Another pancake morning


On days ‘off’, no uni, not going to uni, no shifts, etc. I tend to cook breakfast. I tend to cook most days if a boiled egg is cooking, but on these days I make sugar-free pancakes. How smug does that sound? Wholemeal pancakes with fake sugar is really what they are. They have raspberries in them too. But they set me up for the day due to their slightly rubbery texture. Yum.

Then I make my own version of a latte and ‘just have a look’ at my emails. About 2 hours later I can be found drooling over the streamlined interiors of trendy terraced houses, reading crochet blogs, sad fact but it is a thing for me, and the most addictive of all? Money saving/making/frugal living/minimalist blogs.

I am more than a little interested in minimalist methods of living, saving, upcycling and all that. I see myself in yoga pants and a crop top doing bendy poses on a mat, safe in the knowledge that there is nothing in my house. Or should that be nothing in my house that is not beautiful and useful to paraphrase William Morris. (His house was stuffed full by the way).

I plan no-spend days and months, which I forget as I hand over my student discount card at the Co-op when buying my fave tipple, prosecco. Oops. ‘Tomorrow is another day’ comforts me then. When the window cleaner says he will pop in after work and I offer to cook as that is the cheaper option than dining out, I go mad with ingredients and blow the budget. At least he brings the booze.

This morning I read and followed on this blog, another zany singleton’s experience of struggling with her financial lot. I thought I too would start my no spend month as it is the first of March and as most of my budget will go on train travel to London this month, things will be tight.

Then the niggles of self doubt and the reasons why it might not be doable after all started surfacing. My priorities are all over the joint. I have academic work to get on with and procrastinate constantly. There is cleaning to be done and lots of unfinished moving house related sorting out. My four legged friends need their walk (I need their walk – we love it). The cat needs to be groomed – he gets lumps in his fur as he can’t groom himself well any more.

The pancake is gone, the coffee is cold and this table is a trash heap. What these successful bloggers tell us, well hidden in the humour and self deprecation is that it is BLOODY HARD WORK committing to anything and even harder sticking to it. It takes real effort, drive, focus, energy and a true desire to change the way one lives.  I want to do it, but is that enough?

This month my goals are modest. To be honest about the habits I want to break and change. To look after me better (health, mind, body). I seriously need to drink less. It is just a habit not a pleasure most of the time.  To reflect a little on the choices that got me here and accept that not all were good. To respect what I have and to live well within my means.

Here goes xx








Doggy update


Fantastic news. Max has a new family and it did not happen through a charity.

One of my amazing friends put the word out and another girl I know and worked with for years got in touch saying she and her family (husband, two daughters and older dog) were looking to rehome a dog…

Today Max had a big day. First he went to the hospital to meet his potential new mum, it was love at first site. Then word got out he was around so there were lots of ladies gushing over him and saying they would have taken him had they known etc etc. He then came with me to the hairdresser and was a star. Then finally we met the window cleaner in a dog friendly cafe and had a bite to eat. The poor mite was exhausted when he got home.

He moves on Sunday. As sad as I am, I am immensely grateful and relieved.

A very hard decision


In the few minutes left in the battery life of this pc, (charger chewed by the subject of this post and will need to be replaced…) I will tell you briefly of one of the worst decisions I have ever had to make.

My beloved Max

looking naughty but sweet here, is leaving us. Of late my neighbours have been complaining about his barking when I am out. I cannot verify this, as he is quiet when I am here. He does have a collar to deter the barking, but it has been getting worse… the complaints that is.

Neighbour relations are tricky things and we cannot chose who we live next door to, just like we cannot chose family. The main complainer is a very, very, large, unkempt woman with a pile of rubbish in her front garden, including a door! Her other half dotes on Juno…odd. What has been difficult is her tactic. She claims that another neighbour, Dorrie, or Florrie or someone will have the police on me as she is ‘in with’ the community police and is very high up in the church..not sure what that means, but obviously was supposed to add to the weight of the complaints. I spoke to said Dorrie/Florrie who claims she has never heard the dog but had a few messages for the first complainer, through me, which indicated quite bad blood between the two. First neighbour then claimed that other people were complaining to her and I asked her to let them know I was happy to hear the complaints directly. She could not provide names…

I walked the dogs as often as I can, for hours sometimes. Leave them toys and snacks and make sure Max has his collar on, but to no avail. She has taken to lying in wait for me as I approach the house.

The final straw was last Friday when I went to an open day at the hospital I hope to work at, in London. I was given a job. I am still in shock, it seems so unreal, but  all present were guaranteed a job and all we have to do is pass the degree and indicate our training preferences. (I have been with this Trust for 3 years and the open day was invitation only, so they obviously new what they were getting!!)

As I walked up the path, she darted out with more moaning and my heart sank. I have shed many tears this week. I hate leaving the dogs alone for so long as it is, but this was too much. My new job will keep me out of the house for more than 15 hours a day on shift days. I still have uni, I was bereft.

But, I am blessed with the most amazing friends. All I spoke to set about trying to sort out a solution, I spoke to dog trainers and really worked at it. At the weekend the window cleaner popped in. He is absolutely the voice of reason, never ruffled, always thoughtful, and he talked me through all the options and listened to me cry.

We found a solution for Juno with friends who are a bit like her grandparents who take her for me on holidays etc. But Max was different. Most people wanted him but worried that in fact he may be a barker. One family offered to dog share him.

However, the fact is that Max is an extremely sociable little dog. He loves company, canine and human alike. He is bright and very active. He is fabulous with children and totally lovable. So I thought the best and fairest thing for Maxi is to find a forever home where he is not coming and going between families, where he gets time and attention and the chance to shine.

I feel guilty that I took him on, foolish for not recognising the challenges ahead when I have to hold down a job and support myself. I feel selfish because I though it would make my life easier having two dogs, company for each other. It works but is not tenable for 15 or more hours a day.

So, I have spoken to a well known charity a number of times over the last few days and they are looking into whether they can rehome him for me.

I imagine there are those who will condemn me for my poor choice. Believe me, I am doing that myself.






Letting go of people


We all have emotional baggage, history, views, prejudices and suspicions. One of the true tests of friendship and acceptance is/was, in my opinion,  not to judge and to maintain the friendship because it means/meant something…..

But what if that relationship, despite its age, its history and tradition is exposed to racism and bias and hatred?

Bearing in mind my beautiful girls are half Japanese, and look it, I expected more from one of my very oldest friends. At the dining table with her own daughter present as well as mine she launched into a tirade about people from a certain Asian country, likening them to a human – porcine hybrid. I was shocked but could not find the words to condemn the comments, without ruining the relationship. (The words would have been strong and colourful).

However some later reflection made me accept that things can never be the same again and the fact we live a world apart means there is no need to see her.

On this side of the world however, I am on Facebook and of late have noted that one person is increasingly outspoken in their extremism, all in the name of her God. I find it disturbing, distressing and disappointing. Is that a reflection of my own narrow mindedness in refuting another’s views or is it something else?

We live in unsettling times. We also live, here in our part of England, in a melting pot of people, faiths and traditions and yet there is still room for hatred.

I may come across as being biased and judgmental myself, but I cannot condone racism and for that reason chose to let people go.



My own trumpet


The results of the oral exam came out today. My mark bought tears to my eyes. 94%.

After all this time, all the effort and work and the constantly low marks – passes, but still to my mind, low, this awesome number.

Tears from me, but it would not have been possible without awesome friends. The lovely Leila for one. We did so many ‘rehearsals’ together before the exam. Her results are as mine…fabulous.

quiet time


The trip to Ath was smooth and the return one was smoother. I get such a thrill to think I was 40 when I got my driver’s licence and approached the whole driving thing with nerves and now I can pop over to Europe alone in the car….one of my small joys.

Francoise is 82 and wobbles on her feet quite alarmingly at times. It does not help that the town she lives in is all cobbles and tall steps into shops and odd gutters that have to be stepped over. I felt like a mother hen clucking around her making sure she didn’t go over. Behind the wheel however, she is a different person…also alarming. Good thing I have strong nerves.

We did little outside though because the weather did turn and it was wet and very cold. No flea markets or charity shopping but that helped the wallet.

We did sew though.After deciding against the pattern I had, we used one from her magazines and she painstakingly traced the outline, cut the fabric, got me to use the rotary thingy on charcoal paper and mark the seam lines. Then it was pinned and tacked and fitted. She does everything methodically, accurately and slowly and has produced some of the loveliest clothes, embroidery, lace, patchwork and knitting I have ever come across.

It was yet again a good lesson for me, (I learned yesterday that I am a pragmatist when it comes to learning and developing new skills…ie…fast and furious).

The dress is unfinished but I will return to make it with her in April. It is a summer frock so no worries there.

I managed to do some academic work, some crochet and I read, in two days ‘The Girl on the Train’  by Paula Hawkins. I loved it, but did work out early what was going on.

I am home now and the sun is shining, youngest is in bed – she arrived last night and was in good form. The first lecture of MY FINAL SEMESTER was yesterday and today I am doing work on the literature review, cleaning, dog walking and tonight have a dancing lesson.

AND, the boiler is fine. It just needed a bit more pressure and with the help of the window cleaner the house is toasty again…




communication and cold


Youngest has texted saying she appreciated the space and will come down after I have been to Belgium. Very happy.

The trip is on Thursday and the weather looks grim. Francoise called on Sunday to remind me to bring some fabric and a pattern we bought together years ago as we may as well sew she said. Could I find it – in fact some of my antique Japanese fabric has gone missing too. Just wonder if I was too enthusiastic about donating stuff when I moved in here.

Fortunately I did find a piece of linen mix fabric in a very conservative navy – (boring grey/navy really) and have ordered a suitable pattern to take.

My frugal month is not going so well. Food – wise, very happy. I have bought a blouse through Quidco and got cash back on it and my ferry ticket. But the heating has gone…why does heating go in January??

The boiler is in the loft and I have dutifully downloaded the manual, climbed up there twice tonight, reset it etc, etc and despite groaning and moaning coming from it, nothing.

So it is cold, colder than usual in this house. I am rugged up and have a hot water bottle if needed.

I guess what I am not spending on silly things will come in handy when the plumber calls!!



How NOT to parent


So youngest missed the bus yesterday and when I rang was in two minds about delaying the trip one more day or finding another cheap bus ride. I asked her to let me know.

Today I texted a few times in the morning – hoping for an ETA so I could plan a meal if necessary, nip up to the library, fit in a dog walk and study. Nothing. A couple of phone messages – nothing.

By lunch time I was anxious and truthfully, annoyed. When she did pick up she was drowsy and not sure what to do and wasn’t doing well….a worrying sign. But old stupid and thoughtless here started nagging.

Could she just have acknowledged my text at least to let me know she wasn’t coming? We had a drive to Belgium planned next week and I have not let my friend know when we will be there, waiting for youngest to arrive here and to work things out with her as she has friends to see as well. That means that I have not yet booked a kennel for the dogs and cat as I have no dates and basically I blurted all this out. She had asked me to help her with as student finance application and now I fear it will all be left so very late and she will struggle for funds.

Depression is a horribly selfish illness because when we are in it, we are in it and it is hard to be empathetic, sympathetic or even sometimes aware of how others might be feeling. BUT, at the back of my mind is always the idea that it is not fair to ignore others or am I expecting too much?

Communicating that one needs space, even telling ones mother to bugger off is communication. Saying nothing is so very cruel (my opinion). I told her and she was really upset. She claims she cannot talk to me because I am always annoyed with her. Far from it, but by the time I actually hear from her I am usually so worried and scared that she has done something, that I bite. So all she hears is my fear and that sounds a lot like anger.

She has blocked me and says she will talk to me tomorrow – I have countered with the promise that if she does not get in touch I will visit her. This is because so many times she has told me she will let me know where or how she is and doesn’t. No greetings at birthdays, Christmas, no thanks for gifts or money or sending her parcels when she forgets things at home. She has even traveled out of the country without telling me.  I am the enemy and feeling personally and directly responsible sometimes for the fact that my beautiful, highly intelligent daughter suffers so much.

I really want to learn how to communicate with her – but will she let me.

How not to parent.






ut in a student finance application, but

A little brighter


Happy New Year to one and all and may it be one you look back on with happy memories.

That last post was a bit of a moan, so sorry, but life gets that way.

The holiday was good over all. New Year was spent here with the window cleaner and the dogs because our plans to join friends fell through when hubby was called in to work and wifey was not a happy girl and decided not to party!! At midnight however, there was a flurry of fireworks over the trees on the green and it was really pretty.

We had drinks with some of my friends on New Year’s day, after a morning of him painting and me studying.

Today it felt much more like a new year. Sunshine, crunchy frost, an early start for me and a good few hours on the exam. I  also looked at the contents of the fridge and have decided to work my way through all the bits in there before buying more food and that means a LOT of courgettes, broccoli and cheese over the next few days….

My financial situation took a nose dive with the dogs and cat costing as much as they did just at Christmas and the end of my ‘pay’ period.

Youngest heads down on Wednesday from Manchester and as much as I love her,  her moods can put huge pressure on the house. She is on new meds and says she feels better but is still struggling. It has been her choice to not be in contact for the greater part of four months other than sporadically. However, when we caught up in Manchester she was quite forthcoming about some of the things that had been going on in her life. I worry all the time but cannot live her life for her. We have a plan though, to drive to Belgium to see a dear friend and both of us are looking forward to that.

The dogs and cat will have to be cared for by a kennel but that is the cost of pets. So with a trip and pet care I am starting the month with great financial restraint.

I am hoping that I can continue that way for as long as possible too as this year my allowance will stop and there will be a gap between then and when I can actually earn money.

A trip to Australia is on the cards to see my parents and in the next 8 weeks a weekend somewhere in Europe to see my sister and her partner who will be travelling there.

All big expenses will be paid for early to get the cheapest deal and through the cashback site, Quidco, which I use more and more.

I don’t have the discipline of some, but recognise that I can try harder.

Oh, and yes, I am doing a dry January …. at least while in the UK!!