Friday, 6 December 2019

What to Buy Me, or Not Buy Me for Christmas

VeganKind Christmas Selection Box 2019

It seems that most the vloggers and bloggers that I follow on the internet are doing sustainable gift guides.  Lovely to watch even if they are getting slightly repetitive with the same products being recommended here there and everywhere. 

I was thinking about it the other day, and I thought I must be the hardest person in the world to buy a gift for … mainly because I don't want one ... but also because I only use the things I use.

 I am allergic to perfume, so therefore allergic to most things with perfume in them.  I have a couple of body creams that I'm fine with, but only one that I love so I tend to stock up on it when it's on offer three for the price of two at Boots.  When I travel I have a couple of mini sized pots that came free with magazines that I fill up from the larger one.

  I'm pretty safe with hand creams, and strangely I am okay with most bath foams, although anything lavender is a favourite, so that tends to be what people get me if they really want to buy me something … and I don't mind having a stock of those tucked away out of sight in the bathroom cupboard.

To go back to what the vloggers that I follow are suggesting as gifts ...

I don't need a thermos style travel mug or a bamboo travel cup as now own more bamboo cups than I will ever get through in my lifetime, thanks to that being a 'good present idea' in lots of peoples minds, it really was.  But no more … please!

I have a brilliant set of metal drinking straws, not that I like them that much but they are better than plastic straws.  Obviously these will last me a lifetime, unless I do a Uri Geller and bend them out of shape 😄

I have a bamboo toothbrush and absolutely love it, and I will be investing in more once I have used up all the new plastic ones I seem to have both here at the Van and back home in Wales.  Why have we got so many .... I have no idea!!   Once they have outlived being toothbrushes they go into the box under the kitchen sink to be used as little cleaning brushes for round taps etc ... really useful.

VeganKind Selection Box 2018

This year like last year I have treated myself to the VeganKind selection box.  It's good to have a little assortment of goodies in the house that are suitable for me to eat when Alan tucks into his milk chocolate covered brazils and other assorted Christmas goodies while we watch a film.

So as well as being the awkward bugger who can't be bought perfume for, I also can't be bought a box of chocolates, a cheese board or even an off the shelf hamper.  Which is drummed home to me every year when Alan's hamper arrives from the agency he works through, and out of the thirty or so items there are if I'm lucky one or two that I can eat. 

This isn't a whingy, whiney post  (or is it 🤣)  it's just me talking to myself and wittering away.  Trying to explain why I'm not the easiest person to buy presents for.  

One thing that a lot of folk are coming around to realising this year though ... and about time too ... is that why buy for buying's sake.  Why has Christmas got SO commercialised that we are swapping presents with people we hardly know, not knowing what they want or like or need.  If we all just stopped, after sorting it out with the people we used to buy for, we could draw things back to how it used to be.  Buying presents for our immediate family only, or if they are all on board pull back even further and give that most precious gift of all time.

A visit to an elderly relative or neighbour with a small bunch of flowers and time to sit and have a chat, a meet up for a coffee in the run up to Christmas with time to exchange hugs, a catch up on news and a flurry of good wishes are both surely more heart-warming than a gift set of talc and perfume arriving through the post to be put into the cupboard with last years, and the years before.

However you do Christmas is right, it's good if that is how you want to do it.  I'm just whittering, stop me now, force feed me dairy free chocolate and tell me to shut up 🤣🤣

Sue xx
(not Scrooge honest ...)

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Christmas Image

Sorry for not being at the computer to answer all the questions about the little Suky and Sue image used on the last post.  It was taken from an advert for Christmas personalised mugs that I almost got tempted into buying.  

I don't 'do' Christmas china, indeed I don't do decorated china at all, virtually everything I own is now plain white with an indented stripe, no colour.  But things you have just for Christmas and then have to pack away and cannot in a realistic way use all year round are just a total no-no to me now.  So thank goodness with my sanity returning I simply clicked off the website.  Later I saw that my cousin had also picked up on these images and used her photo on her Facebook page, a bit naughty I know, but then I decided to go back on the website and rescue my images and save them onto my computer.  Later I turned the files into png images so I could use them in the future. 

They really are brilliant aren't they.  And in an effort to put the record straight and apologise to Gossby for not linking to them last time, here is a link to the website.  I don't usually do any sort of advertising on this blog but …. it's Christmas!! 

Sue xx

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Packing Away

Bit by bit this week things have been packed away.  

Some things stored under the bed here at the Van, which is now full to capacity, and a few things to go home.  Some things have gone to the charity shop and some old and broken things into the bin.

It's not been possible to send things home to Wales with Alan each week, as the house is still in such a state of disarray that to add to Alan's discomfort there would have been unfair.  It's been good as it's made me reassess what we own here and what we actually need.

Most of the pretty 'clutter' from the mantlepiece is actually useful stuff but this week even that has been packed away.

All that's left are the few new Christmas things ready to go home with us on Sunday, the radio, the plant and the little money box, oh and our anniversary cards.  I quite like the new simple layout, it makes for a nice change even if I don't usually bother swapping things round much.

It's been a cold few days and nights here in Scorton, and evenings have been spent snuggling under throws reading or watching the television ... and the nights cuddling into hot water bottles.  Suky loves her hot water bottle and snuggles so closely into it that it's still warm in the morning, which sets my mind at rest as I know it means that she too is reasonably warm during the night.

Image - Gossby

Sue xx

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Drinking in an Image

Do you ever look at a photograph, drinking in the very minutiae* of it.  Drowning in the details, thinking about what you see.  Wishing you were there, or closer, or the image was bigger.  Or is it just me?  Images like this are powerful to me, they tell a story.

There are so many stories on the internet these days, good, bad, indifferent.  Entertaining, shocking, warning us, teaching us, telling us.

We see so much of so many peoples lives in this fast paced, media crazy world we live in .... or do we?  We see what they want us to see, the posed pouting selfies, the possessions they want us to know that they own, the clothes that they say that they wear all the time.  We read about the day they have had, the meal they have just eaten ... are eating, the holidays they have been on, or are on at the moment.  We feel we are in there, involved, part of something that in reality we are not.  It can be good, entertaining even ... but it's not real life.

As long as we know that it's fine.

Me … I'll stick with the simple images.  

The ones that just capture a moment in time that was worth capturing.  No fancy lights, no props, no little message underneath telling me if I want to own one of these there is a 10% discount code for one day only.

Sue xx

  1. *NOUN
    1. the small, precise, or trivial details of something.
      "the minutiae of everyday life

Friday, 29 November 2019

Why, why, why

So today is Black Friday.  

Rather weirdly it is also International Buy Nothing Day ... I know which I'd rather support.

Deciding not to buy things makes some people look at you as though you're a bit strange.  Not wanting Christmas presents, anniversary presents, birthday presents, present for presents sake presents takes people aback.

Visitors bring presents I do not want, that I do not need.   I try to smile sweetly and thank them, but anyone that knows me well knows I struggle to smile sweetly.  Inside my head a voice is screaming why, why, WHY the fuck why.  

The most annoying ones say 'I know you don't like presents but ...'


I'll not be shopping today.

Sue xx

Monday, 25 November 2019


It's Monday, a calm day after a relatively calm weekend.

There are almost always niggles and woes, and things to drag down what could have been better time, but it's a fresh new week and one that for some reason I'm looking forward to.  It stretches out in front on me with only a few must do's on my daily planner.

Todays must do was a little bit of washing, there's not much, not enough to visit the laundrette on the caravan park, but enough so that things don't start pile up for later in the week.  Someone asked me about the day to day activities in this my smaller, simpler life so I thought I'd share what I'm up to each day.

First thing is always breakfast for Suky, then back to bed with hot lemon water for me to catch up on social media while I drink my drink, then it's shower, dog walk and then coffee and breakfast.  This is every day during the week, Suky loves the routine as much as I do as she joins me on her 'Suky cover' on the bed and snoozes until I am out of the shower.

A bit of time spent on the computer and then I got stuck into the washing, it doesn't take long, and if you do it mindfully it is actually very calming and relaxing rather than a chore.  I had the first nine years of married life without a washing machine so I am pretty good at getting things washed.  It's a relief though not to be doing bedding, towels and nappies by hand as I did then.

The few bits I did this morning dripping in the shower cubicle.  Once they've stopped dripping the whole rack can be carefully moved to hang over the wardrobe door in the little spare room, leaving the shower clear for tomorrow morning.

Now it's lunchtime and I have some hummus and crackers to finish off.  It's the tail end of a Challenge over on my other blog and it's proved to be an enjoyable one to end this years Challenges with. There's a bit of food left to use up so I have tagged an extra day onto what was a one week challenge.

 I think I'm ready for a rest from Challenges, because at the end of next week I will be going back home to Wales to help put the house back together after the marathon of interior and exterior work we have had done.  Alan has forbidden me to come home before the worst of the mess is over … gosh it's so tempting to jump in the car and drive home to see what happening for myself instead of looking at photographs and video clips.  But this week the new carpets are being laid and things should start to improve as room by room things start to take shape again.

Haha … now I've made myself want to go home and see all the more!!

Sue xx

Friday, 22 November 2019

Hiding a Multitude of Sins

A king size bed can hide a multitude of sins ...

… when it has full sized storage capability underneath.

This is the one main storage area in the Van that we actually use.  There are lots more storage spaces in the living room under all of the sofa cushions, empty space under pull out boards, as well as a hidden fold-out double bed.  But all those nooks and crannies (except the one with the fold-out bed) are empty.  We just don't have that much stuff, and more importantly we don't intend to acquire any, so they will stay empty.

But at this time of year, when it's time to start packing away things in the Van ready for the three month caravan park closure, I fill under the bed with all the things that are just not worth taking home.

These storage bags from Lakeland are ideal for the bulky stuff that I need to store.  It's hard to imagine that with a two minute blast from the vacuum cleaner, enough air will be sucked from this bag to enable it to be zipped up in it's outer cover.  It's a little pleasure of mine vacuum packing, on a par with laminating … yep you know how weird I am  😉

Everything gets satisfyingly shrunk and strapped in.

Labelling is essential when we have three different bed sizes and therefore three different sizes of bedding.

The double bed is the only one we have never actually used, but we have the bedding just in case.

And here it is all neatly stored, with enough space left to fit in all the bits and bobs that will need packing away just before I leave for the Winter months.

Seeing how useful this type of bed is, I think this is what we will buy when we move into our little flat, as unlike the caravan the flat has absolutely no storage at all.  Another good reason to keep on with the decluttering and jettisoning of our belongings.

The latest things to be sold on Facebook Marketplace at home in Wales has been one of our office filing cabinets, a large plotter type printer that our business no longer needs, the old living room carpet and the coffee table that used to be here at the Van.  

It's all going in the right direction, hence me not wanting to take things from the Van home with me at the start of December.

Sue xx

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Five Years, Ten Years ...

So much changes in five years, so much is different from five years ago and five years before that.  I disappeared down a rabbit hole of amazing dimensions earlier today while I was looking up something on the computer … and set myself off thinking.

Where was I in November five years ago and what was I up to?

We lived in our house in Wales, we had owned it since the previous September and things were taking shape.  We had our four dogs, Rosy, Suky, Mavis and Charley, as well as Ginger the cat.

I was showing people how to make what looks like soft cheese and vegetable pasties on my blog.

Ooh they look nice. 
 I should find the post and see the exact date I did this.

And guess what … I was supervising building work!!

Slowly over the course of a week the builders turned our cold plastic roofed conservatory into a proper room on the house.  How I remember well living with no roof and just a couple of sheets of plywood keeping me and the animals safe from the outside world.  When that was done the outside work cracked on and the slate chippings were eventually tarmacked over.

What was happening five years before that?

We were living on our farm in Oxfordshire, and seemingly I was in the midst of doing the Christmas Fairs and Farmers Markets.  Setting up my stall and making a small living to supplement our income.

Showing blog readers how I made bread and tomato sauces and soups.

Getting used to keeping our first flock of chickens.  Rescued free-range White Stars, they were a lovely bunch of ladies, full of character.

 Helping the first of the pigs to settle in.

Only inexperienced pig keepers bring pigs onto soft Oxfordshire land just in time for Winter!!

I wallowed in mud, then skated round with buckets of hot water to thaw out their troughs through heavy frosts for what seemed like months and months.

And it would appear I harvested the worlds smallest melon!!

What were YOU doing five years ago, ten years ago … it's very thought provoking.  

It also shows that I have no idea what I will be doing five years from now.  Maybe I'll be blogging about this post ..who knows!!

Sue xx

Monday, 18 November 2019

Rivers, Dark Walks, Books and Coffee

The trees have lost most of their leaves now and so much more is visible on our riverside walks in the mornings,  although the early dark nights mean we don't get to see much of anything on the evening walk.  My little torch comes in handy for finding things to pick up … if you know what I mean and are a countryside dog walker yourself  ;-)

It's surprising how differently things look in the dark.  

There are not that many pathways illuminated with the lights of caravans now as the occupants have nearly all gone.  This week there has been a mass exodus after the caravan owners Christmas party at the weekend.  We wander round the caravan park paths at night, much safer than the slippy riverbank or muddy field.  Suky helpfully uses the toilet under one the half dozen lampposts  that are dotted around the place usually, but Mavis doesn't really wait to be floodlit … when a dog has to go a dog has to go and all that!!

In between dog walks I can be found working or blogging at the computer, catching up with reading and generally pottering about sorting out things that need sorting in the Van.  It's time to whittle away at things, although with the absolute chaos at home we have not been able to take anything home up to now ... there would be nowhere to put it. 

 Cupboards are sealed shut at home in Wales, rooms are empty of furniture or completely piled up with furniture depending on which room the painters are up to.  There are not even any books available to read they are all boxed up and packed away.

I'll stay here, here there is usually coffee brewing and there are 'sweet, simple things that remind me that life doesn't have to be complicated to be beautiful'.

Sue xx

Saturday, 16 November 2019

A Bump in the Night

I was rudely woken up at 3.30am the other night with a bang and a crash.  Suky blearily opened her eyes to see why I was switching on lamps and leaping out of bed at such an ungodly hour and then put her head back down and resumed her snoring.

It's a good job she did as in the living room there were little bits of glass everywhere and my lovely family photo collage was upside down on the floor.  I picked everything up, rinsed out Suky's water bowl which was nearby and then started hoovering up all the little bits.  Housework at 3.30am … eugh, it's bad enough during the day!

The next morning I took the photos in the mount out of the frame and tried to remove the broken glass so I could take it to the framers in Garstang to get some new glass fitted, no joy!!  The glass was very firmly glued between two strips of wood and not risking to cut myself and still not get anywhere I took the decision to wrap the whole thing up carefully and put it into the big bin outside.

How annoying a frame that just cannot in anyway be repaired, what a waste of resources!!

So I have kept the original frame paper for a size guide and will look out for a replacement in the local charity shops.  A rude awakening and a recycling disappointment.

I was slightly cheered up though when I was shopping in Aldi for my Challenge next week and found these for just £1.19 a pack.   Of course I had to buy a box to try for my tea.

I cooked two as they seemed quite small in the box … but they grew and grew in the oven, so next time I know that one will be perfect for an easy lunch.  They are pretty tasty, not quite as good as the Greggs ones, but almost.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Sue xx