Sunday, 22 October 2017

Getting a bit out of control....

With hindsight, perhaps October wasn't the best month to try and cut down drastically on food shopping spends.  Last week we were away on a last minute Mon-Fri break, stayed in a timber lodge on a quiet fishing site in north Devon, it was wonderful and totally made up for the disastrous holiday last month.  My £41 shop last weekend included some food for the holiday, but we did eat out a couple of times as well, so spent more on food than I would have if we'd been at home.  And tomorrow we have guests arriving to stay with us for a couple of days....they don't eat the same sort of things as we do - mainly junk or fast food! - and one of them is a very fussy eater, so that's meant we've had to buy more food than usual, and included things we wouldn't normally have.  E.g.  the fussy one only drinks cola, and branded at that - we never ever buy fizzy pop for ourselves and if we did, it wouldn't be an expensive branded one.

So yesterday we spent just over £70 on food shopping.  Oh well, I did stick to my list again and I've economised on some things, so £70 is probably less than I could have spent.  Our guests only have the leading brand of tomato ketchup - in our cupboard I had half a bottle of the supermarket own brand one I usually buy, plus a little bit left in a bottle of the leading brand one (bought from Approved Foods ages ago when they had it at a cheap price). I was planning on swishing it out with water and adding it to a stew or something, but had a brainwave - I poured the own brand one into the leading brand bottle and shook them together....we'll see if our guests actually notice the difference!  They don't read this blog so they won't know ;-).  So that saved me having to buy another (expensive) ketchup.

We've recently started having a dominoes and cards night every fortnight or so with our lovely friendly neighbours, we take it in turns to host and provide food and drink.  It's our turn this coming Friday but I don't have to buy anything extra for that, I'll make some snacks using what we've got.  We've got some beers, cider and wine too....I almost never drink alcohol and OH doesn't drink much, so what we get given or buy on special offer always sits in the cupboard for ages - useful for when we have guests.

I think I might try doing the restricted shop thing next month, nothing much planned so far, we're not going away and no guests visiting.

Thank you 50 and Counting (good luck with your reduced shopping!), Fishcake Random and Gemma's Person for your comments on my last blog - retirement (well, OH's) is going just fine, we're busier than ever.  Our Betty Boo is a year old this week, how time has flown!  She's as lovely as ever, still making us laugh every single day, still very stubborn but reasonably well behaved.  Our one-to-one training with the lovely Carrie-Anne has been put on hold as she is heavily pregnant, but hopefully we'll continue with it when Carrie's back to work.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

and the 3rd....

Went shopping this morning, stuck to my list apart from a pack of wraps that OH decided he wanted for his lunch (they were reduced though).  I think one of the things that's helping me not to buy stuff we don't actually need, is that by sticking rigidly to the list, I don't go down any aisles which don't have stuff we need.....I just look for the items on my list and don't bother looking at anything else.  Spent £41, making a total of £113 for three shops.  

On the face of it, it doesn't look like I'm keeping my spending down.  However, under normal circumstances (not watching the pennies in other words), we usually spend around £60 or £70 on a weekly shop, so we're actually doing pretty well.  I'm sure we could do even better though.  At the end of October I'll take stock of things and see how I can cut down even more.

Thanks for the comments on the last post.  Sue in Suffolk - I've tried other brands, including shop's own, too but always come back to the Nescafe ones, I really like them the best.  I have the Unsweetened ones - they still contain glucose but are much less sweet.  And yes it does make sense to stock up on things we regularly buy when they're on a good offer.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

2nd shop!

Firstly, welcome to new followers Deb B and Sue Hall, and thanks for the comments on my last post.  We're all noticing prices going up and shops taking stuff off their shelves to make room for seasonal (expensive) stuff.  Kate mentions very cheap frozen stuff in her T***o - we don't have a T***o round here (amazingly, thought they'd taken over the country!).  Apparently, they've been refused planning permission here (for some reason, I know not what) in the past.  However, someone told me the other day that an M&S food store will be opening up in our town next year, taking over the Buyology premises - they've only been open a few months but I'm not surprised they're closing, it looked like a jumble sale and sold rubbish stuff anyhow.

We had to go shopping again (sooner than I'd planned) as I'd run out of a few things.  Sugar - having made several apple cakes, chutney and jam over the past week, I'd used it all, and I still have one more lot of chutney to make.  My lactose-free milk - I generally get through 2 litres of fresh and 1 litre of longlife every 2 or 3 weeks....I was down to 1 fresh (in the freezer, I thought there were more) and 3 longlife.  However, when I opened a longlife yesterday, it had gone off - not surprising really as it transpired it was 4 months out of date.  So were the other 2....I suspect 'someone' (who shall remain nameless but it wasn't me!) had put the cartons away last time we bought them and hadn't put them behind the old stock.  I opened the other had also gone off and the other was on the turn, so I made scones with it and froze them.  I'd also run out of antibac kitchen spray - I thought there was another one in the cupboard - there was, but it turned out to be window cleaner.

I had a quick look at MySupermarket to see where my milk was cheapest (it's gone up in price quite a bit recently, generally £1.40 a litre) and As*a had it on offer at £1 for fresh, and 4 for £4 for longlife.  They also had some meat joints in their 3 for £10 offer, 950g boneless pork leg and 750g gammons.  And my favourite coffee, those Nesc**e cappuccino sachets, on offer at £1.50 per pack, they usually range in price from £1.50 to £2.98....generally nearer the top end.  I know they're an indulgence, but I only have 1 a day, first thing in the morning, very occasionally a 2nd in the afternoon.  Their Extra Special bacon rashers were 2 packs for £4 as well.

So I ended up spending £51.41, but bought enough milk to last me 6 or 8 weeks and saving £6.40 whilst it was on offer, 8 boxes of my coffees saving £4+, a boneless pork leg joint and 2 gammon joints (no waste and they'll each do us for several meals), bacon and some dog treats on offer, plus the sugar, kitchen spray and some cheese which was also on offer.  I saved about £15 altogether so, although I spent more than I was hoping, we got some very good deals and bought things which will last us several weeks.

Monday, 2 October 2017

First Stoptober shop

Over the last few days I wrote a list of things needed, there weren't many, just ordinary milk, nut milk for me (I like nut or coconut milk on my cereal - not fussy, whichever one is on special offer), butter, strong Cheddar, peanut butter, honey, canned grapefruit in juice, a multi-seed loaf, kitchen towel and pan scourers.  The grapefruit is to go with a can of Mamade that's been in the cupboard for ages (got the idea from Sue of The Cottage at the end of a Suffolk Lane, thank you Sue) to make grapefruit and orange marmalade.  For the last few weeks I've been making our own bread, but we've been busy over the weekend and I knew I wouldn't have time to make a loaf today, hence buying one.

It was just 13 items (4 nut milks, as they were on offer at £1 each), and it came to £21.05.  £21.05!!!  Buying just a few items and it costing over £20 shocked me really, it shows just how much food costs nowadays and how much prices have gone up.  As others have mentioned in their blogs, I noticed that a lot of the supermarket's basic range stuff has disappeared.  And of course they're starting to get Christmas stuff in, which means prices are going up (a carton of chocolates, which I'm sure were £3.50 a few weeks ago, are now £4 and supposedly on offer, down in price from £5 allegedly....I suppose they'll say in tiny print on the shelf label that they were priced at £5 for a week in one particular store in London!  Do they think we're stupid?!).  

The bill today has opened my eyes quite a lot and made me more determined to use up as much as we can from our larder and freezer stores before going shopping again.

I stuck rigidly to my list and didn't even look at anything else (a first I think!).

Sunday, 24 September 2017

A sort of Stoptober

More of an experiment, really.

Managed to get quite a few yellow sticker meat/poultry things last week, which have all been portioned up and frozen.  And of course loads of homegrown fruit and veg prepped, cooked where necessary and also frozen or made into jams or chutneys.  Did an Approved Food order and stocked up on tins, packets and flour, and went to Wilkos for toiletries and washing/cleaning supplies.  So the fridge, freezers and cupboards are pretty much bursting at the seams right now, and we still have lots of veg and apples to come from the garden.  We also have lots of dog food, dried and frozen homemade.

In theory then, we shouldn't need to buy anything except dairy for the next few weeks.  I'm going to see if we can do just that, only go shopping when necessary and keep all receipts so I can see what we've spent at the end of October.

Shame we can't keep a cow and a goat in the garden!  :-))

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Betty back to normal, and food processing

Thank you for your kind comments, as always.  I stayed downstairs on the sofa for 2 nights, to keep an eye on Betty - she was quite restless and out of sorts.  She's now been back to the vet for her post-op check and has been pronounced absolutely fine, the cut is healing so well not even another dressing needed, and we don't have to take her back again unless there are any problems.  We've to keep on with her anti-inflammatory pain med for another 2 or 3 days, small meals spread throughout the day rather than the 2 large ones she normally has, and only short walks on the lead for a further week.  That's going to be the hardest thing - she's already back to being full of beans and is straining at the leash to be let off and run!  We've decided to take her for 5 or 6 short walks daily for the time being, rather than the 2 or 3 long walks/runs she normally has.  Thank goodness husband's retired!

It's totally amazing to me that she's so well and lively after what is, after all, a total hysterectomy - if that was one of us ladies, we'd not be feeling like running around 3 days after the op!  Animals are just so incredibly resilient.

It was a shame about our holiday, to be honest it really didn't feel much like a holiday at all.  We're hoping we may be able to get away for a short break in the not too distant future.

I'm having a day in the kitchen (just sat down for a quick coffee and rest) - there's so much fruit and veg produce to deal with and process at the mo.  I've just made bread dough and chopped carrots, onion and beetroot in the processor to make veggie/bean burgers.  Our friendly neighbours gave us a bag of cooking apples last week, I'll be making a couple of apple cakes, possibly some chutney, and simply stewing some for the freezer.  Bought a massive cauli reduced to 40p yesterday, will make a couple of cauli/macaroni cheese dishes to freeze.  Husband brought in two courgettes that had turned into marrows (he said he didn't see them!!) - one we'll have stuffed probably for dinner tomorrow, the other I'll grate and add to the pack of minced lamb I have in the freezer, that'll make a couple of shepherds pies.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Back, mostly all well, but poor Betty :(

Thank you for your kind comments.  The two family members who had serious health worries have had their results back....not nearly as bad as feared, although still ongoing problems to be dealt with.  At least we can breathe a sigh of relief now though.

We went away last Friday for a week's holiday in Cornwall (it was looking like we may have had to cancel, due to the family health problems, but fortunately results came back early in the week).  Unfortunately, though, we had no end of problems with both the car and the holiday cottage, which meant we threw in the towel and came back home 2 days early - we just weren't feeling the holiday.  Oh well, never mind, it was a relief to be home.

We took Betty for her spaying op today - all went well, we brought her home at 3.30 pm and she's not moved off her bed since - she's just sleeping off the anaesthetic, hardly even changing position.  For the first half hour she whimpered like a baby, broke my heart.  She's not interested in food yet (I cooked a bit of chicken for her) and wouldn't even have a drink, although she did lick a few drops of water off my fingers.  

10 minutes later.....she's just woken up and had a few sips of water, thank goodness, I was beginning to get a bit worried.  I'm going to stay up with her tonight, I'll sleep (ha!) on the sofa.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Back soon

Very busy at the mo, and some worrying family health issues.  Will post when I can.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Utility room pics

Here are the pics I took of the finished utility room.  Well, I say finished - it is, more or less, but I still need to buy a length of material to make a curtain to cover the underneath of the worktop.  It's where stuff we don't use much is stored and looks a bit unsightly, I'd rather it was all hidden away from sight.  And a pretty bright flowery curtain would bring in a bit of colour.  The whole room is very light in colour, which is what I wanted - it was very dark and dingy before and I wanted a complete change.  The paleness of it all makes the room look so much bigger than before - it is a pretty good size, about 12ft x 15ft, with a space of about 2ft x 4ft taken up by the boiler cupboard.

The ceiling where the mould was before, all treated and replastered.  It would be nice to get that horrible strip light replaced, I really don't like strip lights (unfortunately, we have them in the kitchen and dining room too), but that's a job for an electrician.  Husband can turn his hand to most things, with the exception of electrics, which he doesn't feel competent enough to do.

The cupboards all now beautifully matching, with the lovely new worktop underneath.  The baskets on the left hold vegetables, the plastic lidded boxes I store supplies of packet foods in, the green one contains the dog food.  Tins and jars I keep in the cupboards.

The space underneath the worktop where we keep not much used stuff, which is where I'll put a curtain across to hide it all.

The washing machine corner, with spare fridge and small freezer.

Beside the boiler cupboard, new upright freezer replacing the old knackered chest freezer, which has now gone to the tip.

Tumble dryer beside the door to the garden...note the lovely new vinyl floor covering.  After I'd taken this shot, husband removed the last of his tools (on the worktop in the corner) and promises not to bring them back in!  I've said he can use the drawers beside the tumbler if he likes, I have enough Fablon left over to cover those too.

The next jobs on the agenda are decorating the twin spare room, and husband wants to box in the horrible 50s fireplace in the lounge.  Those are jobs for next month.

Thank you to Briony, TA, Cheryl and Dawn for your comments, and welcome to a new follower, Janipi p.

Friday, 25 August 2017

The hearing thing....

Thank you so much everyone for all the comments....I also had an email from Chris who gave me some helpful info - thanks.

Amazing how many of us suffer with tinnitus, seems to be a common thing.  Toni, I hadn't actually noticed that your aid is cerise - how lovely!  The colour would suit you perfectly!  I didn't know they came in colours.  How funny about your tooth and our backs - I know we like a lot of the same things, but it seems we have even more in common :-)  I've tried that massaging/draining lymph nodes thing a few times, can't say it's made any difference to my tinnitus though.

Cheryl, my tinnitus is white noise (my mum's is a buzzing noise) so I can't see how more white noise would help me at night.....doesn't it just irritate you more?

Vix, total hip replacement at 39? Blimey, I've never heard of anyone having it that young!

I'm still undecided about the hearing aids.  I think I'm going to book a free hearing test at Specsavers (they say they put you under no obligation to buy aids, they merely give you advice) and have a chat with the technician who does it.  At the hospital, I was so taken aback when the specialist said I had significant hearing loss that I didn't really take in much of what else he said, and didn't think to ask questions.  Now I've recovered from the shock a bit, I can go to Specsavers armed with a list of questions.

The doctor in charge of the hearing therapy clinic rang me a couple of days ago, which I thought was a bit odd (ringing me I mean), considering that the clinic is for patients with hearing loss!  Luckily, I can hear people on the phone fairly well, provided there's no background noise or interference, in which case I can't hear a thing.  Anyway, she said there's quite a long waiting list for the clinic and she wouldn't be able to see me until November.

In other, happier news, we've finished the utility room at last, I'm so pleased with it, it looks lovely.  With the walls and ceiling painted white, light coloured vinyl flooring (instead of the old bare concrete) and pale wood coloured Fablon covering the cupboard doors, the room looks much bigger.  The Fablon was an absolute bugger to put on the doors, it kept creasing and bubbling and sticking to itself....when Valerie, Peter and John used sticky back plastic on Blue Peter they made it look so easy!!  Anyway, it's done, it's lovely.  I've taken pics and will put them on another post.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Nearly done, and a bit of a shock

Thank you for the comments on my last post (welcome Vix, I'm honoured!  I said hello to you once when you were trading in Bristol a couple of years ago).

All the decorating is finished in the utility room, OH has fitted the new (to us) worktops, and the new Venetian blind is up.  Today he's fitting new hinges to the last 2 cupboard doors, then we're covering all the cupboards with Fablon and fitting different doorknobs (we already had a bagful of those, can't remember where or why we got them).  Tomorrow the vinyl flooring will be laid, then everything can go back in and I'll get my dining room back and my lovely new utility room will be finished.  I'll take photos when it's all done.

I'm so grateful to husband for doing it all (well, the bulk of it) - he's getting older (66 now) and has arthritis in his hands and knees, and the dyslexia means he's disorganised and makes the occasional mistake with measuring.  But nothing stops him, he carries on regardless as he's not the sort to sit around doing nothing.  He'll give any kind of DIY thing a go, the fact that he's never done something before doesn't put him off, he'll have a look online or in one of his DIY books for help.  And he watches loads of the DIY type programmes on TV, he's always seeing something that he thinks is worth a try.  He really is a treasure (even if he does get on my nerves with his untidiness!).

I had to go to the hospital for tests last week, as I've been having some trouble with my hearing.  The tests confirmed I have quite significant hearing loss in both ears, and I need hearing aids.  This came as a bit of a shock - I'm only in my 50s, I feel far too young to have hearing aids.  The specialist said it's not age-related, and he couldn't see a problem with my ears themselves, he said it may possibly be tied up with the raging tinnitus I have had for a few months.  Well, I've actually had tinnitus for donkeys years, it's never really bothered me before though, it wasn't there all the time and wasn't particularly obtrusive.  But over the last few months it's become very loud and is constant, I now have it literally all the time.  The specialist was at a loss to explain this as he said tinnitus usually gets better over time.  I have to say I'm not at all keen on the NHS aids he showed me, which are the only ones they prescribe.  I have looked into private ones, but good grief they're expensive!  I told him I didn't really want the NHS ones (I have short hair and they would be visible), and he said he was going to refer me to a hearing therapist (to learn how to cope with tinnitus and general hearing loss) but didn't know whether they'd accept me if I hadn't tried hearing aids first.

I'm feeling a bit numb about it all - I was really expecting the doctor to say that the hearing loss was temporary and related to an ear infection or wax, perhaps, but he said I didn't have either.  Oh, and I've got a wobbly front tooth which I expect will have to come out sooner or later.  So what with my ears, tooth, diabetes, Achilles tendon and bad back, I kind of feel like my whole body is wearing out way too early :-(

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Keep calm and do yoga!

I'm not the world's best housewife - far from it!  I don't vacuum every day, I clean the bathroom when it needs it, as opposed to a schedule, I only wash the kitchen floor about once a week, I rarely dust (seems a bit pointless, all I'm doing is moving the dust from one place to another....for this reason I'm not really a fan of ornaments!).  I don't mind things ('stuff', for want of a better word) put on windowsills or the tops of cupboards etc, so long as they don't build up into a tower that eventually falls over.  

But I do like things to be reasonably tidy, and I am pretty organised.  My husband, however, is not - at all.  He's very untidy, he just doesn't seem to notice when things are in a mess.  He's also extremely disorganised and is forever losing things - tools, keys, shoes, glasses - because he puts things down and can't remember where he's put them...I've always said his hands are not connected to his brain.  He's dyslexic, which I think is one of the main reasons why he's so disorganised - his brain just doesn't organise things very well.

After 34 years of marriage, I'm used to his disorganisation - I also count myself fortunate that he's so hands on and is willing to get stuck into anything, he's a great DIYer and can turn his hand to building most things.  He does create loads of mess though, which does tend to irritate me - I just have to keep telling myself that it's a means to an end and the end will be worth it.

This is all about the utility room - he decided, without me saying anything, that he'd fit new worktops as he thought I'd like them.  He's right, I would - I never mentioned it though because I didn't want to give him any more work, I would have put up with the old mismatched ones.  He had in the shed, unbeknown to me, a long length of worktop he'd been given by a neighbour, which was surplus to their requirements.  It wasn't quite enough to completely replace everything in the utility room, but there's a local discount woodyard which sells loads of surplus stock/slightly damaged worktops at very cheap prices.  He went there this morning, confident that he'd be able to find a matching piece - he did, and it only cost £14!  So now he's taking out the old worktops and fitting the new ones, which involves yet more mess.

Yes I'm very grateful, and I know I'm going to have a lovely utility room which will meet all my requirements and, very importantly, look really nice, after having basically a makeshift horrible tip for the past few years.  But I am beginning to be a bit irritated by the ongoing mess - dry plaster footprints all over the kitchen floor every time he walks in, because he doesn't take his outside shoes off (because he's in and out about 50 times an hour all day long!).  And feeling a bit irritable about having to move things (that he's put there 'just for a minute' and then forgets he's done it because his mind immediately goes straight onto something else) so that I can get to something.  E.g. he'd put his stepladder and a box of decorating equipment in front of the spare fridge in the utility room, and I needed to get something out of it.  He'd also moved a big plastic box containing the dog food, because he wanted to get to something behind it - he put the box, which is heavy, on top of the small chest freezer and left it there.  I had to call him in from the garden to come and move it, as it was too heavy for me to lift.

I think all the things I'm learning in my yoga classes about breathing and releasing tension are going to come in very handy over the next few days!  In another week or so it will all be done, I just have to focus on that.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

We have lift off!

Operation Utility Room has started.....the plasterer is here, halfway through the ceiling, he's alternately singing/bemoaning the state of the ceiling (have to say his singing leaves a lot to be desired, but at least he's a cheerful soul).

The floor will be done tomorrow, then we can start painting once the floor's dry.  We've got the paint, Fablon and replacement handles for the cupboard doors and new window blind, just the vinyl floor covering to get once all the painting is done.  Can't wait till it's all finished and I can then go in there every day with a smile on my face, rather than hating it.

To answer TA's comment about whether I have a surreptitious practise of yoga at home....yes I do TA, have to do it upstairs out of the way, if I do it downstairs the dog thinks we're playing and jumps all over me!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

At last! And more aching muscles...

After what seems like I've been waiting forever to get my utility room done, we have finally managed to pin down the plasterer, he's coming at 8.00 am on Saturday to do the ceiling, then will help OH re-cement the floor.  This Friday will be spent clearing everything out of the room in preparation, the appliances (spare fridge, chest freezer, washing machine and tumbler) will all have to go in the garage for the time being.  Actually, I've just realised, the freezer will have to go in the dining room as there's still food in it and no electrics in the garage.  Best make sure I'm up to date with the washing first, as it'll be a few days I expect before we can do the decorating and laying of the cushion flooring and get the appliances back in.  OH needs to refurbish the wall cupboards, putting on new hinges and handles and fixing the shelves inside as necessary, then I'm going to cover all the doors with sticky-back Fablon type stuff.  I'll also cover the worktop with the same stuff.  I can't wait for it all to be done, it's so exciting! (we lead such an interesting life lol).

Thank you for the comments about yoga, seems several of you have no classes nearby, which is a pity, cost is a factor too.  A friend asked me yesterday why I don't go back to the chiropractor, even if just for a couple of sessions, as I'm having so much back pain lately because of my sprained Achilles tendon.  Well, it's because for the cost of 2 sessions with the chiropractor, I can have 16 weeks of yoga - no contest!  The yoga classes have other benefits too - I enjoy them a lot, the teacher is lovely and it's a fun bunch of like-minded people in the class, we all giggle a lot.  I find it really relaxing and stress-relieving, and it's an hour of me time, something I do on my own that's just for me.  Much as I love having husband at home now he's retired, it is nice to have a bit of time to myself.

Had my 2nd class last night, we concentrated mostly on upper body/shoulder stuff last night, really stretching our shoulder muscles and opening up our chests (ooerr missus) - consequently, my shoulders today feel like I've been doing windmill actions with my arms for about 12 hours nonstop.  Although I do find it quite difficult to do some of the stretches at the moment, I know it will get easier as I practise more and get more supple.  I'm already starting to feel the benefits, I'm standing straighter, consciously keeping my shoulders down and am more aware of my posture and breathing.  Looking forward to next week!

Thursday, 3 August 2017


Thank you for the lovely comments about my beautiful Betty, she's my baby and I love her to bits, she's enriched our lives so much and I cannot imagine life without her.

Ever since I sprained my Achilles tendon (about 3 months ago now), I've been hobbling about like an old woman, limping, unable to stand in the kitchen for more than a few minutes without having to bend forward clutching the worktop for support.  Walking in the field with the dog is a complete No No, the ploughed uneven surface kills my leg and back.  My limping awkward posture exacerbates my long term back problem and makes my left hip hurt like hell.  I'm fed up with being crippled, having to curtail what I can do, and taking painkillers 3x daily - I don't want to live like that (GP said the tendon could take 3-6 months to heal, and to keep taking painkillers in the meantime).

I know I could go back to the chiropractor (Magic hands Mark) who sorted my back out the last time, I'm sure he could work miracles with my back again and the tendon.  But it costs around £40 a visit, and he suggests 2 or 3 treatments a week for 2 or 3 weeks (the cynical part of me says of course he would!).  I can't - well, I don't want to - afford that, not now husband is retired.  Then I remembered my SiL and a couple of other people I know do yoga - for various reasons - and all swear by it.  I googled and found that, not only does it help with physical problems, it also helps relax you, eases stress and helps you sleep - all of which I need help with.

I found out there's a weekly class in our nearest village and emailed the teacher, who sounded lovely when she replied very promptly.  To cut a long story short, I went on Tuesday evening for my first (free taster) class.  I was worried it would be full of skinny, lithe and supple, lycra clad 20 year olds (although Jayne the teacher had assured me it's not in her email) - thankfully she was right, it's a small class, only about 8 people.  They're all middle aged and mostly not skinny, there's even one man (usually 2 apparently, the 2nd was on holiday).  And they're all of different abilities....oh, and there was one other newbie starting, a lady of 81!!

I won't deny I found some of it quite hard....I was stretching muscles I didn't even know I had, and getting in positions I never have before.  And having big boobs and a fat tummy made some of the poses awkward!  But Jayne the teacher was very good, helping me out with suggestions for slightly easier ways of doing things.  Everyone was very welcoming and encouraging and I really enjoyed it.  I actually slept quite well that night and, although my muscles ached the next day - and today, possibly even more today - the lower back pain I've had constantly every day for the past few weeks has downgraded to mere soreness.  I'm also standing taller and straighter, and all this after just one session - amazing.  I will definitely be going every week, I've even bought a yoga mat (a lovely purple one).  So it's sorting my back pain out, helping me sleep, relaxing and making me more supple (in time!) and is only costing me £5 a week!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

To change the subject....Betty pics!

Let's get away from the makeup stuff and have some lovely doggy pics.  Firstly though, I must say thanks for all the comments.  Rambler, thank you for that, I had heard about the Avon SSS before but thought it was a myth!

First one:-

There's a bronze statue of a sailor called Yankee Jack on the esplanade at Watchet.....Betty thought it was a real man and really wanted to meet him

She was quite put out when he didn't make a fuss of her!

Having a rest in the long grass over the Marshes nature reserve, all that running around sniffing wears you out!

Sorting out her toy box to find the one she really wants to play with

Avidly watching CountryFile - she's a right telly addict, especially when there are animals or birds on.

And finally worn out at the end of a long day....just look at that lovely squishy face, makes my heart melt.

Monday, 24 July 2017

We're all different!

Thank you for all the comments on my last post.  I want to address something that's come up from Galant (Margaret P) who made 3 long comments.

Firstly Margaret, thank you for your kind comments about my hands/nails (incidentally, the varnish is coming off today, having done some weeding and lots of veg prep, including podding loads of peas, over the weekend, it's chipping off so I have a legitimate excuse to remove it!).  

You ask whether being a country girl precludes us from wearing makeup or taking care of, of course not.  Just because I choose not to wear makeup, wear varnish or mess around with my hair, doesn't mean I don't take care of myself.  I do take particular care of my face, using hypoallergenic products, as I have sensitive skin and the occasional bout of eczema (another reason why I don't wear makeup!).  I also regularly use hand cream.  I don't wear perfume as I'm clearly super-tasty and get bitten by any insect in the vicinity, so don't want to encourage the little buggers by smelling like a flower!

Everyone is different, some like to spend time (and money) on makeup and having their nails and hair done, others don't, for whatever reasons.  My reasons are that I can think of better things to spend my money on (particularly now OH is retired and we have less income), and I don't feel the need to - I don't need to do myself up to feel good about myself, I'm perfectly happy as I am.  And as we've been happily married for 34 years, my husband is clearly happy with me too.

Incidentally, the only time I wear trackie bottoms and old t-shirts is when we're decorating!

I used to wear makeup, do my nails and hair when I was a secretary - case of having to, although the makeup and nail varnishing got less and less over the years to the bare minimum of makeup and no varnish, although my nails were always shaped and tidy.  Since stopping work (well, paid employment) a few years ago and living in our little idyll in the country, I no longer bother simply because I don't want to!

To answer your last question, Margaret - yes I have had my makeup professionally done, once, a long time ago.  I wasn't overly keen on it then and wouldn't do it now.

Thank you for all your encouragement for me, and the other ladies who said they don't faff about with their appearances either, to do all these things, but I won't I said before, it's just not me and I'm happy as I am!

Admittedly, I did have a few days where I was quite down about my weight and didn't like what I saw in the mirror, but that was just a hormonal blip, I'm not always like that.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

I've swapped hands with my sister!

Good grief, it's been almost a fortnight since I last posted, don't know where the time has gone.  We haven't been doing anything exciting, just normal stuff, I guess there's just been quite a lot to do.  

Well, I suppose there was one sort of exciting thing....I had my first ever professional manicure last week, at my ripe old age! (well, middle age 😉 ).  

(Look at my short pudgy fingers!).  I had the full works, nails soaked, hands massaged with a nice almond smelling cream, cuticles dealt with, nails shaped then soaked again.  Then a base coat, 2 coats of purple varnish, tips dusted with pink glitter and a final top coat applied.  The pic is 3 or 4 days after the event so the varnish is starting to chip off now.

And this is why I've never had it done before - the nails are lovely.....but it is just so not me!  I keep looking at my hands and it's like looking at someone else's hands - my sister's for example, she often has her nails done.  Truth be told, I can't wait to get it off....I'm only keeping it on for another day or 2 because the nail technician is a neighbour and I don't want to hurt her feelings.  I have just never been one for putting on makeup, messing around with my hair or doing my nails - I reckon I was born to be a country girl, whereas my sister is definitely a townie! I can at least say I've tried it, but doubt I'll be having it done again....except possibly for a special occasion.

I'm doing a little experiment at the mo, to see how long I can go for without doing any shopping - I last shopped on Wednesday of last week.  We have plenty in, and are getting a fair bit of produce from the garden now - the first tomatoes, cucumbers and salad leaves in abundance, new potatoes, carrots, peas and courgettes.  All the strawberries, blackcurrants and blueberries have been picked and frozen, we're getting a few raspberries every other day (some of the rasps are summer ones, some autumn).  We'll have a good crop of eating apples and pears for the first time this year too.  There's enough dairy stuff and eggs to keep us going for probably another week, plenty of meat in the freezer, plenty of flour/yeast for bread making.  And plenty of Betty food, homemade and bought, in as well.

My weight loss is still stalling, only half a pound last week and nothing the week before.  I'm not worried about it though, am sure it will kick start again soon...I might do an extra fasting day this week.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Stagnant but happy! (and cooler)

Thanks once again for all the supportive comments, I really feel I'm committed to this diet now.  Oh and Galant/Margaret - when I said Onwards and Downwards, I was actually referring to my weight going downwards, not my mood.  My mood is fine, although I'm not overly happy with what I see in the mirror I'm not depressed about it, and I know there are things I could do if it all really bothered me that much.  E.g. I could wear false eyelashes....but to be honest I simply can't be bothered with all that faffing about.  And I do use a thickening spray on my hair if I'm blowdrying it before going out....if we're staying home I don't usually even bother with blowdrying, I just leave it to dry naturally.  After all, it's not like my husband, being a man, would even notice!  Haha.  

I haven't lost anything since the last weigh in, but that's ok, I know it's just a bit of a plateau whilst my body's adjusting to less carbs and a smaller amount of food, I feel sure I'll lose a bit more this week.  

Thankfully it's a bit cooler today so am feeling more comfortable - hot sunshine or, even worse, muggy humid weather just kills me.  I'm hoping that might be a bonus of losing a good bit of weight too - the heat won't make me feel so ill.

OH has made a start on the makeover of our utility room, he's emptying the old wall cupboards of his tools and transferring them to his shed (having finally finished building it, after many weeks!), and is taking the cupboard doors off and renewing the hinges.  Now we just need to finish emptying out the room and pin down the plasterer to come and give us a quote for the work - he's been a bit elusive the past week or fact I haven't seen him at all (he's a neighbour).  I'm not going to put new Fablon on the cupboard doors until after the ceiling's been replastered, and obviously there's no point putting new vinyl flooring down either until all the decorating's been done.  Well, the floor needs re-concreting first anyhow!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Onwards and downwards

Thank you all for the really supportive lovely comments the other day when I was having a hormonal fat day - I guess we all get days like that.  A few of you suggested I focus on the things I like when I look in the mirror....well, to be honest, there's not really much I like about me right now.  I used to have lovely thick hair and nice long eyelashes - since going through the menopause though both my hair and eyelashes have thinned out considerably.  And my bum, which was relatively flat before, has expanded hugely (well, it seems huge to me) - I now have a Beyoncé bum!  Oh well, at least I fill out my jeans now and they don't wrinkle around my bum like they did before.  

But I am pleased to say I've lost 8 pounds so far, I'm very happy about that.

Oh, there is one thing I'm quite pleased about - since almost cutting out bread and most simple carbs, my face is noticeably less bloated.  So that's good.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Off day

No, not off the diet.....I'm just feeling very down about everything today. 

Getting dressed this morning I caught sight of myself in the full length mirror - and just for a split second thought 'God look at that fat old woman'.  I almost cried when the realisation hit that it was me.  I'm just having an off day I guess, feeling fat, frumpy and definitely my age (I've been 39 for years but can't get away with that anymore!).  

It doesn't help that my Achilles tendon is killing me again - I had thought it was getting better....well, it was, but I've done a lot more walking over the past week, some in the field, and perhaps it's too much too soon.  And of course limping more is making my back ache like mad again, and I've been getting muscle spasms as well.  I tried going on the exercise bike this morning (haven't been on it for months and months, as evidenced by all the dust on it!) but had to get back off almost straight away, pedalling was just so painful on my tendon.

I'm not coming off the diet, we're both still determined to carry on, and I know I have started losing some pounds.  And losing weight, even 10% of my body weight, will help a lot with my aches and pains, I know that.  It's just that I've got such a lot to lose (at least 4 stones) and I hate knowing it's going to take such a long time.

We've got to go out tonight (a parish council meeting that's quite important for our hamlet) and I'm not looking forward to it, as I know most of our hamlet will be there and I don't really feel like socialising.  Especially since I'm probably the fattest one and just feel so self conscious at the mo.  I know it's ridiculous, all our neighbours are lovely....

Sunday, 2 July 2017

More on dieting, and car boot bargains

Thank you for the comments, once again.  We're both doing well, we've each lost a few pounds already.  Having done 3 fast days and recognising how well I feel the day after, and how much worse I feel when we've had a carb-heavy day on the non-fasting days, I am absolutely sure that cutting back drastically on carbs is the way to go.   I also wee for England the day following a fast day!  Another indication that carbs make me bloated.

Welcome to Rambler, a new follower (love your photos of Cornwall).  To answer your questions, Michael Mosley's 5:2 Fast Diet doesn't mean you eat nothing at all on the fasting days....other versions of it might, I don't really know.  I just know that starving myself for the whole day simply wouldn't work for me, OH couldn't do it either.  In his original version of it, women were allowed 500 calories on the fasting days, men 600.  However, he's updated it recently and now says that up to 800 calories can be consumed on fasting days, and it won't stop you losing weight, although I guess it may slow it a bit.  In any case, we both find it much easier to stick to, the lower amounts were much more restrictive.

You asked about tea/coffee.  On non-fast days I usually have 2 mugs of coffee and 1 or 2 of tea, husband drinks several mugs of tea and perhaps 1 coffee.  I drink lots of water, he has no added sugar squash if he's working in the garden.  On fasting days I have 1 mug of coffee with milk in the morning - I couldn't start my day without a coffee....for the rest of the day I drink only water.  OH has tea first thing, followed by squash thereafter.

Yesterday we went to a car boot sale - it was absolutely packed, probably due to the lovely weather.  OH bought a vacuum cleaner for £5 - he wanted one for his shed as he does a lot of sawing and creates loads of sawdust, and I didn't want him using mine.  He also got some tools - no idea what, but he's happy!  I bought a tray of geraniums (or pelargoniums, rather) - all strong, well established healthy plants, most of them in bud - 18 plants for a fiver, brilliant.  They're going in tubs in the front garden....Betty seems to be less interested in eating all the plants now, thankfully.  It'll be good to get some more colour in the front garden.....other than the clematis, passion flower and the wall baskets of petunias and osteospermums there isn't much else currently in flower.  I've purposely not put in any other bedding plants or shrubs as Betty was chewing/trampling on everything in sight before.

It's very warm today, I'll have to get OH to put up the sunshade so I can pot up the plants under it, it's too warm for me in full sun.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Slimming down (clothes and body)

Thanks once again for the positive comments, we're really getting into the Fasting diet and feeling confident we'll be able to carry it on indefinitely.  We had our second fast day on Wednesday, had mushroom omelette and tinned tomatoes for brunch, followed by veggie stirfry with a small amount of thinly sliced beef for dinner.  I used a supermarket pack of ready-prepared stirfry veg - won't be doing that again, it was too full of hard big pieces of core and stem and stringy outer leaves of cabbage.  I only bought it for convenience, as we were going to be out for most of the day and I wouldn't have a lot of time for chopping loads of veg.  We do like stirfries though and it's a good thing to have on fast days, I'll just make sure I prep my own veg in future.

I've ordered a couple of fasting/low carb books from A**zon, looking forward to getting those.  Haven't weighed yet but definitely feel less bloated already.  I've managed to get out with OH for dog walking 4 times this week, but am still having bad backache and lots of muscle would help if I remembered to do the exercises the chiropractor gave me!

We'll be having the next fast day on Sunday, it'll probably be 2 rashers of bacon with mushrooms and tinned or fresh grilled tomatoes again for brunch, OH likes to feel he's still able to have a cooked breakfast on a Sunday, albeit without the beans or toast!  I'll do poached chicken breast with a pile of green veggies for dinner.  I doubt we'll do the same days every week for the fasting, it will depend on what we're doing, but we'll definitely try to have 2 (or even 3) fast days per week.

I spent Wednesday going through my wardrobe and chests of drawers and thinning them out.  I was quite ruthless, throwing out anything I didn't love wearing or hadn't worn for about a have 2 dustbin bags full of clothes and a carrier bag of shoes for the charity shop.  So there's now plenty of room for the new clothes I shall need when I've lost loads of weight!  😎

It looks like I have another couple of new followers, welcome and thank you for reading.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Betty pic and 1st Fast Day

I tried to post this pic yesterday, but Blogger (or my computer) wasn't cooperating.  Betty was licking OH's head (to try getting his hair to grow perhaps?!), she just loves jumping all over him, especially when he gets down on the floor (he'd just been looking for something in the bottom drawer of the sideboard).

Some new followers have joined, welcome to you.  And thanks again for the comments - several of us are now dieting it seems, I hope we can all support each other.

We had our first fast day yesterday and it went well.  Michael Mosley has recently updated his Fast Diet and now says that, instead of the 500 cals per fast day for women and 600 for men, everyone could have around 800 cals and it will still work, albeit possibly a bit slower.  I'm not going to be slavish in counting calories, but know that by drastically reducing carbs/portions the calories will be a lot less.  OH says he doubts he would manage on just 1 meal on the Fast days, so we're having 2 - brunch and dinner, we have our brunch around 10 am and dinner about 5 pm - that way we have a good long fasting period between dinner the night before and our brunch on Fasting day, and then another long period between Fasting day dinner and breakfast the following morning.

So yesterday for brunch we had 2 rashers of lean grilled bacon, 2 of the large Portobello mushrooms and half a tin of tomatoes, OH also had a poached egg.  For dinner we had some roast beef slices from out of the freezer, heated through in gravy made from an Oxo cube, and a pile of green veggies - cabbage, broccoli and courgettes.  I did miss the roast potatoes, but never mind, I didn't die!  We'll have our next Fast day on Wednesday.  

I've managed to walk Betty with OH both Saturday and Sunday, although by last night my back was killing me again.  It's not too bad this morning though, so will go again today.  Even if I only do one of her walks daily, and a short one at that, it's still better than nothing.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

How to tackle the weight problem

Thank you so much again for the lovely supportive comments, I've been so touched by the amount of empathy and positive support I've had from you all.  Pam, I did laugh at your first comment when you said "Keep your chin up" - it should have read 'chins' plural!

Starting diets (or healthy eating regimes) has never been a problem for's keeping it going that I find hard.  So I'll need support in a month or so if I find my resolve wavering - I'll have to make sure I come back and admit to it if I'm losing my mojo.

OH is keen to lose weight too - like me, he's lost around a stone since we've had Betty, but it seems to have come to a standstill now and he'd ideally like to lose at least another stone.

On Friday we went out for a pub lunch.  I had a Ploughmans, with huge wedges of cheese, some doorstep sliced freshly baked bread, both wholemeal and white, and a generous ramekin of butter - none of those tiny little foil-wrapped packets!  It came with a lovely mixed salad with seeds and balsamic dressing, slices of apple, pickled onions and 2 kinds of pickle, it was gorgeous.  And then I had a dessert, which I very rarely do - since being diagnosed as diabetic I almost never eat puddings of any kind, unless we're staying with someone or on rare occasions when we go out for a meal.  I had a Black Forest Sundae - it was pieces of chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream, cherries soaked in Kirsch, chocolate chips, topped with cream and a Flake.  Oh yum, it was lovely if extremely sweet.  I didn't eat it all myself, we got 2 spoons and shared it between us.  And then last night we had takeaway fish and chips for supper, another rare treat.

There is a point to eating all that calorific/carby food - I knew that it would make me feel unwell.  Lots of carbs, especially wheat-based ones, and sugar always affects me, making my joints ache, giving me bad stomach upsets and severe bloating, and making me feel very lethargic and just total yuck really.  Which is exactly how I woke up feeling this morning.  It's like I need to make myself ill to get the resolve to do something about it, it certainly puts me off carby, sweet or heavy food for a few days.

So the new healthy eating regime starts now.  We've had a discussion about how to go about it and have decided to do Michael Mosley's 5:2 diet.  We've done both that and his BSD 8 week 800 cal diet and both found the 5:2 easier to stick to.  We know the 5:2 will mean a slower weight loss but that's fine, it's a marathon not a sprint.  We're also going to cut down on carbs on the non-fasting days and have smaller portions.....our portion sizes have crept up over the past few months, so we'll use smaller plates.

I've just tried to post a Betty pic but Blogger won't let me for some unknown reason.....there've been a few odd things going on with my computer for the past day or so, since a new Windows 10 update installed, grrr.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Weight problem Part 2

Wow, so many comments!  You all seem to understand very well how I'm feeling, that's so reassuring.  I think sometimes we do tend to think that we're the only one and that nobody else knows or understands how we feel, when the reality is that there are many, many others in the same position.  Several of you are also diabetic, or have other health problems that restrict exercising.  Some of you have lost weight - Sheila and Eleanor, 7 stones, blimey!!  That's amazing.

I suppose what's prompted me to talk about this weight/size issue is an incident that occurred a couple of weeks ago.  I was walking through the small shopping centre in town by myself (OH stayed in the car with Betty), wearing jeans and one of those cold shoulder tops which, if I'm honest, was a bit tight on me.  2 blokes in their late 20s I guess walked past - one of them stared at me and said something, quite loudly, then he and his mate both laughed.  I won't repeat what he said, but it was very insulting - a rude 'fattist' comment - and I was absolutely mortified, so embarrassed and upset I had to gulp back tears.  I didn't say anything to OH, having forced myself to breathe and calm down, but when we got home I immediately went upstairs and changed out of the top and haven't worn it since. 

Years ago I would probably have shrugged the comment off and not shown how much it hurt me, but over the past few years, since I've been going through the menopause, my confidence has taken a real nosedive.  There are plenty of big women who have the confidence to wear what they like and don't give a shit what anyone else thinks, and good for them, I admire them.  I used to be more like that, but not anymore, I just don't have that confidence anymore.  And it's for that reason that I wouldn't go swimming for exercise, like some of you have suggested.  Well, I'm not a very good swimmer anyway, but I just wouldn't be seen dead in a swimming costume in public.

So that comment, and the recent hot weather which made me feel so uncomfortable, have prompted me to change things.  None of my family or friends know exactly how I feel, although OH has a good idea and is supportive.  It's easier for me to say - well, write - it on my blog to you lot, than it is for me to talk about it face to face with people who know me.

Thank you so much for your supportive comments, it's so good to know there are people who understand.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

A big weight problem (pun intended)

This will be a hard post for me to write, as I am very self conscious about my weight - I pretend I'm not, that I couldn't care less about what people think of me and just brush it off, but that couldn't be further from the truth actually.  I do care and get very embarrassed and upset, although I hide it, when I know people are looking at me and thinking 'look at the size of her!'. 

I've had a weight problem most of my life.  I wasn't a fat child - photos of me taken when I was about 5 or 6 show that I was actually quite skinny.  However, around the age of 8 or 9 I put on weight and got quite chubby, it was known as puppy fat back then and people (including our GP) were always saying to mum, in front of me, 'oh it's just puppy fat, she'll lose it when she gets older'.  I think that's when I started to become self conscious, especially as I started developing boobs at about 10 or 11 and classmates commented and laughed (I was the first girl in my class to have a bra aged 12 and can remember being hugely embarrassed when my mum first bought it for me).

Between the ages of 12 to about 16 I did lose a fair bit of weight, becoming almost skinny again - partly I guess because I was getting taller, but mostly because there was a lot of traumatic stuff going on in my life then.  However, once I was in the Sixth Form at school and we could wear our own clothes, life was less structured, I got a part time job and started going out more with friends, I again began to put on weight.  Trips to the pub and takeaways with friends, earning a bit of money and being able to buy chocolate and crisps for lunch at school resulted in me gaining 2 or 3 stone.  And then when I was 19, a friend of my mum's said to me 'You're too young and too pretty to be so fat!' (it was at a party and she'd had a lot to drink).

So I started going to SW diet classes - with that friend of my mum's!  I stuck to it quite rigidly, losing 2 stone in about 3 months and getting down to a size 14.  At that point my then boyfriend told me he didn't want me losing any more weight as I was getting too skinny!  So I stopped going, even though I'd intended to carry on until I was a size 12....well, we all want to please our boyfriends when we're young, don't we?!  Ironically, we split up shortly after that when I met the man who I would go on to marry.  Although I was no longer dieting, I maintained the same weight for 3 or 4 years - a very hectic work and social life, plus upping sticks and moving from London to the Midlands with my future husband saw to that.

Well, then we got married, lived in a rented house for a year and then bought our first home together.  I was working full time with quite a long journey by public transport to/from work, eating toast for breakfasts, sandwiches and crisps for lunches, garlic bread with a pasta dish or pizza as a quick to make meal when we got home, or a takeaway when we didn't feel like cooking.  Lots of meals out with friends (there were a couple of those 'all you can eat' buffet style Chinese/Indian places nearby) and pub outings meant my weight began creeping....well, more like galloping.....back up again. 

And so fast forward many years until now.  3 or 4 years ago I was the heaviest I'd ever been and was diagnosed with T2 diabetes, which was a shock.  Since then I've lost about a stone.  Getting a dog just before Xmas last year and starting to go for twice daily walks meant I lost another half a stone, without dieting.  However, 6 weeks ago I sprained my Achilles tendon and could hardly walk around the house as I was in so much pain, and the limping had a knock on effect and gave me terrible backache too, so walking Betty was out of the question....thank goodness for husband who's been walking her by himself.  Yesterday I weighed myself - I'd been putting it off, dreading it, feeling sure I'd have put weight back on, but was pleasantly surprised to find I'm actually a couple of pounds less than I was before spraining the tendon.  I reckon it's because of doing a fair bit of walking last week when we were away in Cornwall and, although I've been resting quite a lot since we got back as a result of awful back pain, eating a lot less because of the heat this week. 

The overpowering heat of the past few days has meant I've felt terrible - sweaty, uncomfortable and headachy, I feel like I have nothing suitable to wear - well, nothing I'd be happy to wear in public.  And that's been the worst thing for me this week - we've had to go out a few times and I've had to wear things that cover me up....partly because last week I got sunburnt a few times (I'm fair skinned and burn easily), but also because frankly I'm too embarrassed to have large chunks of my flesh on display.  So there I am, covered up, sweltering and sweaty, feeling like I'm melting, whilst all around me are much slimmer women looking effortlessly cool in shorts and little vest tops. 

I've had enough of this, I can't go on like it anymore, I've got to lose weight so I can start feeling better about myself - and obviously improve my health!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Been away

Thank you Sheila, 50 and counting, and Knitty nutter for your comments on my last blog.  Betty has, we think, now more or less finished her season.  Her spaniel farm dog suitor hasn't been seen for a couple of days and she seems less restless and more like her normal self.  We'll be ringing the vet this week to arrange for her to be spayed, it'll probably be in a month's time (they say it needs to be several weeks after the season finishes, to allow the previously blood-filled uterus etc. to get back to normal).

We've been away visiting relatives and had a lovely time.  Went to a bbq with some cousins last Sunday, hadn't seen them for years and it was fantastic to catch up.  Then last Monday we went down to Cornwall to stay with my brother and sister in law, they are wonderful hosts and we always have a great time with them.  They had several days out planned for us, in fact we were out pretty much all day every day - lots of walking, lunch on a sunny restaurant terrace or pasties on the beach, plenty of coffee & cake or ice cream stops, all outdoors.  We met up with an uncle and aunt and another cousin, who were staying near Bude on holiday, had a lovely walk by the canal and lunch out.  Hadn't seen them for years either, in fact the last time we saw them was in Southampton hospital when my uncle was in a medically induced coma following a big heart attack, 7 years ago.  None of us thought he'd survive that, but luckily he did. 

As I said, it's been lovely, but I'm not feeling very well now.  It's been scorchingly hot all week, and I don't do well in hot weather - being fair skinned and blonde I burn easily, get heat rash and headaches, and hot weather just wears me out.  My Achilles tendon is still painful, meaning I'm limping and walking awkwardly, which in turn is making my left hip and back hurt a lot.  My back's been spasming the last couple of days, which is painful.  And eating pasties and cream teas (well, you just have to when you go to Cornwall don't you?!), as well as burgers, etc (2 bbqs) plus cakes to go with coffee stops, and ice cream of course - all things we don't normally eat at home.  So my stomach and joints are now suffering, but it was worth it for all the fun we've had.  And it's not like we do it every week.  I am glad to be home now though, and will be having a few days doing not a lot and eating just chicken and fish with salads.

Oh, and yesterday we went to an air show at Weston super Mare, they have it every year.  We were on the beach with about a 1000 other cars.....more hot sunshine, but combined with a sharp wind, gave me a headache and even more of a red nose. 

Took lots of pics over the past week, will post some when I've sorted them out and put them on the computer.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

No rest for the retired!

Wow, it's the 10th of June already, 10 days since OH retired, and our feet haven't touched the ground....don't know where the last 10 days have gone, we've been so busy.  There's certainly been no wondering what we might do today, it's more a case of we've got so much to do and not enough time to do it in.  OH is outside most of the time, catching up on all the potting up/planting jobs that he hadn't time to do before.  The raspberries, which he thins out every year, are again threatening to take over the entire fruit bed, so he's been getting all the runners out again.  He's also been weeding (why do weeds always seem to grow faster and stronger than everything else?!) and netting everything that the birds are eating or will attract the dreaded white cabbage butterfly.  He's also been to help an unwell elderly (more elderly that he is!) neighbour with his garden. 

I've been trying to do more decluttering.  We both have a tendency to hang onto things - me for sentimental reasons, OH because 'it might come in useful sometime'.  My aim is to eventually get every room fairly close to a minimalist state, so it looks tidier, needs less cleaning, and we can find things we need in a hurry!  I've done a fair bit of cooking too, meals like cottage pie, pasta bake, curry etc. for the freezer, and a lot of dog food also made and frozen.  This is all for days when I don't feel like cooking or am too busy.

Betty is still in heat (2 1/2 weeks now, still dripping although that part of it is lessening, thankfully) and is keenly interested in male dogs, especially her ardent suitor the male unneutered spaniel from the farm down the road.  He's running back and forth along the garden fence every day, he even managed to get in the garden the other day, he squeezed in through a hitherto unseen gap.  Thankfully, Betty wasn't in the garden at the time, we saw him through the glass door, OH chased him out, he went out through the same gap he came in by (presumably) so at least OH could see where it was and mend it with some small bore wire fencing.  We take Betty out early morning and late evening now, always on the lead at the mo, when there are fewer, if any, other local dogs around.  She's still so restless, clingy and out of sorts, she even keeps trying to hump her bed cushion, obviously pent up hormonal frustration!  Poor thing.  Can't wait for it to be over and done with so we can arrange for her spaying, she's definitely not going to have another season.

People keep asking why we don't want to breed from her as she's such a lovely looking dog and they reckon we could sell the pups for a lot of money - bonkers, we wouldn't even consider it, it's hard enough coping with one lively puppy let alone a few of them!

Monday, 5 June 2017

Change of plans

Thanks everyone for your retirement congratulations for hubby....he's enjoying his new life so far - well, we both are.  The only thing is we both keep forgetting what day it is, him being here permanently now is muddling us up!  I'm sure we'll get used to it sooner or later.

Well, this week was supposed to be our celebratory (anniversary and retirement) week of days out, but the weather has put paid to that - rain, or at least heavy showers, and gusty winds forecast for most of the week.  Never mind, we'll spend this week starting our big declutter instead....after all, we can now choose to have a day out whenever it's a nice sunny day.  It'll probably be best if we stay in this week anyhow, as Betty is in the middle of her season and is now showing a definite interest in male they are in her!  Can't wait for it all to be over, she's so not herself at the mo, poor thing.

So today we're starting on our so-called utility room.  It's a brick built outbuilding stuck on the side of the kitchen, it used to house a bread oven (long since gone, although the chimney is still there) and a loo - the previous tenant ripped that out ages ago and used it as a coal shed, it now houses the central heating boiler.  The walls are mainly bare brick with one old coating of paint, which is peeling off.  The floor is bare concrete of differing levels and is uneven.  Ceiling looks to be plasterboard, heavily stained with mould in one area of about 2 square feet directly under the chimney - the chimney's pointing had all fallen out and water was leaking into the room when we first moved in, the previous tenant obviously didn't take much notice of it.  We informed the landlord, he sent builders round to repoint the chimney but nothing was done about the ceiling....the mould hasn't increased thankfully now the chimney no longer leaks, we've been monitoring it.  The previous tenant installed a range of second hand mismatched wall cupboards, which are serviceable but in need of some repairs to sagging shelves and replacement of missing or broken hinges and door knobs.  There's also a worktop running along one wall, which needs recovering with Fablon.  There's one single glazed old metal framed window with a broken metal blind, and a double glazed outer door that we put in ourselves (given to us by a friend) to replace the old rotting wooden door.  The door into the kitchen is also old, half wood/half single glazed.

At the moment, the room houses my washing machine and tumble drier, small chest freezer that we were given, plus a small under the counter freezer we'd previously bought, and spare small fridge we were also given.  I also keep supplies of cleaning stuff, tinned and packet foods in there, the packet foods in lidded plastic boxes.  It's quite a large (10 foot by 12 foot) useable space, it just needs refurbishing, and clearing out of all the junk that seems to accumulate in there.  I obviously need to go in there every day and would like it to be more user-friendly and the moment I hate going in there, it's so gloomy, scruffy and cobwebby.

We've approached the landlord and said we'd like to refurbish it.  He's agreed to cover the cost of having the ceiling treated and replastered and the floor relaid and evened out, a neighbour who's a plasterer will do the work.  We've said we'll paint the walls ourselves, as we already have a supply of white paint.  We'll also pay for vinyl floor covering once the new cement floor is dry, room size remnants are easy to come by and are cheap enough.  OH, who is very handy, will refurb the cupboards and work surface.  We'll also buy a new blind, and look out for another, better condition, second hand door to replace the one into the kitchen.

The mouldy ceiling

The uneven stained concrete floor....and a cheeky shot of Betty sniffing around for any dropped dog biscuits!

The mismatched cupboards - excuse the mess!  I did say it was full of junk ;-)

I shall look forward to taking pics of the finished and hopefully much prettier space that deserves to be called a utility room!

And finally a much nicer pic:-

The retired husband and Betty enjoying a walk in the lovely nature reserve last week.