Saturday, 28 March 2020

My Granddaughter

I couldn't resist sharing this with you, isn't she just adorable.  💖

This is my youngest grandchild Amira Vicki.  In this photo she almost 16 weeks old ... and already learning to read, it would seem the family love of books is continuing!!

" It's time to get back to my book Nana Sue."   😄

We don't see a lot of them anyway at the moment being so far apart, and of course with things the way they are right across the country even if we were closer we couldn't visit.  We are here in North Wales and Simon and his family all live in Cumbria, a good four hours away ... but we are very happily two hours nearer when we're at the Van.

But thanks to Simon being so besotted with his new daughter, as he quite rightly should be, and taking lots of photos of all of the children and posting them on social media, and in particular Facebook it means that we get to see her every week.

Amira with Daddy on his birthday last month.

She was the most perfect little gift 💖

Simon and Catherine … Amira's Mummy and Daddy in our paddock.

I have Simons permission to use and share these photos as I usually don't share much about the younger members of the family to respect their privacy in years to come.  But in these confusing and strange days I thought a little baby post would be something to awww over and make us all smile.

Nana Sue xx

Friday, 27 March 2020

My New Office Space

We used to share the office upstairs in our spare bedroom.  When Alan worked mostly away from home it worked out fine, I had it during the week and he used it at weekends.  Now of course for the past three years he's been working most of his time at home, so he's had to claim the office purely for himself.

I have no problem with this after all I was mostly at the Van for the last two years, so my office was on the table in the kitchen there, easily packed away each evening ... simply fold down the laptop and place things neatly on top.

Now we're both home I tried using breakfast bar in the same way but there's less space and having to pack away for lunch was annoying.  

So ... I have claimed the table!!

Brilliant for blogging on, and for doing my coursework and I can just leave all my things out whenever I want to ... although I am trying to stay neat and tidy.  The temptation of course is to gaze out of the window at our glorious view far more often than I should while the sun is shining as it is, but there's no rush to do anything at the moment so I allow myself moments of relaxation and hillside watching whenever I want to.

A little heads up for anyone that usually gets the Radio Times, as we do, and was wondering ... as I was ... how to carry on getting it.  There is currently an offer in this weeks edition, meaning you can get the next twelve editions delivered to your door like a mini subscription.  It has free postage and packing and you do save slightly on the cover price ... and of course you do not have to leave your house to get each weeks copy.

I used to get a subscription until I started living between two addresses and two countries and needing two different areas editions, yes it got complicated, so I just started buying it each week from the supermarket wherever I was based.  Now that I am trying to avoid the supermarkets for as long as possible I was just starting to wonder what I would do, and this solves that problem nicely.

Order online at -

Just go to the website fill in the details, it literally took me five minutes and you have your next 12 weeks Radio Times on standby.

Although the Radio Times may seem expensive … it's currently £3.50 … it is only one of the two magazines that I now get and I read it cover to cover (except for the radio programmes) and do all the puzzles, so I do still think it's worth it for me.

Did you stand outside or at your window and Clap for the NHS last night at 8pm?

We did, although not even being in a village ... just 20 odd houses dotted all over 3 miles of hillside the only other clapping we could hear was that of our nearest neighbours on the now closed campsite across the road.  They have a little cluster of terraced cottages that are let on long lets, so their little family of four plus a few more hands valiantly clapping away made enough noise to carry up to us.

What most people did on both sides of the valley was to light up their houses with as many lights as possible, and for just a few minutes it was like a magical valley of fairy lights stretching as far as the eye could see.

Sue xx

Thursday, 26 March 2020

A Day Filled with Memories

Today is a day filled with memories of my Dad.

He died eight years ago today and this year I'm finding it harder than ever, so there are not many words here … just happy memories.

Dad ashes are in a box buried in the middle of my Veggie Patch, the flowers that surround his tree bring the birds and the insects over to pollinate the crops he would have loved to have seen.  The bird bath in the middle was one he and Mum bought for their garden, and the little dancing couple in the bottom left corner are Darby and Joan … or Syd and Joan the couple that danced their way to happiness.  My Mum and Dad. 

Dads ashes will be coming with us wherever we end up when this place gets sold.

Happy family memories from a Scarborough holiday we all took together to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Three generations of family love.

Mum and Dad almost recovered from the shock of being enticed for a family meal … and finding it was a surprise party for their 50th Golden Wedding Anniversary.

Four generations in 2011.  

Mum, Dad, my brother, my son and my grandson … I'm taking the photo.

Dad helping us out at Jointers Farm, he loved helping out on the farm even if it did mean getting chased by giant pigs.

Lets go fly a kite!!

We have just had an amazing fly past here in on our little patch of North Wales by five American fighter jets.  Each whooshing by and then almost doing a loop before disappearing behind the distant hills, amazing to watch … Dad would have loved it.

Sue xx

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Reasons to be Thankful

Well here I am first day back home in Wales, with the sun shining and a gentle breeze I have managed to dry two sets of bedding already.  According to the forecast the weather is due to change sometime soon so I decided to get stuck in with washing today and get as much dry as I could.

Yesterday while I cleaned around the Van and packed up as much as I could possibly fit into my little Fiat 500 ... as of course we don't know when we will be allowed back onto the park ... Suky kept a beady eye on me from the doorway, while managing to soak up as many rays as she could while doing so.  She was determined, as the dogs always are, that I would not go without her!!

The motorways were quite busy as I left around lunchtime, but as I entered Wales and the M56 merged into the A55 the traffic got quieter and quieter and the roads cleared.  It was a quieter journey home than I have ever had, and as I came off the A55 and drove through Glan Conwy there wasn't another car to be seen.  It felt eerie, but with the sunshine and a few dog walkers here and there it was also strangely calming. 

Reasons to be thankful are on everyone's minds at the moment, and yes we have lots of reasons to be thankful here.  My first one is the glorious weather and seeing all the bedding blowing gently on the line.  My second is that this hen, looking rather poorly yesterday when I arrived home, has decided as chickens often do that sunshine makes everything worth living for and she is running around and back to normal today.

Watched over and kept company by her sister.  

They are little no-names known collectively with their other sister as 'the Brown Girls' but loved as much as any named chicken I have ever owned has been loved.  They are virtually in retirement now, with perhaps two or three  eggs a week laid between them.  It keeps Alan happy.

I was thankful yesterday to find these flowers in Tesco.

There were hundreds of bunches of Mother's Day flowers all being sold off at half price, and at the end of the aisle a few buckets of reduced to clear bouquets.  I picked this one for Alan, he loves bright garish colours totally opposite to the sort of flowers I love but I bought them for him and they are adding a splash of colour to the living room windowsill and drawing our eyes over to the views and the sunshine beyond.

At just £1 ... reduced from £20 to £10 and then down to £1 … they were worth every penny.

I think in the current climate every necessary trip to the supermarket will include alcohol and flowers!

I'm thankful also that merging the Van food with the home in Wales food, plus the few bits that I bought while I was at Tesco filling the car with fuel, has meant a fridge that is looking very healthy indeed.  

The only thing that will send us out on allowable trips for necessary supplies will be milk for Alan's drinks.  I use long-life Almond or Oat milks and not much of them at all, usually only on my Weetabix and a splash in sauces, and of course I can always make some of my own while I have the necessary ingredients.  And thanks to merging Van food with Wales food I currently have six cartons of unsweetened Almond Milk ... which at my usual rate of consumption is at least six weeks worth of milk.

So we should be fine for a couple of weeks at least and it makes me happy to think that we will not be adding any stress to this current situation.

So that's five things to be thankful for without even having to think about it - beautiful weather, washing drying in the fresh air, a healthy happy chicken, a jug of lovely flowers and a fridge full of food.

Life may be strange, but it is good.

Sue xx

I've decided to blog over on Challenging Myself as well during this worldwide challenging time.  Nip on over and follow along for anything foodie  😃

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Headed for Home

It's funny 'borrowing' one of your own photos from Google Images to use on a post, but that's just what I've done today, everything but my laptop and mouse is packed away ready to hit the road for home so my little computer memory box of photos is in the car and my laptop is devoid of all saved photos.

I thought it was time to heed Boris' warning and head for home.  Better for us to be together on 5 acres where we can exercise the dogs in our own paddock, than 120 miles apart, in different countries with different limitations and alone.

So I'm grabbing the Pug, finishing off loading the car and heading for the Welsh hills.  

See you on the other side.

Sue xx

Monday, 23 March 2020

Flowers, Washing and Fresh Air

We've been blessed with a few gloriously sunny days here at the caravan park.  

The flowers are all looking glorious, blossom is appearing on trees and the birds are singing their little heads off each morning and evening … as well as some nest squabbles but we won't go into that!!

My £2.49 replanted pot of Primulas from Aldi are looking gorgeous and have been flowering away here for three weeks now.  Picking the spent flowers off as they go limp means they flower for a  l o n g  time.

The little Tete a Tete daffodils planted in the old bread bin are just starting to look a little tired, but their cheery yellow heads are still making me smile every time I walk back up to the Van.  Beneath them I can see the first stirrings of the Mint that is also planted in the bread bin, ready to come up in a couple of weeks.

The tulip bulbs that I planted in the little tin bath are looking so strong and chunky but with no sign of flower heads yet.  Once my Courgette seedlings come through in the polytunnel back home in Wales I will bring a couple of plants to add to this bath, maybe by then there will be a bit of colour in  here.  Although what colour I don't know as I can't find the label that went with the tulip bulbs!!  

The grass needs cutting again, and I'm hoping that it will stay dry until tomorrow so I can give it another cut without struggling too much.  The dogs really don't like this grass when it's even slightly long for some reason, I think perhaps the soil beneath it is just very cold and wet.

Today I'm taking advantage of the sunshine and getting a bit of handwashing dried.  A day in the sunshine means that by teatime when I bring it in it should be almost dry.  It takes a long time to drip dry indoors in the Van because it's only wrung out by hand, so a day when it can sit in the little garden is always a bonus worth snapping up.

There are lots of folks splitting their days into timetables and trying to keep themselves busy, I had an urge to do this .... but thank goodness it passed!!  Instead I have decided each day try to do four things, something productive, something in the fresh air, something cooked or made from scratch and something I love to do.

If I were to make myself a list each day then, this is what todays list would look like -

Productive - the washing.

Fresh Air - 2 doggy walks.

Something Cooked or Made from Scratch - a big batch of hummus to last me the week.

Something I Love - watch a film on DVD this afternoon.

Some days it could be four really good things, other days it could simply be - wake up, open a window, stick a potato in the microwave and watch television.  It doesn't really matter but I'm just trying to give myself a little bit of encouragement to do something.

Suky says -  Hello … and what would your four things be?

Productive / Fresh Air / Cooked or Made from Scratch / Something you Love

Sue xx

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Something to Read and Something to Watch

Now and then I am going to share links to some of the Facebook and YouTubers that I follow or know.  If you have suggestions that you think I would like to discover please feel very free to leave them in the comments below.

Let's all … while we have this time to be able to … scroll, watch and listen and find some new people with similar interests to us from all over the UK or the world.  

And while we're there lets delete, unfollow or simply stop looking at all those things that pull us in and drag us down and depress us.  Personally I'm starting with all the YouTubers who whilst talking about sustainability and simplifying their lives then bombard us with their latest acquisitions, sponsorship deals and things that you simply have to have.

Something to read and watch.

A brilliant person to follow on Facebook and/or YouTube is Plant Based Gabriel … well I mean just look at his beautiful little daughter.  There are lots of recipes, some foodie based gardening hints and tips … and lots of lovely photos of little Bridgette.

Something to make you smile.

And Mavis says ... Hope you have a lovely day  💖

Sue xx

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Retreating to Sanity

Images today from Google Images

It's time for us all to step back from the madness and remember who we are

We are the folk that can cope, that can sit back on our heels and relax those tensed up shoulders.  We can take a breath and let it out, another and then another and then open our eyes and our hearts to the realisation that we will get through this.  We will come out the other side, wiser, calmer and hopefully healthy.  

We will learn about who our true friends are, who cares for us and how much nature can help to settle our minds, rest our hearts and fill our lungs with fresh air.

We can fling open the windows of our homes and let the freshest air there has been for years flood in and fill our rooms with a vitality that might have been missing all Winter.

We can self isolate in a happy way.  Cleaning, gardening, reading, watching television and then watching, reading about or listening to just enough of the news to keep us informed but not to rear up once again those feelings of panic and worry.

We are so fortunate.

We have fresh water, roofs over our heads, the love of friends and family, and even if you are alone in the real world reading this proves you are very much part of the wonderful world of blogland.  Readers and followers are friends and blogging family, and each of us bloggers in our own unique way will be here whenever we can to make you smile, to help you laugh, to make you think and to at the very least … and this is me folks … give you some drivel to read.

Stay safe.

Stay well.

And know that you are welcome here whenever you want.  

Here at the Van the kettle is always on, and my words will stay and I will try each and every day to give you a little bit more drivel to read. 

Oh and don't forget to wash those bloody hands  😉

Sue xx

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

You Can Do This!!

Your grandparents were called to war … you're being asked to sit on the couch and watch the television.  You can do this!!  '

These words are from a very popular meme doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment in one guise or another.  It's very true.  All the whinging about isolation is unbelievable, if we're sensible we CAN do this..

The panic buying is also unbelievable, although I do admit to dashing on to Pets at Home for two of our usual bags of dog food after seeing the pet food aisle completely decimated in our local Tesco.  Ginger will be fine he has his usual tuna stash and a big bag of dried Whiskas.

One thing coming out of this Covid-19 madness is a wonderful sense of community.  Whenever there is any sort of catastrophe look for the helpers … they are always there.  Local shops offering home delivery for anyone that is self isolating or already poorly.  Supermarkets opening early with an hour clear for the over 70s to shop first thing while the stores are clean and freshly restocked … I do hope the bus drivers are ignoring the bus-pass time limitations and letting folk on free of charge.

It's weird and not so wonderful out there at the moment, but if the best we can do for ourselves and our communities is to stay at home at watch television, read books, do DIY and clean our homes then lets all do just that and stay safe.

Oh ,  one little drawback for us is that we have no television at the moment due to a fault with our Freesat connection.  We think a squirrel has chewed through our wire … well our dish is at the top of a tree so I'm surprised it's not happened before now …  so we are currently working our way through my massive DVD collection.  

I KNEW it would come in handy one day!!

Sue xx

Monday, 16 March 2020

Loos, Throws and Chickens

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, as well as being totally out of the mindset for blogging, I have been busy preparing for the sale of the house.

Over the past few days I've whizzed through the house like a whirlwind doing a thorough deep clean of everything, putting anything not in daily use into cupboards, the car boot sale box or the bin and I've also been trawling through the computer for photographs to put into a folder we are putting together for prospective buyers, so they can see the changes we have implemented since we took on this little patch of hillside that we currently call home.

Our nearest neighbour has been told of our hopefully imminent departure, but apart from family and all my lovely blog readers our decision to leave the place we have called home for the last 6.5 years has been a closely guarded secret.  Of course come next week when the For Sale board goes up this will no longer be the case and no doubt we will be the talk of the hillside and beyond.

My view from the breakfast bar (my 'office space') as I type this is this  ↑

It's very bare and not like my usual worktop view at all.  There are usually the clean dog bowls ready to be filled for the next meal, dispensers of foil and clingfilm and the odd jug or two waiting to be put away.  

I like it in some ways, it's calming on the eyes, but it's not a working kitchen is it!!

In the living room ... while the photographer for the estate agents snaps away with his camera ... the usual throws are off the sofas and the dogs are wandering around wondering where to sit.  Ginger has just casually strolled out through his catflap as if to say 'that's it I've had enough' and for the next hour there is no normality.

But we'll soon be back to an almost normal, of course we have to remain ultra minimal and relatively  clean and tidy while there are viewings going on, but the photos are the most important part to get right.

Outside we are relatively tidy, as tidy as a smallholding gets.  Leaves have been swept up, corners tidied and even the plant in the loo decided to flower for us ... so we left it there!

I've just been back on the computer and dug out a few sunnier shots for the photographer to add to his collection, because with it being March and us just edging into Spring here in North Wales there is not a lot of fresh greenery about, and the chickens have decided to hunker down out of the cold breeze so they were nowhere to be seen.

Hopefully the photographs, both mine and the professional photographers will be enough to spark some interest and we will be off on new adventures in the not too distant future.

Sue xx