the end of another day…

What a lovely day today after all the rain we have had recently.  My peonies are blooming at last and the garden is looking more colourful again now with the summer flowers appearing – there has been a bit of a gap lately between the spring flowers fading and the summer ones coming out.

I decided not to work tomorrow – Thursday is a bit of a flexi day at the moment until I can cut it out all together and leave my new team to get on with it by themselves, but presently they still need my input to keep on top of the workload with year-end now only 2 weeks away and the promise of reaching a higher target than last year and therefore a higher bonus is well in reach.

So I have opted to go in on Saturday instead – mainly because I want to make the best of the good weather and perhaps have a couple of hours in the garden tomorrow and to be honest I feel like I have exhausted myself this week and that I would be dragging myself in to work if I went in.  I will get twice as much work done with no one about on Saturday – there will be no interruptions and my brain will concentrate more in the quiet.

On the home front what can I say but the new fascia boards and soffits look very new  – but also quite streamlined – we have a fairly modern house only 30 years old – so it has improved the appearance to get rid of the rotting wooden barge boards.  We have had the ridge tiles re-pointed and an outlet put in the roof for the fan that removes the steam from the newly refurbished bathroom so now I can have a bath at long last – I am looking forward to that.

Next week it is the turn of the window people who will come and renew the double glazing units in the older of the windows we have – then the builder will return to do the re-pointing.  Meanwhile the indoor decorating continues alongside with hubby putting primer on the staircase in the bedroom – no going back now!

After work I did the weekly shop at Sainsbury’s.  Even I was shocked at the amount at the checkout – prices are certainly rising and unfortunately I have been so short of time to sit and write menus or look for bargains.

I bought a can of Brasso to clean up some copper rings I found in the shed and the little brass mister spray.  I should have known better and perhaps have waited to look in Wilkos or even a pound shop for a cheaper can but I have not really had a lunch hour this week to pop to the shops and I didn’t want an extra trip into town on my days off or to pay for parking –  that would defeat the object of getting a bargain!

When I finally got home and was fed and watered I rang my mum who lives up in North Yorkshire.  Unusually she was not in and I could not think where she might be – so how handy is Facebook – I put out a message ‘Has anyone seen Grandma?’ and within minutes I had a message back from my niece to say she was out shopping with them!

Tonight I have had a little catch up in blogland, relaxing with my cup of cocoa and pondering on the world.  Waking up today to the news of the latest tragedy of the London fire was shocking and has been uppermost in most people’s thoughts and conversations, another sad loss of life but even more stories emerging of people of all race, colour and creed pulling together and helping one another with offers of accomodation and donations of food, clothes and money  – such a staggering amount collected in such a short time.

Well enough of my witterings…bedtime beckons.

just a normal Monday…

In some ways it was a light relief (from all the decluttering at home) to go to work today – I got to sit down and give my aching feet and legs a rest.

At lunchtime and after work I had a few errands to run, two of which had become rather urgent – one being fill up with petrol as the light had come on the dashboard and the other was pick up a gift I had ordered at a shop in town for a colleague who is leaving to have a baby and today we had an email saying she leaves tomorrow.  I hadn’t expected that – isn’t Tuesday an odd day to leave?

I also had to return some unwanted items of clothing to both Sainsburys and Next – tops that looked far better on the hanger than on me – do you have that problem?  In fact I have been a bit disappointed with the choice of tops available this year – perhaps I am looking in the wrong shops but unless I have a trip to Meadowhall or the Trafford Centre in Manchester I have to make do with the limited choice in our main shopping centre which is Huddersfield.

When I finally got home OH had cooked the evening meal – Cheesey Leek Ramekins – I can take the extra he made for my lunch tomorrow with salad as they are just as tasty hot or cold.  I am doing really well now with taking a packed lunch but the ladies in the sandwich shop are missing my custom.  I haven’t actually worked out how much I am saving in total because I would have to factor in the extra amount I spend on my weekly shop for the items I buy to make my lunch.

The contractor started on our house revamp today (the outside) – although I hate plastic we have gone with new uPVC soffits and fascia but will keep our wood windows although the older ones in the extension need the glass replacing as they have gone misty over time but the frames are still good.  The guys replacing the glass are scheduled for next week.  When this is done we are having some re-pointing done on the brickwork and the top half rendered though we have just found out from our enquiry to the planning office that we need to put in for planning permission to do this.

The internal decorating is still going on – all the walls are emulsioned now and the primer on the woodwork ready for the top coat – that is all but the staircase, we left this until the rest of the room was painted to make absolutely sure that we wanted to paint it – and the verdict… we have decided yes we do – sorry to all those blogging friends who rather liked the pine!  I will warn you to look away when I post the next photo of the transformation which will be later on this week if things go to plan.

So all I have left to do today before bed is wrap the gift and write the card ready to take with me tomorrow – as it is quarter to eleven I had better get a move on and stop prattling on!

frustration…

…the feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something.

What a mixed up day today – I decided not to go into work after all – that might sound as if I have the freedom to choose – but today is a bit of a flexi day as I am trying to cut my hours down to only 3 days a week and doing every other Thursday.  As it is year-end coming up at work I might go in on Saturday instead – I get far more done without the interruptions.

Anyway I am wandering off the point here – the reason for my decision to stay home in the end was the bad start to the day.  I was booked in at my doctors for a blood test this morning to assess my thyroid levels because my own GP has retired and his practice has been taken over by a larger practice of doctors from the next town and the changes are already being felt.

They insisted I should have a blood test as my review date was showing as 2015 – a bit overdue – but this obviously did not bother my previous GP as he always left it to my consultant in Leeds at Jimmy’s to deal with reviewing my dose and checking my blood levels – however, this year they are 6 months behind due to the doctors strikes last year and demand.

So my new doctors were reluctant to issue a prescription without a review blood test – this is fair enough but for the fact that they did not mention at the time that they would not issue my prescription at all until after the results were back –  in fact  I had been told before I went to Scotland that it had been sent to the pharmacy and would be there on my return to pick up.  But of course when I went to pick up my tablets they had not received a prescription and I was left without my medication.

Given that I am totally dependant on my Thyroxin (like a diabetic with insulin) because my Thyroid was removed some years ago and the slightly higher dose of Thyroxin protects me by suppressing any likely cancer cells that may regrow I cannot go for very long without it.  To say I was a little annoyed – well we won’t go there.  However, the doctor rang and apologised and sent my prescription straight away to Sainsbury’s and my cupboard is well stocked once again and I am happy but it took most of the morning and a few phone calls to sort it all out!  Anyway moan over – sometimes changes are a bit frustrating.

Whilst at home for the rest of the day I did an hour on the finances paying the water bill (an estimate again, another frustration)  – checking the bank balances and looking at the general picture which will be another post another day.  Later I went on to the Audible website to use my remaining 9 credits and download nine books.  I am thinking I will cancel the membership rather than renew this month.

I chose quite a mix of books – both fiction and non-fiction – from the snippet they give you to listen to as a sample it is hard to know if you will like the book but you are able to ‘send them back’ so to speak – they just refund the credit to your account and you can choose another.  I have done this with one or two books in the past I found a bit boring or hard going.

After lunch I decided that even though it was throwing it down outside – yet another frustration – I would carry on with clearing out the shed as planned – only instead of being able to take everything out onto the patio I had to bring it inside to sort.  We are having work done on the outside of the house soon and the shed is in the way so it has to be emptied and moved.  When we move it we suspect it will fall to pieces so we will have to go and buy another to replace it – in the meantime I have to declutter.

We will also have to move the compost boxes – it seems this job is fast becoming my hubby’s life’s work having just got the one at the cottage moved again!

Before tea time we jumped in the car and went to Sainsbury’s to do a small shop for necessities and pick up the prescription and on the way home called in to cast our vote – but will my vote change anything?  This election and the whole of Brexit has been as frustrating as my day today – at least tomorrow we will know the result –  will I be happy – maybe – maybe not!

it’s behind you…

…a quick round up of last week.

It was work as usual Monday to Thursday with a Staff conference and a training course thrown in for good measure.

We had a good day out on Friday –  travelling up to Northallerton to a nearby village to see my sister and brother-in-law perform in the annual village pantomime Cinders’ fella.  I like amateur dramatics and the evening went really well – all the forgotten lines and ad libs adding to the fun.

I did my two-hour stint working on my finances on Saturday morning – applying to transfer an old ISA that has now matured into a better rate account – the searching around took most of the time but I am pleased with my choice – a three-year fixed for 1.30% with the Principality.  I decided against Paragon who had the highest rate for a 5 year but seemed a long time to fix at these rates as interest rates could rise in the meantime.

Then two hours in the garden yesterday whilst the sun shone.  It was my first visit this year so there was a lot of tidying to do.  The hairy bittercress as usual has set root in the borders together with the self seeded Alchemilla Mollis and a flurry of Foxglove seedlings.  The latter two I will move into more appropriate places but the hairy bittercress is for the chop!

Unfortunately, the R W Rye rhododendron has suffered in the constant rain which has been followed by a few frosty nights so it has never really got into the full bloom of other years.  At long last my clumps of narcissus are out and blooming and so is the white Primula that continued well into the summer last year.

So now we are running around the house madly packing to go to Scotland for a few days break – I say break in its loose context – as we hope to be gardening – a lot of gardening  – and if at all possible in dry sunny weather!!  It will however be a break from work.

With the clocks going forward and we will lose an hour so I need to factor this in and expect the journey to be longer because we will set off an hour later.

See you all in a weeks time then –  have a great week – I will be offline – no computer – no TV and not able to make any comments.

 

See you soon x

 

too many tasks, not enough day…

Friday comes around quickly  but it is nice to have a day off work to get my house in order not to mention myself.

Yesterday during my lunchtime I visited the lending library for a browse.  It is a grand building built in 1937 with local stone and has a very central position in the town – but inside now it is quite a sad place.   Three self-service machines have taken over and the staff drastically reduced and are set to be reduced even more shortly.  I don’t like being ‘served’ by a machine and so rarely go now.

Over the last few years I became very friendly with one of the ladies who worked on the desk at the library – when there was a desk – we chatted quite often when I popped in every week but now we are limited to when we bump into each other in Sainsbury’s.  We are arranging to meet for lunch one day for a good natter – you can’t do that with a machine!

On the way to the library I took a short cut through Poundland and had to smile when I saw the bottles of thick bleach £1 each – I paid 50p in Sainsbury’s for the same size!  Not everything in the cheap shops is a bargain.

After the Library visit I went in to my bank only to find that the 5 counters have been reduced to two – I was told it is the effect of online banking and the hole in the wall machines – I even asked if they were closing down but was assured they were not but maybe they will start to install machines to do the counter jobs like HSBC did across the road.

Just having this stroll around town made me realise how quickly things are changing these days and how this upsets me as it does not feel like positive change.    With all the reductions in staff and increase in automation perhaps we will have to learn to converse solely with machines!

Anyway back to today and the task list.  This morning I took my car to the garage it had been washed and cleaned inside and out by my better half ready for the MOT and service.  All day I was keeping my fingers crossed that they didn’t find anything major wrong.  Already this year I have had a new exhaust so my car budget is a bit tight now.

After depositing the car I went on to the dentist to be patched up again – but this bill was less than £20 on the NHS for the repair of a filling – quite good value I think.

Meanwhile back at home the paperwork pile has certainly been in competition with the ironing pile and both have grown considerably during the week despite my best efforts to deal with some of it.  I keep trying to make the paperwork simpler but when the post arrives it seems to come with yet another problem to deal with.  This week we had a letter from our local council to say our Council Tax payment for December (which is sent by standing order) had not been received.  We have never missed a payment and it had clearly gone out of our bank account so where was this payment?  A few phone calls later and we are told someone will look into it.

After a flurry of cleaning downstairs and a cup of tea round at my neighbours at last the phone call came from the garage to collect my car before 6pm – we were given the news that it is probably terminal and might only have another year left as the underside is not in good shape.  Not the news we wanted to hear!

On top of all this I ended the day knowing that I had tried to fit in too many tasks and one or two of them had gone badly wrong.

The colour run wash I did on some stained sheets failed – the powder stayed in the dispensing drawer and formed a big solid lump whilst the sheets had a 133 minute @ 50 degree wash for nothing!  I only discovered this when the wash had finished.

cheesey-leek-ramekins

 

The new recipe of Spicy Chickpea bakes that I was going to try for our tea tonight did not happen either – there seems to be a sudden shortage of courgettes around here and I forgot to check again in Sainsbury’s last night to see if they had restocked.  I tried the local Co-op and Morrisons down the road but they had none either (is everyone making Spicy Chickpea bakes for tea?).  I didn’t think it very economical to drive all the way to town for one so at the last minute  I had to improvise with the ingredients I did have and make Cheesey Leek ramekins – an old well-tested recipe – just as tasty, but it was a bit disappointing as I had spent time carefully choosing the menu this week and was looking forward to something new.

On the back of today’s disasters it made me think that I need to limit myself to doing a few tasks well and not take on too much – perhaps three new recipes in one week was a tall order.  As well I should have postponed the colour run wash for a time when I can give more attention to it and I will certainly remember to check that the water has washed the powder through the drawer next time.  When I make my list for next week I am going to try and single out only two tasks to do each day and make every effort to complete them.

Well here’s to a good weekend everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

highlights from the week…

During last week I was on holiday from work so we decided to head up to the caravan in Scotland for a few days whilst also arranging to meet the engineer who came to get our water and gas connected.

I was sitting in the caravan looking out over a calm, silvery winter sea during the time just before dusk sets in.  The wood-pigeon was gently cooing outside and inside a very peaceful quiet. Just like in the cottage we have no means of communicating with the outside world – it feels almost like being on a desert island – all we can do is just sit and be.  A very odd experience – 250 miles away from our usual existence at home where there is always some pressing ‘To Do’ to be done and I would normally, like a lot of the population, be at work.  I quite enjoyed this break – so did hubby who was often found gently dozing in the corner!

The highlight of the trip was at last we have running water, central heating, a flushing toilet, fully operational shower and gas cooking facilities.  Thank goodness for all these modern inventions – being without such comforts is good for the soul once in a while as it reminds us of how grateful we should be for these services we take for granted and how they free up our lives.  For the last few weeks we have managed with containers of water, a bucket under the van to catch the sink waste and a chemical camping toilet to catch the other waste!  I won’t go into detail here!!  We had to have a wash with one bowl of water each and clean our teeth with a glassful.  All hot water had to be boiled on our little gas camping stove and our meals consisted of soup, soup and more soup – the easiest thing to heat up when you only have one gas ring.

The caravan is now a real home from home and is actually warmer, cleaner and more comfortable than our cottage was whilst we attended to the renovations.  But it does not have the character or the space.

Now the caravan is fully up and running we can turn our attention to the garden maintenance.  It suffered a lot last year due to shortage of time and the cottage being out of action still.  We had to limit our visits and stay at a nearby B&B or hire another cottage.

Many parts of the garden were badly affected by the flood and all though most of it has sprung back there are still some strange effects to overcome even now. The lawn and borders on the wood side of the cottage are covered in wild garlic leaves, the bulbs being washed through the garden and scattered by the flood water.  The only way is to dig them out by hand one at a time.  So far I have done a patch about one metre square – the amount of garden affected by this is probably 20 metres square – some of it appears in clumps and others more scatterd – funnily enough the ones in clumps are easier to pull out than the numerous single bulbs dotted around.  Any good ideas anyone?

The stream bank is looking so much better and as soon as we hit a drier patch the contractor will be back to spread the top soil and re-seed the area.  The black protective mesh will eventually allow the vegetation to grow through it and it will look like a natural grassy stream bank.  Of course the stream bed is much wider now but will probably, hopefully, look narrower again as the vegetation takes hold.

 

Stream Bank

 

Back at home now we celebrated Burns night here in England with a few friends – it was a great night and always reminds us how good it is to have a get together.  I have never cooked Haggis before but it was quite easy – not so easy is mashing a huge pot of potatoes and turnip.

For eight of us (5 meat eaters and 3 vegetarians) I spent

2 x Haggis  £5.00

1 x Haggis veggie £2.50

1 large bag Potatoes £1.29

2 x Swede £0.80

1 pot beef gravy £2.00 (already had some veggie gravy)

8 mini Scotch pies  £2.70

2 macaroni pies £1.15

Add in some Scottish delicacies

1 box Tunnocks chocolate teacakes £1.60

1pkt Tunnocks Caramel wafers £1.60

1pkt mini Scottie shortbread  £1.00

 

A total of £19.64 or £2.46 a head – one friend brought fruit kebabs for a starter and another friend a Rhubarb crumble for afters.  So quite an economy meal.

 

 

 

 

starting with a fresh page…

I have hesitated and pondered about writing this blog post – it is not easy to begin again after my long ‘gap year’ last year, to say nothing of finding some time to sit and think of what to write.  I worry in case this is the only post I produce again this year and another unforseen crisis will suddenly strike and prevent me from having any time for blogging.   As you may well have guessed last year was not an easy one as we continued to try to sort out our flood damaged cottage with the insurers, keep up with the extra demands of work since the death of my colleague and progress the probate to a conclusion.

But…it was not all doom and gloom and the highlight of the year was my eldest daughters decision to get married in the July.  The wedding on 30th July was followed on the 31st with our Ruby Wedding anniversary and my granddaughters 2nd birthday on the 1st August – what a weekend of celebrations and cake spent with friends and family.

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I spent every spare minute between January and July planning and organising the wedding, sewing miles and miles of bunting, making confetti, favours, invitations and doing alterations.  Believe me, 6 months is not very long to do everything you have to do to for a wedding especially as it took place in Scotland 250 miles away in my husband’s home town.  Having our cottage out of action did not help but my daughter felt she could not hang on any longer for it to be fixed so we went ahead and hired a farmhouse nearby for the week.

Wedding Flowers

We had the most wonderful day – glorious weather which was just as well as the reception was very much an outdoor wedding held at Castle Kennedy Gardens on the Castle Kennedy estate owned by Lord Stair.  It was here that my daughter’s Great granddad lived and worked as head gardener from the twenties to about 1960.  The wedding ceremony took place in the nearby Inch Church where her dad was baptised and her grandparents worshipped.  So a very special place for our family and what better place for a wedding.

The style of the wedding was a mix of formal and informal but very much home made with lots of summery flowers, peonies and roses in peaches and creams.  The bridesmaids wore floaty long coral dresses and the little one ivory.  The formal ceremony took place in church and a white Morris Minor took them on to the reception.  We had an old fahsioned Afternoon Tea on picnic tables before the sit down buffet of salads and cold meats for the evening meal in the marquee, then lots of dancing.

We made plenty of these signs to get people from their hotels to the church and reception…

wedding-signs

and we made all the notices from free pieces of wood from the recycle bin outside the Ikea store in Leeds and painted them with blackboard paint…

the-running-order

We also made some of the flower arrangements ourselves…these hanging cones on the stone pillars at the entrance to the Church were made of chicken wire lined with Sphagnum moss

with a hidden jam jar of water inside to hold the flowers…

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The bride and groom left the church to the sound of Scottish pipes…

outside-the-church

We held a drinks reception in the beautiful walled garden by the old ruin castle.

castle kennedy

With plenty of bubbles being blown

Wedding Bubbles

We also made large cut out photo frames and dotted these around the grounds for guests to take selfies…

selfies

Then it was afternoon tea on the lawns by the old painted tea room…a casual affair on the picnic tables

Afternoon Tea

 

castle-kennedy

then the afternoon interlude when our guests could wander the grounds or sit and take in the view or play games…putting up the little princess castle proved more difficult than putting up the marquee…

little-castle

but it proved to be a big hit with the kids…

Playtime

and everyone amused themselves in the sunshine whilst the bridal party had all their pictures taken…

bridal-party

Then all too soon it was time for the sit down buffet in the marquee – we decorated this ourselves with bunting and paper lampshades and large vases of hydrangeas from our cottage garden…

marquee

We designed and made the table plans that complemented the invitations and mounted these on long sticks stuck into herb pots…

seating-plans

the favours we made were tiny biodegradable seed pots (10p for 30) with a packet of wild flower seeds in printed envelopes placed inside

and a packet of Scottish shortbread made by a friends mum…

on each table was a different poem or verse about love and marriage and flowers…

table-numbers

 

Marquee

after the meal we had a lot of fun with the speeches…

the-speeches

and finally the ceilidh with music provided by the brilliant band the Veritable Ceilidh Club…

marquee-at-night

then everyone joined in the dancing and on such a warm evening we were able to spill outside  – it all looked very magical by night lit up with fairy lights and candles around the castle and large lanterns in the trees –  and not a midge in sight…how lucky were we?

marquee-outside

Once the wedding day and celebrations were over it was straight back to dealing with the insurers over the flood damage and the probate project. In October we bought a caravan to put on site at the cottage – it is wonderful to have a base at last.  No more B&B’s and hotels… a place to call  home at last until we get our cottage sorted.l1040676

Just to leave you with a recent picture of my granddaughter – she has grown quite a bit over the past year and she is just a joy to us all.

xmas-selfie

So a very apprehensive blogger is looking forward to the coming year and hoping it will be a year where we actually see some results for all our hard work during the last few difficult years.

A belated Happy New Year to you all – I have a lot of catching up to do and I hope some of my old blogging friends are still out there.