dear diary :: sing to me, Autumn

Home once more and we are truly into Autumn now; but hasn’t it been a glorious month – apart from bouts of heavy rain (my sympathies go out to anyone that has been hit by a flood).

The words of the poem ‘Sing to me, Autumn’ are a perfect reflection of this moment and encapsulate the beauty of the season – the sunlight streaming onto the garden this morning was so beautiful – casting deep shadows whilst highlighting the crimson red berries of the cotoneaster… I reached for my camera but it is so hard to get a good photo. There is an abundance of berries down by the seat – we have left it out a little longer as it is such a nice sheltered place to sit and admire the last of the season’s flowers.

Our blinds are being drawn earlier each evening and some of the solar lights left out in the garden are struggling to stay on for very long. I am looking forward to all that the dark evenings and cooler weather brings – after the ‘gathering in’ time it is beginning to feel like the ‘snuggling down’ time.

As usual, after the wonderful slow life at the cottage, we hit the ground running once we are home. I have a long list of lunch dates to fulfill and phone calls to make – there are finances to catch up on and the garden still needs a bit of TLC. I won’t even mention the housework and cleaning that is obviously needed.

Oh and have you thought about Christmas yet?

…….No, ….. very sensible…..I would normally shriek at the very mention in September….but I feel this year that I want to get ahead as I am finding, in the more recent of past years, that everything gets so hectic and stressful the closer we get to December and I try to pack in far too much in those last 3 weeks.  So rather than rush through it I would prefer to savour each moment and enjoy the concerts and Christmas events (that I often miss through lack of time) having completed all the necessary preparations in good time.

I have made a start and though I said I wouldn’t, I relented a few days later when in Tesco… right in front of my nose the new Country Living Christmas magazine appeared – (of course I blame Sadie at Notes from an ordinary life for persuading me as I noticed she had also bought a Christmas magazine and that made me feel so much better!). I kept last years too so hopefully they will spark off some new ideas.

I am mainly thinking about the gifts (we don’t have many to buy or make) – our family takes part in a ‘Not so Secret Santa’ – though I have a feeling this may change again this year – my daughters, who say they have everything they need, have expressed a preference for having a family gathering or event that gives us memories rather than any gifts, so this may be our step towards a no gifts Christmas within the family other than the young children. I will await the whole family vote on this but I personally would find it a lovely idea and support it.   

So it is mainly just a few friends who like to receive my homemade offerings -though I could be wrong and be like Ella of Thrush Green in the Miss Read books,  giving horrendous handmade gifts that people then give away as fast as they can – I haven’t as yet knitted any ties… wonky or otherwise!! 

I also enjoy making the décor, keeping it as natural as I can and of course the Christmas cards (I am thinking another lino cut this year as I enjoy doing those) and perhaps now is the time to start looking at sketching out a few design ideas rather than sitting down on the first day of December and saying today I will make the Christmas cards and then not having a clue as to what I might do.

And what a stroke of luck to find Sainsbury’s are celebrating Organic September (never understand why it is not Organic October – has a better ring to it) and those who know me well will also know I eat organic food most of the time so our Christmas cake is naturally an organic one.   Anyway, Sainsbury’s have reductions across their organic range so I filled my trolley with the fruit for my cake and the nuts for the nut roast.  I am well pleased though it bumped my shopping bill up quite a bit.

Whilst in Sainsbury’s I bought this snuggly top. I have bought very little throughout the year – it has not been quite ‘a no shop’ year but close – this little top will be ideal for those chilly days at home or when visiting my friend for coffee, who has minimal heating on and I do find it a bit cool at times so tend to go in a few discreet layers.

Remember I collected a few flower heads and petals to press at the caravan – well they are now quite flat and ready to go. The only means of pressing them at the caravan was to use some kitchen roll between the pages of a notebook so the textured pattern of small dots on the kitchen roll has imprinted onto the petals but I quite like it! I have bundled them into some cellophane bags to protect them. My favourites must be the delicate blue campanula, the white daisy heads of the chamomile and the vintage hues of the hydrangea petals. I just have to find a little time to turn them into some cards and tags.

For the rest of today I will be attending to the last of our cooking apples from the cottage garden. I am thinking an apple loaf would be just right and maybe a crumble using the blackberries for tea.

Have a lovely day x

seasons :: all is safely gathered in

Come, ye thankful people, come;

Raise the song of harvest home.

All is safely gathered in

Ere the winter storms begin.

God, our Maker, doth provide

For our wants to be supplied.

Come to God’s own temple, come;

Raise the song of harvest home.

There is something very comforting and reassuring about the words of harvest home – gathering in for the winter ahead, reaping the rich rewards of our earlier efforts of sowing and growing – picking fruits and berries from the hedgerows – and then making, baking and preserving – what could feel better and feed the soul at the same time. It is as nature intended.

I have spent the week here ‘gathering in’; apples for cooking, blackberries for pies, ripening tomatoes in the sun and stacking logs for the wood store – and thinking ahead, I have been foraging for useful Christmas decorations – pine cones, hydrangea heads and a few lengths of willow for a wreath.

I feel now that I am well gathered!

We have lived very simply here over the last two weeks at the cottage – only buying enough food for a few days ahead and mainly fresh food – vegetables, dairy and bread. We don’t keep stocks of anything very much in the caravan just a little salt and pepper, a jar of dried pasta, some rice, a carton of lentils and tomato passata and a few teabags. You might even find a tin of baked beans, if you are lucky.

But with Brexit upon us I have been thinking long and hard about what action, if any, I should take to stock my larder at home. There will be panic buying – I have no doubt – judging by the food shopping frenzy at Christmas – it seems it is a very British thing – but I hate to be a part of that. On the other hand the words in the hymn ‘all is safely gathered in‘ suggests to me that it is a wise move to gather in before the winter storms and what could be more of a storm in the making than Brexit.

At the beginning of this year I decided not to keep large stocks of food in my cupboards at home so that it would never end up as out of date waste and I have loved the emptiness and the fact that we have not needed huge amounts of food in hand or added to the ‘waste’ mountain; but now I feel I must heed the words of the hymn and gather in for my family. So when I return home I will be buying a few extra tins and long dated dry products, ready for the long winter months, ready for Brexit whatever shape that takes.

It has been the most wonderful few days here in Scotland, dry sunny days, not too hot, just perfect for gardening; it has been oh so quiet, just us and a few birds, who have also been busy gathering in – so before we return home, and I am sad to be leaving, here are a few pictures from around the garden…..

back soon – have a lovely weekend and welcome new followers. x

dear diary :: computer malaise

In the last few days when I should have been preparing and packing for our holiday I have been sorting out computer related problems and now have come down with an attack of that modern day illness namely CFD (computer frustration disorder) for which there is no known cure.

Trying to get to the bottom of the WordPress advertising problem, then trying to find a way to get my usual monthly to do list and my cottage packing list I keep on Todoist to print out all the pages and not just the first one (a new glitch on their part which we told them about last month and is still not sorted) has seen me tearing my hair out.

Eventually we found a work around for the lists by logging into Opera browser and the print function through Opera takes a PDF of all the pages (who would have thought). But it only took us four hours of trial and error before coming up with this; and after I had scoured the internet for a new To do list provider that will do print outs at all as most of them think everyone just wants a list on a phone now! Progress!

And yes I could have written my lists out by hand in this time or use excell but Todoist was working fine for me up till now.

There appears to be no simple work around for the WordPress adverts though – and believe me DH and I have tried but because everyone has such personal settings on different devices there is no one adjustment that will fit all.

Anyone following this thread may have read all the comments over the last few days from readers and below in the highlighted sections is the email answer I had from WordPress who investigated my query about both the type and amount of ads now appearing on my site for some readers.

Please note my comments are the underlined italics at the end of each paragraph….

WordPress say “The banner ad at the top has been in use on free sites for over a year, and can be collapsed by clicking on the tab. (we were not informed of this banner)

The ad appearing directly above the sharing buttons is the original ad slot for all sites on WordPress.com, so ads have been appearing there for as long as we’ve been displaying ads on free sites. (Fair enough and I was always aware of this one and its placement and it had never appeared to be a problem to readers before).

The other ads that appear between paragraphs are known as inline ads. Those are relatively new, but they’re also supposed to be there. How many of them show varies, depending both on the length and structure of your post, and on factors related to the person viewing the ad (the latter is what determines which advertisers bid on the available ad slots – if no one bids on inline ads, they don’t display. (I wasn’t aware of these at all and we were not informed these would be added to our sites – I rarely visit my own site as a reader and if I do, because I am logged into my account, I would not see them – these ads seem to be the most frustrating to my readers).

So all the ads you’re seeing are supposed to be there, and are used to cover the cost to us of hosting your site for free. They can be removed via any of our paid plans. (The ransom notice!)

If you feel the content/subject matter of any ad is inappropriate, please click the “Report this ad” link on the ad itself to report it. We serve thousands of ads across millions of sites a day, and no two people visiting your site sees the same ads. Additionally this process is completely automated, so reporting the ad directly that way is the only way it’s possible for us to review a specific ad”. (Firstly, I never see the ads anyway so unlikely I would be the one reporting them and secondly, they are tailored to the reader so I would never see the same as them – the one I did catch a glimpse of was advertising for young girls to work at home – which seemed a bit dubious to me and I feel WordPress should be the ones monitoring this not our readers – it is too late once they have gone out.

So there you have it – WordPress have increased the amount of ads and not really mentioned this to their users and take no responsibility for the content – but well done Simone for speaking up and letting me know otherwise I would have remained oblivious to what is happening.

I think eventually because of their increased adverts WordPress will send more new bloggers to Blogger for those of us who just want a free personal blog and where you can personally choose to opt in or out of ads on your site so readers can read and comment without being put off by a bombardment of pop up ads.

For anyone who is troubled with ads on sites they love to visit, and not just for my site, you can adjust your settings to a more strict mode but be aware this can also prevent you accessing some sites as it will also prevent cookies and most sites run with enabled cookies. Using Firefox or Opera as a browsing mechanism and of course Safari with Apple will limit ad problems.

Moving forward – as far as this blog is concerned it seems I have only two choices:-

Switch to Blogger ….or

Pay WordPress the ransom money – I am presuming here that they will just keep on increasing the number of ads over time until a blogger is forced to have a paid site.

Perhaps I need a holiday to think it over!

PS: whilst writing this post something quite unexpected happened – I have been spelling WordPress throughout with a small ‘p’ but when I preview the post it has always changed automatically to a capital. So isn’t it amazing that now WordPress do not have a spell check facility for a post any longer, as mentioned by me in an earlier post, they do have some setting to automatically change their name to what they think is the correct spelling. Even though I am writing WordPress now with a small p I have no doubt when you read this it will have changed to a capital P. If it has then why can’t they have a spell check for everything?????

PPS: apologies for any typo’s and spellnig mistakes.

dEAr diary ~ a simple life for me

If you want to live more simply then try living in a caravan and you will undoubtedly satisfy that desire.

There is no room for any extras on board – only the basics.

Clutter is not a word that I would recognise living here as there is none – everything in the caravan is a considered item and has to have a home otherwise you would soon find yourself falling over things.  The cupboards are few and none too generous in size so sometimes you have to be very creative with the space.

We have just enough dishes to make and eat a meal, nothing to bake with but then that must be healthier, although I did bring an apple cake with us, we just eat fruit or nuts, oat cakes, crackers.  No puddings either but we have the occasional ice cream treat.

We have only a minimum of bedding and towels – one of each in use and one spare, just enough clothes for gardening and trips to town and a few necessities like toiletries and cleaners. We do have a small Dyson, a small bucket and a tiny hand brush and pan…that just about sums up the cleaning aids.

We eat very simple food as we have no electrical equipment like a blender or food processor.  Our pans consist of a large 3 tier steamer, a milk pan, a medium pan with a lid and a frying pan with a lid.  We also have a colander and I might consider buying a lettuce spinner for the summer as my one luxury.

Above the fire-place there are three shelves for decoration and display.  I display only a few decorative items on here – a glass vase with a collection of tiny seashells inside, an empty vase for when I pick a few flowers, a little bowl full of dried rose petals from the garden, a lino cut picture of some geese by a local artist (our only picture) and a tiny set of wooden houses.  The other items come under the useful rather than decorative category – a small china mug, a water jug, some heavy stemmed wine glasses that we use for most cold drinks and a clock with a lovely soothing tick.

We keep a small selection of books mostly gardening books for information and ideas and a novel or two.   I also keep a box with a few stationary items – stapler, sellotape, scissors and the like, some coloured pencils and a notepad.  We have a folder for instruction manuals and another for the few bills we have, water, electricity, council tax and that is our filing system.  At home we have a large filing drawer with the archived papers in the loft.

Of course there is no loft here – instead there is a little storage space under the beds but they are empty – we have no need of anything to store – we use everything we have here.   I don’t even keep any spare bedding for the 2nd bedroom – I am not expecting anyone to stay.   I can look at something and think – yes I have used that in the last couple of days and it is a good feeling.  If I were a nomad and had to pack all this stuff up to move on I daresay we would have even less.

For entertainment we play cards, read, write blog posts, of course, or listen to the radio.  We have no television nor want one and at one time we had no internet connection so only brought the lap top with us if we just needed to access our documents and didn’t need to access the internet – now I can attend to my blog while I am here but that is all I do.

The mobile signal is quite pathetic at times so no-one tries to contact us and we rarely phone anyone other than my mum to check on her and my daughters just to let them know we are still alive.

Being so disconnected from the world might not suit everyone but I love our little retreat here – I could easily live here full-time but on the other hand I do not want to miss our new grandchildren growing up.

It is a dilemma not easily solved.

Today was another sunny day in the garden, slightly cooler but pleasant.  I have been on weed patrol again digging over boarders and filling in the rabbit holes where they have scratched the surface to get at the plant roots.  I will have to get more chicken wire to protect my young plants.  Funny they don’t like the campion – there is plenty of it.

DH did a bit more of the ditch – here he is with his shovel and barrow (he is a bit blog shy – so only half of him).Hopefully it will stop the pond overflowing onto the path, though the primulas quite like the water.……. And then he shimmied up the old apple tree to lop the top off. All our best apples grow at the top.  It is a half standard tree that was planted by the previous owners and was left to grow unchecked so it is a bit of a beanstalk and we have to wait for the apples to drop off rather than pick them.  Now it has been checked I have no doubt it will retaliate by not producing as many apples this year.

A day of pleasant pottering and pondering.

Total spend at the village shop for 6 yoghurts, a bag of peas and a  2 x Magnum £6.60

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ just a little thank you

Thank you for all your lovely supportive comments and suggestions  from my last post – I have obviously connected with a lot of people in the same boat, or similar boat, but of course each of our lives and problems are different but I think we all agree on a few points –

  • Caring for the elderly and looking after younger grandchildren even at a distance is hard work and falls hard upon our generation – mainly the women –  to deliver care as best we can, often whilst running our own homes and working at the same time.
  • It can be very frustrating at times in our own advancing years to care for 80 and 90 year olds. I feel like I have spent my middle years caring for firstly my grandparents and then my own parents as well as the in-laws.  We try to keep them going in whatever way possible attending to their needs as it becomes too difficult for them to take care of themselves but this route we follow is one that becomes harder to manage, placing additional stress on our own lives and reducing any free time of our own to take care of ourselves and which can often lead to resentment building up – as one or two of you said life starts to feel as if it is passing you by.
  • Health problems that require doctor intervention and prescribed drugs, although intended to make us better, could be making us worse or indeed creating new problems for the future.
  • Soon we will be the ones who are old and need medication – I hardly know anyone now in my age group who is free of taking any medication.

Mum is back home now and once again my sister is doing the day-to-day care, meanwhile I can at least carry on with a few more of my tasks until it is time to have her to stay again.  I have spent the week winding down a bit as I had begun to feel I was welded to the car seat with all the trips up and down the country and I was exceptionally tired after looking after her and her needs.

I have lots of other news to tell you and maybe I will get to share it with you now.  It is impossible to blog when my mum is here and I spent last week catching up with myself in the house and with shopping.

I feel like I am back on track now. x

 

dEAr diary ~ thoughts on growing old

Having mum to stay for a few days has certainly made me think about old age and its effects upon a person and those caring for them.  She has become so limited in what she can do recently that it seems to have had a snowball effect – that old saying ‘one thing causes another’ problem.  Her mobility now is certainly more limited and she is not getting out and about like she did other than with my sister and so is becoming increasingly anxious, a bit lonely and quite fed up with herself.   What you might call out of sorts.   She keeps saying things like ‘when I get back to normal’ or ‘when I get myself right’ but my experience is that with the elderly they never do it is an inevitable downward slope.

It looks like everything began last September when mum thought her vertigo had returned as she was constantly dizzy.  However, the wait to be seen by the consultant in the vertigo clinic was a few weeks and in December it turns out it was a bit of a misdiagnosis by the GP and her blood pressure, a shortage of B vitamins and potassium was the actual cause.  The additional blood pressure tablets prescribed to lower her sky-high blood pressure worked only too well and caused it to drop too low throwing her into a zombie like state and we had to revive her once or twice!

They are trying to get it sorted but in the meantime she caught a rather nasty virus after Christmas and has developed Housemaids knee when she was kneeling on a chair to have her hair front washed at the hairdressers as she could not tilt her head backwards over the basin without becoming extremely dizzy.  So now she is hobbling about in constant pain but that is sometimes because she won’t rest it and refuses to use a walking stick.

Her confidence to go out by herself diminished very quickly along with her ability to cook a decent meal for herself replacing them with quick snacks.  She has suddenly become much more reliant on my sister and her DH who live nearby –  requiring escorting to the hairdressers and shops, things she did for herself that kept her active.  She would like our presence all the time but of course that is not possible.  If I am honest I am feeling a little trapped between helping my mum and helping with my 3 grandchildren and although we love my mum her constant demands are becoming a bit of a strain on us.  As she does less and less now for herself she likes to be taken out to tea shops and cafes – the ones in garden centres and shopping malls and whilst having a drink and a bite to eat she will tell us the same old stories of things that happened years ago over and over again, often in the same day.  In fact her memory of the past is better than that of the present but she gets the people and time of events rather mixed up and forgets you have heard that story many times.  It is not quite dementia but it is very annoying to those who have to listen.

I live two hours away from them and cannot offer much relief on a regular basis but I go up as often as I can and have mum here to stay.  It has reached the point now that when my sister says she might be going away for a weekend or holiday mum suddenly panics at being alone.  She lives in a retirement apartment that has a manager on call during office hours and this reverts to a call centre at night so if she were in difficulties help would be on hand,  but like many elderly people they do not like to use the service preferring instead to be attended to by a relative.

In the past I have looked after my gran and my dad through many years of their decline and one thing that is apparent to me is that having good health is key in old age.  Learning to look after yourself and eating well is a must because as soon as you start with any medical intervention you end up on numerous tablets and often this is quite a cocktail that triggers yet another complaint.

My dad’s demise started when he was in his early seventies and in pretty good health;  a consultant prescribed aspirin for his eye that was showing signs of a condition called macular degeneration.  The consultant ignored dad’s medical history (dad had a condition where he bled a lot called Von Willebrand disease) and we questioned the wisdom of this but were told it was necessary to help with the circulation in his eye and protect it from the degeneration.  Of course dad was worried about the possibility of losing his sight so took the Aspirin as prescribed.

A few months later the aspirin caused a serious bleed in the artery to his good eye which left him with partial blindness.  The loss of blood from this (4 pints which bled from his nose and required an emergency operation to stop him bleeding to death) also resulted in a blood transfusion.  A few days later his body reacted to the transfusion and turned against itself causing the destruction of his platelets which dropped considerably to a dangerous level (normally about 150,000 to 450,000 per mcl of blood) dad’s went down to 2,000 a condition called Thrombocytopenia.   He was rushed into hospital again and to rectify this he had steroids (they didn’t work), then immunoglobulin by drip (worked for a few days only then they dropped again) and finally the last resort to stop his body from destroying his platelets he had to have his spleen removed and was put on antibiotics for life as you require protection from infection. He was at this point told to stop the Aspirin!

Because he had little immunity he had to have vaccinations against pneumonia but even with these he constantly suffered with this.  At one time he saw the GP as he felt unwell and had extremely noisy and laboured breathing but the GP did not pick up on the pneumonia and thought he might have the beginnings of heart failure – a few days later dad became far worse so I called an ambulance as I knew something was not right.  They got oxygen to him immediately and once stabilised took him straight to hospital.  They told me if I had left him for another half an hour they would not have been able to save him.  After two weeks bed rest in hospital he came out as good as new – no heart failure after all, just pneumonia.

The following year he had a fall breaking his hip, shoulder and foot.  They could not operate straight away as once again they found he had underlying pneumonia which had no doubt made him weak and caused the fall.  Whilst waiting for the pneumonia to subside enough to operate he was given high doses of pain killers and then anti-sickness for the effects of the pain killers.  He became delirious with all the drugs and his kidneys could not cope with the overload of medication and began to fail.  Within two weeks of the fall he had died of kidney failure.

…. And all that because he was prescribed a little Aspirin.

My mum has gone from being on one tablet for blood pressure to a cocktail of tablets including Aspirin and statins.  Of course I worry.  She seems unsteady and a bit confused a lot of the time and is so frustrated at feeling unwell, her blood pressure seems to be all over the place and her knee and foot swollen and not getting any better.  She is certainly in decline and she was doing so well for 93 it is a shame that she has had so many problems recently.

A study conducted by the University College London showed that happy and positive people are more robust and fit in later life.  The research concluded that unhappy people were twice as likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke.  Mum is certainly not happy at the moment and I feel powerless to help her get better when her problems seem to be compounding.

My own observations of people growing older tell me I need to address my own niggling health issues and put my diet and fitness way up on top of my list of intentions to act upon, as prevention of illness seems far better than hoping for a cure.  I do not wish to end up on a cocktail of medications other than the Thyroxine I am reliant on.  I have always taken my own health issues in hand preferring to use natural remedies wherever possible and only resorting to medical intervention if it is absolutely necessary.

As I age I am finding I am a little creakier in the mornings, my brain works a little slower and my digestion not as tolerant.  This must be the time to sort this out as old age is so hard without good health on your side and once that starts to decline it is like a runaway train.

fEAsible ~ the importance of lists

I mentioned in my previous post that I had been planning – most of my planning still takes place in my ancient A5 planner  – I was introduced to planners at work in the 80’s, it came with my promotion – a leather ‘Time System’ planner but the better known Filofax is very similar and more recently the Bullet Journal system is now the new time planner, only more decorative.Everything was recorded in my planner – both for work and home and I didn’t go anywhere without it.  I still smile now when I remember those early days of time management planners – whenever I attended a meeting for work everyone else would arrive carrying theirs too and we would end the meeting synchronizing planner time!  I still use mine out of habit –  paper has always been my thing.

My planner is divided by a series of sections and each is full of ideas, lists and tasks – at the end of the day there is something very satisfying about making a little tick mark against a completed task, especially a task that has been rolling over week after week from one list to another most annoyingly.

ListsRecently I bought a book titled L’art de la Liste by the same author Dominique Loreau who wrote L’art de la Simplicité: How to Live More with Less.  She throws a whole new perspective on my love of lists.  She likens a list to a haiku (an expressive Japanese poem) or a journal as it becomes a record of your life and suggests the advantage of making lists allows us to rethink and restructure our ideas.

After a recent clear out I found a stack of my old to do lists and notes, which I have put aside to shred or burn on the cottage bonfire.  They can be quite enlightening and a reminder of what I have actually done with my time over the years.  After reading the book I may decide not burn them after all – but then that is not in keeping with a simple and minimalistic lifestyle…

– so such is my dilemma.

My word for the year is ‘transition’   as I am currently undergoing a period of big changes so my transformation to a simpler more streamlined home and lifestyle will require new routines that fit better with my new life.  Streamlining is an ongoing task and a bit like peeling away the layers of an onion.  It requires a slow steady approach and to help support my clearing out, paring down and keeping order I need to prevent future piles of stuff from reforming and building up again when I have an unexpected busy period or take my eye off the ball – which I know I will do.

Clutter spots seem to be contagious in this house and my main enemies are the washing and ironing pile, the finances, incoming emails and reading blogs and leaving comments – if I get busy they don’t get done.

So when I read the simple advice in The Joy of Less by Francine Jay to have a daily maintenance plan I knew this was the answer, after all I have time now in the mornings to do more as I am no longer rushing out to work.  Taking a few minutes each day to address the problem areas should help to keep the house in good order.  So this is my basic list:-

  • Put on one load of washing – this must be a full load where possible to save water and energy and is not always necessary every day but checking is.
  • Ironing – iron whatever I washed the day before
  • Finances – enter the receipts, balance statements and action anything waiting to be dealt with.
  • Check and reply to or delete incoming emails for the day
  • Blog comments – I include this in the list as keeping up with blogs I read and making comments is better done daily otherwise I find I have too much catching up to do.

I thought it important as well to throw in a bit of daily self-care – something that I should do more of but… oh well you know how it is – so I made a start by adding these to the list:-

  • Take supplements – currently my Vitamin D with my breakfast
  • Eat one apple a day – my contribution to a healthy diet and usually my mid morning snack
  • Exercises – at the moment I am following Posture Queen’s Somatic exercises to help my neck and shoulders, hips and knees.

I began my new routine in the New Year  – I switched my week on two pages diary in my planner for a page a day style, with more space I can keep a daily check list that I tick off as I go and this does help me to keep on track and stick to it.  When my routine was a bit disrupted last week with the arrival of baby X  I didn’t end up with a huge backlog of jobs as I was already on top of things.

I am really pleased – it could be working.

I am sure once my new routines are established I can add in a few more.  Getting the daily jobs done and out-of-the-way should leave me more time for the fun things in life.

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ has Elton saved John Lewis?

Their sales increased over the Christmas period according to the latest news.

Although I do like to shop at John Lewis if I can afford to sadly it wasn’t down to me;  but I am pleased this might mean they will not go under – not yet anyway.

Meanwhile Debenhams and M&S are still struggling with decreased sales.

If in fact Elton has been instrumental in helping John Lewis through a bad patch perhaps someone might persuade him to take over the Brexit talks after all we don’t seem to be getting anywhere with them at the moment.

A lady interviewed on the lunchtime news (from Barclaycard I think) said that they were looking at how they can get customer confidence back to spend more on the high street by introducing memorable ‘instagram’ moments through experiences whilst shopping.  As an example she said such things as free coffees and Yoga mornings.  I smiled thinking of my aging mum doing Yoga whilst shopping and then perhaps taking a selfie – not that she isn’t active still but I think when she needs a new dress she might just want to go and choose one without having to contort herself in the process!

I wonder too at the necessity to make the whole of life an instagram moment.

I don’t often mention the news but I am feeling more and more concerned over the things that I am hearing and the messages we are receiving through the media.   Maybe the reason sales are down is just that people don’t want to buy so much stuff any longer or perhaps don’t have the means to keep on spending with prices rising on food and the basic essentials.

We seem to have got into a catch 22 situation now where we have to keep spending to keep everyone in a job. That is quite a burden for me as I don’t actually want to keep buying stuff any more – nor do I want to buy into these ‘experiences’ either – I can find my own by just having a walk along the seashore or a picnic in the country.

It has seemed quite strange not going back to work after Christmas but it is nice to have more time now to plan out the year ahead and set new goals. I will get back to chatting about my progress tomorrow. x

dEAr diary ~ shopping and ‘Shalloween’

Saturday’s plans changed.  The weather changed – it was windy but a warm wind as if someone had a hair dryer on you.  It rained on and off too.  DH was at a loss as his jobs at the moment are outdoor based.  So I suggested we went to collect the click and collect from Wilko’s in town and then do a few ‘in town’ things finishing up at the local Wyevale garden centre as they had sent me a £5 off voucher (without a minimum spend).

Wyevale’s prices are dear but something free for £5 (if you can find anything for that value) is not to be turned down.

The click and collect (not very exciting – just a car bulb set to keep in the car for DH) was collected then we went round to the library to have a browse.  I only came away with two books – Homemade Christmas and The English Seaside for a bit of nostalgia.Then onto Boots for some Aveeno body moisturising cream – I only buy it when on offer as it is quite expensive but is really good for my skin – having no Thyroid gives you very dry skin.  Of course the larger 500ml was out of stock. Annoying as it is out of stock on the internet too.   I will just have to keep checking.Good as Gold NotebookRound to WH Smiths – DH persuaded me to buy the notebook I wanted as he pointed out it is something I use all the time.  As it happens I had a Love to Shop voucher for £10 given to me at Christmas from my old work place.  So  I bought it and this is now ready for January.

Last stop in town was Marks and Spencers.  For some reason not many supermarkets do Maris Piper potatoes  they seem to favour the Maris Peer (quite different taste) – so I get my spuds from M&S when I can.  The standby Vegetable Crispbakes I get from time to time to keep in the freezer have not made an appearance for ages – probably discontinued – I wish shops would put a shelf note on when products disappear.

We had parked in Sainsbury’s in town – 2 hours free for a £5 spend.  This works out better than handing over £2 for nothing (other than the use of the car park of course!) to the cheapest of the town centre parks.    I might as well have something for the money – we got two organic wholemeal loaves reduced to 40p and topped up with a few tomatoes, a leek and 2 pints of milk to last us to Monday and a box of my organic teabags.

I had a free drink voucher at Wyevale too so when we arrived we indulged in a hot drink each and shared a huge scone for £4.  I think DH is finding all the scrimping and saving a bit depressing as it reminds him of our earlier ‘just had the children’ days when money was tight back then but I see it as a challenge and a way to conserve our emergency private pension fund to use for other things like holidays.  I am also interested to see what it is actually like living on one state pension and can it be done.

I am looking for a planter to put beside our front door for when DH re-stains it and then something to put in it.  (Not sure if the state pension will run to such a non-essential item) but anyway I was not impressed with the range of plants on offer at Wyevale they are expensive and I am not one to make a snap decision about the pot (also expensive) so we came away to think about colour and shape. 

The £5 coupon finishes today so I can’t dither too much, but as always I need to shop around a bit to be certain of what I want.  So a trip to Totties (our local nursery) today it is –  I have a £100 voucher to spend at Totties  –  a leaving gift from work – so I will go and look at their range of pots and plants first and then make my decision.  There is another Wyevale close to this so I can then go and spend my £5 on plants if need be – or should I say a plant!

I must say after yesterday’s shopping trip I was left feeling very frustrated at the way all the shops are pushing this Halloween thing.  I have no objection particularly to Halloween in moderation but every shop we went into had Halloween stuff piled high – even some of the usual items have just been given a ‘Halloween’ makeover – a bit of orange and a black spider web and they can charge more and sell more – a Halloween notebook and pencil set – I ask you what has that to do with anything – it all seems a bit superficial, as Christmas is becoming, as if it is the consuming that is the all important thing rather than the event and there is no stopping it once it starts it all just gains momentum.

And while I am on the subject why are we trying to reduce plastics in one area, like drinking straws and carrier bags which actually had a purpose, and then we are allowing cheap plastic imports of absolute rubbish into the country, and heaps of it.  Most of the cheap plastic items sold for Halloween will end up in landfill eventually (after all our teenage son or daughter will not be taking their plastic pumpkin to Uni with them LOL!).

I do think it is bad of companies to target children with all their marketing strategies when it is also compromising their futures at a time when we are trying to work towards a more sustainable future for them.

At least a pumpkin is a natural item – it can be carved for lanterns, used as decoration and eaten – it will eventually rot down and compost and can be returned to the garden – end of.  And isn’t the fun of Halloween making the decorations and dressing up imaginatively.

My suggestion would be to boycott the plastic ‘Shalloween’ and only buy paper or natural decorations.

Rant over!

What are your thoughts on plastic Halloween?

dEAr diary ~ thoughts on planning

Life goes more slowly down here on the Mull; lots of time to ponder, reflect and make plans that I don’t often allow myself at home.

I feel the year is slipping away quickly now and I am conscious of that ‘big’ event, which we don’t mention just yet, looming on the horizon and I need to make some tentative plans sooner rather than later.Last November I bought myself a gorgeous pale pink and gold leather look notebook from W H Smiths to record my monthly intentions – these are ideas of what I want to do (and sometimes must do) during the coming month in the various aspects of my life – home, self, outings etc.  I have mentioned this before in a previous post and you can read my monthly intentions by clicking on the fEAsible intentions category in the sidebar. I also make a list of thirty or thirty-one simple tasks that I can complete during the month (basically one a day) and tick them off as I go. It is also a place where I capture my thoughts, record notes and ideas, jot down website addresses or telephone numbers and stick in clippings of anything that grabs my attention – new finds and discoveries, seasonal looks, a new product, a book to read or a recipe idea – just about anything I want to make a note of – it has become a bit of a jumbled catchall but I actually feel it works well for me and keeps all of those bits and pieces in one place.

At the moment my pages for September are full of Autumn colours and ideas and quite a few notes and lists with regards to my ongoing decluttering project.

But I need somewhere to start capturing ideas I have for Christmas well before I get to December and last year I found this notebook a bit limiting in space to contain everything I wanted to make a note of for the Christmas period.  So I have decided I will buy a new notebook and dedicate it solely for this purpose.

I have this bizarre notion that by planning well ahead in my notebook I will make Christmas a simple fuss free affair this year – cosy nights by the fire in soft candlelight, sipping a glass of mulled wine and savouring a ‘just baked’ mince pie whilst watching Little Women and writing my homemade Christmas cards (in good time); the gifts all wrapped neatly in hand printed paper with exquisite handmade tags, a simple wreath hanging on the door and fairy lights outside twinkling in the tree.  Everything will be as peaceful as the season suggests.

I live in hope!

Already I have ideas to make my own Christmas cards again this year and some gifts for my friends but I need to start soon to have them made in time.Lino cutIn previous years I have tried different methods and used various materials but I really enjoyed doing the lino cut – this was my first attempt back in 2013.  Lino cuts are good for printing in bulk (I need about 75 cards) and I have a good stock of card blanks and envelopes that would be good to use up.

Yesterday we drove up to the Cowal Peninsula in the south of Argyll and Bute to visit the Open Studios around Dunoon.  It is one of my favourite places – the approaching view from the ferry is breathtaking and we had a wonderful day, mainly dry and sunny which always helps.  A delicious lunch was kindly provided by Freda, my blogging friend from Live Simply, Simply Live, who lives close by.  We ate in a sheltered spot in her beautiful garden and had a general chat and catch up before saying goodbye to go on the studio trail.  Time was quite short but we managed to see two potters, a wood-carver and a lady who did lino cut pictures.

I bought a lovely little pot to remind me of our visit (no doubt I will be putting a picture on soon) and seeing all the work of these talented craftsmen has certainly inspired me to do more myself, especially having a go at more lino cuts.

In the meantime until we go home you will find me wrestling with the weeds in the garden here. x