January 2023

Well, I’ve been meaning to blog for ages now but haven’t quite garnered the energy. So here we are.

I’ve just finished reading “Spare” by Harry (you know which Harry, don’t you!) It was emotional, raw, honest, and shocking. Here’s the review I’ve written (but Amazon haven’t posted yet . . )

  • This book is a must-read. Harry mostly seems hyper-aware of his unearned privilege, except when he talks about how wonderful it was to shoot game birds . . . I think it is a good thing that he has talked about his family, so hide-bound by their own stupid, cruel rules. The Queen comes out of this best, I think, but even she is not as powerful as we would like to think. He sounds happiest when on active duty in the army until he meets Meghan. The appalling behaviour of the British press is called out here, regularly. And so the poisonous, sneering, disdainful reaction of this press to this book is to be expected, but really, really not believed. If you are thinking about buying this book, but hesitate because of the press reviews, don’t hesitate. Buy it. Borrow it. Read it somehow.

Harry has been gaslit. Is still being gaslit. All the privilege and wealth in the world does not make a person happy, if a vindictive, racist, spiteful group of journalists insist on making your life hell. The paparazzi are a nightmare, just as they were for his mother. And then of course the Palace ignore it, pretend it isn’t happening, and deny anything that would make them complicit.

So there we are. Little rant over. For now anyway.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but have picked up my knitting again, just for a few rows every day, sometimes more than once. 20 minutes seems to be enough. Feels nice though.

Also brushing up on my fairly rough and ready Spanish – via Duolingo. It’s very good. Ten minutes a day is making quite a difference. When I’m feeling more confident in Spanish, I’ll have a go at my Italian (which is better than my Spanish, but needs refreshing). I was so lucky to learn Latin at school, and loved it. Did it to A level, along with French. Then at college I did Spanish to O level in 9 months, then when I retired I took up Italian and did that to A level equivalent (ONC 3) in a couple of years. It felt like a domino fall in my head, what with Latin, French, and Spanish. One of my grandsons asked me if I still remember any French or Latin from school. Well, it was 50 years ago, but the answer was “Yes!”

Well, Vodafone is up and running. The only snag, and it’s a fairly small one, is that voicemail isn’t working. We can (and I have) set up voicemail on our home phone, and will have to manage with that I guess. But it doesn’t work when the phone is unplugged. Vodafone seem to think that it is working, so I shall pester them about once a week until they sort it out. Fortunately, it’s free of charge, or else I’d be much crosser. And to be honest, hardly anybody ever uses our landline. But just occasionally, somebody does.

Meanwhile, on Planet Computer, I’ve had to re-arrange our backing up system. It’s too boring (except for computer nerds like me) but I think it should work better now, without the need to buy further (expensive) hard drives. Two NAS drives, three USB external hard drives, and there’s another one of those attached to hubby’s computer. Not pretty, but very useful. I’m horrified at how dusty they are!

The shopping has just been delivered, and hubby is harrumphing about the quality, or lack of quality, of the fresh vegetables. My next job is to see if Marks and Spencers will deliver. And so that is what I will do now.

Christmas Eve

We don’t do religion at all, so for us it’s a sort of mid-winter beanfeast. We do gifts for our loved ones, phone those we don’t get to see, and make contact one way or another via technology. We have roast turkey on Christmas Day, and open our presents, and generally have a very jolly time. Just us this year which is wonderful. All those fraught difficult years with my difficult mother are gone. Nothing to worry about. Except cooking the turkey, which hubby does. I do everything else. Gifts, wrapping, posting, tree, decorating, baking. I made some mince pies which I finished off today – will make some more next week. Frozen dairy free pastry, shop-bought filling, but somehow the process makes them look and taste home-made. Result.

Today I made an apple cake (Nadiya Hussein recipe) and got into such a mess with it. The whole kitchen seemed to be covered in sticky stuff. But it’s all cleaned up now, the dishwasher (thank goodness for dishwashers) is running, and it’ll all be fine.

Yesterday I did my ironing. Wednesday ES came to stay with his youngest son, and that was lovely. Wednesday I sorted our landline and made a trifle (premade, dairy-free frozen sponge base, frozen mixed fruit, shop-bought soya milk custard).

Sorting out the landline was slightly fraught. We are in the process of leaving Virgin Media and have signed up with Vodafone, for half the price. We wanted to keep the same phone number, and on Monday we had no phone line. This does happen from time to time with Virgin, so I left it a couple of days, then phoned up and managed to speak to an actual person, who was very helpful. Turns out that Vodafone now have the number. So I plugged the phone into the Vodafone router and hey presto! it worked. Maybe, just maybe, Virgin or Vodafone could have let us know they were doing that two weeks before the contract with Virgin finished . . . just saying.

Next Monday (26th) we’re off to Malvern for a walk with YS, his wife and their Spanador puppy. Can’t wait to meet him!

Then later in the week ED plus hubby and son are coming to visit for a couple of days. They stay in an apartment in the middle of Birmingham which works well for them. Very excited.

So I wish you all a very happy holiday and a much, much better new year. Mazel Tov, and l’chaim (good luck and to life!).

Bit Chilly

That’s what we Brits say to each other, every day, every time we pop out even for a few seconds. Because we’re British and talk about the weather.

We have a smart meter, which is telling us that our gas and electricity is costing us £110 per week. Mm. Not great. I really don’t know how I would cope if I were living on my own with substantially less income. How do people manage? The government is actually providing some help (we’re getting £67 per month knocked off our bills), but it’s not much. We are actually donating that £67 to a charity which sends it to people who need it. I’m not sure that this is working terribly well. It’s only for 3 months anyway, and it’s so much colder now and likely to stay that way through at least January.

Here’s a thought. Why don’t we nationalise gas/electricity, the railways, the Post Office, and pay nurses their due? Huh? All that hypocritical clapping during the pandemic – I was stropping about even then saying Let’s pay them properly, then! And the government is trying its best to make us all hate the nurses with crap like “Putin wants the nurses/railway workers/ambulance workers/post office workers to strike!” What total tosh. Then today we have Sunak saying it’s not fair to pay all these people more money. Ok, mate, you have absolutely no idea what it is to work full time, be exhausted, and still be broke. Not fair? oh please.

Ho hum.

Just recovering from an ME/CFS episode. Spent most of yesterday asleep, and when I was awake, feeling like five kinds of sh*t. Better today though.

We’ve had new beds, carpet and curtains in our bedroom. All went swimmingly until the day after we’d put up the curtains – when the track fell down. We are awaiting new brackets so we can put it all back together. I do need to take up the curtains, though, and am going to remove the rufflette tape from the top and move it lower down, rather than take up the hem. Exciting.

And football! love it! very conflicted about Qatar, though. Only watched a few matches up until today, and we’ll watch the evening kick-off quarter finals (we have a little sleep in the afternoon) and semi finals, and hopefully the final.

Well, that’s it for now. Need my siesta. Mm.

A bit sad.

We had to have our little cat euthanised last week. Two days after being diagnosed with a fast-growing tumour, she was so ill we couldn’t bear to see her suffer any more. We stayed with her and I stroked her while she slipped away.

Heartbreaking, and the first time I have needed to do that, because although I have had cats all my life, this has never happened before. At least, apart from when I was 12 and just not up to staying with my cat Penny while she was put to sleep. I went upstairs then and sobbed my heart out.

Bertie was 13, so not a young cat, but not old either. We both keep expecting to see/hear her. I expect that will pass, but it’s still a small jolt of sadness every time.

Surprise!

Oldest son and his wife came up to stay with us last week. On the Friday they took us out for a meal, and we did know youngest son and his two offspring would be there. We were first to arrive, and they said Oh yes, table for 11. I thought Hmm, wonder if the Irish contingent are going to appear. And they did! middle son, wife and little boy! what a lovely evening!

I discovered last night when I got ready for bed I had been wearing non-matching earrings all day. Nobody said anything. I guess nobody noticed . . . once when I was still working I had two pairs of shoes exactly the same, one pair in navy blue, the other pair in black, and of course one day I ended up wearing one of each – again, nobody noticed! thank goodness, I would have really taken some stick (been teased) had anybody realised . . . .

And today everybody has gone back to their various homes.

At the end of this coming week Older Daughter is coming up with hubby and son. Excellent. It’s so lovely to see the family.

October

Well, some of the fiscal madness has undergone a spectacular U-turn, but not all of it. The Tories are fighting amongst themselves. It’s not that surprising. We did know Liz Truss was going to be awful, we just didn’t know how awful, and how quickly. We shall see. Interesting times.

I found a conker the other day! Here it is with the cat licking my thumb. Strange animal . . .

We have had a succession of plumbers/electricians coming to the house to fix various plumbing/electrical problems – electric shower switch, replacement of immersion heater, then replacement of the immersion heater switch, one thing after another.

Today the wonderful gardener came to trim the Leylandii and has made an excellent job of it. He’s just great. He brings his little dog Winston who is a little bundle of tail-wagging joy. Love it.

Meanwhile I’ve had a dodgy blood test result which the doctor wants to talk to me about, so I spent an hour on the phone waiting to be told there were no appointments, and I’d have to phone back the next day at 8 am. So I did. Caller No 46 at 8:01 (!), but appointment made by 8:23. Hmm.

And I have an appointment for my flu and Covid jabs next week. Yay.

Been feeling quite low and tired, but buying four new tops has cheered me up. Works every time. Two from Weird Fish, which is a site I have been lurking around for some time, and two from Marks and Spencers. Lovely.

Off to carry on reading Confidence Man (latest book on Trump) by Maggie Habermann. Interesting. Reinforces my view of him. Mm.

Omnishambles/Clusterf*ck

No other way to describe our current PM & Chancellor. What on earth do they think they are doing? apart from making very rich people even richer, of course. They refused to publish a fiscal forecast – hmm, wonder why? and now they’ve been severely scolded by the IMF and summoned to a meeting of the Budget watchdog (whoever they may be). Unprecedented. For goodness’ sake. Grrrr.

Meanwhile, back on Planet Mandy, I did my ironing yesterday. Also, today, dismantled and cleaned out the bathroom cupboard above the basin. Last week I reorganised and cleaned out the cupboard above the loo, which has made it much easier for me to reach the things I need to reach. Then, today, I finished changing my wardrobe from summer to winter. It doesn’t involve much, to be honest, just moving all the summer clothes into the spare room and putting plastic clothes protector thingies on them all. I’ve decided which autumn/winter clothes I hate, and are therefore going to the charity shop.

So domestically I am a goddess. Bit sweaty, mind, and need a shower, but that’ll have to wait until hubby has been through his stuff and put it all back in his side of the cupboard. He’s currently doing something technical with the car and its tyres.

Also working up to making an apple cake (a Nadiya recipe). I have all the ingredients, just need to wait until hubby has finished his chocolate cake from the Co-op, and for the energy to manifest itself. Yeah.

Ordered some plants – white bergenia, aconite bulbs, ajuga (bugle plant) and some white cyclamen. Can’t wait. The gardener has pulled back loads of ivy so now there’s room for such things.

Ok. Off to sort out the on-line grocery shopping list.

September 2022

Well, Queen Liz died. I thought she was actually a good woman, just very lucky to be born into the privileges she enjoyed. I also think it’s pretty damned impressive that she was working right up until the day before she died. How many of us could do that at 96? Mm. And she will leave a big hole in the British consciousness.

She was reputed to have an excellent sense of humour, even though she could be snappy at times. And who isn’t? Huh? some lovely stories now circulating on line.

However I am really, really not a monarchist and am hoping that at some point it will either be abolished or reduced dramatically. All these castles they have up and down the country tend to be cold, draughty, and uncomfortable. Unless, of course, you have underpaid staff to build your fires and so on. Sigh.

And of course the media is absolutely full of it, every day. How much more is there to be said?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So we are currently watching Breaking Bad. It’s not exactly light viewing but so exciting! and there are laugh out loud moments, even though it’s very black humour.

I’ve stopped putting days/dates on the to-do lists I make. It just puts pressure on me. So I have a list of things to do, but no deadlines. Much better. Yesterday I did a bit in the garden, today I’ve made the sponge base for a trifle for upcoming guests. I have 15 hyacinth bulbs to plant and several pots to wash, but that’s for another day. Also planning a crumble (frozen apples and blackberries, ready made topping) so that’s not too onerous. Other admin stuff too but boring for everybody but me.

I’m also reading Robert Galbraith’s The Ink Black Heart (the latest Cormoran Strike book). It’s so complicated I’ve just started re-reading it, having only just finished it. I’m less confused this time! but god I love these books.

Anyhoo, here are some pics of the garden.

Some of the crocheted dishcloths.

Garden and Crochet

Here are some photos of our garden. You can see the crocosmia are struggling this year, and the sedum spectabile also looking pathetic. I’m just investigating whether hyacinths would be good – have had some in pots for the last few years, but this year they didn’t do so well. Mm. The grass looks dead but will probably recover. My favourite rose is still blooming, bless its beautiful heart. The lavender needs pruning, the rudbeckia look as if they are beyond help, but the oblong bed seems to be ok somehow. Mostly herbs and some alchemilla mollis. Also the asters are looking hopeful.

Also, I’m in crochet mode, so here are some photos (which I may well have posted in the past) to demonstrate my level of ability. I think I’m an average crocheter. I do enjoy it but have to keep my eye on what I’m actually doing, whereas when I’m knitting I can usually do it without looking. Ho hum. Keeping edges straight is something I’ve had to work at (thank you YouTube), and the amigurumi toys look ok once they’re finished but I do have problems with the stitch count . . . Granny squares, now, I can do. Still have to concentrate though!