Friday 31 July 2020

There Are Always Reasons for Gratitude

So another change of rules for the people of the North West of England, and unfortunately one that affects me and my Mum.  Once again she is in a 'bubble' with my brother who shops for her each week and was brilliant all through the initial lockdown.  He will still be allowed to visit her because as well as being in her bubble and being classed as a carer for her, they both live in the Greater Manchester area.

However, I am so grateful that before this change of rules ... which came in effect at midnight last night ... we had spent a lovely day together.  Chatting, putting the world and it's bizarre happenings and occupants to rights, planting a little rose bush that had outgrown it's pot into her flower bed, where it will hopefully flourish and add to the beautiful little display she has nurtured this year.

And I'm even more grateful that last weekend Mum got to meet her first Great Granddaughter for the very first time.  As well as see my son Simon and two of his other boys.

They had a wonderful day ... and isn't this photo just so special 💖

And my brother Graham also got to see his only Great Niece for the first time, and be amazed at how his Great Nephews had shot up too.

Now I'm back at the Van and although it's far too hot to do anything in my own tiny garden today, I will be giving it a little tidy up over the weekend and maybe adding a few more herbs and edibles to any spaces I find.  The tin bath from last year is almost bare, now that the Tulips have been and gone (during lockdown when sadly I wasn't here to admire them 🙁) and could hold a few salad crops.

Gosh doesn't Suky look dejected in this photo 🤣

But until the rules change again I won't be able to visit my Mum.  Back to chatty phone calls it is then ... see always something to be grateful for.

Sue xx

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Meanwhile ...Over on the Other Blog

I've been a little bit missing from this blog ... had you noticed 😃

I've been a little bit pre-occupied with selling things on Facebook Marketplace back here in Wales, and pocketing some nice little amounts of cash, and I've also joined and have been gearing up for the Ration Challenge, which I am  once again taking part in this year.

I am documenting it over on my other blog - Challenging Myself - if you would like to have a peek at what I'm up to.

Most things about the Challenge are over on the other blog, but I just thought I would show you that I have climbed the Earned Awards ladder and have now earned myself 170g of a vegetable.  Now this will make absolutely no sense whatsoever to you unless you also read my other blog or are taking part in the Challenge for yourself when it goes live on 13th September.  The run up to the Challenge is all about fundraising for Concern Worldwide and raising money to help feed Syrian refugees and send aid to other areas where it is so desperately needed.

I won't go on about this too much on this blog, but I just thought I would let you know that when I go missing off here for any length of time ... that this is the reason why.

Why the photo of my two lovely furry companions at the top of the post?

Well one girl on Facebook had the genius idea of having a little virtual Pet Show and if we all donated £2 to her fundraising page we could enter a photo of our pets.  The winner wins a £5 donation to their fundraising page ... it's all in a very good cause so this was my entry  😃

Sue xx

Saturday 25 July 2020

Oversized rooms full of shit ...

I'm heading home to Wales for a couple of days to sell some of my stuff ... Facebook Marketplace here I come.

I don't need stuff, I don't want to be moving stuff across from one country to another when the house eventually sells, so it's time to simply sell up and not replace.  As long as I have my chosen books, the few bits of furniture that means something to me and a box of two of memories I will be happy.

Then when I come back I'll chill a bit, hopefully after a job well done.

Sue xx

Friday 24 July 2020

Nooks and Crannies, Hidden Storage and Damp

Living in 432 square foot means the space has to be well planned out, and in most static caravans this is pretty well a given.  These days more than ever before, there are nifty storage solutions and clever ideas.  But I have the sort of mind that is always designing and redesigning the space I live in until I find the best possible solutions for things.

The living room is pretty well thought out, and to be fair there's little I would change about it except perhaps to have a built in corner unit for the television to stand on rather than the free standing one we currently have, and also I would have no window above where the television is.  

Under the section of the built-in sofas in the top photo is a fold out double bed.  Useful I guess if you have people staying over a lot or rent out your Van to more than the four people the bedrooms can cope with.

Under 'cosy corner', as I call it there is lots of storage space, as the boards under all the big cushions lift up  to reveal a big square space, but I only use one section of it at the moment as I just don't have that much stuff, so the only part of it that has anything in is the foot end.   

Oh, it's called cosy corner because of the Suky coloured fleece that covers the cushions for evenings of television watching and Puggy cuddles.

You just lift up the cushion and then use the missing corner of board to lift it up ...

... revealing a cavernous hole.

This one has the double bedding ready to be used if anyone needs to sleep in the foldaway double bed.  Two ready pillow-cased pillows, a duvet already in a cover and a mattress protector and fitted sheet ready to put on the mattress.

Under the king sized bed in the main bedroom is the largest of all the storage spaces.  And it was me going under here this morning to get out a basket that  I wanted to use for storage in the wardrobe that sort of led to this post.

When we leave the Van for the three month 'closed season' we have to dot these sort of damp absorbers around the caravan to help keep the air as dry as possible and everything mould-free.  When we got back this time some of them hadn't completely turned to liquid so after taking out the things we needed to use from under the bed, I left three of them stood in the now half empty space.

It's a good job I did, as this morning when I went under the bed to get out the basket I needed while making it up with fresh bedding ... they were all completely liquid.  The cold, wet weather we have had over the last few weeks has no doubt been the cause.  So I was happy that me needing the basket out from under the bed made me spot the need to recharge these.  Yes, they are supposed to be the 'throwaway' sort and not the more permanent refillable ones like the others I have.  But if you carefully cut away the fabric top layer you can pour away the liquid and refill with some more of the crystals.

Which luckily I bought far too many of at the end of last year.  😃

After leaving it to air for a little bit and waiting for the little pots to drain I will fill them with more crystals and pop them back under the bed.   While the bed is raised I should maybe have another look at what is in all the bags and boxes that are under there, because I obviously haven't been using any of these things since I got back, so the question must be ... do I actually need any of them?

What else would I change in the Van?

Well for starters, in the bedroom I would make the 'dressing table' into just a simple radiator shelf/cover and have a bookcase instead of the chest of drawers ... these two changes would give a lot more space at the end of the bed.

I would also completely do away with the en-suite and instead have a low three drawer chest of drawers at each side of the bed, giving the person nearer the window much more space for getting in and out of bed, oh and have built in reading lamps on the wall.

Maybe I should go in for caravan design ... or maybe just win the lottery and have one custom made just for me  😃

Sue xx

Thursday 23 July 2020

Suky's Namesake, and Loyalty Pays

Driving to Mum's in Manchester yesterday I somehow managed to get a slow puncture, by the time we arrived my tyre was as flat as a pancake.  So while Mum chatted on her phone to someone I called on mine for the man with the big yellow van to come and change my wheel.  

It's all so different these days, as soon as I called I was put through a series of phone tapping which resulted in them texting me a link, me clicking on the link so they could see my exact location and then with the entering of my registration number they told me what car I had.  Then a different set of buttons to press and two minutes later my knight in a shining yellow transit van was booked.

 AA man Jim came out and put on my emergency spare, which as  it is a narrower than usual tyre cannot be driven on at more than 50 miles an hour.  Now there is no way I could meander up the motorway at fifty, so I Googled the nearest Kwik-Fit and after a lovely long chatty visit  with Mum and a doggy walk around the park across the road with Mum and Suky, I called to the said garage on the way home.

Technology is brilliant when it works and as soon as Kwik-Fit man Ryan entered my registration number on his computer, my car's and my companies whole Kwik-Fit history popped up on his screen. ' Ooh you're regular customers' he smiled, 'yes my husband likes to look after the cars' I responded.

He immediately put me next in line to be fixed, and me and Suky sat at a socially isolated distance from everyone else and watched while Kwik-Fit man Suki checked over my old tyre, discovered the irreparable problem and offered me a new  tyre of similar style to my others.

My face must have looked a picture when he quoted me the price of £119 plus VAT, but the day was saved by Ryan popping out of the office and saying 'no they are regular customers it's just £80 all in'.  

Fifteen minutes later I was pulling onto the M60 and heading back to the Van.  Thanking my lucky stars that wherever we live we pick a good garage and stick to it loyally, and being very grateful that this time we had chosen Kwik-Fit.

It pays to be loyal ... in all areas of your life.

Sue xx

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Stoppy Starty Walks

Suky has been into very stoppy starty walks recently, and as that is a major part of what dog walks should be, I am usually happy to oblige.  Yesterday I thought I would take my camera out with us and snap a photo at each, well most of  the stops.  

Grab a coffee, pull up your chair and relax ... this is a long one.

Off we go. 

The first stop of the morning is always just as we get onto the riverbank, while Suky sniffs around the bench and the bin I get to stand and watch the river.

It's usually the longest stop as, well bins are so interesting aren't they!  

So I get time to admire the ferns growing out of the stonework.  I do love the tenacity of plants growing through stone or tarmac and in unusual places.

Still here ... the river has slowed down now after the rains of the last few days had it briefly as a raging torrent.

Peaceful here at our second stop of the first 50 yards.

See, we haven't come far, maybe not even fifty yards, I'm useless with distances.

Suky sniffing the plants, me snapping the trees across the river, what a glorious tangle of roots and branches.

Imagine how many little lives live in the river at points like this.

We've gotten much further along now, a bit of a trot and a little excited gallop as we rush to say 'Good Morning' to Ruby and her owner ... and then we stop by this beautiful flowering bush at the side one of the riverbank caravans, absolutely gorgeous.

And while I watch the buzzy bees, Suky sniffs at where all the boy dogs have weed .. she's so full of class my Pug.

Our next stop for a change is down to the 'beach'.

It's always been nicknamed this by me as there is a little bit of sand and lots of pebbles for throwing back into the river, just like being at the seaside and lobbing the pebbles into the sea.

Looking up river, and what is this we see swimming towards us?

We admire the clear water and the pebbles while they get closer.

Here they come!!

It's a convoy of five ducks.

The caravan park ducks are just beginning to return to the park after their absence.  

I bet they soon cottoned on to the fact that no people on the park during lockdown meant no bread, toast and tasty nibbles being thrown their way.  So I'm guessing they went up river towards Garstang where the people were still walking their dogs along the riverbank and parking in the riverside carpark

Back up off the 'beach' and we reach Mayfair.  

It's just nicknamed this, as this part of the park had a new tarmacked road laid at the beginning of last year, with night time lighting added along the river and then some of the poshest, newest Vans moved in.   Prior to this we had been laughingly called the poshest, and our road was nicknamed Millionaires Row.

Past the caravans which are on our left, and we are walking along the shallow part of the river, where the water tumbles 'white water' fashion over rocks and fallen tree branches.

Moving along the river we come to where it quietens down and where the ducks come to balance on the rocks and have their daily preening session.

Slightly further along and as the ducks swim off Suky sniffs at the fences of the caravans to our left.

It's peaceful here, someone has cut the grass on the riverbank and down to his fishing area.  

In the evenings the riverbank is full of anglers, neatly spaced along it's length all out seeing if the fish will bite and seeing if there will be Tiddler on Toast for tea.  I've never seen a big fish pulled out ... although they talk of good catches in the club at night.


I drink in the sounds of the riverbank, the birds in the trees, the water meandering by and the scent of the evening.  Himalayan Balsam being unfortunately the overpowering scent of the moment.

Then we go down the steps, past the caravans and the little holiday flats and head along tarmacked and stony roads to home.  With the occasional stop for a sniff at a bin or bush and a conversation with a beautiful Saluki cross and her owner.

And then home is in sight ... and knowing there is a coffee for me and a treat for Suky we hurry our pace and reach it quickly.  Another evening, another walk, peaceful and meditative with lots of stoppy starty moments for both of us.

Sue xx

Tuesday 21 July 2020

From So Much to So Little

It's kind of ironic that after the tidying of the cupboards and the realisation that I have enough food on board my Van to keep me going through a siege (as long as I don't develop a hatred of chickpeas and tinned tomatoes),  that yesterday I had the Ration Challenge on my mind.

I have had a couple of emails asking if I will take part in this years Ration Challenge, raising money for refugees by living on the same rations that they have to live on in the camps.  This year it is starting later 13th - 19th September, due to Covid-19 ... but because of this it is even more important that it still goes ahead.

You could even sign up and do it yourself  😃

I've thrown it open to my readers over on my Challenge blog as to whether I should do it again this year.  Is an action replay of a previous Challenge worth reading about.

I guess for something as worthy as this the answer for most would be yes.

But why not nip on over and add your opinion.

Sue xx

Monday 20 July 2020

Sorting Out the Food Stash - Part Two

Another closed door - another food stash, this time in the little spare bedroom ... in the wardrobe.

A shelf full of food ... well I mean who uses wardrobes for clothes these days 🤣

It seemed a good idea to have a stash of food here at the Van ready for lockdown, less trips out, less shopping, less risk.  Then came the total closure of the caravan park and I had to set off back to Wales, taking just what I could fit in my small car.  

Most of the stash stayed here, all the tins, jars and packets and the special offers I had bought to see me out through the Summer.  Just the shorter dated and fresh food items and the contents of the fridge were piled into my little Fiat, along with Suky, the plants and some clothes.

Also in the small spare bedroom was a box of food that I had brought from home at the start of the season back in February, and had never gotten around to unpacking, not that there was space for it in any of the cupboards.  I sort of saw it as back up foods for refilling the cupboard as I ate my way through the things in it.

Finally on the bed was the food that I had just brought with me when the park opened a couple of weeks ago.  So much food in so many places.  I just had to get stuck in and make sense of it all.

With all the foods taken from their respective places and like placed with like I then started to put things in date order.  So the tins were stacked with the 2022 being at the very bottom of the towers, then 2021 etc etc.

Taking away the tiered 'steps' meant that I could use the tins built in ridges to safely stack them up to four high at the very back, making full use of the height of cupboard.  Coming forward in front of the highest stack when I had more than four of something.  I seem to have a lot of chickpeas and tinned tomatoes, but then I use a lot so it's no problem.

I have tried to do this with the four types of food I use the most, making full use of the height of the cupboard at the back and dropping forward nearer the front.  So one line of chickpeas, one of tinned tomatoes, one of tinned beans (of many descriptions ... baked, butter, mixed) and potatoes and one of tinned lentils.

Once the four lines of tins were in place I had a narrow gap down the middle, just wide enough for those little jars of red or green pesto that are so handy to have in for those nights when brain freeze dictates a simple supper of pesto and pasta.  So all the narrow jars I had were lined up in this small space and now absolutely no space is wasted.

Then the basket was filled with all the little odds and sods that just clutter up food cupboards, meaning I can easily lift it out of the way to reach the serious stuff.

The bottom shelf may at first glance just look messy again but it is now all logical, with all my Almond milks moved in here from the pan cupboard and lined up in date order, the nut butters are stacked with the longest dates at the bottom etc etc ...  And more importantly, now that I have looked through everything I know what is where, what needs using up and I know for sure that I do not need to go shopping for anything other than fresh foods.  Also lined up in here are my jars of baking supplies, flour, sugar, ground almonds etc, it's always safer to have things in jars rather than packets in the caravan.

The jars that were hard to stack in the cupboard were put into the box in the bedroom, with the few Deliciously Ella treats left over from my birthday shopping splurge on top.

And in the wardrobe (this will never be needed for clothes), I have the extra things that I really don't need to use for a while.  

The rice, pasta, oats etc  to refill the jars on the shelf in the kitchen ... along with my coffee stash.  I have not gone mad on coffee, I bought these a long time ago when Nescafe my coffee of choice was on offer at £5 instead of it's usual £7.49 for the largest jar.  It meant I saved almost £10 every time I bought four jars ... so I did every time I went shopping until the offer ran out  🤣🤣

Hopefully just as I use the last of it the offer will be back ... fingers crossed!

So that's it the food sorted, no shopping needed this week as I have a bit of fresh stuff in the fridge and a packet of bread rolls in the freezer for quick lunches.

For Lee

The little bin inside the under-sink cupboard.

The caravan park's bins.  

Our trellis attached over the concrete wall hides the worst of it from view, and no we have had no problems with any smells even in the hottest of weather.

Something that has proved REALLY useful and that your parents might find handy, is this little hook over the cupboard door towel rail for the kitchen.  This is the hardest working door in the Van ... bin on the inside and towel rail on the outside 😃

Sue xx