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!

May. Yeah.

The kitchen is finished, and hubby loves the induction hob. It’s great to have it done – it was only a few days of disruption but we have had another “sort-out/cull” and so everything is tidy now. Trouble is, neither of us can remember where we’ve put anything . . .

The induction hob was fitted after I took this photo . . .

YD, her hubby and their little girl have just gone back to New Zealand after a month here. They split their time between his family and hers. It was just so lovely to be able to cuddle them. ESW is an absolute joy. She even likes my little songs (The Welly Song, the Nancy Lee, etc etc). Their journey was better on the way back – Birmingham to Frankfurt, then to Changhi in Singapore, then to Auckland in NZ. On the way here it was fraught. They’re homesick though – they couldn’t get over how “normal” and familiar everything is, including friends and family. Decisions to be made.

The garden is a joy. Love it.

The M.E. has taken a new turn. Now, when I have an episode, my tummy joins in the party, in an IBS sort of a way. But now I’ve worked that out I can remain a bit more positive, knowing that it will pass. I am eating a diet suitable for IBS, and have discovered something called FODMAP (don’t ask what it stands for). Low FODMAP foods are better for me, so no brassicas, only 3 portions of fruit/veg per day, lots of porridge oats, much less processed meat (oh, sausages, I miss you!) and it seems to be helping.

No knitting mojo. None at all. Several weeks now since I picked up my needles. I expect it’ll return. It usually does.

Finally had the front lawn sown with clover. It’s growing well. We also have a little rockery now intended to stop lorries and vans from reversing over our lawn. It looks ok too!

April. Yeah.

Loads happening. Solar panels fitted – and making more electricity than we expected. Excellent.

It took a day to erect the scaffolding, a day to install the solar panels, and two weeks to dismantle and take away the damn scaffolding. Hmph.

Sold the double oven dual fuel range cooker, had a single electric oven fitted, and now awaiting new kitchen cabinet with induction hob and new worktop for most of the kitchen. We have Freecycled the five saucepans and two frying pans which won’t work on an induction hob. That took about two hours – amazing facility! Within approximately 3 minutes of posting the offer, we had lots and lots of replies.

So this is what our kitchen and utility currently look like.

This is what it looked like before . . .

Rockery set up in the front garden and front lawn seeded with clover. Only a week ago so no sign of sprouting yet but I’m quite excited about it.

So many things going on that it’s triggered an M.E. episode. Sigh. So I’m taking it really really slowly – I slept for most of the past two days – and just putting the shopping away was enough for today.

Garden. Books. TV

Loving the garden. Just loving it. I got the table and chairs out of the shed yesterday so I could actually sit outside (when it’s not raining . . .)

Just finished a marathon John Sandford binge. Lucas Davenport, Virgil Flowers, love them both. I also like that the characters are connected, and mentioned in books about the other one. Yeah. Then I tried to download some library books, and the Solihull library account is fine, but the Birmingham (UK) one isn’t. I have one last thing I will try and then if that doesn’t work just give up on Birmingham. It just widens the range of books I can download.

Also – Netflix. Heavily into Ozark – oh my god it’s so dark. And the plot twists always catch me by surprise. Nobody is very happy though. Everybody is either furious or terrified.Or dead. Nearly at the end of season 3 now . . .

And Parks and Recreation – late to the party as usual but oh we love this! we watch an episode or two of this after one episode of Ozark. I love all the characters, but I think my absolute favourite is April. And I worked for local government in the UK for the last 15 years or so of my working life, so it’s really interesting to see how it works in the US. The style reminds me of The Office, and the looks straight to camera crack me up every time.

Today I made some (dairy free) chocolate chip cookies. Yum. Thank goodness for the Thermomix (Bimbi). Makes cooking so damned easy.

More on The Log

Well. It turns out that to prevent a log from weeping sap, it needs to be kiln-dried. Thank goodness for Google. I eventually bought a Swedish torch thingamajig which is kiln-dried, and hubby helpfully cut in half. Sap-weeping log is in disgrace in the garden. Kiln-dried log is now in the lounge. Bertie the cat, of course, has taken absolutely no notice of it. So the next step is to lure her in with catnip. Usually works. The plan is that she uses the log to scratch, rather than the carpet.

sappy log

kiln-dried

After two years of waiting (Two Years!), cancelled the guy who was supposed to be digging up and relaying our front lawn with clover. Asked our garden maintenance guy to quote, and he came today. I’m excited all over again about it.

I thought I could feel a sharp edge on one of my bottom teeth. After checking in the mirror, I can see I’ve managed to break a corner off a tooth, or maybe a filling? either way I went to see the dentist, and am going to have a white filling (rather than a grey one – why on earth do they do grey ones at all??), at great expense, in ten days or so.

Being really careful about how much stuff I do each day. It seems to be keeping the M.E. at bay, so I think I’ll continue on this path. I have various forms of exercise – all very easy and not too taxing. One is a series of four or five stretches which help my back. One is a walk round the block (8 minutes). One is a 20 minute “yoga for seniors” session. I can’t do any of those every day, but my thinking is if I do at least one of them each day, that provides a variety. Also it means I can adjust my exercise to the weather and how I’m feeling. Yeah.

The garden is really starting to green up now. It’s just so lovely to see.

I’m just so sad about the Russia/Ukraine business. I think Putin has lost his marbles. He looks a bit puffy in the face – or is that just me? any way you look at this a lot of people are going to be hurt/killed. And for what?