Saturday, 30 June 2012

Sweet music

Little bear is 'being good'.  It is way past his bed time, but he is listening to a cd in his bedroom and it is the cd of the piano lessons.  I can hear it really clearly over the monitor.  I didn't realise how quickly you could get sick of a cd.

I should go up and read the riot act, but I know the arguments - it's not fair, it's really quiet (it isn't), it's helping him go to sleep and it's for the piano.  He is starting early with the, '...but it's educational...'  excuse.  To be honest - I am just too exhausted.  The cd doesn't run for ever.  It just feels like it. 

And add to that, darling father has brought home a guitar.  A little bear sized guitar, just right for him, no doubt confident that I can remember nearly thirty years ago to when I played the guitar and teach little bear.  He is somewhat optimistic if he thinks that. 

Friday, 29 June 2012

So Proud of little bear

Little bear has just come home from school with his very first report, and it is brilliant!  He is above the expected level across the board and is described as popular, polite and sensible.  He loses the polite and sensible on the way home, but I am soooooo proud of him.

Off for proud mum gloat!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The world is so interesting...

I wish I had known about this, but I could not have afforded it - a Victorian vampire slaying kit!  The story on the BBC here makes me feel all mischievous.

I have too many stories to write.  This may make it into one of them.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Grumpy again

School - two clear days notice for particular clothing.  It isn't too bad, it is just for a particular colour and yes, I can scratch around and get it, but really!  Two clear days!  I have too much imagination and can think of dozens of reasons why finding top and trousers of particular colours with no logo within two days could be a stretch. 

They have known about this for weeks.  Is it so hard for them to give us a little more notice? 

Not so grumpy today

It is interesting - I am not so grumpy today.  I was sick in the night (tea is beginning to affect me more and more and not in a good way) and the garden looks like a duvet has been sick in it.  The local large stand of poplars are shedding their fluffy seeds everywhere, and I feel I have to be careful not to inhale the dratted things.  At least with this stormy weather the seeds haven't settled as much as they usually do.  Normally it looks like a duvet has been been disembowelled.

However I am actually quite cheerful.  After dropping little bear off at school I walked along to Makro, withstood looking at anything else and bought 5 litres of white vinegar, for cleaning purposes.  Then without a pause or stop I walked back to the house.  Eighteen months ago I couldn't have done this, it would have been physically too much. 

I have no idea why I am getting better, but I am.  Now all I need to do is channel that a bit positively. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Evil cat is not happy

Evil cat cannot be having with this sort of weather at her time of life.  Yesterday she was queuing at the door, demanding to go out.  The rain was coming down like a solid sheet and I was doubtful but she was insistent, so I opened the door.  The poor old cat stuck her head out into the driving rain, reversed hurriedly and gave me a filthy look.  Why had I left the shower on outside?

In the afternoon there was a dry patch with only the wind being severe.  Evil cat trotted out, her ears blew backwards and she looked extremely grumpy indeed.  She tried having a little wander around but for a short haired cat she has quite long fur and it was being blown into all sorts of clumps.  She came in, sat in front of the fire and glared at me.  She is very clear - it is my fault and she is not happy. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

Bad news

Little bear has brought home the class bear.  This is not good.  Well, actually it is good because he is the 'Star of the Week' and is brilliant.  However we have to not under any circumstances lose the class bear - and take a photo of it doing something exotic.  Last time we got the class bear it was snowing, so the *%@& bear could be photographed next to a snow man.  OH suggests positioning the hostage to fortune on top of a slide this time.  I am considering something that is not suitable for a younger audience.  I mean, what do you do?  Apart from glare in frustration at the teacher who isn't aware of how terrified I am of the class bear being happened to while in our care. 

And breathe. 

And on top of that, the class photo.  The least expensive option is £8.  That's on top of £40 for Martial Arts Summer camp, £17 entry to Martial Arts competition and £15 t-shirt acquired in dubious circumstances (not the Martial Arts fault I hasten to add - they are brilliant!).  Then there is the out of school club he wants to go on, and the £72 I have just paid out for piano lessons, etc etc etc.  I have just booked for us to go for another week in Whitby next year. It is like the money is growing legs and marching out of the door. 

The £8 would get you just one photo.  If you want more, you have to pay for each one, of course.  And then there is the deluxe version, with a calendar on it, for £10.  I can hear the sound of doting relatives' purses opening as these things land home. 

Now I have to go and extract little bear from darling father's room and force him to practice his piano.  He will object, argue and sulk - then really enjoy himself.  Sigh. 

You need it by when?!

As I mentioned on the Old Style thread on MSE, little bear brought home a letter on the Tuesday needing a costume for Elmer the Elephant day on Friday.  As in, two clear days.  So someone working was completely stuffed. 

I was very lucky, Nice Mrs Next Door bought some fabric paints and gave them to me, so little bear sat down with a white t-shirt last night and I put lots and lots and lots of newspaper down, and packed newspaper inside the t-shirt and then taped squares with sticky tape.  Little bear squeezed the fabric paint onto the fabric and supervised me carefully brushing inside the sticky tape, and now we have a rather nice, colourful t-shirt with multi coloured squares, the layout chosen by little bear.  Little bear wants to keep and wear it.  The very minor niggle I have is that I didn't iron it to fix the colours before he wore it this morning.  Tonight if I iron it I may not only fix the colours but whatever hazard has happened during the course of a normal day in Reception class (paint is the least of it).  I will take the risk. 

One good thing that has come from this is that little bear really enjoyed himself.  So the short sleeved school shirt whose cuffs are a no longer white but a sort of dubious pale beige can be transformed by fabric paints during the loooooong summer holidays.   Also pillow cases.   Also shoe bags made from pillowcases (I have an excess of pillow cases).  Also t-shirts (again). 

At least we got a little more notice that little bear would need party clothes for the disco yesterday.  Six days, to be precise, From Friday to Thursday.  Little bear thought it was great fun, very exciting and the favourite song he heard was apparently, 'Baby, baby, baby, baby, argghhhhh!'  but as I don't listen to Radio One I haven't a clue.  On Monday little bear is supposed to be playing football in a 'Euro 2012 event' as in, all classes are a country and all have a kick of a ball.  Little bear's class is supposed to be Greece.  I wonder if I should send him in a t-shirt saying, 'Sponsored by Pay Day Loans'. This is if weather permits. If the weather continues like it is they could end up with an impromptu swimming lesson.

Wondering about getting 'end of year' presents for the staff.  Little bear has really flourished.  Perhaps some pyjama cases made from pillow cases and decorated with fabric paint....

Operation Clutterbust is back!

Goodness, I didn't realise it was so long since I had posted!  And perhaps it is just as well as for the last few days I have been like a rottweiler with toothache.  And not in a good way.  I have not been fit for company. 

However, being in a temper (no idea why, btw, but it has been foul) has worked wonders on my work rate.  On Wednesday I got rid of a shopping trolley full of clothes to one of those shops that buy second hand clothes.  I was so nervous they would pick on every microscopic mark and loose thread.  Actually it got tipped on a heap and I got £3.15 for 6.3 kilos.  I am glad for that money.  Not only is it nice to have money coming in instead of money going out, it was a sort of enablement for me to get rid of things that I couldn't put in the bin.  I also posted out a box of clothes to where I hope they will be useful.  This cost me money and I do not begrudge a single, solitary penny.  Not only do I think it a worthwhile thing, but also it enabled me to get rid!

It is now Friday lunchtime, the shopping trolley is full again and I have nearly filled two more small boxes.  It makes less than a dent than you would think, as I have mainly cleared a large mound on a table, but there is still a shedload of stuff that has slipped down the back and sides of furniture, and a lot of stuff that I want to keep but need a home for.  However I am aiming to have this house rid of excess clothing by the end of the month.

I am not very firm on this.  There are bound to be bits, bobs, odds and ends left over.  They can go to the shop as and when.  Or a charity shop, or the neighbours' young grandson, or for rags.  The important point is that there should be no big piles of clothes that need to be sorted out 'when I get round to it'.  I am getting round to it now!

And I am insisting OH gets rid of any clothes that he is unlikely to wear.  Apart from meaning that there then may be places to put my clothes, it helps the room breath and sort of lightens the house.  I also think that if there are less clothes then it is easier to keep on top of things, as you know where things are and there aren't enough things to overwhelm you.  If you only have half a dozen shirts, then you can't put off doing ironing until there are none left ironed and then suddenly find yourself faced with ironing thirty shirts.

Poor OH - I hope he doesn't feel picked on.  However I have made him promise that he gets rid of all that he doesn't want.  He can keep anything he likes without having to justify anything.  After all, he is the one who wears the things. 

Monday, 18 June 2012


Morgan - thank you.  I know some stuff is handed down to siblings etc from looking at the hard wear some of the stuff being worn in the playground has had, but the newsletter was very clear - uniform had to be bought from either the official supplier or supermarket school wear aisle (so I cheated on that by using the internet) and be new. 

I am fairly confident that there is no strict policing of this, and I was thinking of some of the smaller boys in little bear's class, or a local charity shop that would be able to sell locally, or just trying to see if anything is going on in the office.  I am hoping that the letter was badly worded or that I misunderstood (always a possibility) and that there will be a chance for a 'nearly new' swap of uniform at the end of the year. 

And I suppose a head teacher will look at £7 for two pairs of trousers (value range) in M&S and think about how much spending she has and not think that it is a lot of money.  In an absolute sense it is not a lot of money.  However it is a lot to someone on benefits, someone on a reduced income, or someone not entitled to benefits due to higher rates of pay but being absolutely hammered by rising prices, large mortgages and the rising cost of the utilities.  Being able to pick up a pair of trousers without much wear for half the price could make a big difference, like the cost of a loaf of bread.  I wouldn't think of handing on items that were worn or stained, but while little bear's trousers have definitely lost their crease, they are still in reasonable condition, no holes or threads or stains.  A lot of his sweaters, while not unworn, are in good condition.  And I have polo shirts and long sleeved shirts that have hardly been worn. 

And thank you for the hug about the organisation.  All the clothes are either 5/6, 6 or for the vests, 6/7.  Little bear will be six in December.  The clothes should do until Christmas, I hope, and perhaps longer.  I feel remarkably proud of myself.

(then I look round nervously to see if hubris is about to hit me)

It's a start

I have already bought little bear eight shirts for school next year (and actually, the end of this last bit of term as well, as he has trashed the old ones and is therefore now sort of sitting in the new shirts).  I got them at M&S, 20% off (lasts until 10 July) and so I got eight shirts for £22.40. 

Today I went online via quidco and ordered the uniform and ordered 10 vests, six pairs of trousers and five sweaters, which should see little bear at least until Christmas.  So I started off with 3% cashback.  Then I spent more than £25 so I had free delivery.  Then I bought uniform so it was 20% off.  And finally I paid for all but £4 of the total via a gift card which I had loaded as a member of my family club which got me £50 for £47.50.  The total I spent on uniform was £54, so I think it works out at @ £20 I saved.

I am quite pleased with that, and happy to be on here gloating about it.  Of course, I still haven't got on with all sorts of other stuff that I should have done, but that has really cheered me up.  Of course, as I was buying for a six year old it wasn't too bad.  When he is in a teenager, I think it will be a bit harder to shave off those pennies. 

As for the uniform that we bought so hopefully last September?  A lot of it still fits, he is still wearing the same trousers but they don't look quite as crisp.  The polo shirts were rejected out of hand, as were the long sleeved shirts.  The short sleeved shirts I bought in February look like the cuffs took part in extreme gardening and the collars are looking very shabby, but all the buttons have stayed on, which is something.  There are a few that ended up stained with pen etc, that have not been salvageable. The sweatshirts are more or less, by and large, on the whole, still fitting him, and are looking relatively okay, but I wouldn't use them for 'smart'.  So this year it could have been worse. 

There are no uniform swaps at the school, and the headteacher is very keen that all uniform should be bought new.  As they don't insist on logos and allow supermarket buys, I think it is actually okay, and some of the uniform that kids wear in to school look like nothing on earth anyway.  I don't know anyone with younger ones to pass on little bear's old uniform (that is still in any way fit).  I am sure I shall think of something.  If all else fails, I shall ask in the office to see if they know a good place to donate them. 


I seem to have lost my adverts - anyone seen them? 

Friday, 15 June 2012

Official Denial

There is a news story here about a rescue dog going absent without leave after being chased by a cat. 

I would like to say, as her official spokesperson, that evil cat has an alibi for the time the incident took place.  And honestly hasn't still got the ticket stubs to a local station.  And besides, she can't be having with it at her time of life. 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The theory of getting rid

Witch Hazel - I absolutely agree with you.  Sometimes you must just let go.  Today OH ran me to the place where I can recycle the irons and so they were recycled.  However, I think I need to just get rid.  The pile of stuff that is, 'just in case' or 'ready to go to the charity shop' or 'for recycling' or 'I might as well put it on ebay' can be real blockers. 

Holiday last week, OH at home this week, but next week must make clearing things a higher priority.  I need to get the house working, as I need to get a job of some sort as I really need the money.  And I really don't want to end up covered with STUFF like the poor people in the programmes about hoarders. 

Feeling absolutely exhausted as I couldn't sleep last night, and a bit queasy.  OH and little bear were chefs du jour, and the fish tonight that I had was a little undercooked.  Though v v pleasant.  They needed some wine for the sauce, so OH opened one of those tiny bottles of white you can get.  There is a satisfactory amount left over for me tonight. 

So tonight I am doing little, tomorrow I will probably do less. Next week, however, I am going to keep on keeping on.  The house did not get like this overnight, so it won't be cleared overnight, but the sooner I start, the sooner I get there.

I'll update the clutterbust box - that is some satisfaction!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

In and out

I had to get a new iron.  The old one had been dropped, was dripping and leaking like a sieve and was not really getting hot.  Even darling father's viscose shirts (from the days when they sold them!) were not melted by the highest temperature.  In fact, when it was dropped on a plastic carrier bag it didn't do a very good job of melting that. 

So I have had a brief road test of the iron - and after half an hour I still had a dry ironing board!  And even though it was on a lower setting I was getting much better results.  I feel so giddy over this iron.  I must must must attack the ironing more, I am making dents in the backlog and getting v happy about it. 

While there I also purchased a slow cooker.  It is small enough to be practical but big enough to take a nice bit of brisket or shin beef.  Tomorrow it is diced turkey stew, with dumplings. 

The thought of having working small appliances really cheered me up, but I could also really have done without spending the money.  I really felt that sinking feeling when I paid for the iron and slow cooker. 

And this week I shall be paying out even more on little bear's school uniform.  He will have grown (of course) by the time September comes, but I think I may be safe getting him age six clothes from M&S - they are 20% off until July and that is a saving.  Little bear isn't six until December, so it should be safe - I hope!  I am using a gift card that I got as part of signing up and paying for a 'goody' pack from My Family Club which gives 5% off - if I load up with £10 of value I only pay £9.50.  I sort of took a bet - £9.99 for their welcome pack (and they were very patient with me when I had to phone) and I was betting that I would get more than that back.  It is looking promising. 

As for in and out - the housekeeping experts say that if you buy something new then the old one should go out.  Actually I could do with getting rid of three almost working irons and will do so as I have identified a useful recycling point I hope to do that this week.  The slow cooker that I already have is more problematical, as I have been using its rice cooker function without problem, although the slow cooker part is frazzled, so I want to keep it.  However I think I will go back to cooking rice badly in a pan, because it will free up a considerable amount of worktop space.  There is also a non working radio.  The house is getting lighter - all I need to do is actually make the trip with the stuff. 

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Whitby Museum is Amazing

Whitby Museum is absolutely fantastic, and I really recommend anyone going there to peek in.  It has a vast quantity of fossils - tucked up in a corner.  It has model ships made out of things like bone and matchsticks - maori art, stones from the beach Captain Cook first stepped on in Australia, amazing, wonderful jet jewellery, eighteenth century china, some amazing samplers and a serious collection of stuffed birds.

The labelling is a bit hit and miss, it is a private museum run by volunteers and there is a Victorian tang to the displays, some of which probably haven't been changed much in the last 100 years.  There is a complete, non-cast, genuine, vast fossil of an ichthyosaur.  And it is just in a corner with displays of fossil ferns and the imprints of Jurassic clams! 

It is about one tenth the size of Leeds City Museum and has at least ten times the exhibits.  It even has a hand of glory.  For those that don't know, a hand of glory is a dead man's hand, taken from a body on the gallows and used to carry a candle made from the dead man (or possibly a general dead person, not sure).  This candle would put all the inhabitants into a deep sleep, and they would be unable to wake and so was invaluable for burglars. 

When I next get a chance to write that is so going into a story. 

There should be more museums like that. 

Friday, 8 June 2012

rain in hell

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Engineer managed to retrieve clothes from holiday cottage washer.  Hell continues


I am really coming to loathe holidays, and will have to go through them at least once a year for the next few years for the sake of little bear.

I am really into medieval history.  I love it, read university standard text books about it, I could get lost in it.  Pickering has a church with medieval paintings in it.  I managed to see them once in the years we went.  Things are much the same in Whitby. 

When we get home I think I am going to have to cut down on the blog, and I may have to abandon the writing for a bit.  I am not particularly happy about that, but that's the way that the cookie is crumbling. 

On the bright side, I am feeling healthier than I have for  years and I have walked miles in the last few weeks.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Bracing myself for little bear

I cannot express how much I loathe typing on a laptop instead of a pc without using the sort of words that are completely unsuitable for a blog with what I hope is family appeal.  I would have to go so far beyond even standard f words - I hate hate hate typing on a laptop.  I can do about three words a minute and the key I press the most is the backspace key.  Grrrrrr

I may have a bit less tolerance than normal as little bear has set up my day in a particulary grim way.  Yesterday I let him go and play on the 'House of Mouse' on Whitby front near the harbour.  I sat on the nearby bench and gritted my teeth for over an hour as he hurtled round a small fun house the size of two static caravans one on top of the other.  It was decorated with Disney figures, but I am fairly confident that it isn't official Disney products.  So for the vast sum of £1.50 little bear could hurtle round and round and round a very small space for an unlimited time.  I could sit in the cold wind for an unlimited time. 

Today little bear wants to go back for two hours.  Two long, cold and damp hours with a hint of rain.  What joy.  I will be taking a book, but I know I won't be able to keep concentration as I will be watching out, just in case.  The agreement for two hours was part of an extended negotiated settlement that meant he actually got into bed at a reasonable hour.  He will enjoy that time sooooo much, it seems a shame to deny him.  I shall just shiver and hope it stays dry.

I have tried to persuade little bear that in return he will come and see the museum with me, but I don't think that one is going to fly.  When I first suggested it little bear just burst out laughing.  "Don't be silly," He said.  "The museum is in Leeds."  He is completely unconvinced that there can be more than one museum in the world, and I feel I have significantly failed him  Small town museums can be gloriously eclectic and eccentric.  The independent museum in Pickering is brilliant and lots of fun.  Perhaps OH could have a session with little bear while I sneaked off to the museum, but he is coming down with a sore throat.

I also hope to sneak off long enough to get some fish from a fish shop in Whitby, and hopefully cook it in a way that doesn't involve just bunging it in the oven with milk and butter.  The smoke alarms haven't gone off when OH cooked bacon, so I am confident that it may be possible to fry something here.  I shall see how it goes. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

1000 Household hints

I purchased a book called 1000 Household hints from a charity shop for £1, taking a gamble that I may save more than £1 with the information in it. 

The first section is about knitting and sewing, with lots of useful hints and tips, like saving a shirt and cutting it up and hemming it for handkerchiefs.  This assumes that the reader is not afraid of their sewing machine.  Unfortunately I am terrified. 

I am sure that there will be further use later on, though. 

On holiday

I am posting from a laptop.  I loathe laptop keyboards with a passion.  However I thought I would pop in and say that we are here, in Whitby, and I haven't bought fresh fish yet. 

Little bear is being very good, and has been remarkably well behaved, he is looking gorgeous.  I have managed to keep the sun off him, such as it has been, but he is not quie as pale. 

All in all, could be a lot worse!  Even when it will rain we have a load of stuff we can be doing, and a good base from which to do it! 

And there is even an offer on darling father's favourite whisky in the local shop - that has to be a bonus!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Need to prioritise

I have been rather hammered by the vomiting bug, and have managed to pull some muscles during the whole experience so now I can't cough, sneeze or laugh.  And with evil cat, darling father and little bear, being able to laugh is very necessary.

We go on holiday tomorrow.  The house will never have been ready anyway, because it was appalling, despite the good work I managed on Monday.  However I had hoped to be a little further forward with clothes washed/ironed. 

I also need to go through the cupboards and see what will keep.  Then I need to get everything set out nicely for Nice Mr Next Door who will be taking his life in his hands and feeding evil cat.  Actually she quite likes Nice Mr Next Door but she has certainly walloped him in the past, and one time while we were away she drew blood. 

And furthermore, I need to get the carpet underneath little bear's table disinfected.  Not only is little bear a generous distributor of crumbs, he also leaves things for evil cat to steal to eat under his table.  And darling father feeds evil cat from his plate for her to eat under little bear's table.  The sooner I can afford laminate there the better, but I am getting some skull and crossbones oil cloth under there when we get back, in the hope that it will act like a crumb tray.

We don't actually have to leave here particularly early, as we are not going particularly far.  So some things can be postponed until tomorrow.  And I don't really need to order any food as we will be just five minutes on the flat away from a large Co-op.  But I do need to get a supermarket order in for when we get back, as I am not sure what will be happening.  And to add to the mix, OH is off the week following, so I won't get anything done then either. 

I have no idea what to do first.  I think I need a strong lunch and then I think I will get the clothes sorted.  Onward and upward!