Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year !

I just stopped by to wish everybody a Happy New Year. We have just gotten back from Scotland where we have been visiting relatives. The weather up there is really really cold and there are copious amounts of snow and ice to contend with, very hazardous for any elderly folks venturing out.

2009 has been a trying year for us as a family and I sincerely hope that for everybody 2010 is an easier and happier year.

A Happy, Prosperous and Good New Year Everybody.

Love Babs x

Thursday, 29 October 2009

My Lovely Sister in Law

Just a very short post to say that my lovely sister in law died and that we are in the midst of getting ready for her funeral, fending off arguing relatives and trying to deal with our grief and sadness in two quite different ways. The past week has been hard and I shall be so glad when we can somehow move forward again.

Irene was one of the loveliest, most kind hearted people I can think of and I cant believe that we will never see her again. We had spoken to her the night before she died and also on the morning when she died unexpectedly on the operating table.

I bet she is up in heaven tidying up for every one and making tea.

I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Work Life Changes

Its been a funny old few days, actually its been a funny old month to be true, but the past few days have been trying in a completly different way.

I think I have written before that Himself lives away from home, staying on whatever house building site he is managing and I, when I can stay with him. This has been the norm for 7 years. His Director has sanctioned it, Health and Safety are fine with it, the trades love it because he is always available to open up early or close late, there have never been any break ins while we are on site and less materials have gone 'missing ' too. For us it has meant that Himself could continue to work with the Director and Contracts Managers that he had worked with for years, prior to moving home to the Midlands and he could stay with the same company and obviously keep a continuity of service. It has also meant that we haven't had to constantly find camp sites (most you can only stay on for a maximum of 21 days) and we haven't had to travel back and forth to the Midlands each day (bit tiring if you are commuting from Kent, Hampshire or Surrey each morning or evening - trust me, I used to do it daily !)

Himself is also put on to 'problem' sites, ones which are running behind schedule or have to suddenly produce 'extra' house plots in a short time to make up for sites which are falling behind or aren't selling for various reasons. He has letter after thank you letter from his Director and the main Board of Directors recognising the fact that he works all hours, including weekends and nights to achieve what has been required in the past.

However on Thursday last week, we were driving back down to Surrey where he is currently working after our few days off to go to Chatham (must tell you about that later) when he got a phone call from his Director telling him that the new MD for this region had decided that we could no longer stay on site. The Director had queried why and was told insurance reasons. The Director contacted the Insurance company who stated they had no problems with it, he contacted the Regional Health and Safety Director who also stated that from his perspective there are no problems (he had personally carried out a risk assessment on this matter for us last year, and as there were no cost issues involved i.e. special equipment or changes to insurance required, had sent a report to the previous MD confirming that in his view there were no problems with us being on site.

Himself's Director brought all the above to the new MD to then be told 'oh and by the way, we are cutting all travel expenses, car allowances for all managers' Double wammy in the space of an hour ! Now we were suddenly faced with the situation on no where to park the motorhome and if we did find somewhere the cost would be about 500 per month and the his car and travel allowance was also going and then on top we had to find travel costs from where ever we could park the motorhome AND move the motorhome at the most every 3 weeks assuming we could find a site that is open from November onwards.

We pulled up and made a cup of tea while we tried to take in all the news of the previous hour and I got out the camp site guides and tried to find us a place for a couple of days while we got our heads around this bombshell. The only one that I could find is about 2 hours away from the new site that Himself was going to, so we booked in there for a few days.

Now I can understand the new MD's reasoning if the Insurance company or H & S had issues with us being there, or if there had been a break in or stuff had been stolen and we were suspected, but no, there were certainly no issues with the last two and Himself's Director has confirmed there are no apparent issues with the previous two, so why the sudden changes?

Secondly I cannot see how The Company can suddenly make changes to a persons contract of employment (I am referring to the car allowance and travel expenses part) without telling them in writing how and why they are making the change. It hasn't only been Himself, he knows of at least 3 other managers who have had their car allowance scrapped over night. This company, well this region certainly seem to do things their own way that's for sure. One classic example we found out about yesterday, the previous manager to this new site Himself is on spent the past three weeks having to drive to the local petrol station and buy diesel out of his own pocket in order to have the fork lift truck on site working, oh he had to try and claim it back on expenses as The Company are on stop with the fuel suppliers !

I am not talking about a small company here, but a major player in the house building sector, a major name that is seen in all regions of the UK. This is now how they seem to be treating their managers. Last December on another site I had to pay for 6 large gas bottle (used for the heaters to dry out plaster work) on my credit card, as The Company were on stop with the gas company and Himself wanted to get the job finished on time (There is an interesting story to that site which I will write about on here soon.)

So all in all its been an interesting week. Himself and I have estimated that between losing his car allowance and expenses, having to now pay for a camp site (if we can find one after this weekend) and having to pay petrol to travel a couple of hours each way to and from work, we are over £1000 a month worse off. Not exactly small change......

So a lot of talking, thought throwing and discussion in going on right now. If there were the availablity of jobs in the house trade back in the Midlands, there would be no question of what we would decide to do. But Himself is concerned about his age (56) going against and his heart attack early last year, so what do we do?

It also seems as though some of this enforced change (not being able to park on site) is not necessarily directed at Himself, but at his Director who through Himself has always achieved the pretty much impossible. The new MD wants Himself's Director out, and we believe that one of the thought processes is that if HImself isnt here to achieve, then the Director will fail and he can be gotten rid of. Politics politics politics. How stupid little boys in mens clothes play games eh?

Oh and by the way, the MD and senior Directors have all just had brand new BMW's - funny I thought this region was trying to save money, oh also forgot the 72 inch plasma screen TV installed in the regional office last week. And there is no money for diesel for the forks? Somebodies priorities seem a little bit squiffy to me!

Sorry for such a long post and Sorry if I sound a bit peeved, I am. I know that we are a lot lot better off than many and for that I am very grateful but I am also confused as to what we do next as we cannot continue to pay to go to work and be out of pocket every week. Any suggestions?

He's Home

Charlie is finally home. He's doing OK and is gradually getting used to being bottle fed and not receiving all his feed via a tube which was how it was in hospital. Its early days but my son and daughter in law are chuffed to bits to finally be able to bring their little boy home.

The photo was taken about ten minutes before Charlie was taken to theatre. Poor little soul had no idea of what was to come.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Are You a Farmer?

Just a quickie this morning as I am rushing about.

I had to smile when I read this post http// Is it a Farm Yet?

That makes me a farmer. What a lovely smile of self contentment that brought to me today.

I'm a farmer. Large backyard, deep beds, pots, troughs and borders - no acres, but I am still a farmer.

Have a lovely day fellow growers !

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Chatham Historic Dockyard

Hiya, we are off to Chatham Dockyard this weekend for a 40's salute to the Dockyard. Its an event that has been running for a couple of years now and is the highlight of our year to be truthful. We get to see many of the friends we have made over the past few years and we live a 40's lifestyle for the weekend while we are on the dockyard site.

Many of the ways of life from the 40's are normal practice to us in our everyday life. Some of our friends and colleagues either think we are mad or an intrigued, especially when we say that we save money and time, but have equally as comfortable a life as they do. I am going to write a few posts about 40's things which are normal to us, over the next few weeks.

This is one of the shows that my friend Judy puts on, they are always brilliant and do make you stop and think. If you get the chance to go the event it's on Saturday and Sunday and it really is a good day out ! I shall be dressed up (or down, depending on how you look at it) as a Mrs Mop, probably with a mop and bucket, come and say hello if you are there, I'm quite friendly - honest!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Post Op day day 5

The doctors closed Charlie's chest on Tuesday and yesterday they took him off the ventilator and the paralysing drugs which have kept him still since his operation. When he tries to cry he sounds like a raspy Barry White - hopefully we will hear his real voice very soon. His mom and dad had their first real cuddle with him yesterday - hopefully I may get one soon.

The doctors, surgeons and nursing in the Childrens Hospital deserve a medal for the work they carry out, we certainly cannot fault them for their care and dediction. If ever any body deserved pay rises and bonuses its them not the bloody bankers !

Friday, 4 September 2009

Long Day

Today has seemed an eternity. Baby Charlie had his operation - 6 hours long. He came back to intensive care at about 8.00 this evening. He has more tubes and wires in him than before and he is on a ventilator to help him breathe. His chest is open, covered by a dressing, and it will be closed up in a few days when the doctors are sure that this operation has gone OK. His parents are shattered and just want to be able to take their first born home. I just want to be able to give him a cuddle. Hopefully both will come soon.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Charlie - My beautiful Grandson

Charlie finally put in an appearance this afternoon, 1 week late and quite content to sit it out and sleep though a lengthy labour for his poor mom who was getting quite tired (his dad was knackered too apparently). She had been taken into hospital yesterday morning and induced, but as I said Charlie was in no rush to get out here and join the rest of us. Maybe he knows more than we think....

He is 8lb 6oz and looking at him in his intensive care crib, its hard to really see that he is so poorly, he looks quite a little bruiser !

Tonight he was ambulanced to the Childrens Hospital Intensive Care Unit, ready for the first of his major heart operations. It will take about 6 hours during which they will split the right side of his heart in two and make a left side (the left side hasn't grown) So fingers very very tightly crossed that the op goes to plan. We will know more tomorrow when his own consultant has seen him and set the time for op.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Do you believe in a shove from the other side??

Well, apologies before I start at my distinct absence of late - it has been a funny old few weeks but more about that later. I need to tell you about what happened yesterday. But I also need to fill you in on Sunday too.

My next door neighbour is having an extension built, which suddenly seems to be much bigger and higher than we were lead to believe it was going to be - to the point that one of the new windows he has installed now looks over the 5 foot high fence and they will be able to see clearly into my bathroom, (downstairs) kitchen and dining room.

I was be-moaning this fact to Himself who was actually home for 24 hours (he has been working his wotsits off again of late) and he countered with 'I wish we had a house like Pam's.....away from everybody.

(Pam is a friend of ours who lives in the most beautiful cottage on a smallholding and we have both been suffering from a touch of the green eyed monster since we went to see her a couple of weeks ago.)

I raised my glass (it was lunchtime - honest !) and followed up with, 'I wish you could have seen Dad's smallholding where I grew up, you would have loved it, it would have been ideal for us. An acre and a half of land, right next to the canal, views of the the fields and the farms across the water.....peaceful, but near to town too..... best of both worlds really.....'

I had sighed inside remembering how lovely it had all been, yes I know rose tinted glass memories and all that.

Anyway we happened to mention the smallholding again later on Sunday evening, sometime before himself made the solo journey back to the Sunny South where he is currently working. Nothing much was said, just the wistful, 'if only' sort of comments that we all come out with at times.

Anyway to get on with the story, Dad sold the smallholding to a friend who years later sold the land to a developer who knocked our house down and built a pub restaurant on the site. I have been a couple of times over the years, its only about 5 miles from where I now live, but the last time Himself and I went they had changed the style to what I always call a young and trendies bar - It was bloody awful, honestly it was. We had half a drink and left. I was SO sad that day as we drove away, they had ruined it and it was awful and although I have been past a couple of times, there was no reason for me to ever go there again.

Well yesterday I had to go get some bits and pieces and having to go to one particular shop that I don't frequent very often, (about once a year) lead me to go through the village heading towards the smallholding.

I had been thinking about my Dad yesterday when I got up - it was his birthday and even though he's not physically here with me anymore, I still wish him Happy Birthday when I wake up - and as I set off through the village I was recalling the conversation with Himself from the day before about wishing the smallholding was still there and that we could live there and do all the things we want to do, and I distinctly remember saying in my head as I was driving in the beautiful sunshine 'I wish it was for sale - I'd buy it back... (yea, yea, yea and pigs might fly......right?)

As I got closer, I saw the signs - FOR SALE ! I nearly died at the wheel. The pub has closed - looks like it has been closed for a while and the whole site, my old home land is for sale (forget there is a whacking great car park where the pigs, chicken and fruit and veg beds used to be and a monstrous building with a crap interior.

I raced off to get my errands done and on the way back pulled into the car park. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up as I walked about. This was SO weird.....was it a total co-incidence after our conversation on Sunday? Was it my Dad kicking me up the bum from somewhere far way? Fate? Who knows.....

All I can say is that I drove away from there feeling very very shaky and thoroughly mixed up. I had phoned the estate agents ( I had to, wouldn't you have done?)There is no way under the sun we could ever, EVER afford the price, and no way ever that we could raise that kind of money..........but just for one moment I was 'Home' - do you know what I mean???

I still feel really strange today and can't work out exactly how I feel. Strange is the only word I can use.

Now, can anybody give me any suggestions how I can find £450,000 apart from winning the lottery? And Dad if it is you, give me a clue where you hid the family jewels ! LOL

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Baby Update, update

Just a quick post today as the past few weeks have been more than a little hectic - my son and his fiance are going ahead with having the baby. He, bless him is growing well and is kicking like mad and doing gambols inside her now ! They sat and talked for a while, but neither of them could go with any other decision other than to go to full term and let nature and the excellent consultant do what ever they decide is the best thing. So its back to fingers very firmly crossed.

I have had some lovely emails, thank you so much they have been very appreciated.

Himself was on a training course last week. The Trainer, a lovely man who Himself has met several times over the years on various courses, is also a Minister. Himself mentioned at some point during the day about the baby and his heart condition, and the Trainer, in his Ministerial role offered to organise a world wide prayer that weekend across his church, through the power of the Internet. When Himself told me what had been done, I burst into tears as did my son and his fiance. What a beautiful thing to have suggested and to have put into action. I was truly very humbled by the thought of people who we will never meet, who will never know us, taking the time to pray for a good outcome for the little one.......regardless of whether we share their own religious beliefs.....truly humbling.

Will be back later this week for an update on other things. xxx

Oh, my son wont tell me what the babies name is to be, only that his initials will be CS. So to that end I have started calling him Charlie Sydney, or Claude Snudge (anybody old enough to remember The Army Game, will know the second one !)

Friday, 1 May 2009

Baby Update

My son and his fiance went to see the consultant today. He carried out another scan and confirmed that the baby does have Polyplastic Left Heart Syndrome - long winded scary name. In simple terms it means that the left side of the heart has not developed. At the moment this isn't a problem to the baby - he is getting all the oxygenated blood that he need through the umbilical cord. Yes I did say he, the other scan was wrong on that account!

The heart condition is not curable. So, they have been given three options. A termination now, in the next few days, let the baby go to full term, then let him slip away peacefully after a few days or third a series of operations. The operations are in no way a cure, this condition can only be 'cured' by a heart transplant and the chances of that in a 2 day old baby are improbable ( and the thought of another set of parents having to go through the loss of their child to save this little one, is also unthinkable) but the series of operations can be 'help' slightly, the first at 2-3 days old, the second around three months and the third at about a year old. Although the operations can 'help' there is still great uncertainly about long term prognosis, although the consultant says that life expectancy and quality of life is increasing year on year, however a heart transplant will still be required later in life..........

The two of them are feeling a little better after talking to the consultant. He is one of three people who have conducted this operation at Birmingham Children's Hospital where the little one would be transferred to as soon as he had been born, ready for an op in his first couple of days. Other than the heart condition, he is growing exactly as he should and currently weighs 1lb 3oz - I was staggered to know that they can estimate the weight so accurately now.

So, they have a decision to make, probably the hardest one that they have to make. I'm pretty sure I know what they will decide, but I'm waiting for them to finally confirm it.

I hope I sleep better tonight, the past two nights have seemed to have gone on for ever, not helped by the fact that I am at home and Himself is still down at work, oh and he should be off tomorrow for the weekend, but his contracts manager managed to get one of the trades to come in tomorrow morning, so Himself wont be home for the weekend until at the earliest, late tomorrow afternoon. I hop he sleeps well tonight, he's been really tired and stressed this week.

Have a good weekend, I hope the weather is kind.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009


Today should be a really happy day. Its Himself's birthday and our second wedding anniversary - we decided to get married on his birthday in the belief that he would remember to get an anniversary card - it hasn't worked, but there you go :-) (I'm still waiting for last years birthday card too........

Anyway my son and his fiance had to go for a scan today - they had had one last week, pretty sure the grandbaby-to-be is a girl, but last week when they went for a scan, they were told the little one was too scrunched up for them to do all the checks that they wanted to do, so today was re booked.

Now they have been told she has a serious heart defect, the left side of her heart isn't developing properly and to be truthful from the info we have all been reading since about, its looking a bit bleak. The hospital have booked them to see a specialist on friday at another hospital, so we should know more then.....god love them.

And to top it all, Himself is ready to walk our of his job - its getting worse by the day and he's really had enough. And bless him, in the middle of all the news about the baby, when he is ready to explode and walk out, he says he needs to stay, as my son may have to take time off work and he (Himself) knows that there will be bills that need paying.........

I feel like crying, for the little one, for my son and his fiance, and for my dearest darling husband, who's blood pressure is so high, but wants to do the 'right thing'.....

I hope we have better news on Friday....

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Cheap Meat??

The BBC are running an item this morning about sheep, cattle, pig and bee stealing.

See the video report here.

BBC - Search results for sheep stealing

The pig farmer in the report is near to where we live and the details had been in our local paper the week before last. It really saddens me to see that we are getting to the point where we are going out and stealing food, or stealing animals for meat to make a quick profit somewhere.

The other issue which worries me even more though, is if these animals are being stolen to go into the UK food chain, either as fresh meat or to be incorporated into meat products, under what circumstances are they being slaughtered and stored? Are the meat carcasses being stored properly, at the right temperatures, in clean conditions?

I made what I felt was a mistake I learned from some years ago, one which I have never repeated. I bought some meat from a van at a car boot sale. It was supposed to be pork. It looked like pork, but when I cooked it later that day, it had a funny smell and was a strange colour. It went straight in the bin, we had egg and chips for dinner and I had paid hard earned money for heaven knows what.

Now I am not saying that all mobile butchers at car boots and markets are vending unfit meat - far from it, at one of my local regular car boots there is a very reputable butchers that sell there and have been doing so for at least 10 years that I know of. But it does concern me that if I was on a low income or looking to grab a bargain, I might again be tempted to go for what seems like cheap meat and in actual fact its either not cheap because its ends up being thrown away (as did my strange pork) or more worryingly might actually be unhealthy or contaminated in some way.

The last item in the video really did make me sad. It looked at bee hives which had been stolen, 18 of them. The bee population is already in decline for reasons we are not totally sure about, to steal hives and some of them were breeding hives is awful. Without bees we cant survive, no pollination equals no food.

How sad must that bee keeper be feeling? I spoke to Malcolm my bee keeping friend this morning abut it and he was really angry. He has been looking after 10 hives over the winter, 7 of them for other people. Out of 10 hives only 2 have made it through to the spring and even then the numbers of bees are dramatically down for what he would normally expect to see at this time of year.

I can only sympathise with the farmers and the bee keepers and hope that this stealing stops, for all our sakes.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Old friends - New Uses

In the short time we were at home this weekend I changed 2 old friends into items more fitting for their aged status.

My old towelling dressing gown became about a years supply of dishcloths.

My old sweatshirt became a lovely supply of polishing cloths.

The lovely thing about this is that 1. I have re-used 2 items for some other purpose rather than just throwing them in the bin or sending them to the charity shop and 2. When I have finished with them after cleaning or polishing, as they are both made of 100% cotton, they can go into the compost bin to rot down. As I use only natural products for washing and polishing, I don't have any worries about unsafe chemicals getting into the compost and affecting my fruit and vegetables later on.

I also spent the morning polishing my welsh dresser - much, much overdue. I make my own beeswax polish and it was very theraputic bringing the shine back to the pine. Plus there was the added benefit of the beeswax and lavender polish wafted through the whole house, beautiful ! I am very lucky that I have a good friend who is a beekeeper and I am able to get beewax and honey straight from him. Thank you Malcolm x

The polish is in the jar at the front of the photo of my cleaning materials.

The recipe for the Beeswax Polish that I make is:-

2 oz (55g) beeswax - grated up or sliced
1/2 pt (280ml) pure turpentine - must be pure turps, not turps substitute
about 1/4 0z (7g) of essential oil - I use lavender, but lemon works just as well

The first think to be aware of with this recipe is that turpentine is flammable, very flammable, so be aware of this fact and if you haven't made polish before I would suggest that you have a damp tea towel to hand just in case of emergencies.

I use a saucepan as a bain marie, a quarter filled with water.

Using the wide mouthed jar - the one I use originally held salsa I think - I place the grated or sliced beeswax in the jar and carefully add the turps.

Then I place the jar into the water and gently heat it. Whilst the water is heating, stir the mix to held the beeswax melt.

When the beeswax has totally melted, turn off the heat and add the essential oil and mix thoroughly.

Leave to cool down - I usually leave the jar in the saucepan until the water has cooled right down, to prevent the possibility of scalding myself when lifting the jar out.

Once the polish has completely cooled, screw on the lid.

This polish is not a very hard one, but once applied and buffed up well with a soft cloth, really brings out a shine to any furniture.

I wouldn't suggest using it on a wooden floor as it may be too slippery to safely walk on. Oh, and I also keep separate utensils for making polish or any other cleaning things not ones I would use with food.

This is the cleanest my dresser has looked in ages !

Saturday, 18 April 2009


I feel sad and somehow ashamed tonight. Himself and I managed to escape from site for about 18 hours so we came home - hurrah.

Himself who has had one hell of a shitty week, has got a swollen ankle and had understandable positioned himself in his comfy chair, remote control in hand to catch up with the TV which he hasn't seen all week and decided that he would like an Indian take away for tea.

No problem, the Indian is only about 3 minutes walk away, so, leaving him to watch the sports results I nipped up the road. I know that our Indian is always busy at this time on a Saturday, so I was quite prepared to sit up a corner with an old newspaper and catch up with whatever has been happening locally this month.

The Take-away has just been converted into a restaurant as well and they have made a lovely job of it - nice tables, high backed Mackintosh style leather look chairs and nice candle holders and flower arrangements on each table.

After I had placed my order, I settled myself up a corner and started to read the paper when in came two women, one a little younger than my self and the other apparently her mother. They gave their take away order and sat at the next table to me. The one my age immediately pulled the opposite chair around and sat with her sandaled feet on it whilst proceeding to cough every few minutes, without putting her hand to her mouth. They talked loudly about her mothers up and coming operation (nice) and still the daughter carried on coughing all over the table that she was sat at, her feet still on the chair that somebody else would be sitting at later.

Then, in strolled three teenagers, two boys and a girl, all complaining loudly that their meal should be ready by now and that the service was 'f'ing shit' The manager went through to the kitchen to hurry their order up, whilst the one young fella stood laughing, telling his mate to look out for him in the local paper next week as he had just been done for driving a car without a licence or insurance. He sounded almost proud of himself.

I'm not perfect in anyway shape or form, believe me I'm not, but I came out of the Indian saddened, ashamed and embarrassed of not just the young man who thought he was so clever and would have his mates see the results of his capers splashed across the newspapers, but of a woman almost my age, and her mother, who did not have the good manners to see that putting dusty feet on a restaurant chair, or coughing all over a table were the actions of a person who did not care at all about anybody who came into the restaurant and sat or ate at that table later.

I came back home ready to sell up and move to a desert island. Maybe its me I don't know, but I do look at life lately and think that many people are getting less friendly and more aggressive, less caring, more selfish and just plain ruder.

Maybe it is me, I don't know anymore......

Then to make matters worse, the Indian forgot to include my order and I had to go back again..........

Friday, 3 April 2009

Digging For Victory

The wartime Dig for Victory campaign is just as appropriate now as it was during the Second World War. I have always grown some of the food that we eat. The varieties and the quantities have changed as my life has changed, but the urge, the need to be able to provide something fresh, untouched by chemicals and produced only a few feet away from my kitchen has always been strong and in recent years has grown stronger and stronger.

I have always wanted to be able to have an acre of land to play with - room for livestock, room to grow some of their feed and room to expand the varieties and types of food and vegetables that could be produced for us to eat.

But as the years have passed and my dream remains unfulfilled, I have to get to grips with the fact that I have to make the best of the space that I have. I cant tell you how much growing room I do have - I need to measure up properly and then I can establish a more realistic growing plan than the adhoc one that I have used for the past couple of years. With inter cropping in the flower beds I probably have more room that I think I have.

Chickens I really do want to have, but the difficulty is that with me and Himself working away from home so much, most of the care would fall onto my son who lives at home with us, and whilst he is keen to go ahead, Himself is holding fire a little longer. I'll keep working on it.........:-)

Over the past couple of years I have already planted in the garden 3 apple trees, 2 pear trees, a plum tree and a cherry tree. We also have raspberries, strawberries, a red gooseberry, a red currant, a blackcurrant, 3 blue berries, a blackberry, 2 grapevines, 3 rhubarb and a kiwi fruit. The pears, kiwi and cherry have not yet fruited, but all the others have. We have had lovely fresh fruit and the surpluses have been made into jams and pie mixes.

Vegetables grown so far over the past few years have included early potatoes, peas, runner beans, french beans, onions, beetroot, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, spring onions, radishes, garlic, sweetcorn, swede, broccoli and cabbage - although none of these bar for the beetroot and cooking onions have been adequate to see us through to the next growing year.

So this year is planned as a year of change and improvements to what, how and the amounts that we are growing, however the added difficulties that being away from home for work I do see as a problem, but I think part of that is me being a little negative because I want to be at home....not out on the road or stuck in a hotel when I would rather be in the greenhouse !

So this weekend as we are going home (hurrah!) I want to take some photos of the growing areas (deepbeds) and work out my planting schedule for this year. I'll try and draw out the plant in a readable format and post it on the blog early next week.

Many of my veggie plants are already in the greenhouse, being watered or drowned depending on amount of time that number two son has when he goes down with the watering can. Other veggies are being lovingly tended down here on site by me - the subcontractors think it is hilarious that there are trays of seeds sitting outside their canteen and that up in Himself's office on the window sill, is my propagator complete with seed trays. I have caught Himself twice this week already, lifting the lids to peek inside and see if the little green shoots have broken the compost yet. He makes me smile when he is caught, He always tries to make out he is checking if the tray needs more water.....I know he is really quite excited and cant wait to see what comes up first.

So, with a bit of luck, we should be home about 8.00 tonight (traffic depending) and by 8.10, complete with a cuppa I shall be inspecting the greenhouse. Bliss, sheer bliss.

Remember, Dig for Victory - your own personal food victory ! It is just as important now, if not more important, as we wander through these uncertain times of financial difficulties, job losses and peak oil issues. The more that we as individuals can do for our selves, the more in control of our own food productions and destinies we become.

Have a good weekend, and if you can, get out in the fresh air and plant something, even if its just a pot of herbs for the window sill.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Insect bites

Despite having been on antihistamines for the past 24 hours, my extra boob and elbow are still red hot and itchy and have spread further. Himself (ex paramedic ) has drawn a bright blue line across my arm ( I refused to let him draw on my boobs!) to measure if the swelling expands any more (I do hope that it wasn't a permanent marker that he used......)

I keep trying to convince him that this is 'normal' for me, but the suspicious look he gave me sort of made me think he didn't believe me.....

It did make me stop and think though. If something so tiny that I couldn't even see it with the naked eye, can pack such a punch, then what the hell could the thing do if it was our size for heavens sake? Doesn't bear thinking about does it.

Off to have a nap. And hope my thin blue line hasn't increased when I wake up as I have been promised a trip to casualty if it has......oh joy......

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

I have 3 Breasts !!

Well, that what it looks like now that the insect bite I acquired yesterday has spread and spread - my cleavage is no more !

Also have a bite on my arm which now goes from my elbow almost to my fingers and my whole arm is throbbing....I should know better, I have this everytime I get bitten and the pharmacist last year advised me to make sure I always have antihistamine tablets with me, which of course I didn't yesterday ! If I had a brain I'd be dangerous! Duh.

Am off to make a bicarb poultice to take the sting and the itch away, then I'm off to the chemist. I wont show him both bites though, only the one on my arm, don't want to scar the poor man for life !

Water Part One

Living in the motorhome and having only a small kitchen and bathroom, means that our daily water use is quite low compared with the amount used in a normal house. Also having to carry it in bottles from a standpipe as we are doing at present means that you become quite aware of how much water you using because I have to go back and re fill the bottle if we run out instead of just turning on a tap and watching the washing up bowl or kettle fill up. Or the toilet flush.

The motorhome does have an on board watertank and water heater, but the water heater packed up last September and we punctured the hose leading from the tank to the heater trying to repair the problem our selves s until we can get the vehicle to the repairers which is back home, all hot water for washing, showering and cooking has to be boiled.

Showering currently consists of using a camping shower bag – basically a heavy duty plastic bag with a small length of hose and a mini shower head on the end. It’s not at all like showering at home, but we do get wet enough to get clean and that’s the main thing. We might be living a slightly itinerant lifestyle, but it does not mean that we don’t have personal standards!

Because the motorhome sink is quite tiny, I had to find a small washing up bowl to use. This proved tricky as the depth of the sink isn’t very deep and I wanted to be able to leave the bowl in the sink when not in use and still be able to replace the slot in work top piece. I eventually found a plastic cake box which fits perfectly. I use about 4 pints of water when I wash up – not much compared with using a standard bowl back home or using a dishwasher, but its effective.

I tend to put the washing up water down the toilet rather than the sink. One of the reasons for this is that the motorhome has a holding tank for waste grey water, and although the drain tap is left open when we are on site and any waste water drains into an external waste water tank, which is emptied daily, the onboard tank gas a gap between the bottom of the tank and the drain tap of about 1 ½ inches. This means that there is always a residue of water left in the tank even if it appears empty. If grey water is left in there, it soon starts to smell and this percolates back up the pipes into the sink, washbasin or shower. To keep all the plugholes and the grey water as fresh as possible in the onboard tank, I flush lemon juice and a kettle full of boiling water down each of the plugholes each day when I am here – Himself tends to forget when he’s on his own !

The toilet is a cassette type. This means that all the waste matter goes into another tank and a liquid is added which helps to break down the waste and should keep the contents from smelling too much. Some motorhomes and caravans have another tank which fresh water is added to for flushing the toilet, but ours doesn’t, so we keep a bottle of clean water in the bathroom and flush as necessary. I do have very serious concerns about the chemical liquid which is added to make the toilet waste break down. It is formaldehyde based and is bright blue in colour. It is one of the few chemicals which we use in our day to day activities and I keep trying to find a more environmentally friendly liquid, but the couple of herbal replacements which are on the market don’t seem to be as efficient and are more expensive. I have experimented with a couple of home made alternatives, but as yet haven’t been as successful as I want to be. If you have a ‘recipe’ for a chemical toilet replacement, please, please let me know !!

The average UK home uses about 150 litres of clean water per day. Living this way we currently use less than 15 litres most days – about 10%. However this doesn’t take into account machine washing which is done at home at weekends, but I always use a full load, wash at low temperature and use home made laundry soaps and natural conditioners which allows me to use the grey water for the garden or green house. If I need to do any hand washing whilst we are away, I have a large lidded tub in which I put the water, clothes and laundry soap and I stick the tub in the boot of the car when I go shopping. The movement of the car agitates the clothes a bit like the washing machine would, so when I come to actually wash the clothes, some of the hard work has already been done for me and it is just a case of a quick dunk, rinse and hang up to to drip dry (Himself is far better at wringing clothes out than I am, he has bigger stronger hands), and again the used water goes to flush the toilet.

Having to fetch and carry the water that you need on a day to day basis really does focus your mind on ways to reduce the need for the physical activity of fetching it – water is heavy. That in itself focuses me to find ways to reduce our overall use of what is such a precious commodity.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Plant and compost update

The compost is beautiful, absolutely gorgeous !!! Lots of very well rotted leaf mould and compost mixed - whoever the person was that set up the two compost areas knew what they were doing and although I am the very lucky person who is reaping the rewards, I cant help but feel very sad for the prior owner. I have no idea who the person was who loved their garden so, but I have a mental picture of a lovely old man pottering about, cap on his head, old worn terracotta pot in one hand, trowel in his other, looking for just the right place for what ever plant he had lovingly raised in the pot he is holding, having just come out of (the now smashed to bits ) his beloved greenhouse. This mental picture, romantic as it is I carry around in my head as I survey the remains of the gardens each day to see what other little suprises have sprung up over night.

I keep checking the landscape planting plan that has been supplied for the site when it is finished - and it breaks my heart to see that nearly all the shrubs and plants that are here now are not to be kept - they will just be grubbed up and new ones planted in their place. So, as I potter and explore and take cuttings and carefully dig up, I hope that the old man, who ever he was, is happy that somebody cares about his plants the way that he did, and that he doesn't mind too much that some of them will have happy new homes where they will be loved and appreciated as much as he did.

I will take some photos later in the week. For now I am back home for a night and a day, curtesey of the nice AA man with the big truck. Himself's car is now at the car doctors having a new fuel pump fitted.......nothing to do with me Guv, honest, I didnt break it.

Back down to building site later tonight if car is fixed. Yippee !! means I get an unexpected few hours in the greenhouse - much needed as Himself and I couldn't come home this weekend as he had to work all of it. Just a damn shame that my lovely man cant be here too...........

Friday, 20 March 2009

Well, when I told himself what I had found that I wanted, he looked at me as if I had gone daft. You see, I tend to forget at times that his previous wife was one of those women who spend most of their time and money on hairdressers, beauty treatments, manicures, pedicures, new clothes - you get the picture. Me, well I spend most of my life in a pair of scruffs, no makeup and go to the hair dressers when I need to, not when I want to. My idea of HELL is to be taken clothes idea of HEAVEN - let me loose in a garden centre or bookshop and you have got me for life.

So for me to tell him the one thing that I had found which had really cheered me up after being so fed up with other peoples lack of respect for his hard earned money was this......

Can you tell what it is?

Or this?

Let me explain. The site that he is building on used to be three old houses and their gardens. Around the perimeter of the site are many beautiful oak trees all with tree preservation orders on them. This means that they have to be sectioned off from any possible damage by the works that are going on. At the bottom of the site when I had a wander around the other evening I found an old greenhouse all smashed up, I'm guessing by the demolition crew when they moved in to clear the site. The glass is lying in bits and the remains of a couple of growbags are still visible. It made me feel really sad to see somebody else's garden treated with such little respect. Anyway as I carried on mooching about, I found treasure like you wouldn't believe ! If I had been given a thousand pounds I couldn't have been more happy

Have you worked out what the two photos are yet? No?

They are two beautifully rotted piles of compost, hidden away at the back of what had been the greenhouse.

After looking at me as though I was crazy and realising that yes, I probably am to him, he agreed that we could bag it up and bring it home for the deep beds. I am in Heaven !!

I looked at the horticultural plans for the finished site this morning as I had also found some plants and shrubs still remaining tucked away in odd places. None of them are mentioned on the finished site plans, which means that when the landscapers come to carry out the planting plan that has been agreed, many of these old plants will be oiked out and gotten rid of. If they are still here by then that is......

The remains of the greenhouse and a forsythia against the fence

We are going home for the weekend and I will be back with lots of black bags for the compost!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The past few days

The weather has been absolutely glorious the past couple of days, more like May than March. Himself and I had a lovely weekend at home, I pottered in the garden and got the greenhouse a little more tidy and he DIY'd a couple of jobs that he had wanted to do for ages, it really felt good to be alive, however by Sunday lunchtime both Himself and Son number 2 were both going downhill with that Sunday 'haven't got my homework done for school tomorrow' feeling and I left one depressed 24 year old at home and drove another 50 something back down to where he is working. The car journey was quite quiet as we were both lost in our thoughts of not wanting to leave home again, and me also with thoughts of the new job that I start in a few weeks time. Then on a Sunday night I might not be travelling back with Himself, but might be setting off in another direction entirely to spend the night in a hotel before work in the morning somewhere between Norwich and Southampton and all points East (only a little area then.....) Ho hum.....

Went to the enormous garden centre near where Himself is working yesterday as a cheer myself up measure. I'd got quite annoyed the night before and was stewing on matters. We have two people close to us that we have lent money to in the recent past, one amount was 1500 pounds (we have managed to get 900 back since last June) and the other is a 600 pound deposit that was put down on a flat for somebody. The person with the flat has now moved out and although the rental agency is ready to return the deposit to us, they are waiting for final meter readings to be sent to them. This doesn't appear to have been done so far, and as such we cant get our deposit back and there is no apparent sense of urgency or thoughtfulness on the part of the borrower as to the fact that we might actually need the money back! Himself is also concerned that maybe the final bills haven't actually been paid, however my comments that the person concerned should concentrate on paying essentials first and not think of things such as holidays abroad and expensive birthday treats for his wife, didn't go down tooooo well, even thought Himself knows that I am speaking the truth.

The final act that pissed me off to the point where my Lovely wonderful Husband handed me the only money he had in his pocket and suggested I go to the garden centre to cheer myself up, was when the borrower of the 1500 pounds phoned him on Monday night for a chat and happened to drop into the conversation that he had bought a new 42 inch tv set for his kitchen / dining room. Now I am not one to begrudge somebody a new TV if they need it, I know that TV is this persons passion, but he already has 4 x 42 inch TVs in the house (1 in each bedroom and 1 in his wife's lounge )and has an even bigger one in his lounge! I was not a happy bunny Monday night let me tell you. How do some people sleep at night, KNOWING they are in debt to friends and family? And seemingly oblivious to the fact and more importantly not seeming to care - I really don't understand it.....

So I went to the Garden Centre yesterday. It was absolutely heaving with people, but what a lovely atmosphere. It was lovely to see so many people out and about enjoying the good weather and being happy and contented doing it ! I bought some fushia's and a six pack of lavender. I didn't use Hubby;s money though as my lovely sons always give me gardening vouchers for xmas and I used one of those. Seeing the last couple of vouchers tucked away on my purse gives me a lovely warm feeling - they are my 'comfort blanket' - I know that I can slip away if life gets too shitty and dream of what I might buy.

When I came back I handed Himself his money back and gave him a big hug for being so thoughtful and unselfish - he knew I was upset and he knew that we cant change the situation without causing additional problems (wont go into that now) so he did the only thing he knew he could do, even though he was upset too.

I wouldn't change this man for all the tea in China !

I have however found something which really did cheer me up. Himself looked at me as if I had lost my marbles totally when I told him what it was.

I'll update you later in the week with photos !

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Library Book sand Reading

I love reading, absolutely adore it. I could read before I went to school (not trying to sound like a smart arse ) I think I just KNEW somehow the delights that books would hold for me. I started school in the January, as my birthday was in November - everybody else had started in the September and had already made their friends, so I felt a little left out of things at first.

I sat there for the first few weeks, pretty quiet in class. It was a lovely old fashioned village school and the head mistress lived in the school house which was attached.

Mrs Davies my teacher seemed a large lady to a little squirt like me and I couldn't understand why she spent every morning going through the alphabet with us all, getting us to repeat the letters and then sing them all together. I stared at the book rack in the corner and wanted to go and explore but that was only allowed on Friday afternoons.

Mrs Davies had given me a book to learn to read, but it was too easy and I put it in my desk and didn't look at it again. She shouted at me one morning and I couldn't understand why? She was cross because I hadn't taken the book home with me to practice reading with my mom. I didn't say anything, just burst into tears and went and hid at break time in the cloakroom behind the coats. When I was eventually found I was told off again and made to sit in the corner, behind Mrs Davies desk. I didn't like sitting there facing all my class mates who were pulling faces at me, so I turned away. On top of a pile of books and papers on the desk was a much more interesting looking book than the baby one I had been give, so I gently edged it over to me and quietly turned the page and started reading to my self. I lost my self in that book and didn't hear Mrs Bloomfield the juniors teacher come into the class. She must have spotted me in the 'naughty 'corner and asked Mrs Davies what I had done, then she saw me reading the book from Mrs Davies desk and she gently asked me if I liked it. I liked her, she was gentle and smelled of lavender. I said I did and she asked me what the book was about. I told her the part of the story that I had already read and she glanced at Mrs Davies. Then Mrs Bloomfield asked me if I would read her the page that I was looking at, so I did.

From that day I was although I stayed in Mrs Davies class for another 2 years, I was allowed to choose books from the Juniors book rack, and not the infants:-)

I have never lost my love of reading, never will do, so the first thing that I do when Himself is sent to a new site, in a new area is join the library. They are such a useful place ! For a book-a-holic its like being let loose in a sweety shop, all these new things to try. Plus as well, I can usually access the internet there, often free of charge if I want to check emails or surf the web. Most libraries will order books for you if there is something you want that they dont have and also there are DVD's to hire.

Another useful thing is the local information, whats on, where to go, doctors, etc. The librarians are always helpful, and if they cant answer a question, you can be sure they will always try and find the answer elsewhere.

So, I would advise anybody to join their local library, it is such a useful resource and its free in most cases!! A godsend in these cash strapped times, especially when a book-a-holic needs a fix.!

Monday, 9 March 2009

The Future Little Addition

This is my 16 week old future grandbaby. Son number 1 is over the moon and he and his partner are SO excited.......takes me back to when he was that size.......bless him !

When he he was born, he was shouting and screaming before even the rest of him was pushed out into the world and he hasn't stopped talking since ! Son, if you are reading this, I have a big smile on my face remembering you as a baby will come to have as many wonderful times and memories as I have xxx

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Going Home!

Hurrah! its Saturday morning and with luck we should be going home late lunchtime.
It only give us about 24 hours at home before we turn around and come back, but at least its HOME and not more time spent on a damn building site. I might even get an hour in the greenhouse in between, washing, ironing, cooking and just 'being' at home. And I get to give the 'hairy monster' also known as Jock as big cuddle - he's not allowed down here on site with us as for some reason there is a no dogs clause on this build, so sales have to make any prospective purchaser aware of this.

I love my home.......

Friday, 6 March 2009

Cooking away from home

The kitchen facilities in the motorhome are extremely small and basic. I have two gas rings and a small sink, a slow cooker, Oh, and also shoved in a cupboard above my bed is a small grill/oven thing which only has one temperature, which does make for interesting times if I am baking ! Especially as I have to take it out of the cupboard to use it and set it on the sink, or on the bed.

I cook from scratch most days and we don't eat ready meals or take aways. However the limited cooking area does make for thoughtful ways to do some things, particularly when at times we don't have any electric and everything has to be cooked on just two rings maximum. (Storage is also an issue - there isn't any room to store the numerous pots, pans and dishes that might be in the average kitchen - my equipment consists of small saucepan, medium saucepan, steamer baskets, 1 frying pan and an old pan that is used for deep frying. I have a fish slice, slotted spoon, soup ladle and a wooden spoon. A set of 4 plates, 4 bowls, 4 small plates and 4 mugs makes up my kitchen equipment. Also due to lack of space, most things are smaller than you would find in the average kitchen, small waste bin, small kettle, small saucepans, small storage reused jars. Oh and a small fridge too !

Being a small area means that I have to keep it washed and tidy - I don't have the room or the equipment to leave about and wash up when I am ready. However, as the sink is under part of my work area, this causes its own problems. Currently we don't have the luxury of running water, so all water has collected in bottles from the site standpipe and has to be heated on the stove or if we do have electric, in the electric kettle in advance of being needed i.e. if I am boiling or steaming vegetable.

One piece of kit which Himself came across one bored afternoon when we were out playing tourist in a previous area of residence is my 'worktop'. Its a metal tray with fold up legs and when not in use it lives in the wardrobe. It has been an absolute godsend as it means that 1. I have an extra work area, which is used for anything from holding the washing up while I am actually washing it, acts as a plating up area for the meals and 3. is also my pastry table if I am baking 4.It means I have somewhere to put hot pans when I take them off the rings to put something else on them.For £2.50 it has to be one of our best recycled bargains I can remember.

One of the ways that I manage to cook from scratch each day is to use the steamer quite often, although it does take some planning. I can cook (steam) chicken, new potatoes, carrots, peas and broccoli, along with a small steamed pudding in the base, all on one gas ring. If we have electric I always boil the water in that before putting it in the steamer as the bottled gas never seems to get things as hot as town gas does. This also leaves me a gas ring to make custard on if I need it. The steamer water is used for making gravy, so cooking this way is quite economical too.

This way of cooking isn't just how I cook here, in my small space and with limited resources, its the way I have always cooked at home. Other methods that I use are thermos flasks and hay boxes, but more about those another day.

So although we are limited in some ways as to how and where we eat, we eat well, we eat healthily and we do so with less resources than some people have. We also recycle as much of our waste as we can, the same as we do at home. All cans, milk bottles, paper and cardboard is taken home to be added to our recycling bins - the paper and cardboard goes to the compost bin. Any glass jars tend to be used for jam and pickle making, or if the right size are used in the motorhome to store dry stuff. The two jars by the taps in the photos are used coffee jars and now refilled with tea and coffee. We have a wormery at home, so if I can I take food waste back home too as we have to be careful that we don't attract rats when we are on a site, as usually when building starts there are always rats nest that are found. I have experimented with a small mobile wormery on site with us before, but it wasn't hugely successful, (my fault) but I shall have another go once the motorhome is in its settled place here which should be in the ext few weeks.

Well I'm off to make tea, as Himself will be coming in soon wanting his second breakfast of the day. All builders seem to have two breakfasts, one at 6.00ish and a second one about I'd rather have a cake or a bar of chocolate any day !

Thursday, 5 March 2009

I had my second interview on Monday. I had had to prepare a 30 minute presentation and Monday was also the day that Himself and I had to move our mobile residence (oh alright, small motorhome) to his new site. We were up and 5.00 am and had to move about 35 miles to the new site and when we got there the ground workers had already been at work for several weeks and the concrete slabs that the 20 flats will be built on, had already been laid. But it is an incredibly small site - there is hardly any storage space for materials and all unloading has to be done on the road side. The local residents of the street that the site is situated on must be sick to death of being held up already.

There was no electricity laid on when we got there. As far as getting us settled in, its not a problem. We have gas in the motorhome and wind up lights and others with re chargeable batteries, so I can manage as far as heating, tea making and lighting is concerned However its not particularly useful when you need to use a laptop who's battery life is only abut 40 minutes on a good day.

By 11.00am I had already had to move the motorhome 3 times and I was starting to get a little bit frazzled around the edges as I started to panic that I wasn't going to get the presentation finished. I had gone into the small village where we are to see if they had a library where I could use a computer if necessary - they had a library, but its only open 3 half days a week and Monday wasn't one of them.

An oasis unit turned up for the sub contractors to use - mobile office, canteen and toilets with a gas powered generator. Hurrah ! The driver very very skillfully unloaded this very large metal box, fired up the gas, provided electricity for the unit and then went. I moved the motorhome again, plugged us into the spare socket so that I had electricity for the laptop and sat down to complete the presentation, panickly aware that time was running out to get finished, plus I needed to have a shower, wash my hair and get changed and be out in about 35 minutes tops!

I made it by the skin of my teeth, and somehow managed to get to the interview 10 minutes early. I think I managed to hide how frazzled I was feeling inside as I went through the presentation, answered umpteen questions and then finally get back to more chaos here on the building site and one very very cheesed off Husband. The gas bottles in the oasis unit had run out and there was no electricity again! Again, not so much a problem for us, but for the guys who need a drying room to get their work gear dry and warm for the next days work. Nobody was answering the phone at Himself's head office, so he couldn't order any more bottles ready for the following day ( they were eventually delivered at 10 minutes to five the following afternoon after Himself had made 4 phone calls trying to get his office to pull their fingers out).

Anyway, I received a phone call on Tuesday to say that they wanted to offer me the position! I was really suprised as I thought I had probably blown it the day before by being so rushed when I put the presentation together. There are so many people who are losing their jobs right now and many many people are seeing their whole lives changing and in many ways I feel guilty because I have this lovely opportunity and if it all goes well and I can keep up with everything (there is a hell of a lot of travelling involved and over nights away from 'home')then we should be able to get much of this damn debt paid off if Himself's job stays OK for the length that this build is supposed to take.

But as I said before is a previous posting, I do have real doubts about taking the job. I think, after much thought and soul searching over the past week, I am being selfish and possibly a bit of a wuss about everything. I know I am lucky to have this opportunity, I am lucky to be getting a job offer when many people are losing their work, but a big part of me is sad that I am leaving the simper life style that we have developed over the past few years and I am back to selling my soul to the devil in order to be part of a lifestyle that I, we, don't want, but have to subscribe to in order to get debt free once and for all.

I have about 5 weeks before I start the new job, I'm hoping that I can spend some time at home - I want to get the freezer filled with home make meals, I want to get the veg and fruit garden underway for this year, and I have some sewing projects that I want to try and get completed, otherwise I will be taking things with me to sew by hand in various hotels around the country.

I'm sure there must be hundreds if not thousands of people who must be wishing that life was simpler right now and money or debt wasn't a big issue in their life. My heart goes out to people who right now aren't as fortunate as I am.....

I have to look positively at this great opportunity and see it for what it is, a great opportunity..

Friday, 27 February 2009

Gypsy Caravan

I wish I had had the camera with me today. I had dropped Himself off at a meeting at his head office and when he called me two hours later to say that he was going to be in meetings all day - well what was I to do with myself but find a garden centre or two to visit......

I went over to a garden centre that I used to visit about three years ago when Himself was building houses near Horsham. On the way there, parked on a wide grass verge, right next to heavy passing traffic was a green gypsy caravan. A proper one, the sort that you see in old films and in magazines. Tied to it by a long robe was a black collie cross dog and a horse was tethered by a peg in the middle of the grass and was quite contentedly munching away. Walking a little way away from the caravan was a man whom I guessed was the owner. He had a bow saw in his hand and was heading towards an area where there are lots of over grown sapplings.

When I came back the same way after going to the garden centre, the man had got a small fire lit on the grass near the van, with a tripod arrangement over it with a hanging pot over the fire. He was sat near the van and it looked like he was skinning a rabbit. He, the horse and dog all seemed totally unbotherd by the traffic whizzing past - they were just getting on with life. Their way,

The scene I have just described got me thinking on the drive back to collect a very tired and stressed husband up. We (the supposedly civilized human race) are so stressed, so worn down, so damn worried about our lives and the credit crunch, lack of money, losing our homes, not having the latest this and that and here was was this man and his 'family' not appearing to care about anything, just going abut their lives 'their way.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying his way is right and our way is wrong, or vice versa, or that morally or legally we should all throw caution to the wind and go and live where ever we choose without a care for anybody else in this muddled up world of ours. But it did make me think. Who has got the better way of life, who has got less stress, who probably give less of a damn for the bankers who have gotten us into our current crisis than we do? Its quite possible he may not even have a bank account to worry about

And at the end of the day who maybe has the better life? Us with our debts, fast cars, holidays abroad, over priced houses, latest mobile phone or ipods. Or him with his what appears to be a simpler life. I'm not sure I know any more.

But I do know two things for sure. His heavy horse was beautiful and if I could have stopped safely on the busy road I would have stopped and collected the horse muck for my deep beds. :-)

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Mixed Up

I feel really mixed up today. My head is all over the place and I feel confused and irritable. The reason? Well its a reason that I suppose really I should be pleased about. But I'm not. And I'm angry with myself because I'm not.

Does any of that make any sense? Probably not.

I have a second interview for a job on Monday. The first interview was this week and seems it went quite well, otherwise they wouldn't have called me back again to have the second interview next Monday.

The job is pretty well paid, I know what I would be doing - have done it before so that's nothing new, but, and here is the 'BUT' that I think is at the root cause of what is causing me the mixed up feeling, I would be doing an almighty amount of travelling again - up and out at 5 most mornings, not back much before 8 at night and possibly away from home a couple of nights a week. Its nothing new - I worked this way for several years, but I was younger then, my home circumstances were different and I had more energy......

More importantly and I think this is the real thing which is getting to me, I am already 'away from home' living with Himself most of the week in a caravan on the building site where he is based. So in effect I will be 'away from home ' twice over. Does that make any sense???

I am already missing home, my garden, my dog and my sons (one is 24 so he's not a baby, but he does still live at home, the other is to become a dad for the first time in August )and the thought of being away more is making me feel really down this morning.

I know, I know, I know that I should be eternally grateful that I have this opportunity of a second interview and the possibility of a paid job. I know that I should be viewing this as the opportunity to help get rid of this debt burden which is dragging us down. I know that I should be seeing this as a positive time in which I can help Himself move towards getting out of the job he is in, I know, I know, I know I should be looking at this positively, but this morning I feel down and mixed up but angry with myself for feeling like this. I also know that the company Himself works for have no intention of employing any labourers, so the work that I have been helping him with will have to be done by him somehow. That in itself adds more to his working day, but I cant continue indefinitely being an unpaid employee for a big company that has no consideration for their managers and thinks that 7 day week working should be 'normal' for them......

I'm probably being totally selfish and maybe I just need to give myself a good talking to and kick myself up the arse.......

I hate feeling confused.......

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Mother Nature's Sense of Humour

Mother Nature certainly has a very funny sense of humour!

Why on earth did she make West Highland Terriers white, when their sole purpose in life seems to be to get as black as possible, as quickly as possible !

Grow Your Own Drugs

Has anybody seen the trailer for this new series coming on BBC2?

It starts on the 2nd of March and is presented by James Wong. Its all about using herbal and natural remedies for treating ourselves.

As somebody who already uses quite a few natural and herbal remedies I am really looking forward to this show - should be really interesting. I cant find out if there is going to be a book to accompany the programs yet, but there will be a BBC website available nearer the time of the first program.

Its time for sowing.....

My fingers are itching to be opening the seed packets, but I am still away from home most of the week. For a compulsive gardener like me this is torture! I want, I NEED to be in the greenhouse right now. I need to feel the compost, I need to lay out trays, I need to sprinkle seeds and cover them over, I need to clean and switch on the propagators........

Being stuck on a building site in a small caravan is not where I want to be.

Hubbies job seems to be safe, for now....but because the company in its wisdom has not decided to get rid all its labourers, forklift truck drivers, banksmen and assistant managers, the managers that are left (only 12 out of 38 who were employed before xmas) are having to cover everybody else's jobs. I know, I know we should be grateful that Himself is still employed, but this is really difficult and I know I am going to be spending far more time down here than I usually do.

I wont be working myself in my own capacity for another month, so I wont be at home much.......and I wont be in my beloved garden and greenhouse. And even though I am getting to visit quite a few garden centre's (am not spending though as have more than enough seeds, trays ect to set up my own shop!) its more frustrating than anything else.......

Ho hum......moan over. Need to find away to feed my gardening needs. Only another gardener will understand this :-)

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

I am a very lucky lady. Truly I am.

I grew up on a smallholding, with parents who had coped well with wartime shortages, who knew how to make just about anything from anything.

We had chicken, pigs, the occasional duck (another story there for another day, rabbits and just about every vegetable and fruit that could be grown then (many of the so called tropical or more exotic fruit weren't grown as they just weren't available over here then - it would have been unthinkable to try to grow kiwi fruit when I was little !

My mom cooked everyday from scratch, she made jams, pickles, chutneys. She bottled fruit and vegetables, she dried pulses, she preserved in salt, she sewed, crocheted, and knitted pretty much everything that we wore. She decorated, she looked after the animals and she helped with the vegetable garden which was mostly under Dad's control. She also grew flowers to sell at the front gate - lupins, hollyhocks, gladioli, lillies and many more.

Dad had two huge greenhouses, both built by himself. One was always full of tomatoes, the other, red geraniums. I cant to this day look at a potted geranium and not think of him. The smell in the two greenhouses used to hit you as you walked in the door - fresh ripening tomatoes and the unique smell of the geranium leaves.

Dad was like Mom, he could turn his hand to anything and in fact had built the brick bungalow where we lived, by himself. He bought a set of drawings, found the acre of land and built our house, the pig stys, the sheds, the chicken house, the two huge green houses and the rabbit sheds all himself. His original idea had been to be as self sufficient as possible, but apparently swine fever hit his pigs early on the venture and he had to go out and get a full time job to rebuild the herd and supply an income to keep the family going.

I came into the equation very late in the proceedings. Mom was 44 and thought she was going through the change of life. To her understandable horror, she found out that she was five months pregnant! Dad was 50. My two sisters were 18 and 20 when I arrived on the scene, and as she had had what was known as 'white leg' after my next sister was born (thrombosis) and had spent most of my sister's first year in hospital, at 44, she was not very impressed to find out that she was going to be a mother again. (I do believe my father was threatened with castration round about this time.......)

Anyway, I appeared on the scene on my mothers birthday, a mere scragbag at five pounds in weight (damn well made up for it since ) and grew up with two of the most wonderful parents a girl could wish for. They were very different in personalities and seemed terribly 'old' to a child to a girl who's friends all had very young parents, but I loved them with all my heart and I know I was loved too - the little mistake who should never have been.

I don't think there is a day that goes by when I ask my self,what would Mom do with this, or how would Dad do that. I watched and I learned so much, without ever realising I was learning - everything was just ' how it was'. What is also so great is that I use so many of the skills I learnt then, every single day.

How lucky am I? SO LUCKY.

I had wonderful parents and I learned so much. I have two wonderful sons who are also my best friends and I have a wonderful soul mate in my husband who I get to spend a great deal of time with everyday.

Am I lucky? You bet your bottom dollar I think I am, and I count my blessings everyday !!!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Well, the stomach bug certainly wasn't fun. A couple of weeks on and neither of us are back to feeling 100%, so if anybody else has succumbed to this horrible bug, you certainly have my sympathies.

The building company that Himself works for put every one of its managers on notice of redundancy this week - it had been expected so wasn't really a shock. There are about 38 managers and assistant managers in hubbies region - the company want to slim this down to about 9 we think to continue with sites which are still at build (and more importantly selling ) stage. So he has had to fill out a questionnaire detailing why he thinks he should keep his job ect. He has an interview with his contracts manager on Tuesday next week and then there will be a second interview sometime later. Everybody should know by the 13th of Feb if they are being kept on (probably at a lower salary, less benefits package too) So we will have to wait and see.

On a slightly brighter note I have a job interview myself next week. However this is where it gets complicated, so I will try to keep this simple. Hubby has worked mostly in the Kent/London area for several years, Whilst he is working away we live in a caravan usually on the building site (or caravan site if we cant) However our home is in the midlands and I commute to be with him most of the week, coming home to see my son who lives with us and catch up with home chores, the garden ect as and when I can. However the job interview I have is for a company based in Chatham - seemed like a good idea when i applied (hubby in Kent, me in kent) now if he does get made redundant, he wont be working in kent and I wont have a home base there either (no job, no site to put caravan home base in kent.....) and 3 weeks before we know if hubby is going to be coming home permanently!

So, its at that time where you drive yourself crazy trying to work out all the possible options of how to deal with something that might never happen.....or might happen...

On another sadder note, I just wanted to say that Sharon over at Finding Simplicity has sadly decided to cease blogging for personal reasons. Sharon has been an inspiration to me over the time she has been writing her in blogland and I will miss my daily dose of her good sense and sensible thoughts. Come back soon !!

I'll be back soon.....somebody has drunk my tea and I need to go and make another one !