Thursday, 31 October 2013

A ghost story for you

When asked whether I believe in ghosts, I have had to say that I do, at least since 1998, when we bought a haunted house.  I didn't realise until after we moved in, and the FH always refused to believe, but my gut feeling was corroborated by some one else later on....

We bought a three storey house, just two doors away from the house we lived in.  With the help of a loan from my dad and a mortgage, we bought the new house before we actually sold the one we owned, in which all our money was tied up.  We bought the new house on 1st August, and it was the autumn before we agreed a sale on the other house, with an entry date in January.  In Scotland, the entry date was part of the offer process, so we knew we had a definite deadline to make the other house habitable.  It was an old house, over 200 years old, built for the Tullis Russell papermaking family of Glenrothes.

Now, the other house, Lynwood, had indeed been inhabited by a family with several [four or even five] daughters but they had all grown up and moved away, and the couple had split up, so the lady of the house was there on her own.  They had lived there for over 40 years, and a lot of work was needed to bring it up to what we expect today, or even expected in 2000!

Since we and two boys lodging with us would be moving in, we needed to focus on the kitchen/dining arrangements in the basement, and the bedrooms under the eaves.  In the basement, the FH ripped everything out and took the house back to bare stone walls, replasterboarding everything, installing a new central heating system, new cooker, a new kitchen, the works!  He worked long hours on it, with only amateur help from local "old boys" both well into their seventies, but both very hard working.  My dad came up from England and spent time helping too, encouraged by my mother, who was worried to death by the enormity of the restoration project we had taken on.

In the attic space, we created a master en-suite bedroom, two single bedrooms and a family bathroom from a space which had previously just been two large bedrooms and a boxroom.  We had to install a fireman's window in one of the rooms which was a Velux in which a fireman wearing breathing apparatus could enter, such were the building regs.  It gave us amazing views across the town , taking in the spires of the churches.

We just about got all this done in time to move, and we just left the middle floor, where there was a big sitting room, a study, a smaller sitting room and a family bathroom.  We moved in and piled boxes and building equipment into those rooms, as there was no outside storage sheds or garage at all.  The FH would build a garage in the months ahead but for now, it was all stored inside the house!

That middle floor was where I felt incredibly uneasy.  I would scoot around the corner from the stairs up from the basement and breath a sigh of relief when I gained the top landing where the bedrooms were, because it was usually on the corner that I would glimpse her, out of the corner of my eye.  As one came up from the basement, the big sitting room was to the right, and there was a window in one's eyeline, to the right of the fireplace.  Glancing into the room as one went past, it was there that I would "see" her, an old woman, sitting in a rocking chair, shawl about her shoulders, patiently rocking herself.

As we began to work on that floor, we changed things, we took up floorboards and we moved out forty years of accumulated dust and cobwebs, and the amazing thing was that as we disturbed the settled energy of forty years, we seem to have dislodged her.  As the house was renewed, revitalised and refreshed, she went, completely went.

And to prove that I was not totally daft, later in 1999, after I had given birth to the YFG and the FH had had his transplant, a neighbour brought round a young lady who had known the previous family and had spent many summers staying there with them.  The neighbour wanted to show the lady the transformation that we had wrought on the house, but I sat breastfeeding the YFG and the FH was asleep one afternoon, so I asked the neighbour to show the woman around herself, before they came back to the room where we were.  The young lady was pleased with what we had done and marvelled at the transformation, and then she said, "And the ghost has gone!" to which I calmly replied that I thought we had moved her on, quite unintentionally and unwittingly, with all the renovation work - that the house had changed so much that there was no energy left for her to cling on to any longer.

I talked to that house, quite the most sentimental thing I have ever felt, but on the morning we left it in 2000, I walked around and told it how much it meant to me, how sorry I was to be leaving it, and how I wished it well.  It seemed to thank us for revitalising it, and I confess that leaving that house destroyed any feeling for houses that I had - a house to me now is just somewhere to live, and I haven't yet found another one I have loved with that kind of passion.

Parliamentary wisdom

I confess that I had forgotten what one calls a group of owls - it isn't a flock or a flight, but a parliament - something to do with a collection of wisdom, I think that the intention was once!  

However, in my experience, we don't often see a lot of owls together in the Fens - we occasionally see a beautiful barn owl swooping low along the ditches at dusk when we are in the car, and it is a quite spectacular sight so we feel very blessed to see it.

This little gang has just appeared over the past few days - I just finished a couple in the top row tonight, and the EFG has been busy making the wee pals in the bottom row.  One is not a Christmassy one, but still looks great.

I have an idea for a better photograph once I have made a few more, so watch this space - I shall need a few more owls, and a sunny day, so don't hold your breath, given the weather forecast tonight....

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Quick kitchen tip

I thought I would share this as I have just done it in my kitchen, and although many of you may already know this handy tip, it might help someone out there!

Several times a year, I buy two or three 1kg bags of supermarket value table salt, and at the moment, it would cost you 25p/kg in either Tesco or Sainsbury's.  I use it very simply to keep my drains running clear, and the method is a breeze.

(image from

First, snip off a corner of the bag and carefully pour enough salt in to the plug hole so that it stands there like a little mountain of salt.  It will begin to slump into the holes, so I keep pouring until it stands still.  Then I go and fill the kettle with as much water as it will take.  The salt does seem to need to sit there for a few minutes, so don't try to be efficient and boil the kettle first!   When the kettle is boiling, grab it and pour it onto the heap of salt.  It will bubble a bit, glug a bit sometimes, but your drain will run clear within minutes.  If it is really bunged up, I have done this a couple of times, maybe using half the bag of salt altogether, but I have never failed to clear a drain with this method.

Even if your drains aren't blocked, I like to do this once a month to keep them fresh.  It costs pennies, and is much better than using a bottle of something stinking and chemical-based.  [OK, I have a daughter doing A level chemistry and I know salt has a chemical name, but you know what I mean ;)]  It is heaps cheaper too!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Another Approved Delivery

Last Thursday, I placed an order with Approved Food.  I do this several times a year, and stock up on various items - it is a hit and miss affair at the best of times, and you can never guarantee that what you loved last time will still be for sale today.  Brands change and items come and go quite rapidly.  And it is not ALL past its "best before" date.  

This little lot arrived just on noon today via City Link couriers.  They used to be delivered by DPD around here, which I prefer because DPD text you with a one-hour delivery slot, but City Link are a "anytime between 7.30am and 5.30pm" kind of operation - not quite as handy but we manage!

Today, in an effort to convert the sceptics out there, I am going to share some prices and thoughts on what we bought this time.  I am quite well aware that some of the things we buy other people wouldn't touch with a barge pole, but everyone is allowed free choice!  

Astonish Toilet Bowl cleaner tabs 5 for 99p.  I currently use some professional stuff from Hagesan Blue to do a deep clean each week, so I want to see if these are as effective.  I have tried cheap coca cola that someone gave us, and it doesn't do the job.

Astonish Whites Booster 5 for 99p I have been using these for a while and find them useful for attempting to get the girls' white PE socks white again....

Bounty 5 bars for £1.00.  One of the FH's rare treats.

Chocolate Malt Balls & Rainbow Choc Drops  Clearly supposed to imitate other more well-known brands, these are a "I'm going to be doing more baking in the run-up to Christmas" store-cupboard item.  There are going to be cake stalls happening and Coffee mornings, so it is good to be prepared.  These are £1 a tub.

Carrot Cake Mix - Going up in the world.  The last time we ordered "de-identified" carrot cake mix, it was actually from Morrison's and we used it to make muffins.  This batch is from M&S no less.  Four boxes for £1.  Bargain.

Fox's Caramel 9 pack (75p) and Jacob's Oddities 15 for £3 - these are both items for the YFG's lunchbox.  They will last her several weeks, for snacks at school and for energy at gymnastics.

Raspberry Jam 340g jar for 75p - this is lovely quality jam, much like we can get from Lidl's but a bit cheaper.

Heinz Red Cabbage in Vinegar (710g) and Sweet Silverskin Onions in Vinegar (440g)  These are all for the FH.  Since he came out of hospital in July, with a new tablet, his tastebuds are affected and he seems to crave vinegary foods all the time.  The red cabbage is a particular favourite, and sells here for 60p a jar, compared to over £1.50 a jar at the supermarket.  The silverskin onions are three jars for a pound.

Kellogg's Special K crackercrisps These are for the EFG as she likes them and they don't cost too many WW points as a treat.

Knorr Bake in a Bag Creamy Fish Herbs and White Wine sauce - this is cheap at 3 for £1, and quickly adds a touch of luxury to a frozen fish portion!

Mallow Snowballs and Teacakes - these are mis-shapes from Lees of Scotland, two packs of Snowballs for £1 and the teacakes at 40p a pack.  The YFG will eat some of these, but I will also use them when I need to take a food donation to the Craft Club at the chapel, or to a coffee morning, if I haven't time to bake.  I much prefer to bake something myself, but when push comes to shove, I would rather take something like this than go empty-handed - and the ladies love these teacakes!

Mooch Original chocolate milk - this was an AF gamble, and I do make them occasionally.  The description wasn't quite enough to tell me exactly what I was getting when I ordered it, and I wondered if it was hot chocolate powder.  It has turned out to be three cans of milkshake for 99p.  I wouldn't buy them again.

Ocean Spray Raspberry and Cranberry juice drink 3 x 200ml - I got four of these three-packs for £3, and I think that they will be very handy to have in the cupboard for when one of us ladies gets a twinge of cystitis, as we occasionally do.  Usually I have to buy big cartons, and it isn't all needed, so I am glad to have these available at a very reasonable price.  They are UHT and will last for ages!

Polos - people here do like Polos now and again and 12 rolls for £1.50 is a bargain.  The storecupboard will smell dreadfully of mint if I put them in there, so they are on a shelf in the garage!

Apricot jam 2 x 370g jars for £1.  It is the time of year to make the Christmas cake now, and I always, always forget to buy apricot jam to stick the marzipan on to the cake with!  Not this year...

Walnut cake - we can't get enough walnuts in this house, one way or another, so I thought that those who can eat cake might try this.  Cost 99p.

Toblerone - four little Toberones for £1, another little treat for the FH.  Put away, he will forget about them and be chuffed when I fetch one out for him occasionally - they will last for ages as he won't ask for them!

Wagon Wheel original 6-pack - free for spending £30.  Useful for lunchboxes and snacks at gym.  

Walker's Shortbread - the YFG will inhale shortbread - she absolutely loves the stuff and I really should make it for her more often, but in the meantime, this is the next best thing to home-made.  I shall hide this away or it won't last the week.......and I do recognise that this is one of the problems that people have with this kind of shopping - we do have to be disciplined with eeking the food out over a period of time.

Apparently the total RRP of that lot would have been £99.67 but that is academic because I wouldn't have bought some of those brands if I had been shopping in a supermarket for those items.  I actually paid £36.32 and the £5.25 delivery charge, so a total of £41.57.  I am unlikely to place another order now until at least the middle to end of January.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Creative day

We had a great start to the day when Ang and Rev Bob popped in on their way home from Norfolk so we had a lovely chat and a cuppa.  It was great to meet them - my first blogland meeting - and they are lovely, as I thought they would be!  Rev Bob is very tall!  Thanks for the George Foreman grill, Ang - we are going to try it out this week!

This afternoon, I continued with my resting theme for the weekend, and watched Mamma Mia with the FH whilst the girls went for a walk in the late autumn sunshine which had broken through after the storm.  Whilst I was watching the film, I made the little owl above - it's a Christmas tree decoration.  I am going to seal the edges of the wings with some pva glue to stop them from fraying.  I'm quite chuffed with my first one, and then I sat and cut out the felt and material for five more.  We have run out of the appropriate coloured threads to actually make any more up today, so I turned my attention to knitting and finished off the last scarf for the Christmas boxes.  We will be packing the OCC boxes this Friday, so it was just in the nick of time too.

And the storm?  Yes, it passed over us without doing too much damage.  The whole garden is sodden, so we must have had a lot of rain overnight, but the early morning about 7am apparently saw the strongest gusts of wind.  The only actual damage we sustained here was where two fence panels became detached from their common fence post, so the FH went round to the neighbour's side and straightened the nails so he could bang them back in whilst I held the panels in position from our side.  It was all rectified in about 20 minutes.

I've been watching the news and thinking about all those who have had serious damage to their homes and businesses, and the families of those who have lost their lives this weekend.  Such terrible scenes on the television news reports today - it gives us a great deal to be thankful for here tonight.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

St Jude

Someone has called the storm which is approaching the UK after the patron saint of lost causes, which is probably less to do with the naming than the fact that tomorrow is the saint's day in the Catholic Church's calendar of saints' days.  The Guardian explains more about it here.

We have done all we can to prepare for this storm, including finally getting batteries in the torch!  The full Calor gas bottles had to be connected up yesterday as the last of the old ones had emptied, so we have plenty of gas for cooking and boiling water if we lose the electricity.  Everything in the garden has been secured; the only thing I am slightly worried about is our metal chimney, but there's nothing I can do about that.  We have firewood aplenty for keeping warm, and lots of food.  There are also no trees in the vicinity so we should be safe from falling timber just here.  That's not to say we may not be affected by flying debris, I suppose.  The worst of the storm is predicted between 5am and 8am so I hope we get some sleep before then!  

We are expecting visitors tomorrow but I shan't blame them one iota if they make a dash for home and postpone their visit!

I just pray that we are all safe and well, you in your homes and us here, by tomorrow evening when the storm has passed over.  Keep safe x

Sunday morning serenity

Ann Voskamp has posted a list of links, and there is one which is especially beautiful - I would recommend you get a cup of tea and just sit and take in the beauty of these photographs here.  Simply stunning!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Another lazy day

We enjoyed a later-than-usual start to the day, and once I had sorted out the outside chores, I sat with the girls and watched a DVD!  The outside chores did take a little longer than usual as I had to put sawdust and shavings down for the chickens, and I also had a tidy up around the yard to try to make sure that there isn't any flying debris or plant pots when the wind gets up this weekend or early on Monday.  I am not looking forward to this storm at all.

After a roast chicken dinner at lunchtime [the chicken had been in the slow cooker overnight], we washed up together and then headed off to Ely, one of our favourite destinations.  It takes a wee while to get there, but it is well worth it when we do arrive!  The FH came for the ride and had a potter around the town.  We bought some felt from a craft shop for the EFG and YFG to do some Christmas decorations....and when we got home, we realised that it was actually a bit on the pricey side and we have since found some much more competitively priced on ebay, but we must be grateful to the high street shops for providing us with a source of instant goods when we need them!

The EFG then spent the latter part of the afternoon and a lot of the evening making these items.  I am impressed, and am thinking about making some myself.......I have to make 22 of something for the staff at school, and have done chocolates of one variety or another for the last three years, so I think it is time for a change.  Whether I have time to make enough of these is another matter.  I'll finish my current scarf-in-progress and then decide.  Ideas and suggestions welcomed.

This evening, we have watched Strictly, and then we had the DVD of Anna Karenina on, which the girls gave me for my birthday in September.  I didn't like it at first but gradually got into it - I found the "play" setting a bit strange, but got used to it.  Jude Law and Keira Knightly do well in it, I thought, and the costumes are very well done.  I don't think I will aspire to read the book, but I admire anyone who has done so.

Whilst we were in Ely, we went to Aldi and spent the first of my two £5 vouchers.  I shall spend the other one next Thursday in a different store, with an alternative focus to my shopping - today's was very much one for stocking up on tins and stores, whereas next week, we shall be in need of fresh fruit and veg, cheese and cold meats, all of which are very good at Aldi.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Got that Friday feeling

We've had a relaxing day in many ways - the girls had a long lie-in this morning since they didn't need to get up for school.  I let the chooks out and popped off to school to give out a couple of prizes in the celebration assembly today, which was fun!  Then I came home to see who was up - they were all awake at least...

The Craft Club at the chapel was the next thing, and I was really chuffed to have time to sit and knit my scarf in between helping to make the tea.  We began to wrap shoe boxes in Christmas paper in preparation for the Operation Christmas Child boxes to be filled and dispatched.  We only have 12 boxes so we need about 13 more to get to our target of 25 this year, but several of the ladies think that they might have odd ones at home and have promised to ferret them out for us.  Next week we will be having our Worship Lunch, and will be having jacket potatoes so we made arrangements today for the cooking - we have no oven at the chapel and so we have a lovely lady who lives not far away who has offered to cook them for us.

Nipped home for some lunch with the family and then I took the girls and we went to school.  The massive project of cataloguing and stickering books for a reading programme is still underway, and I took advantage of the girls' availability to have a good sort out in the library at school.

Tonight, we have had our supper and the YFG and the FH are watching a horror film together, and there is a lot of screaming going on!  The EFG has one eye on the tv but she is doing some sewing, making felt Christmas tree decorations - they are very good and I am impressed - hope she makes a few more.  I'll share some pictures when she has finished some. I am sitting at the table with the EFG, using her laptop to go through the websites of the unis which she is thinking of applying to, looking for their financial support packages - Aberdeen and Aberystwyth are the most generous, and I shall be encouraging her to apply to both of them as the extra benefits of the awards will more than offset the extra travel costs, I believe.  I can see a uni finance post coming up in the not too distant future!

I am about to put a chicken in the slow cooker to roast overnight, and I know that when we wake up in the morning, the house will be full of the most delicious smells!  Better go and sort it out - hope you all have a great weekend, and thanks for reading xx

Getting to the end of the month

And there aren't an awful lot of pennies left!  This has been a quite horrendous month spending wise, and it is plain to me to see why we have had to even eat into some of last month's meagre savings to make it through the month.

(image from

Spends over and above the normal run of things this month have been out of proportion to a usual month, and contributed to the lack of saving.

  • The Aberystwyth trip cost me just over £220 with the hotel, the fuel, the meals and the toll road.
  • I had dental work done costing £128.50.
  • The house insurance was due - still a very good price with the Co-op but £196.31 nevertheless.
  • The Skoda needed a full set of new tyres and some repair work done - £449.69!
  • The YFG needed some new underwear - £42 for 3 bras!
  • School supplies for the girls have also had to be bought - a lab coat for the EFG @ £10.50 and revision guides for the YFG @ £8.25.
  • The YFG has been entered for her Grade two piano exam, for £41.
That comes to just over £1100 of additional expenses this month, and all of them very necessary.  I was incredibly grateful for the work done on the car before we went to Aberystwyth because I felt safe and secure driving across the country on wet roads.  That trip couldn't really have been made any cheaper as the train fare would have cost more than the diesel did, and wouldn't have helped the other end when we may have been in need of a taxi!  The house insurance price is the cheapest I found anywhere, and I did look for other quotes, and the dental work was also necessary.

All in all, a very expensive month which has damaged my savings plan irrevocably now for the year, so I will be re-adjusting my targets and looking forward to 2014 with some new ways to save and perhaps a different way of organising our accounting.  Onwards, ever onwards - I try to learn from months like these and then let them go!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Three generational living

I've been on the verge of losing my temper several times today, and been quite frustrated, and I am not proud of myself at all.  Patience is a virtue, and I need to develop some!

The FH is coming up to his 76th birthday, I've just had my 41st, the EFG is 17 and the YFG 14.  Quite a spread of ages living together as one family.  Nothing particularly special, but different from the norm, perhaps.  On our street, there are other multigenerational households, where three generations live together, but their family dynamic is slightly different.

There's the old lady who lives in the annexe of the house where her daughter's family live, and there's another residence where it is even more complicated than us in that the oldest generation live in a static caravan in the garden, and in the house, there are three more generations of the family......and whilst these are biggish houses, they are not mansions and some of them are bursting at the seams!

In our house, as you know, the FH and I are married, and so there are no other spouses in our respective generations who understand our take on situations, and with whom to share the frustrations.  I know that the FH has felt as cross about some things as I have, but we haven't argued - we don't!  It isn't a huge issue but it is one into which I need to put some thought, and maybe some actions, not the least prayers.

I know that some of the things I do and say wind him up, but then things that he does and says are frustrating to me at times: we've been to the rheumatologist for the third time today, and despite lots of preparation, the FH asked the chap what causes gout......I know that he has explained it to the FH on both the previous visits!  Similarly, we know that the FH hates football, but we really don't need to have the full force of his hatred every time that it is mentioned in print or on tv.  For my part, I have been very busy lately with school stuff, and I know he would appreciate it if I was able to put more time into preparing more interesting meals, for example.

It is good for the FH to have UJ here, as they are a similar age, they get along well and they provide company and chat for one another.  They can peruse their memories and share their stories in a way that I can't take part, because I don't have the memories.  The FH also enjoys spending time with his mates from the lunch club, again because they remember old times and share stories.  This is becoming a bigger part of his life now, and it is one in which I struggle to participate.  It is also good for him to get out and share his love and knowledge of beekeeping, although he has had to admit that he is not up to keeping his own colonies any longer.

I am still at a time in my life where I want to grow and develop and learn new things, but that time has passed for the FH and he shows no interest in any new ideas or learning.  His attitude is somewhat that the old ways are the best [and sometimes he is very right in that assertion].

Are we growing apart?  No.  We are still growing together, but at different rates - his rate of growth has almost stilled, but mine is still moving forward.  Our paths are entwined, and we need to look at ways to make the flowers at the side of the paths flourish so that the way ahead is an attractive one, rather than a chore.  The path is slightly uphill at the moment, and we must pull together to achieve a co-operative, happy lifestyle for the whole family.  I am keenly aware that we must remain an inclusive family and not let age or infirmity limit the involvement of the FH in family life.  To that end, I am encouraging him to do what he can with the girls, and to be a vital part of all our lives.

Sometimes the relationships between the girls and the FH need a bit of mediation, and I am not as good at that as perhaps I could be.  They are teenagers, and most men of his age are not living in a house where they have to contend with hair straightners on the landing on a daily basis [he hasn't tripped over them yet because I usually get there first and pick them up], with them having friends round for sleepovers and the anxious days of exams.  They are both very good at supporting me with looking after him if he is poorly, for which I am constantly grateful.

Thinking about the quality of our lives here, I still think we are incredibly blessed, and I will continue to advocate for the FH whenever he wants me to when we are dealing with doctors and other medical staff, as I understand his thoughts on the way he wants to live now.  Quality of life is an important yard stick for us all, however old we are!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Slowing down

Tonight, I have pottered quite happily!  

I have been feeling today that the weekend has caught up with me, so after the gym class at school, I came home, made a cuppa and sat and chatted with the FH and UJ.  

I cooked the tea, and then we all stayed at the table for a while, still chatting away!  Tonight, I have had a long, hot bath, and wallowed for over half an hour, reading a book, and it has done me the world of good!

I know that the girls are getting tired as well, as the YFG has had 90 minutes fast asleep on the sofa soon after she came in from school.  We are all very ready for half-term next week - the girls have only tomorrow left at school before they are done.  

Tomorrow [after buying the Daily Mirror for the Aldi voucher - mustn't forget!] the FH has an appointment at the local cottage hospital to see the rheumatologist about his gout - it is a 9 month follow-up appointment and he is a little reluctant to go, but we will go, although any prescriptions will be checked with Papworth this time!

Off to do a row or two of knitting whilst I watch the news.

Flush and go!

Have you "been" this morning?  

On our travels to Aberystwyth this weekend, the EFG and I saw an advert, on the back of the toilet doors in the service station, for an organisation about Toilet-twinning

Public latrine in Ethiopia
(image Louise Thomas/Tearfund from the website)

It costs £60 to twin your loo, and the money goes to support people in developing countries to improve their toilet sanitation.  I think it is a very worthwhile cause, and one that would benefit from more support.

We don't realise just how lucky we are - we live on a property with four loos, as there is one outside in the workshop as well as the three in the house [one downstairs, one bathroom, one en-suite] and so there is never a queue, never a hassle.  We don't walk miles to get to a loo.

Not having access to a loo can bring all sorts of social and health problems - as well as the obvious contamination of water issues.  Apparently, women and girls are at risk of attack when they are vulnerable, squatting outside somewhere, and that is a horrific thought for me.

I'm going to look at doing some fundraising to "twin" our church loo, and I want to think about how I can begin to work on setting aside some cash to twin some of our own loos here.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Harvest Supper

The FH and I have had a lovely evening at the chapel Harvest Supper with UJ and loads of other folk from the chapel and the surrounding areas.  We have raised £401 for the chapel, and had a good time to boot!  From the shopping for the food, to the organisation of the room, to making up a quiz and supporting the FH to run the auction of produce, it has been one thing after another today, and I am shattered!  Off to bed to dream about the interviews for a new teacher in the morning - hopefully the last new appointment for some time, if they all stay put for a while now!

Aldi voucher news

Just read on the Aldi Facebook page that there will be a £5 off when you spend £40 in Aldi voucher available in the Daily Mirror on Thursday this week.  I have noticed that these vouchers are often valid for a week [slightly longer than the Lidl ones] so if I can organise myself to pick up a paper on Thursday, I will have a voucher for my stock-up trip to Aldi next week.  Bargain, and no catches, and only a reasonable spend required: just what I like!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Having a laugh!

That's what I think someone at that big supermarket you all know I don't like must be doing!  Sitting on my bed in Aberystwyth Friday night, I idly opened the post that the postie had given me as we were leaving here in the morning: a catalogue from The Book People [straight in the bin to avoid temptation] and a letter from Tesco.  I didn't think too much about it as I sometimes get a wee bundle of "personalised" vouchers in the post, so that was what I imagined I had got then.

No.  No such luck.  What I had got was just ridiculous!  An offer for a voucher of £60 off a £110 shop, when I did shopping totalling £110 each week for the next four weeks......words failed me then, and they are only flowing now because I have looked into this!  Even the "reward" shop at the end when I spend the voucher would cost me at least £50...

On the FB page for that shop, there has been quite some feedback, so they should be in no doubt as to what folk think about it all.  To add insult to injury, in a manner of speaking, we haven't all been sent the same offer: some people are reporting having to spend £130 a week for the period to get a £70 voucher, others £80 to get £40 and one person even reports her offer is to spend £150/week to get £75 do they think ordinary people are going to afford to commit these sorts of amounts to one shop in a month?!

Morrison's, on the other hand, have a system of vouchers, where anyone who spends £40 will get a voucher, and one is supposed to collect vouchers from nine different weeks between 7th October and 9th December in order to qualify for a £40 voucher.  The voucher will be collectable in store between 16th and 31st December and must be spent in the same period, and no change will be given.  There does not seem to be a minimum spend, but obviously, if you spend less than £40, you will lose out.

This is a much more sustainable and reasonable scheme, and one in which I would definitely participate if I lived closer to a Morrison's, as £40 each week would be sensible and within reason for us.  Go, Morrison's!

However, since I do not have the luxury of easy access to Morrison's, nor do I wish to spend stupid amounts in that other emporium, I shall be wending my way to Lidl this week for the few bits and pieces we need......good prices all the time with no daft gimmicks.  Probably make a trip to an Aldi next week, as it will be half term, and I shall be doing a stock-up shop.

(image at the top from and at the bottom from

Did you get an offer from that supermarket?  Are you tempted?  Are you participating in the Morrison's voucher scheme?  

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A Special Sunday

Well, it kicked off with a rather long lie-in - it was 10am before I woke up this morning and then I had to dash straight out in my wellies and feed the poor chooks!

The morning passed by in a blur of washing, talking with UJ, chatting with the family about the weekend, having some lunch, and then, as we were chatting again after lunch, I suddenly looked at my watch and realised it was time to get to church, for the Harvest Festival service.  I had prepared the service for the FH and another chap to deliver, but the FH thought I should do his part since I was back, and the other chap didn't turn up until 15 minutes into the service, so I just carried on!

It was a lovely service, with the village brass band playing for the hymns, and having a slot in the middle of the service to play their own selection - It's Raining Men, Love Story, something from How to Train Your Dragon and then Born Free to round it off - they were magnificent and we were very proud of them all!

This evening, I have finally had a chance to catch up on a few rows of my knitting, and I have watched Downton Abbey.  UJ has gone home, but he will be back to stay again overnight on Tuesday to come to the Harvest Supper and then the lunch club on Wednesday - he's almost moving in!  We do enjoy him being here, so it is a pleasure to have him stay more often.

I have no appointments until tomorrow afternoon, so I plan to catch up on some housework, and washing [there's always washing to do here!] and then I have a quiz to prepare for the Harvest Supper evening....anyone got any good questions?!

And here's the photo of the prom at Aberystwyth I have been promising - taken yesterday afternoon at about 4pm, just as we were leaving.  The hotel is in that row of houses on the left, and the sea is just the other side of the cars on the right.  Five of the houses are now Halls of Residence, and the noise on a Friday night was, well, as might be expected for a load of students, I suppose - loud!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Home again

I know, I know - we weren't supposed to come home until tomorrow, but when you have seen all you want to see, been to all the talks, driven round the town, seen the sea, and it is pouring down with rain, what else are you to do?!  We have had a busy early part of the day, at the uni by 9.45am and talking to lecturers, visiting labs, listening to talks, etc and collecting a bag full of paperwork and brochures.

By 2.30pm, after being caught in the rain, we were back in our hotel room, and the EFG was reading a magazine whilst she had a snack, and I was reading, sat on the bed with a cup of tea.  I idly suggested that I would be up for coming home, but she convinced me to stay another night, as planned, and then got on with some chemistry homework for an hour.  Just before 4pm, she said, "SHALL we go home?" and we started to gather our stuff!  We were on the road by 4.15pm, and home here by 9pm!

Yes, it would have been nice to enjoy another night in a hotel, relaxing, but actually, the reality to us both was that it was preferable to get home to our family and our own house!  We realised that staying another night would actually be a waste, and so we came home.....

We surprised the FH and the YFG, and UJ, but they were really pleased to see us, which was very rewarding!  The EFG was shattered, and in bed asleep shortly before 10pm.  I am about to nod off too.

There are no photos, as with the rain and miserable weather we had during the day, we didn't take any!  The weather cleared up when we were leaving, and I managed one shot of the prom where the hotel is, so I shall share that tomorrow.  We have both really enjoyed visiting Aberystwyth and it is a definite on her application list, along with Lincoln.....what the other three end up being remains to be seen.

Friday, 18 October 2013

We've arrived!

After a very long journey with multiple stops along the way, we made it!  Arriving in Aberystwyth at 5pm, we checked into the hotel, which is right on the promenade, and I am sure that the rooms at the front of the hotel will be able to hear the sea pounding on the wall of the prom all night!  We are at the back [in a standard, rather than superior] room, so we are looking out at the row of houses behind the hotel, but that isn't a big deal.  We have had a drive round the town, and been impressed with the shops we have seen - far more than I was expecting, and some posh ones, like Laura Ashley and Next, alongside the more down to earth kinds!

We found Morrison's, and had our tea there as it was very reasonable!  We have come back to the room now, and I am chatting to you, and catching up on your blogs, whilst the EFG does some homework.  Later on we are doing to watch a DVD, and read.  I have also brought my knitting so I can do a few rows whilst we watch the film.

We have a full day of talks and tours tomorrow, so we won't be late to bed, and I am tired as driving always makes me sleep well!  We have an appointment to ring  home at 9pm, and I have also had a word with my dad to let him know we arrived safely.

If the weather is halfway decent tomorrow, I shall take some photos to share, so watch this space!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Just hours to go

(image from

Watch out, Aberystwyth - we are on our way! The EFG and I will be leaving here in the morning, and hoping to arrive in the coastal town by late afternoon.

We will have wi-fi access in the hotel so I hope to keep blogging over the weekend, and sharing some photos with you all.  I'm not happy with the weather predictions for the journey tomorrow, as heavy rain is expected to hit us as we drive west, so I am glad I have a new set of tyres on the car!

I have just finished the ironing, have had a shower, and I am off now to pack a bag.

Hope you all have a good weekend xx