Monday, 31 July 2017

Prisons And I Go Back A Long Way. . . . .

I have, what some people might think to be a slightly strange interest, and I blame my parents!! 

Although it may be my slightly skewed childhood memory of things, but I remember going to, what seemed like a lot of historical prisons as a child, when we went on holiday. 

I'm sure we didn't go to that many, and maybe some of the memories are attached to museums, but I really feel like we did! I love British History and the rich texture of stories woven in to our culture. 

I remember when I was about 7 years old we went on a canal boat holiday. I loved it! One of the rules of hiring the boat was that you must be moored up safely for the evening before nightfall. I remember one evening there were very few mooring sites and we were chugging along as dusk was falling looking for somewhere to moor up. We went along for a bit and came across this nice quiet area where no other boats were, perfect! My parents noticed, in the fading light, that we were moored up by, what they thought to be a boarding school. We settled down for the night, then the next morning got up and inspected our new surroundings. My parents then realised that the 'boarding school' we had been moored up outside all night was actually a prison, and probably the reason why we had the riverbank to ourselves for the night! 

I discussed my recollections of childhood prisons with my sisters via a Facebook (when I was still on Facebook) chat and they could also remember going to historical prisons on holiday but didn't seem to remember them as clearly as me, and certainly don't seem to have the same interest in adulthood. Then, about 3 weeks later, I got a postcard from my parents, who were away on holiday and this was in the content.....!

"Went To Dartmoor Prison Museum, very interesting"
They're still going now!! And they have passed on the bug to me. A few years ago Shepton Mallet, Somerset, Prison closed after about 400 years of service, on and off. You are now able to visit and have a guided tour, until it is turned into houses and luxury flats next year, and all the history will be gone forever. I took the opportunity to book DH and I into the tour and we went today. The tour lasted about 2 hours and was very interesting. It focused more on the more recent history of the prison rather than the older side, but we got to see all over the prison and the tour was with a former guide so it was a really detailed talk which was nice. There was about 35 of us on our tour. I found out lots of things I never knew, for example, while not in use as a prison, one of the wings served as a secure hold for many Treasures Of The Realm, that were evacuated from London during WW2. It is unknown whether or not this included the Crown Jewels or not, but certainly many priceless articles were housed there including the Doomesday Book and the HMS Victory Log Book.

We had an interesting time, and I don't care that some people think it's odd, I will carry on visiting historical prisons, maybe Dartmoor next! We went to Fremantle Prison whilst visiting Australia this year. It is the second time I've been there and it is really interesting, you can certainly learn a lot, particularly about history. If anyone has any recommendations ot has also visited a historical prison please let me know :)

At it's time of closing Shepton Prison held people given 'life' sentences. 

Shepton was known as a 'working' prison. This meant most of the inmates when not doing educational courses worked in part of the prison doing things like packing for retail outlets. 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Saving Bees

I LOVE bees. I think the job they do is amazing and I think it's very worrying how endangered they are becoming and what the future may hold for us without them.

Whilst at my Dads birthday BBQ yesterday, which was a total washout (!), my sister noticed a bee laying very still on the ground. Knowing that bees can get very tired when they're hungry and low on sugar she nudged it onto a plate and added some sugar water to it. Straight away the bee started drinking the water and sipped it for a good 5 minutes on and off. It then sat resting for a further 5 minutes before flying away :) Lots of people at the party didn't know about offering bees sweet water if they look tired to help them out and they said they would definately keep an eye out for bees needing help in the future.

My Dad enjoyed seeing friends and family together for his BBQ and, ever a glass half-full man, he had the BBQ out under a gazebo anyway, with the buffet in the conservatory. The rain was torrential and non-stop all afternoon. 

We're seeing friends today and may go and see the new film Dunkirk if we're back in time. Raining again which won't help my chances of drying the washing! 

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Trouble Sleeping

I have been having the most horrendous time sleeping over the last few weeks. I have no idea why but it's been getting worse. Wednesday and Thursday nights were the worse nights yet with Thursday night I think I finally got off close to 3am, with the alarm going off at 6am I felt like a zombie at work yesterday. In desperation I have ordered Paul MacKennas I Can Make You Sleep book as it had pretty good reviews online. I am doing all the usual things like not having caffeine later and we dont have a tele in our bedroom so I'm not watching tele or using my phone in bed.

Last night I was so exhausted I think I did get off about 10pm (hurrah!) , but Burt woke me up at 4am and I don't think I really slept much after that. I do feel better today though. Today I am working this morning, then we're driving to my parents for my Dad's birthday BBQ but the weather looks iffy so it might be indoors! Tomorrow we're going to see the new film Dunkirk at our local, independent Cinema. We're also doing lots of planning for our (still hopeful!) move next year.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Rosemoor Vintage Show

We had a lovely time on sunday Re-enacting At Rosemoor Vintage Show in Devon. I was working on the Saturday so we only went down on the Sunday.

We got up early, about 5am, and I made us both a coffee and some breakfast. We'd packed the car the night before so there wasn't too much to get ready except ourselves. By 6:30am we were ready to go and we had a good run down arriving by about 8:15am. There wasn't too many of us there but it was lovely to catch up with friends and myself and T had a Cob House to display in which was a treat. In the cob house we had my ARP post and a Medic post. We had a lovely day chatting to the public and it was very busy. One elderly gentleman told me about his evacuation and how he kept in contact with the maid who cared for him at that time after the war right through to the present day, she is now 100 years old and he last visited her a couple of weeks ago. He also spoke fondly of his second posting to an elderly couple who were asked to take 2 evacuees into their small house and instead offered to take 6, caring for them lovingly with no running water or electricity. He told me they had to get fresh water from a pump at the end of the street!

The weather was perfect and the garden setting idyllic. We had a lovely day. We were a bit late leaving and then got stuck behind several slow moving vehicles, we got to the lock-up to put out kit back literally about 9 minutes before the gates shut, we had to throw everything in and got out with about two minutes to spare. 

Needless to say we slept very well last night after our lovely day :)

My A.R.P post
My tea station set at the back of my Post :)
The Cob House 
The Nurses Station 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

A Day On My Own

I've been on my own today. Dh and his colleague got up early and I made a breakfast of scrambled eggs, wilted spinach and coffee for them, as requested. I then cycled to the allotment to do some gardening. I harvested beetroot, a lot of peas, rhubarb and a courgette masquerading as a marrow ;) I did a fair amount of weeding then made my way home, albeit slowly and a bit wobbly with a bag full of heavy produce! 

When I was back I washed, chopped and stewed the rhubarb, podded the peas and froze them. I then drove to town to do some chores. I had 3 different towns to go to and I was in the mood for walking so I took myself off in each town doing a large circular walk in each one, until the rain came. I took shelter in my favourite cafe and rested, read and savoured a delicious coffee.

Once home I had some lunch then made some gluten free bread using the flour I got from Approved Food and I also made a rhubarb crumble for the chaps for later. The crumble came out really well, but as far as the bread goes..... all I have to say on that subject is thank goodness I have a husband who will eat literally ANYTHING! ;)

I had a shower (or our interpretation of a shower as the shower curtain is still off the wall) and have also been reading. I'm really tired today so I would appreciate an  early night but it depends what time the chaps get in. On the plus side it's raining again which means I have a good excuse to get in my pj's and snuggle on the sofa with a good book and a cup of tea :)

My wildflowers are keeping the bees happy :)
More wildflowers, not sure what these are.
Once ready, I am trading a bag full of runner beans for a sack of potatoes with someone at work :)

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Preparing For A Guest

Dh has a work colleague visiting tomorrow evening and is staying with us until Sunday as they are doing a course together. I always find guests, whilst enjoyable, a bit stressful too mainly due to the small size of our home, and that it's very basic without many mod cons including central heating.

So, as I am working until 8pm tonight I wanted to get as much as I could done this morning. I put my usual jaunt to the allotment off until Saturday and prioritised my chores. I did all the ironing, my weekend washing which went out to dry, sorted the paperwork drawer (a job that's been nagging me for ages- although I don't know why I prioritised that, guests don't usually root through my drawers to check the organisation of my paperwork!) hoovering, cleaned the kitchen and tidied my craft bits away.

The shower curtain still isnt fixed so that's not good! But can't be helped :/

Dh needed a hair cut so while he was getting that done I whizzed off to do errands. I collected a parcel from the sorting office, cleared out the rubbish that had accumulated in the car (seemed to be old receipts and orange peel mostly! Although I also found a sock and a fork), I scampered round the charity shops and got a sports top and trousers for pilates and brought some cat litter.

For dinner tonight it's homemade frittata and salad which will be nice and easy for when I finish work. When I get in it will be pj's and reading I think :)

Burt seems to be feeling better today :)

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Wednesday Dog Walking And Looking Forward To Getting Back In My Routine

I am working extra hours (again) this week and next week as a colleague is on holiday. I don't know how I always seem to end up doing most the cover. I think it's because others only work part time or have children so can't do extra hours. To be honest, I'd rather have the time off than the overtime money (which isn't a lot) but never mind, can't be helped.

Because of this I am out of my usual routine. It does make me appreciate my time off more than ever, even though it is then busy while I try and catch up on jobs. Sometimes I don't feel like doing much when I get in which, although I don't like, I try not to push myself if I feel I need to rest.

Today, after I finished work it was Cinnamon Trust dog walking. My lovely dogs never fail to cheer me with their appreciation of the simplist things. A leg stretch and some good sniffs makes them so happy :) When I do holiday cover I always tell work I can't cover late Wednesday afternoons so I don't let my old ladies down by having to cancel. I called in at my local leisure centre as they are doing a pilates class on Wednesday nights I'm thinking about trying. I find myself a bit stiff if the mornings and would like to tone up a bit too. Being a local authority leisure centre the prices are very reasonable too.

Once we were in dh made dinner while I roasted some veggies and made another frittata. We then had quiet time, dh did some drawing and I read. Burt was sick twice this morning so is on a bland diet. Hopefully, it's just that he ate too quickly. I have ironing to do but it can wait til tomorrow I think :)

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Pyjama Evening

Yesterday afternoon, after work, we drove to Salisbury to meet up with friends. We had dinner together. They brought their dog so we sat outside then went for a stroll after dinner. It was lovely, especially for Dh who has been friends with M since he was a teenager. His friend has become like an older brother or surrogate Dad and really looked out for him when he was growing up (dh hasn't seen his real Dad since he was about 11). Since they moved away from each other they don't see each other as much but still speak on the phone several times a week and meet up as often as they can. It's nice to see them together catching up and enjoying each others company so much.

We didn't get in until about 10:45pm. I have worked 8-6pm today and am feeling a bit under the weather. Dh had an omlette with spinach and quorn waiting for me when I got in which was lovely. He'd also set my pyjamas out. We've had torrential rain here all day today so I feel I can snuggle in my PJ's this evening guilt free followed by a shower and an early night. Xx

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Re-enactment Catch-Up Day

Yesterday, we were in Upottery, Devon catching up with friends at a re-enactment training weekend. The weekend was mainly for the chaps, but a couple of us ladies went along and it was nice to see friends. Some people camped overnight but we decided to drive back at the end of the day. The site has a Nissen Hut which has been turned into a museum. It is very interesting. I took my rag rug to do and my crochet and was quite happy under the awning. We all took food to share and I wore my 1940's civilian clothes. In the evening we had a BBQ and put some 40's music on and all sat round chatting until it was time to leave.

There was the remains of an old building on the site which we used to stage some photos.
One of the photos of me using the building as a 'bombed out' home.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Restocking The Pantry

Ok, we're not really restocking the pantry because we don't have one, but I love that word. My Grandma and Grandpa had one and I still remember the smell and sneaking in there to sneak a rich tea biscuit every now and again xx

With a hopefully potential move coming up next year we are really trying to get some more money in savings and food is a variable cost we are always happy to try and reduce. We try and eat a wholesome, natural diet and I cook a lot from scratch. However, we have to be realistic, we both work full time and can work long hours (DH sometimes does 60 hours +) so sometimes we need a little help with food prep, although we try to keep convenience food to a minimum. 

Since DH suffered from gall stones a couple of years ago he suffers with IBS, this has gotten worse over the last year and we have been slowly trying to find out what his trigger foods are and eliminate them as when he eats them they cause him great pain and discomfort. So far we have worked out the problem foods are wheat (not sure if it's gluten or just wheat), oats and dried fruit. There is another one and we're not sure whether its dairy or rice. Personally I am ?hoping? it's dairy as rice flour is in so many gluten free foods and he loves bread. Gluten free food is expensive, and some of them can have an awful lot of additives and chemicals to make up for the gluten they are lacking so we don't generally buy a lot of GF foods. But recently I decided to do an Approved Food order as our Cupboards are really whittled down to not very much and I didn't want to spend a load on staples, plus I hate going to the supermarket. DH is travelling quite a lot at the moment so we need food that is easy to transport (he doesn't like to travel with lots of Tupperwares and bits) that he can take on the train or for snacks until he arrives at his destination. 

I haven't done an Approved Food order for a while. Approved Food is a company that sells packaged food that is past it's best before date, but still perfectly edible, at a reduced cost. It's a great idea to help reduce food wastage. They do sell a LOT of biscuits, chocolate and such like, but if you look thoroughly, or go through their entire stock like me (!) there is, what I think is, some really good produce out there, and more importantly, there is gluten free stuff. If we weren't stocking GF stuff I imagine we could get 'normal' options of similar foods and reduced our bill further. It may not look like loads of food but we will make it last and the quality of the items I chose seem to be really good. 

I managed to get A LOT of food for a total of £24.11 + p&p. Our bargains included:
- 450g Four Grain and seed muesli ( looks high-end product made with British Oats)- 89p
- 8 sachets of yeast- 39p
-  Snack bags of Organic Roasted seeds- 33p each (perfect for dh to travel with)
- Food Doctor Lentil and CousCous pot- 33p (not even out of date!)
-GF brown bread flour 1kg - 89p
- Organic Cornflakes- 99p
- Organic Coconut Oil 450ml- £1.99 (only just ood)
- Organic Buckwheat Flout (not wheat!) - 99p
- 4 bottles Ketchup- 25p each
- Smokey Chipotle Sauce- 39p
- Jar of Sesame, carob and honey preserve- 50p
Cinnamon- 29p

We expect this food to last several weeks, except for the sesame, carob and honey preserve, which may only last several hours, as I'm thinking of doing something funky with it and frozen bananas....I'm thinking of frozen banana soft scoop with the preserve mixed in...... and almond butter!! *scampers off to the kitchen* ;) Toodles xxx

Here is our frugal food order. We continue to use local suppliers for meat, fruit and veg, if not harvesting our own :)

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Stuff For Free!

This week is a week of lots of free stuff which can only be a good thing.

When I got to work yesterday of my colleagues gave me a dozen free eggs from her chickens, I always buy local free range eggs, never from the supermarket, but to get them from friends or brought from the end of someone's drive is always a special treat :)  On Monday I got offered a sack of free potatoes from another colleague who has a load spare from her sons school that grow produce. I will give her back a load of runner beans when mine are ready.

Today another colleague gave me bunch of rhubarb from her garden as she doesn't really like it and is going on holiday and hasn't the time to stew and freeze it.

My Mum phoned to say a friend had a iron spare as she is upgrading hers and did I still want one. I said a while back if she knew of anyone getting rid of one mine was very old and seen better days so I would happily receive one no longer required.

This year we also got given a nearly new television! Ours was second hand when we got it and was quite old so we received it gratefully.

I'm hope I'm not making us sound like scroungers. I think people offer us stuff for 2 reasons. Firstly, we're always very grateful to receive anything that is offered to us which I think people like. I know I love doing good deeds or giving gifts to people I know appreciate them. And secondly, if I need something like a new iron I spread the word amongst family and friends. Often people are glad to be rid of stuff they no longer use and it's great to keep things from landfill when they are perfectly serviceable.

In return, we give our allotment produce to friends and family, regularly sort out donations for charity shops and although we don't have a lot of material things to give, we give what we can, especially our time freely. I hope our friends and family know they can always rely on us for anything if they need it too :)

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Jobs That Feel Good To Get Done

I'm having a busy week. I was at a lecture for work last night and I have another one tonight. Because it is so hot today I have moved my Cinnamon Trust dog walking to tomorrow night and Friday night after work. I have also just started a 3 week correspondence course for work as well which is being done in my 'spare' time.

This means I am out of the house a lot this week and out of my usual 'routine'. I like my routine and I'm not keen on being out the house so much. I feel like I'm getting behind on jobs and not giving things like the allotment my full attention. So, as I had an hour or so from getting in from work before I have to go out again I thought I'd do one of those jobs that I don't particularly enjoy, that to anyone else it probably doesn't look like I've done a lot, but it is one of those jobs that make you 'feel' much better.

I have a lot of jobs like that. Deep cleaning jobs like cleaning out under the bed, pulling furniture out and cleaning behind it, cleaning the kitchen cupboards, fridge or freezer, cleaning the oven, filing paperwork. All these jobs are ones that anyone walking round the house wouldn't notice really whether they were done or whether they wern't, but I know whether they are or not. When I get chance to do a deep clean job it makes me feel so much better to know that it's done. When I know drawers and cupboards are tidy and our home is not just tidy on the surface, but that anyone can open a high cupboard and not be concerned that some falling masonry, shoe or book may result in a concussion, then that makes me feel good. Some people may find that silly, but I know what I mean and I think some of you will too.

Today it was deep cleaning the bathroom. I really scrubbed the bath and tiling, cleaned the tiles behind the toilet, under the sink and behind the cupboard. I scrubbed the floor by hand and wiped over the walls. It probably doesn't look massively different but I feel good knowing it's done. Dh is going to hoover for me and take the bins out while I'm out which is a help.

Now I am off to see one of my Cinnamon ladies who has asked to see me even though I am not dog walking so I'll have to go. I'm taking a snack to eat in the car park when I arrive at the lecture. Looking forward to shower, cup of tea and bed when I get in!!

Monday, 3 July 2017

The Shower Curtain Has Fallen Down :/

Our shower curtain has always been .....not great. Our shower is set in the bath with a circular curtain that goes round on a rail. We've never really liked it and our bathroom could do with being updated. The bath has a crack about 1/3 of the way up so we can't have baths either. 

We've always made do because there always seem to be other priorities for our money. But today, as Dh went to have a shower the rail started coming out the wall. Dh, by his own admission, is not the best at DIY (although he's a lot better than me!) so he has just managed to remove it for now. He has come up with a temporary solution of shutting one corner of the shower curtain in the window which is next to the shower and the other corner over the door!

This will have to do until we can get something sorted. A bit of the tiles came out the wall as well and will need sorting. We've just had to renew our home insurance and pay for the car to go through its MOT and service including 4 new tyres so we're a bit tight at the moment. But we'll make do, its all good.

Oh and Burt has an ear infection and had to have 3 ear drop applications a day which is more good news! He's unimpressed and is sulking. Never mind, onwards and upwards! :)

Burt recuperating on Dh's windowsill. 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Homemaking Sunday

I had a lovely couple of days with friends but today was a day spent mostly at home. I LOVE days like today, nice weather, pottering round the house. The term 'homemaking' I believe is tradionally an American word but I love it. It's a beautiful word that describes a lot of what I do perfectly.

We got up about 7am and I made muesli from scratch including  own blackcurrants, this is our breakfast most days at the moment. I then read the last of my second Bookbarn book. I tried to finish it last night in bed but couldn't stay awake! 

It looked like it was going to be another warm one so I was at the allotment by 8:30am. I harvested more beetroot, courgette, peas, blackcurrants, rhubarb  and spring onions. I sowed more peas and beetroot and did a bit of weeding.
When I got back I stewed the rhubarb, washed the blackcurrants which were all set in the freezer, the rest was set aside for lunch. 

Lunch was another frittata with salad and it was delicious.

I started a rag rug today. I haven't made one before but I had some re-enactment sand bag canvas a large needle and an old T-shirt so I decided to give it a go to see how I got on. As it turns out it is working quite well ans I really enjoyed it. I watched The Victorian Farm at the same time. I love all of the series the team did and watch them a lot. I had to hem the edge of the canvas as it was quite frayed but once I got going with cutting up the T-shirt I thoroughly enjoyed it and spent a few hours on and off doing it and it seems to be going pretty well :)

We dont have a drive or large front to our house. It pretty much goes straight onto the road and it has been needing a clean, freshen up and weed for a while now so we took the opportunity to get out there and give it a spruce up. It didn't take long once we got going and it looks so much better now it's been done. Dh swept the front and brushed off the cobwebs and spiders and I weeded, cleared the drain area and bagged up the leaves.

I did a couple of loads of washing, but I think I'll leave the ironing until tomorrow. I'm enjoying rag rugging too much! Dh has spent most the day working but he's spied the rhubarb coming in and had already asked if we have any custard powder so I think Il be doing rhubarb and custard later. We will do quiet time about 8pm then probably go to bed and read.

Hope everyone is enjoying the good weather :)

I hemmed the canvas then started rag rugging using an old T-Shirt.
Alpine Strawberries. I didn't plant these they just appeared so I've been leaving them to do their own thing.

Rag Rugging. I've never done it before so this is an experiment. 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Visiting Friends......Well Trying!!!

I arranged to have a day off on Friday so we could go and visit friends in Berkshire. We don't have a big circle of friends so we like to make the effort to see 'true' friends and they are always happy to reciprocate.

We left in, what we thought was plenty of time, and started a journey of what should have taken just under 2 hours. We got to the main road .....and sat in traffic......we tried to make sneaky cross country short cuts......and sat in traffic..... we tried to divert ANY way that was moving...... nowhere was moving. We started the journey in such good spirits but couldn't help feeling tired and a bit fed up when we arrived 3 1/2 hours later!

We had such a nice catch up though that evening. We made fajitas for dinner and had Pimms. We ended the evening with a short dog walk and a few rounds of Uno :)
Today we woke up and the weather was fine. We had planned to go to the New Forest for a dog walk and lunch at our favourite pub there as we have been to the Forest before.

We started off well and the traffic was flowing nicely, we went in 2 separate cars as we would be heading home from the Forest in the evening. After about 30 mins into the journey, my friend rang me to say that her dh's satnav had just told him 5 miles up the road was an accident with delays of 1 1/2 hours! whilst hoping everyone involved was ok it was obvious that if the road was closed it was probably serious and we came off at the next junction and started our merry way trying to negotiate an alternative route along with many, many other people doing the same thing. We made the right decision though as we passed near the motorway at one point and it was solid stationary traffic :/

Once we got to the Forest we drove to Lyndhurst where they were queueing to get into the town! We'd almost lost the will by this point as an hour journey had taken close to 2 :/ so we parked out of town and walked in for a look around. My friend J brought a couple of gifts then it was on to our favourite pub which didn't dissapoint especially with the puddings which were huge! I managed to restrain myself with 2 scoops of ice cream but our friends had Nutella and Oreo waffles which came with a mountain of cream and ice cream- I don't know where they put it!

We then went on a lovely walk through the Forest, so beautiful and really peaceful considering how many people must have been in the area enjoying the weather. The New Forest has an abundance of Native Wild ponies and we saw plenty of ponies and foals while we were there :)

Once we were back it was time to say goodbye and dh made our 2 hour trip home which was thankfully fairly uneventful. But tomorrow I'm not leaving the house by car at all! Just about to sit and read my book and enjoy not being in a car!

I always like to arrive with a gift. I bought some natural treats for her beautiful pets. 

And a sunflower for my lovely friends :)
The gorgeous weather proved to be both a curse and a blessing
The New Forest is absolutely beutiful and I can see why it is so popular