Thursday, 30 April 2015

Another one of those days!

Early start at school to interview several ladies for a vacant position,
home to work on phones, 
several distractions,
cooking tea,
more work on phones, 
clearing up outside behind the workmen, 
watering the turf and praying for rain, 
chatting to sister on FB, 
clearing up the kitchen and thinking about tomorrow's meals, 
getting a phone call to say I missed a message on the phone yesterday and we have worship lunch tomorrow so I need to provide bread and custard,

Rush, rush, from one thing to another.

Hoping for a slower day tomorrow.......well, I can hope!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

My ta-da moments begin

The transformation of the chook areas has begun....and nearly finished!

This [above] is how it started off - with the runs still in place. UJ dismantled all this wire and framing.

There were two chook houses and a big compost bin, as well as some very overgrown shrubs.

Sunday afternoon I had got to this stage: chook houses were there still, awaiting removal, and the bottom half of the compost bin was still there, with black gold still waiting to be collected up and moved.

By the end of Sunday, it was clear and ready for the rotavator man.

Tuesday lunchtime the rotavator man was here and busy and then this morning, in a shower of rain, the turves went down - and what a transformation.  I have a really lovely little secret garden here behind the workshop, which is a beautiful sun trap too!

This is the other long section which stretches the length of the plot, front to back, and down the side of the house.  This is "before" the folks got busy.

And this is how it looked in the afternoon sunshine.

Wow! I am so impressed with what has been achieved.  Now I need to save up for a ride-on mower, I think [just joking!].

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Little did he know...

You've all read my intentions about applying for the lay ministry worker job which we hope is going to be advertised later this spring, but few people in real life know about my thoughts on the job.  But the Spirit is working, and I had a lovely preacher ring me up last night, quite out of the blue, and tell me that he thinks I would make a good lay worker and that I should consider applying for the job!  It confirmed my prayers, and encouraged me no end.  I just hope that they get the advert out soon....the waiting is hard work.

I spent most of yesterday with a headache but it did improve by the time I went to bed last night!  I got hit on the forehead on Sunday by a coil of tensioned wire that I was removing from the fenceposts - the FH had strung it up and we had netting on it to grow runner beans on in the first couple of years that we were here.  Trying to be efficient for the fencer chap who is coming today, I was removing it so that he could get on with the new fence posts and not have to waste [my] time on the wire.  The end of it pinged out unexpectedly and caught me quite hard at the time.  It feels bruised but all I have to show for it is a little scab where the end of the wire made a perfect circle in my skin and bled for a minute.

Hope you are have a good day today xx

Monday, 27 April 2015

In the garden

I moved on two chicken houses yesterday - one to a new owner and one smashed up with a hammer as it was past repair: I haven't had that much fun with a mallet in years!  It was a very therapeutic half hour - I had started in a very ladylike manner, taking the bolts out of it one at a time, until I came to some that just would not budge.  So I decided that just smashing it apart with the mallet would be the most time-effective manner to deal with it.

I had to get the FH's old car moving again as well, so I had to charge the battery up - the neighbour, J, came round to help me sort that out as I couldn't work out exactly where to put the charger clips on the battery but I took a photo when he had gone, so that I know for next time.  It started up yesterday afternoon so it got shifted OK and will be out of the way for the fencing chaps.

When I had moved the old chook houses, I had to demolish a compost bin that the FH had made out of an old pallet box.  He had put it in situ and THEN built a shed so that it couldn't be removed from the position without being dismantled: I now have a wheelbarrow and two big bags full of lovely home made compost, and the bin is in the heap with the old chook house.

All in all, I had about four hours pottering about in the garden - and it was lovely.  The sun was shining, and I stopped now and again for a cup of tea and a sit in the sunshine.  Hard to believe that the EFG phoned us up at tea time and said it was snowing in Aberdeen!  She sent us some photos to prove it too - what a contrast of a day from north to south.

Hope you all have a good week - lots going on here this week so I had better get on!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Breaking even

I had a terrifically busy day yesterday although some of the plans didn't come to fruition - the people are coming to get the chicken house today instead of coming yesterday - and I had some unexpected visitors, and then I forgot to shop for the frozen sausage rolls that I had been asked to buy for the refreshments, so I ended up making cheese scones instead!

But it is just before 9am on Sunday morning and there is a service prepared and all is well in that department.  The quiz went well last night and we added about £120 to the church funds even though there were only about 20 people who came to the quiz - the top score was 63/100 so I think that the questions were sufficiently challenging.  I have to find another 100 for the end of June, and more for August and October so if anyone can recommend a source of good questions, I would LOVE to hear from you!

My garden is going to be renovated this week: new fence posts and a smartening up of one side of the driveway, and about 145 square metres of turf on the chicken's old run area, including a chap to rotovate the area over first.  The grass should grow well when the roots get down in to the years' worth of chicken manure that has gone into the ground in that area of the garden.  It is going to be done in a couple of days.  And the best bit of it is that it is not going to break the bank.  Due to the savings routine that I have got into this year, which has involved using one pot of income to pay the direct debits, my income from the phones for food and diesel and other day to day living bits, and saving everything else that comes in, I can pay for this work without incurring any credit charges or interest anywhere - and just use our savings.  I had a huge stroke of luck yesterday in that the unexpected visitors came from the local bee club and bought some of the FH's equipment, so those funds have gone straight into the "garden renovation" pot to help with the expenses.  I am hoping that by the end of the month, although the savings won't have been added to this month, they won't have shrunk by too much either because I am just spending this month's savings, if I am very careful!

I am looking into having some foreign exchange high school students to live with us from September to June whilst they attend the YFG's school in the Lower Sixth.  There is no "rent" but a generous food allowance is paid which would actually feed the family, not just the two students, and I think it would be a good experience for us all for nine months - for us to have more life about the place, more company of her own age for the YFG, and it would make me think harder about planning some more challenging and interesting meals - there has been a marked note of repetition in our menus lately here!  We are very early-on in that process and still finding out about it, but I'd also love to hear from anyone who has had long-term foreign students living with them.  I had lodgers from the local college when we lived in Cupar and some of them did come to us for the year, but they were Scottish boys, and went home at the weekends most of the time, whereas these would be girls from anywhere in Europe and would be here full time apart from a break at Christmas, usually, so we will be in uncharted waters for us!

Enough for this morning - lovely weather here for ducks so a good day to stay inside and catch up on the ironing and housework I think!  We have the YFG's friend coming for tea, and her brother to whom I teach maths, because their parents are going out tonight, and the YFG went to them for tea last night whilst I was at the quiz.  They are lovely young people and we really enjoy having them - and they play board [bored, in my case!] games with the YFG, so that is a bonus for me!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Friday came and went

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I'm glad it is Friday at last - but I am actually looking forward to Sunday afternoon as that will be my "weekend"!

Tomorrow is full of gymnastics, typing out quiz questions, buying a paper for the Lidl voucher, making egg sandwiches for quiz refreshments, having someone come to fetch a redundant chook house, teaching small boy maths for an hour, attending quiz and serving refreshments and clearing up afterwards, coming home to prepare Sunday service [unless I can find the bones of one from a previous year that is vaguely recyclable - I am not proud at this point: by this time my eyes will be on matchsticks and I will be praying hard for inspiration to be forthcoming] and falling into bed, hopefully before the small hours!

Saturdays are actually the most hectic and horrendous days of the week sometimes.

I'm going to bed now and my bedtime reading is the passages for Sunday so that inspiration may strike overnight!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Variety in vouchers

Just as it was announced on the news last night that Tesco has reported record losses this year, it was discussed that shoppers are losing their old-fashioned brand loyalty and are shopping around more.  That's exactly what I shall be doing this weekend!  The usual £5 voucher in the Mirror for the Aldi shop has not been forthcoming today, and apparently, I am reading that there are just 10 individual vouchers for specific items - useful if you want to buy those particular things but not much help to the overall total if you don't need them.

But there is still some good news - there are Lidl vouchers for £5 off a £40 shop in "Lidl News" which should be inserted into a number of newspapers on Saturday 25th April - this weekend.  The website I saw that on says that we need to look out for it in the Sun, Express, Telegraph or Mail [and the Record in Scotland] so check that the insert is there when you buy the paper.

And so what does that mean for my Aldi habit?  Well, I used to make the trip once a month and try to combine it with other things to make it worth my while, but if there is not going to be the main voucher for £5 any longer, it won't be worth it really.  My strategy will be to still go, but only when I am going near one anyway - and when I am there, I shall really stock up on the products I love, like the washing powder and washing up liquid.  If the Lidl voucher is a regular thing, I shall use that more often, as I have a Lidl much closer by and I like the quality of their meat, and I can eat their gluten-free meatballs too!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Anne's loss

The news has emerged in recent days that Jonathan Crombie, most famous for playing Gilbert Blythe in the Anne of Green Gables films, has died.  He was only 48.

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I love the films and have the first on DVD - I had them all on video but gave them away years ago when the video player broke down and we replaced it with a DVD player.  I shall have to find the other films on DVD eventually so that I have a set again.

It was a treat to watch the development of the pair from the cheeky school room antics of their youth to the more mature teachers and students that they became.

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I know that he had a huge career on the stage quite apart from his Prince Edward Island character's films, but that is how I knew him, and how I will remember him.

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Make up mania

A link came into my Facebook feed yesterday from a money website telling me that the average woman spends over £42,000 in her lifetime on cosmetics........goodness me!  I'd like to know who's spending my allocation because I am certainly not.......

I have no powder, no lipstick bar a pearlised lip balm, no concealer, or eyeshadow at all.  I do have moisturiser from Lidl which I use at night as it has no SPF in it, and another one from Johnson&Johnson which does have SPF15, and I use that one in the daytime.

I did have a lovely Boots one with "soothing mallow" which I bought with the last points I had accumulated. Unfortunately, the YFG confessed that she had dropped it with the lid off and some had spilled on the floor - and she scooped it up and put it back - eugh!

My "beauty routine" in its most recent incarnation was inspired by Frugal Queen ages ago when she shared hers.  In the morning, I put some cheap Boots cold cream on my face and then remove it with a hot flannel - which cleans and exfoliates at the same time.  After gently drying, the morning moisturiser is applied and I'm done.

The evening is slightly different in that I use a blackhead-removing cleanser on a cotton pad and then the evening moisturiser. There aren't really any blackheads around these days but my sister is neurotic about inspecting my face for them Every Time she sees me, so I do get a little paranoid about that :(

Occasionally my eyes get a little definition with an eye liner that I have had for years, and I sharpen it now and again but it is still fine.  And I don't get any eye infections.  Mascara - well, the EFG bought me a new one for Christmas so that comes out now and again.  The only "make up" I use daily is the lip balm!

I guess that makes me quite low maintenance - and not expensive. You can see why I don't spend my average allocation according to that article now!  And as for my hair - well, shampoo and conditioner are from the own-brand ranges of which ever supermarket or discounter I am in when I remember that we are running out - and I have just used the last box of dye that I bought in Boots several years ago when I was given a gift card and dye was on special offer so I bought six boxes with the card.  They have stopped selling that particular kind now of own brand dye so I shall be needing to find a replacement in about six months time......plenty of time!

Monday, 20 April 2015

A good weekend

This weekend has been good - absolutely no responsibilities at all - so I was able to spend lots of time in the garden and pottering about at home.  I didn't watch hardly any actual tv although I did watch Vera last night whilst I was finishing off the ironing.

The remnants of my chook-keeping paraphernalia were taken up the road to my friend who has 380 chickens - yes, 380!!  She can use the leftover pellets, bedding and red mite treatment - and the best part of it is that I shall get free eggs for a couple of weeks as an exchange: perfect barter!  She is also going to take the big old chook house that the FH made years ago, but she will need to sort out some help to come and take it apart.....that might not happen this week.  She has been really helpful to me whilst I have been a henkeeper here and so I am glad to let her have what I don't need any longer.  I made a quick sponge with some of her eggs when I got back, and it is delicious.

I finished another OCC hat whilst I watched a film with the YFG yesterday afternoon.  I want to knit something different for a change so I shall have to have a look through my patterns......perhaps I might get back to the Alpinia cardigan that I was knitting ages ago.  It needs to be finished off.

The YFG and I had a quick potter around Lidl on Saturday afternoon as she needed ham for school sandwiches and we were running short of a few other necessities - I do like Lidl.  I shall have to get a meal plan organised today.  Hope you have a good week - I'll be popping round a few blogs when I have a tea break later on xx

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Busy in the garden this weekend

A round up of Fenland photos from yesterday. 

The last four eggs from our chooks. At the rate that the YFG is eating omelettes, they'll all be gone today!  I shall have to start buying them from my friend who has lots and lots of chooks...

This was the chicken run area which we tore down last summer, and it has Finally been laid to lawn with seed this week.  UJ has done the bulk of the work but I am tasked with remembering to water it twice a day unless it rains.  Remembered every day so far!

Raspberries are flourishing - and sending up new shoots everywhere very enthusiastically.

No idea what these are but the EFG grew them from seed last spring and they have survived the winter and are showing us their gorgeous blooms again!

We all think this looks like a heap of antlers but actually it is the heap of all the old lavender bushes that I have dug up. UJ will bring some loppers this week so that we can cut them up a little more to be able to take them to the skip in bags.

Courgette seedlings just popping through - love courgettes!

I also started to take down the other chicken runs yesterday but it is a big job.  I took the "before" photos of the runs and will wait until the "after" photos are ready before I reveal the change - that will be some time away!

Really hoping for another good day weather-wise today so that I can continue to potter in the garden - I feel so much brighter and better for being able to spend time outside.  Fresh air and gardening are good for the soul.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Aberdeen in Spring

The EFG went for a walk yesterday with some of her friends and she sent me some lovely shots of the scenery this morning.

Almost makes me wish I could pop up there for the day!

I am so glad that she has found some countryside to enjoy as I was a little worried that she would spend all her time in the city and forget what colour green was!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Operation Downsize continues

I downsized our house's population as the EFG left again to back to uni in Aberdeen.........but she'll be back soon so that doesn't really count.

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Operation Downsize has continued today with the last of the lavender bushes being pulled up, and the rehoming of all of the chickens.  Beryl was just the start.  Her parent flock of Gold Partridge Orpingtons has been found a loving home in a nearby town with a friend of my sister, who has had chickens before but had been down to her last three or four and was happy to take on some new ones.  They left this afternoon and then my friend from church came this evening to take the last ones: five black hybrid ladies and five Brown Sussex ladies will tomorrow be enjoying a big grassy field at the other end of the village - they will think that they are in heaven!

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We are now chicken-less.  I don't think that I will always be chook-free but I think that our chicken keeping is on hold for a while now.  I shall miss them in the garden and my cups of tea in the sunshine will be quieter and less entertaining without being able to watch their interactions and antics.  I shall definitely look for more GPOs when I resume chicken keeping, even if it is in my dotage!

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And the next stage begins - I have a huge strip of land to redevelop now and to make it look like garden again......this may take some time.  If the sun is co-operative tomorrow, I shall take some "before" photos which I hope to be able to compare with some "after" shots later in the year, if all goes to plan.  The garden has to look the part when we come to put the house on the market, whether that is later this year or next.  Next, probably!

The cheapest way to redevelop the land will be for me to do the work.  However, I think we are going to need a rotavator and I don't have one, so I may need to get some help in.  I need some work doing on the fencing as well, so I have thought about asking several people to quote for the job as one thing.  I'm going to start on the tidying work tomorrow anyway and see how I get on.

The EFG was back in her room just after midnight last night - I stayed awake to wait for a text to be sure she was home safely.  I just about had my eyes propped open with matchsticks, but I managed it!

Hope you have a great weekend - see you tomorrow xx

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Begging your pardon...

please may I be excused?

You'll have noticed that I have not been here quite as much just lately.  Sorry about that!

Sometimes, there's just TOO much going on in real life that there isn't time to tell you all about it.

I've been digging up old lavender bushes, knitting hats, watching films and generally enjoying the EFG's company whilst she's been here, visiting with my Dad and MB and UJ this afternoon, helping UJ plant potatoes and sow grass seed.......doing some work on the phones and spending two and a half hours at a school meeting this morning also got in the way a little...

The EFG is back to Aberdeen tomorrow - she leaves here in the afternoon and will arrive back at her hall just before midnight - she'll be e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d!  On the other hand, I might get more sleep when she's gone as she had us watching a Hugh Jackman film last night called Prisoners - I thought it was a nice murder mystery and it turned about to be verging on the horror genre and then I had a nightmare about being abducted!

I'm really hoping to get back into a more regular routine next week - just for the rest!

Hope you are enjoying the sunshine - it has been glorious here today x

Monday, 13 April 2015

Catching up

Well, it may have been pouring when I got up on Saturday morning but by lunchtime, the skies were blue and the wind was whistling the clouds across the sky pretty quickly.  The weekend passed by too quickly but we enjoyed it!

We did some of this:

(old photo - motorhome in the background is long gone!)

and this

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as well as some of this

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and I even found time to put my feet up in the verandah, in the sun, with one of these

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Today the weather has been better in that it has been a lot less windy than it was at the weekend, and we have had our "last" day of the holidays.  The YFG is back at school tomorrow, and then we have only three sleeps until the EFG is off.  The FH's cousins came over to see us this afternoon, and we had a lovely chatter over a cuppa.  We have also had to go to town today to the optician for the EFG to sort out her glasses.

The YFG has spent every spare minute today finishing her Textiles GCSE coursework to hand it in tomorrow - not that she's a bit last minute, or anything!!

Thanks for your comments - it is always lovely to hear from you.