Friday, 30 October 2009

Crochet fun

I have a book out of the library called Crochet Jewellery, 40 Beautiful and Unique Designs, it's a collection of projects from seven different designers. This is the link to the book, on Amazon....

I like the idea of completely enclosing a bead with crochet so I thought I would have a go. I bought 16 wooden beads for 20p from the car boot sale last week, they are the ideal size, 2cm in diameter. There is a pattern in the book, but I don't understand crochet patterns, they are like a foreign language to me, so I made it up as I went along. The end result was just as good as the book. If anyone wants to try this I found a free pattern here....
Then I thought about covering something bigger using the same principal, start with 4 chain stitches, make into a circle, increasing and decreasing to fit the contours. I had a stone (6cm's across) in my drawer which I picked up off the beach when I visited Spurn Point a few months back, so I started in the same way, round and round. Finally got it covered, what do I do with it now? It needs some decoration, so I found a few pearl beads and stitched them on. Hey presto.....a paper weight.

I am going to cover more of the beads in different colours and string them together to make a necklace. This has set me thinking about covering all sorts of objects with crochet, because you can increase and decrease the stitches to fit, not like knitting, where you have to start with the right amount. When I get really profficient in it I might attempt to cover a damaged ornament of a sitting cat, I could stitch the markings on afterwards. Now there's a thought.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Wonder Woman....not.

I think I'm going to need a new knee, or a hip replacement, or possibly a left leg transplant ! I have overdone it a bit on the excercise, I keep thinking I am Wonder Woman, but the pain reminds me I am not.

It was such a lovely day today I got the bicycle out, haven't been on it for ages. You may recall I live in a village next to the River Trent, I often walk on the embankment, and I wondered what the view was like from the other side, so I got on my bike and went to have a look.

First I went along the track at the bottom of the wood to Flixborough, the tyres are still there in the ditch, then I went to Gunness and onto the A18 to cross the river over the Keadby Bridge. This was originally named the King George V bridge which was opened on 21st May 1916. It was a lifting bridge but was fixed in 1955, so it no longer opens. They used to pump water into the massive ballast box which rolled the huge wheels over the track, lifting up the other end so boats could pass through.

Close up of the ballast box
The big wheels underneath the box.

I stoppped at Keadby and took this photo of the Stainforth and Keadby Canal, where it joins the Trent. Keadby Power Station is in the background.

On I pedalled through Amcotts to Garthorpe, and looked across the water to the church on the hill, that's where I live, so near yet so far away. I wish there was a bridge here so I could just nip back home, my bum is beginning to get a bit saddle sore. I sat on a stone and had my lunch.
I wanted to go a bit further to Blacktoft Nature Reserve, but time was getting on and I didn't have any lights on my bike, and I didn't think my bot could stand much more pedalling.

I was right to come back at that point, my left knee hurts when I bend it, my left hip aches, and I have a shooting pain from my knee up the front of my leg. I'm off to bed, I'm knackered. Ha ha.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

An earring tidy thingy

This has been hanging in my bathroom for a couple of years now, and I'm getting fed up of seeing it. It's a thingybobwotsit for keeping earrings tidy, so you don't have to search through a box for the right pair everytime you go out. A small plastic coathanger with a piece of thin foam stapled onto it, just poke the earrings through . A simple invention which does the job, though rather unsightly. Surely I can come up with a better idea.

First a small coathanger, cut two pieces if thin foam, one to fit the triangle at the top, and one to hang below the bar. Tack them into place.
Then cut two pieces of fabric this shape. Preferably plain not patterened, and loosely woven so that the pointy bit of the earring will easily pierce it and not leave a mark. Test it first before cutting the fabric out, I used dark blue velvet. At this stage you need to choose something to decorate the top bit, it's easier if you sew this on now. You can use some contrasting fabric, or ribbon, or buttons or beads, let your imagination run riot. I cut a flower pattern from a piece of cotton fabric, sealed the edges with clear nail varnish, and hand stitched it on with invisible thread. You could embroider your own design by hand or machine. Or you could personalise it with a name if you are giving it as a gift.

Then you sew the two pieces together inside out. Sew the sides and the top bit but leave a small hole for the hook of the hanger to go through. Turn it the right way and put the hanger and foam inside it, then neatly hand stitch the bottom together. Because I have used velvet you can't see the stitches.

Finito. One earring tidy.

Monday, 26 October 2009

How tiresome !

I took the new boots for a test drive today, nearly three hours of tramping down lanes, across fields, through woods, and not a hint of sore feet, yippeeee. It looks like I made the right choice, they are so comfy. I walked down the hill, along the river bank to the industrial estate, round the edge of a field, and along the footpath at the bottom of the wood. I did a big circular walk, as I hate walking out and back along the same route.

I'm going to get out walking as much as I can, because usually during the winter months I get a touch of that S A D thingy, where you feel lousy because you don't get much sunlight. I did think of getting a light box to sit in front of every day, but I decided I would save the money and just go out and walk around in the natural light.

We are so lucky to have a wonderful contryside round here, and then you find something like this.....

Thirtytwo tyres dumped in the ditch. I am so angry I cant tell you what I would like to do to the people who did this, well alright I will. Stack the tyres up into a tube, and put the person inside, and roll them down a big hill so they crash into a lot of trees at the bottom, and leave them there in the ditch with broken arms and legs. They wouldn't do it again :-0 I rang the council when I got home, hopefully they will send someone to pick them up.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Feline emporium

On the spur of the moment this morning, I went to have a browse round the car boot sale at the football ground. You never know, I might find some roller blades. Guess what, I did find some, they looked about the right size, but they appeared to be almost brand new, so I thought they might be beyond my price range. Never mind, I kept looking. I did find a pair of nearly new black trainers for £2, they were a good fit so I bought them. Then I did another circuit of the stalls in case I had missed anything. If the roller blades were still there I had decided to ask how much. Big disappointment, they had gone, serves me right for being too slow :-(

I called in to see my cat crazy friend Sue, on the way back. She has thirteen cats of her own, and fosters seven more for Cats Protection. You can never get Sue to venture very far from her house and her cat family. I have been asking her for ages to come with me and visit my friend Janet at her cattery, I know she would love it there. One day she might say yes.

Sue's whole house is dedicated to cats, ornaments, cushions, pictures, everywhere you look there are cats in some form or another. A few of her hundreds of ornaments.
One of many cat pictures covering the walls.

Cats are on the tiles in the kitchen.

As well as the chalet's for the rescue cats, she has built an enclosed run over almost the entire garden. They can come and go as they please, from the house to the garden, and are completely safe from any dangers such as traffic. These cats are Sue's whole life she would be devastated if anything happened to them. This is Smudge.

This little cat has only three legs, she has her own chair in a sunny spot outside. She sits for hours on this chair even when it rains, under the shelter of her umbrella. Sue is well known in the village and if any cats are reported lost or found she is always the first person that people ask for help, she is one of life's unsung hero's.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Alternative library

I have just saved myself £6.30p and it was easy, anyone can do it. Bet you'd like to know how :-) All you have to do is rifle through your neighbours paper recycle box when they leave it out for collection the night before the lorry comes round. Under the cover of darkness, sneak out with a carrier bag and grab a handfull of newspapers. Magazines are even better, as this would be more money saved.

Wearing a balaclava is advisable, the embarrassment if you are spotted, you don't want people pointing at you in the street. You must do everything to protect your identity, and going out very late when everyone is in bed gives you less chance of being rumbled.

Of course you should be very selective about which neighbours you choose to 'borrow' your reading matter from. Bypass the houses where they read the red tops if your taste is for something a little more cultural, and look out for people who might have the same hobbies as you. Twelve copies of Gardners World could save you a tidy sum.

Please don't misunderstand me, I am not telling you to go out and steal, think of it as a library, you are just borrowing. You can always return them the following week or two weeks, in exchange for a fresh supply. I should add that if you are on very good terms with your neighbours it would be a lot easier if you have an arrangement with them to swap reading matter before it goes to the recycling plant.

How have I saved £6.30? I have seven copies of The Times here to read, at 90p each. :-)

Friday, 23 October 2009

Time for a bus pass trip

It's time I had a bus pass day out today, I think. I made my pack up, a couple of cheese rolls, a box of tomato, lettuce, cucumber, and beetroot, all out of the garden apart from the lettuce, a banana, a yoghurt, two satsumas, and a bottle of water with elderberry juice. I got the bus to Hull Bus station, it's massive, lots of choices to venture further afield, so I got on a bus to Beverley. Luckily it was a double decker and I had the best seat for the best views, upstairs at the front. I love being nosey and peering in people's gardens.

Many years ago I used to go out with a chap at Beverley, it's a lovely market town with lots of small shops with their own unique character. I noticed there were a lot of charity shops which I ambled in an out of, and as Beverley is a very affluent town the quality of stock was much higher than normal. I found a pair of roller blades, I have been looking for some for ages, and these were only six pounds. Sadly they were a size 4, not big enough, I was disappointed. Never mind I will keep looking, I really fancy having a go at it, I used to be quite good at ice skating.

Here is a photo of St Mary's church, it's very close to the bustling town centre, yet when you are inside it you can't hear anything of the noisy traffic passing a few feet away.

Beverley also has a Minster, it's huge, so quite difficult to get the whole place in one photo.

There used to be a monastery on the site, and work started on the present church in 1220 and it was finished in 1425. The official website is if you want to know more. When you look up and see all the ornate stonework, you wonder how they ever managed to build something of such a great size and with so much beauty. These buildings never cease to amaze me. Imagine if they attempted to build something similar now, they would have all the modern mechanical means available to do it, so how did they put this up all those years ago? Absolutely amazing.

On the way back I had a look round Hull for an hour and took this photo.

Radio 5 Live were doing a promotion in a big dome. I cropped this photo so that it looks like a spaceship from another planet has landed :-) The kids were having fun inside pretending to be radio presenters, their images were shown on the big screen outside in the square.

A good day out for free, oh I nearly forgot, I treated myself to a Thorntons Cappuccino chocolate bar for 69p, naughty but nice.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Splashing out a bit today

I wasn't going to spend any money today when I went to town, just pay a couple of bills into the bank, and pay my council tax, BUT......I spotted the 'SALE' sign in the window at Millets the outdoor and camping shop. I have been toying with the idea for a while of getting some new walking boots, but the prices seem astronomically high, £130 is a bit over my budget. Besides I have been managing ok with my charity shop and car boot sale boots, at £2 and £4 a pair you can't get much cheaper than that.

However, I am planning on doing longer walks in the future, and possibly doing the coast to coast long distance path of 190 miles. I have also heard about a 24 hour walk over 64 miles next year, which I wouldn't mind having a go at. So I meandered into the shop, just to see what the sale prices were like. I tried a few pairs on and was pleasantly surprised at how lightweight they are, and how snugly they fit. I am not too keen on the fabric type uppers, preferring the brown leather style, even though the assistant said they are both waterproof. I opted for a pair of Karrimor boots which had 50% off in the sale, so at £55 I thought that was ok.

I am not looking forward to breaking them in, and will probably have to do a few short walks in the beginning. The shop girl said I could wear them in the house for 24 hours and if they weren't right I could take them back. I might do that.

I was on my way to the Scrapstore when I noticed that the Oxfam shop had closing down notices in the window, all clothing is three items for £1. Not one to miss an opportunity I was in there like a shot. I found these six items.

Top left, a light brown suede type jacket, fits me perfect. Next a blue fleecey top, ideal for winter. The flowery fabric is an old fashioned ladies long sleeved dress, I think they call it vintage now. The fabric is gorgeous and soft, I will probably cut this up for my crafts. Next to it is a skirt I bought for the colour, also for cutting up. And there is a pair of dark purple trousers which I can wear. The peach coloured jacket is another gorgeous soft fabric, also for cutting up, although if I am daring enough I might wear it, a real classy style jacket. Also not in the photo, I bought a set of floral curtains for 50p. Quite a few bargains there, all for £2.50, I am well pleased. It doesn't make me feel quite so bad now about buying the boots.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A great swap

We've had a lot of rain today, and it is forecast to carry on raining untill after the weekend. I went on a dog walking mission, my friend Helen went to meet her mother, and she doesn't like Henry to be on his own for too long, so I went to her house for a couple of hours to entertain him. At ten months old he looks like a fully grown labrador, he came bounding out to greet me when I opened the door, his tail wagging excitedly.

It was a little bit drizzley so we went a walk before the rain got too heavy. He has been going to dog training classes for a while, so I was hoping for an easy walk. No, he seems to have forgotten most of what he has learnt, the first thing he did when we got out the gate was to drag me across the road.

I talk to Helen constantly and she updates me on his progress. I have been to dog classes with her so that I can learn how he should be trained, to make sure we are both following the same commands and he doesn't get confused. Boy is it hard work, but it has to be done if you want your dog to be well behaved.

We had a long walk across the fields, labradors love water so he was in and out of the dyke several times, it was great to see him enjoying himself. On the way back I constantly had to stop and start, to keep his pulling in check, treats come in handy as a reward for good behaviour.

Helen had very kindly left me some home made soup for my lunch, it was delicious. She had been having a clear out of her wardrobe and left me a pile of clothes to look through before she takes them to the charity shop. I picked out a lovely red and black patterned dress, a black skirt, and five lovely tops. A great swap I thought for a couple of hours dog sitting.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Make a bracelet out of old pens

The day seems to be whizzing by today, that's probably because there isn't much of it due to the fact that I didn't get out of bed till 9.15am. I know, I know, that's disgusting, I am a slob, but I do have an excuse.

My dear cat Lily who sleeps on the bed with me, insists on trying to burrow underneath the bedclothes. I have to give in because my face would be torn to shreds by his paw as he whacks me with it every few seconds to remind me he is still there. Then he wriggles and squirms untill he finds a comfortable position, I on the other hand have to lie there not moving a muscle in case I squash him. Eventually we both drop off to sleep.

Not for long though, he stands up and jumps down and proceeds to start scratching around on the carpet. I am sure that because it's green he thinks it is grass. I know this is a warning signal for thinks to happen, so I shine the torch in his direction. A torch comes in very handy during the night, it's wind up of course, saves getting out of bed to put the light on, and I don't like being blinded suddenly by a bright light when I am half asleep.

I waited a minute, the scratching continued, then it went quiet. No, it wasn't alright to go back to sleep at this point, just a few more minutes and I would know what to do next. Then it hit me, the vomit inducing smell coming from the direction of the litter box, this cat has forgotten that he is supposed to bury it. Not an ideal situation I know, to have a litter box in the bedroom, but when you have an old boy who has a few senior moments, it's better than scraping it up off the carpet.

I shot out of bed in a flash, and holding my breath I dashed down the stairs with the box, putting all the lights on ahead of me. A quick turn of the door key and I was out on the back yard dumping the box on the ground. Thank you Lily, can we go back to sleep now, I think we will lie in a bit longer in the morning.

I've been wondering what to do with some old felt tipped colouring pens, they were too pretty to throw out. I took all the insides out and trimmed the ends and finished up with mulitcoloured plastic tubes. They have been lying around on my dining room table for ages. I had the idea to make a bracelet with them, but the main body of the pens are made with brittle plastic which doesn't cut too well as it splinters and cracks. The tops however are made out of a more flexible plastic, and trim up nicely with a sharp craft knife.
Here is my bracelet.

The pieces are half an inch long, I made two holes in each piece with a hot nail, heated over the gas cooker. The holes are not exactly opposite each other because the bracelet has to curve round the wrist, and I didn't want the elastic that is threaded through them to show. Measure the right amount of pieces to fit snugly round the wrist with no gaps. You need to trim the excess plastic from around the holes with a small craft knife. Then tie a knot in the elastic in the centre of one of the pieces so it is hidden. Simple but it looks dead cool.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Handy little containers.

Here is an idea you might like to copy. I get through quite a lot of 'So Good', soya milk, and it seems a shame to throw away the cartons. Our council does not collect these tetra packs, if we want to recycle them we have to take them to the collection point which is five miles away. As I very rarely go there I do not want to have them lying around for that long.
Once washed they can become handy little containers for small items. I cut these down to three inches tall, and as you can see, twelve of them fit nicely inside the lid of a box. You could make them any height you like, and if you have a bigger box you could put more of them in, maybe 15 or 2o or more. If you had a hobby that you needed to store lots of small parts you could cut them to fit inside a drawer.

I'm not sure what to put in these yet, I was thinking of sorting out my nails and screws as they are all mixed up in a big tin, it takes me ages to find the ones I want. Or I might put my buttons in them. There must be loads of ideas you could use them for.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

My free greenhouse

Yippeeee, I have been given a greenhouse. It's new to me because I have never had one before, but it's second hand, from the people up the road. They have moved to a new house which already has a greenhouse, and the lady moving into theirs doesn't want it, so they asked me if I would like it. How thoughtfull, yes thank you very much.

The husband has very kindly dismantled it for me, and delivered it, all free of charge. So this is my new challenge, sort all the bits out, clean it up, and put it back together again. Now where do I start? I think it's going to be a two person job so I will have to find a willing helper.

That's my lunch break over, back outside again to finish my hedge trimming, it's a lovely day, too nice to be in.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

No cooking till Tuesday

I'm not getting much sewing done at the moment, too busy outside while the weather is still ok. Today I walked to town and back, it's about 4.5 miles each way. I can use footpaths across the fields for part of it, but have to put up with cars whizzing by along the road, for the rest.

I had a browse round the charity shops but nothing took my fancy. I am always on the look out for some sturdy outdoor walking shoes, as I like to have a choice of what to wear, according to the conditions I am tramping through.

I picked up some pumpkin seeds and flax seeds from the health food shop, then went to the library. Had a read of the newspapers, half an hour on the computer, and borrowed a couple of books.

On the way home across the fields, I met a woman coming the other way and stopped to have a chat. It was a coincidence that she was doing virtually the same walk as me, only the opposite way round. Funny how these things happen. We agreed we were both walking because we love the outdoors. I could have easily got the bus but I really enjoy the physical excercise, knowing that each step is doing me good.

When I got home I made a big pan of veggie stew, there's enough for three days, so I wont have to bother cooking untill Tuesday.

Friday, 16 October 2009

A lot to remember !

I thought I was going to get my hot water fixed today, two young men arrived this morning, they said they had come to change the gas pipe from the meter to the boiler, which was the wrong diameter. Ten minutes later one of them said he had forgotten something and drove off in the van and left the other one to make a start on the job.

He came back. Half an hour later they said they had forgotten to bring a gas bottle for the blowtorch, and they had to go back to the depot to get one. They both went off in the van.

Forty minutes later they came back. Have I got a key to open the gas meter box? They had forgotten theirs. Have I got a cloth to wipe up with? Have I got some washup liquid? Have I got a pen? Goodness gracious, it's a wonder they remembered to bring themselves !

Three and a half hours later they had finished the simple job. I said what about no water coming out of the hot taps? He said, 'We'll tell the woman in the office when we get back.'

I told the woman in the office, yesterday, that's why she sent someone round today. A fat lot of use they were. Wonder if I will ever get my free Warm Front central heating and hot water to work !

Thursday, 15 October 2009

The wanderer returns

Hiya, I'm back, I do love my short de stressing breaks, not that I have much stress in my life anyway :-) My journey was M181, M180 westbound, M18 north, M62 west, exit junction 24 towards Halifax, A646 through Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd towards Todmorden, then turn off for Mankinholes.

I arrived at the hostel at 1pm, I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. After crawling along narrow lanes worried about meeting something coming the opposite way, and having to shunt around a particularly tight right hand turn, there was the entrance. A narrow rough track, should I drive into it, or park and have a look first, remembering my days of driving a lorry into a yard and finding myself unable to get back out again. I took a chance and inched my way between two massive stone pillars that were once gate posts, relief as it opened out into a small car park.

No sign of anyone as this hostel is run by volunteers and the opening time is 5pm. I grabbed a bite to eat from my pack up, and put my boots on. Armed with my map I headed off towards a tall monument on the top of a hill, which looked not too far away. This area is riddled with footpaths, the Pennine Way, the Pennine Bridleway, and the Calderdale way, and hundreds of others. The climb became very steep and I had to have a breather a couple of times. As I sat on a rock a little boy appeared from nowhere, and started chattering merrily away to me. I was just about to ask who he was with, when the rest of the family turned up. Grandma and Grandad, Mum with a little girl, and Dad carrying a small boy. It was nice to see the whole family enjoying themselves. When I reached the top the views were wonderful, well worth the effort. This is Stoodley Pike, it stands at 121 feet tall and was first built in 1814, it collapsed in 1854 after a lightening strike and was rebuilt.

This is what I am looking at, heaven.....
From here I went down the other side, a very difficult walk over boggy ground with no obvious signs of a footpath. It was a matter of looking into the distance and heading for what looked like a stile or a marker post. I reached Withens Clough Reservoir and skirted round the edge of it before returning to the Hostel.

The next day I was up bright and early to get the bus to Todmorden and the train to Manchester. I must say the Northern Rail service was excellent, a clean train, running every half hour, and a reasonably priced day return ticket. I had a bit of time to kill in Manchester so I had a ride on the huge Observation Wheel. It's a bit like a smaller version of the London Eye, only it went a bit faster, a good panoramic view of the city. The pods had smoked glass so I was afraid the photo's wouldn't come out very well.
Pity the Cathedral is undergoing renovation and is half covered with plastic sheeting.

I also had time to have a peek inside the Town Hall, a stunning building.
View of the clock tower taken from inside the building.
Now it was time to head off for Granada Television Studios, and join the throng waiting to sit in on the recording of a new game show called Heads or Tails, hosted by Justin Lee Collins. There were about a dozen people in front of me, I did wonder at one stage what on earth I was doing there, for a start I hate waiting for anything, especially in a queue. I took a photo of the rather sad and neglected looking gateway which might have been the main entrance at one time. Now it is rather shabby and blocked off.
At 1.30pm a young lady came out and checked our names and issued us with wrist bands. We were escorted in and went through the usual security checks, handbag search and metal detector. We were then herded into a room next to the Rovers Return, a replica of the famous pub, not where they do the filming, then we were led into the studios, passing the Countdown clock in the props department.

I got a seat on the second row, and once we were all sitting the warm up people came out and whipped us all up into a frenzy! No not quite that bad, we were given instructions when to clap, cheer, shout, and jump up and down with glee. They recorded all this activity at the start, and then they add it all in afterwards.

Justin Lee Collins appeared next and everyone applauded. I couldn't stop giggling, I thought he was a big chunky guy, what a surprise to see a not very tall, rather weedy frame dressed in a baggy suit. The show got underway, the contestant was a young lady called China, who works in a circus. I couldn't understand how the game worked, other than you could win one million pounds if you correctly guessed heads ot tails all the way through. Maths has never been my strong subject.

It dragged on and on and on. Stopping and starting, surprise guests, lots of banter, I could have happily left halfway through it. Eventually the end was in sight, building up to the grand nail biting finish, would she gamble the £10,000 that she had won, and try for the million. She asked us what should she do, we all shouted. It makes for good television if someone goes for the make or break death. We waited for her answer, 'I will take the ten grand thankyou very much.' A huge sigh from me, and a sort of half hearted cheer from the audience, yay, we can all go home now. Bye the way it will be on Channel Five, not sure when.

Back at the hostel I found I was not the only one staying the night, a man turned up who actually works for the YHA, he had come to do a health and safety inspection. We got chatting he was an experienced walker and very knowledgeable about maps, he gave me a quick map reading lesson. He also had two lurcher dogs in his van, which he had trained for mountain rescue, they were lovely animals. It was nice to have a bit of company.

The next day I was up early again, eager to get a full days walking in before returning home. I picked my route and set off once more into the hills. It was very misty, and at one point it appeared to be getting heavier instead of lifting. I marched on through the swirling fog. Eventually visibility began to improve. I came down from the hills to walk along the Rochdale Canal for a while.

I shared my cheese sandwich with two black cats who lived next to the canal, and on the last leg of my walk I stopped to chat to a man who was repairing a drystone wall. You meet some interesting people when you holiday alone. I arrived back at the hostel at 5pm and said my goodbye's to the wardens, you never know I might bump into them somewhere else one day.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

I feel a mini break coming on

Can you manage without me for a few days, I'm off tramping the hills of West Yorkshire. I have booked two nights in Mankinholes Youth Hostel near Todmorden. It's a 16th Century Grade 2 listed building in a picturesque conservation village on the edge of Calderdale, and only cost £10 per night. A bargain price.

I shall also be going to Granada Television Studios for the recording of a game show hosted by Justin Lee Collins, I mentioned it last weeek. I'll tell you all about it when I get back. Toodle Pip.

Now it's just a dribble !

I thought it was too good to be true, two days of gas contractors working in my house, and I have a fully functional central heating system....ermmm, not exactly. True, it was working and I had two wonderful baths out of it, but things seem to have come to a halt, the water has stopped flowing. Now it's just a dribble, .

I am now reluctant to switch it on because I suspect the tank maybe empty. It's not easy to tell with all that cladding on it, but it sounds like an empty tin when I give it a slap. So best err on the side of caution and leave it alone till someone comes to look at it.

Last week Warm Front sent an inspector to check out the work. Sharp intake of breath and a tut tut was heard from the vicinity of the airing cupboard. He called me over, 'See that meter there, they've put it on upside down, they will have to come back and put it right.'

Then he asked where the gas meter was, I directed him to the box outside, on the front of the house. Another sharp intake of breath. 'They've used the wrong diameter of copper pipe from the meter to the boiler, it should be bigger than that due to the distance between them. I'm afraid they will have to come back and change it.'

So now I have to wait for Bodgitt and Slapdash to return with their bag of tools. I suppose another few weeks won't make any difference, I've been without central heating for two years, I am well used to it.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Saving up for a new car

Do people accidentally drop money in the streets, have they got holes in their pockets, or do they deliberately throw it away? This morning I have yet again found a coin in the road, a shiny 20p piece caught my eye as it shimmered in the sun.

Now 20p might not be a good enough reason to go out and celebrate my good fortune, but at least I came back with more than I went out with, which can't be bad. If I can do that more often then I'm laughing, it all helps to balance the books.

I was listening to Ellen McArthur yesterday morning on Desert Island Discs, Radio 4. She told of the time when she was at school and wanted to buy a dinghy, and needed about £500. The clever girl worked out that if she only had potatoes and gravy for her school dinners, then she could pocket the rest of the money. All the pennies she saved were recorded on a chart, when she got to 100 she put it into a savings account. She reached the magical figure and got her boat. Now that's what I call enterprising. I will put my 20p towards a new car, which I will probably need in about 2 - 3 years time. :-)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Hidden under the stairs

I'm just back from the council dump, and guess what, it is closed, ggrrrr. I forgot about the new winter opening hours, should have checked first. Never mind, it gives me chance to sort out my shed and garden, no doubt there will be some more stuff to dump. I'll take it again tomorrow, good job it's only two miles away.

Look what I found under my stairs.....

A lovely big puffy cushion I made about 25 years ago. I thought I had thrown it out, I'm rather pleased I didn't. It measures 24 inches across, and I can remember painstakingly hand stitching every piece. The cover has a zip opening, and I made the cushion inside out of an old nylon bed sheet, remember those awful things! I cut the 61 hexagons from a couple of my dresses, again a crimplene/nylon type fabric that never creased and never needed ironing. The back is just one piece of plain dark blue. No great achievement when you think of how big a whole bed quilt is, but it's a big enough project for me to tackle.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Just chuck it !

I'm having an easy week this week, due to dog sitting duties, my friend Ben is lying by my side as I type. It's three walks a day, so I'm not able to venture very far.

Yesterday I very bravely entered my spare room, I have been putting off this moment for a couple of months, knowing what I would find on the other side of the door. Anything that doesn't have a designated place in the house, and isn't used very often, gets shoved in there. It's just got to be done, I thought, as I cautiously peered inside. A big sort out is needed.

I like to do this chore every couple of months or so, but you know what it's like, keep the door shut and forget about it, and a year later the clutter is horrendous. Pussycat Bugsy came in with me, hopeing for a game of hide and seek, he soon did a runner when I hauled a lot of the stuff out onto the landing and plugged the Dyson in.

The secret to sorting stuff out, or decluttering as I like to call it, is that you don't put it all back again, like my friend Rosie. Her house is a nightmare, it is packed to the rafters with stuff, and she keeps buying more. As a consequence her life is rather chaotic like her house. I couldn't be doing with having to search through mountains of stuff everytime you want something, I'm sure it was here somewhere, ;-0

Anyway today I feel a whole lot better, like a burden has been lifted off my shoulders. I have some stuff to take to the council dump. Why do I need to keep an electric blanket that could potentially burn my house down, or a padded headboard that hasn't been used for twenty years and probably never will again? I've got a couple of boxes of stuff for the charity shop. I don't need a magazine rack , I keep my copies of Psychologies on the dining room table to browse while I eat, and I don't need a waste bin in the bathroom, I take my rubbish downstairs and put it straight in the kitchen bin.

I have just been in my tidy spare room, there are still a few items I can give away. As time goes on and I haven't used something, why hang on to it, you can't take it with you. Out of sight out of mind, that's what I say.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Best ever bag

A couple of weeks ago I saw some patchwork bags in River Island which were rather nice, they gave me some ideas to make my own. I picked out some matching fabric samples from the pile I have been hoarding for many years, and cut them into three inch squares. I stitched these together with the machine to make two sides. I added a strip across the top of each one because I thought this would make it easier to sew the zip onto, I also added two strips on the inside cut from an old plastic tablecloth to act as a stiffener.

Next I made the handles with matching fabric, and stitched one onto each side. Then came the decoration, always best to sew it on now before you join them up. I cut three leaf shapes from some red upholstery fabric, and sealed the edges with clear nail varnish, then hand stitched them into place with a few buttons.

I rounded the bottom corners and sewed the two sides together. Next I sewed the zip into place, this came from a garment that I took apart. Finally I made the lining from a gold shiny blouse that I bought for 20p from a car boot sale. I hand sewed this into the bag neatly round the top. Everything fitted together perfectly, the right colour lining, right colour cotton, and a zip the right size. It is 12" x 11" and the handles are long enough to put them over your shoulder. I'm very pleased with it.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Extreme money saving tips

You may have read my money saving tips on the side --> I thought I would explain the logic in my thinking, in case you are wondering whether I have totally lost the plot. I know some of them are a bit bizarre, but believe me, they work.

My background is that I was brought up in a family with no money to spare, my mother was brilliant at making ends meet, and so I watched and learnt from her. In fact I probably go further than her when it comes to saving money in the kitchen. You have to keep in mind that I live by myself, so it is a lot easier to adopt a frugal lifestyle. Some of the things I do may not be readily accepted by other members of the family.

For instance, cooking a three day stew in a big pan and eating it out of the same pan. I cannot see the point of putting a portion onto a plate, eating it, then you have to wash the plate. It costs money to wash dishes, so don't dirty them. When I make a meal I use the minimum amount of pots and pans, so I don't have to pay for the water, then heat it, and buy lots of washup liquid.

Who says you have to wash the dishes after every meal anyway? It's not set in stone, it's just a habit. Why not put them on the side of the worktop for a few days, and when you need a pan or a plate, take one off the pile. When the pile gets too big or they get too dirty, then wash them. I have been known to lick my plate clean after a particularly delicious meal, shock horror. I don't want to waste any of it. Not very ladylike you may say, but there is no one here to see me, and the plate can be used again. Seems logical to me.

My meals are simple. I use very little oil, I hardly ever make sauces, and never fry anything. For example, you fry an egg, frying is bad for you, it spits oil all over the cooker, time, effort, and money to clean it. Why not boil it in a pan used just for this purpose, you don't need to wash the pan.

I never use the oven, it uses too much gas, and it takes too long to cook anything, and I hate cleaning ovens. Those who want roast meat should seriously think about becoming vegetarian, it's a healthy lifestyle and a lot cheaper. You wont die if you stop eating meat. Which brings me onto the next point, bulk up your food with oatbran, it's wonderful stuff. Put it into everything.

I never follow recipes, it's cheaper to make it up as you go. How many times have you bought ingredients for a special dish only to use half of them, and the other half sits in the cupboard for the next five years! When concocting a meal throw in anything you happen to have in your store cupboard. Only buy items for your cupboard that you know you will use within three months.

When you shop for food don't take a list unless you have a terrible memory. Buy your food on price, good value for money, and nutrition. Don't be a picky eater, buying what you fancy costs a lot more. I don't care what I eat as long as it is not meat, and it is good for me. Food is the fuel I need to keep my body in good condition. I miss out whole aisles at the supermarket, dont do cakes, biscuits, soft drinks, crisps, ready meals, confectionary, sugary spreads, ice cream, and puddings. I might spend some time studying prices and reading labels, but it makes shopping a lot easier if you limit the range of food you buy.

And the last money saving tip is, never ever throw food away. Eat everything you buy.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

My winter tonic

I noticed a bush heavily laden with elderberries last week and after passing it several times whilst dog walking, I finally remembered to take a carrier bag and a pair of scissors with me.

After stripping the berries from the stalks, I boiled them up in two big pans, adding a small amount of sugar and a few drops of lemon juice. When cooled I put the mushed berries through a sieve.

The sesame seed oil bottles I had been saving came very in handy for bottling the juice, and the excess was frozen in ice cube trays. I shall be adding it to other drinks, as I find the taste a little strange. The main reason for me making this is because it is good for me, so as long as it is palatable that's fine. Hopefully it will give my immune system a bit of a boost as we head towards the season of colds and flu.


Friday, 2 October 2009

The hovercraft is back

I was a bit more successful with the hovercraft photo's this morning. When I saw them on Wednesday they said they would be launching further along the river bank today, just down the hill in Burton upon Stather. I didn't know what time but I took a chance and went to have a look for them. Sure enough the orange blob was highly visible from a distance.

They were almost ready to launch, and in place of the young lady from Hull University, the passenger this time was a man who was going out to measure the contours of the waters edge. The pilot cut the engine for a few minutes to chat to me, and I cheekily asked if I could have a ride, not expecting a yes, but if you don't ask.......He said the regulations don't allow for passengers that are not part of the official business, all kinds of permits have to be applied for before any craft can go on the river. I discovered that the pilot is also the owner of the hovercraft, Dr James Thurlow, he gave me his card. The company is called intertidal, here is the website if you want to learn more.

I would love to be able to go on one of these, and even learn how to pilot one, but I feel my age is against me, I have missed the boat :-( I remember how excited I was when I learnt to drive a lorry, got my first job, and several years later worked for Leicester Heavy Haulage transporting abnormal loads, the buzz was fantastic. My work often involved massive cranes, something else I would have loved to learn. But there was three things against me, my age, I should have started lorry driving earlier, the fact that I was born female, not a problem for me but it was for other people, and the cost of the training. Never mind, I'm going to put my cosmic order in for another life, there's a lot more to do, and I'm going to need another go at it :-)

And then they were gone.........