Tuesday, 3 September 2019

More, just more of the same

I am sure anyone who reads will be sick and tired of my bad news stories but this week, or actually last week, is the worst.

I saw an email from work on Tuesday morning after bank holiday that said 'someone in finance has died over the weekend and we are making the announcement at ten,can we please ask you to keep the other teams away from us at ten and afterwards'. Apparently the email shouldn't have come to me. So y boss phones and before he can speak I say ' I saw the email, on my way to the office'. He was waiting for me and ushered me into a side room where I was told the bad news. One of our younger team members was killed the previous day. Such a lovely girl, just an absolute ray of sunshine. Only 27. She worked for me for many years before getting her current position in another part of the finance team. None of us could believe it, and I think perhaps we still cant. Although there is today a newspaper article naming her as the girl hit by an express train and killed outright on the bank holiday Monday..

We had a few people in missing from the office so me and the other managers had to phone them as we were afraid they would see it on social media first and that's no way to hear about a friend. Then we realised we have someone missing and she then rings in the say husband has suffered a small stroke but is fine, having to get him comfortable and should be in later. We all spent the day at work together, no one wanted to go home and be alone and later got another call. Husband had deteriorated and life support would be switched off as soon as the transplant surgeons are ready. So by Wednesday morning at 6.30am its all over.

We are being offered grief counselling but I dont know if thats a help. At elast we all ahve each other to talk to. I think those who were away had it worst. Those poor families too. Just so awful.

I was so determined to post about good things but life is very much getting in the way.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Summer Rain

The middle of summer on the sunny south coast of England, and the rain is falling heavily enough to keep us indoors again. We were hoping to do some concreting in the back garden today so hopefully it does perk up.

My big black cat has just come in from the rain and looks so wet that he could be a river creature. He is purring like crazy as he washes himself dry so i guess he either loves the rain or loves no longer being out in it.

I bought Fahed a bottle of cola when i did the shopping last week. He used to have 8 bottles a week but I have been weening him off. When i went to put it in the boot of his car i found the last two weeks still in there. This is since ibought some of the 2l reusable water bottles. He fills them after use and puts them in the fridge. They are big enough to stay cold right through his swimming sessions if he wraps them in a towel. I am very pleased with him, Better for him, better for the environment and better for my shopping budget.

I made 5 jars of jam. Its not a lot but it took a bucket of plums, less the overripe and bug infested ones. I dont think I realised how little jam you can get from a bucket of fruit. So much for my idea to bottle Chinese plum sauce. The tree still has a little fruit but its really all to overripe. My jamming facebook group tells me that jam etc from them wont set.  Dad cant pick the plums as his tree is on uneven ground but he got a couple of younger neighbours (i.e. one in her 80's and one in her 60's) to come in and help themselves to those which we failed to pick and use. But we ate loads. However very few were wasted so thats good. I roasted the plums for about half an hour, then made jam as usual but also inludes about 30g of fresh ginger. Its really there in the finished jam. Very lovely.

And look. I made labels! Well i used an online thing to make them and printed them at work so y'know, i sort of made them.

Talking about facebook groups. I have joined one for jams and stuff, one for fermenting and one for cheesemaking. Added to that I have unfollow nearly everyone I know plus all news sites, suddenly the world is a much happier place.

Have a lovely week everyone out there and dont get bogged down in the nasty stuff.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

A very windy Saturday

BBC news this morning says a million people were without power during the night. We seem to have been quite lucky here. Very wet on and off and very windy but we appear to have survived unscathed.

Today I am off out with my dad to the garden centre, and then fr lunch We don't need anything but we need something to do which isn't too taxing but he finds interesting.

If there are any plums left on his tree then i am going to collect a bucketful. I am planning plum and ginger jam and a Chinese plum sauce. I do enjoy making preserves, even if they arent good for me to eat.

The lady who made my sofa covers came to fit them mid week. Sadly they didn't fit so she took them away again and will be back in a month. I have the seat cushions and back cushions in a lovely new hard wearing blue fabric. The rest is still the cream fabric of the sofa but its a start!

Hope the weather improves tomorrow as we are mixing concrete for garden work there is a ton each of sand and gravel and 200kg of cement I guess we are doing quite a lot!

These are the recipes I have been given:
Chinese Plum Sauce Prep Time 10 mins Cook Time 40 mins Total Time 50 mins   Chinese plum sauce is the perfect recipe to preserve summer plums into a lightly sweet, lightly tart, and lightly spiced condiment that has many uses.  Yield: roughly 1 cup of sauce* Course: Condiment Cuisine: Asian, Chinese Keyword: jam, plums, preserving Servings: 8 (2 Tbsp) servings Author: Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere Ingredients 1 lb plums, pitted and chopped ¼ c apple cider vinegar ½ c brown sugar 1 Tbsp soy sauce 1 ½ Tbsp fresh ginger, minced 1 clove garlic, minced ½ star anise 1/8 tsp dried chile flakes Instructions Combine pitted and chopped plums with the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the plum skins are very soft, 20 min. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the half star anise. Puree the mixture with a stick blender until smooth. (Or, let the mixture cool slightly and transfer it to a blender and blend until smooth). Return the mixture to the heat and bring it to a hard simmer over medium high heat, stirring often to prevent sticking. Cooking until the sauce is thick and jammy, roughly 20 minutes.* Remove from heat and let cool if refrigerating for up to 3 weeks. If canning your sauce, can while the sauce is hot using the boiling water canning method.  Recipe Notes *Actual cook time and yield will vary depending on the juiciness of your plums and your desired thickness for your sauce.

Read more at Curious Cuisiniere: Chinese Plum Sauce https://www.curiouscuisiniere.com/chinese-plum-sauce/

and this one. Which is plum chutney even thought i thought we decided on plum and ginger jam. Never mind

Plum chutney
This is Pam Corbin's (or "Pam the Jam" as we call her around these parts) recipe for plum chutney, and the perfect way to preserve some of the summer glut into the winter. It's delicious with cold meats. Makes 10-11 340g jars.

1kg plums, quartered and stoned
1.5kg apples or pears or a mixture, peeled, cored and diced
500g shallots
250g stoned prunes, roughly chopped
500g soft light brown sugar
600ml cider vinegar or white-wine vinegar
2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
For the spice bag
50g fresh root ginger, bruised
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp black peppercorns

Make your spice bag by tying up the spices in a 20cm square of muslin. Put this into a preserving pan with all the other ingredients and bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. This will take a while, but don't hurry it.

Let the mixture simmer, uncovered, for 2½-3 hours. Keep an eye on it and stir regularly to ensure it doesn't burn. It's ready when it's thick and glossy, rich in colour and well reduced, but still with chunks of fruit discernible. It is thick enough if, when you draw a wooden spoon through, the chutney parts to reveal the pan's base for a few seconds.

Pot the chutney while warm in warm, sterilised jars. Pack down with the back of a spoon to remove any air pockets. Seal with vinegar-proof lids. Store in a cool, dark place and leave for a couple of months to mature before using. Use within two years.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Whats new??

I lost 4kg :) (only another cazillion to lose but lets not dwell on that)

We booked our autumn trip to the Crete house. Jamal will be here at home to take care of the house and animals except for a short break for him when my lovely next door neighbour will come in.

We had a revelation abut how Fahed's working all day Saturday and then being s tired that dinner is followed swiftly by bed time is just not fun. He loves his job though so we don't want to stop the service to the kids. So clever Lizzie realised that Tuesday night could be an option. He couldnt use the pool on Tuesday night previously but now he can so we are moving everyone over, assuming they wish to go. That means short days Monday, Friday and 1/2day Saturday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday home about 9 or 10pm. Plenty of hours work but still some time to do other things. Lets see how that works out.

I have ordered new fence panels and concrete gravel board to be delivered next week for the fence of hours which is currently falling to pieces. I went to 4 different places to price it up (gives me and dad something to do on a Saturday) and also checked online. The ones we have gone with are not the cheapest but they are the best quality for the money. They are all pre treated (pressure treated with preservative) and have 25 year guarantee. Oh and free delivery because of the amount spent.

Next weekend is our weekend of concrete, assuming it doesnt rain. Fahed has to order the delivery of ton of sand and another of pea shingle on Monday or we wont be making concrete.

Wednesday the lady who is making my sofa cover (I tried to do it myself, i really did) is coming to fit it. Very excited.

What’s new with you?

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Mid week post!

Go me!

I still don't know why I don't get notified of comments but I have worked out how to comment on the posts of others again. Or I haven't exactly but if I read blogs on my laptop then I can, even though the ipad and phone version still evades me. Nonetheless it progress!

This week I have to order 5 fence panels and 7 concrete gravel boards for one side of the garden. Fahed is ordering sand, cement and something else i have forgotten. A lady is coming to fit my new sofa covers. Its all go here.

The shed looks great. We were merciless in our de-cluttering. At least I was. I wouldn't be surprised to find that Fahed was sneaking things back in. He is such a squirrel. We enjoyed him being off from Saturday lunchtime during the 'toe injury period' that we are going to try to move his students from Saturday pm to Tuesday evening, Fingers crossed. If it works it will be great. I am used to spending Saturday on my own, and with my dad of course, but it feels like every week is a holiday when we are both home.

And today we went over to the allotment at about7.30am and picked loads of beans, dig potatoes, pulled our shallots and garlic (which were rubbish!) so feeling very pleased with ourselves. We have fruit to pick as well but not when its raining.

Now for some blog reading, since I have worked out how to do it properly again!

Sunday, 28 July 2019


Blogger has stopped messaging me to tell m e when someone comments. Anyone know what I have done?

A weekend at home

Fahed cut his foot in the garden last week. Right down to the bone. Eek. He did it with a sharpened spade. So it all became infected as you would expect. Half of his work is poolside and the other is in the water. So for two weeks he could do only poolside. That's his actual job, the lessons int he pool are private so although we shan't have much money next month he doesn't get into trouble for missing work.  So all this is leading to... he has been home with me a lot more in the evenings and Saturdays. So we have being doing all our The Good Life thing plenty. With the allotment now producing and stocking up with veg at the Asian supermarket we have been preserving and fermenting like crazy. We haven't got round to using the the fathers day gift of a smoker yet though.

With all this extra home work time we have all the wood ready for the next stage of the BBQ (for BBQ in this instance read;outside kitchen. It has a BBQ, sink and oven and takes up about 4 metres of my tiny garden.). So now we just need to order a ton of sand and another of gravel to get mixing for the concreting. We have the kids all here to help two weeks today, assuming that the temperature doesn't go back up.

Yesterday he did his four morning hours and was already working outside when i got back from lunch with my dad. He decided his shed/workshop is too over crowded and messy but he isnt really good at getting rid of things. Luckily I am!  All the wood which was actually junk went on the bonfire with the garden waste. I have a pile of stuff to be completed. A pile for the dump and a pile for giving way on Facebook.  We kept busy until time to go back to dads at around 7pm, so I feel like we already had our Sunday at home, and here I am, coffee in hand planning our Sunday of pottering about doing stuff.

So I am sorry Fahed's toe was painful and infected, sorry we missed out of two weeks of extra money from one to one lessons and all that but I had a couple of lovely busy home loving weekends, so yay!

And he is a random picture of the sausages we made (hopefully)

Saturday, 27 July 2019

And now July and not long until August

I have been getting back into my routines but apparently not my blogging routine. Oops.

Last time I think I mentioned my blood sugar had gone bonkers lately. The doctor said it was stress, sent me for grief counselling (I didn’t go, don’t tell him) and quadrupled my medication. There is a slight improvement when they check it this month. However in my diabetic review my blood pressure was waaaay up. Enough for the nurse to run for the doctor and I left with new medication and  an appointment for four days later.  All this tells me it’s time to lose weight and exercise more. Monday I’m back on the ultra low calorie diet which works so well with type 2 diabetes. Also walking to work  and generally fitting exercise into my routine again. All I do atthe moment is work and go to dads. I need to balance taking care of dad with taking care of me.
One lot
Exercise I am
Getting is working on the allotment ( rented vegetable patch if not familiar). Jamal and I work there for a few hours each week
And always my legs ache and my
Tummy feels like I have been doing sit up. So that’s a good thing, right? Also means I have got to that age where any sign of rain has me saying ‘oh lovely, just right for the garden’.  This week we had three days of 33 degrees so some rain would definitely be welcome, although temperature has broken today and should be mid 20s.
We have been doing all sorts of fun things lately, making sausages, making kimchi and pickles. I made jam with dad’s loganberries. It’s all very ‘The Good Life’ and I am Barbara!
I guess it’s time to move. I can’t sit in bed reading, writing, surrounded by kitty cats and drinking coffee all day. Can I?

Saturday, 22 June 2019

June already - how did that happen!

Gosh but my posts are so intermittent. The thing is i really love writing and I always feel because the blog can be read by others it makes me slightly more accountable, anybody out there reading this, you are my accountability person! Thank you :). So that what stops me from stopping.

I need a new routine.

However I am slowly getting my act together.  I feel it might be time for a 'line in the sand' update on stuff. It makes me feel like I have achieved some things, which i can miss in the every day course of events.

Greek House
All legal now! All taxes paid for this year and the deficit from when the German guy who used to be my agent sorted out my admin. I have a Greek accountant now, which you have to have anyway to complete tax forms, but also i think the problem with the other guy must have been a language issue. We had cameras and alarms fitted, which i will finish paying for by next month, after the second burglary. Mind you when i scan the pictures every day i get really homesick for my little house in the sun.

Allbrook House
New carpets and mattress all sorted. I also had a large rug for the sitting room made from the leftovers.  Had another massive clear out and actually really like the house now. I have a cleaner (get me!) for 2 hours each week. I still go to dads every evening and at the weekend so house was starting to look pretty bad, but Wendy is making a huge difference. And what she can do in 2 hours would take me five, shes a machine. In a good way. A few things still need to be done here but we are on schedule to do everything this year.

Old Greek House
When we finish outstanding here then i plan to save £20k a year for two years to renovate the old house. We could do with some extra income when we retire and hopefully this is our safety blanket.

We have been to our Greek house once so far this year and hope to go out with the whole family in autumn. I have a week in Mallorca with by bestie. We have had a weekend in France with Dad, Sis etc and are having another one next weekend.  dad loves it. i also have a week in Madeira booked for February.  All done on a shoestring. I have been doing some serious bargain hunting! I love travel but luckily so do the whole family so gives us plenty to talk about too. Which is lucky since we spend sooo much time together since losing mum.

Eating quite well but my blood sugars are still high i think. I have stopped testing them as doc said it was probably adding to my stress but i have a raft of tests at tend of the month apparently, so we shall know how i am overall. I am trying to be active and definitely move about much more but i haven't attended classes in ages. I need to get back to that and i do have a plan in place (honest!)

There are more categories for certain but i have maybe soul searched enough for one day

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Preparing for the future

I heard gossip at work this week that our organisation will likely announce a merger this year. The other organisation is led by their previous director of finance so that sounds like redundancy is on the cards to me, as that person will likely favour their existing team. It’s ok, I did my budget for all of the different scenarios. I would prefer not to take my pension until it’s unavoidable as it will be more each year depending on when I take it. So now I have to consider a load of different possibilities! It’s quite exciting I guess. Forcing me to do new things. Anyway thanks to blogosphere I think I am fairly well prepared.

Other than that I have totally lost the plot with my blood sugar. It is running riot. Apparently stress can do this. Oh and my husband is driving me crackers. Luckily he is adorable on the whole so he escaped from me clipping him with a frying pan. I suspect grief stress affecting us all so I do need to be patient (step away from the frying pan). Only the cats don’t make me crazy, which probably means I am crazy. I am away for some days this week to Liverpool for a conference.  Absence should make the heart grow fonder :)

Friday, 1 March 2019


All this unseasonable sun has cheered me a little.  Also am feeling much better physically. I have very much  'not been bothering ' since losing mum. Little thing like not making a lunch and just getting a sandwich from the van at work. I had a revelation that my constant tiredness and brain fog, amongst other things might be more than just grief and worry and sure enough it seems it was also high blood sugar. So since Saturday its all change and I feel tons better. Full of energy. I rather feel mum would be cross with me for being so silly but glad I have spotted it and more importantly rectified it straight away.

Jamal and I are making first working visit to the allotment today. Will be great when we have longer evenings to work outside but no point in wishing my life away.

More, just more of the same

I am sure anyone who reads will be sick and tired of my bad news stories but this week, or actually last week, is the worst. I saw an emai...