Monday, 31 March 2014

Our wee tour of Aberdeen

This photo epitomises Aberdeen for me, and is what I remember from my time there as a teenager - the tall, granite buildings, and the straight streets!

The EFG caught the glow of the setting sun nicely in the one here of the Central Library - this is one of the best pictures.

The Old Aberdeen campus - almost makes me want to go back to uni myself to be able to enjoy glorious architecture like this on a daily basis.

We found a Gold Postbox in Golden Square, not far from the flat, to commemorate a Gold medal won by a local paralympian.

The outside of the new university library is just stunning - somehow brings zebras to my mind!

But look at the contrast of the interior with all these swirling lines...

The house near the top of the picture with the little porch entrance is where the flat is situated.  We had the top two rooms between the two black drainpipes - the near one is the living room and the further one is the bedroom.

Union Street - the main shopping area, and very busy!

His Majesty's theatre is hiding behind that tree.

The flat was very centrally situated and we would have been able to take our pick from performances at the Music Hall and theatre, as well as going to the library, if we had stayed longer.  Lots of good cultural points for the city, and the whole place is very clean - street sweepers still exist in Aberdeen.

Sunday, 30 March 2014


We have brought home a very respectable haul of medals from the competition - 13 entrants have accumulated 10 gold, 5 silver and 9 bronze medals between them, and the Head Coach and I were extremely proud of them all today!

It has been a long day, on top of a very busy week, so I am about to go to bed, because it feels much later than the clock is telling me that it is - lots of stuff to share this week with photos of Aberdeen still on the camera, so I will be back - when I have recovered!  A hot bath is calling out to me......I have had showers all week and a Mother's Day treat of a relaxing bath is definitely mine tonight!

Hope you have had a great weekend!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Gymtastic weekend on the cheap

Having had a couple of nights away with the EFG, I am now going away overnight with the YFG as we have to be with gymnasts from the club for a competition in Hertfordshire early tomorrow morning - so the Head Coach has paid for a room for the YFG and I in a hotel so that we don't have to travel at the crack of dawn tomorrow.  We'll be leaving the EFG in charge here, with the FH, and I think that they will be fine.  The EFG has plenty of work and revision to be catching up on, and the FH is a lot happier and has slept much better since I have been home from Aberdeen.  All his problems seem worse to him when I am away, so I just hope he can manage one night - we should be home by about 6.30pm tomorrow evening.

You would not believe the farce with my car window - last Monday the Autoglass chap turned up with the wrong colour glass, and then another one came yesterday afternoon, with glass the right colour but for the front window not the rear, so consequently the wrong shape!!  He is coming back Sunday afternoon and promises to bring the right stuff! Certainly hope the third time will be the lucky one....

I am so looking forward to Monday - to being home and settled and not having to think about going away again for a while!  Getting back to normal routines, and looking back at the month and seeing what we have achieved - the end of the month review will come round very soon.

Hope you all have a great weekend - and thank you very much for all the responses about the student life - we will have a little review of them all next week.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Blink and you miss it!

Apparently that is what I did yesterday!  A few days away from proper internet access, and I missed out on the Aldi voucher for the month - I hope that some of you managed to get one and benefit from it anyway... I won't really miss it this week as I have another of those "Spend £30 and get £10 off" vouchers from that other place, and I won't really have time to get to Aldi this week either.  Sometimes life is like that, eh?!

The EFG has bitten the bullet and accepted the conditional offer of a place at Aberdeen - hooray!  Now we are going to have to enter the murky world of student finance and managing on a small budget.  I did nearly have a fit in one of the talks when the woman was telling folk that the students should budget to spend £60 a week on food per person in the self-catering residences - I soon told the EFG that she would be finding strategies to live more cheaply than that!  We will be looking into that, and to bus passes and all sorts of other exciting things in the months ahead - if there are other parents out there with children at uni already or about to go like the EFG, I'd love to hear from you, and please share any money-saving ideas you have!!

Thursday, 27 March 2014


We have had our busy day at the uni in Aberdeen, and it was a tiring time, but so exciting! We went to talks, the EFG went on a tour of some of the accommodations, and she had the chance to speak to lecturers from the department.  She is now fairly clear that she will accept the place here as her firm choice.

The flat is brilliant, and I can see us using it again as I am sure I shall have to visit once or twice in the four years that she will be here. We have photos to share when we get home. I am not well acquainted enough with this tablet to be able to do that on here!

Things are not brilliant at home and the gang back there are missing us dreadfully, unfortunately, so I know they will be glad to have us home tonight. They are having a treat tonight and UJ and the YFG will be picking up fish suppers from the best shop in the town after her piano lesson tonight.

I have had a bit of a break from everyday life, spent time with the EFG, read a couple of books and even started some crochet. Back to reality tonight!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Aberdeen ahoy!

We have arrived in Aberdeen!  The flat is warm and cosy, just perfect for the two of us.  We have had a snack and are now organising ourselves for tomorrow, so googling a local map is the next job.  Unexpectedly we have WiFi in the flat so we'll be able to blog now and again....

Monday, 24 March 2014

How was I to know?

The chap from Autoglass got here around 6pm, and sprang the bad news on me: I told the phone operator that my car had clear glass in the windows, but it was actually green tinted glass.  All looks clear to me, so how would I have known?!  He was very nice about it and we have it all rescheduled for Friday now when someone will come with an appropriate piece of green tinted glass........

Been going round like the proverbial fly today and quite shattered [yes - pun intentional, sorry!] and I think I have just about covered everything that needs to be done before we head off to Aberdeen tomorrow.....We caught a tiny bit of Alistair McGowan on The One Show talking about accents, and he was in Aberdeen - apparently, those living there call it "Ebber-deen", not "Abba-deen" as we have been pronouncing it!  Accents are fascinating, but I shall have to remember that we are the ones with the accents when we get there - even the EFG can only claim to have been born in Kirkcaldy, and that's a good few miles from the Granite City.  We are just a wee bit excited!!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

A little mystery

Back in 2011, I posted about a planned power cut we were due to experience and I am quite mystified as to why this should be my second most popular post ever.  Particularly because we are going to have another planned power cut tomorrow!  From 8am until about 2pm, the electricity supply will be off whilst the power company organise the trimming of some trees close to power lines - so once again, no computer - but also no iron, no hoover, no washing machine, no lawn mower - mmmm!  Sounds good, don't you think?!  Of course, I can still cook on the gas hob, sweep and mop the floors, clean the bathrooms, and wash the windows, so I guess there will be enough to do to keep busy.

I may even get around to the crochet I didn't do today: I went to church, came home and made lunch, then I cleaned out the chickens in between the showers, and my dad and MB then arrived back with one very shattered YFG!  The eight miles she had walked today has completely done her in, and she is very tired tonight, with aching legs and a blister or two....they found some pub toilets so didn't have to resort to bushes on this occasion...

The FH's son has been asking me about family tree research as he has apparently found his dad born in Bedford, which he most certainly was not.  Must be someone else with the same first name and initial but now he wants to know more so I am going to have to resurrect my genesreunited we go!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Duke's Walk

The YFG has had a day at school today training for her Duke of Edinburgh award scheme expedition - she has come home full of information and experiences from the day and is looking forward to going out again tomorrow, into the field, so to speak, to put some of the training into action.  She will be going on a seven mile walk not too far from here, and will be out for most of the day.  I'm just hoping her walking boots are well broken in!

We had a laugh this afternoon when she got home as she has been told that on the expedition, she will have to either "go" in the bushes during the day, or politely ask at a pub if she can use their facilities...she's wondering now about whether we should investigate a She-wee!  I don't know what she will think of next!!

Anyway, I'm feeling a bit rough with a cough and cold so I have an appointment with my crochet hook and some yellow wool tomorrow afternoon, as my dad is kindly bringing the YFG home again after her walk.  He will hopefully take some eggs home when he goes as we are getting 15-20 a day and I now have three trays on the side in the utility room...note to self to get oven sorted out so that I can bake some cakes for the freezer whilst we have a glut of eggs.  I will be putting two turkey drumsticks in the slow cooker to make tea tomorrow and I am looking forward to that.

Hope you are all having a good weekend xx

Friday, 21 March 2014

Just a foot

The day was going quite well, and I picked the YFG up from school and headed off to gymnastics up the road.  Travelling along a fairly straight piece of road at about 50mph, I was chatting away with the YFG when all of a sudden there was an enormous bang behind me and I thought something had hit the car from behind.

The rear side door window right behind me had broken - it had a huge hole in it and the glass in the window was totally shattered.  In shock, my first reaction was to pull over and put the hazard warning lights on, but I only sat there for a minute because the damaged window was obviously on the road-side of the car and it was too dangerous to get out and do anything there because the road was too busy.  I crept along and turned off at the next opportunity, onto the road which heads home.  I was able then to pull over into a haulage yard and stop to think, and try to stop shaking!  I rang the FH and he advised us to come home slowly, but I carefully pushed the glass out of the window and into the car before I moved off again, because I was worried about it flying out and hurting anyone.

We made it home, and I called the insurance company.  They put me through to Autoglass who should be coming out to repair it, but I haven't received an email from them yet....the glass will be in the depot on Monday so it won't be repaired at least until then.

We eventually made it to gymnastics, much later than we should have been, and the head coach wasn't exactly chuffed that he had had to do all the setting out on his own, but we had tried to contact him in a variety of ways to no avail, so we just had to explain when we got there.

We can only presume that something either flew off a vehicle moving in the opposite direction, or such a vehicle threw a stone up.  I am just relieved that it wasn't a foot further forward that it hit or it would have been my window and I have no idea how I would have reacted to that.  I am also glad that it didn't happen on the same stretch of road yesterday when I had both girls in the car, as one of them would have been in the back of the car.  I have a £75 excess on glass on the car insurance policy so I have had to pay that and have no hope of getting it back from anyone - it was just an accident, and I have no idea how it happened.

What a day!  In twenty years of driving I have never had anything as dramatic or as frightening happen to me before, so I hope it is the only thing in the next twenty years as well, as I can do without that kind of drama!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Pieces of paper

The EFG and I have both come home from the Slimming World club clutching our Half Stone awards!  She has actually lost 10lbs now and I am so proud of her - she is doing very well.  I just scraped the 7lbs target to get the award, but I was pleased to have done that well because I lost 2.5lbs this week - more than I expected to lose.   Off to get our tea now!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Halfway there

Being just over halfway through March, I sat down this morning and had a look at the spending/saving charts to see how we are getting on.

(image from

March is shaping up well so far, with the spending columns looking a little leaner than they have been in the first two months of the year, and actually, the Slimming World plan is doing some good in that I am buying less "unhealthy" food and we are eating more fruit and veg out of the freezer, so there is now at least some wiggle room in the biggest of the freezers.  The FH's continuing stewed fruit breakfasts are also helping with that - he has worked his way through lots of redcurrants, blackcurrants and blackberries - doing him the world of good, too!

Spending on books, gifts and DVDs has also been kept under control, mostly because we have been restrained and there haven't been any birthdays much at this time of the year for which we would buy significant gifts.  The YFG is getting the Hunger Games DVD but that was promised months ago as a reward for passing the Grade 2 piano exam, and I can't begrudge her that - she has just had to wait until it came out.

Fuel costs have come down in recent months - the FH is having about £20 of petrol each month, which keeps his car ticking over, as he rarely goes out of the village in it, and mine is probably having about £80 of diesel each month, which is not bad going considering all the trips I make to gym, to chapels elsewhere and to various meetings.  I would like to use the car less in the village, but the EFG's bike is not in good shape at the moment, and that is the one I would use.

The expenses for the train trip to Aberdeen have been put on the Sainsbury's card, which is getting me valuable extra Nectar points.  The bill will be paid off in full at the end of the month, just like we do all the cards each month.  Two of them are rarely used now, so I am thinking about cancelling them.

And savings?  Well, not a lot so far but I have managed to get a couple of hundred pounds lodged in a little savings pot until the new ISA season opens and I can transfer it over to the ISA.  I have earned a little this month from gym coaching, so that is a bonus.  I was recently offered a position through an agency prepared to pay £20 an hour, but when I considered it realistically, the amount of travelling I would have had to do would have been a big issue, and being out of the house between 4 and 8 or 9 every evening would also have wreaked havoc on family life here as well as our other commitments.  It just wouldn't have worked, so I passed that opportunity up, somewhat sadly, as it would have been fun, and good to earn a little more.  The costs to the family were just too great - would have been more achievable with less travelling perhaps.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Stars in their Eyes

Who remembers a tv programme of that name where contestants were dressed up to look like their favourite star and then they appeared through a misty portal to sing their hearts out as their character?  It was a Saturday night favourite in our house when I was younger - I think Matthew Kelly presented it for a time.

They used to say, "Tonight, Matthew, I am ........"

All I can say is that today, folks, I have been:
Chief cook and bottle-washer, cleaner, chauffeur, nursemaid, waitress, coach, mediator, finance expert, laundress, chicken-wrangler, egg collector and sorter, travel agent, tea maker, and message taker.  Been a long day.

Favourite post of the day today is from the Quince Tree blog where Sue talks about cakes being good enough.  Right with you on that one, Sue.  You can have too much of a good thing when it comes to making bakes look something they aren't - it should be more about the taste!

Weather report today from the Fens - started off promising until some showers blew in and then the washing got wet.......sunny with showers as the weather folk like to put it.

Off to bed with an old Katie Fforde book that I shall hope to manage a chapter or two from before I nod off.  Cheerio xx

Monday, 17 March 2014

Planning with your kitchen equipment!

After preaching yesterday, I went into a supermarket nearby for some fresh fruit and vegetables and thought on the spur of the moment, that it would be an idea to have a roast chicken, so I found a lovely plump bird for £6, a large one, and added that to the basket and headed for the checkout.

Driving home, my mouth was almost watering at the thought of this chicken roasted for tea last night, and then the bombshell hit me and I remembered!  The oven is has been dying bit by bit for some time, and it died on me completely one day last week when I had a couple of things in there and they just never quite got hot, so I had to fire up the little mini oven and cook them one at a time.

You know that me and cash are not parted in a hurry, and so I haven't been very swift to get this oven replaced.  [I know it is beyond repair - don't go there.]  I'm sure I told you when it died, and I have been thinking about the options on and off ever since.  I'm still undecided...

But I do have moments when I forget!

So plan B last night was a baked potato in the little oven and today we have had the chook cooking away in the slow cooker all day - and the aromas filling the house have been so appetising!  We have eaten about a third of the chook tonight, with steamed veggies and potatoes roasted in the little oven, and the other two thirds of the meat is in tupperware pots in the fridge, a pot for tomorrow and one for Wednesday.  We shall eat at least 12 meals between the 4 of us from this chook and make it very good value for money.  The thing that I love about slow cooking a chicken is that the meat just falls off the bones and all I am left with is a little parcel of bones!  I shall hop over to Allegra's blog and check out her Rubber chicken posts for some inspiration for the rest of the week.

I've cut the front and back lawns this morning, strimmed the edges at the front, swept the stairs down, helped the FH with his jigsaw, taken the EFG to an after-school appointment, collected 19 eggs in this afternoon, and I am about to go and do some Faith & Worship work now......early to bed tonight as well, I think!

Stocking up

I've been quite careful in the shops this weekend, because I knew I had this lot on the way!  Approved Foods send me emails constantly, telling me all about the special offers!  Most of the emails go straight to the "bin" as I just don't want to order stuff every week.  Mostly, it has been a 6-8 week arrangement, sometimes stretching out to three months, and very occasionally more often.

Crisps for the YFG's lunch box snack, popcorn for a treat, dried fruit for cakes, silverskin onions, jams and chocolate buttons [only 4 packets!].  That's the treats.  They get hidden away and rationed out.

This is the serious part of the stash!  15 packets of 4 sachets of cup-a soups for the FH's lunches.  Lots of cat food at very good prices, three tubs of cheesy biscuits for the chapel, salad cream, a huge bag of custard powder, and some loo roll - there are four packs there, hidden away, at £2.99 each.

There's a lot of custard there, but the FH is having stewed fruit from the freezer each morning for his breakfast, served with half a sachet of instant supermarket custard @15p/packet.  I thought that this enormous 3.5kg pack might work out more cost effective.  We shall see.

Sometimes I buy more treats, other times I buy more food which forms the basis for meals, occasionally I get cat food, I always buy Nouvelle if they have it!  They limited it to 4 per order or I would have bought more - it is £5/pack in most stores now.

Are you an Approved Food customer?  Do you have anything like that in your country if you are not in the UK?  Some of the food is past its "best before" date, but a lot of it isn't - the Jacob's crackers are in date until November!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Daffodils and woodpiles

This morning I had a glorious drive through the Fens on my way to preach at a chapel in the northern part of the area.  I passed all these beautiful daffodils on my way there, and resolved to take some pictures on my way home.

Those above are just in the grass verge.

Both banks of this river are lined with daffodils for over a mile - it looks just stunning and my poor wee camera on my phone just cannot capture the joy of the flowers nodding in the breeze.

And here, a road leading in and out of this village has been lined with daffodils on both sides - such is the glory of the countryside around here at this time of year - just beautiful.  Seeing all this lovely yellow made me think of my Mum and of Freddie, as the daffodil reminds me of both of them.

And then this afternoon, I spent two and a half hours in the sunshine, wheelbarrowing this load of wood in to the dry shed to season over the coming months before we get around to burning it.
My back and shoulders ache, my thighs ache from squatting down to place it in the heaps in the shed, and my hands are a bit sore too!

This young lady [hatched last year] kept her beady eye on me the whole time, until she disappeared off to lay an egg!

That's been my Sunday so far - I have bunged some potatoes in the oven to bake, and I have some ironing to conquer, and then I might watch Shetland on the iPlayer since I missed it last Tuesday.

Hope you have had a lovely day too xx

Saturday, 15 March 2014

I've bought myself...

a whole heap of work today!!

The chap that we get logs from for the fire has been and delivered a trailer load of logs that still need to dry out some more before they are ready to burn next autumn and winter.  I have filled two huge builder's tonne bags with them, and now I have to stack them in the dry to season.......that'll be tomorrow afternoon's job!  No need for me to do any exercise DVDs tomorrow with all the lifting and carrying I shall be doing with that.  They cost me £80, which is what he was charging last year, so I am grateful that his prices haven't escalated in line with everything else that is going up.  We had two loads from him last year, and we have probably still got at least one load left because the winter was so mild that we haven't burnt as much as we thought we might.  I might grab a photo of the heaps before I start on them tomorrow.

The EFG is out babysitting tonight and the FH has taken himself back to bed with his jigsaw.  He has been up today for a good while, the first time since Wednesday.

I have to take a service tomorrow, so I am off to have a bath now, and then read until the EFG gets back.  Can't be up too late when I have to be bright-eyed and bushy tailed in the morning as they say!

Hope you are all having a restful weekend with your families and friends xx

Friday, 14 March 2014

Just numbers

Didn't realise I hadn't been here for two days!  Sorry, folks!  Real life gets in the way sometimes :)

Numbers - some good ones to share today: I finally, and with just days to spare, filled the ISA for the year.  I haven't been able to make much headway with the savings this year with the expenses which have been coming at me from all directions so far, but I managed to trickle the last few quid into the account to maximise the savings potential for the year.  Phew!

More good numbers - I went to the weigh-in last night, and recorded a one pound loss, so I have now lost five pounds overall.  We were fairly confident that the EFG would have got her half-stone award last night, but she wasn't well enough to come along and get weighed: I left her on the sofa, chilly under a blanket with a hot water bottle by the fire, yet with a temperature.  Something weird going on there, but she is feeling better this morning and has gone off to school.

Even more good numbers - our chapel money lady has worked out that our Knit and natter mornings raise over £900 a year for the funds!!  We are so pleased to have our ideas and projects validated like that, because it is also about providing a place for these ladies to come and share fellowship, which is a valuable service to the village.  To raise that much as an aside is fantastic.

Surprising numbers now - that other supermarket will be getting my business for a few weeks because I have received vouchers from them that are just too good to pass up.  Better than the Aldi vouchers in the papers, even.  They offer me savings of £10 off when I spend £30 each week for four weeks.  I went last night after the weigh in, and I used the £10 off to buy myself the latest Katie Fforde novel, just out at £9, for my Mother's Day gift from the girls.  I brought it home, gave it to the EFG and instructed her to wrap and stash it till the end of the month.  Now, sensible me knows that that wasn't a very good use of the saving, and it would have made more sense to have bought food with the dosh, but actually, we all deserve a treat now and again, just in moderation.  That'll be it until my birthday in September........

Not numbers now, but a really good post - please hop over to Frugal Queen and read what she shares about sharing frugal ideas with others - what an inspirational post!  Fab reading.  I didn't watch the programme she mentions, because I wanted to watch Line of Duty on BBC2 [getting gripping now we are near the end] but I think I shall find it on the iPlayer and watch it there.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


There are some amazing people out there in Blogland......and I have to say a huge and public THANK YOU tonight to one of them.

She read about the YFG's need of all sorts of paraphenalia for her Duke of Edinburgh expedition, and she has so very kindly sent us a parcel today, containing a rucksack, which she said her son had used for his expedition and was no longer using, and so the YFG was welcome to it.

It arrived this afternoon, well-wrapped up, and so I took a pair of scissors to the wrapping very carefully, and uncovered a lovely, good-as-new 55litre rucksack.  Picking it up off the table though, I exclaimed to the FH, "Blimey, it's heavy empty - however will she lift this when it is full of her stuff?"

Answer - it wasn't empty!  The lovely lady had packed it full of things!  There were two mess tins for eating and cooking in camp, and presents for the rest of us too.  The FH was almost in tears to think that this unknown-to-him lady had thought of him and sent him a parcel of posh teabags and shortbread biscuits, I was thrilled to unwrap some gorgeous lavender soap and a Slimming World recipe book, and then, this evening, the EFG was delighted with a beautiful journal and a little butterfly with an inscription on it encouraging her to dream her dreams big!  And there's more - there was also a smaller rucksack tucked inside - probably big enough for a day's walking bits and pieces - lunch, drinks, waterproofs, etc - all matching the big one.

This lady is one of my most regular commenters and supporters, and I am so very grateful for this amazingly kind and generous gesture towards us, I just can't think how to express it all!  "Thank you" seems woefully inadequate.  It is very heartfelt, though.  There are some wonderful people in the world.  Thank goodness.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Savers, spenders

Just now and again, people like me who save money just have to spend the flipping stuff!  I am glad that I have spent the last two years saving like mad, because it is already shaping up to be a bit of a spendy year here, and it is only March.   However, because I have been in the very fortunate position of being able to save, I do have some money to make the necessary purchases.

There's been the expenses of the train trip to Aberdeen, coming up at the end of the month:  I secured train tickets for two of us, one with a 16-25 railcard, for £205, by buying Advance singles from East Coast's website.  I managed to get the accommodation, a one bedroom [but two beds] flat for £130 for the two nights, so I have had to spend £335 on that trip already.  There will be a taxi from the station to the flat when we arrive, and there will be some food spends too, so they all have to be considered.

The grill died sometime last year, but I didn't worry about it much.  Unfortunately, the main oven seems to have gone the same way tonight, so I have had to look at electric double ovens, and it seems that that is going to be about another £300 or so, with fitting, and disposal of the old one.  Now it has come to it, I can't put this replacement off too much longer, and will have to do some serious measuring and researching this week.

Alongside that, the house is in dire need of some redecorating, so that needs thinking about.  The daft builders used MDF for the skirting boards and architraves, though, so I am not sure how well that will sand down for preparing to repaint: I was very cross when I discovered what they had done when we moved in, but I suppose it was cheaper....but we do love wood.

I made the commitment to take the EFG to Slimming World for the six months prior to her departure for uni, and that is costing me £9,90 a week, so nearly another £40 a month from the budget, but actually, that is very worthwhile, and she is already reaping the benefits of this programme - I do hope she gets her half-stone award this week.

Some decluttering and selling off of surplus possessions is definitely on the cards for this year, and perhaps that will help to redress the balance somewhat.  I have some gymnastics coaching on the go this term and hopefully that will put some of the Aberdeen trip cash back in the bank when I am paid at the end of the set of sessions.  Perhaps there will be more work coming my way, and if it fits in with the FH, I will go for it!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Good day

Long day though.  Walking around Cambridge, EFG firmly in charge.  Bright sunshine.  Daffodils everywhere.  People sitting on the grass in the parks, enjoying the weather.  YFG enjoyed her course.  Huge shopping centres, not so great....home to the FH and a baked potato, followed by a short nap!  Ironing, Call the Midwife, knitting, bed.

Night, all x

Sunday gallery

A quick round up of some of the jigsaws that the FH has tackled this week.

This one above is a lovely seasonal one, and one of the round ones which challenge him a little!  It is a glorious picture and one he enjoyed doing.  We borrowed this one from the chapel jigsaw group.

This one also came from the chapel group and is called "The Old fox of Glencoe" but there are 5 foxes in the picture.  Unfortunately, there seem to be a couple of pieces of this one missing, which we will mark on the box for the next person.  This was a very challenging picture with all the muted colours of the heather-clad hills, and the tree was rather tricky too!  Unusually for the puzzles he has been doing lately, this one was not fully interlocking, so he found that hard going as some pieces just lay up against others.

This one is from my charity shop haul when I went to Ely a few weeks ago.  The photograph looks better than the actual puzzle - the pieces are quite regular and look almost like tiles - the FH thought it was similar to bricklaying as the rows built up in the same way.

I have been given the gift of an extra hour this morning as the EFG has been taken to Cambridge by the other girl's mother - there are two of them on the course - and I am going shortly to go to the shops with the EFG and then to pick the gym girls up at 4.30pm. 

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Weekend is here

The latest of the FH's creations.

I am pleased that the weekend is here, but actually, I don't seem to be slowing down very much.  I was going round at 7.30am getting breakfast, feeding chooks and throwing washing into the machine.  The girls came to gymnastics with me, which kept us busy until 1pm, and then I had to nip to that other place to get some items which I can't source elsewhere locally.  I do keep looking though.

Once home again at about 2pm, I rebooted the washing and hung some white shirts up to dry, fed the chooks again and collected the eggs, got changed and nipped off to a new women's fellowship meeting.  The aim is for women of my age -they said 30-60 roughly - to have an opportunity to get together occasionally, perhaps once a quarter.  It was nice, but actually, as I shared with one of the ladies I knew as we were leaving, I haven't got time to sit around drinking tea for 90 minutes, unless I am getting something from it - a challenge, instruction of some kind, etc.  I hadn't seen the FH all day, and it would have been lovely to sit and natter with him for 90 minutes, rather than go and spend the time away from him.  The lady I mentioned this to does hope that the group will develop when we have the next meeting in June, and perhaps we can look at some scripture together, or discuss a particular topic, which I would find more worthwhile.  We'll see.

This evening, I have had a relaxing little blog hopping session.  Then I found an email from The Book People offering me 12% off books today, so I went and had a look around, and put £24 worth of books in a basket, that I thought I would like.  I was tempted.  But I didn't!  I just closed the web page.  Deleted the temptation and moved on.  Actually, I moved on to Rightmove to investigate smaller houses in this area....we're not moving at the moment, but the time will come when this house will be too big and I will have to consider downsizing quite a bit, so I thought I would have mooch around and see exactly what the local smaller houses look like, and wonder how on earth I would fit our lives into a smaller box.  And whilst I have been doing all that, I have also been texting with the FH's son, who is having bother with his mother, and who hopes to come to see the FH tomorrow whilst I am out, and probably bring him some more jigsaws, including a 3D one, which will be a first for the FH.

Tomorrow I am off to Cambridge with the EFG to occupy ourselves in the shops whilst the YFG is on her course.  The EFG has money from babysitting and has worked out exactly what she wants from various shops, so I shall be along as the porter to carry the bags.  No spare cash in my budget for Cambridge prices.  She has promised to keep me out of the bookshops.........

Friday, 7 March 2014

I survived

I can't tell you how nervous I was today, giving a talk at the Women's World Day of Prayer service in our little area.  There were Church of England ladies there from three parishes, and ladies from our Methodist chapel and one other.  I am quite happy preaching in the Methodist chapels around here, but suddenly facing about 30 ladies from another denomination as well suddenly had me in a little bit of a cold sweat.  There was no reason for it, save for the fact that I know my way of preaching works in the Methodist chapels that I visit, and I was apprehensive as to how I would go down in the CofE tradition.  There were however several faces that I knew from the local villages, even though I didn't know that those ladies went to local churches. One lovely lady was the one who gatecrashed my 40th birthday party in the nicest possible way, and another is the mother of a boy we coach at the gym club.  Anyway, I survived, and several ladies came up to me afterwards and said that they had either just enjoyed the talk or that it had given them things to think about, both of which seem like good responses to me.  Thank goodness for that :)

We are hosting it next year at the chapel, and the service will be written by the Christians in the Bahamas......I think that will be interesting and challenging at the same time and I am looking forward to it already.  I shan't be the speaker next year, but I have to help organise the whole thing!

Apart from that, I spent the morning knitting the EFG's scarf at the Craft Club, and then I went to gymnastics after the service so today has been packed with one thing and another.  The FH has remained upstairs again today, snoozing and doing his jigsaws.  It seems to suit him to have his feet up on the bed but I am not entirely happy with him spending so much time alone upstairs.  I shall have to think about a way around this one as I don't want him becoming reclusive and miserable.  I am already concerned as the girls and I are going to gym in the morning and then the YFG has a gym course all day in Cambridge on Sunday, so the EFG and I are taking advantage of the trip to have a little poke around the shops, which I do not entirely approve of on a Sunday, but that is when the course is and I have no choice over that.  I have to while away 6 hours....there may be time to pop to the Fitzwilliam Museum in the afternoon - I love it there.  But the FH will be alone from 8.30 until at least 5, which I don't like.

As I have shared on Sue's blog comments, I bought Jack Monroe's book when it came out, and I am looking forward to sharing how we get on with some of the recipes very soon.  The Slimming plan is making us try new recipes too, so all in all, we are shaking up the menu around here quite a bit, but trying to keep the budget under control alongside all the changes.

Hope you all have a great weekend xx

Thursday, 6 March 2014

All the World Days

Today has been World Book Day and tomorrow is Women's World Day of Prayer - it seems that the powers that be are trying to gather us together to one purpose on some of these days.

I daren't buy another book really, although there are several that I have my eye upon....the YFG brought home four of the WBD free vouchers, because her friends didn't want them.  She was quite incredulous - it means she can get £1 off each of four books, and she has ideas about the ones she might like - I'm so pleased that my absolute joy of reading has successfully been passed on to both of my girls.  Both of them are often to be found reading at day's end, reluctant to turn off the light until they have reached the end of the chapter - I know just the feeling!

I am speaking at a church meeting for WWDP tomorrow, my first time for this occasion, and I am not sure what to expect.  The meeting is being held at the Church Rooms of our local CofE establishment, as their church is a bother to heat, and they want to serve refreshments afterwards anyway.  My sincere thanks to Ang for her support and encouragement in my preparation.  I spent a very peaceful couple of hours tucked up on the sofa with my books and papers around me this morning, writing the talk and then typing it up.  I know most other speakers probably had their talks organised weeks ago, but I am rather a last minute kind of person these days.  There just often isn't time to do it any earlier as I am busy doing things that need doing NOW.......such is life!

Today, I've mostly pottered about, doing this and that, and generally having a day at home, until I had to fetch the EFG home from school.  She had stayed to do an afterschool revision session and so she was too late for the school bus, and Mum's taxi had to come to the rescue.

We went in to the Co-op to buy a box of chocolates for an older lady at the chapel whose birthday is tomorrow.  I have to admit that there were a few offers on which I took advantage of, because I was confident that these were the best prices around.  Nouvelle toilet tissue, at £3 for 9 rolls, is something I always look for on offer, because I won't buy it at the full price of £5, but we like it and our septic tank likes it too, so we tend to use it most of the time.  Three packs of that, probably the last three in the shop, went into the trolley.  Branston beans, 4 packs for just over £1.30, three of those fell into the trolley easily, because they are usually over £2, although I had seen them recently for £1.50 somewhere.  I knew that this was a good price, and so I stocked up, as we had just about run out.  Knowing your prices is key to this kind of shopping, and it really helps.

And finally, we went to Slimming World for our weigh-in.  After my 4lb loss last week, I stayed the same, but I am so proud of the EFG: she lost just one pound last week, but this week she has recorded a five and a half pound reduction!!  She was very happy afterwards, and really keen to carry on now, although she had had a few doubts in the week.  The lady told her that she only needs to lose another half a pound and she will have her first half-stone award, so she has something to work towards and look forward to now.

We are looking towards the weekend AGAIN - I can't believe how quickly the months are flying past and before long it will be time to change the clocks again.  Another day closer to summer and another one with no snow and ice here, so lots to be grateful for........hope you are all well, and I'll hope to see you tomorrow x

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

You are spared

I am not going to waffle on tonight as it has been a long day and I am tired.  Can't really think straight so I am off to bed with my cup of tea and a book to read for 10 minutes - I am sure I shall be asleep shortly.  Night, all xxx

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Not a pancake in sight!

Well, I thought I would be different!

There are lots of posts in my blogroll tonight about pancakes, but we haven't had them here tonight - the YFG and the FH made themselves some mini-doughnuts with the doughnut cooker machine whilst the EFG and I were out at gymnastics, so they have had enough fat and sugar to last them a couple of days!

It's been quite a day and I am looking forward to retiring to bed with my knitting shortly - I had the tea cooked and cooling by 8am this morning, and have been to a meeting about my coursework, and taken the FH shopping, and then I went to gymnastics.  The FH wore himself out pushing the trolley around Aldi so he went to do his jigsaw in bed at about 8pm, which meant that the sitting room was quiet with no tv on, and I could phone my friend for a catch up - half an hour later and I had to get off the phone to go and do the washing up.

We are watching less tv nowadays as well - we seem to watch specific shows, but are getting much better at turning it off when there is nothing we want to watch.  Same as yesterday, it means we are getting more done IRL.

And so tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and we are moving in to Lent.  Forty days of what?  Some people would have us believe that Lent is all about going without, abstention and misery.  I like to think of it as a time when I can spend more time trying to get a better handle on the Bible and on Jesus, so I will be doing things to further that aim rather than doing without.  I have been trying to read through the Bible this year with a template of readings I can tick off, but I have missed quite a few lately, so it is my intention to grow a little more diligent with that, and catch up with where I should be.  Easter is such a joyous time in the Christian calendar that spending time in preparation is definitely time well spent.  Ann Voskamp has a downloadable devotional for Lent on her website [link in the sidebar] and so I shall also be spending some time with that.

Haircut in the morning at 10am - it's been six months or more so I am definitely in need of a trim!  I don't really worry too much about getting my hair cut as it spends most of its time up and I don't notice how long it gets, but the trim will cost me £7 so I really ought not to begrudge that as a semi-annual expense.

My friend in Somerset tells me that the waters are going down now, but that a new wave of despair is hitting people as now they are able to actually go to their properties and see the devastation that the water has caused to their houses and their belongings.  I am cross that the news programmes seem to have moved on and forgotten about these people, as their story is still one of heartache and problem after problem.   We remember them and pray for them, and I made as much of a donation as I could afford at the time to a fund for the local people which my friend alerted me to on Facebook.  I am sure that others are thinking of the people in these areas and wishing them well too.

Monday, 3 March 2014


Those three little letters appear occasionally when we are reading internet forums, and in text messages now and you know what they mean?  In Real Life.

Real Life has been more abundant here since the computer broke down, and I am trying very very hard to restrict myself, to not while away hours surfing from one website to another, not to spent ages reading forums, interesting and informative as they are.

I've discovered that I am rather a magpie - I like to collect things, or more precisely, I like to collect Information.  I have more recipe books, more knitting patterns, more instruction and information books than I will ever have time to make use of.  There is so much information out there on the internet now, that my books and texts here are becoming just the tip of the iceberg - and now that Pinterest has popped up, one can index links to more information.

Goodness me, I wonder how I managed without access to all this know what?  I actually DID things, rather than reading about them and collecting information about them!  So I have determined that I will continue what I have started, and DO more and read/collect less information.  I am so pleased that I have finished the YFG's scarf in the last two weeks, and hope to have the EFG's done by the end of the month.

The next project is to crochet some squares with yellow in them to look like daffodil petals in honour of Freddie who was born and died one April not so long ago, and of my mum, whose birthday was in April.  I'm not going to spend hours researching the best pattern, but instead I am just going to find one that looks vaguely appropriate in one of the three [see what I mean?!] crochet books I have got, and I am going to make them.  IRL.  Watch this space and I'll show you what I have made by the end of April.

And you know what else?  The house is just a teeny bit tidier too.  Just a bit.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Mum's gone to...

(image from

Having acquired a voucher for Lidl this weekend, and with a refurbished store recently opening in town, it seemed like a good time to go back to Lidl.  I was very glad that I did!

I couldn't believe some of the prices in there yesterday, especially on the fresh fruit and veg.  Being on a Slimming World plan, we are eating plenty of fresh stuff, so it was a good opportunity to stock up:

Carrots for 39p/bag
Mangoes at 37p each
Savoy cabbages at 29p each - 29p!!
Broccoli for 79p
Iceberg lettuce for 48p - half the price that it is in that other place.
A punnet of pears for 50p
Bag of plums for £1.09
Large bag of British apples for £1.09
Beetroot for 55p/pack
Mushrooms for 42p/carton.

And we bought the YFG a waterproof, windproof Hiking jacket for the Duke of Edinburgh expedition for £14.99, as that helped the total get to £40 for the voucher, and similar jackets we had looked at in an outdoor shop in Ely had been over £30.

We also stocked up on cat biscuits [still the only place I can find them locally for under £1/kg], tinned goods like potatoes, tomatoes, peas, sweetcorn and tuna.  A couple of chocolate biscuit treats for the YFG and FH, and we were done.  Very pleased with that shopping trip, and I shall be going back again.

(image from

I've also been to the Iceland store in town this week - I thought it was time I had a look as I had been hearing such good things about it and it did open before Christmas....I wondered why I had waited so long when I got in there!

The packs of hash browns which the YFG has for breakfast were the same price as the basic versions in Sainsbury but had 100g extra in the packet - well worth noticing.

The fresh selection at the back of the shop was filled with lovely fruit and veggies at very good prices, and I was pleased to see a good variety there - we just bought some broccoli that day but there was lots of choice and it was in good condition.  

With these two shops in this town and a Co-op in the other and occasional side trips to Aldi when I am in the direction, I am all set to minimise the times we go to that other place, and save money as well!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Photo round up

I have been faithfully taking pictures of all the jigsaws that the FH is doing, and this is the latest selection.

Most of these have been lent to him by the puzzle group at the chapel, or I have bought them in charity shops or for a £1 at the surgery, like this one below.

This one below is a celebration of Cadbury's chocolate, and was lent by UJ.

This fabulous one of steam trains came from an older lady at the chapel, and the FH fell upon it with glee!  He absolutely loves trains, and this was right up his street.

Noah's Ark came from our charity shop trawl in Ely last week, and he found it quite hard going.  Some of the pieces are actually shaped like animals.  It is a great picture.

And this is wartime Paddington Station.  The detail in this one is incredible.  That it is wartime is evident by the uniforms, soldiers with kitbags, and sweethearts bidding each other farewell!

The girders in the roof were apparently particularly tricky!

I made the EFG take this photo for me when we walked to chapel Craft Club last Friday as I pass this patch of snowdrops in the car every day and never have time to grab a picture. 

This is the scarf I have just finished tonight for the YFG.  It knitted up quite quickly, which is a relief, since the EFG now wants one too!  This is Rowan Renew recycled yarn and I think it is great.  This colour way is slightly more blue than it appears here, and it is called Diesel.  The EFG's is going to be in Garage, which is more grey in tone.

And finally, this is a lighthearted celebration of the sunny days we have had this week when I have been able to hang the washing outside and revel in the clean fresh smell of line-dried laundry.  You can't bottle it, no matter how hard the conditioner manufacturers try - there is no substitute for FRESH air!

Off to bed with a cup of tea now - been to gymnastics, shopping at Lidl, cleaned out all the chook houses, and made tea, finished the scarf and done three loads of washing.  Time to stop.

Voucher for you

If anyone wants an Aldi voucher from this week's paper [valid until next Thursday], I have a spare one because I have acquired a Lidl voucher which is only valid for this weekend, and actually more convenient for me to spend today!  So I am happy to share the kindness and send the Aldi voucher on to the first commenter who wants it - I will post on Monday.  Hope that it is of use to someone this week.