dear diary :: a day of accomplishments

I had a rather disproportionate feeling of accomplishment yesterday to the amount of things I actually got done but it felt good to do something and move forward.

The washer is now working a treat and together with the warm wind I managed to wash and line dry a couple of loads so I have a pile of fluffy white towels waiting to go into the airing cupboard and an assortment of clothes to iron.

It is important that I keep up the daily routines I have developed since leaving work even when they seem to go astray or I have to abandon them for a while; checking emails, doing the ironing, shining the sink, entering receipts, planning the meals, taking my supplements, eating an apple – they bring a sense of accomplishment each day in themselves – if anything else gets done then that is a sure win.

We emptied the old cloakroom of its contents – this is only a small part of it above in the picture. It was a bit like Mary Poppin’s bag once we delved in there and now the stuff, that was once quite contained in the smallest room of the house, has spread itself into every free corner throughout the kitchen, dining area and living room resembling that expanding foam when you release it from the tube. I am looking at it wondering if it will all fit back in when it becomes the pantry.

Of course not everything is due to go back and it is this stuff I must deal with. I have decided that a car boot sale is the way to go as we have things not easy to sell by means of ebay because of the weight and I would rather try and get rid of it all in one day rather than string it out. We have a lack of boot sales round us so I am looking to go to Bedale near my daughter. They hold one every Saturday until mid October – she says it is quite a good one and she has room to store the stuff in her house until we have a nice collection together, and she can add in some of her unwanteds.

Once empty DH set too like the guy Jonathan you may have seen on the program Buying and Selling and within no time had hacked the tiles off the wall and then created himself a little sauna with the wallpaper steamer going full pelt.

The wallpaper is now scraped off but we need to remove the old patchy magnolia paint beneath until we get back to the bare plaster; then we will have a good sound surface to apply the paint on the walls.

Whislt he was working away I enjoyed a relaxing couple of hours with my neighbour catching up with news and airing our thoughts on the state of the country. I am not a very political person but I am worried about our politicians at the moment and the fact that we are being led into unknown territory and what is the real motive for this. It is rather overwhelming especially when I feel what we need is a bit of stability and reassurance.

Enough said on that topic.

I tried a new recipe for tea – it worked out well and tasted delicious, a relatively simple and inexpensive meal using red lentils, sweet potato, red peppers and mushrooms with halloumi cheese slices placed on top. The picture does not do it justice – the one in the magazine looks much more appetising! I will certainly be including it in our meals for the coming season. I will put the recipe up under the new Recipe tab above.

I have an assortment of recipe clippings to file away in my folders – so that will be a job for today. I have the guest bedding washed and waiting to go out on the line – it looks a dry sunny day here so far. Then I am going to look at the finances, reviewing last months figures and planning for September.

August seemed a long month but I am sad we are at an end as it signifies the end of summer too. The mornings are seeing a definite change now and a lot of the flowers are already dying back. But there is something quite comforting in nature as it always continues from one season to another and we adapt to the changes; always looking forward to repeating those little pleasurable activities that come with each of the seasons and ones which we will no doubt have done many times before.

My favourite at this time of year is definitely blackberry picking and collecting the Bramley apples to make pies and crumbles, I am sure you will have your own too. I will mourn the end of summer whilst eagerly awaiting the cooler weather and darker nights – when I can snuggle down with blankets and candles by the fire and watch a few favourite period dramas.

Have a lovely day everyone. x

dear diary :: worn out

Needless to say the intentions I intended yesterday did not happen. The engineer came just after lunch – was a lovely man – very knowledgeable – located and fixed the problem in no time – and best of all it was only a small fault – charged £38 and no call out fee – I could have hugged him! If anyone lives in the West Yorkshire area the company that we used are here called Advanced Domestic Appliance Services in Wakefield – I can highly recommend them.

For the rest of the day I was too worn out to do very much – the events of the last few weeks have taken their toll and I ended up having an afternoon nap for an hour to make up for my nights of interupted sleep. When I am stressed I suffer with night terrors – badly – they wake DH up too. I have not as yet lept out of the window like some sufferers. It is a fault with the primal limbic brain not switching off and prevents deep sleep too.

I am finding it difficult to let go of the constant worry – it floods into my mind as soon as I wake up in the morning and niggles away all day. Like my friend’s neighbour, who always referred to her grandchild as ‘that baby’ (we never discovered what sex it was), we are tending to refer to our disasterous day of drama and crisis as ‘that day’. Life is now classified by the terms before ‘that day’ and after ‘that day’ just like BC and AD is used to place an event on a timeline.

We did go to Sainsbury’s for the shopping though, spent more than we had allowed for but managed to stay in the black – just. There are only 2 more days of August thank goodness – so two no spend days are in order. The £80 bill included multiple buys of some of the more expensive items we use that were on offer, toothpaste, muesli, large pack butter, lightbulbs – it made sense to buy them with such large savings. I think. I noticed the fresh veg and fruit is really rising in price and we bought quite a bit so we can make and freeze soup. There was an extra 5p on bread this week too.

Whilst in town we went to the library to return the children’s books I took out for Little L. We can park at the smaller town centre Sainsbury’s for two hours if you spend £5. In my mind it is better to pay £5 for the parking and come away with some groceries than pay £1 an hour in the other car parks and come away with nothing.

I had a good browse in the Library and decided on this little stack. I don’t know why I prefer non-fiction to fiction – I suppose I like to learn things. DH had the Look and Learn magazine when he was little and is like a walking Google having retained a lot of information from an early age. All I read was Bunty! But I loved it and cracked the code before joining the club to get the badge, which I still have.

I started on this book called ‘The Life of Stuff’ by Susannah Walker. I worry about how captivated I become reading about other people’s stuff or reading decluttering books by the dozen – is that normal? Anyway I couldn’t put it down…….. so adding to my sleep deprivation…ah well perhaps an early night tonight.

So today we really are going to start on the pantry and I will try out the washer too – it is a good windy day and great for drying towels and making them super soft.

First we have to empty the old cloakroom and find somewhere to store the stuff that we mean to keep in the pantry when it is finished and get rid or find new homes for the items that will not be going back in there.

I find this kind of decluttering in a dumping ground hard. It is usually full of stuff that does not have a proper home – oddments, large bulky things, items that cannot be kept in the loft or garage as the extremes of temperature would affect it, or purchases that have been bought ready for some time in the future – like the shower unit we bought to install at the cottage (somehow I don’t think it will be needed very soon as that is another project on the shelf at the moment!).

So what am I waiting for – better go and get on with it because today I usually go round to my neighbours in the afternoon for a catch up chat and a cuppa.

Welcome to my new followers – just to say if you have only just joined in the reading of my blog this is a kind of bleak period in my life so do forgive my little moans – I am usually a happy little soul. x

dear diary :: getting back into our stride

Getting back into normal daily life is proving more difficult than it should be and I am currently somewhere between feeling frazzled and lethargic. Both the car and the washing machine are waiting to be fixed, hence a growing pile of washing is building up, and the towels retrieved from the washer have eventually dried into such a rigid state they might crack if I try to fold them. They will have to be washed again I think as I have no idea where in the washing cycle they had got to before the machine ground to a halt.

To top it all the rain is now preventing us tackling jobs outside like cutting the grass and weeding the borders. The tomatoes are only just turning colour so a little more sunshine would be good. The lettuce seeds that Little L helped me sow last week have already sprung to life – what a shame she cannot see them. She was so helpful and loves to water the garden.

I thought this might be the opportunity I have been waiting for to make some cards and finish those half started knitting and sewing projects, but somehow in all the upset I feel going on around me I have little enthusiasm for crafts.

Our fridge is quite bare at the moment – a bit of a Mother Hubbard’s cupboard so some shopping today is required but it will be limited to the basics as it is the end of the month and funds are excessively low. Living on one state pension, even with the top up of a small private pension, is proving difficult as prices continue to rise and we face a few unexpected bills. We have also bought a number of cafe meals and cups of tea whilst trundling around the countryside of North Yorkshire over the Bank holiday with my mum – but she is truly grateful that we get to take her out.

As we have a run of days at home now before take off again I have proposed that we tackle the long awaited transformation of the downstairs cloakroom / toilet into the pantry. We never used the toilet and many of our neighbours have incorporated them into their kitchens to make them bigger but I would value more storage as a walk in pantry. We will be leaving all the necessary connections in place under the floor should a future owner want to return it to a downstairs cloakroom.

We have finally chosen and had the units for the new pantry delivered from IKEA and took advantage of their 0% interest deal; keeping our money in the bank longer. Unfortunately the shop assistant made an error with the application so the total amount was more than the actual goods – when I pointed out her mistake it was too late to amend the application and so the monthly payments are higher than they should be by a few pounds and we are £54 in credit! Obviously it will get sorted but really they should not have people dealing with money that cannot add up.

DH will set about stripping wallpaper and tiles off the walls but not until I have emptied the room of all the ‘junk’ – it has become a bit of a dumping ground – a place to put those things that are waiting for a home. There is even a couple of boxes of stuff in there I have been storing for one of my daughters.

So this looks like my task for today before we go shopping. I can make a start whilst waiting for the washing machine engineer to come. I think doing a bit of decluttering and tidying is just what I need at the moment to organise my brain.

Have a good day – I will be back with photos. x

dear diary :: back home again

Have you ever felt like you are constantly on the move from place to place and don’t have time to settle. Last Wednesday our younger daughter came to stay for a few days with Little L and Sweetie then we took them back home to North Yorkshire on Saturday staying on at her house so that we could take my mum out on Sunday and Bank holiday Monday and then travelled back down home yesterday after taking the girls out for the day to their local park.

Both DH and I are shattered. Having a mix of two lively children, an infirm mum and the blazing heat consolidated into a few days is not a recipe for relaxation – everyone seems to be needing our services at the moment in one way or another and we are dividing out our time amongst them. So my stress level is a bit high and I am trying hard to remember what I was doing at home before all this. It is not quite the retirement I had imagined.

I know I have paper work to attend to – bank statements to check, meals to plan and a shopping list to write and then I think a little bit of gentle housewifery will be in order – some mindful tidying and dusting. When we have had a few days recovery and the car has been to the garage and fixed of the engine fault which turned out to be one of the filters being blocked then we will be off to the cottage again but at the moment I am quite content to be at home in the peace and quiet.

Recent events in our life have left us quite worn out and our coping skills rather weakened so just when you think ‘things’ in life cannot get any worse it seems that inevitably they do.

We had a bad day last Friday when my daughter and grandaughters were here. It was the first of the warm sunny days after the rain and we decided we would all go on a picnic to our local park and my elder daughter and little Freddie joined us too. So there was both our daughters and 3 grandchildren; seven of us in all, a cool bag full of goodies and a tin of buns Little L had carefully decorated for the occassion.

We found a picnic table in the shade by the duck pond and got our spread out. We were all enjoying ourselves when a man came along with five assorted dogs and sat himself down on one of the empty tables near to us and let all the dogs off the lead for a good run around and toileting whilst he browsed his mobile. Unfortunately they made a bee line towards us and our food.

Although I do like dogs I am nervous around them since an attack by two Alsatian guard dogs kept by a neighbour when I was six – I was taking some tomatoes next door from my dad just as they had been let out of their cage. They rushed towards me before the neighbour could grab them and he shouted to me to stand still – I did but they bit me anyway!

More recently when our own children were only toddlers we were sitting on Scarborough beach and a large dog came bounding up to us and unexpectedly cocked his leg up against me and wee’d on us all soaking me and the babies. I can tell you dog wee in your face is not very pleasant!

So you could say I like dogs at a distance but if one comes towards me I freeze and inwardly panic and I am very watchful when we have the children with us.

I felt quite frightened as the five dogs, all shapes and sizes were suddenly surrounding us and the smallest of them were then under the table snapping at our feet. One in particular kept advancing towards Little L’s mini scotch egg – you can see here in the picture his eyes are fixed on it – DH tried to shoo them away but the man objected and said if we did this they would certainly bite us which caused me to panick more not knowing what to do to protect ourselves.

We asked him politely but firmly to call his dogs back as the children by this time were becomming quite upset and starting to cry especially Little L as she has been bitten before. He just laughed and said this was a ‘dog friendly park’ and the dogs had every right to be off the lead and we shouldn’t come to the park if we didn’t want to be near dogs.

I know he has a point but there is nowhere dog free to go with the children anymore as more and more places even cafes, supermarkets and hotels become pet friendly – so we try to fit in with this best we can but feel we are always on dog watch when we are out. Normally most people do not let their dogs pester you like he did so it is not a huge problem.

He then became very obnoxious and although he called their names a couple of times the dogs just ignored him and continued to pester us as we tried to eat our picnic but by this time I was shaking and felt very threatened by the dogs not leaving us alone. The owner was taking great pleasure in being obstinate and when I said I was fearful because of previously being bitten and that I was visibly shaking he said he hoped I had a heart attack.

Although two of the smaller dogs eventually disappered off into the rest of the park the whole situation had become impossible so in the end we had to pack up our food and retreat to a bench within the tiny fenced play area which is dog free but with no picnic tables or grass. The whole incident was quite distressing.

Later in the day we happened upon the park caretaker – he knew the man we had encountered and the dogs and said they had had trouble with him taking his dogs into the library too and other dog owners in the park. He sympathised and said he should have kept them away from our food but said there was nothing he could do as dogs are allowed in the park and it is only advisory they are kept on the lead and cannot be enforced – he then made a quick retreat.

What a shame that some dog lovers can’t appreciate that not everyone feels the same about dogs and are frightened by them no matter how lovable and cute they seem to them and we are certainly not keen on them hovering around us while we are eating our food. So in contrast it was so lovely to go to Masham park yesterday where they have a much larger dog free fenced play area with picnic tables and grass within it and all the children could play happily and free of stepping in dog poo.

To further compound our stress after the park incident we arrived home to find the washer had gone into fault mode and it took DH an hour to retrieve the dripping wet towels inside. We are now waiting on the engineer and no doubt more expense.

Ah well life continues. What else can go wrong?

Hope you all had a wonderful Bank holiday and enjoyed the weather – bit hot at times for me.

PS – this post has just reminded me that we saw a minature horse in Sainsbury’s in Northallerton a while ago. Apparently they are being trained as service animals in place of dogs. It did sound rather odd hearing the clip clop on the tiles down the aisles – usually with the service dogs you never hear them just see them.

pleasurable :: some good moments amongst the bad

Thank you for the wonderful supportive comments to my last post – as Sybil Witters On would say – ‘you are all awesome’ and I can’t tell you how lovely it was to hear from you all. I know there are plenty of readers that are also going through some difficult times and blogland is certainly a very supportive community.

It has not been all doom and gloom here – there have been highlights and it has been helpful to me in preparing this post to see that amongst the bleakest of days there has been some bright spots – so this is a quick round up of my last few weeks.

We have been harvesting the ‘fruits’ of our labours with salad freshly picked from the two wooden tubs I planted earlier this year. The land cress and radishes have been particularly good.

On the morning of my birthday I baked a batch of mini cheese scones and then some fruit ones. I had just enough flour to make a Victoria sandwich cake that I filled with fresh cream and strawberries. I usually have friends and family dropping by during the day and like to have something to offer them with a drink.

We were still munching late into the evening when the last of our friends came round, luckily there was just enough left over for the Aussie cousin when he arrived next day.

Not knowing him very well, but hearing that he liked gardens, we decided to have a trip down into Derbyshire to visit the Winster Open Gardens. Winster is one of the oldest and most historic villages in the Peak district, full of quaint cottages and beautiful well kept gardens – the pub itself dates back to 1472 – so we thought it would be of interest to an Aussie who would not see anything quite like this in Australia.

It was one of those really hot days that we had (if you can remeber them before all the rain) and I was just coming down with a nasty chest virus but felt I had to soldier on to entertain our guest so I felt a little disappointed at the lack of enthusiasm he showed for anything we saw. However, DH and I enjoyed ourselves – especially the cream teas and Morris Dancers and we saw some very impressive gardens and delightful little corners.

I was in bed after this for a few days and DH had to entertain the Aussie by himself – I did feel a bit bad about it but not as bad as the virus was makng me feel!

It took a while for me to get back on my feet so Little L’s visit had to be postponed for a few days. It was still the hot weather when she came and we decided to take her out to a nearby village of Marsden to Tunnel End for a trip on the canal shuttle and a picnic.

We walked along the canal from Marsden until we reached Tunnel End and the little cafe. At this point the canal disappears into the hillside to reappear in Diggle over the hill – the tunnel is 3.5 miles long and takes 2 hours to travel through by canal boat. There is only just enough room for a single boat in the tunnel and it is quite dark and cold – I believe that to get the original horse drawn boats through the tunnel at one time you had to walk it through using your feet against the sides of the tunnel. Goodness knows what they did with the horse!

I know I would feel rather claustrophobic going through there and I am not sure Little L would have liked it so after our picnic we opted for the little shuttle instead that took us back down the canal to where we had parked at the station in Marsden.

Then we walked down to the village for a homemade ice cream. Marsden is a large bustling village sitting at the head of the Colne Valley with plenty of local independant shops, a small Co-op, and a few cafes and bars…and its own micro brewery and pub. It is nestled into the moors that stretch over to Greater Manchester and was once an important place for the woollen industry and dominated by the vast stately mills. Some of the cottages are quite old dating back to 1610 and, a new discovery to me, they still have the old village stocks – apparently last used in 1821!.

The Marsden Mechanics Hall is central to the village – looking as grand as any town hall and home to many events and activities it is the hub of the village, in fact we have been to a weddding reception here.

The River Colne flows through the centre of the village with a spectacular waterfall that has glints of gold like tinsel on a sunny day as it crashes over the weir.

We had plenty of trips to the park before Little L went home for her birthday and a party with her friends from school. She had decided on a local soft play centre as a venue and we went along to help. I was not prepared – the sheer volume of noise in these places is ear shattering and if you didn’t suffer with tinnitus before you arrive you certainly will when you leave! But a good day was had by all and then it was time for a visit to my mum’s.

We took her out to Saltburn on the Saturday and then Eggleston Hall on the Sunday – still enjoying that long spell of warm weather.

Eggleston Hall gardens are a real treasure – having mum with us now limits the amount of photos I can take whilst holding on to her. There is a nursery attached to the gardens with the most wonderful stock of plants if you have the time to browse. Sadly the browsing days are over now for mum but she did find a nearby bench to sit on whilst we had a quick wander round.

We so enjoyed Saltburn that we took Little L there the following weekend. The weather was not as good but it didn’t spoil her absolute pleasure playing on the beach.

This coming week we are having Little L to stay again but this time Sweetie and mum are coming too for a few days. That is if the car gets sorted as we are going to be fetching them. We suddenly had one of those engine warning lights appear at the weekend so the garage will be having a look today to see why. I have a feeling this could be another expense we don’t need at the moment.

I hope you have all had an enjoyable summer – I am trying to catch up with all the news. Going up and down to North Yorkshire and looking after the Aussie and the grandchildren has left little time for anything else this summer. At least the virus has gone and I am feeling a lot more human now. Whilst we have had a run of bad weather I have been having quite a tidying session in the house and crossing a few jobs off the list.

Today I am going to make some nutloaf and plan a few days meals ready for our next visitors. My washing and ironing is completely up to date for once and yesterday I managed a few hours in the garden removing what seemed like a thousand self seeded Aquilegia plants from the front borders.

Have a good day – back soon x

dear diary :: one crisis too many

Thank you to those who have left me comments wishing me well….I have tried a few times to write here… and then given up – sometimes I have been too tired, sometimes just too fed up and sometimes my brain is just past doing anything……but I know myself when a blogger goes quiet for a while it is always comforting to hear from them now and again and know everything is OK – I wish everything in my world was OK but a recent event has left my family in pieces and this has just felt like one crisis too many to cope with. Over the past few years we have had the sudden death of my dad, the diagnosis and treatment of my cancer and then the devastating flood at the cottage and of course last year three significant and unexpected deaths, two of them children.

We have hardly got over one tradgedy when another has struck and frankly I feel we have now experienced more than our fair share of major troubles.

This recent event is not my story to tell but we have had our lives turned upside down because of it. I am muddling through at the moment and blogging might be a bit erratic until things settle down again and we find a way through.

As usual when life throws difficult times at you it makes you question everything else in your life. My blog has always been my little personal space…a bit of a sanctuary and I am not ready to give it up – I just need a bit of time to get myself back on track…so if I am a little quiet you will hopefully understand why.

I have missed everyone and I know it is going to be so difficult to catch up on your stories – I have been reading a little from time to time but forgive my lack of comments.

I hope you have all had a lovely summer holiday – I fear there is a tinge of Autumn creeping in to the air now. xxx