Saturday, 25 October 2014

Best Crack On!

As I write, my son is heading up to Bristol Airport to catch a flight to Portugal where he's spending a half term holiday with his dad.   He came round to say farewell and tap me for Euros yesterday evening. And Salty Dog  is disturbing my blogging. She's brought me a big cup of tea and has joined me in bed for a chat.  We've covered the woeful state of the stock market, self employment as a consultant and secondhand motorhome tyres already!

We had a terribly girly time last night that included feasting on  leftovers, drinking wine and dancing.around the living room.  It'll  be the last bit of R'n'R in the few days left before my monumental move. Once I've dispatched my friend after filling her tummy with eggs and yummy cheesy jalapeno bread,  I've got a frightning to do list as long as my arm to tackle.  This is just a small portion of it. So there's no more time for lounging around. Let's get on with it!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Mastering Those Discounts

I forget I am a student for, like some of my compatriots, I do not have a weird fascination with nicking traffic cones and road signs. Nor do I chat up boys in the Student Union bar.  In fact I don't chat up boys anymore full stop, much to the annoyance of Reiki Ray.  He is adamant that I need to get out there immediately and find my soulmate, whom, he insists that he's been having psychic chats with. Blimey! I couldn't make this up if I tried.  Even though Ray operates on a higher plane, he is also as mad as a box of frogs and I'm ignoring him.  Far too busy with house move, essay and making sure that my son stays on the straight and narrow.  If however Prince Charming is out there and feels that Ray's been having a chat do let me know.  Just make sure it's after I've moved into the motorhome though!

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, being a student.  Blue Light, my manager, who's never happier than when dealing with emergency call outs, got funding for his own Master's degree at the same time as I secured mine. He told me about the NUS Extra Scheme.  I'm entitled to membership even though I am a part-time distance learner.  For a payment of £12 a year, my Spotify subscription will drop down from ten quid to a fiver, there's a 10% discount at the Co-op and another 5% at Amazon.  With it, I can also get 11% off an 18-25 railcard. Apparently I can even get one of those as well even though I'm twenty four years over the official age limit. Result!  I've added an international ISIS card and memberships to the international student group ISIS, and   Gourmet Society for small sums when buying the card.  I'm quite interested in the discount from ATS Euromaster on tyres as well. It's been pointed out that the motorhome's going to need some soon and that's a scary economic prospect as they're big bastards.

I think I've demonstrated that it's well worth checking your entitlement to discounts based on student status.  There's also savings to be had for  people entitled to benefits and in certain professional groups including us lot in the NHS.  Go seek out what you're entitled to. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Another Good Scandinavian Word

In pursuit of something Scandinavian to illustrate this post,  I trawled Ikea's webpages rather than seeking out some funky obscure art site.  I'm trying to make a  life, that is way too hectic for my liking, a bit easier.  In the past  I've talked about Hygge,  a Danish word that sums up the idea of cosyness.  Now that my motorhome is newly refurbished with swanky new upholstery and vinyl I'm up for injecting shedloads of  that in there to keep us perky over the winter months. No, you can't have a peek inside Klaus the Knaus yet. It's a tip in there at the moment. Definitely not a place to evoke snuggliness.  But maybe in a couple of days time, I'll be ready to show him off!

The latest clever word that I've learnt from my chums from the Northern reaches is 'lagom'.  It epitomises the state of having just enough, another totally appropriate concept to bear in mind when it comes to having a happy, fulfilling life in a van.  I was introduced to it by this article from the Guardian which challenges the idea that possessions equal prosperity. I think many of my bloggy friends might find it interesting too.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Good News Calls For Chocolate!

Even though life is mega stressful at the moment, there are signs that balance is being restored.  I spent yesterday afternoon, unearthing my ostrich-like head from some metaphorical sand to take stock of a big backlog of routine work that had built up whilst I've recently dealt with crisis after crisis. And what do you know?  My predictions of catastrophe were all completely out of kilter with reality. Problems have either solved themselves or people have transferred out of area.  Much to the amusement of my social services colleagues,  I did a  bit of impromptu dancing in their office  as I received the news of one person's move to another continent.  Their departure meant that a very substantially piece of work that was causing me all sorts of worries had just melted away.

And after the hoo-ha of last week, my son's  behaviour has improved immensely. All sanctions at school have been lifted and  Louis' Head of House persuaded me to get rid of the treat/telly ban earlier than I'd originally planned.  Chocolate eating has been restored to the residents of Lovelygrey Cottage. Yay! It seemed rude not to buy a bar of this stuff, on offer at the Co-op for £1.50, to mark the occasion.  Popping candy rather than champagne corks is, after all, far more fitting for a celebration with an eleven year old!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A Motorhome Wardrobe

In anticipation of my move  I've had the ultimate of all clear outs.  Many bags of clothes have gone to the charity shop.  More have been put in boxes and can't come with me as they're too bulky, saved for the days when I return to having more accessible storage space.  My rather marvellous embroidered Austrian cardigan comes into that category as does my pink corduroy coat.  Boo hoo!

In the motorhome have three shelves, four hooks and a couple of fabric baskets in which to store an entire wardrobe. That's way more than the 'home on my bag' rucksack from my Appalachian Trail walking days that held just two changes of lightweight clothing.  Even so, a bit of thought has to go into what stays and what goes. Everything scratchy, itchy, holey or uncomfortable has departed.  Long skirts and dresses are unfortunately out as they take up too much space What remains are clothes that are ideal for layering, old favourites and things that have earned their place by being colourful and funky.

Rainwear is a must here in the South West and there's only room on those hooks for one waterproof coat.  I had two, a very dull navy number and my favourite,decade old ,North Face ski jacket.  The problem with that one is that it's short and just sits on the hip. It's fine for snowy peaks but not the best when it comes to protection from those all too common Devonian showers.

So I've treated myself to this Rab Latok Jacket from Cotswold Outdoors, expensive but £100 off its original price and Quidco-ed as well for a further discount.  It stops my bum getting wet, meets all my walking and skiing needs in one and stops me pining quite so much for the corduroy number.  Like every new piece of clothing from now on it's really had to earn its place on that hook in the van!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Sock Loss and Other Stressors

I'm having a day where it was difficult to think of what to post. In spite of mindfulness practice, a band of angels looking after me and my own personal reiki healer it'll come as no surprise that I'm feeling significantly stressed.  Work is busy, there's a house to pack up and a motorhome to prepare, Louis' behaviour is being kept on extra special check and to top it all, there's a mini essay to complete by next Monday. Aaaaargh!  No wonder my brain is kerfuffled. Roll on next week when life should be way simpler.

So, apologies for recycling stuff off the Internet and the sweary language in this comic strip. It's funny though and sort of sums up what's  happening at Lovelygrey Cottage at the current time.  In the turmoil,  things are getting lost and found and lost again!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Still Crying Over Spilt Milk

Photo: BBC (Wikipedia)
Sometimes I feel that life runs like an episodes of 'Some Mothers Do Have 'Em' that ,as a kid, I was allowed to stay up and watch after swimming lessons.   Motor control isn't one of my strong points and it took me a year before I was able to stay afloat without armbands. Like Frank Spencer, I'm dreadfully accident prone and have self diagnosed myself with hypermobility syndrome after Louis was discovered to have it.  It accounts for why proprioception, judging where our bodies are in space, is tricky for both of us.   Then there's the dodgy 3-D vision. Even though the operation to correct the squint that I had as a child was successful and people know when I'm looking them in the eye, the impairment remains at neurological level. This combination of factors means a trail of destruction is often left in my wake. Within minutes, the other day at work, I'd tripped up the crutch that I needed for my poorly ankle just after a rather spectacular tea spillage.  After a decade long relationship, my long suffering colleagues are used to me and take these frequent moments of carnage in their stride.

Why am I telling you all this when today's post is an update on how I'm getting on with Leif, my lovely Skoda Citigo that I bought back in May? Well, all is well except Leif has developed a nasty niff.  That's because I managed to spill that milk that I'm crying over in his back footwell.  All my efforts to erase the smell have been in vain.  I've scrubbed, stream cleaned and applied air freshener directly to the carpet.  Any handy hints on resolving the situation would be jolly handy indeed!

Other than that, I'm ever so happy with my pretty little car.  It's good to be back in the  Volkswagen-Audi fold from where I think I'll never stray again.   Granted Leif, with his one litre engine, can be a little sluggish up hills and I've had to get niftier at gear changing.  To counter that though, journeys where the average fuel consumption tips well over 55mpg are the  norm. Comfort on long journeys is good and the sound system is brilliant.  It encourages me to sing my little heart out, a perfect pick me up when stuck in a traffic jam.  Adding the accompaniment of tuneless backing vocals to the songs of my favourite artists in the privacy of my own car means that time flies by.

And for a little fellow,  Leif is positively Tardis-like.  I've worked out that the best way to save fuel is, of course, not to drive at all.  So I was jolly pleased to be able to persuade other  parents to share  the task of   picking  up grubby boys from school after orienteering club on Monday evenings  When my turn falls every  three weeks, there's plenty enough space for three lanky boys, a ton of mud and seemingly vast amounts of school kit.  Evidence I think against the common claim round here that once there is a brood in tow, you positively need a chunky 4WD vehicle.  I think I've proved that, for most journeys, a  teeny weeny square car  does the trick!