Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Slowing Things Down to Simple

I'm slowing things down in my life and at both my homes at the moment.  

After lots of soul searching, long dog walks with the wind in our faces and our minds free to wander.  Cosy evenings of long chats over wine and coffee, and lots of discussions, we have both agreed a course of action that will see us both happier in what we have chosen to do.

We don't want to run out of time to be happy we have chosen to be happy now, and with some compromise on both our parts ... like proper grown ups do ... we have found our way forward.

We are continuing to downscale our belongings, selling at the car boot sales and on Facebook Marketplace everything that is surplus to requirements and that can make us some money to add to our little pot of savings.

We will work on our Welsh home over the course of the next year to get it into a perfect state to put on the market ... if all goes to plan in late Spring of next year, and once our current tenant decides to leave our little flat near Llandudno we will claim it back and make it our own.  Redecorating, and redesigning what is there to make it our small and simple home and office space.  

Of course while all this is going on I will still be living my Smaller life over the border in England.  You know the one I mean ... it involves copious amounts of coffee, ridiculously long lie-ins or early morning baking, and lots and lots of little Puggy dog walks along riverbanks and canals.

Alan's office base will be at home in Wales, from where he will supervise the building work that need to be done to the house, and bit by bit bring the chaos that is our little Welsh hillside under control ready for passing it along to the next owner.  

And we will meet up at weekends or mid-week, whenever there is the chance to be together when we want to be.  To do the things we want to do together ... when we have done the things we want to do independently. 

A very grown-up solution.

I knew I would have to grow up a little bit one day!!

Sue xx


Monday, 22 July 2019

When the Rain Lashes Down

When the rain lashes down all night on the roof of the Van like a Yorkshireman learning to tap dance in his hobnail boots, and the winds blow unknown things around with sporadic clatters and bangs it's good to have a leisurely breakfast and then a morning pottering in the kitchen.

The rain has stopped now, and the Van door is clipped open.  The warm wind stirs the beaded curtain and outside the song of hundreds of relieved birds, drying out after a wild wet night sing their morning chorus.

It really is the perfect time to grab a cook book and gather together ingredients from my still full cupboard.  Within minutes there is a pan of Dahl puttering away on the hob filling the air with the most wonderful aroma.

Taken from a book with such an appropriate name.

Cosy after a rough night in the Van, with enough Dahl for at least four meals cooking away on the hob it's a good start to a fresh new week.   Are we going to have the intense heat that the weather forecasters have promised us ... at the moment is seems improbable,  but the warm winds could be the start of it.

Anyway me and the dogs are heading along the motorway to Wales in a couple of hours after a ricey, dahly lunch and a quick hoover round. .  Leaving a nice clean van ... and tubs of Dahl in the freezer ready for our next visit.

Sue xx

Sunday, 21 July 2019

A New Hobby

It would be worrying

If it wasn't so bloody relaxing 

My new hobby

Is day dreaming 


Saturday, 20 July 2019

Next - The Kitchen This Year

Last year I designed, and with some help from Alan constructed, this little shelf, cubbyhole and drawer set up.

The idea was to free up valuable space on the worktop and it's worked a treat.  It holds lots of those useful foodstuffs that I use on an almost daily basis, my little 'Aga' tin of sachets and samples, the little chopping board ... and tucked in the cubbyhole at the end Alan's salted peanuts.  The drawers contain pegs for keeping opened bags of food airtight and closed, my little packs of Lotus biscuits are in one, there are Sesame crackers in another and the last has some folded up Stayfresh bags from Lakeland. The little 'egg crate' that used to live on the shelf was sold at the last car boot sale,  although I loved it, it was completely superfluous ... because I no longer eat eggs!

The toaster and four more jars of foodstuff fit neatly underneath. Between the cubbyhole and the drawers.  This  little set up gives us so much more space to use on the worktop.  And talking of extra worktop space ...

We found this lovely large chopping board in Sainbury's a few months ago and having it on the cooker top when the hob is not in use gives us even more space.

I also found a wall mounted paper towel holder that I fixed underneath the cupboard, making good use of some dead space in the 'brewing up' area.

Also in the kitchen/dining area I took down the wall mounted cupboard and replaced it with a more soothing to the eye wallpapered wall.  At the second attempt the wallpaper stayed up!!

Then this week I took the basket that used to be on the worktop for fresh foods, it was filling up with clutter instead of food, wrapped my little battery operated fairylights round and about it and then wedged it onto one of the screws that used to hold up the cupboard.  It makes a lovely little lighting feature in the evenings.

They are just a few little alterations and additions, but when you live in a small space  and don't want to spend lots of money, you have to adapt what you have and find ways of making that space work well for you.  As your wants and needs change so must the space to keep things easy and simple for day to day life.

Sue xx

Friday, 19 July 2019

How Are Things Working Out at The Van

So how is the Van looking these days and how are the things I put in here working for me now after being here on and off for well over a year.

The living room centrepiece is obviously the fire and the mantlepiece above it.  Suky loves her little bed in front of the fire, which is rarely switched on by the way.  From this vantage point she can keep an eye on people and dogs passing by the full length window to her left, she can watch what I'm doing in the kitchen and, well just generally keep an eye on things ... and of course an ear open for the rustle of food wrappers anywhere in the Van.

I think my favourite change to the fireplace is the wallpapered surround to the actual fire.  Before I bit the bullet and did this the surround was just smooth and cream, a bog standard caravan fireplace.  Now with just a few off-cuts of wallpaper it makes the fire surround just a little bit more characterful ... and of course it ties in nicely with the wall in the dining area.

The mantlepiece itself has gone through several slight changes over the course of the last few months.  From sparse to over-filled ... always with stuff that is useful as well as decorative ... but at one stage most definitely too full!

Now  though I think I have it just right.

The larger of the boxes contains more nightlights and candles ready for refilling the holders also on the mantlepiece and in the bedroom.  The smaller one is an old money box and is useful for emptying any copper and small change from my handbag or coat pocket into until I can get back to Wales and tip it into the old enamel teapot.  The jug is currently holding some Snapdragons, at just £2.70 from Aldi I couldn't resist their beautiful muted colours.  When there are no fresh flowers it holds a few stems of silk lavender.  And of course the radio at the end means I can listen to Ken Bruce some mornings if I'm in a radio mood, otherwise it keeps the dogs company if I have to go out and leave them for any reason.

Also in the living room, last year I swapped the coffee table that came with the Van for these two cubes.  The coffee table made of its fake wood drove me mad, the whole caravan is kitted out in this contiboard type 'wood' and I really don't like it so wherever possible it is being replaced.

The cubes are great, not perfect as they are awkward to lift and shift when I clear the floor for a yoga session, but they are a firm enough resting place for cups of coffee and a soft enough one for Alan to put his feet up when he's in television watching mood.  And of course they hide a multitude of sins.  The left one has a bottom layer of DVDs and the other one has some magazines and more little coaster mats for visitors to use for their drinks.

So that's the livingroom,  come back tomorrow and I'll let you know how the kitchen is faring up.

Sue xx

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Good Food Days ... and a Note

Most days I start well, somedays I even manage to keep it up until bedtime ... but good food days really do make a difference to how I feel.

This mornings breakfast was pretty much my perfect breakfast,  and healthwise it had two of my five a day, plus nuts, seeds, protein in the form of peanut butter and a good base of vanilla flavoured plant based yogurt, which is fortified with calcium and vitamins.

It was really filling,  but I still managed to go back to the jar for another spoonful of peanut butter 😄

We'll see how long this keeps me satisfied for, but most days this week I've just been eating two meals a day, with a coffee and snack mid afternoon to keep me going until teatime.  Not out of any sense of deprivation or dieting it's just happened naturally, so I'm going with the flow.

Of course other days I start with a slice of toast or a biscuit, and things go downhill from there ... but we won't speak about them while I'm feeling so virtuous  🤣😃🙃

Note to all readers!

As lots of blog writers will have noticed Spam comments have been building and building in recent months.  We've had offers of massages, long rambling text in other languages and some downright rude ones telling us who to marry and who to be aware of not marrying.  Some blog readers will have noticed a tiny proportion of these slipping through the net, you have no idea of the large volume of these that we actually get!!

 The latest wave that has just started actually look like proper comments.  They come across as new readers that have just discovered your blog, but always start off by appearing on old posts.  They are always Anonymous as most are actually computer generated or mass produced.  A lot of us Bloggers allow Anonymous comments as we are aware that some of our readers do not want to sign up to any platforms, but we are having a struggle weeding out real from fake comments.

For now on my Blogs I will continue to allow Anonymous comments but ONLY if there is a name signed at the end.  As usual ALL comments on blog posts over 3 days old will be diverted to my email address for moderation by me before publication.

Thank you.

Sue xx

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Good Handwriting Days

My office space.

It's amazing what you can do with a mobile, phone, a tablet and a Filofax,  although I have to admit that I haven't gotten round to transferring anything from my my big black desk diary yet.

I will ... on a good handwriting day.  Do you have them too or is it just me.  Days when what you write is actually legible, looks neat and tidy and you enjoy making notes  and getting things in order.

Other days I rush through paragraphs, scrawl numbers down in a rush and basically write things that even I struggle to read back after a few weeks.  At one of my sons junior school parents evenings we were told by my younger sons teacher that his writing was that bad he would either be a doctor, or have to work with computers ... he works on a bank of three or four monitors and a couple of keyboards.

Oh ... did you notice something in the photo ?

Yes, the wallpaper has stayed up this time 😃🤞

I might have invest in a proper desktop computer to celebrate, then I only have to write things down on good handwriting days  💻⌨🖱🖨

Sue xx

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

A Good Morning Ritual

I'm taking time just now to be 'in the moment',  immersing myself in the things that I do, the things that I watch and the things that I read.  Being aware, and awake to what is around me.

It could be something to do with the yoga that I've just started again.  Nothing fancy, no classes of hot sweaty bodies or mats and people rolled out in lines ... my idea of hell ... just me, a DVD, the living room carpet and a Pug that comes over and kisses me whenever I am flat on the floor.  It's a thirty minute start to the day to calm things down, stretch creaking old ligaments and bones out and to centre me for the day ahead.

Followed by a shower, a mug of coffee on the bench in the garden and then a wonderful riverside walk with my cute little furry companion.  We both drink in the sights and sounds of the river, the smells of freshly mown grass and the dreaded Himalayan Balsam.  Yes it's gloriously scented but it starts a fight to the death for so many of our native wildflowers lining rivers, railway tracks and country lanes 😕

Today we walked back through the caravan park, stopping to chat to couples gardening in their little van-side gardens, the guys moving a large fridge freezer from one van to another and finally to a lady straightening up slowly and painfully from a spot of low level painting.  I could have suggested yoga ... but I didn't  😄

Sue xx

Monday, 15 July 2019

Monday Morning Washday Blues

I seem to have filled the garden with lavenders and purples this year.  If I was a proper flower grower I would no doubt refer to them as blues.  Whatever you call them, they are lovely.   They make me smile especially when I watch the bees and insects flitting from one gloriously open flower to another.

I filled these two wooden planters up yesterday with plants bought from the car boot sale.  A tray of nine Dahlias  and six pots of plants for a grand total of £3.  You can't go wrong at that price can you, and it's nice to support small growers rather than the big garden centres for a change.

  Although I wasn't feeling quite as supportive when I spotted the biggest, fattest, slimiest slug ever lurking between the compartments of the tray of Dahlias.  Plants planted, slug pellets sprinkled ... just to be on the safe side!

Amongst my new plants are a mix of purples, whites and the yellow Dahlias, and three lovely green trailing plants currently just wedged in their little pots into the tall trellis.  I'll have to see about a lightweight planter or two for them ... although I don't really want to go out and buy anything so I'm going to have a bit of a look around the Van and see what I can find that could be attached to the trellis.

This morning I've gone a bit old school, washing my weekend clothes by hand, along with a new to me shirt bought at the car boot sale for £2. 

 The task of standing at the kitchen sink washing clothes is something I did for years when my boys were small.  No washing machine and eight terry nappies, along with the previous days clothes for four people kept me busy for hours, in comparison a few tops, a bit of underwear and a pair of jeans is simplicity itself. 

And immersing your hands in cool rinsing water is bliss on a hot day.

Sue xx

Sunday, 14 July 2019

History Up in Flames

Years ago I managed charity shops, first I managed one at a time for various charities, then I upped my game and managed two. 

 Needing to know whether I had to be at one shop or the other, or in the office at the Hospice that we raised funds for meant that I needed to be organised.  The ideal thing for all this was obviously a Filofax.  I had a lovely big black one ... A5 size, bulging with diary pages, addresses and contact details for all the volunteers and staff at the shops and at the Hospice.  Pages and pages of shop window plans, notes, brainwaves, meeting dates ... you get the picture.

Then I left, I down-scaled my life.  I opened my own business and bought a desk diary.  It became a habit, every year buy a desk diary, fill it with work things, with home things, with appointments and come the end of the year copy all the vital information into the new fresh desk diary with a brand new pen.  The old one went into drawer in my desk.

The drawer is now full ... they will all be going on the next bonfire we have.

History going up in flames, but I have a good memory ... I really do not need a drawer full of old books.

Instead I'm reverting to a Filofax.

This time a nice neat turquoise personal sized one, that will have enough room for appointments, enough room for important names and addresses, for birthdays etc etc  And at the end of each year I can get rid of the diary pages and insert a fresh new year.

Another drawer emptied, another item simplified.

Sue xx