Wednesday, 30 April 2014

New toys!

Whilst I admit that the kitchen is still rather dusty, and most of the contents of the cupboards are still in the hallway, I am loving the new cooking facilities.  If you are getting a tad bored of my wittering on about the cooker, I apologise, but we feel like we have a new toy, and it has been many weeks since we had a working big oven in the Fens here!

Today I cooked a big turkey leg from Morrison's, and it was lovely - the oven cooked it to perfection and we enjoyed it for our supper.  I am eyeing up some cake recipes too, so that I can get the cake tins out and give the oven a go with my favourite Victoria sponge recipe - that will be the real test.  If it can bake a good sponge, I will be over the moon.  The FH is hoping for a fruit cake, and since I bought some rum-soaked dried fruit from AF, he does have reason to hope.  Perhaps at the weekend, I will make a couple of fruit cakes and bake some potatoes for our supper at the same time - I love very slow baked potatoes the best.

Not a penny spent again today, and another £2 earned from egg selling, so keeping the purse quite tightly closed.  This month has been a tricky one in all sorts of ways, but we are heading into May with positive thoughts.  I know that we have spent a decent chunk of money this month, but the bulk of the credit cards are already paid back on the kitchen spend, and I just have to wait for the invoice from the gas fitter now to clarify the whole picture of how much the revamp has actually cost.

May will bring the YFG's practice Duke of Edinburgh weekend, when the rucksack will have its first outing, RQ, and she will be hoping not to get too many blisters on her feet.  I am having a day out to myself when I attend a district Day called The Big Pray near Bury St Edmunds - so for those of you who remind me to take some time for me, that covers that - thank you for the encouragement, and I am really looking forward to it. In the unlikely event that there are any other East Anglian Methodists reading this, if you are coming to the Big Pray, then let me know and we can say Hello when we get there!  I am also looking forward to spending more time in the garden and getting even more seeds sown.  The ones I planted some time ago are all through and need potting up....a gardener's work is never done!

Thanks for sharing another month with us in the Fens - it has been good to read your comments, and many of you comment often now, so it feels like we are old friends!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Not spending today!

It was a good day for getting stuff done today, and the ironing heap has diminished, whilst more washing has been done and hung out in the verandah.  The weather here has been rather dull and cold today, and not very inspirational.  The EFG and I have been to gymnastics and when I came home, the YFG was making cupcakes in the new oven...


She found the new, clean glass a fascination, and lay on the kitchen floor to watch the cakes rise!  Have to admit that I joined her for a few moments, and it was funny to watch the cakes rising, with little bubbles popping out of the tops of them like tiny volcanoes occasionally!

The kitchen isn't finished yet, but it moves forward slowly.  We are going to paint the ceiling and what exposed walls there are.  Not a lot of walls to paint, but some cobwebs to dislodge first as well.  Still work to do!

Tonight the EFG and I have been doing a 20 minute boxing workout from a Davina DVD, and my legs are feeling it from all the squatting for the bobbing and weaving - it is fun, and it is good to do it together, but I do feel the aches afterwards.  Hopefully we will see the benefit when we get weighed on Thursday...

The benefit of all this activity today is that I haven't spent a penny of money all day, and indeed have actually acquired £3 from selling boxes of eggs to friends.  Hoping for a similar day tomorrow, as I am not going anywhere.  Not spending is about making do sometimes, and I have had a rummage in the freezer for tomorrow's supper - we are going to have a turkey drumstick joint from Morrison's which I bought some months ago, but I know that we will all eat several meals from it, which makes it very good value.

Monday, 28 April 2014

A time to save, and a time to spend

Those lines came to me tonight as I considered the seasons of our lives tonight.  Last year was definitely a time to save, but this year is a time to get things done, and it seems that this means spending.

This morning the gas fitter came to connect up the hob which R put in yesterday, and we thought it was going to be a simple job - the pipe was there, the connectors were there and I could see it all done in less than half an hour.  The call out fee for the first hour from the company was £40 and I honestly thought that was going to be the charge.......

Think again.

The fitter and apprentice were here for over two and a half hours, and there were new fittings and lengths of copper pipes, elbows and soldering going on.  The fitter was a very methodical chap [or you can read that as "slow" if you are not feeling terrible charitable, as I confess I wasn't this morning] and it took f o r e v e r.

The bill will come through the post later this week, and I am expecting it to be three times what I had anticipated.

As I said, it seems to be the season for spending here.

However, the kitchen looks great and it was a bonus to spend some good time with the FH's son at the weekend, who appreciated the meals I cooked him, and eating together around a table.  Simple joys, but ones worth noting and remembering.

I have already warned the girls that we need to take a tighter rein on the finances in May, and we may be looking at a very controlled month indeed - good job I have been saving up the Shop&Scan points for a couple of books I need for my studies from Amazon!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Just a peek

We're not quite finished yet...


We've had a sort of camp kitchen in the verandah today...


The YFG still had hash browns for breakfast, and I cooked a lovely stew in the slow cooker for supper, with mash and veg cooked on the little electric hob!


But here are some glimpses of the new kitchen cooker...


and the sparkly sink in the new worktop.


It's looking good.

Waiting for the gas fitter to come at 9am in the morning and then lots of cleaning to do - dust everywhere!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Real life

Busy with the kitchen preparations and sermon writing, off to gym and shopping, fetching R tonight, and then chapel and kitchen work tomorrow - so you won't see me here this weekend.......until I hope to have some "ta-da" photos for you tomorrow evening - wish us luck!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Not getting things done

All this recuperating I have been doing this week, since Monday, is not boding well for the kitchen makeover on Sunday.......there is still tonnes to do before R can start on the work, and a service to write for Sunday morning.  Unfortunately I haven't ever taken a service the week after Easter so there isn't even one in my folders that I can crib from for a start!

The EFG is off on a school trip and needs to be in school by 8am so I shall be up and at it early in the morning, so there is hope that I might get some things done then!  Off to do the washing up now and head for bed - I am feeling better than I did, but still not firing on all cylinders quite yet!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Sometimes you just can't give stuff away!

In this case - blood!

The EFG tried to make her first blood donation today, and it was a struggle just to get past the dragon on the door [whoops, no, she was a "donor carer"]. These organisations are very good, and we have a great deal of appreciation for the excellent and very valuable work that they do, but when they put the most unwelcoming person at the door, you wonder why you bother!

She hadn't eaten enough, she hadn't drunk enough, I wasn't allowed to help her fill the questionnaire in [I was told off quite sternly - "this is a confidential document and it will be discussed only with the donor, behind a screen, in private"]....I felt most unwelcome, so I left with the YFG!  I felt like saying, "I'm her mother!" but didn't.....

Then the EFG was passed through the system and had good conversations with much, much more friendly nurses, both of whom asked whether her mum was there, so she told them about the incident at the door, and that I had left.  They were politely bemused, she said.  They fed and watered her, and decided that she could give blood after all.

Except they then discovered that her veins are inaccessible, and said that she would not be able to give blood after all, and would have to be taken off the register.

The FH has given over 50 pints, his cousin has made his century and my sister over 25, so she had hoped to carry on in the family tradition.

I cannot give blood, and was quite squeamish even being in the room with all the people hooked up to the blood collection paraphernalia.  I can cope with a little blood, like from a cut but not a quantity in a phial and it all makes me feel sick and faint.  Not good.  I can't even look at the nurse taking blood for blood tests at the doctor's.  Bit useless on that front.  Sorry, folks!

Having said all that, with the FH's history, we are all willing donors for organ transplants after we die, and we would of course recommend that those able to give blood do so if at all possible.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Feeling more like myself again!

Thank you very much for the good wishes - I am feeling a little better today!  Whatever it was, it was exhausting, and I slept on and on yesterday, and then through the night to 8am this morning....but I have taken it slowly today and not done too much.

We have been to gymnastics tonight, but I took both girls with me and did plenty of delegating.  We only did the first session, as usual on Tuesdays, and then popped to the shop for some fresh veg and fruit. Home to a supper cooked by the EFG, which was lovely, and thence to bed - bliss!

Sitting here with the laptop, a heap of books and a cup of tea, with the FH sorting out a puzzle nearby and the girls in their rooms, working and preparing to go back to school tomorrow.  There's a lot to be said for slowing down and taking a bit of time out!

Hopefully be back to normal blogging again tomorrow - the kitchen makeover is set for Sunday now, as most of the items have arrived and the FH's son is working on being free to come over on Saturday evening ready for an early start on Sunday.  Photos should be coming at the weekend if all goes to plan.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Different.....

The sun has been shining, and I have spent most of the day in bed, fast asleep, not well.  Hoping for better day tomorrow xx

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Long and slow

It was worth getting up at 4am to bung the chicken in the slow cooker - it was deliciously well-cooked by 1.30pm this afternoon: moist and falling off the bone just right.  We enjoyed it with cabbage, carrots, broccoli and UJ's home-grown asparagus, followed by a wee treat of Kent strawberries and some blueberries on meringue nests.  

(image from dallasvoice.com)

Then I sat on the sofa and watched The Ten Commandments all afternoon!  Feet up, ever so slightly snoozing....but not quite asleep.  It wasn't the Charlton Heston version, but it was good enough.  The FH and UJ similarly snoozed and then we all enjoyed Songs of Praise, and Countryfile before the FH toddled back to bed and UJ went home, with a jar of lemon curd tucked under his arm. 

 
(image from theguardian.com)

Now I am typing with one eye on The Crimson Field, which is very moving.  

All in all, we have had a good day, and it has been both spiritual and relaxing, so I am very pleased on both counts.  Let's forget the blazing row one of the neighbourhood families had on their front drive for 20 minutes this afternoon..........thank goodness for double glazing, I say!

Happy Easter!

(image from nachi.org)

Not one for the sunrise services, I am afraid, and I don't know that there were any in the circuit anyway, but the morning has dawned wet and dreary - the light is the Light of the World, who is Risen!

The chicken went into the slow cooker at 4am [you see, I did get up early - and came back to bed again!] ready for lunch with UJ later on.  The FH is pottering around, and the girls are still sleeping....

I hope you have a blessed Easter Day with your friends and family, and that it doesn't rain all day!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Different ideas, different places

I watched the Easter service from King's College Chapel in Cambridge this afternoon whilst I did the ironing, and I thought about how things have changed for me.

(image from commons.wikipedia.org)

Many years ago, I was part of a church which began to become a little bit more High Church than it had been - the pomp and ceremony was introduced by a new village vicar with grand ideas, and it changed the place a little.  I've been to the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Scotland, the Baptist Chapel, a mixed Baptist/Methodist/URC congregation since I was last a member of a Church of England congregation, and now I am very firmly settled in the Methodist tradition.  I've always worshipped the same God through it all, but the ways of worshipping have changed with the traditions - the Church of England was quite bound to liturgy, and we said the same prayers and responses week in and week out until we didn't really need the books any longer because we could recite it all!

I caught a comment somewhere on Facebook today about the difference between churches which want to get more people into the churches, and ministries which want to get the churches out into the world.  I think that there is a huge need for the churches to minister in the world, because we have to take God out into the world to the people - and services like the one I watched on tv this afternoon would scare a lot of people well away.  The music was beautiful but rather inaccessible for most, and the Bible readings were from very old translations, full of words like "spake unto" which don't  help attract young people today.  The other thing they used which I didn't find encouraging in particular were ancient poems.  They do have their place, I am sure, and they are right to be respectful of historic Christian thought, but to the person in the street today, they are almost unintelligible.

(image from cumbriaweb.org.uk)

The people that Jesus called to be his disciples were fishermen, plain and simple men who could communicate with other people, not particularly well-educated, but keen enough to spread his word and follow him.  We don't need a doctorate to preach God's Word and to share His love in the world today, and the manual worker, the farm labourer [UJ], the bus driver [my dad] and the cleaner [my mum] need to hear the Word of God in language they can understand just as much as the scientist, the lawyer and the teacher [the FH] do.  Methodism has always been a grass roots denomination and I am clearer in my mind today than I have been before that it is the right place for me.

We have noticed that our Friday morning group which comes together for our Knit and Natter session is as much a congregation as the group which comes together to worship on a Sunday morning; they care deeply for one another, they contribute to charity work and they are very generous with their time and their resources whenever we are fundraising, and these are the ladies who come together to do the chapel cleaning, too, most often!  They support chapel activities, and their fellowship group is a strong one.  Some profess a faith, others don't.  We welcome them all.

As Easter morning approaches, I remember that Christ died for ALL of us, whoever we are.  The churches need to reflect that, and I need to remember to make my services accessible to the whole congregation, whether I am in a town or a rural village.

Mary's thoughts

I found this late last night, and it was too late to share it with you then, so perhaps some will find time to read it today.  Ann Voskamp posted a meditation yesterday on Jesus' on the Cross from his mother's point of view, which I found incredibly poignant and in fact, very emotional too.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Wolf in Sheep's clothing - beware!

(www.theguardian.com)

I was pleased to receive a call yesterday afternoon from the company from which I bought the hob and oven on Thursday.  The chap seemed quite pleasant, if a little too chatty, but he was interested in my feedback on the ease of ordering the products, why I chose those products and how I found the website.

All very nice, and I thought I was getting good customer service.

Then he told me that the products had a lifetime guarantee, and my little antennae started wiggling.  A lifetime guarantee on a hob and a cooker?  That sounded a little too good to be true....

He then proceeded to tell me that this "lifetime guarantee" would cost me £8.98 a month to cover the two appliances, and would ensure that I wouldn't have to foot the bill for any repairs or replacements for the products in the event that they wore out or broke down.

And then he asked me to "confirm" my sort code so he could begin to set up the direct debit.

I soon put the brakes on that whole scenario, pointing out that he didn't know the sort code, so I wouldn't be "confirming" it because he was actually asking me to provide it.  I then had a go at him over springing this whole thing on me over the phone, pointing out that this wasn't a "lifetime guarantee" but actually an insurance scheme, which he wasn't too chuffed about.  Then I said that my previous oven and hob had lasted me 10 years, so I would be gambling on this one lasting only half as long at that rate - £8.98 a month over 10 years is over £1000, and the hob and oven together cost half that.  I could keep my cash and just buy another one when I needed them as I have done this time - and the balance of the gamble is in my favour, I hope!

I am afraid that I also told him that what had started off seeming to be a pleasant customer service call had become a fairly hard-sell sales call, and I wasn't very impressed.  He was rather persistent, but he hasn't got my sort code, and I haven't agreed to participate in his scheme.  He has emailed me the details so that I can consider it.  It may take me a while....

Persil pennies

I often blog about how long I can make things last.  I shared back in January about these boxes of Persil washing powder - I made the last box do 78 washes in comparison with the 50 washes that the box promises.  

So when I started on the next box, I used a different measure to scoop up the powder for each load.  I filled this little cup each time - it is an old measure from a liquid detergent bottle but it does the job.


It made the difference!
The box of washing powder lasted three months, almost to the day.


But, best of all, it vastly improved the number of washes I got out of the box of powder - 123 compared to just 78!


And, do you know what, our clothes were just as clean!

These boxes of powder cost me £6 each, just before Christmas, and so I have improved the cost per wash from 8p down to just under 5p - even better!  A lot better than the recommended dosage which would be 12p/wash.  I am not sure that I can improve on 123 washes from a box, but watch this space, and in about another three months, I'll let you know!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Luscious lemon curd

This afternoon, I made six jars of this lovely lemon curd, which I first tried back in 2010 - weirdly also posted then on the 17th April: it must be the time of year for lemon curd!  The FH has had a taste and complained that he didn't get more to taste, but it needs time to cool and set in the jars.  Using our eggs gives it an amazing yellow colour that is completely natural.  The worst part of making it is juicing the lemons and getting lemon juice in the cracks in my hands - it stings!

Unfortunately, I shall have to stick to eating Sainsbury's Value Lemon Curd at 22p/jar myself as that is dairy free and this home made stuff has real butter in it!

Do let us know what you think if you try the recipe - it is really good.....

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Cooking the books

I have spent an awful lot of money today - confession time!  What started out with needing a new oven to replace the dead one has become a bit of a kitchen makeover, and will almost look like a new kitchen.  I have scoured the internet looking for bargains, and managed to save some money on what I thought I was going to have to spend.  The units will be the same, but the worktops are going to be changed, and the sink! Instead of having the range cooker that I had been dreaming of, I am going to spend less money but have more of an impact on the entire room, which pleases me no end.  We have been here ten years, and the house is beginning to look rather tired in places, so along with the refit, I shall also emulsion the ceiling and the walls - they never recovered from the splattering of the crab apple juice a couple of years ago!  It is time that this house began its journey towards becoming more appealing to the housing market, in case it has to go on to that market, and so this is one step in the right direction.

So, what's the lesson in finance for doing this all on a budget?  Top tip number one is to have a stepson who has done time as a kitchen fitter, so that definitely helps, and then have a friend who is a gas fitter!  As for the purchasing of the materials - I have compared lots of places, with the restrictions in mind that I need to fulfil: a slightly shallower oven than most, because it has a gas pipe to fit in behind it! And the existing oven had its own legs and feet, so I needed one that didn't require oven housing units...oh, the joys!  Spending 20 minutes on the phone to ao.com this afternoon made me very glad that I had found a geographical phone number for them through the saynoto0870 website so that I didn't get charged a small fortune for the call, whilst the call handler desperately tried to sort out what she thought she knew about the oven I was asking 20 questions about!  Research has definitely been the name of the game this week.

And paying for the actual items?  I have carefully spread three payments to three companies for various items across my credit cards, so that I maximise the time I have to make the payments over the next month.  I have crunched numbers seriously, looked at our income and expenditure patterns, and I know that I can make the payments and clear all the cards when the payments fall due.  I actually have the money in savings already and could have paid straight away but I do hate to pull money out of savings if I can manage not to, and using the card gives me the flexibility and means that we will do this work without touching the savings.  We won't make any payments into the savings pot this month, or next, but we will come out of next month with a "new" kitchen and all the savings we had at the start of this month.

I promise a picture or three when it is all done - a lot of the things I ordered will be here tomorrow, but the taps will be delayed until next week, so the FH's son has just said that we will pencil in the date for the end of next week - that just about gives me time to get some painting and deep cleaning done!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

RIP Alice, the rabbit

When I went to let the chickens out this morning, I noticed that Alice, the grey and white Dutch rabbit which we have had for some years now, was huddled in the corner of her hutch, not really herself.  When I came back in, I told the EFG to get up and come and have a look at Alice; we got Alice out of the hutch and I cradled her in my arms, stroking her, for about half an hour, and we gave her some water through a dropper. It was clear that she was in her last hours, and we wanted to make them as comfortable for her as we could. I sat with her in the greenhouse where it was warm, and then I brought her up into the conservatory, and the EFG prepared a box for her with some shavings and straw in it.  The EFG had a cuddle with her, and then I had her back, and held her for quite some time longer.  She began to move her head back and stretch a lot, which I knew meant that her time was coming, so I put her in the box so that she could be more comfortable, and kept stroking her, and talking to her.  Just after 10am, she took one last breath, a bit like a yawn, and she stopped breathing.  It was gentle and peaceful.

Alice was descended from the first pair of rabbits that the girls had when we moved in here in 2004, quite a line of descent over multiple generations.  It is likely that she was one of the rabbits in the pictures in this post. Her death this morning came as quite a shock to us because she was as right as rain yesterday, eating and eager to see us whenever we were near her hutch - we kept popping over to see the rabbits a lot yesterday as we were outside for much of the day, and there was not a hint of anything amiss.   It struck me with some force later on this morning to realise that poor Alice's is the first natural death I have ever witnessed, and it really made me think.  Jennifer Worth writes eloquently and with feeling in her books about death, and it is a part of life we don't always think enough about.

RIP Alice - you will be missed.

Days of sweat and hard work!

Finally sitting down to catch up on the weekend and what we got up to in the Fens!

This large piece of garden ground is to the side of the house, and had been separated off for some time, and was littered with wooden chicken houses.  The band of chooks has been reduced and so there is no longer any need for so many houses, although some of those had been redundant for some time.

I have arranged for a friend with a rotavator to come this evening to turn this land over so that I can sow grass seed, and we had to get all the chook houses moved, so that is what the EFG and I did on Sunday afternoon.


We heaped all the old huts on the driveway, and from there, we aim to get them recycled into firewood!



For the rest of Sunday afternoon, I cleaned the conservatory out!  Had to put a dust mask on, because it was rather dirty out there, having been left to its own devices all winter - and there was quite a heap of cat hair accumulating in places too!  Now that the floor is clean, the lids of the freezers wiped down, and the seating area spruced up, it was just right to welcome my dad and MB for a Sunday afternoon cup of tea and visit when they arrived at 4.30pm.


Shadow the cat was a little bemused at all the activity in the conservatory, but she is happily settled back in there today!


The EFG planted out the white strawberry plants that she grew from seed last year.


Delighted to find that the raspberry canes that the FH's friend brought are shooting up from the roots and producing new growth.  


And the ones we already had are in full leaf and looking glorious in the sunshine!


Monday morning the Head Coach came over and gave us a hand to clear another piece of garden for the rotavator!  This used to be separate chicken pens for the pop holes in the shed, but these are no longer used, so we want to turn this into useful growing areas again - I think pumpkins, courgettes and runner beans will thrive in such heavily manured ground!  It took well over three hours to clear the pens' structure, and the FH even came down to help - he didn't do a lot of walking around, but he did man the table saw and cut a lot of the wood up for the fire!


We have also got some seeds sown at last, and this morning, we have continued with the demolition of the chicken houses, and I have also applied weedkiller for the front lawn - I use Verdone every year, and can really recommend it for killing the pesky plantain, dandelion and other rubbish that grows but doesn't harm the lawn.  

Now I am struggling to find the energy to wash up, and the FH has gone back to bed for an afternoon nap!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Where I live


I haven't got the brain power to bring you up to speed with everything that we have been doing here yesterday and today, but I have taken lots of photos, so I will get to sharing that soon.  Suffice to say that I have been very active, busy and moved a lot of stuff onwards towards new ideas and projects - hurray!

So instead of telling you that tonight, I am going to share this photo and some thoughts about the area I live: the Fens.  The EFG took that photo last Thursday night on our way home from the Slimming World meeting, and it was about 6pm.  This is a typical scene around here at the moment - windmills in the background, and a field of pongy oil seed rape - I have to wind my windows up sharpish whenever I drive past a field of this stuff or else I start to sneeze!  What the photo doesn't show is the other typical Fen feature, which is a "drain" or river channel, which is right at the front of the picture, and the light green grass is the river bank.

Sometimes, when I am driving in the Fens, I can see for miles, and it reminds me of "Little House on the Prairie" from my childhood, when all you could see in the shots of the family on the covered wagon was grasslands for miles and miles - here it is fields for miles, flat and green or brown depending on whether it has just been ploughed or has a crop already growing.  The land around here is Flat.  Flat is the word for it - there is so much sky: the EFG criticised my photo above when I took it, saying that there was too much sky in the shot, but I replied that that was the point - the Fens are full of Sky!

Do I like living here, you might ask?  Well, yes, I suppose I do: I have got used to it now.  It was a terrible change when I first came to the Fens from Fife, and it felt too wide open, too much sky, and not enough trees!  I didn't like it then, but it's OK now.  The sunsets are amazing sometimes, and it is lovely to be able to see so far on a clear day.  I do miss the hills now and again, though.  I am not a Fenlander, though, and the locals don't let you forget, in a kind sort of way - there is still a "them and us" feeling in the village but not in a bad way.  There is recognition that some people are incomers and others are from village families which have been here for generations, but mostly, the village families are  tolerant of the incomers to liven things up a little and bring some new ideas.  Those who come in and join in are welcomed more than those who come but remain apart!

Thoughts for the day are for the child who fell out of a coach on the A47 near King's Lynn yesterday and who is very ill in hospital and for the family of the man who died after completing the London Marathon yesterday.  

Sunday, 13 April 2014

That was Sunday

Busy day.  Need some sleep - talk tomorrow xx

Saturday, 12 April 2014

A couple of pictures

This one is a version of Noah's Ark that I borrowed from the chapel collection, and the FH loved.


And this is a fantastic Mike Judd picture on a Ravensburger puzzle that came from the village surgery yesterday morning - he has enjoyed this one so much that it was done in just over 24 hours!


There is so much to look at in this one - I shall keep my eyes open for more by this artist.

The FH's son has been here to see him tonight, so I have been the taxi service for him as he doesn't have any transport at the moment, and the girls made the tea for us all whilst I was fetching him.  He lives in a village with only a "One Stop" shop and a little Co-op so we went home via that supermarket as he had a £25 gift card to spend, and he wanted to stock up on some staples like oil and tins of beans and tomato puree that the little shops in the village charge a fortune for.  He does get a good supply of reduced-to-clear meat and veg there though so he doesn't do too badly!

Late to bed tonight....

You did ask!

A blue parrot will be winging [couldn't resist that one!] its way from Paris to the FH's son's home by Eurostar early next week - he found it on a free-ad on Gumtree!  A lady has had the parrot for a couple of years, but has had to be taken into residential care, we understand, where pets are not allowed.  Said parrot has a passport and has gone to Paris with the lady's daughter, but the daughter wants to re-home it in England because it speaks English - so the FH's son saw the ad and replied.  Being the only response, he has been weighed up and found suitable in this case, and the parrot will come by courier.  Apparently it has a good vocabulary and loves a shower......should be interesting to see it make friends with him, his terrapin, and his chinchilla - what a combination!  She's called Carla.

Edit - further investigations have proven this to be a scam........a warning to us all, but thankfully, he hadn't parted with any cash for the delivery.  One just has to google "parrot delivery scam" and a history of several years is revealed.  Likely that Carla doesn't even exist.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Bit of a difference

Had an offer today on Freecycle for "5 boxes of puzzles" which seemed like a very generous offer, and the girls were already thinking that some old lady had died and her children were moving on a stash of puzzles.  After all, "five boxes of puzzles" sounds quite different from "five puzzles", doesn't it?!  Turns out that it was just the five puzzles though.  The FH has instantly fallen in love with one of them, and it is next on the heap to be done.  I also picked one up at the doctor's surgery this morning, so he has enough to be going on with now for a week or so!

Cleaned out some chicken houses, cooked some tea, slept in the sun for 10 minutes, heard from the FH's son who now has a parrot on the way from Paris [don't even ask!] and have done two loads of washing and hung it out to dry in the lovely weather we have had today.

Cream crackered now, so off to bed.  Weekend tomorrow - hurray!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Bag lady

After loading up the car with old things and junk to take to the tip, I gently encouraged everyone to have a look through their wardrobes and see if they had anything to add to the donations heap for the charity shops which has been living at the bottom of the stairs for a month or so........little did I think that they would decide to become the fashion police and go through my wardrobe too - I had to fight to keep one or two pieces that I really liked, but they were fairly ruthless!  My wardrobe has been considerably thinned out now....

The utility room has shed two defunct dehumidifers, the verandah has been cleared of three old polystyrene incubators which had been attacked by a mouse, and some sheets and pillowcases that I was given have been re-gifted on to the charity shop.  Quite liberating, all this de-cluttering!

I have also lost three pounds in weight, according to the scales at the slimming club this afternoon - we went to the earlier session as we weren't bound by the YFG's piano lesson the way that we usually are.

The grass was also cut this morning, and two loads of washing hung out in the sunshine - what a glorious day we have had in the Fens today.  Driving through the fields this afternoon was lovely, but the oil seed rape does give off quite a pong, so I have to keep closing my window when we get too close to that.  The YFG has washed my car this afternoon too, so I was able to go out in a gleaming black vehicle.  Quite swish too.

The FH also got up for about an hour today and had a mooch around the garden whilst we were packing the car for the tip trip.  He was pleased to be able to walk around the garden in the sun, and enjoyed being up and about, but was glad to get back to bed to rest his legs again after his exploring session.

Hope you have all had a good day.  Craft Club and Worship Lunch in the morning, and then more de-cluttering in the afternoon, I hope xx

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

More moving on..

Yesterday was quite cathartic in a way - and all over a man with a van!  A transit came round, bearing a sign that scrap metal was wanted, so I leapt up from the table by the window where I was working and ran outside to stop him, because I knew we had some scrap to move on!  He soon loaded up some lengths of old aluminium that had been a trampoline, including the trampoline springs, and an old rotary washing line, and some lengths of some obscure metal from the FH's workshop.  I am so glad that we have finally got rid of the trampoline's remains, and the washing line as they had been cluttering up the garden all winter.......

AND I worked out how to post on Freecycle for jigsaws - just waiting for all the offers........but a local friend from chapel phoned yesterday to say that her relatives in the village have a stock of puzzles that the FH is welcome to borrow!  How kind was that?!  So we have another supply...

Hoping for more like this with plenty of detail

I made progress towards another of my goals yesterday by buying a bag of seed compost too!

I spent yesterday evening working my way through a huge heap of ironing and joining in with the YFG watching a little Suits marathon on Netflix.  She and the EFG have suddenly found this American series and are both working their way through the two series on the system - but not together!  Occasionally this means that I end up hearing [if not watching] the same episode twice.  Thank goodness that the young chap who is not a lawyer has a strong sense of right and wrong, although it mystifies me that he also seems to think it is ok to smoke some kind of green plant....that doesn't fit!

Early morning today as the YFG has to be in Peterborough for 9.30am for her physio appointment, and then we have to go to Cambridge this afternoon to have new impressions taken for replacement retainers from the orthodontist - I can't believe that they are going to charge me £67.50 for each one!  If she needs both, I shan't be too happy, but needs must.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Head down in the books working hard

Nothing much to report from yesterday hence the lack of a post last night - I spent most of the day with my head in my Faith & Worship folders, working hard on Unit 12.   Sometimes I wished to myself that they would print the sections of the bible that they want you to read in the actual pages of the workbook, as I spent so much time flipping the pages of my bible back and forth, often just to read a verse or two.  On the other hand, it does mean that I am getting lots of practice on the order of the books of the bible!

Cheap and cheerful tea for the family of bangers and mash last night, with cabbage and broccoli, and I had a couple of chicken legs, cooked in the mini oven.  We also had some absolutely delicious cooked pears from the freezer, and the FH had his with some custard.  I am just hoping that there are more pears like that in the depths of the freezer - almost ambrosial in their sweetness and flavour.  Now to remember whose garden they came from to hope for some more this year?

Today brings sunshine at the moment so hoping to get some washing dry, have got to take the YFG to school for an English Lit revision session, and will keep hard at it with Unit 12 today and hope to get the assignment at least half done.......nice to have targets!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Moving on

This is Beryl, the perching chicken

Beryl has funny episodes, has had them since she hatched last summer, and has grown up to mature, lay eggs, and potter around the garden.  But she still has funny turns, so we don't put her in with the other chooks, because she could stand neither the pecking order hassle of the other hens, nor the attention of the cockerels.  She has the freedom of the lawn and veg plots at the moment, and loves our company.  Here she is, perching on the EFG's arm yesterday afternoon. She is a gorgeous Gold Partridge Orpington.

Today has been moving day for some of the chooks.  I have already shared my plans to downsize the flock so 9 ladies have moved up the road to my friend G, who absolutely adores chickens and has a huge flock.  She cooks up pots of veg for them every afternoon to serve with their mash, and they get only the best in love and attention.  She has taken back from me some young chooks I bought last autumn, and some of my older ladies, including our beloved Goldenburg, who is 5 now.  

Just this evening, the three young cockerels have gone to a church friend who lives at the other end of the village, and has 20 hens of her own but no cockerels.  I think my three lads are going to think they have gone to chicken heaven in the morning when they see that they have 20 wives between them!

So I am keeping my older Brown Sussex hens [the late Lancelot's wives and daughters] and some hybrid hens, all of whom still lay.  I have also kept my breeding gang of GPOs, so there is just the one cockerel left on the plot.  

We have reduced the numbers from 27 hens and 4 cockerels down to 18 hens and one cockerel.  It should be more manageable, bringing the houses down from 4 to two, and so less work on cleaning out, etc.  I'll see how this goes and if it is still too much, the hybrids will have to go too.  The pure breeds will be the last to go, whatever happens.  I'm too sentimental, really!


Holiday plans

If you clicked on this post hoping to see plans for trips to foreign climes, you will be disappointed!  We have two weeks off from school and gym, and I plan to make good use of the extra time at home.  Granted, the YFG has optician and physio appointments and a revision session at school, so we still have to go places, and the EFG has to do loads of revision and past papers, but I have plans!


  • To finish Unit 12 of Faith & Worship to keep to my schedule for completion.
  • To start Unit 13!
  • To acquire and install a new oven.
  • To clear out the room which was once a dining room and is now being used as an office/dumping ground, and try to acquire some kind of single bed so that it can become a downstairs room for the FH whilst we get our decisions made about moving/extending.
  • To get the verandah cleaned and tidied for summer use and enjoyment
  • To sow some seeds.
  • To post on the local Freecycle for puzzles for the FH [thanks for that idea, Ang!] I have tried to log on there this morning but had to admit that I have forgotten my username so I am awaiting an email. 
I think that may be enough to keep me going for two weeks......how's your Easter break looking?

Friday, 4 April 2014

Slow

If ever my slow cooker breaks down, I will definitely replace it faster than I have got my act together with the main oven, which is still a work-in-progress!  The slow cooker has worked its magic on some stewing beef, some onion, carrot and swede, and over about 10 hours, has produced the most delicious casserole tonight, just right for us coming home from gym tired and hungry!  All I had to do was steam some veg, which was quick and easy, and voila, supper was on the plates.  And then it wasn't, because we had eaten it smartish.  Long live slow cookers!  No photo, either, as we didn't waste time once the food hit the plates.

The FH got up and pottered yesterday, and then found that he was suffering for it this morning, so has remained in bed today.  That's about usual - one day up, one week in bed....

He has exhausted my charity shop supply of jigsaws this week, so I have brought some home from the chapel this morning.  Two of them he had already done, so they are going back on Sunday, but three of them looked sufficiently interesting to him that he would keep them and try them out.  I shall have to have another charity shop trawl and a poke around the library in the town this week to see if I can find him a few more.  A 500 piece one might get done in one or two days, but a 1000 piece one can keep him going for up to a week if it challenges him enough.  Cheap hobbies are the best, and this one definitely doesn't break the bank. He didn't feel well enough to go out to the lunch club on Wednesday so that is £4.50 to add to the jigsaw fund.

So looking forward to a bit of a break from routine over the next two weeks whilst the girls are off school.  The EFG's exams are looming so I know she will have her head in the books for most of the time, but I do hope to take them out once or twice for a change and some fresh air and sunshine - so please shine, sun!

Hope you all have a great weekend xx

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Spring fever

There must be something in the air today, because I have been just like Frugal in Suffolk and my thoughts have turned to moving again!  We will have been here ten years in June, which is by far the longest we have stayed in one house since getting together - we did manage about 7 or 8 years in one house, but then we had a flurry of houses in short succession, rarely staying more than two years in any of them.......

(image from housemovechecklist.com)

Moving house costs money, though, so you have to be very sure that you want to spend that much, and that it is going to be worth it in in the end.  I did sell one house in Scotland for the price of an advert in the local paper, and no estate agency fees, which pleased me no end.  The last time we thought about selling, the estate agents were charging more than 2% of the selling price of the house, which seems rather a lot to me. There are a lot of internet based companies around nowadays, and selling strategies are bound to have moved on in ten years.

(image from rightmove.co.uk)

I have had a look at lots of houses on the internet this week, all within a ten mile radius of here, with the YFG's schooling in mind - and there is nothing that really jumps out at me and to which I feel drawn.

Moving has entered my head now because of the FH's health, and a bungalow is beginning to look attractive. On the other hand, what I am going to have to pay an estate agent and solicitor to do the work would probably go a long way towards some kind of work on this house to make it more suitable for the FH.  We need space to have a bed downstairs somewhere - just a single bed - so that he can sit with his legs right up as he is not comfortable on the sofa or in a chair with his feet on a stool.  A wet room is also looking useful although we are managing to get him in and out of the shower these days a little more easily than we were. Adaptations are wonderful things, and just having a chair to lean on as he gets out of the cubicle is making a lot of difference.

I am going to have to crunch a lot of numbers, as the American tv programmes call it, over the weekend, and perhaps speak with a builder or two about how the work would stack up.  My brain whirls with all this information and debating to think about - and the FH isn't really interested in making big decisions as all he contributes to the debate is a reassuring, "whatever you want to do is fine with me....." - big help that is!

Good news on the ISA this morning - I checked my balances and I have a nice little lump sum of interest which has just been paid onto the ISA balance - I do like compound interest, and it also increases the balance of the ISA without affecting my allowance too.  It cheered me up, because I don't seem to be able to save much from our income at the moment, with all the expenses pouring out of our accounts!

Decisions, decisions - too much to think about - better head off to bed and dream about it all xxx