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

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Just a Snuggly Pug on a Rug

Just a snuggly Pug keeping cosy on a horrible cold, wet morning.

Don't panic Suky won't be cooked by lunchtime ... it's just the flame effect that's switched on on the electric fire.  It's funny how a little bit of pretend flickering flame helps to make you feel cosier on a shitty weather day.

Sue xx

Monday 11 November 2019

A Winding Down

Here on the caravan park the entertainment ramps up a bit at this time of year, the Halloween Party went well, with children and adults taking part in a fancy dress competition.  The following week the huge bonfire and magnificent fireworks display went with a very suitable bang and a flash.  But now it's that time of the year when some of the older residents close down their vans for the Winter.  Signs appear in the windows saying 'No Valuables or Electrics Left in this Van' as one by one they load up their cars and drive off not to be seen until next Spring.  

The park winds down bit by bit, the swimming pool closed first at the end of September and is now is looking dirty, cold and very uninviting, the office working hours shrink and shrink, although there's always someone available for emergencies.  The shop, which up until this week had been open daily,  is now just open for two hours each day on Saturday and Sunday for weekend van visitors needing milk, bread or a newspaper.

The more hardy of us and those that live in the Vans for most of the year are still here, watching the winding down process and changing our living patterns to suit.  Newer vans, like ours, have full central heating, a little more insulation and are just a bit more comfortable for cold weather living.  It costs more in gas bottles to keep warm and snuggly while cold winds blow and the rain pours down … but I think it's a small price to pay to be cosy and happy.  The fifteen minutes walk to the village shop can be combined with a doggy walk if necessary or it's just a ten minute drive into the nearby town to pick up shopping or to mooch around other shops.

Today I started a wind down of my own, and went through the kitchen drawers, throwing away rubbish that has acquired, things not used and things not needed.  Cleaning the drawers as I went and checking we had all that we need.  We do, we don't need much.  

Each day this week I'll choose a different area and empty and clean it, slowly getting the Van ready to be left empty and forlorn as we abandon it for the Winter in December.  

We had a different printed sign that we put in our window last year ... a picture of a car piled up high Beverly Hillbilly style with the words 'We couldn't find any valuables so we took all our rubbish home with us'.  It raised a smile or two, but I can't find the image anywhere.  

But I think this one will be suitable this year, you've got to have a smile  😁

Sue xx

Friday 8 November 2019

A Smaller Me?

Just me … a smaller me?

No... but I've given up worrying about that.

For any of you out there wondering I weigh 13st 4lb (186 lbs) and I'm 5 foot 6 inches tall.  I seem to carry it okay.  This seems to be my default weight setting as I can easily lose a stone in a couple of weeks if I put my mind to it, and just as easily gain four or so pounds if I'm on holiday or lazing around too much, but after a week or so of eating normally and moving about normally I always come back to the same old weight. 

I didn't really come on here to chat about weight that all just spilled out.  I was thinking about it as I walked the dogs along the riverbank just now.  This morning I had jumped on the scales after my two cups of coffee, two slices of toast and my shower to see what I weighed just out of interest  I was 13st 3lb, ooh I thought ... I should have weighed myself before all that liquid and bread!! 

 But then thinking about it again as I walked with the dogs in the lovely morning sunshine I thought well that's a pound lighter and I didn't notice it gone or do anything that I can think of to achieve it, perhaps I should see if I can reduce my weight by just one pound a week over the course of the next few months, it wouldn't be that difficult and it would be nice to be over a stone lighter for my big zero birthday next year.

Perhaps I will see what I can do just between now and my birthday in April so if there's a smaller me in future photos … you'll know I did it and if I look just the same you'll know I lost a bit … and then went straight back to default me. 😃

The two tops in these photos were actually what todays post was going to be about, my fingers seem to have gone down a keyboard warren of weight-loss words where in fact I was going to talk about sizes and sizing in shops!!

I've stopped looking at sizes in charity shops, and indeed in most shops … but I mostly buy my clothes from charity shops these days.  Instead I look for patterns or colours that jump out at me and lift them off the rail for a closer look.  In the past week I've bought these two, both on the half price rail in the Sue Ryder shop in Garstang at just £2 each.  The one in the top photo is an M&S size 18 and the one in the bottom photo is a Next size 14.  I usually class myself as a 16 but in my wardrobe I have clothes ranging from 12 to 20. 

In the next charity shop I went into there was a lovely fluffy jumper with a size 20 cube on the hanger, I lifted it down as I do love a big baggy jumper at this time of year to throw over other clothes when the Van gets a bit chilly, but it was tiny …  not shrunk, just originally mislabelled at manufacture and obviously not returned to the store by the original purchaser.  And funnily enough there was also a lovely blue and white stripey t shirt labelled as a 12 that I could have camped out in!

So now, and for the past couple of years I have shopped with an open mind about sizes … but I do admit to doing that girly thing and chopping out size labels if they are above my usual size, even if they don't itch me (which most actually do!!)

Sue xx

Tuesday 5 November 2019

It's the simple things ...

It's the simple things that make me smile and brighten my day.

A £1.69 bunch of flowers from Aldi in a jug on the mantlepiece, that catch my eye over and over and seem to help banish the greyness of the day that is outside the window.

Suky helping me in the little laundry room this morning.  If you can call it 'helping' having a Pug lick the freshly washed sheets as you fold them.

Meanwhile back home in Wales the animals helping theme continues with Ginger seemingly proof reading for his Dad.  Yes, this was this morning, Alan has just forgotten to flip the calendar over … perhaps I should have told Ginger to remind him!!

Finding pleasure in simplicity.

Sue xx