Friday, 30 March 2012


I am going to dwell on the positive today, really I am.

I am not even going to mention that my car went to the garage and the repair quote was £500. The value of my car is about £150 and it's only that much because it has a full tank of petrol, valued at around £70. But, and this is positive, because of the threatened strike and associated fuel shortages, I do at least have fuel even if the car is on its last legs (wheels).

Parts have arrived for my washing machine, but not yet fitted. Bits of it are all over the floor. Sigh. Dishwasher is not working. Cupboard doors and drawer fronts have not been fitted. So basically, we are totally in chaos. Tomorrow I will do my best to get on top of everything here. I don't enjoy the chaos, it makes me tired before I even start.

If i can improve the state of the kitchen tomorrow then i will make a lovely lemon chicken in the oven. I will just keep focusing on that as I try to get through the day.

Do you like my favourite picture of the moment? It's called Anarchy in the UK

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Extra small disasters

I cant remember if I mentioned my broken tooth in amongst all my other disasters last week.

Anyway we are progressing. Gas man came Monday morning to give us a quote. I was sure we were talking new boiler so £80 for a fix was much better.

Washing machine turns out not to be covered by my household insurance as I cancelled 'accidental damage' at some long forgotten point. I have ordered a replacement door and door seal. The menfolk have stripped it down. So far cost is £40 so assuming it is successful then not so bad.

Tyres have arrived. Total cost £220. Could have been a lot worse than that. Fahed is persuading someone at the local tyre place to fit them for free.

My car cannot be seen at the garage until Friday. I await the bad news.

My tooth repair is paid for (£47 all in - I love you NHS). I have to wait until Thursday to have the work done as my dentists was in a minor car accident.

Other news:
My immediate boss has resigned She is moving on the a more challenging post. She is really nice and I will miss her. However she can be a bit too hands on and I feel that I might not think quite so much about retiring early now. On the other hand she might be replaced by someone awful so it could be no fun at all!

Today at work we had two 'lunch and learn' session. I was one of those who had to present but i found that , although i had a little of that kind of rising panic feeling in my chest, I was actually not that nervous. I seem to be better when I know my subject and don't have to refer to other peoples words. I have two more session tomorrow lunchtime. That also eans two days of free lunches!

Sunday, 25 March 2012


We are having lovely sunny days at the moment which lift everyone's mood. So I am still smiling today despite the fact that;

The boiler is still not happy, has gone out and cannot be re-lit. Boiler man coming at 8.00am tomorrow. Cost £unknown but probably not nice.

My car has started to overheat really quickly. The water is up to the line so something else is wrong, thermostat or pump I guess. Trip to garage early this week for a full prognosis. Cost £also unknown but probably not nice.

The letter U on this keyboard has to be fair beaten to get it to show itself. Cost £nil but irritation factor is high. Fahed says he will fix it this pm but I bet he wont.

Suddenly Fahed's car needs two new tyres. I hear him say this from time to time but don't take much notice and now I cant ignore it any more. Cost approx £140 per tyre. I will try to reflect that I am happy to only be replacing 2 and not all 4.

Yesterday my washing machine broke. Not just broke mechanically but the actual glass door kind of exploded into the kitchen. I guess it was hit by a jeans button or something. I still have a drum for of wet clothes and glass to sort out this morning.

So yes, lucky it is sunny and we have fun things to do this afternoon or else I might be a bit grumpy.

Yesterday I pickled lemons, today we are doing chillies and baby cucumbers. I am also making a load of home made burgers for the freezer and Fahed is making yoghurt. I love these nice productive days. Oh, and tonight is the delayed birthday meal for Ahdel, next week we have Jamal's.

SO at least I have a lot of good things happening to take my mind off the other stuff.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Who eats what!

Just chatting with Daizy about who eats what & when, we found ourselves pretty much equally unknowing!

Aha, so of to google I went.

Our traditional Christmas dinner is roast turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, plenty of different veg and got include sprouts. We vary it up a bit by everyone choosing veg so my poor mum cooks roast parsnips, mushy peas, carrots, broccoli & whatever else we think of each year. Some friends of mine who are farm folk always have the roast beef of Old England for their meat. I am assuming this is just normal roast beef but maybe a big piece but that's what they always call it. We follow it up with Christmas Pudding, which we set fire to! Not just us, everyone does that. Because we come from Devon we serve a small slice with a dollop of clotted cream.

I googled around a bit and found that a traditional Irish Christmas dinner is about the same but with a ham as well. I found this website for some yum Irish dishes. In my head i was thinking of Irish stew (proper tasty) and soda bread (not together, although they can be). I still really fancy proper Corned Beef (not the tinned stuff you put in sandwiches over here)but I am already well aware of the taste of cabbage as we have it all through it's season. We do prefer sprouts though.

I found it really hard to find out whether the Welsh shared the same traditions and the English & Irish. The Welsh are justifiably famous for their fantastic lamb so in my head they would have the same as the rest of us but with a nice bit of lamb. But as lamb is around in spring then surely it can't also be around at Christmas? I found a lovely picture of Welsh cakes, which I really want to try.

The Scots seem to have the same traditional meal as us. But pudding might be Clouty Dumpling or Crannachan.

I am so wishing it was Christmas now. I can almost imagine those lovely roast spuds, that my mum cooks in goose fat at Christmas. Good news for me is that my sister and i have talked mum into doing us another Christmas dinner over Easter! Yaaaay!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Too much finance focus, not enough social focus

My balance has got a bit slewed to one side lately. Every time I think of something i want to do, I talk myself out of it as its too expensive. I believe that I am getting more insular. Luckily the house is always full of people, well mostly, right now it is actually only me. Plus I see people at work all the time.

So I am making a bit more effort. We have a new restaurant/bar just opened up the road from us. Bargain prices so we are going there for a mid afternoon lunch tomorrow, when Fahed gets home from work. We are going to make more effort to do this once every week or two. Nothing too fancy or expensive but just nice.

Tonight we are going out again when he comes home from work. To the Asian supermarket (where else would you spend a Friday night??)to stock up on chilies and so forth for a bit of a pickling session tomorrow.

I am going to try to visit friends more often, not miss Wednesday evening get togthers with my sister and even try to be more facebooky.

I have made myself a plan for the weekend, hopefully that should slow up my natural desire to hibernate!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

What else don't I know??

I am sure I must have read blog posts at this time of year before but somehow I have never heard of the St Patrick's day dining tradition of corned beef and cabbage. How can I have got to fifty and not known? Isn't it a bit like not knowing that Turkey is the traditional British Christmas dinner. And about Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns, Simnel cake. What else am I not knowing?? And corned beef means something entirely different, and not half as good by the look of it, to me as well. Here corned beef comes in a tin. It's okay in sandwich with salad but not something to have for a celebratory meal. The traditional North American corned beef looks so much nicer that I am going to have to try to cook it myself. I was googling around to try to find out how I missed it all these years, despite Ireland being just next door and having loads of Irish colleagues and mates. I found a few articles like this one suggesting that the Irish are not that much more familiar with this dish than I am, despite it's early roots, but that doesn't make it any less valid as a traditional celebratory dish. It might help explain why I have never heard of it, as it's spiritual home is some much further away than I was thinking. But I know about Thanksgiving Turkey & pumpkin pie, so again, no excuse on my my part.

Anyways, now I want to try it and a tin of English style (i.e. made in Brazil/Argentina) is not going to cut it!

Reading through the article you just get a feel for the locals there. I love that for the phone in on traditional Irish food the chap that called said 'pints' were the traditional food & referred to a pint of Guinness as a Shamrock Sandwich. Getting to the bottom of the article they mentioned dying beer Green? Is that true? Wow. That's all I am saying!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Favourite time of the week

I mostly like my job, honest I do. Not so much at this time of year when 20,000 letters go out in my name and a ton of people decide they have to complain to me, bur mostly it is fine. But nonetheless I really love the weekend. My job is fine but it's not my identity.

I think Friday night is my favourite bit of the week. Tonight Fahed is out to his monthly poker evening. The kids are here with me, laughing, bickering and all the usual stuff. I have the anticipation of two whole days almost entirely at home. Bliss.

Tomorrow, a bit of cleaning and the last load of laundry, shopping (veg box is already here) and some garden time if the weather is warm. Sunday I have to pick up a massive birdcage I bought on eBay. Sunday is Mother's day so we will have special dinner. Monday is Jamal's birthday. My baby will be 20. I can't believe how quickly that time went and now I have just two more days as a mum of teenagers.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Managing Stress Levels

Poor Fahed tried a bit too hard to put his 'happy tablets' behind him. He dropped from 60ml a day to 40 ml a day no problem but this week we discovered that 30ml is a step too far at the moment. We are not giving up, just taking a step back, but I do miss his lovely sunny personality when he is feeling like this. It's just like he has been switched off, poor love.

The kids are both home tomorrow so they will do 'guy stuff' together, which is always good. When Jamal was born I went back to work because Fahed was quite ill for a few years and couldn't work, so the bond between my three boys is very strong. Anyways they are part way through designing and building a dagger! The metal bit is designed and made and next they are making a handle with a marquetry handle. My guess is we are talking Hogwarts/Lord of the Rings type weaponry here not the stabby stabby kind.

This week I had another training day. Somehow my organisation has gone staff development mad, but for me it is excellent. Everything knew thing that I learn leaves me wondering how I managed so many years not knowing things. I am moving my area of interest into mentoring and staff development. Strange move for a finance person but I think it is for me. And the things I learn help me to cope when poor Fahed is not coping at all. So maybe that all things happen for a reason stuff is not so wrong.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Positive thinking

Not going to dwell on my financial woes. Just going to make a plan to deal with them. There is nothing to be gained by dwelling on what we cold have differently.

and so:

I have rung or mortgage company and told them that for at least a year we will be making only the basic payment on or mortgage. I pay by standing order not direct debit as it gives me the easiest opportunity to overpay, so I have adjusted my payment amount.

My bills expenditure is pretty much as low as it can go unless we decide to make some serious lifestyle changes. I feel that the amount of money we save by having broadband, through access to information & discounts, makes it a good investments, so it gets to stay. Our other questionable expense is Sky TV. However I do remember that during the four years when we didn't have it we did spend a lot more at Blockbuster. It is also a part of the same package as my broadband so both are discounted. I will discuss the possibilities of switching off movies for the summer.

Although I have the best rates for utilities we could still reduce usage. Washing to be dried in the conservatory or on the line.

Shopping I believe I have a balance on now. A few years back I spent around £48 to £50 a week to feed s all. I decided that I could spend more to raise the quality of or food with plenty of fresh veg, happy meat, free range eggs etc.. I accidently got into habit of popping to the shop when I was asked to, on my way home from work, just for a few items. I didn't monitor budgets back then & was shocked when I checked my bank statement one month and found how much I had forked out. I cant recall exactly but I think it was close to £600. Now I have a routine which I stick too. I budget £100 per five of us but always come in under. I spend about £60 to £75 each week and have a £17 veg box (thoroughly recommending 5-a-day boxes, by the way)every two weeks. I like the variety of veg that yo get, which makes me try new dishes.

The good things relating to the properties are;

In Greece: Once we have paid the 25000 euro we can rent or property out for short term lets, which pay really well. I wont dwell on the fact that it's possible no-one actually wants to go there.

In Syria: Once things have settled down again then the land should start to regain value. We also have a partly constructed flat but I have written that off in my head and assumed that we get nothing.

In UK: We still have a big mortgage to pay off but once we get some income coming from Crete then maybe we can catch back up again. Likewise any money we eventually get for the land in Syria can come straight off the mortgage.

We can do it. The is a recession on and it's bad for everyone but we are, overall, doing okay.

Saturday, 10 March 2012


Last night was my late Christmas party with some of my mates from work. I apparently can't party like I used to because its now afternoon, I have been up for hours, and I still feel dreadful!

So I am doing my penance. Cleaning. On Tuesday Fahed & Jamal are fitting some more new kitchen cupboards so I have to prepare everything. The contents of the current cupboards are in baskets within the cupboard as it is easier to manage in that way. I do have to clear the work top again though but that's good really as it means I can sneak more things into my charity box. The conservatory is a proper mess. There are a box and bag of charity stuff. Three boxes of kitchen stuff. Aarrgggh! But it will be sorted soon.

I don't want to dwell on how bad the financial stuff is looking this week. The £60,000 investment in Syria went down to £30k, then £20k, then £10k and now nothing. It's a small deal for us compared with the poor souls living there but all the same, not so useful.

Update on the Crete house is that we need to find 25,000 euro. You begin to see why I might want to concentrate on cleaning instead of money, it's all just too depressing. And I feel awful still.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

How about this?

This is not the logo for the course.I was sent it on Facebook and liked it.

How about five days in the spring or autumntime, in the very South of Europe where it enters the North African climatic region. During those five days you can learn who you are, learn to stay curious and open to possibilities, change so you can understand yourself and those around you, to realise your potential and live a fulfilled, joyful life. Spend time with others who are keen to explore themselves. Spend evenings sharing good food and local wine & talking about your day. Take the time to truly relax.

What do we think?

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Our new arrival

No, not another baby, I am well past that. Yesterday we acquired Lily, our Bourke's Parakeet. She is very cute.

Not lily but it could be her twin.

She is shy and quiet but already settling in nicely. She has her own cage but I don't really like the idea of cages so one she is feeling properly secure then her cage, like Aces, will be left open unless we have the house doors open for something. To start with they will only be allowed out to fly together when we are home, just to make sure there are no problems. If we can relax then they can have the run of the house. I wont put them in the same cage together but if they choose to be friends then that would be good too. It will be nice for Ace to have some company when all of the people of the house are out.

It is lovely to sit here alone for half an hour and just hear the birds talking to me.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

A day of action

My Saturdays are always pretty full actually, as with any working mum, but I have a few nice things in their with the normal stuff.

Vacuum right through the house.
Change bedding.
One lot of laundry ( I have done all the rest already)
Empty and re-stack dishwasher.
Empty dresser ahead of its move to the kitchen this week - this falls into the quite interesting category as it forces me to sort the contents for the charity boxes and actually choose what to keep of the rest.
Allow myself an hour in the garden if it is warm enough to get a bit p together ahead of spring.
Buy a bird. Jamal & I are off to the aviary this morning. We are looking for a Bourke's parakeet. Wish us luck as they are not so easy to find.

I wanted to add a photo at this point but I am on the old fells laptop and its all just too hard.

Last night was a talking about plans evening.

I discussed my property portfolio plans with Fahed. He agrees with my idea to finish the family house and rent it out with a tourist license, develop the old house and add to the portfolio and then build a third house. It's a fair sized piece of land and can be 70% because it is in the village borders. We will build on my like 40% with three houses. We do like the village but it is so quiet and away from where we most like to be so maybe in future we will look for something back in our favourite village by the sea instead. We are thinking to stop or mortgage overpayments for a year or at most two. The extra cash cant go into the building projects but we will then get a little money in from these. We also have the money to come back from Syria one day.

Ahdel's mate came around last night and we discussed summer holidays. Are we odd that not only or kids (20 & 22) but their mates always come on holiday with s. I don't pay or actively encourage them (although I really do enjoy it, I like to think they came to the decision alone). I think this year there will be nine of us again. We discussed maybe driving to Crete but the boat crossing form Italy was too expensive mid summer. We looked at driving through Slovenia, Croatia & Macedonia but we dont really have long enough to enjoy the actual trip. I think we are back to the drawing board & flying again. Not my favourite option but the most sensible when there is a time limit on travel.

So now its time to get on with my day. Anyone else doing anything exciting for Saturday?

My life

My wonderful husband has died. He was in hospital for some weeks but this was very unexpected. I won’t be reading or writing for the foresee...