Friday 31 May 2024

Please don't help!!

 I was getting a bit stressed yesterday, trying to get things done and organised for when sister comes tomorrow, husband is no help at all at times like this, in fact he's more of a hindrance.  But last night I came to my senses and told myself I was being stupid - things don't have to be perfect, sis won't care, she'll just be very happy to be here!  She's desperate to get here actually, she's having a bit of a tough time at the mo, stressed with life stuff and that has caused her to have a flare up of her Multiple Sclerosis symptoms.  The flare up in itself isn't too much of a problem, sis copes with these flare ups very well, she just limps more meaning she has to use 2 sticks and is even more clumsy than usual.  My sister is very determined though (gets that from me!) and has never let her condition stop her from doing whatever she wants to do.  She does need to rest more though, and she'll certainly do that here, I'll make sure of it.

We went shopping this, when we get back I much prefer to put the shopping away myself - my cupboards and freezer drawers are very organised and everything has its place.  I prefer it that way because it makes it easy for me to find things when I know exactly where they are.  Husband, however, puts the shopping literally anywhere there's a space, with no regard for putting like with like or even in the right cupboard....which means I can't find things and have to search for where he's put them (he never remembers, of course).  I do ask him not to put the stuff away but leave it for me - I've asked him numerous times.  He forgets though.  When we got back this morning I had to go to the loo straight away.....I came out to find he'd already emptied a couple of the bags and shoved the stuff anywhere and everywhere 😠 creating problems for me.  He thinks he's helping - he's not.  I often think if I had a pound for every time I have to repeat something to him, I'd be a millionaire in no time.

I asked him to clear up his bedroom, putting away all the clutter he's got everywhere....frankly, I don't really mind where he puts all that, as long as it's out of sight, not cluttering up the floor or the top of his chest of drawers, and isn't just shoved any old how onto his wardrobe shelves meaning that it'll all fall out when the doors are opened!  He did a bit, then abandoned that and went outside to chat to the painters (they're here painting the external walls today, hooray!).  So I finished it off.

The lounge furniture has all been moved to my satisfaction.  Now I just want to reorganise a couple of shelves in the kitchen, get a wash load sorted for tomorrow morning, and then I can sit down and relax.  We're having chicken and chips tonight - well, husband will have chicken, I'll have fish fingers probably - an easy meal that I can just throw in the air fryer.  Tomorrow morning we just have to change the bed linen and shove the vacuum cleaner around and all will be ready for sis.  We're having homemade potato, cheese and chive pasties with salad when we arrive back here after picking sis up off the coach, I expect she'll want an early night, she'll be tired after a 6-hour journey.  The weather looks good for the coming week, how lovely.

Thursday 30 May 2024

A little moan...

 ...well, it was a great big moan actually this morning.  I was trying to make an observation to husband, concerning cars and parking in our little cul de sac - he kept interrupting and talking over me, 4, yes four times I tried to say the same sentence and each time he butted in.  Finally I erupted and yelled "Am I actually ALLOWED to talk?!".  For 40+ years I have more or less faded into the background and kept pretty quiet, as husband has always taken the floor and pontificated, he constantly interrupts me, butts in, doesn't listen to anything I have to say and talks over me.  Even when we're with my family or friends of mine, he dominates the conversation, sometimes I can hardly get a word in.  To be fair, it's a family trait - most of his family are the same, when the siblings are together they all talk or even shout over each other.  I pointed out that I've let him do this for all this time, but now I've had enough of it - it's like my opinion or thoughts on anything, to anyone, don't matter - all that matters is what he's got to say.  I've got another (male) friend who's the same, never listens to me and thinks I'm always wrong and he's always right.  Husband kept quiet after that and went off to his gym session, so at least I've had an hour to simmer down.  I don't ask for much, all I want is to be listened to, my opinion taken into consideration and be allowed to finish a sentence!

I've just made some cheese scones to be frozen for next week.....if I do say so myself, they're bloody good, I do make really nice scones.  Now I'm going to make some chocolate and apricot little cakes, using Greek yogurt in them to keep them moist - I also put yogurt in the scones, it makes them lovely and light.

Got a bit more pruning and tidying up to do in the side bluebell bed, now the spent bluebells have been cleared out.  One plant that's coming up strongly now I am pretty sure is one that I've often admired but never grown before - I think it's a Japanese Anemone.....obviously it's not in flower yet, they flower in late summer I think.  They come in white or pink, I wonder which this one is?  I'll be happy with either.

Just 2 more sleeps before sister arrives, I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to it and I know she is too.  I've decided to rearrange our lounge this morning now husband has just got back from the gym, the layout has irritated me ever since we moved in actually 😒 And since I'm already feeling irritated today, shoving furniture around will get rid of some of that excess irritation! 😂

Wednesday 29 May 2024

Jobs done already

 The painters didn't come yesterday, the forecast was for heavy rain showers and obviously they can't paint exterior walls in the rain.  However, as it turned out we only had a few very light showers.  Sunny spells interspersed with a bit of cloud today and no rain in the forecast, so they've arrived.  They're starting on another bungalow first, there are 11 here all told, I hope they'll get round to ours before the end of the week.

We've already been out in the garden this morning, clearing the side bed of all the spent bluebells - now there's space and we can see just what's coming up in that bed.  The bluebells were so tightly packed, they've obviously not been thinned out for a few years and were smothering everything else in that bed - assorted roses and shrubs.  As I mentioned, there's a huge white flowered hebe (it still had the odd few flowers on it last November when we came to view the property) in the middle of the bed, it's grown really massive so I'll have to trim it back.  The 3 or 4 shrub roses and other, as yet unidentified, things are quite spindly and weak stemmed, clearly not been pruned in years and smothered by the bluebells, so a lot of work to do there.  They're mostly so weak that I doubt they'll flower very well, if at all, this year so I may just cut them right back now and accept the fact that they might not flower this year, but should be blooming next year.

I've emptied out 2 drawers in my bedroom, condensing the things into other drawers, so husband can put his clothes in there for next week, as he'll be sleeping in my room.  Not sure what Betty will think of that!!  Or me, come to that! 😂  Still, Betty's got her own bed on the floor in my room (not that she actually sleeps in it much) and I have a recliner chair I can sleep in, if husband's too fidgety - which he is, one of the reasons why we sleep separately.

The weather for next week looks fantastic, mostly warm and sunny, I'm so pleased sis will have a good weather week, it's very restricting when it's chucking it down continually.  I'm going to make some cake and cheese scones this afternoon, to freeze for next week.  I've already made and frozen a few dinners, and the table is booked for our Sunday carvery, so I'm all set really.  Just shopping for fresh stuff on Saturday morning, the bed linen to change in husband's room, hoovering and making sure all his untidy mess is put away - honestly, his bedroom is a bit like a teenage boy's....still, it's his room, if he wants to live in a mess that's up to him.  Mine is quite minimalist, tidy and an oasis of calm!

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Support network

 Didn't get round to doing any garden stuff yesterday, the weather was very changeable and a bit on the chilly side, although I did manage to get a load of washing dry, eventually.  I got on with a few things indoors instead, we also popped to the supermarket for a very small top up shop.  Made a tinned salmon and feta cheese crustless quiche for dinner, with new potatoes and courgettes.  Speaking of courgettes, we now have a few tiny ones appearing on our plants.

Had a long chat with sister yesterday, she's got a lot of problematic stuff going on right now and is really in need of a restful break.  I'll make sure she has a lovely time here, although I've got a few excursions planned it'll be entirely up to sis what we do each day, I'll give her the option of going out or staying home, whatever she feels like.  I know just the fact of not having to cook or do any housework each day will be a nice break for would for me.  I want her to enjoy her week and recharge her batteries.  Sis and I are each other's support network, having similar things going on in our lives.  We all need a support network don't we, even if it's just a listening ear.

Raining this morning but forecast to clear up this afternoon, and then the weather is supposed to be getting better and better by the day - lovely.  The painters probably won't arrive until the rain has stopped, I'm guessing.

Monday 27 May 2024

Lovely meal, garden plans and doggy cancer :(

 The anniversary carvery lunch yesterday was really nice, we both thoroughly enjoyed it.  The vegetarian option didn't appeal - some sort of fake chicken thing that looked unappetising - so I just had the veggies, no problem as there was loads to choose from and when I do a roast at home I frequently have just the veggies anyway.  I had lovely crispy roast potatoes and parsnips, root veg mash, potato dauphinoise, cauli cheese, peas, stuffing balls and a Yorkie pud, plus gravy and cranberry sauce.  It was all delicious (other than the peas which were a bit like bullets) and I was totally full up.  Husband had beef and gammon, both of which he said were very tasty, the beef was nicely pink in the middle.  We didn't have desserts, too full (not that I eat desserts out anyway, far too sweet and sickly for my taste) and didn't linger too long in there after eating, as the place was full of families, it being a holiday weekend.  We enjoyed it though and will probably take sister there next week, it should be quieter then.

It was a funny old day weather wise, a mixture of sunshine and heavy showers - it was raining quite hard when we arrived at the restaurant, but dry and sunny when we came out.  At least we didn't have to water the garden or Betty's lawn.  We should have the first of our homegrown radishes and carrots in a week's time, something to look forward to.  The courgettes, mini cucumbers and tomato plants are all growing strongly but it'll be another month or so before we get a harvest from them.  The potatoes are doing well too, husband has already covered them with more compost twice (they're growing in bags).

This coming week is forecast to be mixed, weatherwise, and cooler than last week but that's ok, I want to do work in the garden and can't when it's too hot and sunny.  The side bed that has a large white-flowered hebe and loads of bluebells in it now needs clearing, as the bluebells have died back.  The big hebe also needs some pruning, it's getting massive.  I can already see some plants that weren't very visible or identifiable during the winter and whilst the masses of bluebells were in flower.  There's another hebe, a smaller purple one, a couple of roses and a clematis starting to climb up the back wall, plus a couple of other plants that are as yet not in flower so I'm not sure what they are.  Weeds are growing like mad, especially in the paving cracks, and there are poppies sprouting up everywhere, back and front.  I love poppies (I wonder what colour they'll be?) but there are rather a lot of them and some are growing in inappropriate areas so will need pulling up.  I'll also need to tie in climbing plants to their supports again.

The painters are coming Tuesday to finish off the external walls.  Husband's got his Sheds group on Wednesday and the gym on Thursday, we've got shopping to do on Friday and husband's room to get ready for sister to sleep in.

Had a message to say our previous neighbours' dog, Betty's best friend from the old house, has got cancer.....that's 2 friends we know who have dogs with cancer right now.  How sad.  Betty's friend Poppy is the same age as Betty and they grew up together.

Sunday 26 May 2024

A cemetery walk

 Husband's siblings had been very complimentary towards me - his sister said I'd lost quite a bit of weight (mind you, I haven't seen her for years and I know I have indeed lost weight since then).  His brother said I looked really well....and asked "Can I say slimmer?" - he is very diplomatic, unusually for husband's family! 😂 I haven't weighed myself for months, probably not since we've moved here, so I stood on the scales yesterday, out of curiosity.  And lo and behold, I have lost weight, I'm the lowest I've been in a couple of years I think.  All without actively trying to lose weight.  I put it down to being so much happier here (so no comfort eating), and eating a much healthier diet nowadays - all those veggies and fish, although I do still eat plenty of cheese.  Whatever, it's good and I feel well, relatively speaking!

We wanted to go out for a walk with Betty yesterday, not on a beach or the popular tourist areas though, they'd be heaving as it's a half term holiday week and good weather again.  So we wanted somewhere quiet, and also fairly level, in view of my aches and pains.  We decided on Minehead cemetery in the end - it looked fairly big on Google Earth, with lots of trees and shrubs and paths, I checked that dogs were allowed (they were, on leads).  Well, it was lovely there, and completely deserted so very peaceful, apart from some distant traffic and someone mowing their lawn (houses adjacent to the cemetery).  It was interesting looking at some of the graves and headstones - one lady died at the age of 104 in 2009, what an incredibly long life, she must have seen no end of changes and survived two world wars.  There were no flowers on the grave, but it looked clean and well tended, so I assume she must have some surviving relatives.

Quite near the entrance was this memorial stone:-

The inscription at the top reads 'Sisters of Charity of St. Louis', then 'Sisters' and a list of names....meant nothing to me so I looked it up when we got home.  Apparently it was a convent founded in Minehead in 1898, it closed in 1994.  There was also this huge plot:-

It was twice as long as my photo shows.  The middle stone reads 'Westerley Eventide Homes' - again I knew nothing about them so also googled that.  It's a Christian residential care home providing mostly dementia care.  I'm assuming that some elderly residents die with no family and are buried in this large communal space.

This struck me, one of the older parts of the cemetery:-

Most of the memorials from years ago were crosses - now hardly any are crosses or have crosses on them.  Times change, I guess.  There are also many more very small memorials marking cremations rather than burials.  I liked the way the grounds around the older graves are left to grow as wildflower meadows.

Finally, an old tree cut down and carved into a couple of seats:-

Good idea, but not terribly comfortable by the look of them!

It was really interesting - well I found it so, husband not so much, Betty was happy sniffing around everywhere.  We'll go back again, possibly even when sister is here, she likes looking around cemeteries.

Off out for our anniversary carvery lunch today, although our anniversary is tomorrow.

Saturday 25 May 2024

Sitting is no good for you (well, me)

 Whilst it was lovely seeing husband's siblings after several years, all that sitting around talking for hours 2 days running seemed to wear me out, and certainly did my back in - sitting for a long period of time is one of the worst things to affect my back.  Consequently, yesterday I was in agony for much of the day, and surprisingly tired.  I did just the necessary housework and food prep in the morning, then sat in the recliner armchair in my bedroom to get on with menu planning and writing the shopping list for the end of next week, for when sister comes - it's a week today!  Though the chair is comfy, I did have to keep getting up and walking around a bit, to ease my back.  It's a bit better today, thankfully.... although I've got shoulder and side of my neck pains today, there's always something! 

A few weeks after we'd moved in, I sorted out pictures (we had quite a lot) for the rooms, including some for husband's room.....he'd not got round to putting them up, saying he wasn't bothered.  Well, it was about time he put them up, especially since sister will be using his room for the week, so I chivvied him into doing it, finally.  I got him to swap a couple of light shades around too, I'd realised they'd look better swapped around in different rooms.

I'm looking forward to going out for the carvery tomorrow - not sure what the vegetarian option is, instead of the roast meat, but if it's something I don't fancy then it doesn't matter, there'll be lots of lovely veggies to choose from, carveries generally have a good selection.  A plate of roast potatoes, root veg mash, honey roasted carrots and parsnips, buttered Savoy cabbage and/or Brussels sprouts, and definitely cauliflower cheese, stuffing and gravy and I'm happy.  And having it cooked for me and cleared up afterwards so I don't have to do a thing, is a real pleasure too.

Betty's lawn has rooted really well and is looking great, strong and healthy.  We took the canes down and let her on it for the first time yesterday, she carefully and slowly walked all around it, sniffing it all - and then peed on it.  We sprinkled it with the watering can straight away....obviously we know she'll be peeing on it and we won't necessarily see her do it every time, but we'll continue to water it regularly anyway, don't want burnt brown patches from her urine.  Especially not on such a small area of lawn.  It's ready for the first cut too, it's really grown strongly as we've been watering it every day, husband will give it a light cut with the strimmer.

Friday 24 May 2024

Touching base

 We had a nice time catching up with husband's sister and niece yesterday.  However, having not seen her for a few years, we were surprised at just how much she'd aged, especially since she's nearly 2 years younger than husband - she now looks much older than him.  She does have a few health problems (don't we all!) and is quite a heavy smoker, so I dare say that's got something to do with it.  She filled us in with news about some of the rest of husband's family - most of them live fairly near to each other up in the Midlands but, as I've said before, they are quite fragmented and some generally have fallen out with others at any one time, for one reason or other.  I think his sister is feeling her age and wanting to touch base with her siblings, whilst there's still time, basically.  The youngest of the siblings is approaching 60, the eldest 2 (of 10) have already died and a few of them have had recent health scares, so the realities of advancing age are penetrating their consciences, I guess.  Happens to us all!

The problem relative in my family is causing a few worries again at the moment - he has some quite serious health problems which came to light when he was taken to hospital by ambulance following a fall downstairs in his house a year or so ago.  However, after having a couple of tests he discharged himself against the hospital's advice and refused to have any more tests.  The doctor did write on his discharge notes that he may have a potentially life threatening condition and strongly advised further tests - to date relative has refused to have them, which is his prerogative - if he wants to bury his head in the sand there's not much we can do about it.  But some problems have arisen again, once again it's been recommended he has some tests, and again he's refusing.  Ho hum.

I need a quiet day today, it's been a busy week and I'm feeling a bit worn out.  I'll do the necessary this morning and just read in the afternoon.  It was cloudy all day yesterday and considerably cooler than of late, cloudy again this morning but a bit warmer with some sun forecast this afternoon, so I'll probably sit in the garden if it stays dry.

Thursday 23 May 2024

Surprise visitors

 Had a very unexpected but lovely surprise yesterday morning, about an hour after husband had gone off to his Sheds group.  One of his younger brothers and wife turned up out of the blue - popped in on their way home to the Midlands from their holiday in Devon.  I rang husband (luckily, he'd remembered to take his phone with him, and he even remembered how to answer it! 😂) and he came back home straight away, it's been quite a long time since we last saw his brother and was at my Mum's funeral I think.  Lovely catch up, they've promised to come down for a holiday near us later in the year.  And husband's sister and niece are coming today, just for the day.....then my sister the end of next week for a week, then the following week our friends from Kent for a Mon-Fri holiday.  We'll be going to the caravan after that, for a week of rest!

Husband made the new house sign at Sheds yesterday, a plain circle, it's thicker and much better quality and he's sanded it lovely and smooth, which will be much better for drawing on, once it's spray painted white and the numeral taken off the old sign and put on this one.

The relatives arrived whilst I was in the middle of some cooking - veggie pasties to be frozen for when sis comes, and a nut roast for me, also cut into portions and frozen.  The pasties have a potato, cheese and chive filling - a tin of potatoes I'd had in the cupboard for ages.  I drained and roughly mashed them, mixing in grated Cheddar, lots of snipped chives from the garden, some dried sage and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to bring out the flavour of the cheese.  I used a sheet of bought puff pastry, cut into 4 squares, once filled I part baked the pasties in the air fryer.  The nut roast I usually use....well, chopped nuts in!  However, I'd forgotten I'd used them all up a couple of weeks ago and didn't get round to buying any more.  So I used a few spoonfuls of crunchy peanut butter instead.  Each time I make a nut roast it's different - I don't follow a recipe, it's a case of throwing in the bowl whatever I've got and need to use up at the time.  So this time it was half a packet of sage & onion stuffing mix, made up, 2 medium carrots grated, some tomato puree, the last spoonful of red pesto sauce in the jar, a little bit of feta cheese left over, some grated Cheddar and the peanut butter.  Mixed well, put in a well greased loaf pan and baked in the air fryer.  Yum, I do love nut roasts.

The pasties will be a quick dinner for the day sister arrives (her coach arrives at 6 pm), we'll have them with new potatoes and salad.

In the 5 months since we've moved here, we've had so many visitors, seems like hardly a week goes by without some family members or friends ringing and asking if they can come see us.  I know some of them are curious about what a sheltered housing scheme looks like (we're all getting older!), and they've all been pleasantly surprised at how nice it is here.  Of course, here we are much closer to civilisation rather than being completely out in the sticks as we were before.  It is good to have all these visitors, particularly from husband's big family who are very fragmented and have largely lost touch. 

It's our wedding anniversary on Monday, 41 years, where has the time gone?  Rather than doing something on Monday, which is a bank holiday of course, we're going out for lunch on Sunday for a carvery - they do vegetarian options as well as the roast meats.  We do like a roast lunch, and not having to cook it myself is such a treat.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Wow that's quick

 It was all go yesterday.  Around 08.30 am I emailed the decorating contractors who were going to be doing the external painting, asking for a definite date if possible, as 'shortly' was very imprecise!  Half an hour later, they turned up, to my complete surprise - I thought Wow!  That's the quickest response ever!  😂😂  Actually, I knew it wasn't in response to my email, I'd had an instant automated reply saying they'd get back to me in 2 working days, it just struck me as being very funny.  They'd come to do preparation work - 2 very charming and helpful guys, father and son as it happened, they helped to move things where necessary and explained what would be happening.  They cleaned out the gutters, being careful not to disturb the sparrows nesting which I pointed out to them, then wiped down all the walls, fascias and windowsills.  They painted the wooden fascias and soffits and cleaned up after themselves.  They said they'll be back on Friday, or possibly Monday, to paint the walls.

Whilst this was happening, we had another knock on the door - a surveyor from the Housing Association to come and inspect some damp and mould that's appeared on our front lounge wall and in the bathroom.  He did initially come across as patronising (she's just an elderly woman who knows nothing type of attitude) and tried to put the blame on us (not opening windows or having the heating on), but I wasn't having that - I informed him that I worked for a chartered building surveyor for many years so knew the different types of dampness and what caused them, which soon changed his attitude and he became quite friendly.  I showed him the non-working kitchen and bathroom extractor fans - he didn't actually believe they didn't work until he tried them for himself, and then admitted they didn't.  He took photos of everything, made notes on his iPad and said he would arrange for the extractor fans to be serviced or replaced and the bathroom ceiling to be repainted with specialist mould guard paint (he reckoned it's ordinary emulsion on there - I should add that the whole bungalow was redecorated by the Housing Association contractors before we moved in, so they obviously cut corners!).

Betty wore herself out with excitement over all these potential new friends, she didn't know who to attempt to play with first.  I did ask husband to take her out for a walk whilst it was all going on, but he either didn't hear me or was too busy chatting to the decorators outside.  In the end, I shut her in my bedroom.  

I'd started doing some banking and budgeting, I also wanted to do a shopping list for next week, before sister arrives.  With everything that was going on though, I kept being interrupted and distracted, so will do it today instead.  Husband's going to his Sheds group this morning, so that'll give me a clear couple of hours to get things done.

He's decided he's not going to the indoor bowls on a Tuesday evening anymore, he's found it a bit boring to be honest, there are only 5 or 6 others who go, and he says they're all older than him!  But he wants to keep up with Men in Sheds, and is going regularly to the gym on a Thursday.

Tuesday 21 May 2024

What noise? And not very helpful...

 It was a lovely day yesterday, warm and sunny all day, although it started off a bit hazy or misty first thing but the sun soon burnt that away.  Husband went off to take the car to the garage for a minor problem - it's one of the things he's a bit obsessive about at the mo.  Well, he's always had a tendency to be somewhat obsessive about the car - frequently asks things like "Can you hear that noise?".  To which I reply "What noise?".  All cars make noises when they're being driven as far as I'm concerned, well I guess with the possible exception of electric vehicles....I wouldn't know, I've never been in one.  So I can't distinguish what is a different or worrying noise from any of the other general noises 😂.  Anyway, it turned out to be something and nothing, the garage man did some little adjustment to appease husband and didn't charge, so he was happy.

I spent a couple of hours in the garden, weeding, pruning, tying in new growth on climbing plants and generally tidying up.  Every day (well, when it's not raining) I spend some time sweeping the paths, as during the night creatures (I don't know what) seem to disturb the gravel and throw bits of it over the paths.....Betty does too, simply by walking over the gravelled areas, although occasionally she does snuffle around or scrape up the gravel, she must smell something interesting.  The back fence is covered with ivy and bindweed.....whilst I don't mind it, the greenery looks much better than the old worn fence, the bindweed in particular does need to be kept in check by regular pruning or it'll take over the flower bed.  I know bindweed is a vigorous pest, but I do like the flowers!  The fence, upright planks not fence panels, is very old and disintegrating in places, our Housing Association won't replace it though until or unless it actually falls down.  The greenery is doing a pretty good job of holding it all up though, so I'm not concerned about it, there are no gaps and it's secure enough to keep Betty in.

The firepit arrived yesterday, I like it, although it's a bit smaller than I's fine though, we haven't got a huge space and there won't be a big crowd in the garden!  Must remember to take a photo...

We had a letter put through the door yesterday, from a local firm of decorators - our Housing Association are employing them to paint the exterior of all our bungalows.  The letter states that they will be coming to do the work 'soon', and asks that we all move everything away from our house walls.  Just 'soon', no actual date given - which would be helpful to know if they want us to move things!  Think I might have to ring up and ask...

Monday 20 May 2024

Imposter syndrome

 Have you ever heard of Imposter Syndrome?

"Impostor syndrome, also known as impostor phenomenon or impostorism, is a psychological occurrence. Those who have it may doubt their skills, talents, or accomplishments. They may have a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as frauds."

(according to Wikipedia).

I frequently feel like this.  I often wake up, particularly on a sunny morning, look out into the garden and can't quite believe just how lucky we are to be living here.  It's almost like we're not worthy of it and will soon be outed as frauds.....or, as Happy Hooker commented yesterday, that I'll pinch myself and discover it's all a dream.

I do know I'm being ridiculous - when you go on the Council housing list, you can't just say you want a sheltered housing home, or even a bungalow - you have to have a defined 'need', a physical or mental health problem.  And they won't just take your word for it, you have to provide documentary evidence in the form of GP or consultant letters and reports.  Which we both had in abundance, husband twice as many as me.  We already had these, we didn't have to go to our GP or consultants with a sob story and beg them to write something suitable.  So when the Housing Association rang to offer us this bungalow, saying we were top of the list, I queried it as being a computer error or something - they said no, we met all their criteria, more so than others on the list.  But I still find it hard to believe that we're actually living here, that we legitimately live here.  I won't say deserve, I struggle a bit with that word.

Anyhow, here we are.  

Change of plan yesterday morning - we had a really nice rattan table and chair set at the caravan, the table with a glass top, we bought them brand new and love them.  The 2nd hand cafe table and director's chairs (we already had the chairs) we had here were fine, nothing wrong with them, they're more functional than aesthetically pleasing though.  So we decided to swap them over - take the cafe table/director's chairs to the caravan and bring the lovely ones back to use here - they look much nicer and we'll get more use out of them here.  That meant we couldn't take Betty with us, as we needed all the space in the back of the car, and with the back seats down.  We also wanted to bring back our spare parasol (we have a gazebo at the caravan) and husband's strimmer, as he'll need that to cut Betty's lawn.  All no problem, except it meant we couldn't spend all day at the caravan, we don't like to leave Betty on her own for more than 4 or 5 hours max.  Not that she's a problem, she isn't, not at all - she's fine on her own, doesn't bark (we've asked neighbours) or chew furniture.  As far as we can tell, she just sleeps - she certainly looks very bleary-eyed when we get home, but she is always extremely pleased to see us.  We did what we needed to do, had a nice 30 min chat with van neighbours we haven't seen since last year, then drove home, getting back by lunchtime.  So now the nice chairs and table and parasol are in place, I'm even happier with the garden.

One thing I'm not so happy about is that husband decided to touch up the white paint on the sides of the house sign, which was a bit patchy in places (he'd done the white background and sides).  Somehow or other, he managed to drip 3 lines of paint on the front, partly obliterating some of the flowers, meaning I'd have to redo them 😒.  Sometimes his 'help' (when I've not asked for it either) is less than helpful 😂🤐.  However, he was apologetic and has offered to make a new sign in his Sheds group - which is ok by me.

His short term memory continues to be a problem - yesterday morning I told him we'd have a cooked breakfast (we sometimes do on a Sunday) before we went out, then I went and got in the shower.  When I came out, he was halfway through a big bowl of cereal - he'd forgotten entirely about the cooked breakfast, within that short space of time.  I wasn't bothered though, I'm not really much of a breakfast eater anyway 😂😉

Sunday 19 May 2024

Enough for this year

 Re the table be fair, the pattern on the Fablon does mostly hide the creases, which now are only small ones anyway, I managed to get out the bigger ones.  But I suppose it's like crochet or knitting - if you make a mistake, even a small one that isn't visible to others (unless you point it out) - whether others notice it or not, we ourselves know it's there.  Which is an irritant!  Hey ho, it is what it's fine really, I'm not going to stress about it.

Thank you for the positive comments about my sign - it's nothing fancy but I like it.

The plant sale in the church hall was a dead loss - it was absolutely heaving with people, no room to move or any way of getting to the tables to see the plants because of the crowds.  And there were a couple of people with pushchairs, a few with those pushalong walking aids, 2 or 3 with big shopping trolleys, which made it even more difficult, people were getting frustrated.  The church has quite a wide outdoor space in front, there were a couple of stalls out there but they could and should have had several more, leaving more space in the (quite small) church hall.  But even the stalls outside were badly placed - both right up against the path, which then created a bottleneck of people trying to get past the crowds in front of the stalls, to go inside the hall.  There was 6 or 8 feet of grass behind the stalls, so they could have been further back, to lessen the bottleneck.  Very badly organised all round.  I didn't buy any plants, because I couldn't get near enough to actually see them!

We didn't go to the boot sale, after the crowds at the plant sale I didn't fancy any more scrums.  We stayed home and did a few small jobs in the garden, then sat out there reading - well, I read my book, husband dozed.  It was so nice and peaceful, other than a couple of lawn mowings in the distance.  What makes it even nicer living here is that from our garden we can hear the steam trains whistling.  We came indoors because the sky was coming over cloudy by late afternoon, and we did have a short but heavy no watering of plants or lawn needed.

Off to the caravan today, I've made a pasta and feta salad to take with us for lunch.  We'll call into The Range on the way, to get some charcoal for the firepit - I've ordered a really nice one, it's being delivered on Thursday.  Marlene of Poppy Patchwork blog has bought a metal bowl firepit which she's made into a water feature - it looks fantastic Marlene and I might well steal that idea for next year, thank you!  We're not going to do too much more to the garden this year, we've done what we wanted to in the way of vegetable beds, a couple of flower beds, some privacy screening with climbing plants, and a few feature plants in the largest gravel bed, to break up the sea of concrete and gravel.  Oh, and Betty's lawn of course.  I have plans to extend the flower bed right along the back fence next year, get rid of some more of the gravel, get a water feature sorted, and possibly get some better garden furniture.  For this summer, though, we'll just enjoy what we've done so far.  I'm happy with the garden work thus far, the plants and veggies are all beginning to grow well....some of the flowering plants are already blooming and looking pretty, and we'll soon be having our first radishes, followed by young carrots.

Saturday 18 May 2024

The sign, and falling out over a table

 Ok, here's the sign (don't expect a masterpiece! 😂):-

It's on the carpet, the walls of our house aren't bright red 😉 I've just got to give it a spray of clear varnish before it goes on the wall.  (Oh, and speaking of red....I'm not keen on the King's new portrait - with the red background and his red uniform, it makes it look like a disembodied head staring out at you, very unnerving).

You may remember the round table we bought for £10 from the garden centre, they were getting rid of their old cafe tables and getting new ones:-

There's nothing wrong with it at all, but the top was very faded, due to being cleaned vigorously every day and being outside in the sunny courtyard cafe.  So I bought some Fablon to cover it.  If any of you have used sticky back plastic, especially on an item larger than a few inches, then you'll know it's a bugger to apply.  I'd worked out it needed two of us, it needed to be positioned carefully (the piece I bought online was a square, 2" wider than the diameter of the round table, which is 1" in depth, so an inch extra to fold underneath), the backing peeled off slowly and applied to the surface a bit at a time, smoothing as we did so.  I knew I'd need to cut the edges to achieve a smooth finish.  I explained all this to husband beforehand, but we nearly came to blows when doing it.  He will not listen to instructions, has no patience whatsoever and goes at everything like a bull in a china shop.  Suffice it to say I told him to stop and just leave me to it!  I then had to spend half an hour struggling to peel back the parts which he'd slapped down in a rush with no care and attention, resulting in creases and air bubbles everywhere 😡 Luckily, I like it and it looks ok, so long as you don't examine it too closely!

This morning there's a plant sale in the Methodist church hall in the town, so of course we're going to have a look.....and possibly buy a plant or two.  The boot sale is on this afternoon, I'm not sure yet whether we'll be going, husband did mention going but I think I'd rather stay home and do a few bits in the garden.  He could go on his own, of course.  Got a busy week coming up, few things we need to do and husband's sister and niece are coming for a day visit, so I need to plan food for lunch.  Something simple, I've got a pizza base in the freezer, so will just put toppings on that, make a few sandwiches and have salad and crisps on the side.

Friday 17 May 2024

Great expectations!!

 Some of you have asked to see pictures of the house sign, once I've finished it - thank you, but don't expect anything grand, I'm no Monet! 😂😂  It'll be very rustic and artisan....actually, I've just looked up the meaning of artisan, it says someone who does skilled work with their hands.  I'm not even skilled, I've had no training or lessons, I just like drawing, in a very amateurish way.  The sign as it stands is very plain - easy to see from the road as it's quite bold, but just a plain black numeral on a brilliant white background, so nothing fancy at all.  I just wanted to 'pretty it up' a bit by drawing some flowers on it, flowers being the thing I draw most often when I get the urge to do something.

It's a lovely sunny start to the morning, so I've got a wash load of Betty's blankets on, to go out on the line - I put fleece blankets on the sofa and my bed, as she moults so much - even more so at the moment, husband is always saying she sheds enough fur to make another dog!  I've got a few jobs to do in the garden, some weeding and tying up climbing plants.  I'm itching to cut down all the bluebells, they've all finished flowering and are looking very scruffy, think I'll have to wait another week or two for the foliage to die back more before I chop them all off at the base.  I want to do it before sister gets here, can't have the garden looking messy!  (Sister's garden is lovely).  It'll be interesting to see what else is coming up in the bluebell bed, I can see leaves of other plants poking their way through.  Betty's lawn is now growing very well, so the 2 or 3 times daily watering is obviously bedding it in, it'll soon need a first cut.  She's still not allowed on it, we'll wait another week or so before taking the canes and string down.

We're having a treat tonight, I was going to do fish and chips out of the freezer but husband said he'd like it from a fish shop, he'll go and get it later.  He'll get 2 portions of cod and one portion of chips, which is plenty to share between the 3 of us - Betty likes fish and chips too, and the portions from the fish shop are so large.  We're eating it at home, not on the sea front - it's Butlins changeover day, so it'll be busy on the esplanade, especially with the weather being fine, sunny and warm with hardly any breeze.  It'll be our last carby treat for a while, next week I'm going to do a week of very low carb, been eating too many carbs lately - lovely seeded sourdough bread (the one I buy from the Co-op is one of the best I've tasted, which tempts me to eat too much of it), pasta salads, rice dishes, lots of new potatoes, and jacket spuds a couple of times a week.  All yummy, but too much carby stuff for me, it bloats me and makes my joints ache.

Showers forecast tomorrow, but then sunny again on Sunday, so we're planning on going to the caravan for the day.

Thursday 16 May 2024

A little project

 I got ahead of myself this morning by prepping all the veggies for tonight's dinner, they were done by 9 am.  Now I'm about to make a big pan of chicken chilli, to be portioned up and frozen.  Husband's out at the gym so I've got a nice peaceful hour or two, to get on with my work.  Once the chilli's made, then I want to get a couple of my boxes of craft stuff out of the cupboard in my bedroom, there are 2 empty drawers in the Ikea Kallax unit in the hallway for the things to go in.  I specifically want my waterproof drawing pens, I know they're in one of the boxes, I have a little project in mind.  

The house number/sign on the front of our bungalow was very faded and scruffy - I was going to buy a new one but didn't find any I particularly liked - well, not in our price range anyway.  So, having had a good look at the original one, I decided to refurbish it.  Husband got it off the wall and cleaned it up, washing all the cobwebs off it and sanding it down (it's a wood base and had a plastic numeral and some kind of very faded decorative thing stuck on, he took those off at my request).  I got him to spray the wood base with several coats of white enamel paint.  We bought a plain wood numeral from someone at the car boot sale who makes them, I've painted it black using several coats of the nail varnish I bought specifically for the job, husband's stuck it on the base.  Now I want to paint a few flowers on it, using my waterproof pens, then finally cover it with a coat of clear varnish.  

Whilst having a quick browse on FB yesterday (I'm getting totally fed up with FB actually, it's getting more and more adverts on it for things I'm not remotely interested in), I saw a photo of a baby blanket someone has made, using a crochet stitch I've not seen before, it's called Block Stitch.  I googled it and found a youtube video and written instructions, it's easy enough to do and I really like the effect of it, it's sort of like a basket weave.  I usually use a type of cluster stitch for baby blankets, or granny stitch if I want to make a quick one, but I do fancy having a go at this Block stitch, so I'll do that in the next few days.  Anyone made anything with this Block stitch?

My sister informed me yesterday that it was just 17 more sleeps until she comes down, she's really looking forward to it, as am I.  I'm a bit worried about sis actually, she really needs a break from her responsibilities.  I'll make sure she has a lovely week here, with fun things to do, a couple of meals or cream teas out, sitting in the garden enjoying the (hopefully) sunshine during the day or the fire pit in the evenings, and some quiet time together in my bedroom with a coffee, if she wants to talk.

Oh, incidentally - K, the deer park is quite high up in the hills so we're probably unlikely to go there (I don't even know if one can get near it or visit, actually), but I'll try to get some photos the next time we go shopping....don't expect too much though, I've only got my phone camera (and I'm not very good with that!! 😂).

Wednesday 15 May 2024

The next thing - a fire pit

 The car had the service and repair done yesterday, all went well, it was perfectly straightforward with no drama or unexpected problems and was finished by the time the garage said it would be.  It also cost less than husband was expecting, happily.

So the ongoing work to change the garden to how we want it.....we had a stump in the middle of the smallest of the square gravel beds, where husband had cut off the horrible scruffy yucca type tree that was there.  Originally I'd thought about securing a plinth to the top of it, with a bird bath fixed to that.  I decided against that though - much as I'd like it, Betty wouldn't - she hates birds being in the garden, especially pigeons, and chases them away, she sees them as invaders.  So it seemed a bit daft to encourage them to come in.  So then I thought, what about a fire pit?  One that comes with a grill across it, so it can also be used as a barbecue, and with a spark guard or cover.  Husband really liked that idea too, so that's what we're going to have.  And since the car service/repair was so economical, husband offered to pay for the fire pit.  We're going to the caravan at the weekend, just for a day trip, we pass The Range on the way, one of my favourite shops.....they have a big display of fire pits/bbqs, so we may well get one there.

We need to bring some things back with us from the caravan, hence why we're going.  We have a spare garden parasol there, 2 in fact - we have a large gazebo we use there (we take it down over winter) so the parasols aren't really needed so will bring them both home.  The larger one will go over our garden seating area, the smaller one for Betty's lawn - which, incidentally, is settling down and bedding in very well, in fact it already looks as if the grass is growing.  We've still got the canes and string around it, we don't want Betty on it just yet.  We're continuing to water it twice a day for the next week or two, until we're sure it's properly rooted.  Husband will also bring his strimmer back from the caravan, ready for giving the new lawn the first cut in a few weeks - it's such a small area that the strimmer will cope with it just fine.

Thank you for all the comments, we couldn't have wished for a better place.  We popped to the supermarket for a small top up shop this morning and when we came out to put our bags in the car, I stopped to gaze up at the lovely view up on the hills above the town - sheep and cows grazing of course, but also deer in the deer park at the top.  I wonder how many shoppers actually notice the lovely scenery up above the supermarkets?  I'll try to remember to take a photo the next time we're there, we're so lucky to have all this beautiful scenery around us, and the beach we can actually see from the main road round the corner from our home.  Jane, you're right, knowing that we have a home for life is so reassuring.  And Sue, yes it did happen much quicker than we thought - years quicker, actually, considering the Council had told us originally that it could be 4 or 5 years before we got offered a place.  Scarlet, I love being at home now, I don't feel the need to keep going out, even though there are such nice places to go within a short distance.

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Thankful every day

 Twice Betty woke me up last night, in the early hours, jumping off the bed and running into the lounge, woofing and agitated.  She'd obviously heard something - I don't know what, I didn't hear anything and couldn't see anything when I looked out of the lounge and kitchen windows.  I'd got back to sleep quickly after the first time, but not the second, I lay awake for an hour or so.  I got to thinking about how much our lives have changed since moving here, and just how fortunate we are.  

I'd been deluding myself for some time that I was happy in the last place - I wasn't, but brushed it aside and refused to think about it.  The fact was it was so isolated, with no facilities nearby and no public transport, and little narrow lanes with no paths that tractors, farm vehicles, and horse boxes regularly used, meaning walking was difficult and could be dangerous, this all added to my general unhappiness.  Our immediate next door neighbours, whilst seeming friendly enough on the surface, actually weren't very nice at all and didn't even say goodbye when we left....we had problems with a few others too.   The little hamlet of about 20 houses was made up mostly of middle-aged and older couples, most of whom had lived there for years, and a few young families who tended not to stay long, so didn't really mix much and caused a few problems.  There was a retired police inspector with a big attitude problem, he, his wife and adult son had moved in 3 or 4 years previously and he'd already upset a few of the neighbours with his high-handed attitude.  Another middle-aged man was so grumpy he'd give Victor Meldrew a run for his money, and was so security conscious he fixed cameras all around his house, a couple of which overlooked our garden front and back.  There'd been virtually no crime in all of the 12 or 13 years we'd lived there, so it was just paranoia on his part.

A few months before we left, there was an incident involving husband (I wasn't present and didn't see it happen), due in part to husband's cognitive impairment.  It had repercussions and did divide our little community - when things like this happen you really find out who your true friends are....and, more importantly, who aren't!  Some people we'd thought of as good friends distanced themselves from us (I'd have expected them to know better as they knew us well), but we got a lot of support from a couple of others who I wouldn't necessarily have expected to come forward and be on our side, as it were.  One in particular bent over backwards to support and help us and I will always be grateful for that.  So that really affected the way we felt about living there, for the last few months there I hated it, frankly.  This particular incident was so upsetting it's only now, nearly a year later, that I've been able to think about it.

In contrast, here it's almost like paradise.  We've got to know most of the other sheltered housing residents in our little cul de sac, all our age and older - well, apart from the younger woman across the road who kept having the police visits, which seem to have stopped now and the problem, whatever it was, sorted out.  Everyone is lovely, there are no arguments or dramas, we're all keen gardeners (the ones who aren't physically able to garden themselves have friends or family do it for them).  It's quiet, being set back from the main road, with distant lovely countryside views.  And we appreciate the weekly support we receive from the Housing Support Officer, and the feeling of safety and reliability we get from the alarm system (even if husband has a tendency to fall against it and set it off accidentally!).  All the facilities we need are nearby and easily accessed, and nice places to go - including the beach - are much nearer than they were before.  I'm so thankful, every day, that we were able to move here.

The car has gone in for a service and minor repair job today, husband's been given a courtesy car.  The weather isn't great today though, black clouds coming over and rain forecast to start any minute, so we won't be going out anywhere.  I've got a few things to do indoors today, such as unpacking another box or two, getting summer clothes out of them and putting away thick winter jumpers.  I also want to motivate husband to get stuck into rearranging his brick shed and the car port - his shed is already turning into a safety hazard as he never puts anything away properly and things fall over or get knocked about when he's trying to find something.  We have several large plastic lidded boxes stacked in the car port, he could utilise those for the tools and bits and bobs he's got scattered randomly in the shed, I'll label them for him so we know where everything is.

Monday 13 May 2024

My sister

 We got most of the household stuff we needed in Bridgwater yesterday, and in Aldi I stocked up on my frothy coffees for the month, plus long life oat milk for my sister.  As for clothes, all I bought was one t-shirt and a pair of capri leggings, husband got some slider sandals.  And I bought (yet another) plant - a purply-pink Canna lily.  I think I'm done buying plants now.....but never say never 😂  It's already potted up and in place.

I've been thinking about and planning meals and trips out for the week that sister is here.  Sis says she likes vegetarian long as it comes with a side of meat 😁, she's a committed carnivore, like husband - that's fine, I can cook meat dishes for them and something fishy or veggie for me.  She says she doesn't want to go out somewhere every day, she'll be happy to sit in the garden and chat on sunny days.  We'll go to Dunster village one day (she'll love it there, she's never been), look round the village and then stroll up to the Watermill cafe for lunch or a cream tea in the garden.  We'll go to the garden centre one day too, to look around (I'll try not to buy anymore plants!!) and have lunch or another cream tea in their cafe.  We'll have fish and chips on the sea front one the car facing the sea if the weather's not great.  She said she'd like to visit Watchet again, she likes it there, as do we.

My sister and I get on like a house on fire (what a weird expression!), although we didn't when we both still lived at home as teenagers....I'm 4 years older than her and I used to get fed up with her 'borrowing' all my stuff without asking, and her general untidiness - we shared a bedroom and her half looked like a bomb had dropped on it, whereas my side was quite minimalist and tidy, even then.  She's not as untidy nowadays, but does still have quite a lot of what I'd call 'clutter' - she likes ornaments, antique style mirrors and clocks, and general knick-knacks, but I'm still quite minimalist when it comes to house decor.  We do both have the exact same sense of humour, we each know when the other is quietly laughing at something (or even someone!), we just give each other a 'look' and don't even have to say anything.  I've said before, sister is quite glamorous, tall and well dressed/coordinated, with perfect hair and makeup.  Whereas I'm not!  Sis wouldn't dream of going out without all her 'slap' on....I, on the other hand, haven't worn makeup for years, not since I gave up work, I was expected to wear it when I was a secretary, but always hated the feel of all that stuff on my face.

Sister and I do have a lot of things in common though, besides our sense of humour - we like the same sorts of foods (other than meat!), both love gardening, especially flowers, both love Strictly.  And we're both carers for husbands whose behaviour can be challenging at times.  I have 2 brothers, cousins, best friends I've known for years and years.....but my sister is the one person on this earth who 'gets' me entirely, just as I totally understand her.  And that means we can talk about anything, never run out of things to say, but can happily sit in companionable silence too.  We're going to have a lovely time.

Sunday 12 May 2024

Shopping for summer clothes and household goods

 Yesterday was hot, too hot to be walking around the boot sale really, I was feeling the heat and had to go and have a lie down in my bedroom recliner chair with a cold drink when we got back.  The bungalow remains fairly cool inside even during the warm sunny days we've had, thankfully - well, it has so far anyway, so after half an hour of cooling down I was fine.  I bought 2 cushions for the garden chairs, I wanted waterproof ones really but couldn't find any at the boot sale, however, I did like these:-

Nice colour and a good size.  I'll just have to bring them indoors every evening, which is no hardship.  It's cooler from today, with showers forecast tomorrow and then a few during the coming week - which is fine as it means we don't have to water the garden so much.  

We're off to Bridgwater today for some shopping, we need to go to Matalan, B&M and Aldi.  Minehead has none of those and is no good for ordinary household shopping, or clothes/shoes, it's first and foremost a tourist town, having the biggest Butlins in the country and most of the shops cater exclusively to the tourist trade.  We're fortunate to have 3 supermarkets, a GP surgery, vet, library, garden centre within a very short drive, whereas before they were a fair distance away, so I'm not complaining.  We wait until we need several things before we go to Bridgwater, every month or so, and Sunday is the best day as it's not so busy - Bridgwater traffic is practically gridlocked during the week.

Every morning for the past week or so, I've gone into the garden in my dressing gown with Betty for her morning ablutions and I have a wander round with my coffee.  I have a good look at all the plants, it's nice to notice new leaves and growth, and pull up the odd stray weed here and there.  The neighbour at the back of our garden - the one with the trees which overhang our garden - told husband the other day that he's hoping to start cutting them down this autumn, and put up a 5ft fence all along (there's currently a waist-high fence).  I hope he does, the pittosporum which make up most of the treeline have been left unpruned for years by the looks of things and have grown to large tree height, they overhang our garden a lot and shower it with leaves and seeds, they're a blimmin nuisance actually.  We've pruned the lower branches but cannot reach the taller ones - husband's not safe up a ladder nowadays.  We just have to keep sweeping up the leaves for the time being.  

I'm guessing there wasn't a Northern Lights display last night, nobody on FB has said so this morning, unlike yesterday when loads of people were posting pictures.  I did look out the window when I got up around midnight to see what Betty was woofing at - she obviously heard something (I didn't), leapt off my bed and ran into the lounge, barking.  Nothing moving outside so I don't know what it was she heard.  

Saturday 11 May 2024

Betty's lawn and 3 weeks today 😁 EDITED

 We went and collected the turf rolls yesterday morning (not forgetting some plastic to put them on, to stop MUD falling off into the car 😂😏 - I still keep chuckling over that).  They'd given us an extra roll - the lady said they generally do that, how kind of them.  It's a good system they have, all the ordered rolls are stacked on individual pallets with an envelope tucked into the top, with the customer's name, quantity and cost clearly written on them, you put your payment in the envelope, seal it and put it in their secure brick postbox.  It's a big farm and the owners are obviously busy throughout the day, so it's a system which means they don't have to be around when you come to collect.  I should add it's in the middle of nowhere so there's no rogue passing traffic to come along and steal it.  They also provide a leaflet giving laying instructions and aftercare.  All very efficient.

We nearly came to blows (a slight exaggeration) when we started laying it.  Neither of us has ever laid turf before, so I'd read through the leaflet first and then read it out to husband.  Well, he wouldn't follow the instructions (not my instructions, the professionals!), he thought he knew better and was going about it in what seemed to me to be a totally illogical way.  Husband can be very stubborn, gets very argumentative when I disagree or question him, and thinks he's always in the right.....which I actually think is a general man thing, rather than something specific to husband.  Anyway, I very soon announced I was going inside and leaving him to it, seeing as he obviously knew what he was doing! 😒  And before I lost my temper and whacked him round the ear with the rake 😂😜  It was only 6 rolls after all, if it had been a lot then obviously I would have stayed to help him.  Sometimes it's better just to withdraw, rather than getting into an argument that neither of us is going to win.  Anyway, it's done now.  I put canes all around it when he'd finished, with string tied around, to keep Betty off until it's established - we don't want a heavy-footed heffalump with a fascination for digging trampling all over it before it roots and beds itself in 😁

Here it is:-

Betty's own lawn.....she was very interested in it and kept sticking her head in between the string to have a sniff at it, I'm sure she'll love it when she's allowed on.

The really good news of the day - my sis video called me to say she's booked her coach tickets for a week's stay with us, in 3 weeks time.  Wonderful!!  Her friend hasn't been able to sort herself out and book any time off, so sis is coming on her own, her friend said she's hoping to book some holiday and come down with sis for a long weekend later in the year, which will also be lovely.  I don't know who was more excited, sister or me.  It's exactly a year this week since they last came to stay.  I did of course see them both when I went up for niece's wedding in March.

It was a gloriously warm and sunny day yesterday and more of the same is forecast for today.  We're off to the boot sale again this afternoon.


Just looked at FB, it's full of photos people have taken all over the UK, including down here, of the Northern Lights last night.....beautiful, and we missed it as we were both fast asleep!  😭

Friday 10 May 2024

Some people!!!

 Back to being a lovely day again yesterday, warm sunshine all day, in fact a bit too hot in the afternoon, Betty and I had to keep retreating indoors to cool down.  I ordered the turf for Betty's lawn, we're collecting it this morning - they don't deliver small quantities, understandably.  We have to drive to a village near where we used to live, according to the garden centre (who no longer sell turf, because not all of it got sold each week and so they were having to throw it away, since it obviously doesn't keep) they're the nearest suppliers of turf.  I spoke to a very nice lady on the phone, who said it was no problem to order such a small quantity (4 sq. yds), they sell anything from 1 roll upwards!  She said she had to warn me to have a tarpaulin or plastic sheet in the the turves might be muddy!  Which I thought was hilarious, but she explained that 2 or 3 weeks ago she had a customer ring up to complain that the turves she'd had left a load of mud in her car!  What?!?!  Really?!  The fact that turf is, well, grass grown on SOIL and thus is bound to be muddy, particularly if it's rained the day before they cut it, hadn't registered with the customer.  Honestly, some people!  The lady said that as a result, she now has to make a point of warning people who come to collect (we both laughed ourselves silly over it, at least she's still got a sense of humour.  Although she might not have, after the 500th time of telling people 😉).

So we spent yesterday finishing off the preparation of the ground where the turf is going.  Then we had to go to the garden centre - yet again - for some more compost.....and another plant may have jumped onto the trolley.  Husband grumbled to the same young male cashier about how much I was spending on plants (I don't know why, seeing as the plants money comes out of my savings, not his wallet 😝), the cashier grinned and suggested he took my photo to pin up behind the counter with a note saying I'm barred in future 😂😂.  Husband said they'd go bankrupt! 😂😏

I'm really looking forward to putting the turf down and seeing Betty's little lawn - I'm very easily pleased 😂.  Let's hope Betty is equally pleased!  It'll be another step towards breaking up the sea of concrete and gravel in the garden, it's all coming together so well.  We've both been working hard in the garden - we don't overdo things, it's half an hour or so at a time and then we stop for a rest and a drink.  It's nice having the chairs in the garden too, so we can sit out there - husband in the sun, me in the shade, Betty alternates between sun and shade.  She's very good, she self regulates - does like lying in the sun, but only for 10 mins or so, then she gets up and moves to a shadier spot.  I've got a water bowl outside for her, kept in the shade, I regularly fill it up from the outside tap and Betty drinks it often.  

Apparently, it's going to be even warmer today and tomorrow, so I doubt Betty and I will be outside all afternoon.  At least it's nice and cool inside at the front of the house during the afternoons, when the sun has moved round the back.

We're so lucky we got this place and I love it so much, sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure it's not just a lovely dream.

Thursday 9 May 2024

What a strange day

 It was misty pretty much all day here yesterday, but it wasn't cold at all.  Husband went to his Sheds group in the morning, dropping me off in town first.  I browsed round the charity shops and a couple of the relatively upmarket (well, relatively for Minehead!) furnishings/gift shops, looking for cushions for the garden chairs, didn't find any - well, not ones I liked/were suitable anyway.  I think I might have to get them online.  I needed a small amount of black gloss paint but couldn't find small enough tins of that either, I really only need a tiny amount.  Then I had a brainwave and bought 2 bottles of glossy black nail polish, perfect!  I also got something else I'd been wanting, a garden obelisk for the climbing rose which I'd cut down almost to the ground (as the stems were bare to waist height) and which has sent up loads of new growth.  Husband picked me up and we popped to the garden centre for yet more plants - I think we must be their best customers at the moment, even the young male cashier greeted us with a smile and a "Hello again" 😂

So another productive couple of hours in the garden - husband built up part of the stone wall of the existing raised bed, which was collapsing, and I started putting together the - flat pack - obelisk.  It was quite tricky to begin with actually - not surprising I suppose, as it was a cheap 'made in China' thing.  I made a couple of rookie mistakes 😉 at first - well, in my defence, I've not assembled one before and the badly-printed picture instructions were so faded I could hardly see them.  Once I figured it out though, it was fairly easy, although I had to call husband over a couple of times as brute strength (which I don't have) was needed to squeeze together a few of the joints.  Got it done soon enough and put in place over the rose, it looks quite good for a cheap item.

Then I planted up the geraniums I bought yesterday in pots to go on the paving, to help break it up and provide a splash of colour.  Husband planted a couple more alpines in the new rockery bed.

SAM, you're right, the garden was a clean slate, a blank canvas really, so we could pretty much work out a plan of exactly what we wanted.  I'm already looking forward to next year when everything is established and well grown.

I noticed a small red, slightly raised and scaly, itchy patch just above my wrist yesterday after I came in from the garden....I'm guessing it might be yet another allergic reaction to something I've inadvertently touched out there.  I've taken an antihistamine, to be on the safe side.

Wednesday 8 May 2024

Shifting tons of gravel

 It was a glorious day yesterday, the weather was perfect.  Got a load of bedding washed and dried on the line, we did some more work in the garden, and actually got to sit out there for a while!  We started clearing the gravel off of what will be Betty's lawn area, a hot and tiring job as it was very warm and the gravel layer is quite deep, so we had several breaks for cool drinks.  I used some of the gravel to cover the new rockery bed:-

It looks so much better now, spreading the gravel there has finished it off nicely.  I might get one or two more alpine plants to put in there - you can never have too many plants!

Our seating area in the corner of the garden, the next time we go to the caravan we'll bring a garden parasol back home with us, we've got a spare one there.  It's very sunny in this corner, we'll need the parasol:-

I'm going to buy some cushions for the chairs today, and Fablon to cover the bargain table from the garden centre cafe - the table is fine but the top is a bit faded.  I'll be getting a few more plants to put in pots and place around, to break up the sea of concrete, pavers and gravel.  I do like the fact that the garden isn't all pristine and matchy-matchy, and the concrete etc means it's fairly low maintenance, but it was pretty boring when we first moved here.  It was done that way purposely to suit the previous disabled tenant, of course, it certainly wasn't to my taste but I could see the potential straight away.  I like flowers and colour, not acres of grey concrete.

I'm awake early, but don't feel like getting up right now, so will lie here reading with my gently snoring dog beside me.

Tuesday 7 May 2024

Great weekend

It's been a really good weekend, we've both enjoyed it very much.

I'm not a train enthusiast in any way, shape or form - husband does like steam trains but even he's not obsessive about them (for a change!!).  However, being on the platform at Minehead steam railway station yesterday was actually quite interesting, there were several (stationary) steam engines to look at, all with staff climbing over them and doing things, and another engine and carriages all waiting to take people on a journey.  Every time an engine moved, even if only a few feet, they blew the whistle - a safety feature I guess, meaning 'get out of the way!' (there were lots of staff milling around on the tracks).  There were loads of people, clearly enthusiasts with big cameras and equipment, taking lots of photos.  Whilst at least half were older men, I was quite surprised at the numbers of younger people, men and women, who were also taking photos.  The station is well staffed by volunteers, lots and lots of them, there's a book shop selling loads of second hand books, DVDs and CDs, around half of which were specifically about trains.  There's a cafe and shop, an information point, ticket office (obviously), and several piles of old suitcases and lots of other bits and pieces of old steam train memorabilia scattered along the platform.  There are also lots of large flower beds, filled with big healthy plants, very well maintained.  A very interesting place to go if you're on holiday, and opportunity for a full day out if you opt to go on the trains - there are I think 10 stations en route and people can get on and off at any of them.  We didn't go on a train yesterday, we're saving that for next month when our friends from Kent come for another week's stay - they are steam train enthusiasts, when they came in March the trains weren't yet running.  I have to admit I do like the sound of the train whistle, and the 'chuff chuff' sound it makes when it's moving.  Very evocative of 'the olden days' 😂 - not that I remember, of course! 😉  Husband says he can remember standing on the bridge over the railway line near his home when he was a boy, waiting to be engulfed in the steam as the train went under.  It was a good morning, actually, at the train station.  But sorry, I never thought to take any photos!!

Afterwards, we went to the garden centre nearby, to get some more veg plants, herbs and seeds.   Husband planted a couple that were ready to go out, in the raised bed, the others will be kept in the car port covered with fleece overnight, for another couple of weeks.  It was a mixture of sunshine and clouds yesterday, but quite warm, with a couple of showers later on.

This coming week it's looking like we might actually be able to sit out in the garden, the weather forecast is good!  The next thing on the garden agenda is Betty's lawn - a small area of gravel, 6ft square, here it is (with Betty posing beside it):-

This week we'll be raking off all the gravel and distributing it in other areas around the garden, some of it will go on the newly created rockery bed (behind Betty's bum in the photo) where the conifer hedge used to be.  Then the ground will be dug over, raked level and prepped for the turf, which we'll buy later in the week when we're all ready to lay it.  We'll cover it over to keep Betty off it until it's established, don't want her scraping it up or trampling all over it before it's settled in.  

I'm so happy with what we've done in the garden so far, so is husband - we've come up with some good plans and achieved quite a lot in the short time we've been here, and it's not cost us very much.  The biggest expense has been compost, I wouldn't like to quantify how many bags of it we've bought.  Still, it was needed, and we definitely won't need to buy much next that time our own homemade compost will be ready anyway.  We'll need to get another compost bin soon, ours is over half full already.

Oh, the police came back again yesterday.  This time the young woman (eventually) answered the door, the police were there for about 10 mins and then left.  They didn't arrest her, so presumably it wasn't her they were after, despite the fact that she lives there alone.  Oddly enough, over the past 4 or 5 days she's had no visitors at all, which is highly unusual, she normally has some or all of the same visitors every day.  Very strange.  I hope that's the end of it, whatever 'it' is.

Monday 6 May 2024


 The Watchet street fair was all artisan makers and food stalls.....despite spitting with rain, it was quite busy.  Lovely things on the stalls, but we didn't buy anything.  Artisan makers put quite high prices on their goods - I fully understand that, they're quality goods made with love, skill and time....sadly though the prices of a lot of things are higher than we can afford.  It was nice looking though, and Watchet is a lovely little harbour town.  My washing had to go on the airer in the car port, as it kept raining on and off most of the day, it was still damp late in the afternoon though.  We've had a few odd days of sunshine recently, but it's so inconsistent - we're still having more dreary days with rain than good sunny days.

This morning we're off to the train station to see some steam trains, and then popping to the local garden centre for some more veg plants - both of our courgettes and mini cucumbers (2 of each) have rotted and died.  Must get some radish seeds as well, and 2 herb plants - chives and mint.

Husband was having a really clumsy day yesterday - more so than usual.  I often think if I had a £ for every time he drops something, knocks something over, falls against something or gives himself a minor injury, I'd be a millionaire in no time 😂.  He started off by dropping some cutlery on the floor when he was washing up - he said it slipped out of his hand.  Of course it was an almighty crash, scaring Betty into bolting out of the room again - it's no wonder she's very jumpy at noises.  Then he knocked over the coffee canister, spilling coffee granules all over the worktop and floor.  Next he spilt his coffee on the lounge carpet.  Oh, he also accidentally shut his fingers in the door of one of the kitchen cabinets, and gave the bathroom sliding door such a violent tug it slammed into the frame with a loud bang, scaring the dog once again.  Luckily, I'm so used to all these things happening that nothing really fazes me anymore.  Funnily enough, my sister is also very clumsy (due to her Multiple Sclerosis) and is always dropping things if she does come down here to stay for a week, I'll have no intact crockery or glassware left by the end of the week, between the pair of them they'll be smashing it all 😂😂😒.  Perhaps I ought to give both of them plastic utensils and crockery!! 😁

With this morning's outing to see the steam trains, we will have been out every day this Bank Hol weekend.  Which is highly unusual, we don't normally go out much over the bank hols, we just felt like getting out and about for a change.  

Sunday 5 May 2024

Gadding about

 The car boot sale was really busy yesterday - we knew it was bound to be, as it was a lovely sunny day and Bank Holiday weekend, of course.  I was hoping for some plant sellers, but there was only one and she didn't have anything I really wanted.  There were also lots of stalls selling toys, which obviously I'm not interested in, and dealers selling cheap tat or costume jewellery.  So we didn't spend much at all - husband bought nothing, I just got a pair of cushions, really nice good quality tapestry ones, I'd been wanting some for the recliner armchair in my bedroom.  They cost me £6 for the two, I was happy about that.

This morning we're off to Watchet, they've got a street fair on, it's cloudy at the moment and showers are forecast later....hopefully they'll hold off whilst we're there.  My back is killing me today, really stiff and painful, I'm hoping a gentle level stroll around the stalls on the esplanade will help.

Normal roast dinner today, some chicken thighs for husband, my homemade nut loaf for me, and all the usual veggies.  Betty will have some of the veggies with her chicken, and a tiny bit of gravy.

Had another chat with my sis yesterday, she's determined to come down in June, with or without her friend.  Can't wait.  If by herself, she'll get the coach to Taunton and we'll pick her up from there.  It takes a lot of organising for sis to go away, she's carer for her husband who is very disabled - she doesn't have carers in, she's always been determined to do it herself.  He can get in the kitchen and microwave food for himself, and just about manages showering (they have a wet room, like us).  Sis arranges for their adult son and daughter, and friends, to pop in, so he has visitors every day.  And he has a Careline alarm, like us.

There's a high over us for the next several days, so looks like the weather will be pretty good.  Days spent in the garden then, and washing dried on the line - great!

Don't know what we'll do tomorrow, there is another boot sale on but it's at the same venue as yesterday's, so most likely the same vendors.  We might go to watch the trains (never thought when I was younger that I'd ever see myself doing that!! 😂), being Bank Hol weekend there are loads of steam train journeys on the local West Somerset railway.

Saturday 4 May 2024


 We had a pleasant surprise yesterday - one of husband's sisters rang and said she'd like to come down for a visit with her daughter later this month, he's not heard from or seen this sister for over 6 years.  Husband has (or had) 9 siblings, 4 brothers and 5 sisters, the eldest brother and sister both died in recent years, husband is the 3rd eldest - well, now the eldest.  They're not a close family (unlike mine), in fact over the years he's hardly heard from them at all.....however, since we've moved here, he's had phone calls from 4 of them, which is nice.  It is down to husband as well - he almost never rings any of them either.  I think it was their father, a lovely man, who was the glue who kept them all together and since he died, the family all became fractured.  They're an argumentative lot anyway, at any given time there are always 2 or 3 different ones who've fallen out with each other.  I think though, as they get older and some of them pass away (a few of their children have also died), they do seem to be less argumentative - realising how short life can be, I expect.

We're trying to make arrangements for my sister to come down and stay for a week, like she does most years - she doesn't drive, her best friend, who we've known for many years, drives down.  However, her friend is extremely busy at work and doesn't know when she'll be able to get a week off, so it's all up in the air right now.  Sister has said she'll probably come down by coach on her own (she's done it before) if her friend cannot get the time off - either way it'll be lovely to see sis on her own, or sis and friend.  The coach journey takes twice as long - literally - as the car journey, but sister doesn't mind that.  The coach is a lot cheaper than the train, and if she went on the train she'd have to change trains twice, and drag her luggage around, which she'd hate.  I can't wait for sis to come down and see our new place.  My sister and I are very close....we're very different in some ways (she's all tall and glamorous, whereas I'm short and homely!), but we have similar tastes otherwise and laugh at the same things.  We're also very supportive of each other.

It's a bright sunshiny morning, lovely to see clear blue sky and sun, hope it lasts.

Friday 3 May 2024

Not normal 'husbandly' stuff!

 Husband went to his gym class yesterday, he enjoyed it and it gave me a break of an hour or two, allowing me to breathe and sort of regroup.  So I'm absolutely fine again now.  

Jane - you're right, the way husband is, is not just normal 'husbandly' (I like that word!) stuff - as you yourself know with your own situation.  He's never been the most co-ordinated, clear-thinking and logical bloke - he's always been a bit clumsy, accident-prone, muddled etc etc, a result of his dyslexia and probably dyspraxia.  But he has got worse, quite a lot worse, over the past few years as a result of his heart failure and cognitive impairment.  We were told when he got his cog.imp. diagnosis that it's not a given that he will go on to suffer with a form of dementia, but people with cog.imp. are statistically more likely to develop some kind of dementia.  And yes it can be very emotional for me at times, as he's now quite different to the man I married nearly 41 years ago.

Donna, I'm not overly worried about his clumsiness and unsteadiness, both are normal for him now, due to his heart not efficiently pumping enough oxygenated blood around his body, and the cocktail of meds he now takes, some of which do lower his BP (his BP has never been high anyway).  He does have regular blood and BP tests (he's just had another this week) and both our old and new GP surgeries are very good at keeping an eye on him.

It chucked it down with rain again yesterday morning, but eased off in the afternoon.  The garden was too wet to do anything out there, but it's supposed to be better - drier - over the next few days, it's getting significantly warmer too.  So there's hope yet for finishing off our garden jobs very soon!

I've woken up this morning with a feeling of 'fullness', like I've got a cotton wool ball stuck in my right ear (wax probably), so am even deafer than usual.  Better buy some eardrops.  GPs don't seem to do ear wax removal anymore - well, ours don't.  And it costs £50 plus to have it done privately.....erm no thanks.