Tuesday 31 December 2013

Happy New Year. Guest post from Nellie

Well hello there, it's your old friend Nellie Knowitall from Stating the Bleedin Obvious. Queen of Mean has asked me to write the last post of 2013, because she can't be bothered to do it, idle so and so. Don't tell her I said that, she'll have my guts for garters, ha ha.

As you know, I travel a lot, my first love is Vegas, but I will go anywhere where there is sun, sea, and sangria. It's not the hunky men that draw me to these places, no, honestly, oh alright then, I do enjoy ogling a handsome Adonis strutting his stuff on the beach. In fact I can see one right now from my hotel balcony overlooking the shimmering sea in Monte, that's Monte Carlo in case you were wondering. I expect lots of you will be shivering your nuts off in sub zero temperatures in good old Blighty. Never mind, it will soon be spring.

So what's the topic today you might ask. Well true to form, it's all about sensible living, making the most of what you have, and making a happy life for yourself. I don't have to bother with all that scrimping stuff, now that my poor old Horace has popped his clogs. He has left me a sizeable nest egg which will see me through for the rest of my time on this planet. But old habits die hard, and I still find myself looking for yellow stickers every time I step inside a supermarket. Not that I need to go shopping that often, these days I dine out a lot, or have things delivered. But you dear friends might not be in the same enviable position as myself, and need to keep watching every penny you spend.

Surviving in today's economical climate isn't all that difficult you know. You wouldn't believe it, but  when I was in my twenties I didn't have a brass farthing to my name. I had six snotty nosed kids hanging onto my skirt, all squealing for food. I had a lazy good for nothing useless waste of space who spent all his dole money down the pub. And I had to go foraging in bins at the back of shops to get the kids something for dinner. It was a chuffin nightmare.

So what did I do to get out of this impossible situation? Well I went on the internet of course. I needed to swap the geezer I had for a better model. There are some cracking sites out there you know. Thousands of pictures of bored single guys, just looking for a ready made family. I struck lucky, found myself a real gent, pots of money, and filthy rich. Too good to be true you might say. Well there was one downside which I was prepared to overlook, he was three weeks short of his 90th birthday, but heyho you can't have everything. I reckoned he was a better bet than the 45 year old I was already hooked up with who was getting on my nerves.

My new man, Horace, was a quiet man, he was no trouble at all, as long as he had his meals cooked for him, clean clothes to wear, and I allowed him the odd kiss on the cheek, he was happy. Non of the old how's your father hankypanky, oh no, I'm past that now. The money kept appearing in my bank account, anything I wanted I could have, no questions asked. I put all the kids through University, they've all got good jobs now, so I'm proud of what I've achieved. I saw the problem, and with my common sense ethos, I worked out a plan to change things round. Got rid of the useless lump who was dragging me down, and hooked up with a better model. Now poor old Horace is no more and I copped for the lot. I drink to his health, as I top up my suntan. Cheers my dear.

Right, what common sense tips can I pass on to you on this last day or 2013. First off has got to be, if things are not working out for you, whether it be in your job, your family, or where you live, for goodness sake, you don't have to put up with it, change it. But beware, if you make the wrong decision or the wrong move learn from it, and change again. Keep changing until you get it right. Life isn't a chuffin rehearsal you know, you are a long time dead.

Here's a few things you might like to change. You don't have enough money to live on. Easy. Earn more, or spend less. Or do as I did, and find a partner to give you some. You need to work out the deal though, what he/she expects in return for handing over their dosh. Don't sell yourself short.

You are fed up of staying in? Well go out more. Not happy with your looks? Change the colour of your hair. Bored with your wardrobe? Get some new second hand clothes. You are too heavy? Eat less, exercise more. You are too skinny? Eat some stodge. You stink of fags? Chuck them in the bin and don't buy any more, or find a partner who also stinks. You are lonely living by yourself? Get a cat or a dog, they don't complain and will love you forever. You have no one to go on holiday with? Go by yourself, you will meet lots of people. That's just a few examples. Whatever the problem is, it can be sorted with a few common sense ideas.

Well my dears, a new year is almost upon us. I shall be knocking back the champers with a few of my millionaire pals, as the clock strikes midnight. I hope you are having a lot of fun, whatever you are doing. All the best for 2014, I hope you have enjoyed my little contributions to Meanqueen's wonderful blog, I shall be popping in from time to time next year. I'll leave you with this little gem, if you pour vast quantities of alcohol down your throat tonight, you will probably throw up, and feel chuffin awful in the morning. The choice is yours. HAPPY NEW YEAR. LOVE FROM NELLIE XXX 

Monday 30 December 2013

Amazing technicolour curtain

Eeee by gum, it's been a reet rough day today, the wind is back with a vengeance. They say it's going to be stormy for another month and to expect more flooding. Oh dear, batten down the hatches.
You might remember I had started some patchwork, four blocks, each one 24 inches square. I had it in mind to make a throw for the sofa, but decided I didn't need one, so instead I have turned it into a curtain.
I didn't need to add a border. I backed it with a piece of the duvet cover, the same pale pink fabric as I used for the bed quilt. I sewed them together with the machine, right sides facing, leaving one end open to turn it inside out. Then closed the open end, and added some curtain tape which I unpicked from some old curtains that I am never going to hang again. Then I did some machine stitching in some of the ditches to hold the two sides together. It fits the small window next to the back door, at the bottom of the stairs, and looks quite cheerful. Mayze has found her way behind it as she likes to sit in that windowsill and watch what's going on in the garden.  

I've been giving some thought to my new year resolutions, there won't be many because I am pretty content with things as they are. My 2014 calendar is on the wall. I use this more like a mini diary than a calendar to remind myself of things I have got coming up. I fill the squares in day by day of what I have done, rather than what I am going to be doing. This approach makes me get off my backside and do things, and not sit around wasting time. I want 2014 to be a busy year, and aim to have no empty squares at the end of it. My calendar for 2013 is full, so I can see at a glance what I have been doing. I am sure I can be even busier next year if I try harder. I will be 65 in May, eeeek, chuffin heck, retired almost five years already, time whizzes by, still a lot to do before I die.

It goes without saying that I will continue to look after my health as best as I can. Work to stay fit, eat as healthily as I can on a small income, and learn new things to keep my brain active.

I am going to start a new 'ideas' book. A place where I write down thoughts that come into my head. It will be ideas for craft work, art work, blogging, and places to visit. Often I get a good idea but then my mind wanders and I forget what it was. If I jot the ideas down I will have a list of things I plan to do, to keep me busy when I have finished one project and move onto the next one.

I'm sure there ought to be more resolutions, if I think of any I'll let you know. Happy planning for your 2014, make it a good one. Toodle pip.

Sunday 29 December 2013

The aftermath

Good evening, I am back in Tightwad Towers and the pusscats were pleased to see me.  I left Hampshire just before Midday, after a morning walk with Carol to feed the ducks at a nearby pond. The journey was pretty much plain sailing, no not literally there was no rain ha ha. There was a bit of congestion around the Oxford ring road, where the local traffic hops on and off the main A34, but other than that no problems. I have been dead lucky with the weather, no storms, and no floods to drive through.

I have just had five days of living with central heating. Getting out of my hot car, and coming into a chilly house, after my body was getting acclimatised to warmth made me a bit shivery. I did put the heating on for half an hour just to warm it up a bit while I got changed into my usual indoor layers. It's off now, I don't want to be turning into softie.

I think I ought to do a detox, after all the food I have stuffed down my throat. Carol steams her veggies the same as I do, so I have had some super meals. Trouble is I have picked at all the Christmassy nibbles and snacks as well, though I didn't go overboard on the booze. I made a bottle of wine last four days by diluting it with lemonade. I'm going to hold off going shopping for a few days, until I use up some of the food in the cupboards and freezer. I need to get my stomach shrunk back to it's normal size after being bloated with cheesey biscuits and God knows what else.

So, it's life back to normal now, back to the sewing. Just remembered, craft club tomorrow. It will be nice to have a natter. Spose I ought to do some New Year Resolutions, I'll think about it, ought to have some kind of plan for 2014. Toodle pip.

Saturday 28 December 2013

Meet the beautiful Mia

While I am down here in Hampshire, I might as well drive another forty miles and visit fellow blogger John from Don't Unplug Your Hub, he lives somewhere near Bognor. He has recently adopted a rescue German Shepherd called Mia. Carol came with me to keep me company, and we were both looking forward to meeting the new pooch.
John very kindly laid on sandwiches and drinks for us when we arrived, and we had a good old natter catching up with all the news. After a heavy shower we went a walk around his village. Mia has only been living with him for ten days, but already she is showing signs of settling in. She was previously being kept in a small flat, which wasn't at all suitable. Now she has lots of room to play outside in the big garden, and she goes on long walks with John. She has certainly found the right forever home with him, they are going to make a great team.  
Don't you think she is beautiful? She is very intelligent and listens to every word John says.

Just one more snap. Just as I stopped to get a pic of this cottage with a thatch roof, a face appeared at the window and the lady of the house gave me a cheery wave. I bet they get used to people snapping their pretty cottage.

It was lovely to see John again. Another big meal tonight, Carol has certainly filled me up these last few days. Tomorrow I head back up north, so I'll catch you when I land. Have a nice weekend. Toodle pip.

Friday 27 December 2013

Visit to Mid Hants Railway

Hello, I've had a fandabidozi day riding up and down on the chuff chuffs. I love playing around on steam trains. The Mid Hants Railway is also known as the Watercress Line, it runs from Alton to Alresford, passing through Medstead and Ropley. You buy a day ticket and can ride up and down all day, getting on and off at whichever stations take your fancy. We spent time at all four of them, exploring, and chatting to people. Everyone was in a happy mood, all enjoying their day out.
For two days the theme has been a WWII Christmas, with civilian and military re-enactors returning home from the war. There was song and dance and Christmas merriment.
This is our train now waiting to depart from Alton Station.    
Love the sound of the rush of steam.

There's a good fire going in the cab, and the crew were just tucking into their fried breakfast before they moved off.

Tickets please. The inspector doing his rounds.

A picture from the train window as we were stopped at Ropley. We went all the way to Alresford first, then stopped at the other stations on the way back.
This was our loco which has been detached from the carriages, run a short distance up the line, changed track, and is now coming back to be reattached to the other end, for the return journey.

There was a lot going on at Alresford Station. Lots of enthusiasts were dressed in period costume, and these were really getting into the spirit of the occasion by dancing along to the big band music which was playing..

Some had come in their military vehicles.
 A group of soldiers were gathered on the platform.

And burst into a rendition of war time songs. Even Sir Winston Churchill joined in.

 'Ello 'ello, what's all this 'ear then. An English bobby on the beat.

More re-enacters in forties costumes.
The railway is mostly run by volunteers, and everyone we spoke to was happy to answer our questions. The signalman invited us into his box and explained how everything worked. His enthusiasm for his work was evident, he told us he had worked for forty years as an engineer on the railways, so knew all about the mechanics of it. He could fix things if it went wrong.  
His signal box was immaculately kept, freshly painted and clean. Everything that happens is recorded in the log book on the desk.

 There are two machines with keys in them. In one machine they have a red circle on the end.....

and in the other they have a green triangle. These keys are passed to the train drivers as they pass through the station. It's a system which ensures the safety of the trains. It sounded quite a complicated system to learn.
These are for changing the points and signals.
Here is the signal man getting ready to exchange the keys with the train driver. They are in a sort of leather handbag thing with a steel handle, which can easily looped over the arm or grabbed while the train is moving. 
At Ropley we had time for a look around the back of the station to see the stock in the yard.

We hopped off at Medstead for an hour to look round.

There is Carol looking for the train.
We had time to get a hot drink in the buffet while we waited for the train. There are old style posters everywhere taking us back in time.

It was a fabulous day out, I'm glad that Carol organised this for us. The railway has a web site, if you want to know more you can read about it here. They have lots of exciting events throughout the year, some of them are very popular and have to be booked well in advance. It is a charity and all the money goes into the preservation of the trains and stations. It's a great day out.

Tomorrow is a trip to see John from Don't unplug your hub. He has a new dog you know, a German Shepherd called Mia. I'm looking forward to seeing them both. Toodle pip.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Meet Molly and Cassie

How has your Boxing day been. We have been so lucky, we have electricity here, but only two miles away they are in darkness. No street lights, no traffic lights, people are sitting in the dark and not able to cook their meals. Thousands of people have had a terrible Christmas, it's so sad.
Today we have been looking after these two beautiful girls, meet Cassie on the left, and Molly on the right. They are sisters.  
The table is being laid for lunch, and they are waiting patiently to see if there will be a few morsels coming their way.

This is the second walk of the day, it was a lovely sunny afternoon. We got in the car and drove a couple of miles to Alice Holt Forest, which is four miles south of Farnham, where we could walk along paths through the trees. There are different trails to choose from depending on how far you want to walk. We walked the family cycle trail which is three miles long. Alice Holt is managed by the Forestry Commission, you can read all about it here.

The girls needed their under carriages washed and towel dried when we got back, before they were allowed in the house. Now the table is laid for dinner, and they look longingly at Carol hoping she gives them a treat. They are so well behaved, and so gorgeous.
 Now it's time for a lay down, we've had such a busy day, two long walks and lots of playtime.
Now waiting for daddy to come and collect us, we've had a lovely day.

Forgot to mention yesterday, Carol absolutely loved the pressie, but it wasn't a big surprise, because she had seen it here first. Oh bother, never thought of that, because she only reads bits of the blog occasionally. Never mind, she is chuffed.

I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow because we have a little train journey planned. Toodle pip. 

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Christmas cheer.

And a Merry Christmas to all my frugalers, from your Queen of Mean, Ilona. I am speaking to you today from my southern residence, in the heart of the beautiful Hampshire countryside. My journey down yesterday was without incidence, as the adverse weather which was widely reported, never materialised. In fact the sun was shining down on me giving me a lovely warm glow of wellbeing.
Now what were you doing on Christmas morning? Nursing a throbbing head perhaps. Opening your presents around the tree? Or stuffing your face with a great British breakfast? Me? None of those. After a bowl of Frosties topped with a banana, it was straight to work for me. I have to earn my keep you see. Carol is feeding me up with all kinds of posh grub, so I offered to clear the fallen leaves from her driveway in return, it's the least I can do. So here I am, sweeping away.......   
 and bagging it up. Eleven bags in total.

 Carol has lunch ready for me. Looking good. Cheers.

That was earlier, now it's time for dinner, and collapsing in front of the tele with a glass of wine. Can't beat it. Tomorrow we are dog sitting. Two border collies are being dropped off in the morning, so there will be walkies and lots of fun and games.
I hope you are having a lovely time. Toodle pip.

Monday 23 December 2013

Choose your card

We are nearly there, Christmas is upon us once more. I haven't spent any money on it, don't feel the need to. I've posted a few cards through doors, cards I had left over from years ago, might as well use them up, daft not to. I bought a cheap bottle of sherry, that's been supped. A glass a night and it soon goes. I can buy a bottle of sherry any time of year, might get another one next June. Not keen on Christmas cake, or mince pies, and I hate Christmas pud, won't buy any.
I did think about putting some baubles on the bush outside my front door. Got them out of the cupboard, hung a red one up, that looks nice, I'll leave it at that. I have some of those candle type lights, seven in a row, those that look like a bridge that you put in the front window. I found them in the skip a few weeks ago that I posted about. They look nice on top of the cupboard, I will leave them there until next Christmas. No reason why you can't have them on all the year round. Might save a bit on the electricity.
Anyway, enough of my ramblings. I picked out a couple of home made cards, and couldn't decide which one to put on here, so I've scanned both of them. By posting them here it's going to save me the cost of sending a card out to all my lovely readers, you can view them here they are free to you. I will be giving them to people, might as well get good use of them. For those of a religious leaning, here is my photo of a monument in our churchyard.   
For anyone else, here is a pusscat card. You can choose whichever one you like.
I'm going to be busy for the next couple of days, hopefully on the move if the weather is not too bad, so I'll catch up with you when I have time. The netbook is travelling with me, so I might pop in. I hope you all enjoy your Christmas, and all your preparations go according to plan. Thank you for visiting my blog, sees you soon. Toodle pip.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Carol, don't read this :o))

Carol, my very bestest friend, if you are reading this you shouldn't be, so go away or the surprise will be spoilt, ha ha. Anyone else can look now. I am going to be visiting Carol over the festive period, so I thought I would make her a pressie, rather than worrying over what to buy her. It would be hopeless trying to find anything anyway, she can well afford to buy whatever she wants for herself, she doesn't need any tat I might pick up at the shops.
Me and Carol go way back, about 55 years in fact. We were friends at junior school and people thought we were sisters because we looked alike. We chose completely different career paths. She had the brains to further her education and carve out a career in company finance, whereas I chose the practical hands on type of work. Another difference is that she has been married and I have not. We do have one thing in common though, we both chose not to have children.
There have been long periods of time when we have got on with our own lives, but always coming together through phone calls, emails, and meeting up a couple of times a year. Today we lead completely different lifestyles. She still works and has an active social life with lots of friends, I have a more sedate outlook, bimbling along, doing my own thing, with a few good friends. She is part of a big family, I have a very small family. When we come together it's like I see her every day, we chatter ten to the dozen and have lots of laughs. So I am looking forward to a jolly time this festive holiday.   
So, you saw a snippet of the pressie I was making, here is the finished article. There is no plan, no pattern, things are just made up as I go along. Ideas pop into my head and I think, I wonder if that would work, or what would that look like. I bought some pieces of colourful felt about a year ago from the Hospice Shop. Thank goodness she has only five letters in her name. I don't think I would have attempted Stephanie or Elizabeth. My first idea was that the letters should have a gusset and would be freestanding, but I didn't have enough time to sew all those seams. So I decided on cutting two of each, sewing them together with a blanket stitch, and stuffing them. Then mount them on a fabric background.   
I made all the letters first, then I gathered a few materials. Plain green fabric, a piece of sponge which just happened to be the right size, a roll end of some stiff window blind fabric, and some floral fabric. As it was I didn't use the floral, I changed my mind.

I needed some stuffing, and I remembered I had bought a white crochet shawl for 50p from a clearance sale, the shop was closing down. It is nice and soft, and I thought it would come in useful for something. I removed the tassels and chopped them up.

Here are a few close ups. Small pink beads in the centre of the flowers, and some even smaller red beads dotted around. I stitched the letters on to the pale green fabric and the stiff backing, before I added the sponge, and lastly stitched the back on.

On the back I attached two brass rings for the hanger.
The white cord all around the edge I seem to remember, came from a gift of flowers in a bag, that someone gave me for my 60th birthday. Something else that has come in useful. It took ages to stitch it all on.

I hope she likes it.
Enjoy your weekend. Toodle pip.