Sunday, 31 October 2010

Happy to be simple

Life is so much more simple when you haven't got much. If you have more than enough money, you have many more decisions to make than if you have nothing. You don't have to decide whether to buy something or not, if you can't afford it you just forget about it. If you forget about it you don't need it.

I used to be tempted to pop into the local shop when out for a walk, should I get chocolate or sweeties? I would tell myself I deserved a treat. Why? I dont know, it just made me feel better. I ended up having a treat nearly every day, how silly. Now I don't take any money with me, easy, I don't need a treat. I nearly bought a bottle of wine yesterday, but then I remembered I had one last weekend, so this weekend it was fruit juice from the fridge diluted with half water. I survived without the wine.

I am sitting here wearing two sweatshirts, one I bought for work six years ago, and one which was given to me. My cheap slippers look a mess, they fell apart and I stuck them together with gaffer tape. I am wearing three teeshirts, two were cheapo's from the market and one was given to me. My socks were also given to me. I have got a wardrobe full of clothes, some of which are very old, some from charity shops, and some were given to me. I dont buy new clothes, but I might make an exception next week. I need some decent looking warm casual jog type trousers for my trip to London. First I will look in the charity shops, then the discount stores, or the sales.

I have no heating on, I don't need it. Although it does work, (thanks to the government Warm Front grant), I am resisting the temptation to switch it on, until I am freezing. I am saving my money for my trips out.

Keeping things simple has also helped me fill out my tax return, I have just done it online, it was very easy. Most of it was completely alien to me, and required no entry in the box. I am so glad I have no spouse, no dividends from companies, no money from trusts, no interest from gilt-edged and other UK securities, no life insurance, and no stock dividends. My goodness what a headache that would be. Life is much simpler if you have nothing.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Sshhhh, dont say a word

I felt like being a bit quiet yesterday so I didn't post, hope you don't mind. I like some quiet days, no particular reason, just want to reflect on life.

I watched a very interesting programme called The Big Silence, it was about five volunteers who went to Worth Abbey in Sussex to learn the value of silent meditation. Then they stayed at the retreat, St Beuno's in North Wales for eight days, where they lived in complete silence. Or they should have done, there was a bit of whispering going on as some of them found it hard going.

Abbot Christopher Jamison was the Benedictine Monk who was in charge. He said silence is the gateway to the soul, and the soul is the gateway to God. The volunteers were all looking for a more spititual dimension to their lives because they thought there was something missing. They were hoping to make silence a part of their everyday lives.

Abbot Jamison said something that struck a chord with me. he said, 'When we enter periods of silence, we start to see things with greater clarity. we come to know ourselves, and get in touch with the deepest part of ourselves. That is our soul'.

I am drawn to walking alone in the countryside because of the quietness of it. So peacefull, alone with my thoughts. I am not a religeous person, I do not believe in God, but I do believe that everyone has a soul. For me, to be at peace with yourself means turning inwards, with no outside influences to confuse and cloud your judgements. I could easily spend time in a retreat because I could live inside my head with only my thoughts for company. I would like to try it one day.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

A walk along the Low Villages

I managed to get out of my dog walking duties today, and have a day out. The morning was bright and sunny again, aren't we lucky having so many nice days. I didn't want to drive very far, or go near any towns, so I kept to the country roads and went along the side of the river to South Ferriby, past the cement works, and turned right. I went through Horkstow, Saxby All saints, and found a parking space outside the village hall at Bonby.

I left the road and followed the footpath up the fields, there are gentle rolling hills around here, nothing too strenuous. This path goes through the middle of the field. Next to the wooden finger post is a smaller concrete post with the name Godfrey on it. I'm not sure what that means, maybe it's some kind of memorial for Godfrey who liked walking there. Someone had plonked a wooly hat on top of it.

Here is another field with the path going straight through it. The kind farmer has run his tractor over it, just so us walkers can find our way. You would think the path would be round the edge, but no, the signpost says it goes diagonally across.

Coming into Worlaby I saw this fountain, the date carved into the stone above it said 1874. It's a shame that there was no water, I decided not to toss a coin into it and make a wish.

Worlaby church is very pretty, the gardens are neat and tidy, and someone has made a flower garden at the front of it. A lovely place to sit for a few moments.

The entrance porch is built of wood, it's quite unusual.

Just look at this magnificent golden tree, it is stunning. You don't need to travel to the USA to see the 'Fall', we have it right here on our doorsteps.

Leaving Worlaby, I set off along the fields for Elsham.

You can't see it on the photo but in the distance I can see the wind turbines which are three miles from my house, and I am standing about sixteen miles away here.

I spotted this blaze of colour from a distance, in the hedgerow, an opportunity for an almost perfect picture. Shame about the shadow over part of the field behind the hedge.

The church at Elsham is covered in scaffolding, so there was no poing in taking any photo's of it, but, right next to it is the most stunning red tree I have ever seen. It was absolutely glorious. I just had to sit awhile to gaze at the beauty of it.

The leaves had started to fall, and the ground had a red carpet all around it.

I was a little bit naughty and stole a few leaves, here they are, I put them through the scanner. Shhh, don't tell anyone.

Elsham has a hall and gardens, and a country park, alas today it is closed. I was speaking to a local lady who tells me that even the residents of the village cannot get in without paying. It is privately owned.

From Elsham I went over the top of the M180 at junction 5, to Barnetby le Wold, where I saw this american car. Whip out the camera pretty quick before someone tells me to buzz off.

From Barnetby I was walking along the side of the railway line towards Melton Ross, when I saw a dodgy looking bloke lurking. I thought it a bit odd that he should be just hanging around doing nothing, his bag on the ground next to him.

So nosey me said hello and asked him what he was waiting for. It turned out that he was a train spotter, from Reading, which is over 200 miles away. My goodness they are keen aren't they. He told me he was waiting to take a photo of a goods train because that particular make was becoming quite rare, and in a few years there wouldn't be many left. Well each to their own I suppose.

As I got back onto the road there was two more trainspotters on the bridge, I asked them where they were from. Sheffield, they said. Ah well, not quite so far away.

I have to remember that the days getting shorter, and I still want to pack as much as I can into them. The sun had gone and it was becoming overcast, best not push my luck, time to head home. I got back to the car at 5.45pm and needed to put the headlights on to drive the 13 miles home. Glad I have a bowl of home made soup to warm up in the microwave.

Today I have walked 14.77 miles, getting back into the swing of it now. I must keep it up through the winter months, so I don't seize up. Back to dog walking tomorrow.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Hooray for the one man band

I've had a confusing letter from The National Blood Service. I expected the 'thank you but goodbye', letter, but what does this mean?

'The test done at the session indicated that you might have had a low haemoglobin level'. Strange, I was told I did have a low haemoglobin level.

'After reviewing your results I am pleased to report that your haemoglobin level is normal'. Well that's alright then.


'Your haemoglobin, on the day of the session, was in the normal range but just below the level for giving a donation. As you know, we must allow a safety margin to ensure that the haemoglobin level does not drop below after normal'. Ok I understand that.

'Our records show that this has happened a few times. With this in mind, we think it best to stop calling you to the donor sessions, at least for the time being. We could review this after a year or so, and please let us know if you would like to start receiving session invitation letters again'. Oh, so does that mean I can't donate now, or I can donate when I feel like it, or should I just receive the letters then think about it, or will they tell me if they run short and my donation will be welcomed? Or maybe in a year they will change the goal posts and I will once again be able to donate? I will wait and see what happens.

Today I took my car into my one man band mechanical repair man who works on his own, so he could take it for it's MOT and put right anything that needed doing. I left it with him and as it was a nice day I walked nine miles back home. Here are a few photo's I took along the way.

I love these shiny pipework factory thingys, when the sun shines on the stainless steel and it all looks sparkling new. The yellow bits add a bit of interest. Fascinating to look at, I often wonder what is whizzing through all those pipes. This is a BOC plant, doesn't it look pretty?

Oh dear, someone has chucked their Valentine card in the hedge bottom. Never mind, it is October and anything could have happened in the last eight months. I wonder if they are still together. Don't tell Colin's wife that he has dumped her card.

We have a lot of these 'To Die For', signs up all over the place, warning motorcyclists not to ride too fast. I wonder what smashed into this one.

Beautiful golden autum colours.

This tractor driver stopped to have a chat with me when he saw me taking his photo, couldn't stop long though, he was in a rush. Pity ;o)

Mandy, my car repair man's wife came to pick me up later to collect my car. I was very pleased with the bill. I knew two link rods were needed on the front, because Hartwell Ford (the big garage) had told me about it, they were hoping to get the job of replacing them. In fact they quoted me a price of £70.50 each.
So what did Simon charge me? Two link rods for £24.16. The whole bill was £104 76 including MOT and labour and vat. He doesn't do MOT's so he had to take it to the test station. My goodness, there's one heck of a difference in price there. Just goes to show, find a man who knows his stuff with cars, who works by himself with low overheads, and stick with him.

And now for my next trick........

Here is the set of curtains from the charity shop, hanging on the line. I didn't need to wash them they smelled fresh and clean, I just hung them here for the photo.

And here are the seven shopping bags I made from them. Each one measures 18" by 19.5" a similar size to one of those plastic bags for life but mine are a bit longer.

I didn't quite have enough fabric for seven full size bags so I made a smaller version, and now a little girl can have a bag just like mummy when they go shopping together :o)

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

You big baby ;o)

I had forgotten how hard beansprouts were to eat when I bought a Value bag of stir fry on Friday night at Tesco. It was reduced to 50p, a bargain not to be missed. My diet consists of a lot of out of date items which have had their prices dramatically slashed. If I had waited another half an hour I could have probably got my stir fry for less, that's if it hadn't been snapped up by another bargain snatcher. I didn't take the chance and was happy with the 50p. I can get three meals out of this, I thought, as I put it in my trolly.

Last night I cooked my stir fry in a large saucepan, starting it off in olive oil, and adding any flavourings that came to hand. Tomato paste, grainy mustard, lemon juice, garlic granules, black pepper, and turmeric. I can't be bothered standing over it continually stirring with a wooden spoon, so I added some water and let it simmer while I went off and did other things. At this point it usually turns into some kind of stew.

After 20 minutes I dished up a portion into a bowl and sat down to enjoy it in front of the computer. As I started to chomp away I didn't seem to be making much headway, it was taking ages to break it down into smaller pieces. At this rate it was going to take a long time to finish it, and my poor stomach would be protesting loudly as I demanded that it do the work that my teeth were supposed to be doing.

Only one thing for it, stick it in the blender and mush it up. I added a drop of boiling water from the kettle to improve the consistency, but bingo, it worked, and it tastes lovely. I had two bowls of my baby food last night, and I have this third bowl in the fridge which I shall microwave for lunch, with a few chunks of out of date crusty bread. Just the job on a chilly autumn day.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Three strikes and I'm out

This drop of blood looks happy, I couldn't find a sad one, for me today it was thumbs down as they once again said they could not take my blood. Despite my best efforts to eat the right food, the test to check my haemoglobin level showed that it was too low to donate. This indicates that my iron stores are low. They set a fairly high 'cut off' level because they want to be sure that the haemoglobin will not drop below normal after a donation. In fact the nurse told me that they have recently raised the safe level, and that my two previous visits would have resulted in me being able to donate, if they hadn't changed the criteria.
There are a lot of people who have lowish levels, the nurse herself can't donate because hers are just below, like mine. We had a little chat about it and I discovered that she is a very keen walker like myself. She said it is likely that because my fitness levels are quite high, my body uses all the iron as I produce it. She said a lot of athletes cannot donate blood for this reason. This news made me feel a bit better.
The fact that I dont eat meat has no bearing whatsoever on the state of my health, I am very healthy and eat all the right foods. Looking through the leaflet they have given me I can tick off all the items except meat and tofu, I hate tofu it's horrible, but all the rest I already eat.
Anyway, it's three strikes and I am out, it is NHS policy not to call me back. I am a little bit sad about this, as I like to do my bit. I have been 36 times in about twelve years.
Can I make an appeal for someone to take my place. If you have thought about becoming a blood donor and you haven't got round to it, please give it some more serious thought, and find it in your heart to go and make that first donation. I know some people cant donate for various reasons, I know you would if you could. You can find out where the sessions are held by going to
Many thanks.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Tomorrow is 'B' day

For my breakfast I had ground walnuts and seeds on my bran flakes.

For my lunch I am having smoked salmon and prawns, on a bed of fresh baby spinach leaves and chopped cucumber, with a houmous dip and garlic bread. Don't worry it hasn't cost me an arm and a leg, all reduced, from Tesco on Thursday night.

Later for my dinner I shall have a large portion of brocolli and green cabbage, with other vegetables and the rest of the salmon. I need to up my iron intake because tomorrow I am going to attempt to donate a drop of my blood, that's if they want it. At the last two sessions they couldn't take it because of the low iron level, even though I felt fine. They said I needed it more than they did. So lets hope the spinach works, if it's good for Popeye then it should be good for me.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Afternoon tea with a friend

I went to Brigg this afternoon to visit a friend. I haven't seen her for a while so it was nice to have a cuppa and a natter. Georgia is 80 and still very fit and active, she regularly plays golf and drives herself about. She told me all about the holiday she recently had in Ireland, she met up with her three sisters all in their eighties, and had a wonderful time. I do admire her energy.

While I was there I also had a browse round the charity shops. I found these pretty curtains which will make lovely shopping bags. The fabric is that blackout material which is quite thick.

They were £3 which I don't mind paying to the RSPCA shop as I know the money will stay with the local branch. I'll make a start on them tomorrow.

Drama in the Crescent

What a strange sight this morning. I opened my curtains at 7.30am to see a woman, in her thirties maybe, standing in the street wearing her dressing gown and a pair of trainers. It was a bit chilly so she was clutching the pink towelling robe with red hearts all over it, tightly to her chest.

Then the post man showed up. He parks his car in front of my house and the bags of post are dropped off there by the van. He had collected his bike from further up the street and was loading it up, when he pulled out a couple of letters and handed them to her. The woman then frantically ripped the envelopes open and scanned the contents, then she comes over all emotional and wiped the tears from her face. They spent the next 20 minutes chatting, the postie in his full cold weather gear, and her shivering in her night wear. By the time he rode off on his bike her mood had changed, as if the shock of the news she had just read about had completely slipped her mind. Now she was all smiles.

I put the kettle on, wondering what the little drama was all about. My very own soap opera through the window. Oh well, spose I'll have to guess the end of the story.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Military operation

I am not the best of timekeepers, I am usually late for everything, 'can't be bothered' is my catch phrase. But for the last couple of days I have been swamped with doggies that need feeding, walking, and attending to their toilet requirements. The only timetables they work to is the food that goes in one end, and the cr8p that comes out of the other, so it is imperative that I turn up on time. To keep my doggies happy this has been my timetable.

11am - collect Ben, walk for 1 hour, bring him back here.
2.15pm - a quick walk round the block with Ben 20 mins.
3pm - go and pick up Ollie and Alfie from round the corner, walk for 1 hour. drop them back at their house.
5.30pm - another quick walk for Ben and give him his dinner.
6.15pm - back to Ollie and Alfie, quick walk 20 mins, and feed them at their house.
Then get my dinner, a stew I prepared earlier.
9.30pm - Ben's bed time walk, half an hour, he is staying at my house.
10pm - Ollie and Alfies bed time walk, 1 hour, they are staying at their house.

7.30am - let Ben out onto the back garden for his toilet, have a cup of coffee and a small bowl of bran flakes.
8am - take Ollie and Alfie out for their first walk, 1 hour.
9.15am - take Ben out for a walk, half an hour, and drop him back at his house.
10am - drive to Henry's house, take him for a 1 hour walk, and play with him in the back garden, get home at 12.15pm. Grab a bite to eat.
12.45pm - take Ollie and Alfie out for a 1 hour walk.
2pm - call in at the shop on the way home and grab a bottle of wine, phew, I need it, ha ha

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Moving into a new pad

Well the little kittys are out of their cave now, Tiger was beginning to climb up the wire in a bid for freedom. I let them run around the house a couple of times, but it isn't fair to take them inside completely when they are going to be rehomed. The room served it's purpose and was a safe place for them in their hour of need, but they were beginning to get bored and looked quite sad at times.

Luckily Sue has rehomed three kittens and a place was found for them in a chalet in her garden. Now they have a snug little house with heating, and a secure run in which they can see what is going on in the garden. I guess they must have spent a lot of time outdoors before they came here, so it is only fair that their sense of curiosity and freedom is not taken away from them.

It was only a short journey to Sue's, five minutes at the most, but it was heartbreaking to listen to their pitifull cries when once again they found themselves confined to a cat carrier. Although they were only here for two weeks and two days, I had grown to love them, but there again I love all animals.
The job of finding them a new home goes on. I have promised Sue that I will provide their food for the time they are there, and we will both be searching for those special people who will take them. I am sure they are out there somewhere.
I was beginning to wonder if my role as a rescuer of homeless pussies was such a good idea. Sue says it is hard at first, but it gets easier. Even so, I think I might find it heartbreaking to have many cats coming and going, there would be many sleepless nights for me, wondering if I had done the right thing. Nevertheless, with all my doubts, I am feeling a bit more positive now.
Thank you to those who commented on my previous post with suggestions about rehoming. It was never an option for me to take them permanently, though I was teetering on the top of the fence at one point, it would not have taken very much for me to topple over. But I know, come next spring, I would resent being tied to the house. In the long term, taking a pet on is for the duration of it's life. It's a shame that so many people do not see it in the same way.
These cats are going no further than a new forever home. They will not be carted off to another rescue to sit alongside many other moggies awaiting collection. Cats Protection does not work too well around here, you can never get them on the phone, and their organisational skills seem pretty fragmented.
Tiger and Lilly will never be advertised in a newspaper, or on the internet. I strongly believe that pets should not be offered in this way. I also believe that people who see animals purely as a money making excercise should be shot. Maybe that statement is a bit strong, but people like that don't give a fig who buys their puppies and kittens, just as long as they get their money. But that's a whole new debate. Now I'm off to fetch Ben, I am looking after him today, and later I am walking two black labradors while their owner has a night away from home.
Toodle pip.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Keeping the old legs moving

I think my legs are starting to seize up, need to do more walking. So this morning I went for a local walk for just over three hours. I have passed this bench before, it's on the edge of a field about half a mile from the road, so not many people see it. Someone has laid a bunch of flowers underneath it. Now I have no objections to this sort of thing, you see them on the roadside after an accident, but I do wish they would remove the wrapping and just leave the flowers. End of daily grump, take the wrapper home with you.

It was a lovely sunny morning, me wearing the latest fashion in sunshade.

This is funny stuff to walk through, it's a biofuel crop, big clumps of very tall grass. Although the wind was quite sharp walking along the bridleways, there was no wind in the middle of this. It would be lovely to set up camp in it, you could hide and no one would know you were there. I shouldn't really have been in it but it was lovely and cosy.

Coming back along the River Trent I walked under this pylon.

Then looking the other way the cables disappear towards Yorkshire.

There is a new footpath from the top of the hill, down to the river. The Burton Heritage Group have been uncovering a Tank Ramp which was built at the beginning of WW2, and was in use up untill 1948. Then it became overgrown and forgotten. I decided to take a look at what they have been doing. The bank is very steep and steps have been cut into the ground, the path has been constructed with sleepers, and a handrail has been added. You can see the river beyond the trees.

Half way down there is a sign.

Then I came across the machine they have been using to clear the ground. They have smashed through a hell of a lot of woodland, the destruction is terrible. Maybe it should have been left hidden.

Oh my goodness, look at my boots, about six inches of mud stuck to the bottom, makes them very heavy.

This is the ramp, a big slab of concrete. All this was hidden under years of bramble growth.

They have made a clearing, sown grass seeds to make a lawn, and put some picnic tables and chairs around the edge.

I am not sure how long it will stay like this though, once the youngsters find it they might decide it looks a good place for a rave party and a bonfire. We can live in hope.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A doggy afternoon

I haven't seen Henry for a while, it was nice to see his waggy tail when I arrived to take him out. I have the key to the patio door, and as I walk round to the back of the house he is waiting at the back door because he has heard the gate open. Then he moves to the dining room because he knows that is where I will come in. We start by playing ball in the large garden, then I say the magic words, 'Do you want to go out?' His eyes open wide, and he dashes to the outside toilet because he knows that's where his lead is kept. Such a clever boy.

You can see his undercarriage is wet in this picture, yes he has been in the dyke. Thank goodness the water levels are high at the moment so there is less mud to stick to him.
I love to see the deep furrows cut by the plough, it's amazing that they make such straight lines.

Henry is such a friendly dog towards other dogs, he always wants to play. Dog walking is a great way to meet people and have a chat. When I got back from my Henry visit, I took Ben a walk and met up with Sue and her mother strolling around the village. Such a nice relaxing day.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Trying to get blood out of a stone.

I am getting a bit pee'd off with all the cheeky buggers who try and sell me something I don't want. I know times are hard, and for some of them their job depends on their sales figures, but I wish they would get off my back and leave me alone.

A couple of weeks ago I had a letter from a garage who had resprayed one side of my car after it was vandalised. I only went to that particular garage because the insurance company specified it. Now they think they are my best friend. They wrote, We note that your MOT certificate is shortly due to expire, if you would like to call us we will fix up an appointment for you, and by the way we can also service your car as well. Well no bloody thank you, I muttered as I binned the letter.

Yesterday I had a call on my mobile, not recognising the number and apologising to the person I was having a conversation with, I took the call. Was I miffed when a male voice said, 'Hi it's Darren from Stoneacre, our records show that your car is due for an MOT test.' I replied, 'Dont worry Darren, it's all taken care of, it's booked in with my man for next week'.

Good grief, they know everything about you don't they, there is no privacy at all, they are lurking round every corner, just waiting to pounce, like vultures.

I had the same problem with the Ford garage who did the repair on the dashboard. They also sent me a pally pally letter, with their special offers. They had the cheek to check over my whole car while it was in there, I never asked them to do that, telling me about the tyre that was down to 3 mil, and the link rods on the front that will need attention. They even said they have to check these things and tell me about any jobs that may need attention. 'Have to' my arse, they are just touting for business.

That same Ford garage sent me a letter about a year ago saying they have found a buyer for my car, someone had taken a fancy to it apparently. In the next sentence they told me about a very good deal on a new car. Me smelling a rat, I rang them, and asked what car I have. They replied, the escort estate. I gave them a right roasting, saying I changed that car two years ago, and don't tell lies about someone wanting my car. More underhanded sales patter.

Every time you go into a shop these days, just as you are about to pay for your purchases, the girl on the till says, 'We have five rolls of pepermints on offer for one pound, would you like some?' I feel like saying, 'Why does my breath smell?' They are like robots, 'Would you like a top up, two bars of chocolate for the price of one, a new slimline rollerball pen, only a quid?' No, for God's sake, NO.

Today I spent £4 in the British Heart Foundation charity shop. As she was giving me my change, she enquired whether I knew about the late night opening and which dates they would be open for Christmas shopping. I said, 'No, I am not interested because I don't do any Christmas shopping.' In fact I don't normally go into that shop at all because the prices are too expensive. She kept on, 'There are free buses as well on the 64 and 28 routes'. Oh I give up.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Misty eyes

I was out and about this morning with my camera, and Teddy my little furry friend. It started off sunny but then the mist came down, for a few minutes the cars had their headlights on as visibility was down to a few yards. Almost as quickly it came, the mist lifted, I needed to be quick to get some decent pictures. I have whittled 68 shots down to fourteen. You can click on them to make them bigger.

The rising sun brought these berries up lovely against the cottage wall.

The mist is starting to come down.

I have photographed this cottage before, but this time I got close up to the gate.

Five minutes later.......

The sun is starting to break through, again

By the time I reached the playing field it was brilliant sunshine.

Down to the allotments, I found this garden table.

That's one way to grow your beans without sticking canes into the ground. Use a greenhouse frame but don't put any glass in.

I haven't the foggiest idea what this plant is or was, but the dried seed head looks amazing against the blue sky.

I spy through the hedge, two lads marking out the football pitch before the mornings game.

Then back home for breakfast.