Monday 30 September 2019

So Much Rain

Wow what a weekend!!

So much rain fell from Friday to Sunday that the river burst it's banks in places.  The caravan park was briefly inaccessible to anyone not with a high 4x4, as the archway that is the road into the site had completely filled up with water, and the field and road on the other side of the big bridge over the river had also flooded.  Trees were uprooted and hurtled down the fast flowing river to hit the bridges regularly with no doubt a big thud, and the poor ducks were sheltering along the bank and under caravans.  

Alan had arrived on Friday night in his smart new white Audi rather than our  trusty old Mitsubishi, so we would have been stuck ... you all know my car is a little Fiat 500 no bloody use whatsoever for off road conditions 🤣🤣

But luckily our visiting family had come in their lovely high vehicle so we could still go out and about showing them the local area between rain showers, and walking the dogs regularly.  Our two little furry friends much prefer to stay in when it's wet outside and we don't push the issue, a quick dash to the little garden for toilet use and then back in suits Suky and Mavis just fine.  But our visitors with their lovely big German Shepherd had to brave the elements regularly and it would have been rude not to let our two tag along.

So the weekend has been all about drying wet dogs and dog towels, humans and sodden coats and eating out for virtually every meal.   A good night out in the club on Saturday night raised spirits nicely and after a good meal yesterday our guests hit the road home to Scotland.

This morning in the Van there is just me and Suky … and the sun is back.  What terrible planning, the weather Gods were most definitely NOT smiling on us this weekend.  Let's hope they are saving all their bright, clear skies for next week when we set off on a little adventure to Sark.

Sue xx

Tuesday 24 September 2019

This is Me ... Just Me

This is me ... this morning.

Happy and simple in my 99p charity shop t-shirt, my £6.99 George at Asda jeans, stood in the bedroom at the Van.

Just me.

I'm happy to be 'just me' ... it's all I've ever wanted to be.

 I've always been a bit of a character.

Happy to pose with Valerie my '1st birthday' bear, who still lives with me now ... she has no choice!!

Posing on the steps of Auntie Ida and Uncle Harold's caravan with my brother Graham. Where I spent so many happy childhood weekends and family Summer holidays ... yes, at the same place where I now live in a slightly bigger Van for much of my time.

 A day out in uniform ... with Dad who was a scout leader, and the guides, brownies and scouts to Chester Zoo.

And with Mum at Pontins a couple of years later.

The last family holiday I went on.

Me, in the gold jacket with my brother behind and my cousins at a family 'do'.

Me and my sons, Jason on the left and Simon the eldest, on the right.

With my line manager at the re-launch day of one the Hospice Charity Shops I managed. 

With Alan on our wedding day ... with shocked parents.

Then with one of my best cabbages just three years later.

Just me.

Sue xx

Sunday 22 September 2019


There's a calmness about me at the moment

I find myself very still

Sat staring into space



... about wandering

There's change in the air

It must be Autumn

My favourite time of year

Sue xx

Friday 20 September 2019

Letting the Sunshine In

There are no two ways about it, no matter how much insulation has moved on in the past few years ... caravans do not hold onto heat for long.  

When the heating is on the Van is toasty warm, when the heating is off but the sun shines through the windows and heats up the metal of the Van it's also lovely and warm.  But when the sun goes in, or night falls the Van cools ... slowly but steadily.

I don't like central heating, it dries the air, dries me and gives me a headache, but I do flick the switch for an hour in the mornings after a chilly night.  Just to warm the Van up while I enjoy a coffee and read.  It makes jumping in the shower a much nicer experience, and also means that I can put damp towels to dry on the heated towel rail as it cools down very slowly.

The beautiful sunny mornings that we've been having recently mean that the sun streams through the windows on the back of the Van, so as soon as I finished in the shower room the blind is rolled up in both the shower room ...

... and the little en-suite.

Letting the sun pour in to add to the now warm rooms.

As soon as the sun leaves the other side of the Van later in the day I draw the curtains and pull down the blinds to trap the free heat for as long as possible.  If it's really chilly I pull on a fleece or jumper while I'm watching the television,  for now that's enough to keep me cosy, with Suky cuddled up beside me sharing her body heat.  In a month or so another blast of central heating will most likely be called for.

Last night though I left the heating off, and while I watched the end of a programme  I had one of my hot water bottles in the bed getting it cosy to give me a lovely glow of heat so I could sit and read for a while before turning off the light.  Well that and a soothing source of heat to cuddle to get rid of a self inflicted tummy ache after accidentally consuming dairy.

After being on a gut reset diet for a few days just a touch of dairy gave me my worst reactions ever.  Now I know how sensitive I am ... I'll be a lot more careful in future. 

Sue xx

Wednesday 18 September 2019

What if All I Want is A Mediocre Life?

What if All I Want is A Mediocre Life? 

A link to a blog post from 2016 that pops up on my Facebook page regularly has this title.  Every time it appears I read through it again.  I can't express enough how much this resonates with me.  I really can't say it any more perfectly than Krista has.

Sue xx

Tuesday 17 September 2019

A Cool Cat

I was just about to go shopping ... but I found my cool bag was already in use!!

Too cute for words 🥰

He's usually in one of the dog beds at this time of day.

Or curled up on his very own armchair in the conservatory.

Occasionally to be found in Bella's little Mouse House.  He shares it with Mavis, just one of them at a time, but they both love its secluded location by the side of the Welsh Bread and Cheese cupboard.

Or the last few days he's obviously been sleeping on Alan's pile of outdoor work clothes.  Once he gets them too hairy he moves to a new location ... fussy cat!!

But no, today's choice is the cool bag that I brought all the fridge food back from the Van in last night.  Perhaps he doesn't want me to disappear again and he's holding it prisoner.  But I'm here until his Dad gets back so he really doesn't have to worry.

Sue xx

Sunday 15 September 2019

Saturday 14 September 2019

Start With What's Important

If you start with what's important

In your hour, your day or your week  

And only move on to the rest when the important stuff is done

You will take back control of your life

My important ...

A hot drink once I'm awake enough to drink it

With minimal chatter

Except with dogs


And only then will my day begin.

Sue xx

Thursday 12 September 2019

Reading My Own Ramblings

I've had a few blogs over the years ... I'm almost as hard to keep up with as a certain lady I know !!

 I've enjoyed sharing our lives and what we get up to, but every now and then it can get a bit much and in a fit of simplifying everything I shut down and deleted most of them a couple of years ago.

Big Mistake.

Luckily I kept the diary that I stuck all the printed out pages of this one into, for me to be able to read through in the future.  I'm so glad I did.  The future was here the other week, as I posted about here, and I started reading through it, thinking that once read it would be thrown away.  But it's making for fascinating reading even if I do say so myself.  Now I'm really annoyed that I deleted all those other blogs, I should have just hibernated them.

Drat and double drat!!

This particular blog was called 'A Year Without ... Clothes, Books and Housekeeping Money' and followed our progress living off the proceeds of the Sealed Pot and vouchers, coupons and points for all our food shopping. 

I soon got into the hang of keeping receipts, shopping for the best bargains and the main one ... staying out of shops unless I really had to go in.  It seems that temptation and clever sales tactics were the hardest things to conquer.

Being able to read back through the year is fascinating.  Far better than just a normal diary. 

 Seemingly between 1st January and 6th December when I closed all my blogs down we spent just £729.35 on food (£377.60 in cash and £351.75 in vouchers, coupons and Nectar points) an average of just £14.88 a week to supplement the homegrown fruits, vegetables and eggs.  

Wow ... I need to set to and do something very similar again.

I've even found recipes that I haven't used for ages in amongst the pages.

Now I'm wishing I had all my old blogs back to read through, gosh I don't think I can even remember the names of some of them.  Off the top of my head, there was -

Lavender's Blue

Our New Life in the Country (still up and readable ... phew!!)

£365 in 365 Days

The Vegetarian Farmer

A Year Without ...

Challenging Myself (still active)

... and of course, now I have this one.

I wonder what I would blog about now if I were starting all over again?  It's very exciting starting out with a brand new blog, you're full of ideas, you plan out a new template, set everything up, build your sidebar and then write and write some more.  Eventually, people find you and you have comments and Followers and things get even more exciting.  It's still good fun even if YouTubers and Instagrammers are more in the headlines these days.

Note to self ... do not delete old blogs, keep them for posterity.  

Sue xx

Tuesday 10 September 2019

The Selling Goes On

Car Boot sale season for us has now come to an end.  

Although there are some that go on through the Winter in the wider area, they are not ones we would consider doing as we like the two that we have supported for the last few years.  They are close by, start at civilised times and are raising money for local good causes.  So we will continue to save our stuff up to sell at them for perhaps the last time next year.

This morning I unpacked and put away the contents of our 'car boot sale bag'. 

 In it we keep our trusty vintage cash box with a £50 float, and on the morning of a sale we add our lunch and drinks to the sellotape, pens and sticky labels that are also kept in there.

The float was quickly shared between the 'housekeeping pot' and the Sealed Pot teapot.  The notes and pound coins into the first and the silver into the teapot.  It's already filling up nicely in there so an instant £10 of change is a very welcome addition.

Even though the car boots for us have ended, and the last two we didn't even get to due to a bad forecast and us preferring to go up the road to the Van, we have still been selling happily away.

Yesterday's sale was ten Demi Johns for £10, we also sold the same guy a large box full of other assorted winemaking gear for another £10.  So twenty pounds made without us even leaving the house.

Just before we set off for the Van on Friday night a lady came and picked up these four chairs. It turns out I renovated these chairs almost seven years ago to the day and blogged about it HERE on my old blog Our New Life in the Country.

Although in that post I called them our 'forever chairs' things have changed so much and in so many ways.  They were in use while we needed them but for the last couple of years they have been languishing out in the shed.  It would be far better we thought, that while they were still in good condition someone could enjoy using them for a reasonable price.  The lady that picked them up was thrilled, especially when I gave her the matching tablecloth.

Seeing her face and listening to her telling us that now she has a dining set for her kitchen was more than enough for us to let go of something that for us had been special, with a real lightness of heart.  The cash went into our housekeeping pot ... and while we are living out of that instead of off our wages we are adding to savings that are guaranteeing us a good future.  It really is a win, win situation all this selling off the excess and all no longer used or wanted things that we have.

Some things that you think will be forever ... such as having these chairs ... simply aren't, but the joy in life should be that you love what you have and use it fully while you have it.  Being prepared to pass things on, change the way you see yourself, your life and the things around you is what keeps everything fresh and alive.

I'm loving our new transitioning phase.

Sue xx

Friday 6 September 2019

I Don't Have to Be More

We label everything by productivity

We meet new people and ask in an interested voice 'What do you do then?'  Almost putting pressure on folks to come up with something interesting that we can be awed at.

We ask our children when we meet them at the school gate 'What did you do today?'  Their response unless something absolutely amazing has happened is usually a standard 'nothing'.

It used to really bug me and have me asking 'did you do this' or 'did you do that'  I know I used to drive them mad, until one day I realised that they were home ... happy, still in one piece and hungry for their tea ... that was all I needed to know.  Parents evenings would fill in the gaps, or conversations over our evening meal would pull out snippets of information in a much less pressurised way.

There seems to be so much expectation in today's world that we will always be moving forward.  Striving for the next thing, the next possession, the next experience, the next anything.  

How refreshing it is not to be.

I can get stroppy when people ask me, but only if they push for more than my first answer.  Then I revert to the childish 'nothing' or 'nowhere' or 'I don't know'.   It can shut up a conversation, but I don't always need a conversation, I am happy in the silences, in the un-pressured quiet of a lull in proceedings.

I already am.

Sue xx

Tuesday 3 September 2019

Small Joys

Truer words have never been spoken ... or put on a meme 😁

When you're due to go somewhere and then at the last minute it's cancelled and you get a brief flash of disappointment ... followed by the realisation that you can stay in your scruffy jeans and t-shirt, stay indoors padding around in slippers or bare feet  and suddenly all is right with the world again.

When you can sit inside watching rivulets of rain on the windows and feel warm, dry and cosy indoors.

When you can stay an extra hour, or more, in your cosy, messy bed and there's no one to um and are at any perceived 'laziness'.

Small joys indeed.

Enjoy them now.

Don't wait

Sue xx

Monday 2 September 2019

A Lazy Day

My day started lazily and very, very slowly. 

 Outside the Van the rain lashed down and the grey skies kept it dark far longer than usual.  Inside the van I made myself a cup of hot lemon water, fed Suky and we both retired back to bed for the most relaxing part of our morning ritual.  

First I watched Niamh from Fairyland Cottage on YouTube crocheting a Jute teapot holder, then I picked up my book for a read.  After a few minutes I don't know what it was but I suddenly looked up and realised I was coordinating  perfectly ... my jumper, the duvet cover and my mug ... it made me smile 

Suky, completely oblivious to my amusement snored on.

The view from the bed.  Books waiting to be read, pretty bits and bobs ... and yes that does say 8.35am  😁

Have a little watch yourself.  Niamh is one of the loveliest YouTubers I've found.  No 'hauls' of must have items, no excesses, just lovely calming simple videos once a week that sooth the soul and fire up good ideas.

Back to my lazy day ... after I've hoovered and cleaned the bathrooms that is!!

Sue xx

Sunday 1 September 2019

Keep Moving Forward

'Keep moving forward' feels like the mantra of my life.

I have moved house many times, from five different areas around Manchester to three locations in Cumbria to Oxfordshire, then Berkshire, then finally to Wales ... or so I thought.  Then itchy feet and the need to fulfill a dream brought me full circle to Lancashire.  Where accents match mine, buns are back to being barm-cakes and where you can smile at a stranger without getting a funny look.

My career history is similarly here, there and everywhere, well I guess it has to be when you move around  the country at the drop of a hat as I have.  I started out in office work, as an invoice clerk, then moved to the civil service as a typist, then relief typing pool supervisor/secretary ... I was pretty bad at that, kept cutting Government ministers off on the phone ... oops!!  

Then I had stay at home period with my eldest son and the first few months of my youngest sons life, before the need for some extra cash saw me holiday home cleaning,  then caravan cleaning two days a week once he was at nursery school.  Alongside this I volunteered at an Oxfam shop two mornings a a week and this is what led to a whole new career in charity shop management, first with Oxfam, then the British Heart Foundation, then six years at Scope.

After a year out of the charity game working at Sainsbury's as an on-line shopper, when this first was a 'thing',  I went back into managing shops when we uprooted ourselves again. This time two local hospice shops .

Oh did I mention that in between managing charity shops I opened my own shops. The first time it was a little bric-a-brac style antique shop for a couple of years and then after leaving the Hospice I opened a little gift and toiletries shop ... that's when my very first blog (and my blogging career) was born.  Day to day life in the smallest shop in Cumbria 🙂

Then a conversation over a coffee in the shop one Saturday morning started the biggest change of them all, the one most of you know all about after reading my second blog for eight years.

I just take a breath and keep moving forward.

  It's all you have to do if you have a dream.  If you then decide that dream is not for you, you take a bigger breath and move on again, sideways, forwards or even backwards if you really must.

But fresh new things are exciting, fresh ideas spark something magical and a fresh new anything is what keeps life special ... even if it's just a new coffee, a new cake or a different doggy walk ...

...just ask Suky !!

She moves forward with me ... every step of the way.

Sue xx