my shopping list.  However, as prices are still rising almost weekly, if I can pick up several of the same item in one go, then that may work out a bit cheaper as by the time I next need to buy it, it most likely will have gone up even more.

Husband spent a couple of hours yesterday helping his mate, our lovely kind neighbour, shovel a load of compost he'd had delivered, filling wheelbarrows and spreading it around their garden.  He was under orders (from me) to take it easy and take frequent breaks, which he assured me he did.  He wanted to help him out as the neighbour will be going with husband this afternoon to collect the new sofabed.  I'm looking forward to seeing it in situ.  Think I'll buy a couple of new throws to go on it, for Betty to sit on so it stays clean.....although being leather, it can easily be wiped over.

The long range weather forecast for early March is showing as sunny and reasonably (Spring-like) warm for the days, but chilly overnight - down to 1 or 0.  So I don't think we'll be staying overnight at the van for the first couple of weeks of March, it'll be day visits only.  If we stay overnights, we'll have to have the electric heaters on a lot, which will prove expensive.  Day visits will be fine though, most of the regulars won't be turning up until Easter or beyond anyway.  

I've been thinking it's Wednesday, but I see it's Thursday already, I don't know where this week has gone.  And it's already more than halfway through February.  Time certainly gallops away!

Wednesday, 15 February 2023

Lovely sofa bed coming

 Thank you for the comments.  Re husband - yes it could be partly to do with his meds, he's actually always had a big appetite but his hunger does seem to have increased recently.  Hopefully, if it's medication related, it'll wear off will his balance and memory issues with any luck.

We bought an absolutely gorgeous dark red leather sofa bed yesterday, from FB marketplace.  It's exactly what I was looking for, it's in excellent hardly used condition (it was in a guest room and has been slept on just 5 times) and has a really nice sprung mattress.  The lady is selling it as she's now going to use the guest room as a dog grooming parlour, she had some of her new equipment in boxes waiting to be set up.  The price we paid was, in my view, a bargain - I didn't even haggle.  Husband is collecting it Thursday afternoon, he's hired a van......funnily enough, from the local van hire company who say on their website that they don't hire to over-70s.  Husband rang and asked them - they said actually they do in some circumstances and the person must have a clean licence - they just don't advertise the fact.  So at least we can get rid of the old big 3-seater sofa to the tip at the same time.  Husband will ask our lovely kind helpful neighbour to give him a hand.

I've been doing the 2 exercises the physio gave me for my hip.....I'm supposed to do them twice a day, but don't always remember!  I think they may be helping a bit, my hip hasn't been consistently painful 24/7 the last few days, although obviously it's nowhere near cured.

The lemon drizzle cakes I made in 2 1lb tins instead of one 2lb one came out well in the AF - although could have done with a minute or 2 more.....I did them on the cake pre-programme.  All trial and error at the moment.  I did frozen hash browns in the AF to go with dinner, they were really good, nice and crispy all round.  Today it'll be jacket potatoes, precooked and frozen ones, I'll cook them for a few minutes this morning, leave them to cool then halve, mash and add cheese, sun dried tomatoes and basil, refill the cases then heat up in the AF for dinner this evening, to go with salad.  I really like the AF, it's so versatile.  I've ordered a silicone sling thing, it's coming today, to make it easier to get hot dishes out of the AF, I've already had minor burns a couple of times trying to lift things out - my oven gloves are too thick so I've been making do with a folded tea towel.

07.15 and it's already very light outside, I'm loving these longer days and all the Spring flowers beginning to bloom now everywhere we go.

Have a good day all.

Tuesday, 14 February 2023

Food thief

 Husband has got a big appetite, even though he's getting older his appetite doesn't seem to be waning, whereas mine definitely is.  He wants 3 meals a day, plus snacks if possible - he's always snacking on bananas or apples, cake or biscuits, handful of peanuts or piece of cheese in between meals.  It's not as if I'm starving him - he has large portions on his plate.  If I cook something like a cottage pie, bolognaise or fish pie, I generally make double portions so that half can be frozen for another meal for us both.  However, if I ask husband to dish up the meal (if I'm busy doing something else, e.g.) he will almost always serve up at least 2/3 of the dish, despite me asking him to leave half.  Twice in the past week he's snaffled some of the food I've deliberately left in the kitchen to go cold before freezing it - a couple of tablespoonfuls of mashed potato left over from the fish pie I made yesterday, some southern fried chicken strips the other day.  The leftover mash I was planning on using with tinned tuna to make fishcakes for me, the chicken strips he's now left himself only a tiny portion of for another meal (it's only him who eats them).  Honestly, he's like a child stealing food from behind his mother's back in the kitchen 😒 (he does own up to it when I confront him).  I've had words with him and asked him to stop doing it - if I leave food in the kitchen to cool off, there's a reason for that....i.e. I want to use it for something else or freeze it for another meal.  

I think it comes from him being from a big family - he's one of 10 children, his parents weren't well off so, although they weren't starved by any means, they sometimes had to have small portions.  He used to say that none of them would ever dare to leave the table (to go to the loo, e.g.) during a meal, else it was likely one or more of their siblings would nick something off their plate whilst they were gone!

I've told him if he's still hungry (although I'm quite sure it's not hunger, more opportunistic temptation) then he's to have a piece of fruit or cake or a biscuit.  I kid you not, it's like living with a naughty, forgetful, sneaky, careless child at times, and I feel not like his wife or carer, but his mother!!  And a very long-suffering one at that 😂😖

The fish pie done in the AF yesterday was lovely, beautifully cooked fish and yummy crispy browned potato top.  I did some tenderstem broccoli in the 2nd basket - no info in the (next to useless) user manual on how to do that, so I drizzled it with a tiny bit of oil and put it in a tinfoil dish, which is what I'd do if I was putting it in the oven.  The florets were crispy and caramelised - nice - but the stems weren't cooked nearly enough, so I'm guessing microwaving or steaming on the hob would be a better option.

Today I'm going to try making a lemon drizzle cake in the AF - I'll split the mixture between 2 smaller tins as I'm assuming it will cook better that way rather than in one big tin.

I'm already thinking about getting a smaller air fryer, a single basket one, for the caravan....I know a couple of our van neighbours have them.  There's a corner shelf where it can be stored when not in use.  Just 15 days to go now before we can go back there.....😁

Monday, 13 February 2023

The learning curve

 Well, we collected the air fryer yesterday....actually, I would have had no need to order it in advance, they had about 10 of them boxed up ready on the shop floor.  The assistant said there was a time last year when they weren't getting many in (supply issues due to their popularity) and were out of stock for a while, but now they get a big delivery of them every week, and usually sell most if not all of them.  When we were leaving the shop, we had several people tell us we wouldn't regret buying one/they loved theirs/wouldn't be without it/hadn't used their normal cooker in weeks.  So I think it's going to be a good buy.  

I used it yesterday to firstly cook frozen chips - well, have to start somewhere! 😂😂 which we had with a Spanish omelette - I cooked that on the hob.  I slightly overdid the chips, oh well I like them crispy not soggy haha, but obviously it's all a big learning curve at the moment.  I think I'm going to enjoy using it, I'll even have a go at cake making this week.  It's definitely worth joining a dedicated FB group, I've learnt a lot already from reading their posts.  It seems you can actually cook anything in the AF that you'd cook in a normal oven, it's just a question of adjusting the timings.  The only consideration seems to be size, e.g. you can cook a chicken or a meat joint, but a relatively small one.  I've discovered that some of my existing bakeware, e.g. a couple of glass dishes, cake tins and some tin foil dishes, will all fit in it, I'll be using one of the glass ones today for a fish pie.

I've decided I don't like that big garden centre where the Lakeland concession is, it's just too ginormous, too many concessions and departments, too much to look at, too confusing and too many people.   So we won't be going again!

Didn't find a sofa bed in either of the 2 charity furniture shops - they had a couple but not what I wanted.  There's no hurry anyway, we'll just keep looking until we find a suitable one.  I don't mind a second hand one, but it has to be clean and tidy, comfortable and of good quality.

Husband has missed several text messages and calls on his mobile phone recently.....he rarely even remembers to check his phone so doesn't even know if he's had one, he's not a heavy user of his phone.  I had a look at it for him yesterday - somehow or other, he'd managed to set the volume for texts and calls to zero, he claims he has no idea how that happened.  So I've sorted it out for him.  He also forgets to charge it up, I have to remind him to do it.  His phone is quite old and fairly basic.....he sometimes says he'd like a smart phone but I think it would be a bit pointless, considering he doesn't even know how to reset the volume!  The only technology he can actually operate is the TV.....😒😂.  Bless him.

The pictures of the terrible devastation in Turkey and Syria following the earthquakes are so shocking, aren't they?  I can't even begin to imagine how terrifying it must be to be effectively buried alive underneath all that rubble, lying there for days on end, being unable to move even, never mind having nothing to eat or drink, and not knowing if or how you'll ever be rescued.  We are so very fortunate to live in this safe country.

Sunday, 12 February 2023

I'm getting it!

 After much deliberating and reading tons of reviews of various dual drawer air fryers, I've decided to go for the Lakeland one.  Apparently it has almost as many features as the Ninja, but the 2 big advantages are that it's around £100 cheaper, and has a 3-year warranty, rather than the normal 1 year given by most others.  I ordered it yesterday and will be collecting it today.  We're also going to look in 2 big charity furniture shops in the same area, to justify the trip out to Weston super Mare - the Lakeland shop is a concession inside a huge garden centre....I may just have to have a look around there as well!  The garden centre is so big that the last time I went (also the first and only!), I couldn't find my way out and had to ask staff.....twice!

The only issue about the Lakeland one mentioned by reviewers is that the instruction booklet/recipes that comes with it is very limited (only 3 recipes for a start).  However, I've found a FB group specifically dedicated to Lakeland fryers which seems very helpful, so I've joined that.  Exciting!

We've only got a couple of appointments this week, so I'll have plenty of time to play around with the AF and try things out.

I haven't looked out of the window yet so don't know what the weather's doing, but it's certainly a lot warmer than of late - I've not put the heating on as it's not needed.  I saw a headline in the paper this morning with a doom and gloom prediction about more freezing weather to come.....not sure where, I didn't bother to read the story.  Pretty sure it won't be here though, the forecast for the coming week looks fine and mostly dry with sunny spells, temperatures of 11 or 12 degrees C.  I hope it stays that way (or gets even better) for caravan week - only 17 days to go now.  As I said before, we may or may not stay over for a night or two, it depends on the weather.

I need to start collecting supplies to take to the van - toiletries and store cupboard foods, all of which we brought home when we closed it up last October.  All the towels, bedding etc are washed and in the caravan linen bag, ready and waiting to go back.  We're looking forward to seeing all our Park friends again, the regulars will all start coming back during March and April - a few don't arrive until after Easter.  

Friday, 10 February 2023

And another good thing

 A very cold and frosty start this morning, but there's a bit of sunshine forecast for today, mixed with clouds.  Next week is forecast to be much warmer, but changeable.  I had a look at the long range forecast - the first week of March looks bright and sunny, temperatures of 10-12 deg, so not really warm but it should feel warmer in bright sunshine.  So we might even stay a couple of days at the caravan, rather than just going for a few hours.  Depends on the weather really, long range forecasts can never be taken as gospel.

The big freezer was defrosted and everything put back tidily, a couple of things got thrown out as they'd been in the freezer too long and were so iced up it was almost impossible to tell what they were.  Lots of empty space in there now it's all tidy and organised, so we're going to do a stock up frozen food shop today.  Husband's car is back, the work (something to do with bearings I think) having been done successfully and no other problems found.  

I'm happy to say that I've been granted Carers Allowance, so a nice backdated lump sum has gone into my bank account this morning, that was quick!  It's nice to know that everything I've been doing for husband for the last couple of years has been recognised.  I'm going to use the lump sum to buy a 2-seater sofa bed so we can get rid of our big 3-seater sofa, and possibly an air fryer too.  We'll go to Taunton (the nearest big town with lots of shops, including a Lakeland and a big charity furniture shop) to have a look for both things.  We'll go the week after next - next week is school half term, so it'll be too busy in the town and elsewhere, so we won't be going out much.

The sun is coming up and there's a lovely glowing pink sky, it makes it feel good to be alive.  I'm going to spend this weekend doing a thorough overhaul of our finances, and setting up a couple of standing orders to transfer money monthly into savings accounts.

Thursday, 9 February 2023

How it works....and all fine

 I'm feeling a bit fuzzy headed this morning, think I slept a little too well last night - when husband got up at 06.00 (unusual, he's normally up after me, but he had to be up early to take the car to the garage) it woke me up before I was actually ready to get up, if you see what I mean.  We've made a start on defrosting the big freezer, all stuff taken out and put in the spare fridge and our big cool box.  Husband used the hairdryer on the iced up bits for a few minutes, it's now being left with the door open and old towels at the bottom to soak up the water as it defrosts.

A bit more about the L/A lettings process and how it works:  They publish a list of available homes every Wednesday, they stay 'live' on the website until the following Sunday, during this time one can make a bid (express your interest in, in other words) on whichever properties take your fancy, up to 3 properties each week.  Well, that's not strictly are only able to make bids on properties that the L/A has stipulated you are entitled to, according to your banding and needs (ours being Silver, the 3rd down in rank of the four bandings).  When you bid for a property, not only your banding but also the length of time you've been on the housing register is taken into account by the L/A when deciding on who to offer the property to.  On each property advert, your current position in the bidding ranks is given, should you decide to make a bid.  E.g., this week there are I think 3 suitably-sized bungalows being of them we do like the look of, although we're not keen on the location - in the centre of a very large housing estate, close to amenities but with no nearby dog walking area and only a tiny back garden.  This particular bungalow, should we decide to bid for it (we won't be), gave our ranking yesterday morning as No. 22 - meaning there were 21 others in front of us who had already made bids, who all had better eligibility than us.  That was yesterday morning - this morning, for the same bungalow, our ranking is now 74! (so 73 others in front of us in terms of eligibility!).  So no chance there then.  The property will be offered to No. 1 on the list, if they turn it down then it will go to No. 2, and so on.  However, there are some flats available (we don't want a flat, at all), a couple of which only have, currently, 6 or 7 people placing bids.  One of the other bungalows, in a very rural area (so no different to our home here in terms of area and amenities) only has 13 bids on it currently, so we would possibly stand a much better chance of being offered that one.  But obviously there's no point in us moving to a home in a similar area to here, we'd be no better off in terms of access to amenities (and there's no bus service there either).

I'm actually very happy with the situation now - we are now on the waiting list, but have accepted there'll be quite a wait before we get offered a property.  That's fine, as it gives us loads of time to crack on with the sorting and decluttering and then slowly starting packing, and also to continue to save money towards the moving costs.  If our circumstances change at all.....e.g. if either of our health needs get worse, or our present landlords decide they want to claim back our home, then our banding and thus our eligibility will increase.  But I rather hope neither of those things happens - too stressful!

Right, back to work following our coffee break - husband will continue with the freezer defrost and I have a mushroom lasagne to make for dinner tonight.

Wednesday, 8 February 2023

Feeling better today

 I feel a lot better today, having had a reasonable sleep last night and my excessively sore hips having settled down.  I did a lot more research last night and this morning on the Housing Dept website (they have pages and pages of notes) and am now up to speed on everything....I think.  The issue with our application that was troubling me yesterday is no longer an issue, I've found, having done the extra research.

Firstly, I must address something that Brenda said in a comment yesterday - and thank you everyone for all the comments.  Brenda suggested that, if it is going to be years before we are offered a Local Authority place, perhaps we should consider moving to a very small place in town, temporarily.  There are a few reasons why this will not be a good idea at all:-

1.  If we chose to move to such a place, that the Local Authority considered met all our needs, then we would be removed from the Housing register and would no longer be eligible for Local Authority housing.

2.  Private rents in the local, and wider, area have rocketed in the past couple of years.  This is due to the nuclear power station currently being built (it'll take several more years before completion) at Hinkley Point, not far from where we live.  They employ literally thousands of workers, from all over the country - and abroad - who all need to be housed locally, and private landlords have raised their rental prices massively to take advantage of this.  Mostly way out of our price range.  So it's very unlikely we could even afford a place in town.

Another thing is that having lived for so long now in a very rural and peaceful area with no crime, neither of us wants to live in a town - on the edge of a town would be ok, I suppose, but preferably a village with a shop and GP surgery nearby, or at least with a bus service so we could easily get to them.  Some people might consider that we're being very picky, but obviously we want to be happy where we live, there's no point in moving somewhere that we'll hate, just to be close to amenities.  But thank you anyway, Brenda, I do appreciate your support.

I discovered that as well as Local Authority (L/A) owned properties, the housing register also lists properties owned by private Housing Associations (H/A) who are contracted to provide social housing - 18 of them to be exact.  Out of these 18, the majority will only offer homes to people on the L/A housing register, but there are 4 H/As which will also offer some of their properties privately, at 'affordable rent'.  Affordable rent is on a par with what would be charged by the L/A for a similar property, as opposed to 'market rent' which is basically them charging whatever they like.  So that's opened up another avenue for us.

My head is full to bursting of all this new housing stuff, so I'm having a day off from even looking or thinking about it, to give my poor little brain cells time to process it all.  Today we're taking Betty to the groomers for her bath and nail clipping and general fussing (she loves it there, and they love her) and then we're going shopping.  As it's a lovely sunny day with beautiful blue sky, after a very frosty start, we may even go for a drive somewhere.

Tuesday, 7 February 2023


 Having now been accepted by the Housing Dept, that gives me access to parts of their website that I wasn't able to see before.  I've re-read their email and read all the notes and descriptions of banding, eligibility etc on their website, and am now a bit despondent.  I thought there were 3 bandings - apparently there are 4, and Silver, the band we've been given, is the 3rd down the list, despite the medical evidence I submitted.  Not only is the banding taken into consideration when you're applying for homes, the length of time you've been on the housing register also applies.  So as we're 3rd (out of 4) down the banding list and have only just gone on the register, we stand little chance of getting a place anytime soon, it'll be years probably.  Which was kind of what I expected, but seeing the stark reality in black and white is disheartening.  The housing dept say that last year there were 9,500 people on their waiting list for homes, but only 2,300 homes available, so even more dejecting, as the majority of those 9,500 are ahead of us in the queue....although they won't all be looking for the same kind of accommodation as us.  And then there's the other thing I mentioned in my previous post which they've said we're not entitled to, I'm not putting that on here at the moment, I need to think about the best way forward.

Consequently, my resolve to sort and declutter has gone out of the window right now and I'm feeling a bit hopeless.  I didn't get a lot of sleep last night - all this housing stuff on my mind, and being in quite a lot of pain after my physio session yesterday, plus a personal matter that's been upsetting me for a while kept me awake.  So I know tiredness will be making me feel very low as well.....things might seem brighter if and when I can catch up on sleep.  I'm sure I can pull myself up by my bootstraps eventually, I usually do.

Good/not so good

 I got my first physio session yesterday, thankfully, a very nice young lady called Holly.  She asked lots of questions first, had me standing, walking up and down, standing on one leg (difficult, I'm very wobbly and off balance).  She asked if I'd ever been to a Balance and Falls clinic....I said I never knew they existed!  Then she had me lying on the bed whilst she tested the range of movement and pain level in my legs and hips.  She agreed with the GP's diagnosis of bursitis, but said I also have significant inflammation in my hip muscles and tendons.  She asked about my walking stick, and said I'd been using it in the wrong hand! (I should hold it in the opposite hand to my painful hip, apparently).  She's given me a couple of exercises to do daily, and will see me again in 3 weeks.  My hip was extremely painful for the rest of the day yesterday, as I expected, and I didn't sleep well.  It still hurts a lot this morning.

Husband got an appointment with the GP late yesterday afternoon, I'm very thankful that we can always get a same day appointment with the doctor.  He listened carefully, asked questions and then did a number of tests on husband.  He ruled out one condition (it was one I hadn't even heard of actually) as husband didn't exhibit one of the main symptoms of that particular thing.  He agreed husband may have a cognitive and/or balance problem, which may or may not be caused by his new meds.  He's lowering the dose of one of them as a trial, has booked him in for a blood test, and has asked for husband to monitor his blood pressure every day for 2 weeks (we have a BP machine).  Once the GP has had the results of the bloods and BP readings, he may refer husband for a head scan.  We're relieved that he's being properly investigated.

Well, we had an email from the housing department yesterday - they've accepted us and put us on the Silver banding.  However, there's one thing we're not happy with at all, apparently we can ask for a mandatory review and offer up any further supporting evidence and a different housing officer will review it.  I'll be drafting the review application and submitting it today.  So it's a case of close but no cigar, as the saying goes, it's a bit of a blow actually.  Oh well, these things are sent to try us.

Rambler, you asked if many of the other caravan owners will arrive at the park early in March.  The answer is no, most unlikely.  Last year there were only a handful of owners early in the season, I don't expect it to be any different this year.  We know of one couple who said they will definitely be there when it opens, I'm sure there will be 2 or 3 others.  We live much nearer to the park than most other owners, so it's no bother for us to go there just for a few hours, whereas the majority who live further away are most likely to go only when the weather warms up considerably and they'll be able to stay for a few days.  

Monday, 6 February 2023

It's either busy busy or nothing on

 I sorted the remaining kitchen cupboards yesterday, it didn't take long as I'd done the baking cupboard just a few months ago.  I only had to throw away a few things - some sachets of yeast, a nearly empty pot of baking powder and an opened pot of xanthan gum that were all out of date....I think I only used the xanthan gum once a couple of years ago when I was trying out some gluten-free baking (not successful).  There was also a plastic tub of some unidentified gluten-free flour substitute - at least I think that's what it was, I'd clearly forgotten to write on the tub so have no idea what it was actually.  There was also a half empty jar of powdered sweetener, which had gone solid.  As I never use it anyway (think I'd bought it for guests who were staying a couple of years ago), that went too.  Most of these things were on a high shelf and right at the back of the cupboard, which I can only see and reach by standing on a stool.  All done now.  Husband didn't feel like continuing with the utility room sort out, I expect he'll do it sooner or later.

Other than that, I sat and did a bit of banking, menu planning for the coming week and a list of jobs to do.  We've got a few appointments during the week, so won't be doing loads of jobs.  Top of the list is defrosting the big upright freezer - we've been eating quite a bit out of it so it's not stuffed full now.  The spare fridge in the utility room is empty and we have a big coolbox, so enough space to put the frozen food whilst the freezer is being defrosted.

Husband will be ringing the surgery this morning to get an appointment to see the GP.  I have my first (rescheduled) physio appointment at 11.00, I've not had a phone call - yet - to cancel, so hopefully it's going ahead, although there is a nurses strike on today so fingers crossed.  In the next 3 weeks husband has 3 medical appointments (so far!), I have one.  Betty has a grooming appointment this week and the vets next week for her annual jab and check up.  Husband is taking the car in for some work on Thursday.  We have our monthly coffee and cake morning with a friend next week.  And after all that it'll be caravan time!

Sunday, 5 February 2023

Oh dear oh dear

 Some time in the next few weeks we'll have a visit to Taunton, there's a Lakeland shop there where I can see their range of air fryers.  There's also a big charity second hand furniture shop, which sells good quality furniture, they generally have a good range of sofas there.  We definitely want to get rid of our big 3-seater sofa and get a 2-seater sofabed instead, both because it will be a better fit in a smaller lounge, and give extra sleeping accommodation when we have guests.  Our present lounge isn't very big in any case, and the sofa does dominate the room a bit.  As husband and I both have recliner armchairs, the only one who sits on the sofa regularly anyway is the dog!  It's a bit daft really her having a big 3-seater all to herself...although she does like to stretch out on it, but she's only a medium sized dog.

Yesterday husband decided as the weather was warmer and he was feeling alright, he'd make a start on decluttering the utility room.  He made good inroads into it, and it now looks much tidier and there's a lot more space where he's got rid of a load of stuff.  Still more to do in there, but that's fine, he can do it at his leisure.  I sorted through some of the kitchen wall cupboards - a big corner one and 2 single ones.  Somewhat embarrassingly, I found right at the back of the corner cupboard (which I can only reach by standing on a stool) some packets of dried savoury rice, couscous and sauces that were several years old (2015 and 16!!  Don't judge me!! 😂😂).  The contents were solid, not freeflowing, so I just binned them unopened.  Ditto with several jars of herbs and spices - so old they no longer had any aroma.  Now the cupboards are wiped out and the (usable) contents put back, so they're streamlined, put in a sensible order and I can see clearly what they are.  I shall be keeping a closer eye on the stuff in future.  I've just got the baking cupboard (a big double cupboard), a single cupboard full of dried pulses, rice etc and another with hot drinks (teas, coffees, malted milk & chocolate, herbal & fruit teas) to do, then that's the kitchen cupboards all done.  I also made dog food yesterday morning.  We had the afternoon off, husband wanted to watch the Six Nations anyway.

Today husband says he's going to continue with the utility room and I'll sort the remaining kitchen cupboards.  I'm doing a turkey mince and macaroni cheese bake in the Multichef for dinner, it's quick and easy to prepare and I won't have to stand over it, just some green veggies to go with it.

Briony, husband has been on a statin for years, so it's unlikely to be that affecting him.  It's more likely to be his new heart meds, although he has been on those for a couple of months now so I'd have thought any side effects would be wearing off by now.  We will definitely be going to see his GP this week, we'll ring them tomorrow.  Obviously, I'm a bit worried about Alzheimers or Parkinsons, but we'll see what the GP has to say.

It's been a difficult few days for one reason or another, I am SO ready to go back to my beloved caravan.  Even if it is just for a few hours here and there to begin with.  Just 24 days to wait.

Saturday, 4 February 2023

Not yet!

 Thank you for all the input yesterday, it's good to know everybody's thoughts, helps me to crystallise things in my own mind.

I should say that I'm not buying an air fryer right now - my intention yesterday was purely to go and have a look at the dual basket ones, to see how big they are and how much space they'll take up.  We're not intending to sell our present cooker right now either - we'll most likely leave it here if and when we move, asking for a contribution from the landlord for it.  Oh, and any new place won't have any white goods, it's not the policy of our local housing dept to leave any in the properties when the tenants leave (or die!)...I guess they'd have to pay to have them tested for safety and any defects.  Kim, you also mentioned this in comments, thank you.  The housing dept don't supply any either, tenants are expected to provide their own.  I'm assuming that any kitchen will have a space where a full size cooker would go....we'll most likely put in a cupboard base unit of some kind, or perhaps a wooden freestanding small island type thing, with a wooden top, on which to stand the air fryer.  We have a small base unit in the caravan which the mini oven stands on, we bought it from one of the DIY stores, we'll get something similar I expect.  

I want to do more research before I decide definitely to get one, and then google to find where I can get my chosen model (whichever that may be) for the best price.  I also want to go and physically look at more, the electrical store we went to yesterday only had one or two of the dual basket models on display.

I don't use my oven nowadays nearly as much as I used to and, when I do use it, I try to make sure I use all the available space in it, to make the best use of the electricity cost.  E.g., last night we had fish and chips (freezer to oven), but I also did a trayful of roasted root veggies - we like them cold with mayo as a salad lunch with some grated cheese, or frozen to quickly reheat in the microwave.  If I'm putting a dinner in the oven, I frequently bake a tray of jacket spuds, or a cake, some scones or sausage rolls or a quiche at the same time.  But as I said, the oven is so low down and that makes it difficult for me to get stuff in and out of the oven.  I do ask husband sometimes to get things out of the oven for me, but with his balance issues, shaky hands and general clumsiness, it's not ideal.  He fell into the lounge door frame again yesterday, making the door bang against the wall and frightening me half to death again (I was in a different room so just heard the bang).  I think we're going to have to go back to the GP, his balance problems, clumsiness and short-term memory problems aren't getting any better - worse if anything, I'd have thought they should be wearing off by now if they were merely side effects of his new medications.  It is worrying me a bit.

Friday, 3 February 2023

Over to you!

 I've been thinking along the lines of getting rid of our cooker, it's a normal twin oven with 4 ring ceramic hob, all electric as there's no gas here.  I say twin oven....the top oven is pretty much just a grill, although it's marketed as a 2nd oven, it's not very efficient as an oven though.  The bottom main oven is a fan one, which is pretty good.  However, the bottom oven is very low to the ground and I'm finding it increasingly difficult to bend to get things in or out.  And as husband keeps pointing out, using the oven takes a lot of electricity (he's very good at pinpointing where he thinks I could save electricity, although doesn't seem to do anything himself!! 😒😁).

I do use my Multichef cooker thing quite a's not an air fryer or a pressure cooker, but does slow cooking, stews, roasting, sauteing (Spelling? that word doesn't look right!).  It'll also bake a cake or bread apparently, but I've never tried that.  I also use my microwave more now.  Some of you may remember I bought an air fryer oven thing some while ago, it was like a mini fan oven.  It was alright while it just didn't last, it simply stopped working in the middle of cooking something, after just a month or so.  I returned it and got my money back.  It was fairly cheap, so I'm guessing it wasn't very good.

I'm seriously considering getting rid of the cooker altogether, and buying a good quality air fryer instead, one with dual baskets.  I might also get a 2-ring ceramic electric hob.  I've been looking at lots of air fryers online and reading reviews.....the Ninja one and a Lakeland one that looks very similar seem to have the best reviews.  I want to actually see one for myself though, to see how big it is and, well, exactly what it looks like, so this morning we're going to visit the big electrical store in the town which has all their stuff out on display. 

My main concern I suppose is that it kind of seems like we'll be having several electrical appliances (which is a consideration in a small kitchen) to do the work of one - i.e. the cooker.  In a small kitchen, which mine is and probably will be in a future bungalow), there won't be an awful lot of worktop space, and I don't really want all the space taken up with appliances.  I guess if we don't have the cooker, then we could have a small unit or worktop in that space on which to house the air fryer.  I'd rather not have to keep putting the appliances away when not in use and then dragging them out again when I do need to use them.

What do you all think?  Any advice or ideas would be appreciated.

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Lovely readers!

 Sue of A Smaller and Simpler Life made a valid comment on my blog of readers certainly all make me think!  Sue said she would be worried about the effect moving ourselves would have on both husband's and my health.  I have been thinking about this ever since husband came up with the idea of buying a van and moving ourselves.

As I mentioned previously, we've moved house several times and each time I've found the actual moving day horrendously stressful, and the subsequent weeks of unpacking, putting away and shifting everything around just adds to that.  As I've got older, I've found stressful situations really have a major impact on my mental wellbeing, and that's not something I want or need now when I'm having to take on even more responsibilities in our day to day life.

We are fortunate to have a couple of very good male neighbours (all our neighbours are good) who are younger and certainly much fitter than husband and I, and who have already indicated their willingness to help out with loading and unloading our things when the time comes.

The thing I'm really keen on though is the idea that we could move in gradually over a period of a few weeks, taking a couple of bits of furniture, or white goods, or a few boxes at a time.  We would then have plenty of time to put those bits in their proper places and unpack the few boxes, at our leisure.  And that would lessen the stress for me, massively.  Thank you Sue, for your concern.  And thank you to all of you who are always so encouraging and helpful.

Husband asked for a ham, leek and mushroom pie for today, he had some ham left over from the gammon joint he had on Sunday, so I've made a large one for him this morning, it'll make 4 portions so plenty to freeze for his future meals.  I'm having fishcakes.  I'm eating more and more fish these days, I really like fish of all kinds....well, apart from squid, and things like cockles, winkles and mussels!  I had been eating chicken or bacon once a week or so, but am gradually going off those too.  I've made nut roasts for me several times now, but think I've eaten them too often so am having a break.  

I'm having a restful day today.  Tomorrow I'm going to sort out the food cupboards, I've a feeling that there may - well, I'm sure there will, not may - be a lot of packet stuff that's out of date by some considerable time.....dried yeast, e.g., I've not made bread for months so I dare say the yeast is out of date now and thus unlikely to be active.

And, guess what, it's now only 27 days till Caravan Day!  Our lovely van neighbours texted yesterday to say they'll be coming to the Park earlier than last year (they didn't come until late April last season) and are looking forward to seeing us again.  As we are, them.

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Coming up with ideas

 It's a pity my physio was cancelled yesterday, but at least it's been rescheduled for next Monday.  It's like everything else going on in our lives at the moment - just have to wait, frustrating though it can be.

We're going to compile a list today of what else needs doing in the decluttering and sorting out jobs.  I've asked husband to come up with some ideas too, rather than me having to think about it all and then ask him to do stuff.  I think it'll be good to get him more involved - after all, we both live here and both want to move, so it's up to both of us to get things done.

The more I think about it, the more I think it'll be a good idea to pay 1 or 2 months rent in advance on the new place (when we finally get one), so we can move things in over the course of a few weeks.  I find moving day itself (and we've moved quite a few times in our 40+ years together) highly stressful.  Although I always label everything with the room it's going in, stuff still ends up being more or less dumped, even if it's in the right room - at the end of the day, we're faced with a pile of boxes in each room along with the furniture, and no space in which to sort it all out!  Also, the place might need decorating, and new carpets or flooring, so obviously that needs to be done before we move in.

Husband came up with an idea last initial reaction was "Really?!  I don't think so!".  He was suggesting that he buys an old cheap van - one that runs and has a few months MOT, but it doesn't matter how old it is, what it looks like or how many miles on the clock, just so long as it works!  So then we can move a few bits of furniture or boxes say every other day over a period of a month or so, thus cutting out the stress of a single moving day.  The cost of buying the van he reckons will be similar to what we'd pay out for a removal firm, or possibly even a bit less (obviously he'd have to tax and insure it though so has to take that into account).  I actually think, having given it some consideration, that it might be a good idea, it does also mean that we could take any big stuff we don't want anymore to the tip (like our big 3-seater sofa) only worry is that he'll then be left with a van to get rid of afterwards.  He says he'll probably scrap it if he can't find a buyer quickly, the van will have served its purpose by then.  He can't hire a van, he tried that when we were doing up the caravan but had no luck, his age precluded him from hiring (I guess because of extra insurance the hire firms would have to pay).  

Anyway, this is all getting very much ahead of ourselves....but I do like to be prepared!

I made the salmon and prawn tart a la Sue of A Smaller Life yesterday.....I made one big tart in the end rather than half a dozen small ones.  I also used broccoli and a chopped courgette, a ball of mozzarella broken up and a sprinkling of grated Cheddar.  We had a slice each with a pile of green veg for dinner, the rest has been frozen.  It was yummy, Sue.  Chicken drumsticks with roasted veggies traybake tonight, I'll drizzle it with honey and soy sauce.