Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Lent thankfulness

I've decided to post once a week or so on things I am thankful for, just to keep life in perspective.

Today, I am grateful for:
  • God in my life, speaking to me, encouraging me;
  • a loving husband and two beautiful daughters, who are bright, intelligent and kind;
  • a home to share with them;
  • the EFG's diligence to her new regime, and the success she is having;
  • the church family we love;
  • Spring is coming!
  • finding Freecycle again and liberating some of my possessions to bless others!
  • blogging friends who uphold and support one another without reserve. Thank you.

Monday, 27 February 2012


The one that broke the camel's back, I mean.

You have read what I have been dealing with just lately, and tonight I got an email that was basically just a sarcastic remark from someone who needs to grow up, and so all I feel like doing now is bawling my eyes out. Ho hum...

Out of the blocks

The EFG recorded an 8lb loss in her first week on the new regime, which was very rewarding for us. We are trying very hard with this, and she is being very diligent, which I am very proud of her for doing. Weigh day is Friday, so we have to wait to see how this week will go but I am hopeful that the loss will continue, although realistically, it should slow down a little!

We went to see the dietitian last week, and she was helpful, but she will refer the EFG to a specialist diabetic team which deals with insulin resistance as well as diabetes; she is a pediatric specialist and doesn't see diabetic patients, so it was a while since she had seen anyone needing that kind of advice. She mentioned that the regime we are using has no scientific studies which support it, but that doesn't bother us as we are looking for something which works for the EFG, whether it has any scientific background or not - the variations of it are myriad and well published, with lots of reports which say it works! The Slimming World Original plan, the Atkins, Dukan etc are all slightly different, and it matters not which one uses, as long as it suits the purpose and it works!

I do think that once the weight loss is established, the plan might change a little towards the SW plan which would give her a little more leeway with her packed lunches, but for now, we are working with this.

Last week was manic, and I ended up driving over 500 miles. What with two interviews for Sixth form and the dietitian for the EFG, the orthodontist for the YFG and a full day at school on Wednesday, as well as the usual commitments at gymnastics, I was shattered by Saturday afternoon, and had to have a snooze!

The FH stepped up admirably last week and undertook to hang out some washing and do some hoovering and ironing, so I was very impressed with him too.

This week is looking quite challenging as well: back to the orthodontist with the YFG this morning, Church Council tomorrow morning, a bookfair and a school meeting for the EFG on Thursday as well as the usual gym and school commitments, so it is going to be another busy week.

The EFG was thrilled on Thursday to have her train track braces removed, although her perfectly straight teeth now resemble dentures, she thinks, particularly the "doggy dentures" ad on the tv! She had to stand in front of the mirror for quite some time to practice her new smile. We are going back this morning to have retainers fitted in order to hold the new smile firmly in place.

I had to chuckle last night as the EFG was troubled by the heap of washing that had been sitting on the landing for a while waiting to be washed so she has set up a system of baskets, and written notices to put places where people leave heaps of washing, telling them to put the clothes in the baskets! She has excellent intentions, so I hope it works.

And the budget? I'm still working on that. The Sealed Pot is getting heavier - I had thought I would save all my £2 coins, but I am acquiring rather a lot of those and putting them all in the pot was meaning I never had any money! I am thinking twice now before putting each one in the pot, but a lot still make it through the slot. The budget is proving more tricky and I am slowly working my way through it to see where I can shave a bit off each fund to increase the savings. In order to fund the train ticket in September, I would need to put £300 a month away between now and September, and then from September £150 a month until the next September for the second year's ticket. I just have to get the credit card bill with both car insurances on it paid off, and then there is the balance of the June half-term holiday to think about before the end of March. Quite challenging if I am not to dip into savings to pay that lot off - it amounts to £1382......

So, in the spirit of Lent, there is to be another Challenge here. This is Fairtrade fortnight, and I am still mulling over my Tesco problem, so I am combining all of that with my Lent challenge. I talked to the girls about this yesterday and we are thinking that for March, we will only shop at the Co-op, the most ethical supermarket in our opinion, and the biggest supporter we know locally of Fairtrade. We will also have a storecupboard challenge and restrict our spending. It is like to have to be restricted to about £40 a week; not as low as previously, but the EFG's regime is not cheap and must be continued. There will be no other spending on anything as usual - books, shoes, clothes, household stuff, leisure, etc - the usual cutbacks! Shopping at the Co-op helps as I can shop there on any of the three afternoons on which I pick the girls up from school and I don't need to make a special trip or even go out of my way as I drive right past it.

I'll keep you up to date with the ups and downs when I can!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Changes in priorities

The EFG has been diagnosed with PCOS and insulin resistance, so we are giving a high protein, low carb and sugar free diet a try. This is having a little impact on the grocery budget, and the fuel budget in the short term whilst we are travelling more often to appointments here, there and everywhere.

The other thing that we have to think about is that the EFG really would like to go to Sixth Form in Cambridge, which is not our local opportunity. That means that we get no help whatsoever with the travel costs. Her options are four hours a day on various buses, or a daily hour and 10 minutes on a train and a shuttle bus from the station to the college. The bus is half the price of the train, but I can't in all honesty force her to spend that many hours on a bus each day - she would be exhausted, and lose hours of valuable time. So, I am looking at £1880 a year for a season ticket for two years. Luckily, I'd get a couple of years' respite before the YFG would be needing the same, I should think.

So there is now going to be a major revamp of the budget, and once this year's holiday is paid for, the savings will be directed towards a travel fund...

Monday, 20 February 2012

Fenland Voices

A man came to preach yesterday at the chapel. He has been many times before, and I have met up with him at several of the preachers' meetings, so I have had the opportunity to get to know him better. His family has been in this village for many generations, and their names are inscribed on memorial plaques, so they number amongst the honoured dead here as well as having many living members.

I'll call him Mr B. He is an older gentleman, and has been leading services for about 50 years now, he told me. He didn't go through the course I am undertaking at the moment, as it is a relatively new direction for Local Preachers. He took services for some time and then had to have a talk with a superintendent, who passed him fit to preach without supervision. Mr B was probably only about 18 when he began taking services as a favour to a friend who needed someone to take a service in a bit of an emergency!

God shines through Mr B. He reads the Bible and preaches without notes beyond what he has scribbled in the margins of his ancient Bible. He takes a service most weeks in the circuit and explained to me that he spends several evenings each week just preparing for each service, reading the texts in the Bible, commentaries and books by others, to be able to put together a sermon to share God's word with each congregation that he visits.

Why talk about Mr B today? Well, he said something in his Fen accent yesterday which reminded me of something a young mother in the village had said about this accent. Mr B had cause to say the word "human" yesterday. That "u" sounds more like "oo" in the Fens and so we heard "hoo-man" and I instantly thought of the mum who had heard her child say "moo-sic" instead of "music" and been mortified that her child would grow up to develop a Fen accent. The mum is from another area of the country which has a distinctive accent, and perhaps she would prefer the child to speak that way, but the child lives in the Fens, and will go to school and live amongst others here who speak that way.

Does it really matter? I am something of an accent chameleon, able to moderate the way I speak in order to fit in with the company I am in, and I think that a lot of people are like that. I have always done that and seem to do it automatically - I don't think about it! In Scotland, I soon picked up phrases and changes to verb placement in the sentences and used them quite easily without thinking about it! It was as easy to stop speaking in that way the minute I came back to live in England and was no longer surrounded by people speaking like that.

I don't think that accents are important in the grand scheme of things, and the comment I made to the FH yesterday is that if that child grows up to be half the person that Mr B is, she will do well, however she speaks!

Friday, 17 February 2012


I am too tired to post it all tonight but the week has included:
  • trip to the cinema to see "A Woman in Black"
  • a visit to my Dad
  • A hospital appointment and quite stressful news there for the EFG
  • the girls doing a spot of babysitting with an adorable 2 year old
  • digging the veg beds
  • cleaning out some chook houses
  • lots of washing
  • some de-cluttering
  • several trips to various supermarkets
  • church cleaning
  • a new dietary regime
  • a trawl of the charity shops in a beautiful cathedral city
  • surgery on the new car
  • the EFG going away overnight for a sleepover
  • a wedding in the family
  • worries about the FH
  • a funeral I really should have attended, but couldn't
I think that is enough to let you know why I have been too pre-occupied with real life to be here blogging although I have dropped in now and again to read your blogs. I had thought that half-term would be quite restful - how wrong could I be!

So, tomorrow will bring the EFG home, getting the school uniforms ready for Monday, and hopefully getting a couple more chook houses cleaned out.

I will talk more about some of these things which have happened this week soon, and fill in the gaps, but tonight, my eyelids are drooping....

Monday, 13 February 2012

I spend money when I'm....

I spend money more when I am angry! I feel hard done by tonight, as I wanted to watch the BBC programme about the Queen which Andrew Marr has made. It is a three part programme and this is week 2.

I missed it last week as the FH was watching a programme about soldiers in Afghanistan, which the girls didn't want to watch, so they were in my bed watching something else on that tv. Exactly the same scenario has developed tonight.

The options which would enable me to watch that programme about the Queen would all cost me money. I could install BTVision, so I could record it; I could upgrade my internet package so that I could watch it on iPlayer without exceeding my monthly limit; I could buy it on DVD; I could buy another TV!!

I am cross that I feel like my choices are the least important, and that makes me feel like spending money to make me feel more important. BUT I won't, because although that would help me win the battle, I wouldn't win the war. The war is on spending unnecessarily, and all of those options are unnecessary, so instead, I need to work on my feelings. Easier said than done.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Away days

The storage cupboards were looking very depleted after the challenge in January, so I have been doing some re-stocking this week.

A delivery arrived on Thursday from the lovely people at www.rosspa.co.uk which was excellent - including three huge Savoy cabbages for a pound! All that has had to be found a home, as well as the things I bought from Sainsbury's.

There has been a lot of gym going on (Tues, Wed, Fri & Sat), some school meetings, a lot of taxi-ing children around, and some cooking. Some, not a lot!

This week is half-term and the children are off all week. We have a day out planned on Tuesday when we will probably go to see my dad, and maybe pop to the cinema as well as he lives within shouting distance of our local Cineworld. We haven't planned much because of the interesting weather we are having here at the moment.

My lovely Fabia is ill. The windscreen wipers died overnight; they were working fine yesterday but this morning they are as dead as the proverbial Dodo. Cue a trip to the garage tomorrow because we have done all we can to sort it, which amounts to checking the fuse! Fuse is fine so it is beyond us.

Mount Washmore is piled up on the landing. Three loads have been done tonight, and two are decorating the airers near the fire, but the third will have to wait for morning and hope for sunshine so I can hang it out in the verandah. More will have to be done tomorrow.

I read on someone's Facebook status yesterday that it is just six weeks until we change the clocks - I can't wait!!

I've been tagged!

Dreamer has tagged me on her blog and now I have to answer some questions! Apparently I have to tag more people and post a set of questions of my own for them. One set at a time, so I'll start with the questions I have been asked:
  • How many siblings do you have and what was your position in the family? For my mum, I was the elder daughter, and for my dad, I am the middle daughter. In my family, I have the position of the elder daughter. I'm not taking the lid off that particular can of worms.
  • Do you still keep in touch with your best friend from school days? Yes, I do. I met her when I was 9, so this September marks 30 years of friendship. We kept in touch through attending different secondary schools, being together very intensively for 2 years whilst we did A levels at the same school, and then going to universities at opposite ends of the UK. Now she has a boy and a girl, and lives about 20 miles away. We talk on the phone every couple of months, but she needs me a lot less now than she did back then, and the pattern of our relationship has changed, although I love her no less.
  • Girly shoes or walking boots? Walking boots every day.
  • What would you choose for a last meal? Chicken and bacon casserole with root veg and mash followed by self saucing chocolate pudding. No question.
  • If you could go back in time which era would you like to have been born in? I would have liked to have known my great grandfather, and to have known my grandmother when she was a younger woman, so the early part of the last century - the 1910s to the 1930s.
  • What is the one possession you would think about running back into a burning building for? You know, I don't think I would. I hold my memories in my head, and everyTHING else is replaceable one way or another. I'd be in there like a shot for my family though, if they were stuck.
  • What is your favourite colour to wear? Royal blue and navy blue
  • What is your favourite colour to decorate with? Pink and green
  • Do you like to grow flowers or vegetables in your garden? Vegetables - you can't eat flowers. BUT I was harangued for not having flowers for the bees so I planted a lavender hedge about 5 years ago and now it is in desperate need of a drastic trim!
  • Are you a cat or a dog person? I would be a dog person if I got the chance.
  • Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? I don't do lifts if I can help it all, and I definitely wouldn't like to be stuck with anyone in particular!
I'm not sure what Blogger is up to with those colours changing from blue to black, but those questions are actually quite challenging!

I shall consider my own questions and post those this week, and tag some of my favourite blogs too. It's all good fun!!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Dads are special

(image from www.onewed.com)

I've been having a chat with my dad tonight. He almost made me cry telling me how proud he is of me for what I am doing in the church these days, and how he thinks of his grandfather and believes that he would be pleased to see his great granddaughter follow in his footsteps.

I don't think I have ever really fallen out with my dad. There haven't been any long silences between us, no real periods of discord. It is a very different and more placid relationship than that which I had with my mother - that was definitely more volatile, but no less loving.

Dad is a peacemaker, like me, and forgiving, like me! We want everyone to get on. He was in his forties when I was born and he wasn't a particularly hands-on Dad, but he has developed a different and perhaps stronger relationship with me as an adult daughter, and one which I cherish. Not having Mum around for the last 14 years has been hard on all of us, and I think that a lot of things would have been different if she had still been alive, but we have a positive outlook on life, and those of us who choose to spend time together enjoy doing so.

Dad is also building strong relationships with his granddaughters. I see that he is also immensely proud of them, of the young ladies that they are becoming and the achievements they are making all the time. He is impressed with the EFG's grasp of technology, and he is amazed at the YFG and her gymnastic ability - no one in the family has done gym before!

Diamond Queen

(Photograph from telegraph.co.uk)

Today is the actual day, 60 years on, which marks the Accession of HM Queen Elizabeth II to the throne.

Whether you are a royalist or not, I don't think you can doubt this lady's devotion to her duty and to her countries. Her popularity has waxed and waned over the years, but I think that people will turn out to support her in this Jubilee Year.

I remember her Silver Jubilee back in 1977 when I was just 5. She came to Cambridge to open Wolfson College and the whole school trekked across Cambridge to "see" her - I got a glimpse of a shiny car and that was that!! We did spend time making Jubilee scrapbooks that term, and we all had an emblem of something royal on the front - a crown, a state coach, etc - as a silhouette.

We are going to be on holiday in June when all the official celebrations in London take off, and I don't know whether anything is planned here in the village, but we will be in Bridlington, so we'll have to see what is going on up there instead.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Struggling through the snow

When I woke up this morning and peeped through the curtains, I saw the blanket of snow covering the ground and thought how beautiful it was. It was pristine, with just one set of tyre tracks on the road where someone had left the estate earlier. The tracks we made coming home last night had been long covered up.

The YFG came downstairs when she heard me about, and her first question was about the snow, "Is it still there?" as she had been too afraid to look out herself in case it had all disappeared in the night - that would have been a tremendous disappointment to her!

Since I really don't like to drive in the snow, and we have got 4 or 5 inches here, she and I decided that we would walk to church this morning. The FH thought we were mad and declined to join us, but it felt wrong to stay at home when I knew that the preacher was going to come out from Wesley House in Cambridge. If he could make it through the snow all that way, I was jolly sure I was going to make it a mile up the road even on foot. We managed, and it took about 25 minutes as it was quite hard going through the deep snow. We had a good service and it was worth going. A gentleman with a 4x4 kindly gave us a lift home to the top of the road so that was easier coming home.

I cooked toad in the hole for lunch and then promptly fell asleep for about 90 minutes! Later on, the YFG and I cleared the snow from the front pathway and around my car in case I need to go anywhere tomorrow - although I really hope I don't!! The EFG has been out with a friend on the green, snowballing one another, and the YFG is out now at a friend's house, making a snowman. It is dark now though, so I hope she'll be home soon.

An excellent evening on the tv tonight with Countryfile, Call the Midwife and Wild at Heart, just perfect to accompany a heap of ironing. Keep warm and I'll pop back tomorrow.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Snow is falling - again

Apparently I have already called a post, "Snow is falling" so I have added the "again" this time. We have been out to church to a family concert in which the FGs took part with some other girls from the congregation. As we left the house at 6pm, snow flakes were just visible in the light from the streetlamps. When we came out of the church at 9.30pm, there were several inches of snow on the ground!! I had to drive home and so we crept along at a very sedate 20mph - very good job we weren't going very far...It was a lovely evening, and now we are all round the fire, getting warm before we head off to bed.

It is still snowing.

Friday, 3 February 2012


I am loving this cold, crisp, sunny weather which we are enjoying at the moment: the sun is heating the verandah beautifully and so the washing is getting dry, the freezing cold is solidifying the mud and so the chickens are better off, and the sun is shining! That makes everything better.

But there is snow on the way....not sure about that! Apparently, there might be 5 to 10 cm of snow overnight on Saturday. I am not quite as keen on snow!

What is the weather like where you live? Are you coping with the big fffffrreeeeze?