Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Urban Dreams Rural Realities. Book review.

I'm back. A bit of an argybargy going on in previous posts, eh. I leave you a few hours and look what happens. I'll go back and read the comments again, and add a few of my own. In the meantime, here is the book review.
I really enjoyed this book, if anyone is thinking of going down the self sufficiency route this book is a must read. It is a diary of a year in the lives of Dan and Bel, who were dissatisfied with the direction their lives were going, and made the change from city to countryside. They sold up their London flats and bought a remote and dilapidated farmhouse in Mid Wales. 
Dan was far more enthusiastic to embrace this new lifestyle than Bel, she wanted to give up many times. Slowly she also began to enjoy her surroundings, and got on with the job of growing vegetables, with gusto. The story is told in contrasting voices by each of the pair in turn, there is plenty of humour in it. Dan's ludicrous optimism is totally the opposite to Bel's pessimism.

They start by growing vegetables, catching and eating wild rabbits, then they buy ducks and an assortment of poultry, and two pigs which they reared for food. Any vegetarians might not like to read their emotional accounts of how the pigs were turned into food for the table.

As the story unfolds there are accounts of Dan's falconry, rats living in the roof space, how they turned tons of apples into juice and cider, foraging for mushrooms, dispatching the ducks for food, and salmon poaching in the middle of the night. Their son is born half way through the book which puts another dimension on things. At the end of the book they quickly fast forward a few years and a daughter is born.

A thoroughly interesting and entertaining story, and very well written, A joy to read.
Toodle pip.

For fast readers

Read this fast because I wrote it fast. Not checked for mistakes. Haven't got time.
Good morning. My apologies for the crap post last night, my airhead was empty. I could have expanded into why people eat what they do, do they eat with their eyes or do they let their brain make the decisions as to what to put in their mouth? I see there were some suggestions of what could be done to dried beans to make them more appealing, but in my book all that faffing about might make them look pretty but at the end of the day a bean is a bean is a bean, and it's good for you whichever way you eat it. As you have probably guessed I mostly eat what I think is good for me, with an occasional fall off the wagon., I am human and not perfect.

This has got me to thinking about how a lot of food which has been dressed up is not particularly healthy. It has been proved that takeaway convenience food is not good for your guts at all. Smells nice, looks nice, but enough to send your cholesterol sky high if you insist on shoving it down your throat. Why can't they make a scrumptious looking cake which is actually healthy? No fat, no salt, no sugar, what about a vegetable cake, please someone invent one, ha ha.

Why is it so hard to resist comfort food and eat with our eyes? You buy any pastry product, pies etc, from a shop and the filling is miniscule compared the the tons of pastry surrounding it. I had some cheese and onion pasties recently, only because they were reduced to 40p for six. My goodness, I needed a magnifying glass to find the filling. Looked nice but what crap.

If people enjoy fiddling with food in their own kitchen that's a nice hobby to have, at least you know what goes into it and can choose which ingredients to use. Only then do you have complete control over your own health and well being. I suppose I could make my own cheese and onion pasties, and bulk them out with vegetables, but I don't think pastry is particularly healthy and should only be eaten as an occasional treat. Portion sizes, now that's another thing. Oh don't get me started....I'll have to leave that for another day.

Anyway, I've got to dash, got to be somewhere else in half an hour. I had a bit of a lie in this morning, made a mug of coffee and went back to bed to finish a book. Now I've got to move my ass. I'll be back later with the book review. Toodle pip.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Fussy eaters

At last I have finished a packet of black eyed beans, they've been in the cupboard for ages. I soaked them overnight, then put them in the slow cooker this morning along with some carrots and onions and herbs and spices. I've been out all day so I was looking forward to having a ready cooked meal when I got back. The beans were cooked alright, but the carrots and onions weren't, so I put it all back in a pan and simmered it for another fifteen minutes on a gas ring. Then I blitzed it with the stick blender and made a kind of rough soup. I must say it looked horrible, and didn't taste very nice either. But not to worry, it's all good stuff in there, and I don't throw food away, so I ate half of it, and I have the other half to look forward to tomorrow.

I was at my friends house earlier as she was preparing the evening meal for her and her husband. We discussed what we like to eat, and she said she could never eat something that she didn't like the look of. Her food looked lovely, and I would have been happy to eat what she was dishing up, apart from the sausages that is. When I tucked into my gruel soup I smiled to myself, ha ha, she would have chucked the lot down the toilet rather than eat it. Some folks are a tad fussy aren't they. Toodle pip.

No secrets

It is exactly one year ago when I posted a photo of this man on my blog.
When I read back I now feel sick that my words were full of praises. I along with millions of others were taken in by this vile disgusting individual. I feel so sorry for his family and his victims. I hope heads will roll at the BBC and those who covered up his actions will be brought to justice. I hope also that this case will send a message to any young person who is or has suffered sexual, mental, or physical abuse from anyone, that they will find the courage to come forward and tell someone. Do not suffer alone.

Now is the time to strip this evil man of his Knighthood.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Bring on winter, I'm ready for it.

I am seeing whisps of steam coming from pipes sticking out of houses, a sure sign that the central heating is ticking over nicely filling the place with comforting warm air. I am seeing and smelling smoke coming from chimney pots all around the village as fires are lit to keep the cold at bay. Whatever happened to smokeless zones by the way?  Nothing like that going on in this house, I don't think it's that cold just yet.
But when it does get cold, this is me ready for it. The towelling bath robe goes on over the top of my three teeshirts, two sweatshirts, leggins and jog bottoms. My neck warmer and wrist warmers are fab, so snug. A wooly hat keeps my head warm. And look, I have found an old pair of slippers in the wardrobe which I thought I'd thrown out. Repairs have had to be made to the soles with sticky tape to stop them falling apart, but I will get a bit more wear out of them. Doncha think I look comfy  :o)
Toodle pip

Thinking of our friends across the pond

Good morning. Beautiful sunny morning here. I've just been reading up about Hurricane Sandy which is due to hit the east coast of the USA, it could be the largest storm ever to hit New York. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled, people are boarding up their properties, millions will be evacuated. My heart goes out to all those affected, I pray that they will be safe.

I have received an email from Elaine, she sent me the book of cat cartoons. I copy and paste it here.

Hello again, Ilona. Happy to read that the book got there finally. Seems as thought it must have been brought by a very tired carrier pigeon. Have fun giggling at the cartoons.

Upper Darby is just outside of Philadelphia. "Philly" is midway between New York and Washington and 90 miles from the seaside (Atlantic City) but no Salty Sam there.

We're all hunkering down, waiting for what the weather men are saying will be the biggest storm/hurricane/flood in recorded history. "Sandy" they're calling her. A couple of MILLION may end up being told or asked to evacuate! I'm terrified my home/house will get flooded again; it will be the fourth or fifth time, five or six feet or more of cloggy, slimy, stinky runny goo in the basement/cellar. Big losses, lots of damage. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Ta ta for now.

Please, everybody keep their fingers crossed for Elaine and everyone who may be affected. We moan about our miserable weather, yes it's unpleasant, yes it's miserable, but hell, we are so lucky not to be in the path of that frightening hurricane.

Thinking of you Elaine, keep in touch. Love from me and all our bloggy friends.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

No charge

What a rubbish weather day today. I've been out for a walk in between the showers, but spent most of the day indoors, sorting and tidying, and thinking how I might customise a broken car body panel.
It's the sort of weather which makes you think you need a treat to cheer yourself up. It's a good job I didn't take any money with me or I might have popped down to Tesco and blown a fiver on cream cakes.
When I got back I had a look in the cupboard for some comfort food. I know what I'll have. Half a tin of rice pudding warmed in the microwave, plus a few peach slices, topped with some grated dark chocolate, which I bought specially for the purpose of making puddings more interesting. Delicious. Now all I've got to do is save the rest of the chocolate to add to more puddings. That is going to test my will power, ha ha.
I am so excited, I must tell you about my first ever Annual Summary I received yesterday from my bank. Apparently I am going to receive one every year from now on. Look forward to that ;-) As well as all the waffle, it includes a list of charges for the past year. As you can see, half way down it says, 'Because of how you've managed your account. you've had no charges'. Eeeee by 'eck, is that right then, ha ha.
Does that mean no cheques have bounced, my very few direct debits have been covered, I haven't gone overdrawn, and I am in the black. WHOOPEEEEEE. This is cause for celebration. Please excuse my sarcasm, but I flippin know this, it has been like this for years.

I do like to keep my account nice and simple. Yes I get a statement every month, (gives the postman a job), I check it, I do not trust online banking, I go to the bank and take cash out when I need it, I monitor every damn penny that goes in and out of my account. So Barclays Bank, there must be millions of people out there who are just as carefull as I am, save a few trees, press a button on your computer and don't send any more of these statements out if there is a big fat 0,00 in the right hand column. Toodle pip.
PS. Welcome 501 and 502 :o)

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Time for winter coats

It was sunny but quite chilly when we set off for a walk today. We went in the car to South Ferriby, it's on the banks of the Humber, before you get to Barton and the bridge. Best keep the little fella warm.
We took a narrow tarmac road up the hill towards the quarry. This is where the conveyor belt crosses the road as it transports the crushed chalk from the quarry to the cement works down below.   
This is the top of the belt as it comes out of the shed at the quarry.
In the distance you can see Reeds Island in the middle of the Humber. This was occupied once, but no one has lived there for many years. I worked at the cement works as a bulk powder tanker driver for seven years. It was owned by Rugby Cement at that time. Now it is owned by Cemex.
Rocky has found a bench.Lucky he had his coat on, we got caught in a snow shower.  
Toodle pip.

Skip diving again

Good morning. Brrrr, it's cold outside, woke up to a snow storm this morning, I lay in a bit till 8am being as it's a weekend. But, hey look at it now, the sun has come out, still cold, but looking bright and cheerfull.
First I must say a very big thank you to Elaine who lives over the pond. Upper Darby, PA it says on the parcel, not sure where that is but it took 11 days to get here. She has sent me a very funny book, called Cats Cats Cats, a collection of great cat cartoons. Elaine, I've had a peek inside and had a titter, I can see that this book will be very entertaining. Thank you so much for your kind gift. I would like to copy a few of the cartoons here, but I don't think the copyright laws allow that, unless I get permission. I might sneak one or two in later.
Right, what have I got planned for the day? Some local walking, must get off the backside and get out there, and hey, look at this, I got some new toys to play with, ha ha.  
Inspired by my attempt to create an artwork out of an old bit of broken car, I have gone and got myself three new pieces. I called in a car body repair shop yesterday and asked if I could riffle through their bins. I'm sure they thought I was a bit mad, but they gave me permission and said be carefull there is glass in there. I suspect they didn't want me sueing them for injuries. There was lots of body panels to chose from so I picked out these three, thinking I musn't be greedy, and I don't want loads of them littering the house up in case they turn out crap and I give up on the job.

Aren't they great shapes, the silver one is similar to the one I have just done. The blue one is interesting, and I'm not sure if I might smash the big bumper into smaller pieces. I'll leave that one till last and wait for some inspiration. Now wracking my brains for some new ideas. The possibilities are endless, I fancy drilling holes in one of them and adding something to it. Hhhhmmmm, that's me pondering. I'm going to start by rubbing them down to take the shine off. I didn't do that before and the paint ended up a bit drippy looking. I want a better finish with these.

I like playing with stuff, you can't beat it if it is free stuff. A cheap hobby which costs virtually nothing. What are you doing this weekend? Whatever it is, enjoy.
Toodle pip.
PS. Don't forget to turn the clocks back tonight if you are reading this in the UK. If anywhere else in the world, don't bother :o))

Friday, 26 October 2012

Save money with a fast wash

I suppose it had to happen eventually. I ran out of clean pants today so I had to put the washer on. I don't normally wash things untill they are visibly dirty or start to smell, and as I wear mostly dark colours the only way I can decide if the time has come, is if my trousers take a walk by themselves, or by having a good sniff through the contents of my wardrobe. I have been known in the past to get caught out with an empty undies drawer, and had to fish out a pair of pants from the bottom of the linen basket, oh well, nobody will notice. C'mon, own up, I bet you have done that too, ha ha.
When I bought the washing machine I chose a particular setting which suited all my needs. I rarely read labels in clothing, if I do I ignore them. Most of my garments are bog standard day to day wearing anyway, teeshirts, sweatshirts, jog bottoms, walking trousers, casual jackets, socks and pants. I also don't spend a lot of time reading instruction manuals, so once I figured out what setting to wash on, that's where it stayed for everything. For the last five years the machine has been set on 'H', at 40 degrees, 3kg, wash for 1 hour 5 minutes, slow spin. I don't need twelve settings. When I had a twin tub I never bothered at all about temperatures, how much clothing to put in, how long to spin for. The hot water came out of the hot tap, I had no idea what the temperature was. Life was so much simpler with a twin tub, bung the clothes in the wash side, let them swish around for a while, transfer to spin side and spin till no more water came out. Empty washer and refill with cold rinsing water, rinse and spin again. Even though the whole operation was more labour intensive, there was no difficult decisions to make.    
Today I figured out a way to save money, so I got my instruction manual out again and changed my setting. Looking down the list it seems I can cut the washing time down by half, and lower the temperature. Now everything will get washed on 'L', 30 degrees, 3kg, fast wash 30 mins, slow spin. That should save quite a bit of electricity over the year. This will be much better for me, I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before.
Anyway, then I had the problem of drying it. It was murky, damp, and no wind outside so I hung it around the house.  

Then the sun came out so I moved it all outside to the washing line where it was blowing away nicely. Then I went out for a couple of hours and bugger me, the clouds came over and it rained. So now the washing is all back inside again. Ah well, I think I'll have to get the hair dryer out to dry a pair of pants for tomorrow, ha ha. Have a nice weekend. Toodle pip.

Ooooooh looookie  >>>>>>>>> I've hit 500 >>>>>>>>>> Welcome number 500

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Two blokes in a shed

That's the shopping put away, listed above in the food diary. I think I'll have a bit of a catchup with answering your questions, I seem to have got a bit behind. Thank you all for your concerns on whether I get enough treats. Maybe I should have bought a packet of  cheap Value biscuits, but I can't get it out of my head that junk food such as biscuits should only be eaten once in a blue moon, ie. rarely. I do sometimes buy flapjacks five for £1 from the Cash and Carry, but I have stopped going in there so often, too much temptation. I buy cartons of juice from there and I have enough at the moment, need to use up what I have.
I do allow myself the odd treat now and then. If you have treats all the time they are not treats. Last week I had a small bag of treacle toffee from Thorntons, but for every bag I have, there are at least 20 or 30 times when I walk past the shop and don't go in. I like to spread my treats out, sometimes if I am busy I don't even think about treats for several weeks. My cider is a treat, an ice cream is a treat, a small bar of chocolate is a treat, a bottle of wine is a treat. One treat a week or a fortnight is enough.
Gill asks how often do I normally go shopping. Gill I am not a normal person, I don't do normal things like go shopping at the same store at the same time on the same day once a week. I shop when I haven't got much food left. As fresh veg is the bulk of my eating I shop when I am very low, down to my last meal or two. I can't go more than a few days without my fix of fresh veg, so my shopping day could be any day of the week, and they are between seven and fourteen days apart. The shop I've just done was £17.76, which is slightly more than normal due to getting the cider, the oil, and three packets of sultanas, (they were on offer). My average basic spend is around £12 - £15 per week.  
Hi Jane, the book I am reading is called Urban Dreams Rural Realities, by Daniel Butler and Bel Crewe. It's a true story about two journalists who meet and fall in love and move to a smallholding in pursuit of the Good Life. They are poles apart, he is enthusiastic, she not so. They have three dogs, he has a falcon and two ferrets, then he buys two pigs. It's very entertaining, with a lot of humour, and it's well written. A bit like the TV series, The Good Life.
Christy, it's hard to describe what Quorn sausages are like. They have a similar texture to meat sausages, though probably a bit drier as they don't have fat in them. They don't have skins, and taste sort of spicyish. I grill mine, though you could fry them.
Hi Sue, you are right, I can't take it with me, but I am damned sure I am going to give it my best shot to spend it all before I go. I save up for what I really want and try not to fritter it away. I might shock you all and sell the house and head off on a world tour, ha ha.
Christy asks if I will be growing any veg for next year. Yes, I will be starting again in the spring with the basics, potatoes, beans, courgettes, carrots. The raised beds could do with some fresh manure, I think I know where I can get some hoss muck. Having my own veg in the garden cuts down on the frequency I need to go shopping. I won't be molly coddling it though, come the spring I want to be out and about again, the veg will have to sort itself out. 
Gill, you might have guessed by now that Louis Armstrong (Satchmo) played the trumpet. My dad thought he was brilliant. Judy, my dad did a lot of drawing, he used to be a guest cartoonist for a newspaper. Satchmo is done in pencil although it looks a bit like charcoal. Sarina, my dad did paint in oils also, but they weren't as good as his drawing, or as good as Uncle Stan's pictures.
I think that's me caught up. Forgive me for not answering your questions directly underneath your comments. I am unable to do that due to the fact that my template is not recognised as a standard one. You can all speak to each other via this blog, and type in your replies to the individual comments, but I can't.
This morning me and Rocky took a short drive to Alkborough for a walk around the nature reserve. It is very popular for bird watching. The tide was out so there was more mud than water. It looks a bit chilly in this picture, but it was quite pleasant to walk along the proper paths which have been built to give access to wheelchair users. A flock of birds take to the air.
Oooh look Rocky, let's take a look in that shed.
Ssshhhhh, quiet Rocky, don't make a noise.
You stand there and look at the birds.
We both enjoyed it, back home for lunch at 12.30pm. Egg noodles and salad for me, two slices of cooked beef and a dog chew for Rocky. Toodle pip.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Filling up the fridge

Well that's one job finished for another week or so. I decided to go to Tesco and get my shopping in. Could have stretched it to another day I suppose, but what the heck, just get on with it. Not many people in the store, so there wasn't a scrum to get the reduced stuff. Some good prices as usual, 90% off in some cases. Did well with the salads and veggies, could have done with some more bread though. Only white sliced on offer at 24p, so I picked one up. I don't like white bread very much, but it will go in the freezer for toasting. I had a Value sliced wholemeal loaf at the normal price of 47p, so not too bad.

I must tell you, it took all my willpower not to pick up a packet of biscuits. I normally don't go down that aisle, but the honey and lemon curd were directly opposite so I had to. Oh my, I was sorely tempted, should I get a cheap packet of Value biscuits. I thought I would let myself down if I had to put that in the food diary, so I walked on by, I didn't pick one up  :o))

I managed to get some treats for the cats and Rocky, good reductions on sliced ham, beef, and chicken. They will love that. On the home baking section it was a buy 2 get 1 free promotion. I needed sultanas so I got three packets, a little saving there. I also had a voucher for 50p off any Linda McCartney products, so I got two packets of veggie sausages for £1.50. Six in a packet makes three meals. Oh, and I had a £3 off voucher so that brought the total down a bit. Every little helps.

Now my fridge is full again. I've got stacks of vegetables to go at, and salad, so that's me happy. Although I keep tinned food in, I don't eat a great deal of it. Our empty tins and glass for recycling is collected once a fortnight by the council, but I only need to put my box out every six or eight weeks, as there is hardly anything in it. Not worth the lorry stopping to pick it up with such a piddly bit in it.

Anyway, I'll add the shopping list to the food diary tomorrow. I'm off to bed now for a read, I'm into a good book. Goodnight.  

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Almost the last supper

Just when I thought I had nothing left to make a meal with, I found some runner beans, carrots, and another courgette. I took down the bean plants today and chopped them up, and left them on the raised bed. They will rot down over the winter. I picked the last of the carrots, all a bit small and funny shapes, but still enough for a meal. I've retrieved the last of the edible courgettes. The two tiny ones left are not edible, they have stopped growing and are a funny shade of yellow. 
Steamed home grown veggies with two shop bought onions, and two grilled Quorn sausages, makes a cheap meal. I still have quite a lot of tins left in my store cupboard, and some items in the freezer, but I don't think I will let my food stocks get quite as low as I did last time when I ate virtually everything I had. I don't fancy eating baked beans, mushy peas, and rice pudding for a week, ha ha. So, will I go shopping tomorrow night, or shall I leave it till Thursday? I could eat one of those 20p pasta ready meals tomorrow, so maybe I can hang on a bit longer. Toodle pip.

Does it run in the family.

My uncle is an artist, and my dad was too. Do you think it runs in the family, compare the two pictures. No, I don't either, ha ha. I knocked this up in ten minutes with some childrens chalks I found in the drawer. I forgot I had them. Maybe I should put them back in the drawer and forget about them for another ten years, ha ha.
This is the only picture I have which my dad drew. It is donkeys years old that's why it is a bit stained.
Oh well, I can't be good at everything, back to the drawing board. Ha ha.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Home made soup to give you a warm glow.

Porridge for breakfast and home made veggie soup for lunch. I am running down my food before I go shopping again, using up whatever I have. Four peppers out of a packet of five, reduced to 11p, out of date on the 8th. Courgettes from the garden. And four onions.
Chop into small pieces, start them off cooking in a splash of olive oil, add fruit juice, and water. Then add turmeric, black pepper, veg stock cube, and other spices. Simmer for ten minutes on a low gas, then pulverise with a stick blender. Delicious on a wet and miserable day outside. Put the hot pan on your knee to keep you warm and eat it straight out of the pan, save on washing up. There is enough for tomorrow.
Bring some sunshine into your life with home made soup. Tinned soup is not a patch on this.
I'm on a roll with posting now, there's no stopping me. Second one today, ha ha.
Toodle pip.

Are you getting your oats?

Good morning. It's raining here, so best stay indoors for a while untill it brightens up. I see the meter reader man has parked his van outside so I've stuck a note on my door to say please knock loud I am in. I don't have a door bell and often miss people because I can't hear them knocking.
So, what's for breakfast this morning? I have opened a new bag of porridge oats, and wondered how many portions there are in 1kg. It says on the back of the bag that you should weigh out 50g per portion, and as I don't have any scales I measure mine in dessertspoons.
I can get 23 servings out of this bag, at four spoons per portion, I have just counted them all out. That's a fraction over 3p per portion. An amazingly cheap breakfast. It does say on the back of the packet that you should add sugar or salt according to taste. I add neither. I try to limit my sugar consumption, and I never add salt to food.

Porridge oats are so versatile. To make breakfast more interesting I sometimes add a handfull of raisins, or a  few peach slices, this morning I added a couple of spoons of stewed apples which my neighbour gave me. Sometimes I add a banana, and sometimes seeds. You could use any fruit you like. I add oats to stews to bulk them out, and a spoonfull in a smoothie makes it thick and creamy. I don't just have porridge for breakfast either, it's a lovely tummy warmer in the middle of a cold wet miserable winters day.

Oats can also be used for making a face pack. If you really wanted to you could mix it with honey or yogurt and slap it on your face, personally I would rather eat it.

There are loads of good reasons why porridge oats are classed as a superfood. I'm not going to write a big article about the benefits of eating them, you can look it up yourself by googling, Are oats good for you. Here's a site for starters to get you going.

Feel free to add your own porridge oats recipe suggestions, and let's get everyone eating oats. I am certainly getting my fair share of oats these days, are you?
Toodle pip.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A board, a few bits of wool, and some paint

How's your day been? We woke up to fog here, it didn't clear untill mid afternoon, then eventually the sun broke through at about 4pm. I had a lovely walk around the fishing pond before dinner, that's dinner at 6.30pm, not dinner at lunch time. I don't have a traditional Sunday dinner, roast and the trimmings, I have whatever I fancy and what I happen to have in, I can't be bothered to go shopping at the moment. I had cous cous with scrambled eggs and sweetcorn and a couple of fresh tomatoes. Quick and easy, couldn't be bothered to cook. Now I'm finishing the last of the three day bottle of cheap plonk, Cheers.
I got on with this project today, and I can show it because it's finished. I have nine of these white boards, they are off cuts I found in the Scrapstore. They are a kind of plastic material, a bit like what they make those soffit boards from, 29inches by 5.5inches. Anyway, I thought I would make a wall hanging, I divided it into five sections and drilled some holes in a pattern.  
Then I got five different kinds of wool and threaded it through the holes.
Some close ups, taken on my dining room table. Do you like my table cloth, it's a bed sheet. I find I can fold and re fold it if it gets a bit dirty, then when all parts of it are mucky it finally gets a wash.
The red wool is very hairy.
The next step was to paint it. I used different kinds of wool because I wanted to see which type of wool worked the best. The middle panel on the blue has the red hairy wool, I don't think this looks particularly attractive, a bit messy.
This wool on the purple is a knobbly wool, a bit rough looking, not sure if it works too well.
This is a thick smooth wool, I think this gives the best finish.
This one is quite nice on the yellow, it's got a twist in it.
Here it is hanging on the wall. I quite like it, something a bit different. I'll try and think of some more ideas for the rest of the boards.

I want to say a really BIG THANK YOU to one of my readers. A lovely lady called Pam arranged for a delivery of cat food and litter to be delivered to our cat rescue. It arrived yesterday from Asda. This kind gift will help us to carry on our work in taking in and rehoming cats in need. Pam you are an angel. Only this morning we took in a mum cat and her two kittens. The people who brought them in couldn't afford to keep them, this was the cats third litter, all because they didn't think about getting her spayed.  So now we are up to eight cats, maximum capacity, we are full once more.

A special welcome to Sandy in New Zealand, she is very bravely ploughing through the whole blog and has almost caught up. She's in August at the moment. Well done Sandy.

There are quite a few new names appearing in the comments list, thank you for visiting. I read all your comments, even those from the older posts, every one is important, thank you all for joining in.

Thank you very much to gotthisfar for nominating me for an award, I am highly honoured and most flattered that you think my blog is good enough. I hope you don't think I am being mean, ha ha, Meanqueen, geddit, but I would rather not participate. I am happy to have no awards, I am not awards driven. I write my blog for the fun of it, and if people like it that's nice, and I'm happy if you're happy. Toodle pip.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

One wedding and a lot of ducks

It's been a lovely day here in North Lincolnshire. I've got another arty project on the go, but I took time out this afternoon to take a walk in the park. Normanby Park that is. I took me and Rocky in the car because although it isn't very far away it's too far for his little legs to carry him there and back. Look at the wonderful Autumn colours.

The park was quite busy, lots of families with kids and dogs enjoying the sunshine. Rocky spotted the ducks, he wants to jump in the pond and chase them.
Normanby Hall is often used for weddings, and today we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of  the bride and groom posing for photographs next to their veteran wedding car. The guests came spilling out of the main door with their drinks and cameras in their hands. Some of the women in their flimsy dresses must have been freezing, although the sun was out there was a crisp chill in the air.
'Oh gawd, how many more pictures do you want of me. I am flippin smiling, just press the button, then I can go and get those ducks'.
The car sets off whisking the happy couple away.

Bye bye, have a nice life.
More lovely Autumn colours

A magnificent tree, I love it.
We wanderd into the tropical glass house and found this beautiful flower. It looks like a bird.  
Then we were a bit naughty, and had a Magnum ice cream. That's two in two weeks, must stop this extravagance. But we do like them.

Well here I am on a Saturday night, sipping a glass of red wine and munching my way through two slices of Marmite on toast. Boy do I lead an exciting life, ha ha. Have a nice Sunday. Toodle pip.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Very confused

With the cost of gas and electricity in the news at the moment, due to the imminent price rises, I thought I would have to at least make an effort and check if I can get a better deal. I am such a low user I can't see how I can get it any lower other than by not switching on any appliances and not putting the heating on. Ah well let's have a look at it, I haven't got time to be trawling through the comparison web sites, but you never know I might learn something.

I have to admit I struggle to understand all the different tariffs, don't know what a kwh is, don't understand how they convert metric units into kwh's, what is a metric unit anyway? First I need to know how much fuel I have used in the last year, that's easy, add up the total money paid on the last four quarterly bills. I get both gas and electricity from British Gas. Armed with these figures I can then go to the comparison sites and look for a better deal. Right, I spent £169 on gas and £179 on electricity. Total £348 for the year.

First stop was to check on the British Gas web site. They have sent me a letter saying I can freeze my tariff at the new rate, for one year from the date of the price rise in November. It's called Fix and Fall. They have 28 flippin tariffs listed, how flippin confusing. It turns out that I could save £12 per year if I went on to their new fangled Fix and Fall. Don't think I will bother.

Next, Uswitch said I could go onto the NPower Juice tariff and save £31 a year. Confused came up with Telecom plus for £259, saving £88 per year, and Tesco Compare said I could sign up with NPower on their Gosave dual fuel for £211 per year, saving a massive £136. How the heck can they get it down to that? Now my head is spinning, I just don't understand a lot of figures.

What confuses me is that not all companies have anounced their price rises, so who knows what they are going to be. The figures I have calculated for the last year are going to be lower anyway (at the old price), so the savings quoted now are going to look good. They won't look so good when they have all followed suit and put their prices up.

I always think of the saying, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Call me sceptical if you like, but I simply don't believe anything the utility companies tell me. I can see the point of families shopping around who may use a lot of fuel, but I don't think my current bills are too bad at all. Looking at my annual statement it suggests a Clear and Simple tariff might be better for me. The web site says one thing and the statement says another, what a flippin nightmare. I think I will give British Gas a ring. If they can save me a few bob I will go for it. I'm going to have to stop writing about this because I have spent enough time pondering about it today. The more I ponder the more confused I get. Help, let me out of here!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

My dead cheap masterpiece

Anyone remember this? The rear side panel which was ripped from my beloved Ford Focus by a dumbo taxi driver who couldn't see through his windscreen because it was misted up. The rest of the car went to the great scrapyard in the sky, but I picked up this bit from the road and brought it home. It has been hanging on my living room wall ever since.
Time for a makeover I think. Now what can I do with it to jazz it up a bit. Get the little paint pots out and the brushes. My first idea was to finger paint it, but I didn't like the finish, so I stippled it with a brush. I like a stippled surface, you can hide uneven brush marks by stippling. I once did the kitchen walls in a previous house by stippling to cover up the uneven plaster.
Wadya think, cool eh! I love it.
It is hard to paint lines with straight edges on a curved surface, trying to keep my shakey hand still. I need one of those sticks with a soft ball on the end to use as a rest.

Think I'm going to look for some more car body bits to paint. This great work of art cost me nothing to make, maybe someone will be daft enough to buy my masterpiece. I like the idea of  painting odds and sods instead of a canvas or a board. I can't paint a picture for toffee, ha ha. Toodle pip.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

For the love of dogs

Just sneaking a quickie in here. I've just watched a programme on BBC iplayer, about dog walkers on Hampstead Heath, and it was lovely. The people interviewed had some very moving stories to tell about their circumstances and why they love their dogs. It showed how the love of a dog can be a great healer, and when things get tough it's the dog which helps them carry on. Have a look if you haven't already seen it. Maybe our overseas readers might not be able to open the link, sorry.

Anna has written a book

I've tried writing a book and got so far with it, thousands of words on my computer, but the truth is I lose interest in long term projects. I can't stick at it, a bit of a flibberty jibbet that's me. Crikey, where did that saying come from? Must look it up, what does it mean? The Urban Dictionary has a brilliant interpretation. 'One who hops about like a fart in a frying pan', ha ha. Oh how I laughed out loud when I read that, yep that's me alright, definately a fart. Can't write for giggling now.  
Anyway, after that light hearted interlude I'll carry on. I much prefer writing daily on here, it means I can belt something out on the keyboard, add some pics and jiggle it about, publish and move on to the next project. I've always got several projects on the go at the same time and flit from one to the other.
I've been following John's progress with his book over on Don't unplug your hub. Sounds like he has been hammering away on the keyboard at an amazing speed. It doesn't seem that long ago when he announced he was starting it. Now it is getting proof read and he is drawing the illustrations. Won't be long before it goes into print. I hope everyone will buy a copy, he really is a tallented writer.
My sister Anna Maria is a writer, well she has been at it for a lot of years, mostly magazine articles, fact and fiction, but now she has a book finished. It is a romantic fiction story, and she has tried it with a couple of publishers but not been lucky with anyone accepting it. So now she has decided to put it on Kindle.
I haven't read it, because I don't read fiction, and Mills and Boon type stuff is just not my cup of tea. Anyway, here is the link to the book, should you wish to take a peek, it's on Amazon.
If you go to this page you can open the book for a synopsis. Anna tells me you can get a free Kindle App on your computer from Amazon, enabling you to download a selection of books for free, and there are millions to purchase should you wish to do so. You need to have an Amazon account to do this. I haven't tried it because I spend enough time on the computer already. But for someone who wants to read but doesn't have a library, I think this is a jolly good idea. Happy reading.

Got to go, something else to do. Toodle pip.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Sticky fingers

 It's been blowing a gale here today, the trees at the bottom of the garden have been swishing around like a troupe of demented Tiller Girls. Best to stay indoors methinks. I'm trying to get some arty farty crafty work done and I am searching my head for ideas. I saw an exhibition of paintings in The Ropery Art Gallery on Saturday, and was amazed at how much the artist was asking for them, £300 - £600. How anyone could call them art I'll never know, they were utter crap. Squiggles and dollops and splashes of paint in no particular order. 
I reckon I can do better than that. I have something that needs a new lick of paint. It's hanging on the wall so I got it down and set to with my fingers to give it an arty farty look. The paint is taking a while to dry because it's not very warm in here, so the finished piece will not appear for a few days. I'll try and hasten the process with a hairdryer. You'll have to be patient, but I can say, it's looking good.  
While waiting for the paint to dry I got on with making a shopping bag out of fused plastic. I have posted about this before, it's where you iron layers of plastic together to make a strong piece which you can sew together on a machine. I made this one out of four bran flake bags and some clear plastic. Nice and cheerfull, and free.  
Here's another one I made out of a charity bag. You have to be carefull which charity bags you use because some of them are biodegradable and will fall to bits after a while. You want the ones which feel like plastic, and not flimsy paper.
Rocky has taken over the new cat cushion, and was watching me. He has a new friend to play with. They look sweet now, but half an hour before he was trying to chew Ted's arm off, ha ha.
It's nose to tail on the window sill now, ha ha. If they budge up a bit maybe all three will fit on there.
News from our cat rescue. Hey look at this amazing play station, isn't it fab. We rehomed this little girl last week, they called her Molly and sent us this pic. She has dropped lucky here, as all of our cats do because we check out the people who adopt them. Her owners say she loves this and sleeps in it, ignoring the bed they also bought for her. Isn't she a lucky little kitty.  
Janet took our new little boy Garfield, to the vet today for neutering. He has only been with us for a few days and already there has been enquiries for him. The vet and the receptionist are both wanting to adopt him. Isn't he gorgeous.

Blimey look at the time, I'd better get to bed. Goodnight.