Friday, 31 July 2015

Jaws 2!

Let's have a break from talking about moving in to my house shall we?  I'm a tad overwhelmed by the vastness of the project so it would be good to focus on something else.  Every so often I get a yearning to learn to work with wool and needles. But what am I thinking! There's enough ongoing craft projects here to keep me going for a fair few years.  I really do not need any more media to tempt me to start more.   Desist, grey lady desist!

Maybe our recent soggy cinema going exploits are to blame for my new found fascination with all things fishy or perhaps it's a move to the seaside.  Who knows!   Anyway if I could crochet I'd be sorely tempted to get this ssleeping bag pattern from Off The Hook Designs and make one for Louis. It's funny. There's instructions for an adult sized one too.  Mum and son being devoured by woolly sharks would be quite ridiculous.   They'd be just the thing though for snuggly winter nights in our new seaside home.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

My Big Black German

Well what a day yesterday was!  I'm going back to work  just for a break.   According to Mr Metrosexual I had so many men coming in and out of my house that my neighbours are going to think that I'm a blokes, the removal people, Mr BT and a guy from South West Water to read a meter that I didn't know I had.  When I asked for one two years ago I was told that it was impossible to fit.  It was a pleasant surprise to find out that I'll been saving a considerable amount of money every month. Maybe though I can't have those endless baths I'd planned that would have been possible with unfettered water use.

After sixteen hours of near endless activity I sank into my new bed. More of that in a minute.  First, let me introduce my fridge.  'Now hang on a cotton picking minute!'  I hear some of my regular readers say. 'Wasn't this supposed to be retro and cream?'  Well I'd already decided against that after a reviewer on a website had described the Gorenje model that I thought that I'd wanted as plasticky.  I like to appreciate my possessions and I didn't want to run the risk of spending loads of money and being disappointed.  So I chose a more modern model, again in cream.  It was supposed to arrive Tuesday but didn't.   I threw toys out of a metaphorical pram, I'd say with some justification, and cancelled my order.  Quick action had to be taken to set up a next day delivery.  This limited my options but I chose this Bosch frost free chappie. He looks just fine with my kitchen and I love his silver handles.  It's great to have a proper freezer back.  In the motorhome I just have a tiny icebox that holds one item at a time.  To celebrate I went out and bought the biggest bags of oven chips and peas that I could find AND two types of ice cream!

Amongst all those other things that I've done I managed to follow some of those unfeasibly complicated flatpack instructions and build a big brass bed.  This exact one in fact. Again I changed my mind about the exact model but isn't that a woman's perogative?

Most of the house looks like I have Diogenes syndrome.  I've just waiting for a TV reality crew to come round, tell me I'm a messy cow and sort me out.  I'm not a systematic unpacker but the wild woman of Borneo unleased.  What I have done is to create two havens of tranquility in amongst all the chaos.  To preserve my sanity the living room and my bedroom are clutter free.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

A Dream That Will Come True?

After nine months of motorhome living I've moved into my beautiful little house by the sea!  I say little because funnily enough it seems smaller than I remember.  Perhaps  in my time living in a small space I bigged it up.  Who knows?   My furniture will arrive in a couple of hours and then, this space will become home.

I have a  funny little idea about going out to sea in the dead of night  in a little boat. A bit like Iggle Piggle on 'In The Night Garden' that I used to watch with Louis when he was wee.
From there I will drop crab pots to catch my tea.  That hunter gatheress is truly part and parcel  of my nature.  Someone out in the universe must have know about that.  Look what some former tenants have left in my garden!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Off To Live At The Seaside

I've scheduled this ahead in case I'm too excited to post or overwhelmed by last minute chores. This evening after work I'm taking Klaus the Knaus to his new home. There were no available storage pitches at my existing site but fate has worked out swimmingly.  I've got myself  a less expensive spot a bit further down the A38 on a campsite owned by the newish boyfriend of Sugar Plumb.  It's near my office bases so I can pop in to get stuff, charge the battery before I go away and do a bit of maintenance when I need to.  Ideal!   'Let me have your number in case something happens to your van and I need to get in touch.' said Campsite Bob , who I'm hoping might be a keeper for my mate.  'Like if  Sugar Plumb chucks you and you torch it?' I replied. He laughed but not in an evil gremlin kind of way. I think Klaus will be safe.

After that Salty Dog is picking me up for she is helping me with my move.  We'll collect Leif, my little froggie car as Barbie Nurse describes my trusty Citigo.  He's stuffed full of the accoutrements of everyday life that no longer need to be kept in a motorhome that will be used exclusively for holiday adventures.    Klaus looks  sparse but I like him back that way.   Tonight we'll be camping in an empty house but the removal men arrive tomorrow.  I'll be reunited with my furniture and arty stuff. Yay!

Anyway I thought I'd shared a song, a surprisingly mainstream choice for an indie folkie type of girl. But I love  Simply Red mainly because Mick Hucknall's  voice has incredible purity.  This is  my favourite song by the band and it seems apt to share it.

'Where the land meets the sea
She'll be smiling so sweetly now.
I hope that she'll be here much longer that I will
My heart loves her with every beat now.

So fake cool image should be over
'Cause I long for a feeling of home
Real life depicted in song
A loving memory
After all,  a home is a place where I  yearn to belong'.

I'm hoping to create a place of happiness and sanctuary for the people who are already dear to me and Louis  and those who become so in the future.  It'll be owned by us but a place to share. I'm wondering if this might be the only formula for a happy home.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Final Night Final Thoughts

.....a woman who knew that it was best to follow her heart set out on an adventure with the plucky young boy that she held so, so dear.   As both were slightly zany they didn't give two hoots about convention and went to live somewhere that lots of people thought might be way too small.   There were some who doubted that happiness was possible without the usual trappings of a 21st century lifestyle  Yet, the mum and son found that this was not necessarily the case.  For them, life remained rich and meaningful and they did not feel constrained by the limited physical space. They grew together, laughed a lot and stayed happy and healthy even though they spent leisurely evenings sharing far more bars of chocolate than government guidelines advocate.  If a little of what you fancy is good for you why shouldn't more be better!

To everything there is a season and one has now passed.  Tomorrow I move. Louis follows in a week and a bit.  One  thoroughly good chapter of the book of life will hopefully lead into another. Different but  we hope  that it will be just as satisfying.   With our sunny attitudes there's no reason to think otherwise. And so we do not look back with sadness for what we are leaving but embrace the future wholeheartedly.  For although it was a deeply rewarding time, all of a sudden it feels that our experiment in motorhome living has run its course.  It is right for it to end.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

East of Eastenders

Calamity Jane has been here for the last few days,   She is one of the oldest and dearest of my friends, even though she is true blue and not pinko leftie like myself.  Horror of horrors, she has brought copies of both 'The Sun' and 'The Daily Mail' into my motorhome.  Yikes!  This may call for some cleansing ceremony.  I will forgive her because she is one of the kindest human beings going.

We met at school in South East Essex.  Hence today's pictures of the River Thames which features large in local geography.  This one is a 19th century depiction by James Hamilton.  The other is a gorgeous representation of Battersea Bridge by Whistler.

But enough of that arty bollocks.  If I go back home, as I still call Southend-on-Sea, or when friends or family visit, my voice takes on a distinctly more pronounced estuarine twang.  It hasn't entirely gone away in the thirty odd years I've been in Devon but it's been moderated, most markedly from the influence of working in upper crust accountancy firms.  It doesn't take long for me to be  dropping consonants all over the place. My vowel sounds change  too and the glottal stop features large. For the linguists among you refer to the relevant Wikpedia page.  It's hard going stuff. I'm buggered if I can understand it in a brief perusal.  There's also little turns of phrase we use that differ slightly from normal usage in the rest of the English speaking world.

To demonstrate, and also to give you a bit of a laarff, for that is how it would be pronounced in my home county, here's a few examples we thought of last night.

Alma Chizzit:  That'll be £1.50 please!
Lafarjik: That feeling of sluggishness and apathy
Webbats:  Where exactly is that located?
Garrij:  Where cars are kept
Oi, Oi Saveloy!:  In other parts of the country people would be befuddled.  Does this mean beware, beware, cheap red sausage?  In Essex it's a standard term of endearment commonly shouted out of car windows.
Mate:   You don't just refer to friends in this way.  This is a perfectly acceptable way of addressing anyone - friends, your mum, dad, kids and random shopkeepers, the postman.......  From personal experience other halves from different areas of the country don't always appreciate this less than romantic term of endearment.
Bomb it: Nothing to do with explosive devices. This refers to the driving style that my ex-boyfriend with the three litre  Ford Capri used to deploy down Southend seafront and small side roads with children playing on the pavements.   I reckon there were perfectly good reason from a camouflage perspective why the upholstery in that motor was brown. Needless to say it wasn't a relationship that lasted long.
Eye eels:  What you wore on your feet when you went to the Zero 6 nightclub.  They're also sported by  tourists from Essex when they're down here and walking on Dartmoor.
Branna:  I am more tanned than you are.
Furrock:  The borough of Thurrock where I went to school in the sixth form.
Cort a panda:  A popular order in McDonalds

And finally my favourite.   Of course, an awss is what all those posh people in Devon ride around on in country lanes!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

I Wish The Boy Was Here

And he will be!  Later this morning Louis will arrive with a stack of outdoor kit.  For this afternoon he is off to 'Run to the Fun', Devon's Scout Jamboree. I'm taking him down to Cornwall with a bar of soap that will arrive home in the pristine condition that it went in. The tide mark round the bath when he gets back takes days to remove. So it should be.  Lou loves Scouts and I'm a big fan too.   There's so much scope for mucking about in the outdoors doing stuff that makes a good childhood.

This isn't what I really want to write about today. The post about the Hemingway writing app identified a gap in my reading.  In my fifty years, I'd never read any of  Beardy Ernie's work. Toffeeapple and Cro Magnon mentioned The Old Man and the Sea.  'Let's give it a go then!'  I thought and ordered it from the library.  It came with a marvellous retro cover which gave me ideas about printing on brown paper.  Today's title is a recurrent quote from the book.

It's the story of an elderly Cuban fisherman and his battle with a bloody great marlin that he's hooked.  He could have done with Manolin, the boy,  being there.  But because of the old man's terrible run of bad luck the apprentice's parents force him to fish from a different boat.  The book is short, macho and at some point a dolphin gets eaten.  Yikes!  Isn't that akin to cannibalism given the status held by this mammal in Western society?  Needless to say the story is beautifully written in Hemingway's sparse style.  Perhaps he used the app!  Will I read more Hemingway? Maybe.   I might temper it with a bit of chick lit first.  And does it tempt me to take up fishing when I get to my new seaside home.  Well, yes, for I have a hankering for hunter-gathering of many kinds. I might stick to stocking the freezer with my catch from the mackerel boats rather than picking fights with the big guys of the sea!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Four More Sleeps To Go

I'm going to ramble on today.  No proper post has been planned in advance.  It's not long at all now before I make the transition from mildly eccentric motorhome dweller to a proper grown up mum with a house by the seaside.  The final visit to the communal laundrette has been made after the usual scrabble around for change My knickers dried nicely on the secret squirrel middle line.

'I bet you'll miss the life' said one person yesterday.  I've forgotten who.  My head's in a bit of a planning whirr at a time when work has gone berserk.  Typical!  My answer wasn't quite the response that you may have expected from someone who's suited this way of life.  'No, I won't' I replied.  'I'm ready to move now.  Onwards and upwards!  An outrageously magical bed has been ordered, even more ornate than the one I saw first. A reminder of nomadic times in the past and to come maybe.  It looks like it is fit to take me on journeys in my dreams.  The fridge is a more sedate affair than the american retro one that I planned. I'll explain the reason another time.

When I began this experiment I thought that I might be writing about what I'd learnt about myself.  A bit of right royal navel gazing.  But there's little that I didn't know already.  I haven't missed my possessions but I learnt that from when I walked on the Appalachian Trail.,  I'm resilient and strong and know what holds real worth. Maybe I'd worked that out before  too.  It wouldn't have been a good idea to go off-piste from society as an emotional wreck.  I've been more surprised by Louis' contentment living in a small space beyond the first planned period.  Our relationship has grown ever stronger.  I couldn't have wished for a more fulfilling  parent-child bond.   He is my joy and my rock.  But would that have developed in the same way in a house? Who knows!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Trash At The Mouth of the Teign

My work takes me farther afield these days from my hippy dippy Totnes base.  I have another office in Ivybridge that I occasionally work and every so often I can be found beavering away in far flung Tavistock.  Yep I definitely get about.  Lack of physical presence is probably why I hadn't bumped into Reiki Ray in the hospital corridors for a long time.  'I 'aven't seen you for ages, doll!' he boomed. ' Let's go out.  I fancy a lobster!'.  I booked the Crab Shack in Teignmouth.  Lou was cross that he couldn't come but he was at his dad's. It's a popular eatery these days and no wonder with its coastal views to die for, superb food and friendly staff.  Even though I booked in advance our table reservation was for 8:45.  That's sort of around bedtime for a girl with a streaming cold.

But I eschewed the sick bed for a stroll along the seafront and some nosh.  And I'm glad that I did. That sea air made me feel better,  And maybe it was the laughing too.  Anyway the sculptures along the promenade made out of litter gave us a giggle.  Here's  some of our favourites.

Now this chap is clever. I'm not sure that, being made out of bronze, he was part of the litter display. No matter, I'll show him anyway. For it's my blog and I can do what I want.

We  particularly liked the convincing use of an old shower hose attachment that made the horns on this sheep look so realistic.
This netting one was very colourful and eclectic. Nothing that had been caught here could be eaten though. We were getting hungry now. How do those Spanish people who have their supper at god awful late times manage?

And this was the one that made us laugh the most. I genuinely thought that someone had carelessly thrown away an old parasol but nope.  It's art.  Another girl and I got the giggles when we read the title of the piece.  It's called 'Sex on the Beach'.  Really!  I wondered if there's tiny little people getting it on underneath!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Remember when phones were like this?  Well I can't really but in my childhood they really weren't hugely different.  Maybe a bit more plasticky? They sat in the  chilly hallway of our houses and didn't feature large in everyone's life like they do today.  In fact I barely noticed the thing until my later teenage years.  Our recently departed ancestors would have been amazed that we lugged handsets around.  I don't think that they would have understood the concept.

All of a sudden my mobile died on Monday.   I think it may be repairable but at the time when I'm moving and planning jaunts to lands far away I really need a working phone to sort out those inevitable hiccups NOW!   'No there's nothing wrong here' said the lady at the bank when I telephoned to say that card payments had been refused whilst buying rather essential fridge and beds. 'Please update your records to show that there will be some abnormal spending going on' I asked.  'Yes I'll do that'.  Even so Tuesday morning saw me in lengthy negotiations because the fraud department had thought that some baddie somewhere was using my card.  It was conducted on Louis' teeny tiny Sony Xperia which has a faulty speaker and challenged more of the senses than I could cope with.  What's more I tether my laptop to the phone in the van.  Without it I'm cut off from the virtual world at a time when it seems crucial to stay connected.

So a new phone arrived less than 48 hours after I'd ordered it but now it's taking hours to set up with all the apps that were on my old one.  Google Play has not been behaving.  Time that I don't really have but I'm so  lost without 'Brain 2', the handheld annexe to my own bonce.  I can't think straight even to function without it  and its not all the fault of the stinking cold that's set in over the last couple of days.    When did I become so reliant on technology?  Is it such a bad thing that I am?

Tuesday, 21 July 2015


Louis and I headed off down to Brixham yesterday for lunch.  We went to see Mr Metrosexual who welcomes the company now he's retired.  He misses office gossip terribly so I'm happy to update him. I don't think he's mourning the loss of working in an increasingly stretched NHS though.

We settled on a gorgeous little unlicensed seafood hut on the harbour that unusually doesn't seem to feature on Tripadvisor.  It's one of Mr Metrosexual's favourite eateries  and does delicious reasonable priced crab sandwiches...or salad if you're not a carb kind of person.   Along with the cruet sets and menu there's a spray bottle of water on each table to ward off the seagulls who're a bit fond of a fishy snack themselves.

Afterwards we had a stroll to acclimatise Louis to the town that he will call home in just over a week's time.  We took him past this shop  which may be familiar to Antiques Roadshow viewers.  I'm hoping that it will warn my son of what might happen if he doesn't tidy his bedroom!  I reckon the owners got lost among the junk some time ago.  They'll emerge in a few months once they've dug their way out!

Monday, 20 July 2015


'Without doubt Louis is one of the kindest students in the class, always willing to help teachers and students and one who shares everything, from his time to his sweets.' This is an excerpt from my son's school report written by his form tutor.  It is clear from comments by other teachers that he struggles with attentional stuff and is a bit too chatty at times.  I wonder where he gets that from! But I am super proud.   Maybe my dubious parenting skills which involve hauling him out of mainstream housing into a semi-traveller lifestyle to experience living with less have a part to play in this.  Nature vs. nuture and all that!

Lou had a whale of a time on his school trip to Normandy.  And he was the bearer of gifts!  The boys went to a goat farm and bought rather a lot of cheese.  'I bet that coach stank!' said his dad who was the recipient of a red onion swathed variety. Louis bought four rounds of this artisan product.  Mine is the front one covered in red pepper and peppercorns. It is a young fresh lush jobbie and did just the job for lunch yesterday. Lou is keeping the one at the back to himself and guarding it with his life.  Even so I've had a little sneaky nibble and it is pretty good. If I say so myself one of those food photographers might think I've done a half decent job with this snap.
And there's been more pressies! I am such a lucky mummy. The highlight of Lou's holiday was seeing the Bayeux tapestry.  'Why was this favourite?' I asked.  'It was long and interesting.' was the reply. Not sure that I quite appreciate what the Wow factor was.  Perhaps I need to see it for myself. And I can!  My present was a 1:7 scale version of the tapestry in book form.  Maybe it'll be the inspiration for some Norman themed linocuts.
I delved into my purse to give Lou some spending money at Chagstock and again he spent some  on me. Bless!  This is a Shaun the Sheep pencil top that he bought to thank me for taking him on the trails around London and Bristol.  He will adorn the HB that I use to design my linocuts.  Even though I'm all sheeped out, Lou's adamant that we need to bag all 120 Shauns.  We're off to find the final thirty of the sculptures on Tuesday.

And here's the final present from my  terribly generous son.  He got it from the smashing crockery stall at Chagstock, 'rescued' from certain death by paying a pound.  Lou like dolphins and he was very proud of his acquisition.  I'm afraid my frontal lobes disengaged themselves  and I had a bad mother moment when he gave it to me.  I told him it was hideous. It's the ciggie burn above the final 'O' in the Barbados tag that clinched it.

One of my festie friends who will remain nameless says that it should get broken accidently before the move. But I'm not so sure.  Something this hideous is the product of a depraved yet genius mind.  And of course it was bought with love. I'm deciding where exactly it should have pride of place in 'Great Tits House'.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Chaggers 2015

Afternoon all.  A late post today as we left the site of Chagstock 2015 early this morning.  Busy, busy, busy! Once the van was parked safely back at base, we changed vehicle and hurtled off to Plymouth to mooch around the big Heart Foundation furniture shop.  If I can find beautiful secondhand beds for my new home that will be my preference but alas, no luck today. That's the nature of charity shopping.  When you're actively on the prowl there's nothing of interest.

Now I've got a moment to show you some of the pictures taken at the festival where we've had the best time ever.  Here's Klaus the Knaus in on the action sporting his Gay Pride like banner.  We hope the LBGT community don't mind us liking rainbows too.  There's Salty Dog popping up her tent next door. After all Red Mel, me and even Louis can be prone to a  bit of snoring.

Here's my boy making me a smoothie the eco-friendly way.   Ever the entrepreneur Lou had to be dragged away from here before he started charging other punters money to pulp their fruit. He had a wonderful time but missed the action of the first night as he didn't get back from his school  French trip until 3am on Saturday morning.   It meant that his mum, Red Mel, Salty Dog, Ibiza Queen Vikki and a few other people who were old enough to know better could 'rave' in the Live Lounge until the wee small hours.......

.....that was after the set of Mad Dog  Mcrea.  You don't have to look too closely at this video to spot me partying with Red Mel and Ibiza Queen Vikki and a few random strangers who didn't need much persuading to join in with us. Mind you with this type of foot tapping stuff it's terribly hard not to dance your little socks off.

Here's Bean in hunter-gatherer pose.  All he needs is a spear. In the end he settled for a cheese and ham crepe.  Who say's that real men don't each quiche-inspired tucker?  Needless to say I didn't go hungry. I have to say that Cox and Laflin's slow cooked smoked beef brisket was the  favourite tummy filler for Louis and I. A beautiful product and the friendly staff on their food stand even gave me tips on how to rustle up my own version at home.

Here's Lou and his new mate, Charlie, taking a selfie with Gaz Brookfield who played on the Marquee Stage in the afternoon. I've clocked this bloke before at previous festivals.  He's funny, autobiographical and a great acoustic guitarist.  Have a listen to this one if you fancy following a link.  Maybe it describes a Westcountry man's (or woman's) worst nightmare!

What was different this year was Louis took an interest in the music for the first time.  He even momentarily forgot that his mum was embarrassing and danced with me to the Electric Swing  Circus.

And this is me pictured at the front of mainstage for the lovely smiley Seth Lakeman's fabulous set. Now that guy certainly  can fiddle and he's a great showman.  It was getting chilly.  No sensible dark fleecy clothing for me.  A hat, my fave poncho, a lime green boa and more of that frantic dancing did the trick and I was toasty warm!  I love this picture so much that it's going to be my new profile shot. An excellent memory of happy times.

A Vikki selfie taken in the Porta-Loo. Apparently it's a bit of a tradition! Spot the matching feather boa!  We moulted.  No doubt people will think that green and orange angels were present.

Tremendous thanks to all those who entertained, fed and watered us so superbly. And to my friends who count among my besties.  Guys you are all amazing!  Needless to say we'll be back next year!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

A Festival Quickie

I've woken up to a beautiful view  on this sunny morning. Red Mel, Salty Dog and I are  at Chagstock festival on Dartmoor's northern edge for my sixth year running. This will have to be a quick post for we're off grid and my laptop power is running low.  The ability to run appliances without hook up is limited but we've still got our comforts. The fridge is running on gas and only the lighting system that runs off the leisure battery, which is charged by the main battery.

I get Louis back later this morning.  He arrived home from France in the wee hours and will join our partying throng.  After all this is his favourite festival of the year.  No doubt he'll find a gang to play with soon after arriving.  He's good at that.   When he arrives he has a present waiting for him.  Not many kids have a cuddly aardvark but now Lou has.  Isn't this cute guy that Red Mel has crocheted for him superb?!

Friday, 17 July 2015

Daily Spillage

I had my annual appraisal in the last week or so  It looks like I'm doing alright.  Really well in fact. It's good for that to be acknowledged in an NHS where tangible rewards are thin on the ground. One of the things that my manager and I have decided  to address in the next year is to find out whether I, along with my son, might have a brain that works in a different way to others. Do I have a  specific learning difference too?  The boss man is in agreement that it might be helpful. He's talking to occupational health to see how we go about this.

Many amateur sleuths have already labelled me as dyspraxic alongside darn right clumsy . Like Louis I'm totally crap at sporty stuff and  incredibly accident prone. Yesterday  the catalogue of events included throwing tea over myself as I drank from my mug, spilling almost an entire bottle of wine all over the fridge and walking into a wall at the filling station.  There isn't many days that go by where I'm not mopping up liquid that my flailing limbs have somehow knocked over.  It's a bit embarrassing even though I'm accustomed to covering mortification with laughter.  Learning anything that takes dexterity or coordination is a hard slog too.  I get there in the end but it's often a stressful old process.  While I'm pretty high functioning in most brain areas, visual-spatial stuff stumps me. I reckon that I've got the IQ of a toddler in this domain.  With hindsight it's why I found my first chemistry degree so tricky.  At A-level molecules were nice, flat 2D objects that I could cope with.  When they started to be represented in 3D I lost the plot.

More pertinently from a work perspective is that I find organising myself really difficult.  Believe me I have plenty of strategies and routines in place and mindfulness is really helpful too in terms of helping me to focus on what I'm doing.  But when the brown stuff hits the fan, I'm often left floundering.  My mind goes into meltdown and it gets increasingly harder to apply myself at the moments that I most need to stay with whatever is going on.

So why am I seeing whether a formal diagnosis is relevant? After all I've got through fifty years within knowing and I'm still here!  Well firstly it would help me make sense of a lot that's happened in my life.  Then there's the feeling of solidarity with my son that it would give me.  Most importantly knowledge is power.  If  I have an idea of what I'm dealing with then there might be more solutions that can be put in place to make life run more smoothly. And over the next few decades that I've got left on this earth there might be less wasted wine.  That's got to be a good thing! 

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Working With The Inner Hippie

It is hard to recognise myself from the person that I was ten years ago. She was filled with doubt, anxiety and even self loathing caused by constant self-criticism because I'd taken every unkind word said about  me by others as truth.  Working on being kinder to myself has paid massive dividends.  I was joking when I told Salty Dog the other day that I wasn't coming to her beauty product party because I was too gorgeous anyway. I have to say though that I feel rather content with who I am at all sorts of different levels.  Now I'm also self forgiving when I have been an arse.   This was not always the case.

Actively being grateful is reaping rewards as well. At first being actively thankful felt quite mechanistic but now seems to be enmeshed within my psyche.  I described it to a psychologist friend who thought that it sounded as if it was working at schema level, a deep rooted level of thinking that structures the entire way that I view the world. I love the morning affirmations from the very bouncy sounding Bernardette Logue on YouTube. These are currently part of my morning routine.

It seems good to share the effects of this bonhommie with others who are not in the same place as myself, where mental and physical pain is a constant feature in my lives.  As well as trying to spread kindness in a practical way I use a recorded healing meditation by Anna Hughes to guide my efforts.  Not evidence based practice but she says it works.  If you know me personally and are in need of a little TLC, it may be that any warm fuzzy feelings that you're experiencing might because I'm sending those healing rays to you!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

School Trips: Bringing on a Moaning Minnie Moment!

For any of my readers who are worrisome and follow Meanqueen's blog, let me reassure you that she and Rocky are safe and well, holed up on our campsite in deepest darkest Devon.  I haven't taken  any photos yet.  We were too busy yapping!

I've been thinking a little about our own special holiday.  It's now a month away exactly that Lou and I fly to Canada for a North American adventure.  I've been giving thought to how we can make the journeys between Vancouver and Seattle special.  There's seaplanes, ferries, coaches and a scenic train ride to choose from. I'm just trying to work out what will fit into our budget.  The whole three week trip including flights, accommodation, excursions and car hire should come in at well below £5,000.  I'm hoping it will be nearer £4,000.  I'm going to have to be really creative but it's possible for a canny single traveller to pack a lot into a trip if they're careful.

That's why the cost of school trips away irks me.  Louis is away in Normandy for four nights staying in a hostel.  I haven't heard from him as we had a phone crisis just before he left but I'm assuming no news is good news.  I'm sure that he's having a whale of a time.   For what was apparently a money saving exercise, some sadistic insomniac teacher decided that parents should risk life and limb by driving when exhausted to drop their little darlings at school by 2:30am.  We also provided breakfast and a packed lunch for the first day and the boys are expected to buy their own supper on the ferry on Friday evening.  Fair dues to make the trip affordable but the price came in at £420!  Per head, our last whole week in Brittany cost less than that and included a berth on the not inexpensive but convenient overnight ferry between Plymouth and Roscoff.   A quick back of an envelope jobbie shows that, pro rata, price is commensurate with our transatlantic trip, which will includes whale watching, an internal flight and car hire so that we can explore Yellowstone National Park.

Now I want my boy to have this type of educational experience.  Going away without  his parents is a lovely way of increasing his independence and building memories to last a lifetime.  But this is a heartfelt plea to all schools out there as I'm fairly sure from a quick trawl of the internet that I'm not alone in thinking that these trips are often not good value for money . Economies of scale should apply even if the cost of taking teachers is factored into the equation. In these hard times especially, a  little more thought needs to be given to shaving costs. I'm sure that thrifty parents who're used to living on a budget would take on the challenge if  staff really find it that difficult!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

For Worse

I'll tell you lot another story from work as you seem to like those.  It follows on from something I heard on  Radio 4's science programme 'The Infinite Monkey Cage'.  Have I ever told you that I started off doing a physics degree at university?  Had any of the blokes on the course been quite as hot as Prof Brian Cox then I might have been tempted to continue!  On the show they mentioned that scientists hadn't got to the bottom of what love is.  All that experimentation and there isn't a method to work that one out.  'That's rubbish' said  Lou during a snuggle. 'I know what it is'.  I think all of us do when we see and feel it.

There's something about sticking in there even when the other person isn't being particularly nice.  'I hate you mummy!!!!' screamed the toddler.  'I'm not liking you at this moment but I still love you'. replied the mother.  Parents may have all been here.   Oh, by the way this doesn't mean that persistent abuse within any relationship is acceptable.  If you're in this position please review your options. However most of  us are pretty  vile  to those who we hold most dear from time to time when stressed, tired or exasperated.  The expectation of forgiveness will be part of the love equation if the boffins ever work it out.

Last week Ibiza Queen Vikki went out to do an assessment together.  We're learning to put the new found skills that we learnt on our recent course/jolly into practice and putting two heads together is a good way of doing this.  Our travels took us to a residential home where we'd been asked to see a woman who lives there with her husband.  She'd been there for ages but still doesn't know where she is or why she's there.  Because she is so frightened and doesn't understand what's going on she attacks the carers every time they try to help her.   As she's forgotten how personal hygiene or going to the loo works this is a pretty dire state of affairs.

We met her and just chatted for a few minutes as she could not tolerate more from strangers.  Even though this was nothing threatening the look of fear did not leave her face.  I can normally get a smile out of the most reluctant people but not this time.  Moreover the woman got quite angry when she was failing  to understand even simple language. This was one of the saddest situations that I'd seen for a very long while.

What will stay with me for a long time is that her husband did not leave her side.  He held her hand and stroked it.  She asked the same three questions repeatedly  'Where are we?', 'Can we go to bed now?' and 'What's that over there?' over and over again with distress in her voice.  Each time he answered with patience and compassion.  She calmed momentarily and then the angst returned.

When it was time for us to go Ibiza Queen Vikki took the woman back to the dining room in her wheelchair and I had a brief moment alone with her husband.  I asked him if he knew what a brilliant job he was doing.  He didn't but he was very keen to let me know what a beautiful intelligent woman his wife had been.  I told him that I'd guessed that.

There's no easy answers sometimes in my job.  Vikki and I had tears in our eyes when we were discussing what to do afterwards.  We were bowled over by this man's love and compassion.  Just maybe we've started to think of a plan that might alleviate some of that extreme distress.  What's clear is that this could be an even worse situation if love wasn't in the equation.

Monday, 13 July 2015

The Start of Making A Home

I've done the first bit of spending on my new home.  A whole fourteen pounds and fifty pence. Easy tiger!  I know that I'll need some more stuff like light fittings, rugs for strip wooden floors, shelving and a bit of furniture.  But mostly I have no idea what's missing until I move in.  I'm just going to have to see what I've already got in storage and what's already in the house. I've forgotten as I haven't been inside it for nearly two years.

A bit of the cash has been splashed on this toilet brush from Asda.  I know that I threw the old one away as it had rust around the brush. Being a sensitive soul, I wasted mental energy fretting about whether my visitors would think that I was a dirty mare and mistake it for poo.  There!  I've said the unsayable as usual.  My replacement rustless one is part of a collection of London Tube  bathroom accessories, that includes a shower curtain that was still available in store but isn't on the  website anymore. How lucky I was to snap up the set in the sale at half price. I first spotted them at full price when I bought Louis' duvet set for the motorhome  but of course I wasn't in the market for stuff to clutter up a very small space then.   I love the genius design of that modernistic map that was conceived by Harry Beck way back in 1933.  It's interesting that it was the idea of  an electrical draughtsman rather than a cartographer.  I suppose it does look more like a wiring diagram now I've thought about it.

Photo: The Mosaic Gallery

I can't afford a brand new bathroom yet.  That's something I'm going to need to save up for. However I might be able to get started on making a mosaic for the walls when I've got a moment.  Just reflected on the last sentence and laughed my head off!  Anyway when I do get around to it this brilliant design might act as inspiration. It will make a change from the usual aquatic themes.  Hang on though.  There won't be an absence of water altogether.  A tube map isn't  wouldn't be complete if it didn't have the River Thames running through it!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Baas in Brizzle

Lou and I were up with the larks yesterday and got us onto a train just after seven in the morning.  Our mission?  To spot all seventy of those statues of Shaun the Sheep that have popped up around Bristol.    Just over eleven hours later, forty had been bagged.  Now the stepcounter on my phone says that we walked twenty miles.  I'm not sure that's right even though my feet say that it might be.

I'm going to be perfectly honest and say that this trail isn't as good as the London challenge that we finished earlier in the year.  Now Bristol is a city that I know and love.  It's a place I'll be visiting more soon and get to know even better as Red Mel is just finalising the purchase of a flat on the riverside. Yay! However, as much as I love discovering pretty places that I haven't seen before, Brandon Hill Nature Park, for instance was stunning,  I don't like wandering around industrial estates or airless shopping centres.  It was hot and I got stroppy on more than one occasion.  Baa!  There goes my image as the twenty first century's version of Pollyanna.

Lou is still desperate to see the remaining thirty Shauns which are scattered far afield, even in the Cribbs Causeway mall. Yuk! I've taken a couple of days of annual leave next week so it's possible but is will it be an enjoyable use of time????  I'm wondering if its feasible if I stick the bikes on the back of the car and make creative use of public transport as well.  A bit of planning is required methinks.

In spite of my miserable git grumbles we had a great day.   Bristolians are great.  When we ever looked puzzled or lost people spontaneously helped us out. Red Mel met us for the first couple of hours and we had a lovely breakfast together.  And Lou said that it was his second best day ever.  The first?  Apparently on our first ever trip to the campsite on the Pink Granite Coast he had the most epic pine cone fight with his friends.  Proof that it doesn't cost much to keep a child happy.  It's a shame that some parents don't seem to know that.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Forward Focus

Two and a half weeks to go before I leave my motorhome based lifestyle and move into a 'proper' home. Reiki Ray said that I will have to acclimatise myself by living in just one room first of all and gradually branch out into the rest of the house. 'Does he know  how funny he is?' asked Ibiza Queen Vikki who's just moved her work base into my office and as such overheard this comment that was just a small part of one of his bizarre conversations that are peppered with weird advice and hocus pocus. 'He could do stand up!'

Actually I intend to relish all my extra space from day one.  And I'm getting really excited. There's a concept of inevitable change in mindfulness which if complemented with unbridled optimism gives the future a sunny and exciting hue. No good will come of the mourning of a lost lifestyle. Van dwelling has been brilliant but the next phase of my life has all the makings of being so too. So, I've been thinking about what there is to look forward to. Here's some of the things that I've come up with.
  • A bath!  My water at the house cannot be metered so the first will be a deep - with bubbles of course!. I suppose flushing toilets (two!) that don't have to be emptied are a plus too.
  • Room to print my linocuts and start a little venture selling them.  There'll also be a return to jewellery making.   I'll be saying hello to those tools that have been packed away in storage.  Knowing me I will actually do this.
  • Welcoming family and friends, especially the ones who have felt uncomfortable with the confined space of motorhome life.  I'll be the first to admit it's not everyone's bag.  It will be great to have my less intrepid friends and family members around to visit and stay again.
  • Living in a small town.  Eight months of being in the middle of nowhere has taught me that remote rural life is not my bag.  It'll be lovely to wander into town, have a beer, pop out for fish and chips....And friends are close by.  Mr Metrosexual and Ruff Stu are just around the corner.  Barbie Nurse and her man are about fifteen minutes away.
  • Having my breadmaker and Magimix back. Oh and the toaster will be nice too. My cooking repertoire will expand again and I'll be able to do more of that with my boy. 
  • Having reiki treatments on a proper therapy bench again.  Ray's said that he will space clear the house to get rid of 'undesirable energies'.  He does this by hitting a meditation bowl and burning incense.  Now that will give my new neighbours something to watch.
  • Seeing the sea everyday.  That's a really exciting one.  I have dreams of getting a little boat, maybe a canoe or a dinghy.
  • Being able to display my pictures, ceramics and glass.
  • Being able to buy in bulk again and save money by doing so.  There's no room in the motorhome for more than 80 teabags at a time or sacks of porridge.  With lots of kitchen space this money saving option is again open to me.
  • Having the exterior of my house painted.  It's really scruffy but other expenses means that I couldn't do it when I first moved in.  I reckon my neighbours will be pleased too.  It might go some way  to make up for Ray's weird goings on. 
There's yet more that I haven't listed, a washing machine that I can dye stuff in, somewhere to put my tea so that I can drink it in bed, space to change a duvet, the return of batch cooking and stock making......Life is good now.  It will still be good in a future that's drawing ever nearer.

Friday, 10 July 2015

The Durex Bunny

I'm having a lie in this morning at Salty Dog's house.   She's now in my bed blogging  and mainlining tea as well.  We went out on Mutley Plain yesterday evening. Now I always say that with a doggy snigger at the end for I am a cartoon watching child of the sixties.  A bit of  wine was imbibed  on a school day  in celebration of finishing an essay and a good night was had.  We talked to strangers and  listened to the rather talented Jake Bradshaw playing acoustic guitar  in a  pub,  So what to write this morning? I know.  I'll tell a funny story!

I've been playing 'Words with Friends', a version of online Scrabble, with a few of my buddies lately. Because of that interactivity, it's replaced the Guardian crossword and quiz as the daily brain teaser of choice.  Now a few days ago, five of my seven letters came up with a word all on their own.  DUREX!  I told Lou and then remembered I was talking to a twelve year old.   ' Do you know what that means?' I asked.  He gave me a withering look.  'Of course I do' was his reply.  'It's a battery!'

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Summer Starts at 12 Today. Hurray!

When this post goes live at 5am tomorrow I will already be up, beavering away on the last couple of paragraphs of my latest essay.  It's due in at midday.  I wish that I could say that it's been sheer laziness and stupidity that's pushed me so close to the deadline but it isn't.  I just find studying at this level so hard and get overwhelmed quickly.  Sometimes I sit for hours and hours with a headful of muddlednes, annoyed that my inefficiency is robbing me of quality outdoor time.   It's not at all like blogging where those ramblings come easily.

Even so I'm surprisingly perky.  There's so much to look forward to including the ability to put my nose in a book that isn't academic once I've pressed that electronic submission button and my nemesis is sent off into Internet la-la land.  Boomf!!!   Had you have been wandering the corridors of where I work yesterday you might have heard me crooning this.  I caught myself decimating this beautiful song out loud. You can get away with that if you wear a mantle of eccentricity. It's been going round and round in my head over the last few days. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Hot, Hot, Way Too Freaking Hot!

When it comes to spicy food I am a bit of a woose.  Okay I'm not at the extreme end of Walter Softiness.  I'll go hotter than a korma or passanda if I eat at a curry house, but after a few mouthfuls a madras will have me screaming like a girl.  Hang on a minute I am a girl!  Now the heat of chillies is measured in Scovilles and depends on the amount of capsinoid concentration. The warmness of my favourite spice, paprika, measures no more than about 500 units.  The hottest chillies in the world come in above the two million mark.

Once upon a time, about five years ago, until the plant breeders got silly, the ghost chilli topped the chart at over million Scovilles.  I was alerted to its heat by a phone call from the school bus. Someone's little darling had stuck a bit of ghost chilli chocolate up my own little darling's nose. Needless to say it hurt.

I arrived home and a gift was awaiting me, a small chunk of the offending article, no bigger than about half square of Dairy Milk.  Parents had been set the ghost chilli challenge!  I like a bit of competition and popped the stuff in my mouth.  Louis videoed me. It wasn't too bad at first but then the heat grew and grew.  Even so I maintained a reasonably dignified facial expression.  Not decorous enough to share with the whole world though! After I'd swallowed the last little nugget the pain set in.  I haven't been in that much discomfort since being under the surgeons knife last year.  I rolled around in a pathetic heap, scuppered by my own stupidity.  Why,why, why?!!! 'It'll last ten minutes' Lou told me in a matter of fact way. He then added something that I didn't really want to hear. 'And then you'll get more pain when it comes out the other end!'  I'll spare the details of the state of my poor alimentary canal.  However if there ever was a case for applying the warning of 'Don't try this at home', this is it!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Intangible Rewards

My first visit of the day yesterday was seeing someone who had ended up in a nursing care as her husband didn't have the energy to look after her anymore.  The home is one where it looks as if someone gives a damn and the staff are kind even though they're very, very busy. That's not always a given I'm afraid, although of course it should be. Please, please kick up stink when you find places where things are not right.

This lady had been seen by two of my colleagues from other professions in the last couple of months.   Due to the context of their assessments I didn't really have a sense of who she was and  what she'd been doing with her life. I knew that was frail, confused and  had probably suffered recent mini strokes and a urinary infection. In all likelihood she was depressed  as it had been reported that she lacked motivation and felt helpless.  Someone had added happy pills to her exhaustive list of medication to see if that would work some magic.   I reckon that if you did a poll of all people working in older adult mental health services they'd have seen someone just like her just in the last week.

When I walked into her bedroom I found a demure little lady sitting in front of a half eaten bowl of porridge.  As she'd only just moved in the room was pretty bare, devoid of much to personalise it. She smiled though and I smiled back so we got off to a good start. You don't want to come across all scary in my job. Often people are terrified as it is and envisage that I carry strait jackets and big tranquiliser darts.

Communication was quite difficult at first.  The lady was very deaf and there wasn't a hearing aid in sight.  She was also muddled and didn't seem to be understanding me.  Conversation was going nowhere and I'll be honest and say I was thinking of cutting my visit short.  However I normally spend an hour with people when I first meet them and I decided that this lady needed the gift of time. After all it wasn't likely that the staff were free to sit around much and have a bit of a chat.

And bit by bit things  changed.  She conveyed to me that she didn't think that her brain was working and she got a little upset.   I said that's why I was visiting.  She also thought that the half eaten breakfast wasn't a good accessory.   I'd left it there to see if she was going to finish it but as soon as she said something I moved it pronto.  I so wanted to see her do something for herself. After all sitting around all day doing diddly squat isn't good for anyone.

Looking for inspiration I spied a book of crosswords on her bookshelf.  I thought that it must have belonged to a previous incumbent or been brought in by a misguided relative.  How could a lady that could barely string two words manage that?  Something, a little inner voice maybe, told me to give it a go.  'A Scottish city, seven letters' I felt a bit mean asking.  'Well it can't be Edinburgh, can it?' came the reply.  And then, 'Glasgow!'  I nearly fell over backwards.  From then on it got even better.  I offered her the book.  'I have to try, don't I' she said taking it.  She could read her own clues and fill in the puzzle herself, only needing  a bit of a nudge to move on and a different clue when she got stuck. Spurred on I found yet another one of those colouring books that I was talking about the other day.  She got started with that, even trying to do some colour mixing. One of her fish turned out blue and she told me that could not be right for there were none in nature.  I googled images on my tablet to show her that they did indeed exist.

At the end of my visit I told her that there seemed to be hope and I would be back.  'I'd like that' she said.  My heart melted.  'Did you know that she can colour and do crosswords?' I told the staff before I left.  Even though she'd been with them for a few weeks they didn't have a clue.  We started to come up with a plan so that she can be helped to regain something of her individuality through what she does.

I'm an occupational therapist.  Another day has gone by where I'm proud of the difference that I make.  Not everyone is lucky enough to say that about their job.

8 July Addendum:  How timely things happen.  I was given this button badge yesterday by a colleague who'd just been to our profession's conference.  'Wear that' she said.  'It'll make you lot madder than you already are!'

Monday, 6 July 2015

Head Out Of Sand

My thoughts were turning a lot to the knotty subject of  spending for the rest of the year. The next few months seem very expensive indeed but up to now I've been doing the avoidance thing around quantifying just how much everything is going to cost.  Won't it all go away if I ignored it.  Oh no, It won't!

By the way, I tried to find a suitably themed picture of a scary, tetchy ostrich burying its head in the sand. It's the best place for that big beak methinks. God was having a bit of a giggle at our expense on the day that he created that creature.  I bet he was laughing his socks off at the thought of them chasing us around.  Does God wear socks? Anyway I couldn't find a free image, of the ostrich that is, and not the covered tootsies of the Almighty Father, but instead will share this rather pleasing second century Roman mosaic.

Back to the matter in hand! After setting myself that budget the other day,  I though it might be a jolly good idea to work out just how much money would be coming in and, gulp! going out in 2015. So I've made myself a lovely spreadsheet for I like to play with numbers very much. It's work in progress and  reflects anticipated income and spending.  However there's columns for the actual figures as they're known.

The situation is as I thought. What with a very special holiday coming up and essential maintenance to the house it looks like more will go out than come in.  The exercise has shown me that I could rectify the situation by  time to pulling the belt in a little more tightly or alternatively look at increasing income.  I'm not too worried really.  The overspend isn't colossal in the scheme of things. After all aren't savings for those special, one-off or emergency things and not for insulation when you're in your box six feet under?

What I must say is that now I've done the exercise I'm feeling so much better! I'm far more prepared for what's around the corner.  There's a general lesson here about facing up to what is bothersome. Often things aren't as bad as they seem.  Even if they are, it's so much better to go forward into a situation with as much awareness as can be mustered.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

A Skilletful of Scrumptiousness

Chucking a whole bunch of stuff in a frying pan is a common cooking method for me. You can tell I'm a sophisticated bird. The resultant mixture lasts for a few meals.  Maybe I'll eat it cold as a salad in my lunchbox or it will do as a filling for a frittata, or a wrap which I'll leave be or shallow fry to make a chimichanga.   I make this kind of hash up so often that I couldn't blog about it each time there was a variation.  You'd all get very bored and buzz off. And that would never do for I love to have my web-based gang around.

But I'm have to going to share this one as it is totally delicious. And what's more it's the product of yesterday's cupboard and fridge clear out,  making do with what remains on the eve of a shopping trip.  Here's how to replicate it.
  • Heat a very good glug of rapeseed oil in a lidded frying pan.
  • Dice the last remaining potato and an aubergine into one inch cubes.  Or thereabouts.   Honestly,  if I gave that instruction to Louis he'd have his ruler out but there's really no need to be that pedantic.  Pop them the hot oil and put the lid on.
  • Chop up about a quarter of a chorizo sausage that's been lurking at the back of the cupboard for a while.  I get immense satisfaction when I've use those last remains of food up.  Gaining pleasure in throwing away the empty wrappers is one of my little quirks.  Also, cube up half a block of leftover halloumi and chuck that in.  Leave the lid on for about ten  minutes so the steam adds to the frying process.  It'll all cook quicker that way.  Then open to the elements so that the cheese and potato can crisp up for about another five minutes.
  • Add salt, pepper, halved cherry tomatoes and a lovely dash of smoked paprika to the mix.  Hmm! at this stage I thought that it would all look far more lovely with the addition of a bit of greenery.  Bah! The fridge was devoid of the usual peas, cabbage or broccoli.
  • Result!  Add half a  chopped up Baby Gem right at the end of the cooking process so it just wilts.  I'm sure I've seen cooked lettuce somewhere before and I'm not making it up
There you have it.  A wonderful melange of flavours and sublime textures, slippery aubergine, squeaky salty cheese, a bite of the meat.  Mmmmm!  This might have been a bit of an experiment but it'll be one that I'll be repeating.  Pudding was good as well. Yoghurt with some of my favourite salty caramel sauce mixed in topped with strawberries.  I have to say that this was leftovers at their finest!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Funky, Frugal and Frosty

I'm in the market for a  couple of beds when I move to my swanky Brixham home.  Louis'  old bunk bed gravitated towards his dad's home when we moved out of our old house.   It wouldn't have fitted under the eaves of his attic room.  So I think that I'm going to donate my storage bed to him.  He likes to spread out as he sleeps so a double will be right up his street.  It will also mean that he will have someone to hide his junk when I inspect his room.  Let's make it as easy as possible for him to be tidy.

That leaves me two beds short, one for the spare room and my own.  I'm minded to go king sized as the room is capacious enough.  I have a hankering for one where I can entwine fairy lights through the headboard.  A proper old fashioned number like the all brass version of this one was foremost in my mind until Little Wren pointed out that metal beds squeak.  Do they?  Surely  that can be sorted out with washers and a bit of lubricant.  On the bed silly and not about any part of my person.  Some of you have very smutty minds indeed!

My old fridge that I got from the British Heart Foundation shop didn't make it to storage.  Its door seals were knackered so off, it went  to be recycled.   I could go for a secondhand one again but am minded buy new so that I can get a really energy efficient model.  It saves money and is good for the planet.  That's definitely win-win.  This is where I'm learning something. There's quite a lot of difference in running costs even between models with the same energy label.  Here's the site that you need to go to for comparisons.

Here's the one that's really taken my fancy,  a Gorenje retro. It comes in at number six in the eco-friendly rankings for medium sized appliances.  That's plenty enough space for one mama and a twelve year old's tuck.  More expensive than a bog standard square fridge but it would look a treat in my cream and aubergine kitchen and give me joy every time I looked at it!

Friday, 3 July 2015

It Should be Plenty

In preparation for a life with the extra expenses of running a home as opposed to living in a motorhome with an all inclusive electricity supply on my pitch I'm rethinking my spending.   The exterior of the house needs painting to prevent structural damage and there's a few pieces of furniture and electrical items that have to be bought before I move in.  Then there's the work that can wait.  A new bathroom, turning the very scrappy utility room downstairs into a shower room, repainting some of the inside, a beautiful  Devon bank that forms the property boundary needing serious attention.......  It's all going to take money and some serious saving is warranted. But life is for living.  You never know what might be around the corner.  My job teaches me that on a near daily basis.   I  want to enjoy life in all its fullness.  Spending time with friends and travel near and far are ever present priorities for me.  I'm not going to be giving them up anytime soon.

The NHS pays me a decent wage but its not enough to be wanton!  I've decided that (sob!), aside from new underwear and leggings, clothes buying should be off the agenda for the next year.  Even from charity shops! You can get rather carried away in those places.  A fiver here and £7.99 there and a considerable sum has been spent.  There'll be no books either.  They MUST come from the library or be gifted.  And there'll be a strict embargo on arty crafty fripperies to make my house a home. Unless I make them or receive them as a present they're off the card.  Let's see how long it takes to break that one!

At the beginning of this month I set  myself a budget of twenty pounds a day for regular living costs apart from regular direct debits, school expenses paid through Parentpay and the initial bundle of expenses for setting up home.    Diesel, groceries, cleaning stuff, toiletries, clothes and entertainment in all its forms all have to come out of pot. 'That's plenty!'  I hear many of you scream. And  I'm totally in agreement that I'm lucky.  Many live on far less.

What remains will be saved or go towards making my home 'ideal'.  Some will be given away for, in a world of need, it does not seem right to keep all I earn to myself when I have stuff left over for luxuries.

So it's day three of the new regime and how's it going?  Well day 1 put me in deficit by £36.  Eeek! Totally wiped out by having to refuel the car and a monthly meeting held in a curry house!  Nothing spent yesterday though.  That leaves me four whole pounds to let my hair down on a Friday night. It's a good job I'll be studying!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Source

It's that time of year that Louis is off on lots of school trips. Masses of them including a five day jaunt to Normandy in a couple of weeks.  For that one he leaves at the unfeasibly early hour of 2:30 in the morning.  I'm sorely tempted to take the motorhome, park up in the school grounds and kick him out at the designated hour!

This week he spent the day at Buckfast Abbey, a favourite haunt of ours anyway.  He met a monk.   These are the observations about the encounter that he wrote in his workbook that made me giggle.

'Use this space to write down anything about the talk you may want to remember later.'
They eat soup everyday

'Were there things about monastic life which came as a surprise to you?
They eat soup everyday.

A couple of evenings ago we had a lovely time recreating part of a trip that Lou'd been on a couple of weeks ago.  They'd followed the course of the River Lemon, which creates one of the boundaries to our campsite.  After a beans on toast tea Louis told me that he was going to take me to its source, just to the east of Haytor.  What a lovely idea! We scrabbled about in the undergrowth for a while following a stream and then came to the patch of lush bog land that you can see above. From there emanating a gurgling sound.  The source!  And here's Louis at a spot that the boys had dammed earlier.  I was so surprised at how the water course had widened just a few yards down.