Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sharing and caring

The poor cat doesn't think much to it, but there is a hedgehog coming for a nightly feast on the cat biscuits, it seems!

The cat who lives here [she's not "our" cat] has tinned meat in small portions twice daily but has access to cat biscuits to munch on whenever she is peckish.  I try to keep that bowl topped up most of the time, and I thought she was getting through quite a lot just lately.  I did wonder whether some of the other neighbourhood cats were coming round to share it with her, but then this week I have been out to the freezer late twice, and nearly tripped over a good sized hedgepig with its nose in the bowl, having a jolly good munch on the biscuits.  No doubt it is also the wee chap which is drinking her water as well!

I buy cat biscuits at Lidl's at 99p/kg so I don't begrudge a hedgehog a feed - the cat isn't ours anyway, so I might as well just put the biscuits out for whoever needs a midnight feast. It's good to have hedgehogs in the garden to keep the slug population under control, although this one might not bother with too many slugs if I let it feast on the cat food!  Balance is required, I think......

Hope you have a good Sunday.  I am off to chapel this morning, and then my dad is coming over this afternoon.  I also have a heap of ironing to keep me occupied at some point today - school shirts!  The weather looks set fair for one more day at least, so I hope to be able to spend some time in the garden, getting it ready for autumn and winter.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

EFG update

We have been chatting with the EFG nearly every day on Google Hangout which is a really useful app to have - it saves using up our minutes on our phones, and means that we can see each other too.  I have to admit that some of the time, she looks a bit miserable - sometimes tired, sometimes bored!  She is having a long week this week, with nothing too structured to do and lots of leisure time - the cinema is offering students free showings of films and there is a free bus to get home afterwards, but the film didn't start until 10.30pm last night, so she is rather worn out this morning.  It is lovely when we get a glimmer of a smile, though......hoping for more of those as she gets more involved.

I just keep telling myself that she has got to go through this process of becoming more self-sufficient, although it is rather painful for me to watch.  Once the lectures and labs begin next week, I know that she will thrive on it all, and be more engaged.  She hasn't said that she wants to come home yet, anyway!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Getting that letter

As I blogged last month, I thought that I should be entitled to Widowed Parent's Allowance but it seemed to be taking for ever to come through.  I knew that the FH had paid the requisite amount of NI, or so I believed anyway, and couldn't see what the delay was.

I phoned up again last week, and at last someone could explain: there can't be an account open connected to my NI number for WPA whilst there is an account open on the FH's NI number for Old Age Pension, as our NI numbers are connected to one another because we were the OAP account had got to be closed down before the WPA account could be opened.

These things take time........I was trying very hard to be patient, but I really wanted to KNOW!

And, at last, on Monday, a brown envelope turned up, to tell me that yes, I am entitled to WPA whilst the YFG is here and I get Child Benefit for her.  WPA is not a fortune, but it makes a heck of a difference in our circumstances.  It gives me three years of leeway in being able to be here for the YFG when she gets home from school, of not having to take just any job that I can find.  It means that I can be very careful with cash and probably only work part time, so that I don't have to leave her to go and work very odd shifts in Tesco - I have looked on the jobsearch websites and some Tesco [and other supermarkets, for that matter] jobs ARE rather odd shift patterns!

We won't be able to afford foreign holidays, we won't eat out and we won't be wearing the latest fashions.  We'll be careful with our money, as usual, and we'll get by.  We will probably be able to stay in this house for a while longer, which gives me more time to get the FH's workshop sorted out and the house smartened up for viewings.

I have applied for a couple of jobs this week.  I shall keep looking :)

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Knitting book review

(image from

I borrowed this book from the library and it is due back this week, so I thought I had better get on with the review whilst I still had it here!  I was glad to find it in the library because I had been looking at it on The Book People's website for some time, and being a bit tempted to buy it.  Having borrowed it from the library, I'm glad I didn't succumb to temptation!

There are some very useful pages at the beginning with clear instructions on how to fix problems, so "fixing dropped stitches", "undoing stitches" and "unravelling rows" are covered with good photos.

However, I feel that the patterns do throw one in slightly at the deep end, with the first pattern being for a scarf and mitts combo, including thumbs on the mittens - something which fills me with dread! 

Other patterns at the beginning of the book include writstwarmers made in the flat and then sewn up, a bobble hat, and then we move very quickly into a round neck sweater which involves shaping and picking up stitches for the neckband.  There is also an intarsia cardigan with a shawl collar which is beautiful, and a Fair Isle tank top, worked from a colour chart.

The patterns are beautiful, but for a book which seems at first glance to be aimed at beginners, I think that there aren't enough simple projects for practising the generation of even stitches and good tension.  If you are an intermediate knitter, able to tackle "slightly tricky" knits, then this is a good book, I think.  If you are a beginner, I would say that there are better books out there to help build confidence and good practice in knitting.  The EFG had a look at this one too, and loved some of the patterns but said, "That's not for beginners."  Given the simplicity of the front cover pattern, one could expect a book like this to be filled with relatively easy patterns, but that is the trouble with buying books on t'internet - I love good old bookshops for browsing!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Calling Aberdeen folk.....

Ideas for relatively frugal places to stay if we want to go to visit the EFG for a few days please?  Probably travelling by train, so not in the middle of nowhere, but car hire a possibility....Self-catering would be useful too.  If you have students there yourself, where have you stayed?  If you are a native, where are the places you would recommend please?

I'm asking because the lovely flat we stayed in in March is already booked out :( Not quick enough off the mark with that one.  The YFG would like to go up to see her sister in our October half term. I'm trying to work out if I can afford it.

Many thanks!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Embarassed at the till

How do you think you would feel at the till if the cashier passed comment on the amount you had spent?

The YFG and I were in Lidl's on Sunday afternoon, standing at the till, a couple of people behind a lady and her husband who were putting their shopping through and packing it as the cashier checked it off.  They did have a trolley full of goods, and I was idly wondering how much it would come to, but even I was a bit shocked when the cashier asked her for just over £170.  I couldn't see all their shopping, and I would guess that for a trolley of shopping to have reached that value in Lidl, they probably bought quite a bit of meat, perhaps.

However, I wasn't prepared for the cashier to pass a comment on the shopping - along the lines of that was the most he had ever put through a till, and what a lot they had spent.....I don't think any hole would have been big enough to swallow me if someone had said that to me!

The lady was very dignified, and replied, "Oh, this is just a standard...." and I thought she was going to say "monthly" but she said "weekly shop for us" and then I was a little surprised.  She went on to explain that this was for her and her husband and three children.

My thoughts on the cashier's comments are that he had no right to discuss that family's purchases like that, and to embarrass the lady, making her feel that she had to justify her shopping.  Yes, she had bought a lot of food, but if he hadn't drawn attention to it, the rest of the queue wouldn't have thought much about it, and I certainly would just have thought that she was doing a big monthly shop.  If families can afford to spend that much each week, good luck to them - I will stick to my budget and think about what to say to a cheeky cashier!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Beetroot chutney recipes for Andrea

Andrea has asked for the beetroot chutney recipe.......I google myself these days, Andrea!  If you know that there is a recipe in the archive here somewhere, the easiest thing to go is to go to Google and put in "growing in the fens beetroot chutney" [for example] and the relevant posts will appear.

I know that I post recipes on here, but I don't always remember when I posted them, and I am far from organised enough to tag posts, so I resort to good old Google.

Here are the links to the beetroot chutney recipes I have posted in the past - the Sainsbury's magazine one and my mum's.  I hope the chutney turns out well, Andrea, and thanks for your comment xxx