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.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

It's started

Well, two things have actually.

The big news is of course that OH is now officially retired.  He finished his last shift early.....clocking out at 01.00 am, about 3 hours earlier than normal.  He'd requested a shorter, easier run as it was his last day (and why not?!).  The manager called everyone together and made a (very nice, apparently) speech and presented him with a lovely watch (from the Company), huge card signed by everyone and an envelope of cash from the staff whipround.  Lots of his colleagues, and the management, said they'd enjoyed working with him and would miss him, the manager also told him that if he ever wanted to go back, there would always be a job for him (he's 66, how long do they expect him to carry on working for?! lol).  He had lots of hugs, very touching seeing as they're mostly big hairy male lorry drivers!  He was well liked there, I'm so pleased he had a good last day. 

He's got mixed feelings at the moment, understandably.  Whilst he's very relieved to have finally given up work after 51 years, and he had been finding driving long hours on night shifts an increasing strain recently, he's also going to miss his colleagues and all the banter, if not the actual work.  He's a relaxed happy-go-lucky soul though, loves working in the garden, taking Betty out and disappearing for chats with the neighbours, so I'm certain he'll not miss work for long. 

And the second, not so welcome (in fact positively unwelcome!) thing that's started is to do with Betty.  As I said, she's having her first season, she's a week into it now, her behaviour is definitely off kilter but things haven't been too bad.  But this afternoon she started whining at the door to be let out in the garden for a wee, or so we thought.  Well, when OH opened the door she shot out, barking, closely followed by OH - one of the farm dogs (none of them are neutered) was in the garden, it had obviously jumped clean over the fence.  Betty, bless her, chased it straight back out again!  Good girl, she's clearly not yet in the mood!!

We went out and bought some trellis to fix along the top of the fence, raising the height of it by a foot or so.  And she won't be going out in the garden now without one of us checking it out first and staying out there with her.  Roll on another month or two when we can have her spayed and we (and she) won't have to go through it all again.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Thank you

Thanks for the anniversary wishes, I am very lucky to have such a kind, hard working and thoughtful husband (but then he's also lucky to have me!  lol).  We had some nice cards and gifts of money from family, which will go towards days out next week - once OH has had a couple of days of well-earned rest!

I want to reply to one of the comments I had - from ALT57 (a new reader I think - welcome, and thank you for your comment).  You said that cuddling a dog who's fearful is the worst thing we can do.

Along with thunder, Betty also doesn't like fireworks.....there's a large caravan park a couple of miles away, they sometimes have fireworks on a Saturday night, which we can hear quite clearly if the wind is in the right direction.  Fortunately, as this is rural farming country with lots of livestock in the fields, there are rarely any other fireworks nearby, even on Bonfire Night.

I had in fact already wondered how we should deal with Betty's loud noise fears and had some weeks ago discussed it with our trainer, Carrie, who as well as being a dog trainer, is also a qualified dog behaviourist.  Carrie's opinion was much the same as mine - whilst it's not a good idea to fuss too much over the dog, as it could reinforce their view that there is actually something to worry about, neither do we want the dog to carry on being distressed.  She advised talking to Betty calmly and giving her some strokes, but said if she was in a very fearful and distressed state, then don't make her stay in the situation but try and take her away from it, if possible, without making too much of a big thing about it.  

So I had Betty sit on the sofa with me, she had her head on my lap whilst I stroked her and read a book for a few minutes, until the thunder had moved away and she had calmed down.  I then put her back in her pen (she went quite willingly) and went back upstairs to bed, and didn't hear another peep out of her.

Everyone has their own ideas, of course, quite rightly so.  In my case, if Betty is scared, then I'm not going to leave her to suffer and possibly get more distressed.  She's not our first dog, our 5th or 6th I think, although our first puppy (the others were all adult rescue dogs).

Warm and quite muggy today, it's making me feel very lethargic.....rain forecast for tonight, so hopefully it will feel fresher later.  OH is making the front garden fence a bit higher, just in case the farm dogs make an effort to get to Betty!  No sign of them yet, but I gather the danger time is more mid-cycle.

Saturday, 27 May 2017


Thank you for the comments regarding Betty's first season - she definitely won't be having another!

It's mine and OH's wedding anniversary today - 34 years.  Where did all those years go?  Marriages seem to break up at the first sign of trouble nowadays, it's as if people just give up without a fight.  It takes work, compromise, cooperation and plenty of talking to make a good long marriage....that and lots of love, of course.  Although my parents' marriage didn't last, both my brother and sister have been married for almost as long as we have, partly due I think to us not wanting to make the same mistakes our parents did.

We don't give each other presents anymore, there comes a point (well, it came a few years back) where we have everything we need or want.  But when OH came home from work in the early hours of this morning, he brought me a bag of crisps, my favourite brand and flavour, a rare treat as I hardly ever eat crisps anymore due to being diabetic.  A tiny thing, but a lovely thought on his part.  We do still exchange cards, he has a knack for buying really nice cards.  And we generally have a meal out.  Not tonight though, he's working, but we will do something next week.....when he's RETIRED!! (did I mention he's retiring next Wednesday?!  teehee).

Had a spectacular thunderstorm last night, it woke me up about 03.30.  I came straight downstairs as I knew Betty would be fretting (she doesn't like the thunder).  The thunder lasted about 10 mins, the lightning a lot longer.  I cuddled Betty until she settled, then went back to bed, OH came in shortly after.

It will seem strange next week not having the bed to myself several nights a week!

Friday, 26 May 2017

First season

Thank you PP for your comment on my last post.

Betty's having her first (and only) season, at the age of 7 months.  She's all out of sorts.....restless, sleeping more than usual with lots of short naps, a bit whiny, clingy and wanting to be around one or the other of us all the time.  She's not much interested in food - highly unusual for her, hasn't finished all her meals for the last couple of days, and isn't begging us for treats like she normally does.  And she doesn't want to play with her toys - unheard of!  We're keeping her on the lead for walks whilst it's going on, we don't want any accidents!

I'm guessing all of this is completely normal?  We've had mostly boy dogs in the past, the one bitch we had was sterilised before we got her.  We're having Betty spayed as we don't intend to breed from her....the vet said the best time to do it is a month or two after her first season.  Any idea how long her season will last?  I googled and found estimates of between 2 and 4 weeks (thank goodness human females don't have theirs go on that long!).  Would her first season perhaps be shorter than later ones?

We need to make sure we keep a close eye on her when she's out in the garden at the moment, as the local farm dogs aren't neutered, and one of them in particular is always sniffing around trying to get into gardens that have dogs.  Our garden is securely fenced, but I'm sure it wouldn't stop a determined randy dog from getting in somehow.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A week of nice things for OH

Well, one week today OH does his last ever shift at work.  As well as the week after being a treat week for both of us (his retirement and our 34th wedding anniversary on Saturday), I've decided to try and do something nice for him every day leading up to his retirement.  Just little things I know he'll appreciate.

So to start off with, today I've made him one of his favourite ever cakes - ginger (not to my taste but each to his own!).  Tomorrow I shall do him smoked mackerel salad, which he loves, for his lunch before he goes to work.  After his late night shifts he usually gets up late morning and takes Betty for a walk....for the next few days I'll take her out so he can have an extra half hour lie in.  I'll make his work sandwiches every day - he usually makes his own.  And I'll pop a little note in his lunchbox 💗

I've bought him a big ribeye steak for a celebratory meal the day after his retirement....I'm not particularly keen on steak but he loves it, I'll probably have fish.

Glorious warm sunshine today - he's out in the garden so I'm just off to take him a nice cold drink.

Hope your weather is as nice as ours.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Makes you think

Just been reading about those children blown up after an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester....god those bloody terrorists are sick in the head.  How absolutely terrible for the families. 

Puts my Achilles tendon pain into perspective - I shall stop moaning about it now.

Life can be ripped away in the blink of an eye.  Just makes me appreciate my life and my loved ones more.  We should live every day as if it were our last, and tell all our loved ones just how much we love them every day.

Thursday, 18 May 2017


Thanks for the comments, the time is fairly whipping along now, OH only has 9 working days left.  We're still deciding on things to do during our anniversary/retirement week - a visit to see my cousins, hopefully, being one of them.  We've booked for a workshop our dog trainer is holding, it's an afternoon of clicker training, should be fun!  Going to have a beach day in Dorset, afternoon tea in the lovely grounds of a manor house near Castle Cary, and possibly a couple of National Trust garden visits.  Some of those depend on the weather, though, of course.

At the beginning of the week, whilst taking Betty round one of the local fields, my foot slipped on a lump of earth and it's obviously damaged my Achilles tendon.  It hasn't been too bad, just a bit sore up until yesterday evening, when we took the dog for a long walk round the Marshes nature reserve.  By the time we got back to the car, it hurt like hell and I could hardly walk.  Taking anti-inflammatories today, OH will buy some ibuprofen gel for me when he goes to work later.  I've ordered a support strap online, it should be here tomorrow.  If it's no better next week then I'll go to the GP.  In the meantime, I'm just going to rest it up for a couple of days - I've been on my feet all week in the kitchen doing a lot of cooking and baking for the freezer, which I don't suppose has helped it much.  I'll do some gentle stretching exercises too over the next few days, hopefully it will get better without me having to go to the doc.

This week I've made 2 lots of dog food and dog biscuits.  A fruit cake for the freezer, a double choc chip cake and some muffins.  2 cottage pies, one frozen.  2 fish pies, one to freeze.  2 lots of Frugal Queen's frugal tartiflette.  Sorry there's no photos, I didn't think to take any.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

To plan or not to plan....

20 days to go! 

We've been discussing how to do things once OH's retired....whether to just go with the flow and see how we feel each day, or have firm plans of things to get on with.  OH does feel that it will be nice not to have his days structured, after 51 years of work routines, I can see that will be attractive.  But I think we both work much better with some sort of routine.

Of course, it won't really be workable having a strict day by day plan, especially since most of OH's jobs will be outside ones.....if it's bad weather then he won't be doing stuff outside.  And we may well get up in the morning and think "I can't be bothered with that today, my back aches" - after all, we're not getting any younger!

We've decided to have a sort of compromise between structure and free 'n' easy.  Each week I will write two lists - one of things that we really want or need done that week, the other of less important jobs that we could do, but won't matter if we don't.  The idea will be that we make every effort to do all the important stuff for that week.  Then we can choose to do stuff from List 2, or not - we might want an extra day out, for example, if it's good weather.

We're definitely going to have at least one day out each week.  We've lived in this beautiful county of Somerset for 7 years now, and there are still many parts of it we haven't visited - it is a big county.  So much to look forward to!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Baking and Betty photos

Thank you for your comment, Sheila, yes we are looking forward to having a week of doing whatever we want....only 3 weeks to go!

I thought it was about time I posted some more photos.  I've had a baking session this morning:-

A date and walnut loaf - one of OH's favourite cakes.....I'm not so keen.

On the left, a half white/half wholemeal seeded loaf.  On the right, a parmesan cheese loaf, we're going to have some of that tonight with our dinner - smoked mackerel salad with a lemon and olive oil dressing.

Tuna and sweet potato loaf for Betty, chopped up and ready to freeze in portions.  I give it to her moistened with a little hot water, she absolutely loves it.

And some recent Betty pics:-

Betty and a pretty little cow having a staring match.....Betty gave up first!

Having a little rest halfway through an exhausting walk.

Dozing on my lap yesterday evening.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Plans coming together

Thank you for the comments.  Sheila, I hope Betty does grow out of the digging and chewing soon, I miss having lots of flowers and colour in my garden.  Sue, Marlene and Chris - yes it's nearly here, just 25 days to go!  Julia - wow, 17 years, you got a good one there.  I've narrowed it down to about 3 different machines, am hoping to make the final decision and order one next week.  I've been pleasantly surprised at just how much better - more efficient, energy saving, better features etc - washing machines are now.  My old one takes only a 6 kg load and has a max spin speed of 1000 ones have speeds of 1400-1600 and much bigger drums, taking 8 or 10 kg, and of course much quicker wash times.  Saw one with a fast wash time of just 14 minutes, amazing.

OH has chosen a Citizen silver watch as his retirement gift, and was told yesterday that his boss wants to take us both out for lunch, which is nice.  I asked him if he wanted me to make some cakes to take in on his last day....he said they're not allowed to take food in! (bloody elf n safety).  Having spoken to the boss, he was told that he could take cakes in, so long as each cake (or slice) is individually wrapped in cling film or foil, and not eaten on the premises - good grief!

I may have already said that we've decided to have the week following his retirement as a sort of treat week for ourselves - it's our wedding anniversary on the 27th (he'll be working that day) and we want to celebrate his retirement too.  We're not doing any garden or house works, other than essential stuff, that week, but will have a few trips out locally, plus a couple of full days further afield.  Planning on going to see my cousins and aunt, who we haven't seen for a few years, they live a couple of hours' drive away.

Our first major job after our treat week will be to get the utility room sorted out.  It's nothing fancy at all, simply a small brick built building stuck on the side of the house next to the kitchen.  At the moment it functions as utility room (washing machine, tumble drier, small chest freezer and spare fridge), OH's tool shed for when he can't be bothered to put tools away, store room for - well, junk basically, and larder for extra tinned/dry foods, toiletries etc.  The previous occupier gave the bare brick walls a quick coat of paint, now peeling off, and there's a patch of mildew on the ceiling where the chimney was leaking last year, that's since been fixed.  The previous bloke fitted a mismatched range of second hand cupboards, they're functional but unattractive and most of the doors have broken hinges and broken or missing handles.  The floor is bare concrete.  All in all, it's currently very uninspiring and cold (no heating in there), but could be made to look much better.  We don't want to spend a lot as we're tenants here and it's doubtful our landlord would give us any money towards it, although we don't know until we ask him.  We just want to clear it all out, paint the walls and ceiling, lay some vinyl flooring, put a nice blind up at the window, fix the cupboard doors and cover them with some Fablon to match them up more.  Just make it a more usable and pleasing space, really, at the moment I hate going in there.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Coasting along

Thanks for the comments, glad to note I'm not the only one with washing machine (or other appliance) problems.  You're very lucky, and in a minority, Chris, to still have yours working fine after so many years.  We've bought a combi microwave/oven/grill, it's a DeLonghi, I'll give my verdict on it once I've used it more extensively, but am pleased with it so far.

Going to do some thorough research into washing machines before we buy a new one.  I know I want one with a timer switch, fast spin speed, quick wash programme, normal 40 deg prog that doesn't take over 2 hours like my current one does!  Oh, and a larger drum to take a bigger load than my current one.  Plus not too expensive!  If anyone has any recommendations - or warnings to avoid - please let me know.

I feel like I'm just coasting along at the moment, simply marking time until two things happen - OH retiring for good (29 days!), and the dog growing up a bit more and stopping digging up and/or chewing everything in the garden.  I love my front garden, it's normally full of flowers and colour, but at the moment there's not a lot flowering....other than the clematis montana which is glorious - well, not so much at lower level, where Betty can reach it!  We love Betty to bits, but unless we're out in the garden with her all the time she's out there, which isn't always possible, she creates havoc.  Lots of the plants, shrubs and flowers she just chews (thankfully, I don't think we have anything which is toxic to dogs).  She does have several toys which she plays with out there, but quickly gets bored and attacks the plants instead!  Bless her!  I'm not going to plant up the tubs or put anything else in the borders for a while, bit pointless when Betty prunes everything for me (whether it needs it or not!).  I just shrug and laugh about it, not much else I can do right now, until she grows out of her chewing phase.  I will plant up the wall baskets we have - at least she can't reach those - so we will have some colour.

Both OH and I keep thinking of things we want to do or that need doing, and then say 'when I've/he's given up work' - it's like everything is put on hold, we really are counting down the days.  We're itching to really get stuck in to our new life.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Spending to save money

Thank you Chris and Gemma's person for your comments.

My microwave and washing machine are both on the way out.  The interior of the microwave is peeling off, and I've never been very happy with it anyway - it has a huge amount of condensation dripping down inside and pooling at the bottom after each use (it was a cheap one).  It seems to take longer to cook things now as well.

The washing machine is temperamental now, sometimes it seems to just get stuck - it's humming away but not actually doing anything, I have to shift the dial along a notch (when I notice what's happening when I get up in the morning) to get it to start up again.  It sometimes doesn't spin off the water properly, so the washing is still wringing wet, and I then have to put it on a spin cycle.  The fabric softener compartment just gets bunged up every single time now, I have to take the drawer out, empty it and flush it through constantly.  The normal 40 deg wash, which is the one I mostly use, is taking far longer than it used to, to do the full cycle - it took long enough anyway, without the 20 mins or so extra it takes now.  And it's not cleaning as well, sometimes OH's clothes (he's a dirt magnet) look almost as dirty after washing as they did going in.

We've been putting money by for ages specifically to replace appliances when we need to, so buying new items now isn't a problem.

I decided this time I'd have a combination microwave/oven/grill, mostly so that if I only have one thing to bake, I don't need to put the big oven on.  Our cooker is a double oven, but the smaller oven/grill compartment must have a loose wire or something, as every time we've used it recently it's thrown the main switch of our leccy supply.  The new combi oven looks good and isn't too much bigger than our old microwave....I need to read the instruction manual first before using the oven or grill part though, it's definitely more complicated than the old basic mic!

We're on Economy 7 for cheaper overnight electricity, so I do my washing mostly overnight....I load the machine before I go to bed, and OH puts it on when he comes home from work in the early hours of the morning.  So when the machine has had a temperamental fit and stopped mid cycle and I have to move it along to get it going again when I get up, this defeats the object of doing the wash on the cheap overnight rate!  I don't particularly want to be getting up in the middle of the night, once OH has retired, just to put the machine on either.  We've tried a few times putting the machine on a timer switch but, for some unknown reason, it never works.  The timer works, as we've tested it on other appliances, so I don't know why it won't work on the washing machine.  So I'm going to spend some time tomorrow googling for machines that have an inbuilt timer and shorter wash programmes, and are generally more efficient and cost saving.

Both of these new appliances should hopefully help us to lower our electricity bills, as well as working more efficiently.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Shopping in a different place - very good!

Firstly, thank you Sheila and Rainbowchild (new follower I think, welcome) for your comments.  Betty's ear infection has almost cleared, thank goodness.  Rainbowchild, yes I heartily recommend 1-2-1 training - Betty having the individual attention of the trainer without all the distractions of loads of other puppies has worked wonders.  We're seeing Carrie-Anne again this Wednesday, we're going to work more on recall, which Betty still only does when she wants to, basically!  Also the 'drop' command - she likes us throwing balls for her and she nearly always brings them back to us, but refuses to let go of them - the bulldog/shar pei stubbornness!

Following Frugal Queen's post yesterday about F**mFoods, we decided to try it out - I regularly buy toilet rolls there which are really good quality and very reasonably priced, but hadn't bought any food for ages.  We had a couple of disappointing buys from there a while back, and I assumed that because their frozen food is so cheap, it must be from dubious foreign sources. 

Well, I was very pleasantly surprised....I looked at the pack labels and it seems a lot of their products are actually British.  Quite how they manage to have such cheap offers, I have no idea.  I spent £62, some of which was food for the dog (I'm still making a lot of her food), and after a quick tally up of what I bought, I reckon what I got will make dinners for the 2 of us for about 6 or 7 weeks!  I was amazed, frankly.  I suppose the real test will be what the quality and taste is like when I come to cook it.

They have lots of multi buy offers - 3 packs for £10, 3 for £6, 2 for £5, 4 for £3 and so on, and there's a wide variety of products in each of the offer options, so you don't need to buy 3 of the same thing.  The only thing I would say is that I wish they grouped all of the products in each offer option in the same aisle - they're not, they're scattered all over the place, so I found it quite confusing to keep track of how many items I'd got in each offer bracket. 

I bought chicken thighs, breast fillets and Swedish meatballs, at 3 for £10.  3x 600g packs of thick cut bacon for £6 (bargain, I thought).  2 big packs of stuffed pasta for £5.  A box of 30 B***seye fish fingers and 4 large battered cod, also for £5.  Sausages, pizzas and chips.  They had several bags of frozen fish all at £3.99 - cod, haddock, salmon and yellowfin sole - I got the sole as it was a larger pack at 650g, the others were around 450g.  A large bag of mussel meat - not had mussels for years and wasn't all that keen on them back then, but OH likes them and I might have changed my view after all this time!  800g pack of fresh beef mince - we had their frozen mince way back and weren't keen on it...we like our mince chunky, and the frozen stuff just kind of dissolved into mush.  The fresh mince was good value.  Also got Cheddar, milk and some packet sauces. 

For the dog I bought 6 tins of tuna in sunflower oil for £3.99 (she loves tuna) and 4 bags of frozen veggies for £3.

I wasn't keen on their fresh fruit and veg, the veg in particular looked tired and limp, so went in the normal big supermarket (which is on the same retail park) for that.

So, all in all, and pending the taste tests, I think it's extremely good value and will be shopping there again.

As I've said before, we've always shopped in the big supermarkets before, when we didn't have to worry about how much we were spending.  Now though, as OH's retirement approaches (37 days to go!) and we need to think about keeping our food costs down, we've been trying out the cheaper shops and, quite honestly, wish we'd started shopping in them ages ago.  Their products are much better quality than we'd imagined, and at a fantastic price.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Lots of garden and kitchen work

Thanks for all the comments about Betty's training, we are noticing a difference in her now, she definitely doesn't pull on the lead as much and is quicker to respond when called.  We didn't take her to training today as she's got an ear infection, poor thing, and has been a bit subdued.  She went back to the vets this morning for a check up following 5 days of treatment - the vet said it looks like the infection is responding well to the antibiotics and should clear up completely within the next few days.

It seems we're not the only ones who aren't growing as much this year, or are late getting going with sowing and planting.  OH's been busy in the garden, the strawberry runners he potted up last year have now all been planted in a new bed, and he's done a bed full of early potatoes.  The 2 small old polytunnels have been dismantled, the covers have been chucked as they were so ripped and worn, but he's keeping most of the poles to reuse as cold frames or pea/bean supports.  We've bought a new polytunnel which is slightly bigger than the 2 old ones put together, OH has prepared the ground and put up the frame, we'll have to wait until next week to put the cover on as he's back to work tomorrow.  New neighbours have given us some staging to put in the tunnel, along with a couple of compost bins....these were left in their garden by the previous owners and they don't want them, we'll give them veg in return.  We'll buy some tomato and cucumber plants next week, seeing as we haven't grown any from seed this year.

I've spent a couple of days in the kitchen - two lots of dog food made, plus a trayful of biscuits for her.  A loaf of bread and 2 pizza bases for the freezer.  Fruit cake and 2 rhubarb and apple crumbles.  2 double portions of cauliflower cheese, a large trayful of roasted veggies portioned up, and a Savoy cabbage cooked and portioned, all for the freezer. 

We had a rare treat for dinner tonight.....nipped out to the supermarket late this afternoon and they were just putting out some meat reductions, got 2 small thick fillet steaks for a third of the original price.  We were going to have sausages tonight but had the steak instead, it was beautiful.  I can't remember the last time we had fillet steak, it must have been years ago.  Will have the sausages tomorrow.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Another good class, and garden stuff

Thank you for the comments, we are so glad to have found Carrie-Anne the trainer and Betty is doing so well.  Chris - £70 for training, blimey!  Was that for just one class? 

This morning Betty did brilliantly, I was so pleased and Carrie said she really is getting on very well.  We did more loose lead walking and even off the lead walking to heel - well, it was kind of off the lead.  Carrie had brought along a massively long training lead, about 30 feet or so, she held the very end of the lead very loosely with most of it just lying on the ground, and Betty walked alongside first OH, then me, with us keeping her attention and at our sides by holding treats, she did it perfectly. 

Betty's fine with her collar on but has never liked us putting a harness on her - it's not the particular type of harness as we have tried 3 different ones, she just seems to have an aversion to them when we first put it on her, although is ok with it once we're actually out walking.  Carrie showed us how to coax her to accept the harness, by first putting it on the ground and putting some food treats beside it, letting her come and take them of her own accord, and then letting her back away if she wanted to.  After a few minutes of this when she was more confident about staying beside the harness, Carrie said to then pick it up and hold a treat for her just inside the head opening.  We did this a few times until she was comfortable about putting her head inside the harness.  Then it was a case of actually putting it on her, praising her and giving her another treat once it was on.  Problem solved, Betty now doesn't mind the harness at all, and this took only about 15 minutes to teach her to accept it willingly.  Carrie-Anne really is worth every penny, she explains things so clearly and is so patient with both Betty and us.  We're seeing her again next week, she encourages us to think about any problems we might be having with Betty and promises to work on them the next time.

For various reasons, we're very late with veg seed buying and planting this year - in fact we've done nothing at all up until this week.  We've decided to not grow so much this year....having reviewed what we've grown for the past few years, we think it will be better to grow fewer things (as in varieties of veg), but instead concentrate on growing just the things we really like the taste of home grown, and that we use the most of.  So this year we will just be growing new potatoes, peas, onions & leeks, butternut squash, cherry toms, a few cucumbers, carrots, courgettes, purple sprouting broccoli and a few cabbages.  We won't be growing maincrop spuds - they get eaten very badly by slugs here, and maincrop spuds are so cheap to buy it's not really worth growing them for the space they take up.  We tried 2 or 3 different squashes/pumpkins last year - didn't get many, they didn't store as well as the butternuts do, and we weren't all that keen on the taste, so they're out as well.  No French beans either, we got totally inundated with them last year, to the point where we got sick of them in the end.  Fewer cucumbers, as again we had loads and it's not like you can cook or freeze them - our neighbours and OH's work colleagues were almost running away when they saw him coming for fear of having another couple of cucumbers foisted on them!  No tomatoes for cooking - I get fed up with skinning/cooking them all for sauces, when it's so much easier to make sauces using cheap tinned chopped toms. 

At least we have an established and good supply of soft fruit which we don't have to continually replant each year - strawberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and raspberries.  We also have 5 young fruit trees - 1 cooking apple, 1 dessert, 2 pears and a plum, not had much fruit yet as they're all young, but hoping to have some this year.

Thursday, 6 April 2017


Thanks again for all your comments....I had to laugh when Marlene said she has more photos of her cats' bums than their faces.

Well, the training went really well.  Carrie-Anne is lovely, so friendly, her love of dogs and her job shines through and she's so knowledgeable.  Betty took to her straight away.

Carrie showed us lots of techniques for getting Betty to walk nicely without yanking our arms off all the time.  She started off by showing us how to get Betty to focus on us, then to sit at our side on the lead, then to walk a few steps without pulling, all done with food treats.  She demonstrated herself with Betty, then OH and I each had a go, Betty picked it up very quickly.  It helped that we were in a big field with hardly anybody else around, so there were few distractions close to us.  There were kids playing football in another field nearby, which did attract Betty (of course!), but Carrie showed us how to get Betty's attention back to us - basically gentle but firm and persistent calling her name, using the word 'focus' and offering a food reward. 

She also showed us how to stop Betty from jumping up - turn our body slightly and totally ignore her until she gets down and has all 4 paws on the ground, at which time we should praise her.  Carrie said by just saying 'down' and pushing her off as we had been doing, we are in fact giving her attention and rewarding the wrong behaviour, encouraging her to keep doing it.  By ignoring her until she gets back down, and then praising her only when she's on the ground, she will quickly learn not to jump up.  We also have to get friends, family etc doing the same thing!  It's all so logical when you actually stop to think about it.

We had a full hour of 1-2-1 for £15 - a total bargain, considering we learnt so much and Betty was responding so quickly.  We are seeing Carrie-Anne again for another hour next week, to practise the loose lead walking for longer periods, and some other things - she told us to have a think about what else we'd like her to work with us on.  She's also going to give us a written report and work plan next good is that?

She's a marvel and is such a lovely lady too, I'm so glad we found her.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Betty pics and good news

Thank you for all the comments on my last post.  Yes, I think you're all right - last week's puppy 'training' class was a waste of time for us, and a money spinner for the trainers.  Aly, having seen pics of Bruno and heard about his antics, I can just picture him as  Scooby Do!  Sheila, I did laugh at your comment....yes Betty is a cute hooligan!  Simple Living Marlene, that's terrible about your poor dog's damaged ear, the owner and trainer clearly weren't in control of their animal were they?  Marlene J, yes indeed Betty did have lots of fun at the class, shame she didn't learn anything though!

Following lots of positive and friendly emails with the new trainer I found, Carrie-Anne, I am happy to report we are taking Betty to her tomorrow morning for her first hour of 1-2-1 assessment and training, I am really looking forward to it (I expect Betty will be pleased too!).

Here are some updated pics of Betty, all taken within the last few days:-

Just look at that lovely squidgy face!

My 2 bubs asleep.....who's the cutest?!  ;-))

Out walking at the nature reserve.  She was facing me and just as I took the photo her head whipped round as a swan flew past!


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Nope, not going again!

We took Betty to her first puppy training class last week.....well, in the words of Craig Revell-Horwood it was 'a disaaaaaster dahhhling'.  We won't be going there again.

Several problems really - the biggest one being that the class was just too big.  About 12 or 14 pups of different breeds, ages and stages of training (it turns out it's an open, just turn up class so how they can work successfully with loads of different pups in various stages of training I don't know), plus about 20 or so owners.  As Betty just loves ALL people and ALL dogs, she was in a state of high excitement the whole time, which meant that she really wasn't interested in taking any notice of us or the trainers, she just wanted to play!  2 or 3 of the pups were quiet and well behaved, the others (including Betty) were just hooligans - all barking excitedly and jumping around, it was pretty much chaos.  And very noisy chaos at that. 

We started off with 5 mins of one to one with one of the 3 trainers, which was just getting Betty to sit for a treat.  Well, she does that very well anyway, doesn't need training for that.  Then it was loose lead walking, in pairs - Betty doesn't do loose lead at all, it's all running and tugging as hard as she can...particularly when she sees other dogs, one of the reasons we wanted to take her to classes.  Well, seeing as there were loads of other dogs there, that wasn't good.  You get just a couple of minutes' worth of training for that, seeing as there were lots of dogs to get through.  Then it was recall, one at a time...amazingly, as there were so many other dogs there, she actually did that quite well, as she could see OH was holding treats (she's totally food governed).  Sadly (and embarrassingly) it ended badly....the idea is you put your dog on the lead when she's come to you and had the treat....well OH did, or at least he tried to, but Betty was too quick for him and was off like a rocket tearing round the hall greeting all the other dogs, zipping in and out of people's legs and under chairs, to much laughter (and cringing from me).  Somebody managed to grab hold of her collar so OH could get her back on the lead....the lady beside me said "I'm not going to laugh, coz I know I'll be just as humiliated when it's my pup's (a spaniel) turn in a minute!".

The other big problem is that the class was only 30 minutes long - how the trainers are supposed to work with so many dogs and teach them anything meaningful in such a short space of time I don't know, I reckon it's impossible.

I've done some googling and found a local trainer who does one to one, at your home or a location near hers, as well as classes....she stresses that her classes are small, no more than 6 dogs at a time.  I think we need a few one to one sessions so Betty can learn without the distraction of loads of other dogs and their humans, and then perhaps a few of the classes.  I've emailed the lady this morning, she has some excellent reviews on her website and on Facebook.

Thank you for the comments on decluttering (I can't wait to get started on it actually) and Betty's antics with the dandelion.  I'll have to get round to putting on some updated pics.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Back to normal

Good grief, that was a moany post wasn't it?!  Sorry about that.  I've put my big girl's pants on and given myself a good shake.  I can't change what others do, I can only change myself and how I feel.  Thank you so much for all your lovely comments.....I should say here that my last post was not in any way aimed at any of my readers, it always warms my heart that so many of you read and comment on my posts.  I never thought people would be interested in my ordinary life. 

Anyway, I won't let the buggers get me down (as a couple of you said!), I shall just shake it off and carry on enjoying what we do.  We had a funny moment this morning when we were walking Betty on the nature reserve....I'd forgotten to take my phone with me so couldn't take a photo - pity, it was so funny we were both laughing our heads off.  Betty came across a dandelion with a full big fluffy seed head - it was her first time of seeing one.  She stood transfixed, one front paw raised like a pointer, staring intently at it for a few seconds.  Then, all of a sudden, she lunged forward and bit the entire head off - well, a split second later she coughed and loads of the fluffy seeds flew out of her mouth, much to her astonishment - she literally stared in amazement.  OH and I just stood there laughing out loud.  For the next few minutes as we walked along, she kept giving little coughs, blowing out a few more seeds each time....luckily, there were several mini flooded patches on the grass (it had rained heavily yesterday) so she could have a drink to get rid of the rest.  So funny!

It's exactly 9 weeks today till OH retires, it's going quite slowly at the mo but I expect it will speed up the nearer it gets.  He's been told that his firm have a retirement gift list that he can choose from - the manager couldn't remember all the things on it, he did say there's a silver watch, a decanter or a pen but was sure there are others.....hope so, as OH doesn't really want any of those!  I wonder if there's a cash or gift voucher alternative?  That would be good, OH could buy something he really wants then. 

We've decided one of the first things we're going to do when he's finished work is to have a major declutter of the house and garage.  I take after my mother, I'm a bit of a hoarder - not by design, somehow we just seem to acquire a lot of 'stuff', which then sits around gathering dust.  OH however is definitely of the 'I'll hang on to that, never know when it might come in useful' persuasion, he's got a garage and shedful of oddments of wood, bits of metal, old broken tools, old holey hosepipes, a few non-working electrical items, etc.  We have quite a large trailer so can take plenty of stuff to the tip, and loads of charity shops in the town to take anything not broken, or clothes or books.  It would be lovely to be more minimalist!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Sorry for the lack of posts, I'm feeling hard done by and sorry for myself.  Can't even be bothered to think up a title for this post - well, not one that doesn't scream of self indulgence.

I just think I spend my life doing things for and helping to support others, but nobody does anything nice just for me.  I feel unappreciated and of no value.  I feel like I'm invisible half the time, nobody seems to take any notice of anything I say. 

Saturday, 18 March 2017


After much thought, we have decided to take Betty to training classes.  In many ways she is the perfect dog/puppy - she sleeps all through the night and has done since a few days after we got her, she's completely house trained, ever since Week 2, she's not fussy about food and is happy to eat whatever we give her, be it commercial or homemade.  She's really good in the car, goes happily in her crate and we don't get a peep out of her on the journey, she doesn't mind being left alone in the car for short periods either (in fact she's usually still dozing when we get back).  She sits on command, because she's been treat trained.  Her nipping has drastically reduced and it's now just gentle mouthing, she's learnt that using her teeth is a No no.  She's teething so is going through a chewing phase, but will stop chewing anything inappropriate when we tell her.  She's not at all aggressive - rather the opposite, she's exceptionally friendly, with everyone and every dog.  Totally fearless, she's not intimidated by bigger dogs....even snarly aggressive ones (there's one living next door!) she's more puzzled than intimidated by. 

And therein lies part of the problem - she thinks every person and dog is her new best friend and just wants to play with them.  She tries to jump up at people, because she gets so much fuss made of her by most people we meet, and all other dogs she really wants to play with.  She just doesn't understand that not all people want a dog jumping at them, however friendly it is, and not all dogs want to play.

On walks now, we keep her on a short tight leash when we see other people and dogs, but she still strains at the lead and yelps and yelps until they've gone past.  She then whines and looks totally forlorn for a minute or two, as if we've spoilt her whole day!

And she constantly pulls at the lead - well, I say constantly, very occasionally she will walk nicely beside us, but that only lasts a couple of minutes, then she's back to yanking our arms off and practically choking herself.  We've watched loads of training videos by several different trainers and have tried all their suggestions, to no avail.  So training classes it is, as I'm fed up with having an aching shoulder and neck!  The first class will be the week after next, I hope it does the trick.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Breakfasts, lunches and dog food

Thank you Simple Living, Sheila and Gemma's Person for the comments on my menu plan.

I forgot to mention what we have for breakfasts and lunches.  I don't often have breakfast, maybe once or twice a week, and it's usually Greek yogurt with a few berries and nuts, or maybe bran flakes with nut milk and some berries.  When it's really cold in the winter we may have porridge (which we like made with water, no sugar, but with a few sultanas mixed in and a big splash of cream on top!).  OH usually has toast for his breakfast.  Occasionally on Sundays or when we're on holiday, we have a full cooked breakfast. 

Lunches are usually soup with homemade croutons when it's cold, maybe salad with ham or cheese or canned fish if it's not cold.  OH may occasionally have a sandwich instead with a cup a soup, I'll have sliced cheese with rye crispbreads and a few olives and cucumber slices.

Gemma's Person asked about desserts.....we rarely have them - well, OH has a yogurt after dinner.  I'm diabetic so hardly ever eat sweet things.....I've found it much easier to get into the habit of just not having them at all, rather than trying to eat a tiny portion of something that I'd really like to eat a lot of!  I'm not a saint though, on rare occasions we may have a Danish pastry or share a cake when we're out and in a coffee shop!

I made a week's worth of dog food today, it was turkey mince which I cooked in a little water in a saucepan (I nearly added seasoning but stopped myself just in time!).  Cooked a large sweet potato in the microwave, then mashed the flesh when it was cool enough to handle.  Boiled a head of broccoli and roughly mashed that.  Mixed the whole lot together in a large bowl, with a can of garden peas (having first checked that they were just peas in water, nothing else added).  Divided it into 7 portions.  I gave Betty half a portion at lunchtime, to see how she got on with it....she loved it, licked her bowl clean.  I've kept a couple of portions in the fridge and frozen the rest. 

I also made sardine oatcakes, following a recipe I found online from a very good website he's a dog walker who, in conjunction with a canine dietitian, makes his own dog food recipes.  The mixture made over 80, luckily Betty loves them too!

Following a recommendation from a dog owning friend (thanks Aly!), I tried Betty with a scrambled egg....yep, wolfed it down (she's clearly not a fussy eater).

So our plan is to give her scrambled egg for breakfast, my homemade food for lunches (sometimes it will be sardines or liver with veg, instead of turkey) and her complete dry kibble for suppertime.  We will continue to give her this as it contains the vitamins and minerals she needs.  The oatcake biscuits will be  treats, along with dried out liver (strips cooked in a low oven for a couple of hours, then cut into tiny pieces) as training treats.  This is of course after we've monitored her for a couple of days to check that she's ok with the new homemade foods.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Menu planning

Thank you for the comments on my food shop, I do like Lidl and am slowly getting into the habit of shopping less often - you're right, Dawn, this is definitely one way of spending less.

I thought it might be useful to blog my menu plan each will encourage me to keep doing it, which in turn helps with the shopping, and I can always look back at previous menus for inspiration.

So this week:-

Sunday (yesterday) we had sausages, roasted parsnips and sprouts, cauli & broccoli in cheese sauce (double portion made so the rest has been frozen for later)

Monday - Chicken & mushroom risotto....need to buy the chicken, I was under the impression we had a couple of breasts in the freezer but can't find them, must have used them (another good reason to maintain an inventory!)

Tuesday - Chilli with cheesy cornbread....have everything in stock for that, will make double so one lot can be frozen

Wednesday - Pork shoulder in cider in the slow cooker - need to buy the pork.  It will make enough to freeze for another day, probably two.

Thursday - Salmon with noodles and stir fry veg.....just need the veg.

Friday - Cottage pie and veg - all from out of the freezer

Saturday - Cauli & broccoli cheese with bacon and tinned tomatoes.....the remainder of Sunday's cauli cheese, bacon & tomatoes already in stock.

I'm going to start making some - not all - food for Betty too, will do another post about that.