Tuesday 30 April 2024

Bit unnerving

 Still no idea why the police keep coming to the young woman's house across the road from us, however, another neighbour has said that apparently she's gone on holiday this week.  The neighbour also said the young woman is a schoolteacher, so doesn't appear to be the type of person to be a drug dealer!  But if she's a teacher, why has she gone on holiday during term time?  Also, this morning 2 of her front windows were open - despite there appearing to be no-one there (the neighbour pushed them shut).  The plot thickens!!  I know we're all curious about what's going on, but it is a bit unsettling all the same - nobody wants to live in a place where police keep turning up - especially when they come mob-handed, as it were, in several vehicles and some of them go round the back of the house, presumably because they think someone might try to escape through the back.  Since Sunday, the last time we saw the young woman, none of her frequent visitors have been - well, not that we've seen, nor have there been any lights on in the house.  But then who opened her windows?  It's a mystery alright, one that I hope is solved very soon, because it's unnerving me a bit.  You don't expect trouble on a small, very quiet, sheltered housing estate consisting of mainly elderly and disabled residents, do you?

Years ago, when we were living in the Midlands on a small, very quiet residential estate, the house next door to us was sublet by the owner's son (neither the owner nor his son lived there), to a pair of young prostitutes - he was fully aware of their 'occupation' and was living off their earnings.  So for a few weeks we had a succession of men calling next door at all hours of the day and night, a few of whom knocked at our door by mistake.  It was horrendous, frankly.  We and the other close neighbours went to the police, who admitted that the owners and the prostitutes were known to them.....however, it took a couple of months before the police managed to get them out.  Shortly after, the house was sold - to a normal friendly young working man.  Thank goodness.  So I really hope we don't have any trouble of that nature again.

Yesterday morning we had a brief spell of sunshine - very brief - still very windy though, with showers forecast from mid morning onwards.  I quickly took the opportunity to put some bedding on the line outside, keeping an eye on the weather.  The bed linen dried in no time with the gusty wind and I got it in not long before it started to rain.  More rain forecast today, but better weather from Wednesday onwards....drier, less windy and a bit warmer - I hope so, we've still got more to do in the garden.

Husband didn't go to his Men in Sheds group yesterday, he's now wavering about going but isn't being very forthcoming about why.  I'll get it out of him eventually, I'm sure it's something and nothing and will be solved sooner or later - I think it will be good for him to go.

Monday 29 April 2024

And they're back...๐Ÿ˜ณ

 It was a gorgeous day yesterday, sunny and warm all day, albeit with a bit of a cold northerly breeze.  In the morning I put husband's gammon joint in the slow cooker and prepped all the veggies for dinner.  Carrots for roasting in the air fryer, Sweetheart cabbage, mashed potatoes with caramelised red onions and grain mustard stirred through, with red onion gravy.  I got a portion of my homemade nut roast out of the freezer for me.  Put washing on the line.  We did more work in the garden, digging over and planting up the new rockery where the cut down conifer hedge was, I dug up clumps of succulents from other areas of the garden to put in that bed - they've all spread well in the other two areas so I'm sure they'll do equally well in the new rockery bed, once they've settled in.  Husband potted on some of the little veg plants.  Oh, the little new leaf on the dead lupin has now disappeared completely, I think that's it for that plant, I'll get something else to put in its place.  I'm not convinced it is slugs or snails actually, it's only been that one plant affected, none of the others have been nibbled or died.  Still, just one plant failing out of 2 dozen or so isn't bad, I'm not complaining.

After lunch we decided to take advantage of the lovely sunshine and went for a walk on Minehead promenade......well, it certainly was lovely sunshine, but the 'bit of a cold northerly breeze' felt in our garden was a strong bitterly cold wind on the seafront, not very enjoyable.  After half an hour, we thankfully got back in the car, feeling totally sandblasted (and we weren't even on the beach, but on the prom).  Had we known it was going to be that windy, we wouldn't have gone!

The police were back again yesterday evening, 2 vehicles this time.  Same routine as the last time - 2 officers knocked on the young woman's front door, another 2 went round the back of the house.  The young woman wasn't in (she'd not been there all day), they all peered through her windows and knocked on the glass, but didn't go to the properties either side this time.  They didn't stay long, 5 mins at most, before getting back in their vehicles and driving off.  All very strange!

This morning husband's going to his Men in Sheds group, I was going to get him to drop me off in town - I want to join the library and pick up some books - but heavy rain showers are forecast so I'm not venturing out.  I'll stay home and get my housework jobs done this morning instead, then do some crocheting or reading this afternoon.

Sunday 28 April 2024

Not a clue

 Don't know about you, but I find the hardest thing about blogging is thinking up a title!

Yesterday when I got up, I didn't really have any plans for the day - for a change.  So I just did a few odd jobs.  I sorted out a wash load but, having seen the forecast (dismal), I decided not to put it on until today, when the weather is forecast to be better - drier with sunny intervals.  Warmer than yesterday too, I hope, it was blimming freezing yesterday, we had the heating on practically all day.

I sat and wrote a meal plan for the next 10 days or so - having not got round to doing it the other day.  I shouldn't need any shopping for up to a fortnight, we've got plenty in.  I then wrote a few appointments and things on the calendar, then transferred everything to my desk diary and updated it with my shopping running totals.  Husband planted up our potatoes (salad ones I'd bought from Tesco, which have all been chitting), we're growing them in compost bags, alongside one of the raised beds.  It's going to be lovely having our own homegrown produce again, after a couple of years of not doing it.  I made an apple crumble, to use up some eating apples we'd bought that aren't very nice - husband only likes sweet apples and these ones are quite sharp - which I like, but they're surprisingly tasteless.  I added ginger and brown sugar to them, and cinnamon and oats in the crumble mix - very nice with cream.

Donna, you asked if the young neighbour's visitors are all, in fact they're mostly women, I think only 2 of her regular visitors are men.  They're all different ages and some arrive together, I'm assuming they're family and friends.  It's back to the normal peace and quiet here, not seen many neighbours because of the weather - it's been so cold, nobody wants to be out doing their gardens or chatting.

I'm looking forward to when it's warm enough for us to go for long slow walks with Betty on the beach or promenade in the evenings.  I think we're so lucky to live within a very short drive of the sea - I know we don't have the loveliness of Devon or Cornwall beaches, but it's nice enough round here and we're very happy with it. 

Saturday 27 April 2024

Weevils and pizza (not a weevil pizza!)

 I had one packet bread mix in the baking cupboard - it was 2 months out of date, but when I opened it up it had those little tiny weevil things crawling about in it ๐Ÿ˜ฑ, so that went straight in the bin.  Luckily, all my flours, nuts, rices etc I keep in sealed Kilner jars - I checked them all and they were fine, phew.  I had everything out of the cupboard and wiped it all out, to be on the safe side.

Having no oven/grill now does limit my baking a bit - I love my air fryer but it has its limitations....the size of the drawers being one of them.  We were both fancying pizza, so seeing as I couldn't use the bread mix, I made a base.....simple enough anyway, I used half brown bread flour/half plain white, with a tsp of baking powder, salt, olive oil, plain yogurt and a splash of water.  I cooked the base in my electric fry pan, flipping the base over halfway through to cook the other side, it cooked well enough.  I spread the cooked cooled base with tomato puree mixed with some soft cheese and herbs, then topped with fried red onion, sliced courgette and mushrooms and added raw tomato slices, then grated cheese of course.  Cut it in half and cooked one half at a time (that's all that will fit) in the air fryer.  Successful and easy, I'll do it again.

Yesterday morning on my normal inspection of the garden, I noticed a single tiny new leaf had appeared on the dead maybe it's not dead after all.   As mentioned, the other lupin is romping away, it looks strong and healthy.

Re the police 'raid' on the young neighbour's house just before we went away last idea what it was about, none of the other neighbours know either.  We've seen the young woman coming and going the past couple of days, she seems ok.  Some of you wondered whether she was possibly being exploited by undesirables in view of the amount of visitors she has.  The thought had also crossed my mind, but I don't think she is - her visitors are all the same people and none of them look like lowlifes - except perhaps one bloke, who has long hair and wears scruffy clothes - but I could be unfairly judging him purely on his appearance!  Perhaps the police had the wrong has been known to happen!  So I don't think we live in a crime hotspot after all ๐Ÿ˜‚  Having said that though, several sheds on the local allotments were broken into earlier this week whilst we were away, some tools stolen.  The police apparently said they can't do anything without CCTV footage (no CCTV at the allotments).  Burglary seems to be bottom of the police's list nowadays.

No idea what I'm doing today, no plans ๐Ÿค”

Friday 26 April 2024


 Thank you so much for the comments - Viv, when I read yours it brought tears to my eyes, you get how hard it is to cope with our loved ones' obsessions, and how difficult it can be to stay patient - showing annoyance or irritation doesn't help anyone.  Fortunately, husband's obsession with the caravan TV aerial has eased off since we got home - he's now back to another obsession (reading the electricity meter daily and telling me how much we've used).

HH and Rambler - you both mentioned how attractive lupins are to slugs.....I'd bought and planted 2 different ones (well, different colours) - oddly, one, as I said, has died completely (obviously been eaten as there's almost nothing left of it), however, the other is perfectly fine, not nibbled at all!  It can't be that the slugs have a colour preference ๐Ÿ˜‚, as they're nowhere near flowering yet.  So I wonder why they haven't touched the other one?  The two little acers I planted out have both got wind-damaged leaves whilst we've been away, I hope they'll survive.  

I didn't get the washing outside to dry yesterday, it was showery on and off most of the day, so it had to go on the airer instead.  Other than dealing with the washing, going shopping and putting it away, and doing a little bit of prep for dinner (prawn curry for husband, prawn & mushroom fried rice for me), I spent the rest of the day sitting in my armchair in my room.  My back is really problematical again - a result of bending down weeding and pruning in the caravan garden and lugging a bag of compost around, I think.  Yes I know, silly me.  I was very tired yesterday as well, having not slept very well, which made my back and hip aches seem worse.  So I sat and wrote a menu plan, did a few lists and some banking, and had an early night after dinner.  It's funny, when I say I'm not doing anything much as I need to rest, husband takes it as his cue to rest and do nothing as well!  In an ideal world, we'd have husbands who said "Don't worry darling, you have a rest, I'll do what needs doing".  Only it isn't an ideal world, it's the real world I live in ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‚

Bed linen needs changing today and the bedrooms hoovered and tidied - mine's always tidy anyway, husband's looks more like a teenage boy's room....but that's his choice ๐Ÿ˜.  I want to do a larder inventory, I'll have to sit on a stool to do the lower cupboard, which is mostly baking things - not that I do much baking now, but there are things like dried fruit, nuts and seeds, veg suet, some bread mixes (which might well be out of date!) that all need a sort out.  If the bread mixes are outdated, the yeast might not be active anymore, so I might make up the mix and try making a pizza base out of it - I'll cook it in the electric fry pan with the lid on.  It's worth a try anyway.

Thursday 25 April 2024

Home and back to normal

 Once we got home yesterday (to sunshine, albeit a little chilly), I unpacked everything and put it away and loaded the washing machine ready for going on first thing this morning.  Husband watered the garden, then relaxed (driving does take it out of him).  I then wrote a shopping list for today, a top up shop for dairy and fruit/veg.

Husband's decided to take our home Freesat box the next time we go back to the caravan, to see if that works the TV ok.....if it does, he'll leave it there and buy a new one for home.  If it doesn't - well, that's his problem to sort out.

I know this is yet another symptom of husband's cognitive impairment, he often gets obsessions - he'll get a bee in his bonnet about something, or something will go wrong, and it consumes him totally, he goes on and on about it for days, it's all he can think or talk about.  He can't help it, I know, but it requires massive amounts of patience from me.  Sometimes it takes more than I can give, which is what happened at the caravan park.....we'd gone there to help our friends pack up their belongings and say goodbye, and then intended to do the garden and relax - not much relaxation to be had when husband's in the grip of his latest obsession.  At least at home it's easier to deal with - we have space, for one thing.  Knowing what causes his obsessive behaviour and that he can't help it is all very well, but actually living with it and trying to deal with it/contain his obsessiveness is not easy.

Anyway, we're home now and back to normal routines.  After putting washing on the line then going shopping I've got menu plans to write, banking to do and a few more garden plans to make.  One of my new cottage garden plants has died whilst we've been away, so will get another one (a lupin) to replace it, we also need to buy a couple of butternut squash plants, and I have some pelargoniums to plant up into a couple of pots.

Wednesday 24 April 2024


 Yesterday morning was quite unpleasant, raining most of the time and freezing cold again, we had the heating on in the van all morning.  Husband went and bought a few more bits for the TV aerial, but it still didn't work, so he wasn't happy and kept going on about it.  I couldn't help him as I know absolutely nothing about TV technology - I have trouble changing channels if he's out and I actually want to watch something, as there's 2 remote controls which confuses the hell out of me.  In the afternoon the sun came out and it changed to a different day entirely - back to sunny and warm again.  I suggested we went to buy an indoor TV aerial, as a compromise until he can get whatever the problem is fixed.  Well, the indoor aerial worked (and provided a good picture) but only gave around 15 or 16 channels, much to husband's disgust.  I pointed out that at least he'd got 16 to watch!!  He went on and on about it until I put my foot down firmly and said I'd had 2 days of listening to him moaning about the bloody TV and didn't want to hear anymore about it.  I insisted he came outside with me to get on with tidying the garden and planting up the pots, whilst it was nice and sunny.  He did and we got it mostly done.

Later on he decided 16 channels wasn't nearly enough and started fiddling about with the TV and indoor aerial again....with the result that it stopped working altogether ๐Ÿคฌ๐Ÿคฌ.  We're going home today as I simply cannot spend another minute, let alone day, listening to him moaning and cursing again ๐Ÿคฏ๐Ÿคฌ๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿซจ.  And he's just accidentally tipped his 7 morning meds on the floor, so I guess it's going to be one of those days.

Don't get me wrong, it's been a nice few days despite the cold rainy weather since Monday morning, but there's hardly anyone here now (they all went home Sunday or Monday morning), so it's only me here for husband to complain and witter on at, and it's driving me nuts.  Bloody telly, for once I wish it actually worked!!

Tuesday 23 April 2024

Dodging the showers to do the garden

 After both weekend days of glorious weather to lull us into a false sense of security, yesterday was overcast, rainy and cold.  So essentially back to normal!!  Today is supposed to be better though, not as rainy or cold, although still overcast.

Yesterday we went to the garden centre, where I bought 2 dozen little geraniums in mixed colours, to fill the caravan garden pots.  Also went to a DIY shop so husband could get some bits for the TV, which he still can't get working, he thinks it's a problem with the ariel or outside'll give him something to do, trying to fix it (picture me sniggering here... although if he doesn't get it working he'll be like a bear with a sore head).  I'll be doing some gardening whilst he's fiddling with the ariel wires, and no doubt keeping his spirits up with cups of tea whilst he's cursing ๐Ÿ˜‚.  We might go out for fish and chips at lunchtime, Betty too, she loves a share of ours.  We'll eat them in the car I expect, on the seafront, not warm enough for sitting on the beach.

It's back to being almost deserted here after the busy weekend, no doubt because of the lovely weather which has now turned cold and wet.  We'll probably go home Thursday, we'll have finished the garden here by then (dodging the showers).

Monday 22 April 2024

A glorious weekend

 It was very sad saying goodbye to C & J yesterday late afternoon, J and l were determined not to cry, didn't want our last memory to be of the pair of us sobbing our eyes out!  I'm so glad their final weekend at the park was such a good one, it was just like early summer, wall to wall warm sunshine, couldn't have asked for better weather.  We have nothing but happy memories of our time with them, just a pity it couldn't have been longer.

Emptying their van was just like moving home, they've had it a long time and there was so much stuff to take out....the site owner is apparently removing the van, getting a dealer to come and take it away (or so he says), so wanted it emptied.  They took some stuff home with them last month, some to the tip or charity shops on Saturday, some they gave us.  All useful things - an oil radiator, toaster, slow cooker, storage jars, tools for husband - all things we already have both here at the van and at home, but it's nice to have spares for the inevitable breakdown of things.  Their car was packed to the gunnels when they left.

After the glorious weather of the weekend, it's forecast to be overcast, colder and with a few showers for the next few days.  Well, so long as it doesn't pee down the whole time I don't mind.  We've got the garden to do here, pots to empty and refill, weeding and pruning to be done.  I'm going to buy a couple of trays of mixed geraniums to fill up all the pots and the small bed at the front of the van garden, geraniums (pelargoniums to be exact) always do well here, they like hot weather and don't mind not being watered when we're not here.

Sunday 21 April 2024

Lovely to be back, and end of an era

 Staying here at the caravan for the first time this year feels like coming home after being away for months.... which is exactly what it is, I guess!

We had a really lovely day yesterday, it was warm bright sunshine all day.  We arrived around 10.30 am, husband got the services switched on whilst I quickly unpacked the food, then it was into our lovely neighbours' van for tea and cake.  We had lots of hugs, chats and laughs throughout the day, and caught up with several other owners who arrived in dribs and drabs.  Lovely community feel here.  

Sadly, our lovely neighbours are leaving this afternoon, J has a hospital appointment in the next couple of days.  It's the end of an era.  We will keep in touch of course, but realistically it's unlikely we'll be able to meet up with them in the future.  Even if we and they arranged to meet halfway between our homes, it would still be around a 2 hour drive for each of us.  So phone and internet it will be.

I wonder who our new neighbours will be, and when?  No buyers on the horizon just yet.  Sunny again this morning, we have no plans for today other than spending the last few hours with C & J before they leave after lunch.  We'll make the most of it.

Saturday 20 April 2024

Off soon, and a bit of excitement

 All - well, mostly - packed and ready to go, just the frozen and fridge food to go in the coolbox.  Looks like the week is going to be mostly cloudy with some sunny spells but, most importantly, dry.  Colder than of late though, but that's ok, we have heating in the van and plenty of fleece blankets.  We're planning on a couple of outings during the week, and visiting some shops that we don't have near our home, one being Dunelm.  I'm taking several frozen homemade meals, so won't have to do any cooking for 4 or 5 days, just heating them through and adding some veg.

There was a bit of excitement here last night.  We live in a small cul de sac of just 11 bungalows, all sheltered housing, so it's mostly people our age and older, with a variety of health conditions.  One of the bungalows, however, is occupied by a young woman who, to all intents and purposes, looks well enough, but not all disabilities are visible of course, and she must have some condition to be eligible to live here.  Nobody knows much about her, she seems pleasant enough and says hello, but keeps herself to herself - no problem, each to their own.  The one strange thing is that she has numerous visitors and people sometimes staying overnight - there's a constant stream of people coming and going every day, the young woman herself goes out in her car frequently.  Sometimes she goes away for a couple of days and other people seem to stay in the bungalow instead.  Anyway, yesterday evening 3 police vehicles - a van and 2 cars - arrived and parked up, several officers got out and went to the young woman's bungalow, some went round the back and 2 of them knocked on the front door.  The woman's car was there, so we assumed she was in (never seen her go out without her car), but nobody answered the door.  The police then spent several minutes peering through the windows and repeatedly knocking at the door and the windows, then knocked on the doors of her neighbours either side - as it happened, they're both away.  After a bit of chat between all the officers, they all got back in their vehicles and drove away!  So we have no idea why they turned up, but it's not the sort of thing you expect to see in a small quiet close of elderly sheltered housing tenants in a rural area - this isn't a crime hotspot!  Well, we didn't think it was ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜‚.  Oh, the young woman was definitely in, just not answering her door - shortly after the police went, lights went on in her house.  She lives opposite us and all this was happening in clear view of our front room, it's not as if we had to go outside to have a nose ๐Ÿ˜‰

I'll probably write a few blog posts whilst we're away, but shorter than usual - it's not so easy typing them on my phone.  As I mentioned, I can't post comments on your blogs using my phone though, no idea why.  I'm taking books and some crochet, husband's got puzzle books and playing cards so he doesn't have to have the TV on all the time!

Can't remember if I mentioned how husband got on at his first proper Men in Sheds session early this week - he really enjoyed himself.  The guys (all around husband's age) mostly do woodwork projects, making things like bird tables and nesting boxes, or repairing things that people have brought in.  They can either sell what they make (at local fairs), the proceeds going to charity, or they can choose to make something for their own use.  I've suggested he make some plant pot holders for the garden, which he's keen to do.  I'm so happy he's got all these new interests, it's doing him a power of good.  And I get several hours a week on my own - Win Win!  Can't wait for the better weather, so husband can drop me off in town when he goes to the gym or Sheds.  

Friday 19 April 2024


 We saw husband's GP yesterday afternoon....just as well I went with husband as I could answer some questions he couldn't, and could correct some wrong information he gave the GP (e.g. when asked how long he'd been diagnosed as diabetic, he said more than 10 years - erm no, it's 4 years, and does he have any other diabetic complications beside the foot neuropathy?  He said no, I said actually it's yes, he also has early retinopathy changes in his eyes, noted on his last 2 annual diabetic eye tests).  The GP is referring him to hospital for nerve conduction tests.  She said she would give him some pain relief for the stabbing pains he gets in his feet - because of his heart failure and some of the meds he's on, he cannot take anti-inflammatory meds, so she prescribed a type of pain relief cream (I forget the name).  When we went to collect it from the chemist (attached to our surgery), the dispenser said they haven't been able to get hold of that particular cream for months!  She said she'd have a word with the GP and get something else instead.  Apparently there are loads of meds in short supply at the moment - actually, I saw an article in the paper about that recently.

Today is all about packing for our week away.  I asked husband to get out a week's worth of clothes for me to pack.  I have to vet them prior to packing - he always has too many of some things and not enough of an example, I can already see from the pile of clothes on his bed that he's got out about 4 pairs of shorts.....erm, it's not going to be particularly warm next week!  He'll be needing track suit trousers and sweatshirts or jumpers.  He also appears to have forgotten boxer shorts - plenty of socks but no underwear ๐Ÿ˜’๐Ÿ˜‚

I've made sausage rolls to take for our lunch when we arrive at the van tomorrow, something quick to have once I've finished unpacking.  J our lovely van neighbour texted me to say they're going today and will have the kettle on and cake ready for us tomorrow - how lovely.  The weather is forecast to be mainly dry but colder than the last few days.....that's alright, so long as it's dry I don't mind, I think we've all had enough of the relentless rain for the past few weeks.  Saying that though, it's been largely dry and sunny here the past few days, but with a freezing cold gusty wind.  I've done 3 loads of washing this week and got it all dried outside on the line, fantastic.  Our neighbours will water our seedlings in the car port and keep an eye on our house whilst we're away.  

I no longer take my laptop when we go to the van - I can access the internet to read blogs, and write short ones, on my phone but, like some of you, I can't comment on your blogs on my phone.  I have no idea why.  I do read all your blogs every day though.  

Have a good week everyone, oh and Joy I'm glad you've enjoyed your holiday.


Thursday 18 April 2024

No complaints!

 I know it's easy to complain about our NHS, particularly since Covid, the problem seeming to be that they are so chronically understaffed and underfunded, with too many office managers and not enough workers.  However, we've lived in several different areas and consequently had several different GP surgeries and/or hospitals and clinics, and I can honestly say that we've been very fortunate with all of them, rarely having any complaints.  Since moving here we've had to change to yet another surgery, which we were a bit upset about, as our last one was so good.  Well, I've had no cause to go to the surgery in the 4 months since we've lived here, whilst husband has been about 3 times.  At his annual diabetic review about 6 weeks ago, the nurse noted several things - she said according to his notes he'd put on around a stone, and wasn't active enough - both things I'd been telling him for months - so she referred him to a gym.  The gym referral only took 2 or 3 weeks to come through and husband's been attending weekly since.  The nurse also noted from the foot nerve tests she did, that he has very little feeling in his feet, so she referred him to Podiatry at the local community hospital.  He had an appointment this morning at 08.30, the podiatrist said he's got peripheral sensory neuropathy in his feet, basically nerve damage, he thinks partly caused by husband's (borderline) diabetes and partly by his heart failure.  He also said it could well be a reason why husband stumbles and loses his balance a lot - he can't feel his feet!  The podiatrist said he would refer husband back to his GP, for further discussion and possible treatment.  Well, at 10.30 this morning (so 2 hours after his podiatrist appointment), he had a phone call from the GP surgery, saying they'd had the report and referral from the podiatrist and offering husband an appointment with the GP this afternoon!  How's that for service?!

It's a lovely day today, brilliant sunshine and very little wind, so we're out in the garden again, doing a few little jobs before going away for the week.  Betty's worn herself out already running round the garden and sniffing everywhere, so she's come indoors for a snooze whilst we have a coffee break.

Wednesday 17 April 2024

His and her ways of doing things

 I don't do much baking nowadays, primarily because we no longer have a full size cooker - I cook all our meals using a combination of my air fryer, microwave, electric hot plate and electric fry pan.  Although some people say you can bake cakes and bread in an air fryer, I haven't had much success - perhaps it's just my air fryer.  Small cakes like muffins or scones work out fine, larger cakes in a tin just don't seem to cook properly in the middle.  I only attempted a loaf of bread once - same result as a loaf cake, not cooked in the middle.  However, I do have an oven in the caravan - a small table top fan oven one, which works perfectly well just like a normal full size one.  So I'm going to take baking ingredients and make cakes while I'm there - one this weekend to share with our van neighbours whilst we're there, and another the day before we come home.  Don't know why I didn't think of it before!  Incidentally, I also have a microwave and a smaller air fryer in the van.

Husband's off to his Men in Sheds group this morning, I've got washing to get out on the line, the bathroom to clean, vacuuming and clothes packing for the van.  

Betty doesn't like the hoover, when husband hoovers she barks and chases it around, because he makes a game of it - when I'm using it she just sits calmly on the sofa, eyeing it warily but not moving or barking.  It's the same with the post - when husband is home and the postman comes, Betty immediately rushes to the door, barking and trying to grab the post before husband gets to it.  He's made such a fuss out of getting to the post before she does that she thinks of it as a big (annoying!) game.  Whereas I don't do anything like that, so she stays calm when he's out.  The thing is, husband gets annoyed when Betty barks and gets all excitable, but can't seem to grasp that it's his actions that get her like it, despite me pointing it out to him.  He winds her up all the time, whereas I keep her calm - except when we're having a little game, purposely to give her some stimulation....but I do it appropriately, using toys, for a short period and give her a treat reward at the end.  I think husband needs training more than Betty does!  Not much hope of that though, it's like talking to a brick wall.

Ah well, must get on.

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Preparing for our first caravan stay

 Thank you for all the comments, we're so pleased with what we've done to the garden so far, it's going to look very colourful and have lots of lovely veggies and strawberries in due course.  Mary, you mentioned a product (thank you), 'Wet and Forget' - a patio cleaner presumably, I'd not heard of it so looked it up.  To be honest, I don't actually mind the way the pavers and concrete paths look (they're all different, in both style and colour, no idea why the previous tenant didn't go for all the same) - I know they're a bit discoloured and stained, but I actually prefer that to a brand new pristine look.  I'll give them a sweep with hot soapy water and our stiff yard broom occasionally, that'll be fine.

Husband didn't go to his Sheds group yesterday, it was such horrible weather (showers and a very strong and cold wind) - he thought the weather would put most people off, he was probably right.  The Sheds group is on 3x weekly anyway, so he's going tomorrow instead.  This morning he's said he'll tidy himself up - shave his hair (I help him with the back bits) and trim his beard, he currently looks like Father Christmas.  

Having said I was going to try doing just 2 big shops a month, with it being the middle of the month (already!!) yesterday I did a quick freezer and larder inventory and wrote a shopping list.  I was pleased to find I didn't actually need a big shop, just a top up one, so we did that in the afternoon.  Today I'll be working out a menu for next week - we're going to the caravan (to actually stay) this weekend.  I've got several homemade frozen dinners already, so it's just planning for lunch things to take with us really.  The Co-op shop in the village near the caravan is apparently closed for a fortnight for refurbishment, so I'll plan on taking as much with us as possible, we'll be staying a week or possibly longer.  

Our lovely van neighbours C & J are also coming at the weekend, for their last ever stay.  Obviously it'll be tinged with sadness for us all, but I'm sure we'll have a lovely last week with them.  They've said they don't really want to give up the caravan, but with C being in his mid-80s and having increasing health problems (and he's the driver, not J), they feel the 3.5 hour journey is just too much now.  They're right, of course.  If only we could all stay at a fixed age and state of reasonable health!!  Wouldn't that be a nice thought?  I think I'd choose to be 49 again, if that were possible - I had pretty good health and energy all seemed to start going downhill after 50 ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜’

I've got washing to put out on the line - it's cloudy and looking like a rain shower will start any minute, but is forecast to be sunny and dry by lunchtime, colder with a stiff breeze - not as gusty as yesterday though, so should be good drying weather.

Monday 15 April 2024

Finished for now

 I've finished buying plants now, for the time being anyway.  My new flower bed is now full - well, it will be once all the new plants grow, fill out and take up the space.  Here it is:-

Well, the right hand side of it anyway, there's the same amount of new bed and plants to the left.  We've put in a mixture of cottage garden type flowers - foxgloves, delphiniums, hollyhock, lupins, pinks, geranium, dahlia, and a few more.  Last year I remember seeing packs of 3 different hostas in the garden centres - so far this year (it's early though, to be fair) I've not seen them.  All the garden centre had was one type only in small pots, they did have different varieties of ones a lot bigger (and thus a much higher price)....I just got a small one.  I also got 2 acers, one green one red, we've put them in the large gravel bed along with the one hosta.  There was a huge rose in this gravel bed (the only thing in there), the bottom stems were as thick as my wrists and completely bare to about 3 or 4 feet high, it was around 6ft in height altogether, very wispy at the top and tied loosely to a rotten pole.  We cut it down to about 6", thinking it probably wouldn't regrow.....well, this is it now:-

Sending up loads of new shoots, how lovely!  I have no idea what colour it is, it'll be a lovely surprise.

And another lovely surprise/great bargain - at the garden centre, they were selling off some of their old bistro tables from their cafe (they're replacing them with new stuff) - we snapped up a bistro table for £10 - we already have a couple of director's chairs that will go with it:-

It's just right for the space there, it just needs a clean, there's nothing wrong with it other than the top being a bit faded.  Very happy with that.  Behind the table and chair you can just see the green plastic trellis we put up a couple of days ago, that corner is a bit overlooked so we wanted to raise the height a little, we've planted (I think I said before) a winter jasmine, pink large flowered clematis Ville de Lyon and everlasting sweet pea to grow up the trellis.

It's forecast to be showery, windy and quite a bit colder today, so no garden work....we've done all we want to do right now anyway, and it'll be good to have a rest from physical work for a few days.  Husband's going to his Men in Sheds group this morning, I'm doing housework and lists - freezer and larder inventory, menu plan, next jobs to be done in the garden.  The next one will be raking off all the gravel from one of the 3 square beds (it's 6 feet square), forking the ground over and levelling it off and then buying and laying turf - Betty's own bit of lawn for her to lie on in the summer.

Sunday 14 April 2024

Another day of garden things

 I'm fired up with enthusiasm about the garden right now - well, even husband is keen.  We're off out this morning to buy a few more plants - I've set aside a budget for garden stuff.  Incidentally, I don't know if it's the same where you are, but the supermarket Morrisons has a lovely range of plants for sale, all very reasonable prices and really healthy looking.  I guess it helps that the lady who looks after and sells the plants here in our Morrisons is very knowledgeable and loves plants.  Some places which sell plants as just one of their many lines (not garden centres, I'm talking about home stores) appear to have no staff who know anything about plants and don't even water them.

This morning I want to buy some hostas for the gravel bed, and a few more plants for my new flower bed - foxgloves, pinks and a couple of dahlias.  I need a pot for a trailing fuschia which I bought by mistake - I thought it was a hardy bush type (wear your glasses when reading labels!!) - and a couple more bags of compost.

The past 2 days' weather has been really lovely, warm and sunny - in fact so much so that I've actually got a bit sunburnt on the back of my neck.  Today it's a bit cloudy in between spells of sunshine, and a bit cooler - although still warm enough to go without a jacket.  So we'll be spending the third day in a row out in the garden.  

Husband is buying a small multifunction electric saw today, to cut down the stumps of the horrid conifer hedge.  I've decided to make the bed where the hedge was into a rockery - there are plenty of suitable sized rocks around the garden, and I won't need to buy any plants for it, the biggish rockery in front of the kitchen window is overrun with succulents so I can thin some of those out and move them to the new rockery bed.  I'll take photos of each new bit of work and put them on here, and then again in a few weeks' time so we can see the progress as the plants fill out the spaces.

I know the previous tenant had the garden beds (there were soil flower and veg beds in the past, according to our neighbour) covered over with weed suppressant material and gravel to be low maintenance, as she was apparently too unwell to do any gardening.  But all we could see from our back windows was endless gravel and paving slabs, and it was so boring and depressing!  We want a garden full of colour and veggies, that we can sit in and enjoy the look of, and we're getting there a bit at a time - and enjoying the process of creating it.

We've really achieved a lot these past couple of days, husband does get quite breathless and tired and has to take frequent breaks, and my back, knees and hips do suffer - I get round this by using my garden kneeler/stool rather than bending over, and using the wheeled cart thing to move compost and pots around the garden.  We work to our capabilities - it might be slow going, but we get there in the end, and without injuring ourselves.

Saturday 13 April 2024

Two days in a row!!

 We've had another nice morning out in the garden - two days running, fancy that!!  We put up some trellis and planted 3 climbing plants to go up it - a winter jasmine, a deep pink clematis and an everlasting sweet pea.  Also planted a lovely bushy and very healthy-looking dogwood, which will have gorgeous red stems in winter, we put it in front of a bare length of fence.  The garden is going to look so lovely when everything beds in, fills out and starts flowering.  We're getting there, slowly but surely, one job and one section at a time.

We were thinking of going to the caravan tomorrow, but the weather forecast has changed yet again, it's now going to be cold (4 deg overnight apparently, only 9 or 10 during the day), with heavy showers and strong wind gusts yet again.  Sigh.  So we're putting it off yet again.....hopefully it'll be better perhaps next weekend, our local weather forecaster on TV said it is due to become more settled and drier for the second half of the month.  Oh please yes, yes!  Ironically, it's going to be a bit warmer here for the next few days, so all our newly planted plants should be ok - at least we'll be here to keep an eye on them.   We also need to make sure Betty doesn't trample all over them or dig them up - she does like to dig if left to her own devices.  We can always rig up something to stop her getting on the new flower bed, we've got plenty of canes and string.

I think I'll make some cheese scones to go with soup for lunch tomorrow - seeing as it's going to be colder and windier again!

Nothing else to say right now.  Thanks for all the comments again - Brenda, you're very sweet, you say such lovely things, thank you.

Friday 12 April 2024

Gardening - hooray, about bloody time!

 I slept really well last night, probably as a result of next to no sleep the previous night, following husband's out of the blue and completely unwarranted tirade.  All's fine now.  I do know that his behaviour is down to his health problems and he can't help it, but I have to do a lot of biting my tongue and walking away.  I have to choose my battles, some things are not worth the aggro.  But it is a fine line between feeling.....I won't say abused, it's not that bad....unappreciated and misjudged, and letting things go for the sake of peace.  Which sometimes leaves me feeling resentful.  Hey ho, it's sunny and DRY!! today, and we're working in the garden once I've done the housework things.

I've just put a big lot of mac and cheese in the slow cooker, and the washing machine has just finished - a day of drying it on the line outside, hooray.  Some veggies to prep for tonight's dinner.  Kitchen surfaces to clean.  In the garden we're planting out half a dozen bought plants in my new flowerbed - cottage garden type ones, lupins, foxglove, Jacob's ladder, aster, and a couple more that I can't remember off the top of my head.  A rose needs moving from the stone-clad raised bed where we'll be growing tomatoes, it'll be going in the new flowerbed.  Husband needs to attach a framework to the top of the raised veg bed that he built, so a fleece cover can go over the top, to protect the bed from being showered with leaves and seeds off the annoying overhanging tree in next door's garden.  And also to protect the veggies from pigeons whilst we're away at the van.  We have several visiting pigeons here (a pair are currently nest building in another of next door's trees), whereas at our last house we didn't have any, just collared doves.

Don't the bluebells in the side bed look pretty?

Since I took this photo a few days ago, lots more have come out in flower.  Once they've finished flowering and the foliage died down, I shall dig up some of them and relocate to other parts of the garden, they're too crowded in this bed and need thinning out.  I'll put some out in the front garden, I think.  There's a large square bed (you can just see a corner of it in the pic above) right in front of my bedroom window, it's filled with gravel and nothing else, I think the previous tenant had a few large pots of plants stood on it.  I've decided rather than taking out all the gravel and making it into a flowerbed (too much work), or buying pots of flowers, I'm going to simply dig out individual spaces for plants, dotted over the bed.  Hostas would do well here I think, and the gravel should deter slugs from munching on them - I had hostas in our previous front garden and they got decimated by slugs.

I'm so happy to be able to work in the garden now.  Right, must get on!

Thursday 11 April 2024

His and hers, and behavioural changes

 Since husband's cognitive impairment diagnosis a while ago (and the realisation that he'd probably been suffering with it for some months before the official diagnosis), his personality and behaviour have changed quite a bit.  For example, he's lost a lot of inhibitions - he says what he thinks to people, without any thought as to how it might come across or maybe affect them adversely.  He also frequently walks around the house in a state of undress - I don't mean all the time, just mornings and evenings when he's getting dressed/undressed.  Not that it matters much - we have been married for 40 years and there's only us two in the house - he doesn't do it in front of others!  It's just that it's a relatively new behaviour, something he didn't do before.  And whilst he's always been a bit of a penny pincher when it comes to money, now he's a right Scrooge, and is obsessed with knowing how much to the exact penny he's got in his account.  And over the past few months, it's become 'his' and 'my' bank accounts.  We have a joint main account which all the household bills are paid out of, we also have a sole account each.  In addition, I have a couple of savings accounts for different purposes.  We've never really considered our money as 'his' and 'hers' before, for all of our married life our money has always been just that - ours.  Jointly.  Regardless of who earnt the most.  (He did mostly, although there was a brief period years ago when I was earning more than him).  But now that's changed, he's obsessed with wanting to divvy up who pays for what.

Well, yesterday I made a suggestion about a household matter, and straight away he launched into a rant about who was going to pay for it.  He then veered off money and began listing the jobs we each do around the house - he implied that I do nothing much except cook and wash clothes!  Which couldn't be further from the truth.  Now, I know this is a product of his disordered mind and cognitive impairment, but I literally had to walk away and go and shut myself in my bedroom - I was hurt and angry, and knew there was little point in arguing or even talking to him when he was in that mindset.  We hardly spoke for the rest of the evening, I went to bed a little earlier than usual and had a very disturbed night, with it all dwelling on my mind.  

This morning I had a brief, calm chat with him, which cleared the air a bit.  He knows he was in the wrong (his behaviour this morning shows that, although he hasn't apologised - he rarely does).  He's gone out to his gym session, so that will hopefully help his mindset and gives me a break.  He also offered to pay for the household thing - although whose bank account it comes out of was never an issue anyway, as far as I was concerned, we would probably have shared the cost.

I'm doing a freezer inventory this morning, and cooking another couple of meals for the freezer - a garlic mushroom rice dish and a tuna & sweetcorn loaf (not bread, a savoury thing).  This afternoon, or maybe tomorrow, I shall make a slow cooker potful of mac and cheese - husband's not all that keen on it, although he will eat it as an accompaniment to something meaty....I love it though, so it's mainly for me, it'll provide several frozen ready meals for me, to have with garlic bread and a salad.

The weather forecast is looking dry enough for us to go to the caravan for a few days next week - fingers crossed!  So I'll have a bit of preparation to do for that.

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Answers to comments

 To answer some recent comments - and thank you as always:-

Mrs LH - yes, good point about the neighbours checking the tree for nests before chopping it down...we can see up into the tree quite clearly (it's got small narrow leaves and quite thin wispy branches) and there don't appear to be any nests, but best to check of course.  We haven't actually seen the neighbours recently to ask them about the tree anyway.

Ilona, the Sheds group here apparently get most of their wood and tools donated - e.g. a lady whose husband had died offered them the contents of his shed, and a local business donated lots of tools.  Husband was impressed with the range of tools they have, he was quite envious!

Rambler, good idea to suck an extra strong mint when husband's cooking the liver (it will have to be him who cooks it, I really can't bear the smell or the thought of handling it).  Don't police officers attending post mortems put Vicks Vapour Rub inside their nostrils to mask the smell?  Or is that just on TV or in crime books?!

Jo, Betty's a bit of a strange dog - she does seem to be interested in the smell of raw meat, but won't eat it raw, only cooked!

Sandi, you asked what I eat seeing as I don't (or rarely) eat meat - I am pescatarian, I love and eat fish or prawns about 3 times a week, vegetarian dishes (homemade, I rarely eat commercial veggie products) also about 3x weekly, and then a small amount of chicken or maybe bacon once a week or less.  I do make cottage pies, lasagne, chilli etc, but use chicken mince for those - about 50% chicken/50% chopped veggies, beans or lentils.  I don't eat beef, lamb, pork, venison, offal etc, although I might eat pork sausages very occasionally.  It's mainly the texture of meat I really don't like anymore, as well as the smell and the look of raw meat.  Husband is still a carnivore and I cook chicken, pork, lamb chops, gammon etc for him - steak he cooks himself.

The farm/campsite which holds the big Saturday boot sales at Blue Anchor bay was flooded yesterday, pictures on social media of the field underwater with a few caravans, tents and cars in it.  How awful for those people - nobody injured but their holidays ruined, as well as their caravans and cars.  Safe to say there won't be a boot sale this Saturday either!  Good job we didn't go there for our walk a couple of days later, we would have got drenched - very high spring tide, the waves were crashing right over the promenade where we'd been walking on Saturday, and that promenade is actually quite high up above the beach. It's actually still raining this morning, albeit lightly - aren't we all so sick of it?

Tuesday 9 April 2024

๐Ÿคฎ Yuck

 Husband really liked the Men in Sheds setup, so he's joining up (a small annual fee and weekly cost of £3 to cover materials and tea/biscuits).  He'll start going regularly in a fortnight, we're probably going to stay at the caravan (yippee!) next week.  They do mostly woodwork projects, making things like bird tables and garden planters and sell them, the profits going to a local charity.  I'm really pleased for him, he's got plenty of interests and things going on now, which means he's happier, seems more inclined to do things around the house and garden, and doesn't just sit dozing off in front of the TV all day every day.  Result!!  He's been more breathless than usual the past few days though, this bloody weather isn't helping.  He said he feels ok though, other than that, so I'm not concerned.

I don't know what's happened to our Housing Support Officer, she's supposed to come weekly but since she took over from the previous one in January, we've only seen her 3 or 4 times.  We do get a weekly phone call from a different one though, so perhaps our one is off sick, again (she was off sick last month).  Not that we particularly need to see her for anything, but it is nice to have a weekly visit and chat with a cheerful caring HSO who checks up on us.

Since I've not been eating meat for around 18 months or so now, I really find the smell and look of offal quite disgusting - this despite me happily eating liver and kidneys (not heart though, yuck) previously, although, to be fair, I was gradually getting to dislike it by the time I stopped being a carnivore.  Unfortunately, Betty really likes liver and I'm not stopping buying it for her just because I don't like it now....however, it means husband has to cook it (she won't eat it raw), as the smell makes me feel sick.  He cooked some yesterday, think he had the heat up too high - it stunk the house out and I had to open the back door and spray air freshener around, it was making me heave.  He also splattered the worktop with fat and blood spots which he didn't of course notice and clear up, being a man๐Ÿ˜

Monday 8 April 2024

Men in Sheds

 Have you heard of Men in Sheds?  It's basically groups of blokes getting together in a village hall or community centre or hired room somewhere, every week, to make things (usually wood-based), socialise and drink coffee/tea.  There's a small cost to cover materials and the drinks/biscuits.  Well, our good friend C (one half of our long-standing friends who live in Kent and came to stay in a holiday cottage here in our village a couple of weeks ago) goes to one in his home town and was telling husband all about it, he was very enthusiastic about it.  As is my friend, his wife D - she goes to WI on the same day I think, so they each get to do something they enjoy without the other.  Husband asked me to google and see if there's one near here - there is, and he's going to have a look tomorrow to see if he fancies joining.  So if he does - and I see no reason why he wouldn't, I'm sure he'd enjoy it - that means he'll be out doing 3 things each week.....Sheds on a Monday, indoor bowls Tues evenings, and the gym on Thurs mornings.  So his life now has really changed - for the better - since doing more or less nothing, apart from a monthly brunch out with his mate, at our last home.  I'm so pleased for him - and for me!  I don't feel any particular need to join any clubs or anything, but I'm relishing the time alone.  I am a homebody and can find plenty to do at home, so am more than happy to have a morning or evening here on my own with the dog, with the radio on instead of the TV, or pottering in the garden (when it stops raining!).  As Sheds and the gym are both in town, it also gives me an opportunity to either go and do the big supermarket shop on my own, or have a wander and a coffee in town - husband will drop me off and pick me up later.  In the summer, I could even take a book and a drink and go and sit on the beach.  That's when we get a nice sunny day!  Moving here has really improved our lives, in lots of ways.

I've looked at a longer-range weather I know they're not totally accurate, they can't be, but it does seem cautiously optimistic that we may be having some drier days - i.e. not raining at some stage every single day! - from next weekend onwards.  Let's face it, it's got to get better soon, hasn't it?!  So, with a bit of luck, we may be able to go and actually stay at the caravan for a few days from next weekend - I hope so, we've already lost over a month of this season due to bad weather๐Ÿ˜ž.  It's really not very nice staying there in continual wet weather, the ground is so soggy and the grass is too long (the site owner can't use his ride-on mower when it's too wet, it just sinks in the mud), and we can't have much contact with friends there when we're all stuck miserably inside our caravans.  No doubt in a couple of months we'll all be complaining that it's too hot again - just like last year! ๐Ÿ˜‚

My back is really improving now, thank goodness, it was really beginning to get me down.  Chronic low level pain is bad enough, albeit bearable, but acute strong pain is terribly wearing, it colours your whole existence.

Sunday 7 April 2024

A blustery walk

 To answer some questions first....Donna, I've had treatment from chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths before, many times, they all helped in the short term.  The last lot of treatment I had was with an osteopath, Felicity of the magic hands, a couple of years ago.  She was amazing, her sessions helped more than any other treatment.  However, it costs - £45 per session when I last went, it wouldn't surprise me if the price has gone up now, and right now I can't afford it when I'm trying to build up our savings again.  Pat, yes I've done the Marriage Allowance thing and transferred some of my allowance to husband, a few years ago when he was paying tax then.  Chris, well the walking yesterday helped me, I feel much less stiff today.  Jayne, I haven't got the willpower to not buy anything other than what's on my list - I can't seem to resist buying extra things!  So for me the solution is to avoid going......or if we run out of something that we desperately need, I guess I could send husband to get just that one thing.

We really enjoyed our walk yesterday, other than the extremely blustery wind - fortunately it wasn't continually really windy, just very strong gusts now and then.  At one point, the gust was so strong that it nearly blew me over and husband off the kerb into the road - and we're no lightweights.  Surprisingly, it wasn't as busy as I'd thought it might be, perhaps the weather had put people off.  We parked at the opposite end to the train station, walked all the way up the prom to the station (missed seeing the steam train, it had already departed about 5 minutes prior, we could see it in the distance) then back down again.  It was too windy to eat our sandwich on the beach (didn't fancy sand in my face) so we ate it in the car.  Then we walked to the cafe for a coffee and slice of GF Victoria sponge - which tasted alright, but the texture was a bit odd.....gritty but then instantly melted in the mouth, no substance to it.  Don't know what type of GF flour they use, but I wasn't impressed.  I didn't ask for GF especially, it was all they had left!  The coffee was really nice though.  We got chatting to a couple on the next table to us, who were puppy-sitting their son's adorable cocker spaniel, it was a dear little thing, sat in front of me staring up at me and offered me its paw.  They said they were enjoying the experience (their son was on holiday with his family) but were finding it quite tiring as the 11 month old puppy had so much energy!  Lovely how dog people are so friendly.

Today is forecast to be brief sunny spells interspersed with cloud and heavy rain showers - well, there's a novelty!!  NOT!  So it looks like another day when washing won't get put on the line outside (thank goodness for the car port) and we won't be able to do much in the garden....even if we get out there in the short sunny spells, the ground is far too wet to do anything and all the shrubs are drenched.  The bed that has a large hebe surrounded by bluebells is looking very pretty, albeit soaked, and the tree in the front garden that we guessed was a cherry tree (it is, although whether it's just ornamental or has eatable fruit I don't yet know) is in full blossom now.  I'll try to remember to take photos during a brief sunny spell!  Not sure what to do today, there's nothing pressing that needs doing, I might sit and watch a film - there's an updated version (well, 2020) of The Call of the Wild on at 11 am, with Harrison Ford and an apparently CGI generated dog.....I can remember reading the Jack London book when I was at school.

Saturday 6 April 2024

Walk it off

 When I have a back pain flare up, it usually only last a few days......this time it's taking longer to subside to the normal manageable chronic pain level.  Whilst the searing pain has mostly subsided, it's still sore and I'm SO stiff and uncomfortable, with the occasional small muscle spasm and the weak disc slipping out and back in again once or twice a day.  I think a long gentle walk will help, so that's what we're doing today.  We'll go to Blue Anchor bay - it's bound to be busier than I'd like, with it being the last weekend of the Easter holidays, and the steam trains running.  However, the big advantage - well, 2 actually - of Blue Anchor is that a) the parking is free, and b) there's a long level paved promenade just above the beach.  I'm guessing (hoping) that most tourists will either be having a last play on the beach, or be at the train station waiting for the steam trains, so the promenade should be relatively less busy.  Also, the big car boot sale held in a big field there has been cancelled for the second week running, as the field is still too waterlogged, cutting down on the potential crowds quite drastically I should think.  We're not taking Betty - she gets very anxious when there are a lot of people and dogs about and doesn't enjoy it.  There are a couple of showers forecast anytime soon, and then sunshine is due....allegedly.  It's quite warm, but there's a very strong gusty wind.  I'll make us a sandwich each to take - hopefully we'll be able to eat it on the beach, if it's spitting or too windy then it'll be eaten in the car.  There are a couple of cafes, so we'll be able to get a coffee to have afterwards (maybe even a slice of cake - a treat now and then is good).

Thanks for your comments on my Shopping Plan post, I'm confident it will work - well, I intend to give it a good go anyway.  Annabeth - you're right, the Chancellor has given the impression that he's been Lord Bountiful with the pension triple lock etc, but kept very quiet about the fact that the personal tax allowance has stayed the same.....meaning husband now has to start paying tax again after not having to for a few years.  And the inevitable self assessment tax form - which means yet another form for me to fill in, aaarrrgh!! ๐Ÿ˜   I did his tax forms for years and hated them then.....the older I get, the more I hate filling in forms, my brain feels like it's exploding and it gives me a headache.  I don't envy the politicians the job of running the country, but they are so cynical, having us believe they're doing us big favours, when the reality almost always is that their plans only seem to benefit the rich - them and their mates, in other words.  They're all talk and pompous windbags who think the rules they make don't actually apply to them, whichever party they're from.  Well, that's my opinion anyway, for what it's worth.

Right, looks like the black clouds and showers are being blown away, so I think we'll get ready and go.

Friday 5 April 2024

The plan

 Right, after thinking about it all a lot and discussing with husband (who's not really a lot of help but is at least someone to bounce ideas off of, and it's nice to include him), and taking into account all of your helpful suggestions (thank you all), I've come up with a plan.  I am going to try and do just 2 shops every 4 weeks - one to Tesco, and the other a fortnight later to Aldi.  The one disadvantage (that I can see) to this is that it's doubtful the fresh veg and fruit, which we eat a lot of, will last a fortnight.  I can get round it though - I'll have to store things carefully, and/or prep and freeze some of it.  That won't of course work for salad veg, but there are other things we can have for salads, such as grated carrots, tinned sweetcorn and potato salad, and jarred gherkins instead of cucumber.  And then in summer we'll have our own home grown salad veg to look forward to.  I think it would be prudent to build up a good store cupboard of things like tinned stuff and long life milk - husband's not keen on L/L milk, I'm not a great lover of it either but wouldn't mind it as a stop gap if we'd run out of fresh milk.  I did actually have a well stocked store cupboard in our last house, but ran it down when we were moving - and back there of course I had a big utility room with lots of cupboards to store tinned and packet goods in.  Although I don't have the extra cupboard space here, we do of course have the car port, and several large plastic lidded boxes we'd used for moving, so I could keep stuff in there (this is a very low crime neighbourhood).  I could also keep boxes of dry goods under my bed!

I must learn to plan better for shopping lists - buying enough bread, milk and cheese for a fortnight e.g., we have the space in our tall freezer to freeze them.  It's the small top up shops that cost me more in the long run, so I really need to stop doing them.  From now on I will have a sheet of paper stuck on the freezer with a magnet all the time, and will write items on it as soon as I think of them, or immediately we run out of something, so by the time I do a shop I'll hopefully have a list of everything we need.

So once again, thank you all for your suggestions, and details about how you do things - and wow Marjorie, 100 miles to the store!  You really don't want to run out of anything, do you?! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ  If that doesn't teach you how to plan properly, and make do if you do run out of something, I don't know what would.  Now we've moved here, we live just 2 or 3 miles from 3 supermarkets.....actually, I think that's half the problem, it's now too easy to just jump in the car and go.

I really do need to save money.  Moving here was very expensive - I had been saving in a dedicated 'moving home' account for a year since we first went on the housing register, but we moved far sooner than anticipated - having been told by the Council when we first went on the register that it would probably be 4 or 5 years before we were offered a place.  So although I'd saved a fair amount, it wasn't enough really - moving costs cleaned out my savings (I have 2 other savings accounts for other purposes and had to use some of that money too).  We have sufficient income to cover our rent and all bills, but since the move I've found it difficult to put much money away in the savings accounts, especially with inflation and everything going up in price.  From this month things will improve significantly, with increases in our pensions and allowances (and the reduction in our Council tax), but I still want to save as much as I can, for the future.  If I can cut down on - and hopefully stop altogether - the in-between top up shops, that will help enormously.

With regard to meal planning, I generally do that anyway, but from now on, instead of planning the meals for each named day, I'm going to just do lists of lunches and dinners to make from what we have in without stipulating a day.  Stuff happens and we don't always have the meals on the designated day, or I realise we have something in the fridge that needs using up straight away, which throws the weekly plan out.  So it'll be better to just have a list of dinners etc, and choose from the list every day.  I'll perhaps mark with a star meals to be made from short-dated things, so I know they need to be the first eaten.

Thursday 4 April 2024

Shopping help and ideas required

 Husband's going to the gym this morning, so I'll have an hour of peace, with just the radio on.  I'm going to make myself a nut roast to portion up and freeze, and some cheese scones to go with soup for lunch.

I'm also pondering about how to cut down my shopping costs, I'm still spending too much on shopping.  I only do one big shop a month now, but go to the supermarket for supposedly small top up shops too often.  The trouble is twofold I think - partly because, although I generally write a list, I rarely stick exactly to the list, other things get added.  The second thing is that I quite often forget a couple of things when making my initial big shop list - I don't do the list all in one go, I'd forget loads of things that way, it's done over a few days.  But I still manage to forget a few things and then have to go back for them a few days later.  Or we run out of something.  E.g. one day last week I realised I'd got no baking powder or soya milk left - I needed both so we went to get them (we also needed a couple more bags of compost, so it wasn't a trip just for those 2 things).  So far so good....except once in the supermarket, I also bought some cheese (as you can never have enough cheese!), sourdough crumpets, another 4-pack of baked beans and some treats for Betty, so spending around an extra £12 or so that I didn't actually plan on spending.  It all adds up!

The obvious answer is simply not to go - or certainly not as often, and try to make do if I run out of something....the baking powder would be a bit of a difficult one though.  I know you can make your own by mixing bicarb and cream of tartar, but I didn't have those.  I could try having shopping delivered again - I used to do that quite often when we lived at the last place, but got fed up with it due to missing items, substitutions that weren't what I'd have picked, short dates on some fresh goods, and poor quality of some of the veg and fruit.  When we lived up in the Midlands, I worked as a home shopping picker for one of the largest supermarkets for about a year.  During training we were given several rules - for fresh produce, always choose things that we would buy ourselves - so nothing bruised, e.g.  No bent tins or damaged packets.  Check eggs were unbroken.....that sort of thing.  However, we were also told that if a product a customer ordered was out of stock and they were happy to accept a substitute, then choose the most expensive alternative!  Yes, we really were told that.  Well, I have to say that the pickers for the home shops I had delivered didn't always follow these guidelines, it could be quite haphazard and careless, even.  E.g. I once had a box of 12 eggs in which 3 were broken, a bag of flour that had a hole in it and had leaked out in the carrier bag, very short dated items, and bruised or even squashy fruit and veg.  Not every delivery was like this, but enough for me to be fed up with it.  So I don't think I want to have home shopping again.

I guess I'm just going to have to learn more self control and stick to my list.  Perhaps if I have next month's shopping list stuck on the fridge with a magnet, right after I've been and done the start of the month big shop, I can then add to it every time we run out of something, or I remember something I'd forgotten to add to the last list.  That might work.

Any other ideas?

My back's playing up again, the weak disc slipped out again yesterday afternoon, having not done so for a few days.  Too much bending down in the garden.  It's so annoying.

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Rest day yesterday, little bit of work today

 Thank you all for the comments and helpful suggestions yesterday - Will, thank you, I'd forgotten about pernettya, we had one in our garden in the Midlands, lovely little white flowers and very attractive pink berries, I'll certainly consider having one of those.  K, husband has now cut the stumps down to about 12-18" but can't do anymore without borrowing (or hiring) an electric saw - he had one but left it behind at the old house, which of course he's now regretting.  The stumps that are left are just too thick to cut with a hand saw, it's too hard work for husband.  Jayne, 50 leylandii!!  What a nightmare! (I'm not a fan of them, as you can tell).  Everyone else - yes it was blimmin hard work, but we're so glad we got it done, we are feeling a great sense of achievement.

Neither of us did anything much yesterday, we deliberately rested.  Just a wash load put on, some hoovering done and I cooked dinner - chicken curry for husband, a cheese, sweetcorn and mushroom omelette with tomatoes on the side for me.  For once, I didn't object to husband dozing in front of the TV, he'd deserved his rest.  My back certainly suffered on Monday, but it's not too bad today - the muscle spasms have largely stopped and the weak disc only popped out once yesterday, which is a big relief.  

This morning we've already been back out in the garden, doing a bit more work.  There's a huge bay shrub which needed a lot of pruning to get it back to manageable proportions (luckily husband had actually brought his hedge trimmer from the old house!), and a little bit of weeding and digging over another small area of existing stone-walled raised bed, we're going to put tomatoes in it in due course.  We were only out there for about 45 mins though before we had to come in - it's another mixed day of brief sunshine spells and showers, but there's now a bitterly cold wind and neither of us copes well with cold nowadays.  Still, it's another little bit of work done, it's amazing what can be achieved in short bites.

We've decided to ask the neighbour who owns the small bit of land at the back of our garden (not a sheltered housing tenant, a young family who own the house and land) if they will kindly cut down one of their trees which line the edge of their plot, overlooking our garden.  I don't know what kind of tree it is, but it's very big and totally overshadows our new veg beds, showering them with leaves and seeds.  We've cut off a few of the lower branches but have no way of reaching the higher ones - it's way beyond husband's capabilities anyway.  The guy seems very friendly and amenable, and has already said he'll probably have most, if not all, of the trees cut down and replaced with a fence in due course - he's got planning permission to convert the old barn on the land to a holiday cottage, some time in the future.  As he knows we're sheltered housing tenants (and elderly!!), I don't think he'll mind cutting that particular tree down.

Another mixed weather week ahead - if only it would be consistent, at least we'd know where we stand!

I've got the monthly budget to do this afternoon, and some planning/lists.

Tuesday 2 April 2024

3 bags full

 We did another three tip trips worth of cutting down the conifer hedge yesterday, before rain (and backs) stopped play.  Not that it was anything like play!  Each time we filled the big dumpy bag, plus a couple of compost bags.  It's nearly done now, thank's how it looked first thing yesterday morning, after beginning the chop down the day before:-

And after the 3rd dumpy bag full:-

There'll be another full dumpy bag today, and that should be the last of it - the tip is closed today so it'll be tomorrow's job.  Luckily, the tip here is much nearer to us than the previous tip was to our old house.  By the looks of things, we'll be left with 3 stumps - each stump isn't one single trunk but has divided into several, each as thick as husband's forearm.  I'm surprised there are only 3 stumps, given how thick the hedge was.  It's opened the garden up so much more, I'm really pleased with it already.  It's good that the tip is closed today, we both need a day off.  We're tired and aching after yesterday's efforts but are happy with what we've achieved - the end result is worth the back-breaking efforts.  It's amazing what husband can achieve, with my encouragement and help, and regular breaks for a rest.  I just keep telling him how nice it's all going to look and how much we're going to enjoy the garden in the summer, eating lunch outside made with our home grown veggies!

I was interested to read about how you'd planted shrubs between the stumps of your leylandii, K, and that the stumps and roots had rotted down.  Did you dig any other compost in before planting the shrubs, and did they survive ok, bearing in mind the soil would be quite acidic and depleted in nutrients?  I guess shrubs like azaleas and camellias wouldn't mind the acid conditions.  I like azaleas, so might think about getting a couple of those.

I popped into the opticians - my broken glasses aren't repairable and the same frames have been discontinued, so I'll have to have new ones.  Ah well.

Monday 1 April 2024

Hard work in small doses

 Well, I didn't just sit and do nothing yesterday after all.  I did all the veg and stuffing prep in the morning, I part cooked - well, mostly cooked actually - it all in the air fryer, other than the green veg.  Later on I cooked husband's chicken, then whilst it was resting I finished off cooking the veggies, stuffing and Yorkies.

Before eating though, I suggested to husband we go in the garden to do a bit more.  He lightly dug over half of the new flower bed, I helped by picking out roots and stones and breaking up lumps.  Then we covered it over with weed suppressant and rocks to hold it down, to prevent Betty from digging - she's a bugger for digging holes.  After a coffee break, we started to tackle the horrible conifer hedge.  I'm not keen on conifers anyway, this one here has been used to separate two parts of the garden I think.  It's not very high - only about 5 or 6 feet, but is almost as wide as it is tall and has completely overgrown the path on one side.  It's brown and dead in a lot of places, is straggly, untidy and downright ugly, so it's got to go - I can't be having that eyesore in view of the kitchen window all the time.  So we started cutting some of it down, using hand clippers, shears and a hand saw.  We've filled up our dumpy bag and have only thinned out about an eighth of the hedge so far - we'll be making many trips to the tip over the next couple of weeks.  That was enough for one day....husband would have done more, but I said little and often is the way to go, we don't want to overdo things and be laid up for days.  

This garden is going to take us a long time to adapt to how we want it, but that's fine.....we don't need to do it all at once.  It won't even get all done this year, we'll just do one section at a time.  The projects for this year are the veggies and strawberries (important as we eat so many veggies so we want them for health and money saving purposes), getting rid of the ugly hedge, and creating one flower bed - I must have flowers and colour.  Oh, and laying a small area of turf for Betty to lie on in the summer.  The veg beds are all filled with compost and ready for the veggies to go in when the soil warms up, danger of frost is past and the weather is warmer.  The new flower bed is half dug and prepared.  Another month or two should see the rest of the hedge disposed of, the flower bed finished and planted up, and the turf laid.

I've told husband he's not digging up the roots of the conifer hedge, it's too much for him, we'll just cut the stumps down to the ground.  There are plenty of large (rockery sized) stones in the garden, some edging paths and gravel beds....I think we might use some of those to disguise the area.  I'm sure the soil there will be very compacted and depleted of nutrients, plus being very acidic, and with all the conifer roots it won't be easy to grow anything there anyway, so I doubt we'll even try.  We could perhaps site a bench seat there....

Sue - yes heat does seem to help my back, I've got a wheat-filled bag (in the shape of a hot water bottle) that gets heated up in the microwave.....being soft it moulds itself to the shape of whatever body part I use it on.

I'll have to go to Specsavers tomorrow - not for an eye test (I'm not due for another year), but to see if they can mend my glasses.  A couple of days ago one of the arms snapped off my distance glasses - at first I thought the screw had come loose, but it wasn't that - the plastic of the arm up near the hinge has actually broken.  I do have another pair, but they're prescription sunglasses, so not very useful when it's dull and cloudy!