31st December 2010

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Dragged myself out of bed at 10.30. Ate some breakfast – bran flakes with soya milk. Managed to shower and dress before the shopping was delivered – I shouldn’t be allowed to order the shopping by myself. Somehow or other we have 16 kitchen rolls. Sixteen. But no little oranges. Normally Vic sits with me while I do the ordering, this time he didn’t. Not exactly a disaster, but storage is beginning to be a problem. One week we ended up with 5 kg of lamb mince. Yes, five kilogrammes.
Ah well.
You’ll all be pleased to know, I’m sure, that my little eleven-year-old Ford Ka started up first turn of the key. After weeks of sub-zero temperatures and covered with a foot of snow, I think that’s pretty impressive. Drove up to Tescos. It’s actually a ten minute walk but I’m just so damn tired. Parked right by the main road, so it was a five minute walk to the actual shop, got some bits and bobs, then dropped into Notcutts, a big garden centre on the same site. I bought three packs of 24 red baubles for £7.50. Not bad, huh. They’re for next year, and were of course half price.
Had lunch – bread roll, goat butter, and some sheep cheese, three little oranges and a banana. And of course my final portion of trifle. Yum.
This afternoon I was quite busy. I sorted through two bags full of wrapping paper and discovered lots of tissue paper I can re-use, as well as four ribbons which will be lovely for card-making. Also sorted the washing ready for tomorrow, ran the dishwasher through and emptied it, backed up my pc and Vic’s pc onto the external hard drive, then treated myself to a sit down with a nice cup of tea and two mince pies. Yum, again.
Vic is currently cooking tea – lamb curry. What a hero.
No plans for this evening. Too tired. Crap on TV. We managed to miss the Christmas Doctor Who, and can’t find it on Catch Up TV or iPlayer. Damn and blast, the only thing worth watching all over the holiday, and we forgot to record it. Never mind, we have a list of good stuff on the Virgin+ box which we can watch.
I am waiting for several things to be delivered. Another external hard drive, to back up the RiPNAS directly (that’s our music server), incrementally and regularly. The complete series of The West Wing on DVD. A new Kipling handbag. Two L’Oréal mascaras (Lash Architect, my favourite) and some rosehip and hibiscus tea bags, which for some reason are difficult to find in the local shops. All very exciting. And today I received a new watch and black waterfall cardigan I’d ordered from Next. Hooray. Thank goodness for internet shopping.
Still knackered, but at least woke up this morning rather than this afternoon. Also, showered and dressed, which I didn’t manage yesterday. Currently drinking a nice cup of tea (something we do a lot in this house!) and typing this blog. Lovely.
Happy New Year to you all.

30th December 2010

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Well. Where do I start?
Christmas Day was lovely. My sister brought Mum over on her way to Northampton, and my younger niece picked Mum up on her way back. Northampton is where the older niece lives. Vic cooked a wonderful roast turkey with all the trimmings, and the raspberry bakewell slice for pudding was also delicious. We all sat and dozed while Shrek 3 was on the TV after the Queen’s Speech (for mother really), and generally overindulged. I don’t drink alcohol at all, so for me it was lots of water and cups of tea to drink.
Sunday, Boxing Day, was also lovely. ED and chappie Paul came up from Southampton and had lunch and dinner with us. We played a game called Thoughts and Crosses – a bit like Scattergories apparently, and that was fun. Lunch and dinner was basically leftovers. The cake I’d made on Christmas Eve, with three layers, involving 1 lb sugar, 1 lb flour, 1 lb dairy-free margarine and seven eggs, with another 1 lb of icing sugar, was horrible. Dry and not very nice at all. Dumped it on Monday. Ah well. Can’t have it all ways.
Monday we didn’t do much at all. Washing, mostly.
Tuesday Vic and I, and YD and chappie Tom, went to my sister’s in Droitwich. Mum was there, both my nieces – yay! and all my brother in law’s family, who are delightful. A wonderful time was had by all. Libby had cooked various curries and all the accoutrements, and there was even some chocolate I could eat too. It was just wonderful. My nieces are just delightful. Approximately the same age as my two daughters, so when they were all little we spent a lot of time together, and we took them to Center Parcs on holiday with us many years ago. Which was great.
Wednesday two of Vic’s sons and their partners and four of the grandchildren came for the day – it was absolutely lovely. Vic made a huge chilli for all of us (four children, seven adults), we all squeezed round our dining table, and it was excellent. I’d made a trifle for pudding, also there was ice cream and/or mince pies. We played Wii dance after lunch – lots of laughing and very tiring. French bread, ham, cheese and dips for tea, same puddings. Excellent.
Result – I slept from 9.30 pm last night till 3.30 pm this afternoon and am still knackered. But it’s only once a year, and so much fun it’s definitely worth it.
Bertie the cat has found it all a bit much, and has taken to spending her time inside hiding, asleep, under our bed. Hopefully she will calm down – currently asleep on her little radiator bed.
I was hoping to go out for a walk today – the snow has almost completely gone now and the daytime temperature is usually above freezing – but it was dark when I woke. Tomorrow I must get up and dressed at a reasonable hour, and not only go for a walk but see if my car will start after 3 weeks in sub-zero temperatures, covered in a foot of snow. It should do, but I do need to check.
I had knitted hats and scarves or mittens for the grandchildren, and wrapped them up with a small toy for each of them. They all seemed really pleased with them – Lucy’s hat & scarf matched a cardigan I’d knitted her for her birthday in November.
I gave Vic two books he didn’t know he wanted (Hitch 22 and one about the ships in the Patrick O’Brien books), three CDs he did want, and a pair of slippers.
In fact, all the presents seemed to go down very well, which is always a good feeling for the giver.
Presents I received include the complete boxed set of Friends DVDs (yay!), a voucher for a local beauty salon (excellent!), various books from my wish list, a Lancôme lipstick I’d been wanting for ages, some Chanel No 5 body lotion, writing stationery and a lovely mug – and from my French pen friend, some card making toppers which are fabulous, various sorts of sweets, some home made, and a handbag hook for when you’re sitting in a cafe. Amazing. I’m a very lucky woman.
I just love to have a pile of books ready to read. One of them was the Simon’s Cat “Over the Fence” which is just lovely. I love his stuff. It’s not “cutesy-poo” at all, just very funny and well observed. This one has a story-line, which makes it even better.
Must go now. It must be time for something to eat. I have had a bowl of Shreddies with a banana sliced on top and two mince pies, but that’s all today. But then I woke very late. Hmm.

23rd December 2010

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Well, what a busy couple of days.
On Tuesday Tom and I refurbished his computer. New 1Tb hard drive and Windows 7 Ultimate. Very nice. Went very quickly too. The only problem was a strange video card which is supposed to do high-def something-or-other but it just didn’t work. The driver wouldn’t install either. But now, without that, it’s all up and running and very sprauncy. It’s always so satisfying to make an old broken computer into a good, fast, working one. There were originally two hard drives in there, both partitioned, and one of them had just died. The other one is still in there, reformatted into one single partition, and that’s where he keeps his music. Just needs an external hard drive now for backing up. At the moment everything is backed up on my external drive, just in case.
Wednesday – hubby went up to Tescos with his Heath-Robinson-type contraption, got as much as he could manage, then schlepped home. But it wasn’t the greatest success. He was fraught and very tired when he got home. So we all rushed about making him cups of tea with a mince pie and putting it all away. It’s all a bit bashed, as it had to be squashed into a rucksack. However, that really doesn’t matter.
Then YD drove into Solihull to meet her friend and took me with her for my hairdo. Then I had lunch with YD and friend, and off I went to Sainsbury’s to finish off the Xmas food shopping. I had hardly really started when the fire alarm in Sainsbury’s and the whole of Mell Square went off, and we all had to leave the store and the shopping centre. So I met YD and off we went to fetch her car, had a cup of tea at her chappie’s parents’ house (which was very welcome indeed). That was nice, particularly so because YD’s chappie’s sister was there with her baby, and they are both lovely.
“you write the list & I’ll do the shopping”
Next, YD drove me to Waitrose in Hall Green, where we couldn’t get into the car park. However, we parked on the roadside, and I found a trolley. Which had the most interesting shopping list attached to it – YD and I couldn’t stop laughing. I’ve scanned it in and here it is.
Anyway, we got everything we needed. Or so we thought at the time. Desperate for a cup of tea and a sit down when we got home. YD and chappie went up to the huge Tescos just by us for some bits and bobs for dinner, came home, started dinner and discovered that we had a) no garlic and b) no curry paste. Jeez. YD had actually been to two supermarkets that day, and was well ticked off. Meltdown time. I kept well out of the kitchen. Anyway, YD’s chappie saved the day and we had a lovely dinner.
This morning, as a result, husband walked up to Tescos (for the umpteenth time this week) and got the garlic and curry paste. I’ll be glad when the shops shut and we just have to make do with what we have.
Slept late today, planning to make some more mince pies this afternoon, if I don’t have to go back to bed for another little sleep. Am very very tired.

20th December

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It’s just as well I didn’t do the ironing yesterday.  Making the mince pies and emptying the dishwasher was quite enough. I was actually a bit tearful, I was so tired. It’s the M.E. that does it, I really have to pace myself.
So I did the ironing today. 11 tops and 5 pairs of trousers and it took me an hour. Needed a long sit down afterwards. But it’s done, thank goodness. Washing is in the machine ready for Vic to start off tomorrow. He has to bring it downstairs, I can’t carry the basket full. I can tip it over to get the washing out, and sort it into loads, but that’s all. Then I leave a note out for him to start it off in the morning, and it’s usually finished washing and he’s hung it out before I even wake up. He does his own ironing, I do mine. I simply couldn’t cope with his too, and anyway he’s done his own ironing ever since I’ve known him.
Then after lunch I went for a walk. I togged myself up in my red knee-length parka and new red wellies with two pairs of socks, hat (photo to be supplied when I’m brave enough) and gloves and timed how long it took me to walk to the bus stop. I’ve cancelled the nail appointment for tomorrow, it would have involved a bus and a taxi. But on Wednesday, assuming the buses are running (which I can check online) I’m going to catch the bus into Solihull. I’m meeting an ex-colleague, Fiona, for lunch, then am having my hair cut. If the buses aren’t running, I’ll have to cancel it all.
I’m also a bit worried about Christmas Day. My mum is coming over from Droitwich, where the snow is quite bad as well as here, and it’s a 35 minute journey when there’s no snow. She’s not in the first flush of youth, you might say, so I’m going to talk to her tomorrow or the next day and sort out how we’re going to manage it.
Vic has assembled a Heath-Robinson-type contraption so that we can walk up to Tescos (which is our nearest, though not preferred, supermarket). It’s his rucksack attached to his golfing trolley. Excellent. We’re going to schlep up together on Thursday morning, so that if we can only get a frozen turkey it will have time to defrost before Saturday.
Have found my ex-boss on facebook. He was my boss when I was medically retired, and has a wonderful sense of humour. Really good to work with, and such a good laugh. Excellent.
So tomorrow I have an unexpectedly free day, and am doing Tom’s pc with him. He’s bought a new hard drive and Windows 7, so that’ll be good fun to do. Always very satisfying when a broken old computer is refurbished. And he’s interested to see how it all goes together too.
Well. Time for a little bowl of cereal and then bed, I think. Electric blanket has been on for long enough. Until tomorrow.

19th December 2010

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Yesterday we put up the Christmas decorations – not too much to it, in this house, just a tree, a wreath on the front door, a couple of little tiny trees and some baubles in a vase. Also put up the cards – I put three red ribbons on the lounge door, both sides, fastened on at the top with a flat-headed drawing pin. That way there are no holes in any walls. Then I stick the cards to the ribbons with sticky tape. They don’t fall over every time you open a door or walk past, they look pretty, and then after Christmas I get them down and read them all again.
The weather is very cold. We have 5” of snow and the temperature is not expected to rise above freezing for several more days. It’s currently -3°C, and it’s five past one – lunchtime – as I write. This morning when Vic went for his walk at about five am it was -10°C. That’s cold.
It’s warm and cosy inside though, and Vic is roasting lamb for lunch at the moment – it smells absolutely lovely. This afternoon I’m intending to make another 2 dozen mince pies and possibly, if my back is up to it, do the ironing. There’s a basketful!
I’ve phoned my mum, who’s 78 and lives 25 miles away, to check she’s ok and has all she needs,(yes she is and does) the ED, who lives 130 miles away, to see how the weather is in Southampton (bad) and my friend Sylvia, also in her seventies, to check she’s ok and has all she needs too (yes to both). YD is at boyfriend’s mum’s house. Getting off the drive in the car is a problem, but then they’re straight on to a main road, which should be gritted.
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This week I have two appointments, one for the Calgel, and one for my haircut. Luckily the buses are running, so I’ll use them rather than try and drive in packed ice over snow. Too risky. I have some new red wellington boots which go with my red coat and some warm socks to wear with them, so I’ll look like Grandmother Christmas, I expect. Don’t do hats – I look like Freddie Davis (Irish accent, bowler hat, “and there’s more”) in a hat. See photo right.
And as for the Christmas food shopping, we’ll have to manage that somehow or other. Hopefully the temperature will have managed to rise above freezing point by then. Fingers crossed.

17th December 2010

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What a day. Off to Heartlands Hospital this morning to see the ENT chappie about my recurrent voice loss. Had to wait 50 minutes ! And it always involves the chappie putting a camera on a sort of bendy stalk up my nose and down into my throat. I don’t feel it in my throat at all, but it’s so painful at the top of my nose I need Vic to come in with me for support and I always end up in tears. Not nice. But, and here’s the good news, I’ve been discharged from that particular specialist! Hooray!
We always have a cup of tea afterwards in the cafe, and there’s a Boots the Chemist in the hospital, so we popped in and got some bits and bobs – saves having to go out again specially.
Weather is very cold and icy, thin layer of snow, more possible tomorrow.
Parcel arrived from Réjane in France – lovely – it’s so exciting to open a box of surprises from a different country on Christmas Day. It’s all very thoughtfully put together.
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Also had a Christmas card from an old boss who’s a Rev part-time – with a letter full of news. It was lovely.


Got home, put the washing on, went to bed for a sleep, woke at 3 pm because the shopping was being delivered this afternoon.
Shopping arrived quite late – apparently Waitrose are having to hire extra vans because not only do more people order on line when the weather’s bad, but also it’s a busy time of year. Anyway, that was fine.
Then I managed to break a mug on the kitchen floor after dinner, and Vic managed to bite on a fork tine and one of his crowns popped out. Damn and blast. However, we have the tooth, and there is apparently some special glue you can get from chemists which will temporarily fix the crown in place until he can get to a dentist to do it properly. But that will be Monday at the earliest. Hooray for the special glue!
And now I’m off to my electric blanket heated bed, to read the Ambler Warning by Robert Ludlum. Exciting.

15th December 2010

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My school friend Deb popped in today for a cuppa before she went to work this afternoon at a local school, where she teaches part time. It was lovely to see her, she has moved house and lives about an hour away. Not impossible, just a bit more difficult, particularly as she works too. While she was here, another school friend came round with my Jamie @ Home stuff – a terracotta casserole dish and three small dishes for when I’m baking and need my ingredients ready. Very nice.

Had a pedicure yesterday which was wonderful. My feet feel just great now. I don’t have nail polish on them, but just to have them made look pretty feels really nice.
Watched three episodes of The Sopranos series 3 last night – blimey it’s good. Each time we watch it through (about once a year I suppose) we find something different.
Am in the middle of a very irritating, petty, argument with an ebay seller. It’s so petty I can hardly bring myself to describe it, but I ordered 12 baubles, shatterproof (!), and two arrived broken. They weren’t really wrapped very well, just clear plastic box and then a polythene bag round that, then brown paper. No wonder they were broken. Because it’s so near Christmas I didn’t want to send them back for a new set or a refund, just asked for a partial refund. It took four days for her to reply at all, and she won’t do a partial refund, and is trying to insist I send the whole lot back. So I have given her neutral (not negative) feedback, and she’s gone off like a bottle of pop. She’s sending me angry emails, contradicting herself (stuff which is there in writing in the email “thread”) and now accusing me of making it all up. For goodness’ sake. How pathetic. The customer service from this person is appalling. Normally it’s the buyer who’s cross. I paid immediately (always do) and have 100% positive feedback. Anyway, anyway, anyway.
Vic is in the kitchen sorting out dinner (shepherd’s pie with cauliflower and cheese – hooray!)
Just had a lovely facebook “instant chat” with one of my nieces. Will see all my sister’s family the Tuesday after Xmas – can’t wait.

13th December 2010

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Well. I can’t believe how much stuff we’ve done between us, Vic and I. We have, over the last week, defrosted two freezers and a fridge, made two dozen mince pies, thirty double choc chip cookies, and are almost ready for Christmas.
Making mince pies isn’t as hard as it could be. We buy frozen shortcrust pastry, which is dairy-free, and jars of mincemeat, so it’s just a question of slapping the two together and cooking them. They do taste home-made though, so it’s very satisfying. We have eaten all 24 of them between us since I made them on Friday! So I’ll need to make some more, but there’s plenty of pastry in the freezer ready.
Tomorrow is pedicure day – hooray! And the nail tech says she’ll be able to Calgel my fingernails next week too – excellent. I am hopeless at putting on nail varnish. I can’t reach my feet for one thing – I’m not particularly tall, only 5’3”, but my back is so bad I just can’t do it, and when I had a go at painting my fingernails last night I remembered why I don’t wear nail varnish! I don’t have very steady hands, which is essential, so the nail varnish goes all over the shop, so I just end up getting cross and taking it all off. Thank goodness for Calgel. Hooray!
Our neighbour, who I think is almost 70, managed to shut herself in her porch yesterday. It’s a tiny little porch, barely room for her (and she’s tiny too) to stand up in. Also it’s on the side of her house, so not visible easily from the pavement. Vic had (fortunately) gone for a walk round the block to blow away the cobwebs, and saw her car interior lights flashing on and off. It happened several times, so he was going to knock on her door to see if she knew it was happening, but then thought that she might not answer the door in the dark. Then, very luckily, he heard a “little voice”, and when he got up to the porch, there she was. No coat, no shoes, only slippers, really really cold and desperate to go to the loo. She had visions of dying of hypothermia in there overnight, which I think was a real possibility. She only had her car keys, no house keys, no mobile phone (note to self – always, always have house keys and mobile phone on one’s person). I phoned her last night and popped in today to see if she was ok. She was, but shaken up, and very determined not to let it happen ever again.
I would have been in absolute bits, floods and floods of tears, but I never go anywhere without my house keys and mobile phone – and certainly won’t do so now. Poor woman.
Weather is now less cold, mostly about 4° C in the day, but miserable and wet. And we’re expecting more snow at the end of the week. But I have some new red wellies, with red treads, and they’re excellent. They go with my red Land’s End knee length parka coat, which is lovely and warm. I also have some wellie socks to keep the feet warm.
I notice that a lot of online traders have had to stop deliveries in Scotland because the weather is so awful. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. I can quite understand it, but what about the poor old souls who can’t get to the shops for the very same reason? Let’s hope everybody has a good neighbour.
Bertie the cat has managed, finally, to get inside Vic’s wardrobe. She has been desperately trying to since she arrived here 18 months ago, and has finally done it. Once she’s in there’s lots of thumpetty-bumping around.,but I don’t think she’s done herself or anything else any damage. We’ll know soon enough when Vic finds something destroyed – although she’s not a destructive cat, just curious, like they all are.