dear diary :: there’s no place like home

Thank you for all the lovely comments on my last post. I am sure we will be making some time soon to get the cottage plans sorted but it is no use starting when we know we have a Christening to organise, a first birthday party to attend and Christmas looming on the horizon.

After leaving Scotland we drove down to North Yorkshire to stay with my daughter and the two grandchildren Little L and Sweetie. We tend to stay with my daughter now rather than with my mum as she cannot manage washing and changing the bedding anymore in her spare room. She is about 30 miles from my daughter’s house so we are able to take her out for a drive but eat and sleep at my daughters.

On Saturday we went out to a garden centre just outside Northallerton for lunch and on Sunday we had an absolutely beautiful run down through the North Yorkshire moors to Helmsley – a dry sunny day cold and crisp and the trees turning a wonderful golden orange colour. I have no photos as mum requires full attendance on her now all the time we are out.

On the Monday and Tuesday we went out with the girls and one of our visits was to the Druid’s Temple at Swinton Bivouac. Little L ran in and out of the caves and hidey holes that make up this Stonehenge type folly hidden in the surrounding woods. Sweetie just slept through it all as usual and only woke up when food was mentioned!

We travelled down home early yesterday evening and it felt so good to be back and not living out of a suitcase (or rather a selection of those blue checked laundry bags in our case). We didn’t stay anywhere long enough to fully unpack.

The house was quite cool when we arrived and being quite tired after the journey we just unpacked the car, put the food away and then went to bed early with a hot water bottle and read. Today I did the rest of the unpacking and putting things away. I had brought a few hydrangea stems home from the cottage to dry in our kitchen – although from the same bush the colours are quite variable. They do brighten up the kitchen though and I love all the muted autumn colours together.

Being away from home, even in the nicest of places, always makes me glad to be back in my own little house. Sometimes when we have been away and visited houses that are beautifully decorated and presented, like my friend’s new house the other week, it motivates me to have a good clean and declutter in my own, however, when we have been to stay at our daughter’s rented house I am always glad that we do not have to put up with the poor standards of the majority of rented property and it makes our own house look like a palace in comparison.

To say that rented properties are so expensive you get very little in return for handing over the rent money every month. It does make me feel rather cross that a tennant is expected to live with battered and substandard equipment and fittings – missing knobs, mouldy sealant, windows that don’t open, doors that don’t close and fans that won’t work as well as cracked ceilings, damp walls and poorly painted woodwork…the house she is in at present is marginally better than most she has lived in but still has its problems.

DH has spent quite a bit of time, effort and money trying to make some of our daughter’s rented properties just that little bit better to live in. Sometimes just a few little changes can make a big difference. In the present one he replaced the dirty old rag stuffed in the ventilation hole to block the draught in the kitchen wall with a proper air vent cover and this time we bought an old fashioned plunger to help unblock the drains as the plumbing is rather old and the pipework does not have a good fall on it so allows the dirty dishwasher water to gurgle up into the kitchen sink through the plug hole – not very hygenic in my mind. The plunger did help to get the water draining better.

Whilst we have been away there has been a heavy fall of leaves from our cherry tree so I spent half and hour in the garden this afternoon raking them up and piling them into a bag to make leaf mould.

Whilst on our travels I bought these from the little vegetable shop in Thirsk – they always have some very reasonable bedding plants and I couldn’t resist these colourful outdoor clematis which I will put into pots at the side of the front door.

These painted clay pots are waiting to be cleaned and then they will go on one of the stalls at our annual ‘Crisis’ coffee morning in November where we raise money for the homeless at Christmas. They are from a lady in the village where our cottage is in Scotland. She has bought an old mill building to renovate and found hundreds of these pots inside – so she leaves them at her gate for anyone to take away. I think they will be quite nice with spring bulbs in them.

That is most of my news – DH is feeling much better now and has been back in the pantry today doing a bit of sanding. The next step is to buy the paint tomorrow and make a start painting the walls and ceiling. I also need to go to town to buy food and a few bits and bobs.

I am going to make the tea now – something quite quick I think and I must go around and change the rest of the clocks as we were away during the hour change, so I keep thinking it is later than it is!

beach cottage :: the long awaited update

Many readers have asked me about the cottage and I have tried a few times to do this post with a few pictures, however, each time I have abandoned it as it has been too upsetting.

So here I am trying again.

For anyone that isn’t familiar with my previous blog the tale of the cottage and the flood can be found here – Beach Cottage and the tab above.

And so for the tour…please mind your step it is a bit dangerous inside as all the floorboards had to be removed.

This is the kind of state that met us when we first went into the cottage after the flood. The water level had reach 2 feet in the conservatory but only about 1 foot elsewhere. There was brown sludge everywhere.

Looking from the other direction when we had cleared some of the debris and the sludge had dried a bit.

This is the kitchen above now completely stripped out of units – the contractor’s schedule and makeshift electrics board on the walls still remain. Everything from here ended up in the skip even the fridge freezer which was like new. Luckily we had not renovated the kitchen at the point of the flood.

Likewise the bathroom – with toilet and basin removed.

The bedroom above stripped of plaster and floorboards – the bed and wardrobes all had to go in the skip. Only the light shade remained and is still hanging there like a ghost of times past.

The living room is the saddest room for me, we had almost finished the renovations in here. The old tiled fireplace had been removed and a larger opening made to take a wood burning stove. One of the windows had been knocked out and french doors fitted so we could access the conservatory at the back.

We had boarded around this room and carefully painted it with umpteen coats of paint, sanded between each one – the finish was so smooth. At this point just the skirting boards to fix…

…and now we have gone backwards as all the boarding had to be removed.

This is just a handful of the many pictures we had to take – I can hardly bare to look at them and now it just sits in this empty state – just a shell of its former self, cold and forlorn. I never go inside anymore it is too heartbreaking – it was to be our retirement home.

We have plans on the go – they keep changing as the years pass – somehow the 3 year fight with the insurers left us drained and now life has just taken over so much ( we have had a wedding and 3 grandchildren since the flood) we barely can find the time to sit and discuss what the future might be. We could just have the place renovated but I am so scared it might all happen again and although I can cope with the flood and the practical things I could never cope with the wrangle we had with the insurers to get our money, they make you feel like some kind of criminal who is trying to defraud them. We were fully insured and even they agreed that in the end.

Part of the problem was a useless building surveyor who eventually left – had it not been for DH knowing about buildings and contracts etc we could have had a big problem on our hands. They could never add up either and had it not been for my job in finance and a keen eye we would have been robbed of thousands of pounds due when they made payments to us.

I know we must get on and do something – the caravan is far too cosy but is not a long term answer. I am hoping 2020 will be the year – let’s hope everyone in the family keeps well and problem free to allow us more time to progress.

There is always a silver lining though and I am waiting for it! xx

dear diary :: calm before the storm

We came up to the cottage with the intention of getting away from everything and having a rest.  That was the plan – but of course we are so used to doing things and not resting that we still packed the boot of the car with gardening tools – the gardening tools for heavy work such as the hedge trimmer and pruning pole.  We never learn.

DH’s cold has kept him inside, just resting – I am trying to dodge the sneezes as I really don’t want to catch it.  When he was at work he never had colds or flu – I can’t ever remember him having a day off ill, so where is he catching this from now he is at home most of the time.

I did very little yesterday other than make some tomato soup; it feels quite foreign to do nothing.  After lunch I went for a walk around the garden and then down onto the beach.  I actually like the greyness at this time of year it has a kind of sombre tranquility when the colour of the sky merges with the colour of the sea.

The weather must have been quite bad whilst we were away as there is seaweed strewn over the little steps down to the beach, suggesting some very high and forceful tides.  I had a mind to collect some seaweed for the garden but then got diverted taking photos. There are still a few pockets of colour here and there in the garden and the trees are turning a lovely golden colour before the leaves fall.

This is a good time of year to get on top of the weeds but my knee is not good at the moment – I have a hard cyst called a Baker’s cyst developed at the back of my knee in the crease and the fluid makes it hard to bend it when I kneel down so weeding has been a bit of a struggle this afternoon and two hours has been my limit.

Having so little to do here has given me a chance to catch up with my favourite blogs and even leave a comment or two.  I will make the most of this quiet time because come the weekend the pace will increase again as we will be going down to North Yorkshire from here to stay with my daughter so we can visit my mum and take her out for a couple of days, and then look after the grandchildren a couple of days. Then we can go home and catch up with the jobs piling up there. I am savouring these few days of calm. Looking at my diary it will be almost November by the time we get back home – a sobering thought.

I have also caught up with a bit of reading.  I downloaded the accompanying ebook to an audio book I got from Audible a while ago.  It is called The Kaizen Approach and part of the ‘lean’ process of doing things.

Kaizen is all about changing things in small steps and I love this idea as it fits well with our hectic lifestyle at the moment.  Not that I want it to be hectic – far from it but at the moment with so many family members needing our support we have no option.  Kaizen is all about small – taking small actions, identifying small moments and giving yourself small rewards.

So with Kaizen in mind I am looking at making a few small changes to the way I do things. A while ago we tried eating our meals earlier at 12.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm for dinner and it worked well so I can’t for the life of me think why this has slipped back again. But it has and 2pm can be the norm for lunch and 7.30pm for dinner, which is too late and not good for the digestion especially as we are now getting ready for bed earlier than we used to unless there is something riveting on the TV …and that is not often. One of the changes will be to go back to the earlier times.

There are other changes I need to make too – I decided that cleaning the whole house in one day like I used to is not viable anymore – I don’t seem to have the energy I once had and even doing upstairs one day and downstairs another has proved just as exhausting. So I have been trying to get most of the rooms deep cleaned, reorganised and cleared of clutter so that I can keep up to them on a rota basis over the month. Our office / craft room is still the worst of the rooms with all the paper mountain but I am reducing this bit by bit by scanning important items onto the computer.

Did I mention we have another event coming up that will need my input – it will be little Freddie’s Christening in November (my elder daughter’s little boy who will be 10 months next month). We have the church booked for the baptism and a local village hall for the feast afterwards. The cake maker is on standby and as we did for the birthday party in April we will be ordering the food from M&S and I will make a quiche or two and some desserts.

The village hall does not have any crockery, cutlery or tablecloths but it does have a little bar that they can staff for a small charge. We will be having finger food and using the plastic plates I always reuse for parties….the tablecloths are posing a bit of a problem but we should be able to find enough from various family members. It is going to be a military operation on the day picking up the food and setting up the hall before the service at 11am, crikey…no room for error then. So before I can think too much about Christmas I need to get on with the arrangements for the Christening.

Not much other news at the moment – when I looked at the tasks I set out to do at the beginning of the month (see my October intentions) I have more or less covered them all – only the crafts have fallen behind, but then they always seem to.

Welcome to all the new followers it is lovely to have you on board x

dear diary :: October…so far, so good …and not so good

Goodness, it is twelve days since my last visit here and during this time it has been quite a rollercoaster. So I thought I might just sneak in and surprise you all. Of course, there have been developments to our recent problems that erupted during the summer – not unexpected but not altogether good news either – it is a long term situation with no long term resolution.

And there has been more illness (nothing serious), some frantic moments, some joyful moments and a moment or two of sheer despair and frustration. I can’t say this is normal life by any means but I still have many blessings to count.

I captured this view across Wigtown Bay last night as we made our way to our cottage in Scotland (well, caravan for those who know the tale). I am in great need of a period of recovery, a little refreshing of body and mind and DH, who has come down with a cold, needs a bit of TLC too. The sea air and our garden will undoubtedly restore us – as Mary says, it is my happy place.

So during all the recent turmoil just what have we been up to?

Our plans to come to Scotland over a week ago changed suddenly the day before we were due to set off. You know the kind of thing where one phone call can change everything – not only did ‘the problem’ suddenly throw up more problems and angst but our younger daughter, in North Yorkshire, was not well and so we dropped everything to go and look after Little L and Sweetie for a few days so she could rest.

It was actually quite pleasant; we spent the morning at Jervaulx Abbey wandering the grounds in the warm sunshine and playing hide and seek amongst the ruins.

We found a secret door to add to Little L’s excitement, but no matter how hard she knocked no-one, not a fairy or an elf, came to answer!

After all that running round we opted for sandwiches in the abbey tea room followed by a visit to the ice cream farm and playground nearby.

Not everyone joined in the fun – some of us were catching up on our beauty sleep!

On the Sunday we battled through the pouring rain with push chair and raincovers, umbrellas and hats and took the children to Preston Park. They have a mock Victorian street with shops and a tea room.

Little L liked the old fashioned toys in the toy shop, especially the jack in a box – she realised very quickly that it would jump out at the very moment the tune got to ‘pop goes the weasel’ and watched it over and over again. In the sweetshop she bought a lolly from the policeman – he was manning the sweet shop because they were short staffed!…..not sure who was manning the police station, maybe the grocer….

On the Monday and Tuesday the weather was good again so we had a drive over to Easingwold and surrounding area. As our daughter felt so much better mid week we decided to return home. Just as we were leaving the mist was swirling across the valley – she has such stunning views to wake up to each morning.

There was not enough time for us to get to Scotland and back before the weekend, when the plasterers were booked to skim the pantry wall, so we stayed home and spent some time in the garden tidying and moving pots around, packing away garden furniture and cleaning out the shed.

It always gives me a sense of satisfaction to clean up the tools for the winter and wipe them with oil. I like the feeling that everything is packed away and in order ready for next year – and when the garden furniture covers are finally in place it signifies the end of the warmer weather and the start of the colder seasons.

Our neighbour is having her back garden completely flagged soon and was throwing away this little white metal table. I thought it too good to go to the tip so with her permission rescued it for our garden.

Just as they had said the plasterers arrived first thing Saturday morning and overboarded the ceiling in the new pantry and skimmed the back wall where the tiles were pulled off. It is now a bare shell.

The work generated quite a bit of dust throughout the downstairs so I had to set to and clean everywhere but that is the worst of the mess over with now and I am quite excited that the next step will be to decorate and then assemble the units. There is hope it will be finished before Christmas.

I borrowed a few more books from the library – one or two that have some fresh ideas in styling the home and one in particular, called Spirit of the home, I am finding quite an interesting read. I don’t know about you but some rooms in our house always feel better than others and some rooms seem to get more cluttered. I am on a mission at the moment to find everything we own a permanent place as well as reducing the amount of stuff we have – I find I have now got three empty drawers in the spare room since I had a bit more of a purge on some old clothes; but it is an ongoing project and one that will soon be put on hold as the Christmas preparations will take over.

We only have a few days here at the cottage because at the end of this week I need to go back to North Yorkshire and visit my mum and take her out for a day or two whilst my sister is away. Then we will go to my younger daughter’s house again on the way back down to stay a day or two with them and take Little L and Sweetie out once again during their half term week. I daresay we will be doing some pumpkin carving.

I am beginning to feel like a nomad and all the packing, unpacking and repacking – this has not been my best career move so far – I had far more time for myself when I was at work!!

homestead :: inspired and tired

Have you ever been inspired by a friend – one who can launch you into action? 

As you know we went to see some old friends last Thursday in the dales.  One of the reasons for the trip was to have a grand tour of their new home that they have had built for them.  It has been four years in the making but is absolutely stunning – well out of our price range and even though they are a few years older than us, they have chosen to upsize rather than downsize which means they will be able to accommodate their whole family at Christmas which will be lovely. Not that I am envious! One advantage is they are now able to enjoy their retirement to the full knowing the whole house and garden are pretty much in a finished state – no big maintenance jobs, no decorating – it is all done.

At one time this friend lived just down the road from us and I would visit a few times during the week when both our girls were at school – popping in and out for coffee and a chat.  I remember how visits to her house always made me want to rush home and have a thorough clean of mine.  She is one of life’s naturally organised people – her home is immaculate, her meals healthy and delicious, the garden flourishing and their finances in order and buoyant and she still has time for herself and her craft work.  She is very imaginative when it comes to reusing, repairing and repurposing too and this is evident even in their new house.

Their new abode is light and spacious – under floor heating from solar panels, lights that dim by remote and objects and furniture kept to a minimum.  Coming back home made my house seem small and cluttered even though I keep on having major decluttering sessions, but not only that I began noticing areas that do need some attention – a little editing and improving.

So guess what I have been doing all week and how tired I feel!

As I said to Sadie (Notes from an ordinary life) if I am ever missing from my blog you will know I am decluttering and cleaning.  It takes all my concentration and I stop for no-one, well usually, although I did spend the day with little Freddie again yesterday – but who could resist that.

I have a number of challenging areas around the house and I have spent this last week trying to organise these better.

My first challenge was to find a new place to put the Easter decoration that I made so I can use it once more next year. In the end I decided on top of the wardrobe in the spare room as it has a high ceiling and blends in quite well. Really I should dismantle it but it is so pretty I wanted to display it again next year.

Challenge number two was this box containing my elder daughter’s CD player and speakers. We have stored this now for 10 years because my daughter’s house is much smaller than ours and up until the baby was born this year was like a building site. Even now she really doesn’t have a spare inch to accommodate it – so it will remain with us until some point in the future when they move to a larger place. It has been residing in the downstairs cloakroom with everything else that didn’t have a proper place; as you know we are in the process of transforming this into a pantry so I have to find a new home for it. Because of the temperature fluctuations it is not something I would store in the loft so it presented quite a problem.

After much trying it here and there I came up with the idea that it would not look quite so bad if it was in a more decorative box that wouldn’t look out of place in the spare room. So during a trip to Ikea on Monday I spotted these boxes and although it needed two of them it has done the trick and visually looks so much neater. I will be able to use these afterwards to store toys for the grandchildren.

Whilst in Ikea I saw these little Christmas tins for 75p each and I thought they would be just right to put in a few homemade biscuits or a tiny fruit cake for a gift.

I started my cleaning and decluttering in the shower room – this is on the list for a complete renovation but not until we get a new kitchen installed and that is after the pantry. I won’t linger on how grubby it felt – it is never my favourite job. The contents of the cupboard are pretty much pared down but even so I still managed to weed out a few bits and pieces – old sun tan lotions and tanning creams past their use by date. When I declutter the toiletries and makeup items I always keep a ‘use up’ box of odds and ends that need using up, a lot of these are often freebies that have come with a purchase, things I won’t be replacing or buying again but I don’t want to waste them.

The shower always takes a long time to clean but the sealant had been renewed when we had the Aussie cousin to stay and the grout is OK so it just needed a bit of elbow grease to thoroughly clean the tiles and glass. After cleaning the toilet and basin – I always use a squirt of furniture polish over the outside of the pottery and the taps to give it that showroom gleam.

I treated myself to a new bath mat from Home Sense which has much improved the appearance of this room. The old one was looking past its best and looked liked someone had taken a bite out of one corner!

My linen cupboard was next – there was nothing to go out here as I am already down to the bare minimum of sheets and duver covers but I cleaned down the shelves and rearranged a few things so it looks remarkably fresher. I bought the boxes from the Range and they have been very useful for storing the family heirlooms – Christening dresses, vintage linens and my wedding dress.

The craft drawer that holds my stash of fabric had a once over- one day I will get around to turning my fabric stash into a patchwork quilt!

As I made my way from room to room decluttering and cleaning I also made a note of things to look out for to add a bit of styling. I found this tiny succulent in Ikea to put in our family bathroom. When I have a moment or two I will also change some of the pictures. I bought a couple of new frames in the summer with the intention of printing out and framing some of our photos – another job for my list.

It is very much a work in progress – a thorough clean and tidy and the addition of one or two new items can make all the difference. I am loving the rooms I have completed so far but soon I will have to tackle the office come craft room – it is the hardest place with the large paper mountain.

One sleepless night at the weekend I decided that I really must embrace the scanner and scan the invoices and receipts that I wish to keep rather than put them into a folder or box. I know many people do not keep their receipts but ever since the flood at the cottage I was so thankful that I have always kept receipts and records – because of this we managed to get the full amount for our damaged contents and could not be beaten down by the insurers. As the insurers were satisfied with scanned receipts I am sure this method will be accepted should we ever need to make a claim in the future. Once the older receipts for our household goods are scanned on to the computer I will have a lever arch file and a box file less on the shelves. It is a bit of a tedious job so I am scanning a handful each morning and going forwards new receipts will be done each week.

Once this is done I will make a start in the filing drawer and scan on important papers to gain more space. A lot of the paperwork I keep is ‘just in case’ so once scanned I will still have a record without the storage problem.

My wardrobe will be the next place for an overhaul. I have reduced the number of items by quite a bit this year. I seem to wear a kind of ‘uniform’ each day of leggins and a t shirt or jumper now I am at home; I can’t remember the last time I wore a skirt, which is a shame because I have quite a pile of them. Last time I decluttered I let a number of them go to charity but I think it might be time to cut my losses now and get rid of a few more. I will start by getting rid of the ones that feel a little bit on the tight side.

I found another cosy jumper in Sainsbury’s last week – good to wear around the house over a t shirt and for my Friday visits to the neighbour.

One of my intentions this month was to try out some new recipes. This week I chose these little mushroom and leek pies. The recipe used a shortcrust pastry that had added mustard powder for flavour. DH was not keen so I improvise and used grated Parmesan cheese that have given them this speckled look. They are baked in a muffin tin so are quite deep. Apologies for the lighting it has made the pies look a bit insipid – they were actually a lovely golden brown colour and quite delicious.

October is all birthdays – I have three this week alone. I already had the gifts for two of them bought in Stranraer at Baxters where they still gift wrap. They are little printed linen make up bags. The crocus tub is for a dear friend, men are always difficult to buy for but he is a gardener so will love these.

Because of all the birthdays I needed cards so I spent a day making some with the flowers I pressed recently, I also made a few thank you notelets at the same time. Some work better than others but my favourite has to be the chamomile heads.

So that has been my week so far and tomorrow, like the rain, the tidying continues whilst the momentum continues. Or you might find me napping on the sofa. x

dear diary :: a sunny day

Today I woke up to the sunshine streaming in through the window – such a stark contrast to yesterday. I had breakfast and drove up to my daughter’s house once again to look after little Freddie. He is just a delight and at that age when he is trying to make sense of the world and is fascinated by the smallest thing that catches his eye.

After lunch we had a walk in the park today stopping for a cup of tea and a piece of parkin at the local cafe just to refresh myself before the walk back again – it takes some stamina up and down the hills here – I had a good workout!

Once Freddie was back to his house I returned home about 5.30pm and decided on baked potatoes and salad tonight as it seemed a bit late to be attempting a new recipe. Not so much cooking is taking place here at the moment – I had intended to do a lot more – hopefully this is just a blip.

Yesterday, I said I would let you know what I borrowed from the library.

I am still reading a few I had taken out previously but added these to the pile. I started on the Christmas Reader last night – it is a compliation by Godfrey Smith of poems and excerpts of stories with a Christmas theme, the first one being the carol singing evening written about by Laurie Lee in Cider with Rosie. An English Christmas by John Julius Norwich is a similar book – in fact some of the stories and poems used are the same. It may seem a bit early to be reading such a book but I know I will not have time as we get nearer to Christmas and no doubt they will not be available to borrow soon – all the Christmas craft books are already out on loan.

Enough by John Naish is just what it says on the tin and talks not just about enough stuff but enough of many things like information, food, work and happiness. I feel we are overloaded in today’s world with all the above and making decisions is becomming increasingly difficult because of the numerous choices available to us. I am interested to know what he has to say on each of the topics.

The White Robin by Miss Read is my cosy up, feel good book – transporting me into an idylic country village where life is predicatable and slower and there is a sense of community.

Hell Week by Erik Bertrand Larssen is a book I have read before and is for anyone looking to change aspects of their lives. It is not however for the faint hearted as the changes are all done very quickly in one week – hence the title as he almost guarantees doing it this way will be hell, but worthwhile. I may not want to apply his extreme measures, one of which is rising at 5am everyday, but some of the ideas are good and adaptable. There is a planning and preparation stage to undertake before throwing yourself into ‘hell week’. With a tight plan of action you propel yourself from where you are now to where you would like to be in a matter of days. He makes it sound hard and easy at the same time – commitment it seems is the key to success. I am re- reading with the intention of getting to grips with this retirement of mine before I end up just sailing along with the wind completely off the course I was hoping to be on!

I also found these two craft books – I have made a couple of Artist’s books in the past – mainly the concertina style but would like to do more. The one called Bound by Rachel Hazell is such a lovely book in itself.

Last weekend I sat and entered receipts and balanced statements in readiness of looking at my finances for September. I know we had a very cheap two weeks at the caravan but on arriving home we did a major shop and bought a few things so have probably exceeded the pension income for the month once again. I will do a tally at the weekend.

Tomorrow is our lunch date with some old friends, so an early start to the day. I decided on the bulbs as a gift as I already have these, I bought them for myself whilst in Sainsbury’s on Monday – mixed tulips – and they will make a nice little gift.

So that was my day – I hope you enjoyed yours – I am just going to have a lovely pedicure and settle down to watch the Apprentice before bed.

Night night x

dear diary :: colds, babies and rain

Quite a combination for a dismal Tuesday and the first day of the new month. Elder daughter was still not well today – struck with the cold that is doing the rounds. She was very hot and flushed when I arrived to help with little Freddie and just wanted to go back to bed to nurse her sore throat. I can still remember quite vividly how hard it is to look after a young baby when you are feeling under the weather and all you want to do is crawl away and sleep.

Freddie of course was delightful, we played all morning – he can sit up now without wobbling but hasn’t yet mastered crawling – which is just as well as at least i am not having to run after him. He ate most of the pureed sweet potato for lunch – though a lot of it ended up on either me or the floor. He then had a little nap (me too) and afterwards we set off in the drizzle for a walk to the Co-op and back to get some fresh air. Luckily, I didn’t have to get him in or out of the pram- they all seem so complicated these days I am frightened of pressing the wrong catches and buttons and propelling him out into space.

He was still all snug and warm when we got back home but I was quite wet through.

I think I might just be needed again tomorrow – when you are not well it can be difficult to sleep at night and then mornings can be pretty awful – she does look a bit worn out and perhaps just needs a little ‘me’ time and another duvet day. DH will stay home and get on with the pantry. He did mutter something about needing to go back to Ikea for the under shelf strip lights that they do – it is not his favourite place but we will get a free drink if we go during the week – not that there will be much of the week left as we are going up to Settle on Thursday to see some old friends. We have been promising to go all year and of course the minute I make a firm arrangement illness strikes. I am hoping my daughter will be well enough on Thursday to cope without me.

My friend suffers from multiple allergies including the pollen from flowers and eats a very strict diet as many foods upset her. I want to take a little gift as she is providing lunch for us but can’t take a bunch of flowers or chocolates so I am wondering what I might get for her. I was thinking on the lines of a little dish perhaps, there are some nice ones around at the moment and there would be nothing to spark off an allergy with pottery; or maybe some bulbs for the garden as they have just moved into their new house (outdoor flowers are OK).

When I got back home at teatime I had to have a quick tidy round the house – not that it improved it very much – everywhere is such a mess with the contents of what was the downstairs cloakroom littering up the dining and living rooms. Then upstairs we have carpets pulled back and washing drying on the airer in the bathroom. Going up to my daughter’s house is a bit of a relief.

Have you had more rain? We have acquirred a bit of a water feature under our front window where the pebbles are and all the roads around here are becoming like rivers there has been so much rain, I was having to naviagte the car through the floods lying at the sides of the road by virtually driving down the middle. This rain must stop soon our garden is becoming quite waterlogged and I need to get the furniture dried and put away.

I didn’t mention my new library books that I borrowed yesterday – but maybe I will save that for tomorrow ….and yes I have got another Miss Read book – ‘The White Robin’ – I might even read a bit tonight though I rather think I will be asleep as soon as my head touches the pillow – for anyone with sleeping problems I can recommend looking after a baby for the day – I am quite worn out.

Night night x

feasible :: October intentions

October….really? Where did the year go – I can feel Christmas getting mighty close now and summer is but a distant memory. September seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye probably because it is a shorter month and we spent almost two weeks of it enjoying ourselves up in Scotland….but subsequently nothing got done at home.

When I reviewed my intentions for September I was pleased that I had managed to spend some time in the kitchen cooking; baking old favourites and trying out new recipes. We didn’t do much meandering this month though, even in Scotland the focus was on gardening and sadly we didn’t even manage to attend any of the heritage events – we had just missed the Scottish one by the time we got up there and then missed the English one by the time we arrived home – not very well co-ordinated this year!

Looking at the shape of this month it is all about getting the pantry done and making headway with the crafts for Christmas. In and amongst we have a couple of celebrations to organise.

I am feeling the urgency of getting the pantry well underway now. I have this rule which is no decorating beyond October – we have done this in the past and it compromises the time it takes to get everything ready for Christmas.. At the moment we have holes in the walls where cables will run for the lighting and sockets. DH went shopping with me today but while I went to the library for a long browse he went to B&Q and Wickes for the boring bits and pieces like lengths of wood. I never thought the conversion of this little room would need so many materials and we have not even got to the painting stage yet.

Before we set off for town I planned a few meals for the week – I am on a bit of a mission currently to try out some new recipes. I have bookmarked a few that look quite simple and use seasonal vegetables. Leek and mushroom pies and dishes using fresh beetroot and parsnips roasted. You can only buy fresh beetroot by the bunch in Sainsbury’s so I will use the remaining beets grated in a winter salad. A pear and chocolate pudding is also on the list.

In these next two months we have a 1st birthday (Sweetie) and a Christening (Freddie) to plan, these special events never seem to stop – I feel like I should start up a catering company as it is so difficult to find just the right venue, food or caterers and we may well end up with a DIY job and ordering from M&S again.

I have a whole list of crafts that I want to do this month – time allowing. I made a start at the weekend and today called in at our local fabric shop and bought the heavier interfacing for the table mats and some muslin – useful for lots of things. I am on the look out for some pretty vyella to make my two granddaughters a winter dress each but I will have to have a trip over to Dewsbury I think to one of the mill shops. One of the main intentions is to get the calendars completed by the end of this month and have an idea for a lino cut Christmas card.

Apart from visiting my mum (and maybe we can squeeze in a trip to Scotland) there will be little meandering again this month, nor cleaning – with the house full of dust from the pantry makeover, it is just not worth the hassle. The best I can do is keep everywhere reasonably tidy.

I would like to fit in some me time – as is often the case it takes a back seat when other more urgent things come up. I really need to set aside more time for exercising – yoga once a week is just not enough and I am finding that waking up feeling quite stiff is becomming the norm. I have been spending more time recently on building a healthy diet but now must include more exercise.

Of course all the best made plans go out the window sometimes – I spoke to my elder daughter tonight and she is not well so I may have to do some babysitting tomorrow, which might even mean missing yoga this week.

Ah well such is life!! x