Sunday, 27 October 2013

Dramatic DIY

I had planned to go to church this morning, but Thomas has been up since 3am coughing, so instead I sat in the walk-in centre making sure he was OK before we set off for Wales tomorrow. The Doc gave him a good going over and he's fine. It's the after effects of the cold and chesty cough earlier in the week. We're lucky that our NHS walk-in centre is in Middleton Arndale which is a 5 minute drive at most.

After Thomas was given the all clear I popped into Wilkinsons for some bits & pieces and picked up some candles, matches and a torch. This is in honour of the expected storm and after reading several 'money saving expert' threads about being prepared. We're now covered for any power cuts while we're on holiday, although not much else! Obviously copious amounts of chocolate are needed in any emergency.
This afternoon we went to see Mark's Aunty. She's 90 years old and is as bright as a button apart from being a bit deaf. This is her waving us off as we were leaving. Amy dressed her in her beanie hat and was teaching her how to take 'selfies' on her phone which had us all in stitches. The bruise on her face is from a fall last week. She lost her footing outside the back door and was lay on the floor for 30 minutes before her next door neighbour found her. Remarkably after a once over from the Doctor she was declared as fit as a fiddle apart from a bruised face and sprained wrist. 

The washer/dryer door got jammed this evening, just as I was on my way out to visit Mum so I left Mark to sort it out. BIG MISTAKE! I came home to find my towels liberated but my washer/dryer handle missing!
Apparently a hacksaw, screwdriver and bent spoon were required to rectify the problem.

Did I ever mention Mark doesn't do DIY and he's obviously never heard the saying "it doesn't take a sledgehammer to crack a nut"! 


Friday, 25 October 2013

Sick, Sewing, Sun & Storm

Here's Thomas in his PJ's ready for a hard day at the office. It's PJ day at school in aid of Francis House.
Amy also had a non-uniform day in aid of a local foodbank. She wouldn't take the peaches to school - she said the tin was too heavy - so she took beans instead! The reason I bought peaches was because they desperately need milk puddings and fruit. Hey Ho. 

There's lots of career talk going on at the moment from Amy.  She's thinking about what options to choose next year and has a definite idea of what she doesn't want to do (which seems to be every profession me & Mark can think of) but has no idea what she does want to do. This term her tech subject has been sewing and she proudly presented Thomas with this last night.  He's called Zoinky. She couldn't be bothered with arms as it was too much work. I'd bet my life on her career choice not being a seamstress!
Not sure if the bad weather is set to hit Middleton but at the moment the sun is shining, the sky is blue and my towels are on the line drying nicely. Hope it's not the calm before the storm.
My mum is still poorly. She's can't stop being sick, is back on a drip, had an x-ray last night at 10pm and has to have a scan today. She's so tired that she's getting confused so she asked me to ring the hospital today about the scan. I rang to see which bit of her they were scanning and what for but the nurse wouldn't tell me anything over the phone. They can only give information like that out face to face. 

I seem to have become the point of contact for information and have spent a big part of my day texting my sister and brother. My phone has been on charge 3 times today already. One charge usually lasts me about 3 days. 

Oh, and those blue skies disappeared about 10 minutes ago. The rain is bouncing down, it's getting pretty windy and we have thunder and lightening.


Thursday, 24 October 2013

In the words of....

Smashie & Nicey (anybody remember those two), "it's for charidee".

Tomorrow is non-uniform day at Amy's school. In return for wearing their own clothes the pupils have been asked to take a tin or packet of food in for Middleton Crisis Support Project. It's a foodbank that has recently opened due to the amount of people in the area struggling to make ends meet. There are over 1,000 pupils at school so they should get lots donated.
Thomas' school is holding a Pyjama day tomorrow. The school council wanted to raise money for Francis House, which is where the little boy who died went for respite care with his family. I've seen first hand the benefits of this for families and think it's lovely that they've come up with the idea. In return for wearing your jimmy jams school are asking for £1 donation.
I'm having a blitz on Thomas' room before his birthday and Christmas. I've gone through the wardrobe and have some clothes and toys to take to our local charity shop along with some books that I've read. It's an on-going project so there'll be more to send.
I've also bought 2 bottles for the church Christmas Fair tombola.
And finally, it was Lidl today, so I've started collecting a few bits for the Trussell Trust.
I'm feeling very grateful today that we're in a position to be able to help others, even in small ways.  


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Events Manager

I feel a little bit like an events manager today. I've covered Halloween, Bonfire Night, Thomas' birthday and Christmas.

My poorly boy was much better this morning so he went back to school, which meant we could get out and do a bit of shopping.

First we went to the garden centre to buy a fire basket and some kindling so we can have a 'safe' fire on Bonfire Night. The only one they had left was the one on display, much to Mark's delight as it meant he didn't have to put it together.

Then we went to Middleton where I bought some crackers for the Christmas tree & dining table and some bows.

I also picked up a bag of sweets for Trick or Treating on Halloween. 
And a very noisy laser sword for Thomas' birthday in November.

Finally, we bought Sparky a bone because today he is 4 years old.
In the words of Amy "Happy Birthday Fluffy Wuffy". Here he is slinking upstairs with it to chew under Amy's bed.
My poor Mum isn't doing so good after her op. She's in lots of pain and the painkillers are making her sick. Today she text me to say she's not taking them by mouth now, they're putting them up her bum instead. That's a new one on me and I'm sure you'll all be relieved to know I haven't got a photo of that!


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Poorly Boy & A Hospital Visit

I have a poorly boy at home again today. Thomas started with a cold Saturday evening and has now developed a cough.

He's okayish during the day dosed up on calpol but goes downhill at night. He didn't get out of bed much yesterday and I have the photo to prove it! Mark has very kindly taken it upon himself to do night-time duty so the men of the house are in the double bed together while I've been in Thomas' room. 
It's quite nice having my own bedroom. The quilt stays over me all night, there's no snoring to put up with and I can read for as long as I want without Mark dramatically sighing every 5 minutes. As much as I want Thomas to get better I'll be quite reluctant to give up my single bedroom status.

I've been to visit Mum in hospital tonight. She had her op yesterday and is doing OK although she's in pain. She managed to sit in the chair for an hour this morning and they helped her into the chair again while I was there but she only managed 1/2 hour. She's a very private person and being on a ward with strangers isn't really her thing. Before she went in she banned all visitors because she didn't want any fuss. But being the dutiful daughter I ignored her wishes and went to visit her.

She was glad to see me and visiting bans seem to have been lifted already; the grandchildren are on a rota! Being in hospital can be very boring and I bet she'll be ready to see somebody every day. To be fair though, if none of us could go it really wouldn't bother her. 

I'm just hoping she's well enough to look after herself when she does come home. We've booked to go to away next week at her insistence/stubbornness that she'd be fine. If push comes to shove Mark would take the kids and I could follow a couple of days later on the train, but I really hope it doesn't come to that.
       Only time will tell.


Monday, 21 October 2013

Foodbank Shopping List

Today I put together a shopping list for the Trussell Trust foodbank and this is what I came up with.

Orange Juice
Tinned Meat
Pasta Sauce 
Dried Spaghetti
Rice Pudding

To be truthful, I haven't really enjoyed doing it. For an idea of cost I looked at Tesco and to get anywhere near £10 I'll have to buy lots of basics ranges which I feel guilty about. It's as though I'm saying 'that's all you're worth'. I've had a look at the blog 'A Girl Called Jack' though and her suggested shopping list features mostly basics, so that puts me more at ease. 

I've read that some people think coffee, juice & biscuits are a luxury, after all there's water in the tap and are biscuits really necessary? But surely people using foodbanks are already at rock bottom and feel stripped of their dignity. I personally think if being able to have a coffee and a biscuit is now deemed indulgent, we're living in an even sadder world than I thought. 

It also feels very strange buying for other people and in a way dictating what they should eat. I'm not sure if people can request what they need from a foodbank or if they're given a standard list of items. Is it a case of lack of money means be grateful for what you get given, even if you don't really like it.

Over the next couple of days I'll be going shopping and I'll let you know how much I actually spend. I have feeling my £10 won't go very far.



Saturday, 19 October 2013


The weekend started with a lie-in til 9.30am. After different breakfasts of yoghurt & fruit, brioche, bacon butties and cocoa pops it was time to get dressed.

First job of the day was to drop Amy off at drama. She looks forward to this all week and really enjoys going. Thomas has been for a couple of taster sessions and although he enjoyed it he doesn't want to go all the time. We have to pay 3 months in advance though with no refunds for missed sessions, so choosing whether to go or not each week isn't really an option. We had a chat with him and he's decided to go swimming instead which is more flexible.

While Amy was doing whatever Thespians do, we popped into Tesco. They've starting to collect bits and pieces at church for the Christmas Fair so I bought these for the bottle tombola. They were on offer at 50p each and I just need to add a couple of alcoholic ones for good measure. 
After collecting Amy we popped into the garden centre to see if they had any fire baskets. I really want a small fire in the garden for bonfire night but we're very mindful of the wooden fencing, decking and a shed in a not overly huge garden. We think we might have found the answer though.
Back home we had sandwiches for lunch, watched an hour of TV, then Mark dropped me & Thomas at the leisure centre for a swim. Well, when I say a swim I really mean me clinging on to the side in the deep end while Thomas jumped in again and again and again. The problem is he's over confident in the water and I can't take my eyes off him for a second so although I get to tread water I don't really get to swim. He had a great time though. Our new leisure centre opened in January 2009 and it really is lovely.

While I was cooking tea the kids decided to make a video show of themselves which involved lots of running up and down stairs and outside shots. I love it when they do a project together.

During tea, the heavens opened and the rain came bouncing down. When it stopped this beautiful rainbow appeared right at the back of our house.

After watching the video Amy & Thomas had made, we all settled down to do our own thing. My choice was a bath full of strawberry sorbet bubbles and a book.

Not a bad Saturday as they go.


Friday, 18 October 2013

10% for food, not energy

I bought myself a lovely dressing gown today from BHS. There was 20% off and I see it as an investment for the winter months. It will hopefully stop me reaching for the thermostat quite so often and I'm sure David Cameron would be very proud of me for putting on an extra layer. 

I already had a perfectly adequate dressing gown but it seems to have become a family item. Amy is always wearing it and Thomas loves to snuggle up in it even though they've both got their own. So I graciously relinquished it to the children and got myself a newbie. I tried a red one on first, but as soon as Mark said 'Ho,Ho,Ho' I knew I'd never be able to wear it. I went for purple instead. 
I'm hoping all these dressing gowns and blankets will keep us snuggly warm during winter and keep the bills down. Our electricity bill is £49 per month and our gas bill is £38. We pay by direct debit and we're in credit with one and debit with another, to the tune of being slightly in credit overall. Add a 10% increase to this though and we will be paying another £105 per year. Thankfully, we won't struggle to do that, but that's not the point. Plenty of people will.                                             
I've been reading a couple of blogs today about foodbanks and the Trussell Trust and I can't comprehend why in 2013 people are having to choose between heating or eating. Reading that parents are going without food is bad enough, but to read that children are going hungry is heartbreaking. I can't imagine having no food in the house for Amy and Thomas. It's bad enough listening to them complain about being hungry when I'm cooking tea.
Anyway, I did a quick google and discovered the nearest Trussell Trust food banks to us are in Oldham, Salford and Manchester. And so I made a decision. That over the next 12 months I will endeavour to keep the gas and electricity bills to around the same as what they are now and that the 10% add on (£8.40 per month) will be spent on food donations to the Trussell Trust instead of to my energy provider.

It's only a small gesture but I am just so grateful that it's not Amy and Thomas whose tummies are rumbling tonight.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Busy Doing Nothing

I have to admit that yesterday I was very lazy. And with weather like this I gave myself permission to indulge in doing nothing very much.
I sat in my PJ's till gone 11am watching rubbish but entertaining TV, namely Duck Dynasty. It really is daft American stuff but it makes me laugh. I think it was these lovely new slippers that stopped me getting dressed any sooner!
But I eventually managed to drag myself upstairs to get ready before making boiled egg on toast for dinner.           
I picked up the blanket that I'm making for Amy and crocheted a few rows. It's now long enough to keep my legs warm while I'm working on it.
Then I had a flick through this Christmas magazine. It's full of totally useless and overpriced goodies, but it's nice to get lost in it all sometimes isn't it.
Mum came for a brew, a natter and a catch up on what's happening in the family. 

And Mark made the kids teas and their packed lunches for tomorrow. This probably happens at the most 5 times a year, so it's well worth documenting!
Meanwhile, I went for a shower, slapped on a bit of tutty and met my two lovely friends for a bite to eat, a drink and a gossip.
I came home to find the kids in their PJ's and tucked up in bed. So I had a quick brew and a look at some of my favourite blogs.
Then I slouched off to bed under the influence of a glass of rose, totally forgetting to post what I'd written, which is why I'm doing it now!

Talk about busy doing nothing! Today I'll get my backside back into gear.


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The clock was ticking

It was parents evening tonight. Luckily for us our slot was at 3.35pm so by the time we'd picked Thomas up from his classroom and walked to the main entrance we were ready to go in. In the past we've been given times where hanging around hasn't been an option but no sooner have we got home than we've had to turn around and go back.  

Even working there got me no favouritism. Every family lives within 1 mile of the school and 95% of them within a 5 minute walk. We live just over 3 miles away but no teachers ever seemed to have the common sense to think that one through.

Although time is always limited it's the first parents evening I've ever been to where we've been timed with a stop watch. It was quite off putting actually watching the seconds count down. We got 5 minutes exactly before the buzzer went off, we were thanked for attending and the event was over.

In that time we learnt Thomas' handwriting has improved, (which we can see for ourselves), he's in the top group for reading (no change from Year 2) and he's also in the top group for maths (again no change from Year 2). We were handed a list of 100 words he needs to know how to spell by Year 4 and a card with the times tables on for him to learn.

So, did we feel it worthwhile going. Personally I didn't think so. Time is so limited, there's very little chance to discuss anything. If you have a problem or want to know something you get more time and feedback at the end of the school day when the teachers are always happy to speak to you.

But we've shown willing and attended and Thomas got a big chocolate cookie from Greggs Bakers for doing his best.


Monday, 14 October 2013

7.35pm at Number 38

It's 7.35pm at Number 38.
The kitchen is spotless so Amy has decided to bake!
Thomas, sporting a trendy new look of school uniform and PJ's, is on the x-box building a pirate ship on minecraft.
Mark is puffing on his e-cig waiting for the kettle to boil so he can make me a cuppa. He's then going surfing on the net.
And I'm blogging. After which I'll jump in the shower and put clean PJ's on as I've got a date with Doc Martin at 9pm.
We've had one of Thomas' friends round for tea. 

The police have been to see us regarding an on-going incident on the street, (nothing to do with us, but the local PCSO seems to like popping in for a chat and a brew). 

I've walked the dog.

And helped Thomas make a pop-up Stonehenge for a school project. He's still got to add a few finishing touches.
I've also consoled Amy who is truly gutted because the programme makers for 'Educating Yorkshire' have approached her school to see if they would like to take part in the next series, only for the Headteacher to say 'No'. I can't blame her really. As much as we find the programme entertaining I don't think I'd like Amy and her friends splashed all over the TV. I really believe that as a teenager, what happens at school should stay at school. Unless of course there is possible risk to life or limb. 

What were you all doing at 7.35pm?


Sunday, 13 October 2013

Life is not always a bowl of cherries

The time is passing so quickly lately. Can't believe it's nearly a weeks since we enjoyed our stroll around Uppermill and I've not felt like blogging since then to be honest. 

My sister-in-law's mum was diagnosed with cancer last October and although she has been doing really well, she suddenly deteriorated on Wednesday. I only saw her a couple of weeks ago at the 40th party and she looked so well. She's in hospital and the outlook isn't looking too good. I just really feel for my sis-in-law. She lost her dad 5 years ago so to lose her mum as well would be just awful. 

I've also been to the funeral of an ex-pupil. He was only 12 and although it's always been expected, it still comes as a shock. He was a lovely boy, with the cheekiest smile and a great sense of humour. His brother is in Thomas' class so I know his mum from working at school and also from the playground. My heart breaks for her.

On Thursday I managed to put my back out and have been hobbling around bent double. It's only today that it seems to be getting better. Every so often it just goes. I think it stems from a fall I had 12 years ago and of course old age doesn't help. Because of the tablets I take I had to ring the Dr to find out what painkillers I could have. I've been prescribed codeine and I can take ibuprofen for 3 days maximum. But I have to watch out for signs of stomach bleeding. Nice.

Hopefully this coming week will be better. I have 2 nights out booked with friends which I'm really looking forward to. We always manage to have a laugh and cheer each other up. And as the saying goes, a good catch up, some food and drink will be 'just what the Doctor ordered'.

Hope you've all had a great weekend.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013


We had a drive to Uppermill today. It's a village in Saddleworth and is now part of Oldham Borough although before the boundaries were re-defined in 1974 it was in Yorkshire. It's best known for it's cotton and wool mills during the Industrial Revolution and it's brass band.

It was a lovely day for having a walk around, damp but dry and the colours on the trees were beautiful. 

It's about 10 miles from where we live and took about 30 minutes to get there.

Just 15 minutes in the car and a couple of miles out of Oldham and we're in open countryside heading through Lees towards Uppermill.
We parked at Alexandra Mill. It used to be an arts & crafts centre but since our last visit has been converted into apartments.
We had a leisurely stroll by the canal.
And spotted this canal boat. 
The canal path brought us out by Saddleworth Museum. We didn't go in because it only opens in the afternoons, but I'd have liked to have a look around.
We had a stroll up the High Street
And stopped for a coffee at this lovely little cafe in a courtyard
Then we made our way back through the park
Back to the canal
Back down the street
And finally back to Alexandra Mill and the car

We were only out for a couple of hours but I really enjoyed it. There's just something about the moors, the blackened brickwork and the mills with their tall chimneys that I can't help but love.