Monday, 30 September 2013

What I Thought About In The Car

Yesterday we went to a classic car thing at Victoria Park in Widnes, amazingly a place I'd never been to before. It was a gorgeous day and the place was packed. I took my camera with me as usual but I didn't take any photos. Not because there were no great cars there, there were some lovelies, including Dan's favourite a brown Triumph Dolomite.

The reason I didn't take any pictures is that this stuff doesn't change. Someone is watching and making sure the memories live. These cars aren't going to disappear, so I don't feel there's much benefit to me taking pictures. I'd never thought about it before but I like to take photos of the things that do change and when they're gone they won't come back. There's so much we don't notice until well after they're gone and we never took the time to properly appreciate or document them because they felt like constants in our lives but they were so mundane we paid no attention. 

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Tricky Second Quilt

I loved making the blocks for this quilt but putting it together was not fun. I had to stick the thing away from May to September as it made me very cross indeed. There were points at which I thought having a sewing machine might be a good idea, of course now it's done I admit I love the misery of hand sewing.

It's a sofa quilt, long and slim so we can both fit under it without being swallowed up in fabric. Although at the minute I wrap it around myself like a very exotic looking coiled snake. Cosy toast.

the benefit of having an indoor rabbit pen

the back

back detail

Most of the fabric is Mod Century from Jenn Ski and it's lovely. 

Friday, 27 September 2013

A Very Good Week

Last week was not a good week. This week has been a great week - 

my niece was born
I finished the quilt
I had my hair cut
Bunnies have been very cute
Dan finally bought two winter coats
The pantry looks great
Lots of birds in the garden
I still have Martha Stewart Living to read
We have nothing to do tomorrow
We opened a new bottle of face wash
I found something I didn't know I'd lost
Saw some old photographs and had a good laugh
Arranged to meet up with two old buddies
Our World Cup tickets arrived *yay*
I made some soup and it was delicious, despite promising myself I would never try again I did and it was a success
It's 13 days until Em arrives
I've started a new quilt
We went to Lancaster to see Stewart Lee
Preston Bus Station was granted listed status
I need to buy more fabric for the new quilt *yay*
It's nearly October
We've planned another day trip to wonderful Birmingham

That is what I call a good week. 

Thursday, 26 September 2013

October Menu Plan

A bit all over the place as we have our overseas visitor (Em) for the week and the Rugby League World Cup starts so we'll be out and about doing various things, but we're still at home most of the time so here it is - 

1. lentil bol
2. quorn and leek pie
3. plaki w herby potatoes
4. curry and something
5. enchiladas

6. roast of some kind with pepper sauce
7. tagine w bulghur
8. shepherdess pie
9. l/o
10 out
11 out
12 out

13 out
14 out
15 out
16 out
17 out
18 curry and something
19 bean burgers/falafel w. spicy wedges

20 nut roast
21 singapore noodles
22 tacos
23 jambalaya
24 leek and butterbean crumble
25 chilli
26 curry and something

27 out Hull, PNG v France
28 out/ pasta bake Rochdale, Fiji v Ireland
29 goulash
30 chestnut cobbler
31 chestnut risotto

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Upturn

PBS by night from the scary curly wurly ramp to the car park

I hadn't been having the greatest of times but then what do you know, two great thing happened on the same day. Number one, I finished the quilt, for some reason the quilt had been difficult and I thought it would never happen but all of a sudden, there you go. 

Number two and the better of the two things is that Ed Vaizey the minister for Culture and other things is also the minister in charge of listing buildings. As luck would have it he's a fan of post-war architecture. Put those two things together and the very beautiful/awful depending on your view Preston Bus Station finally received Grade 2 listing yesterday. 

yes, this was taken from a moving car

Given half the chance Preston/Lancashire County will still demolish it but that task just got a bit harder. The hard work starts today to restore and cherish the one remarkable building in the place*. Hooray! Big applause, cheers and pats on the back especially to John Wilson for all his hard work and FOI requests to get to the facts and cut through the spin. Not to mention this amazing banner.

interior PBS, December 2012

*Yes, Preston has some nice old buildings but none are really so unusual that you can't see something similar anywhere else in the country

Monday, 23 September 2013

A Grand Day Out and Housewife Anxiety

Next month Dan's Croatian pen pal is coming over to visit for a week. She loves all things British and frankly knows a fair bit of about the place that is foreign to me. She is keen to explore but doesn't want to do the traditional touristy things, she's more keen to go to the places and do the things that British people would do. 

I've probably said before that when she and her husband came over last year for the weekend I threw it out to my friends - what is a traditional British weekend, all views welcome. The answer came back - take them to Wetherpoons. Hmmm. 

So what are we to do. We know she hates Manchester, loves Liverpool and was charmed by the Ribble valley and Southport (no, she didn't see the sea). She wants to see The Lake District and I've demanded a trip to Shrewsbury. But where else? We can go as far north as Dumfries, as far south as Shrewsbury and as far east as Hull. Can't get much further west than my house or we'd be in the drink. 

Even though there's too much choice about days out, it's the days in I'm stressed about. She also wants to learn about my days. Dan will be at work for two of the seven days so I will be alone to entertain. I've heard that she would really like us to cook together. She is an amazing cook and baker, I am a reluctant one. What to do? Practice cooking leek and butterbean crumble every day for the next fortnight until it's acceptable for someone other than the regular members of the household? Hand over my recipe box and let her do it while I direct then declare it's just how I make it when it's delicious? Have a G&T and not worry about it? All of the above?

I know people always says "people are there to visit you not your home" but on this occasion that doesn't apply. What is a girl who does not clean behind her fridge, to do?



where am I? under a blanket

what's the sky like? grey but with a promising hint of blue

what am I wearing? pyjamas

what's motivating me? tea, relaxing and match of the day


where am I? Burnley

what's the sky like? very blue

what am I wearing? converse, pink trousers, purple vest, purple jumper, scarf

what's motivating me? impending madness, deep calming breaths, the ranting of a hyper MIL


where am I? East Lancs

what's the sky like? very very very blue

what am I wearing? as before only no shoes or scarf

what's motivating me? seeing the sea, declenching

The funk continues but the grocery budget is still healthy. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

The Next Month

This has been a week to forget. I rarely think TGIF but today I have and then Big Grey Bunny decided to round the week off by being ill and I hung a sheet out to dry and it would appear I'm bleeding from somewhere. Where I do not yet know, probably a quilting injury. But the next month, oh the next month there's a lot going on. 

Next week my brother goes from just being a bloke to being a dad, my mum goes from being my mum to being a Nanna, we get to see the delightful Stewart Lee, there's a beer festival the week after, in three weeks our overseas visitor will be here - she's had her online check in so it's really happening *yay* and all that is before the start of the Rugby League World Cup. 

This is why we save, I remember now. Every time I think it's painful something comes along to remind me why we do it. Whether it's seeing an old statement from one of the debts we paid off, hearing there are to be more job cuts where Dan works or having something fun to do and knowing there's a little bit of cash stashed away for it. Whenever we say "no" now it means we can say "yes" or "thank goodness" at some other time when we really need it. I'm glad about it and I hope we have the luxury of choice for a good long while. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Friends In The Right Places.

Firstly a big clap and cheer for my friend Von. She rescued me from a life of mock croc nails. I bought some nail polish for the party on Friday and it wouldn't come off. I had a poke around the internet and it's a thing, very difficult to remove. Up pops Von with some hardcore professional tips to remove the stuff. Now my nails are clean but my hands are black. Better. 

Von is the best, we have pretty much nothing in common but we get along very well. She makes me laugh a lot and is just a sweetheart. It's not good to just be around people and opinions that you agree with, you can't learn anything new it just keeps you ploughing the same whatsit. 

I was called "closed minded" the other day, which was a mild surprise. All I did was ask a question and I have always been told there are no stupid questions and if you don't ask you won't learn. But there you go, I learned something! I think what I was trying to get to with my question was that just because something isn't important in my life doesn't mean I can't accept that it's important to someone else (like football and cats). In this case it was supernatural stuff, specifically luck. 

It was suggested to me "change your thinking change your life... whatever works works". I used everything I've learned from Etiquette Hell and thought "what an interesting assumption". Why would someone think that I wouldn't be able to accept that if someone believes something is good for them then it is, why do they think they are right and that I should change? I've heard of a placebo after all and we all have comfort food, blankets, pre-game rituals and routines.

For the record I just don't care whether luck, ghosts, gods or the perfect pair of shoes stuff exist or not. I take the view that something has meaning if someone ascribes a meaning to it and that's that. For me, things don't have intrinsic meaning, we create it and that's why if we talk for long enough we could all get along because there will be that one thing we have in common.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Surprise Happenings

I hear it may be a sign of maturity.

1. It was colder yesterday so I thought I should cook something hearty.

2. I did cook something hearty.

3. I enjoyed doing it!

4. Something really bad happened to someone I don't like and by her own admission "detests" me and I didn't take pleasure from it. 

5. Not even on the inside. 

6. I was overjoyed when I heard a branch of my bank was opening locally. 

7. I gave someone advise about a cleaning product.

8. I helped a youth find his way home and playfully told him off at the same time (all in fun, he laughed a lot). 

9. I made a sighing sound when I got into bed. 

10. I didn't try on a frock Dan likes because "I wore that style first time round". 

Next I'll pay attention to the weather forecast and then where will I be?

Monday, 16 September 2013

Opening Christmas Gifts

In my view the worst gift is the gift voucher. It's not the same as cash, it's a controlling gift. It's the gift that says "I couldn't be bothered to know enough about you to actually buy you something but I don't want to give you the freedom to choose where you buy something from by giving you cash". I know I'm in the minority with that as everyone I ever voice this opinion to tells me at great length the reason it's ok for them to give everyone vouchers. I'm never convinced. Even when the recipient asked for vouchers I don't think they really did, they really wanted cash but buy into the social thing where it's not polite to ask for cash so they plump for the voucher because that's ok for some reason. 

A lot of people tell me that the worst gift is the toiletries gift set. Technically I think it's second on the list as it's really unimaginative and it was almost certainly bought on a 3 for 2 or in the sales but at least it's useful. My mum insists on buying us each a gift set every year for Christmas despite the fact she knows we use a couple of particular brands of toiletries. I don't know why she does it, she just can't help herself. 

For me they're like a "break glass in an emergency" box. Yesterday was that day. We ran out of handwash, I needed to clean the shower and the shower scrubby puff thing collapsed into an untied pouch of plastic. Breaking into the gift set gave me a bar of soap to replace the handwash, a shampoo and conditioner combo to use to clean the shower and a new scrubby bath puff thing to clean myself. Another shopping trip delayed!

The New Thing

Inspired by lovelygrey, prodded by Dan and pushed by quilting procrastination I have signed up for a free course via open culture. I've plumped for "Ideas of the 20th Century". After all I have nothing to do in the next few weeks other than a total spring clean of the house, learning how to cook 7 things really well to serve to our October houseguest, save some additional cash and finish the sofa quilt. A course sounds just the ticket. 

Sunday, 15 September 2013



where am I? in the kitchen

what's the sky like? a bit gloomy

what am I wearing? Dan's new pyjamas

what's motivating me? naughty white bunny, a very messy dining table, weird nail polish, purple hair, birthday party aftermath


where am I? in the living room

what's the sky like? blue and very sunny. So we have the curtains closed

what am I wearing? blue dress, pink socks

what's motivating me? Getting Dan to change the subject from the ridiculous goal Burnley let in to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory against Blackburn. A heated afternoon. The Red Arrows flying over on their way to Southport Airshow - noisy. A bit of peace and quiet please!


where am I? in the bedroom

what's the sky like? kind of blue and sunny

what am I wearing? a weird hotch-potch of pyjamas and going out clothes

what's motivating me? deciding in advance what to eat at the Thai restaurant, needing to get ready but wanting to watch Saints v Hull KR, naughty bunny

Thursday, 12 September 2013


9 am

where am I? in the dining area

what's the sky like? white

what am I wearing? foxy socks, summer dress, purple jumper

what's motivating me? weird lip pain, photograph scanning (the endless task), finding a home for the green bowl, tea, rain

2 pm

where am I? in the wardrobe

what's the sky like? not visible

what am I wearing? as 9am plus sandals

what's motivating me? magazines, finding a home for that big cushion I bought in a fit of sun joy, needing to spring clean

5 pm

where am I? in the kitchen

what's the sky like? grey

what am I wearing? as 2pm

what's motivating me? a huge pile of mash, roast veg, music, still no home for the green bowl, festive food planning (if I don't do it now it'll never happen and we'll end up with crisps and no milk).

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Things We Do For Love

My parents met on a train on the way home from a football match.

In 1968 Mother gave Father the vouchers from her ticket stubs so he could go to the European Cup Final at Wembley to watch Manchester United play Benfica. She listened to it on the radio. He couldn't not marry her after that.

The best advice about love I ever received was never to go out with someone who didn't like sport - they don't know what commitment is and they just can't sustain the passion come what may. I went out with someone who didn't like sport once, it was all true. 

When I was little we didn't get a cooked tea if United lost. That's why we went to watch Runcorn fairly often, we'd always have a pie and some soup. When we got to Canal Street we went to the kiosk and Father would have a pie put on top of the oven so it wasn't too hot by half time. I still love soup from those big black urns. My eldest brother was knocked out by the ball once and had to receive smelling salts from the physio. 

Every game has a story, even fan has their ritual and every Boxing Day is the best day of the year.

I know a lot of people would rather poke their eyes out with the corner flag than wander around cold fields, climbing over walls and looking at signs. But like any photo a picture of a ground can say a lot. Something that means a lot to a lot of folk must have some significance and something to say somewhere down the line. Even if we can't understand it I think we can get a little glimpse into that world and think "hmmm, I can see that". For example, I'll probably never like cats but I can see why other people do after spending time with folk who have them in their life.

All that to say I'm going to share some of my favourite photographs and if there's a story behind it I'll share that too. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Photograph Archive

It has just hit me how long this is going to take. 

Got up, got stack of pictures, got computer, got ancient scanning device. No cable. Dan was on his way to the hospital. Hunt around all the obvious hiding places, such as in the back of the scanner where it lives. No cable. Text from Dan, cable located. 

Plug in device, no response. 

Hunt around for driver and instructions online. Scanner gets ear trumpet and shouts "oh, you mean me?"

Scan image - NO!

Scan image - NO!

Scan image (after having done nothing different) - pause, think, shuffle, coughing and spluttering YES!

Tiny image spits out onto the screen. Scanner sounds pleased with itself and goes for a snooze. It is 43 minutes later, I have hundreds of pictures... Still, at least I'm not working on that quilt. 

Monday, 9 September 2013

Something To Get My Teeth Into

After all the back and forth about what I want to do as a project or to fill my time someone else presented me with the thing that was in plain view. 

We went to the book launch of The Caravan Gallery's book about Lytham St Annes. We crammed into Fresh cafe on Friday night. Happily I got to sit next to the Town Crier, Doktor Hotfingers was there to supply the music (he was next to me on the other side). In addition to the lovely spread provided by the staff of Fresh local character Louisa made some Chimney Cakes. According to Louisa they're called Chimney Cakes because they look a bit like a chimney (if you took a peek at the Caravan Gallery link Louisa is the lady with a pigeon on her head). There was a conversation between the artists and a lady from the Bluecoat in Liverpool. Then the fun started.

I was one of the few people there who weren't the mayor, a person from a council or an artist so it was to the hilarity of a bloke from the County Council that I said "I'm not an artist, I'm a housewife". Long story and several glasses of pink fizzy wine later he suggested I send some of my photographs to a bloke he knows at the National Football Museum in Manchester. 

Which leads to the project that was staring me in the face. When Dan and I got together one of the first things we did was start photographing football grounds we came across. It all started with Bootham Crescent in York which was in danger of being used for housing. We started documenting grounds big and small just in case they disappeared. Here we are 12 years later and indeed some have gone, some have changed and some are the same as they ever were.

Problem is, I have "proper" photos, digital ones from cameras and phones of all ages and quality, none of the organised. I am scanning, compiling, archiving and in some cases trying to remember where on Earth I took some of them. Should keep me quiet for a while. We got back on the road yesterday and did 5 grounds in Wales, I was eyed suspiciously by a security guard at Airbus, tiptoed through a flowerbed in Bangor, got a tantalising glimpse of Connah's Quay and walked straight into the ground for a poke about in Rhyl and Prestatyn. Tiring but geeky joy. 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Typical Day

Firstly high praise for Ruark Audio, I ordered the new adaptor for the stereo on Tuesday afternoon and it turned up yesterday morning. Hooray! Great service. Big Grey Bunny seems to be back to normal , she didn't eat anything she shouldn't have yesterday so maybe we've turned a corner there. 

Spurred on by the visit  of my parents this weekend I ventured into the garden to remove some weeds. On the plus side I found a plant hiding in the undergrowth, on the double-edged-sword side there were blackberries - all my being prickled last year didn't remove everything! I was going to ask Father about chopping a lot off the flowering currant but on closer inspection I saw at least 8 cobwebs - all in use, so it can stay as it is.  The area for the compost bin has been cleared and the prepared wood (an old futon Father obtained from the pub) has been in the garage for months. Not that I'm doing Zero Waste Week but it's kind of fitting that we get the compost bin before the week ends. 

I did lots of domestic things yesterday too. I'm not an enthusiastic cook but I made some shepherdess pies and lots of curry. The freezer was pretty much empty so it was a good time to get me back into the kitchen and to do something in the name of energy efficiency. It wasn't that bad but as this week I am in charge of washing up it felt a bit much!

That's it, there really is nothing to say for this week. We're kind of in limbo until we've been to Dan's Grandma's funeral on Monday. It's like we're all waiting for that to be over then the clock will start again and we can do the usual stuff. It seems so daft to talk about the price of lentils or getting the curtains lined at this time...

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Nasty Basket

ROBIN! There's a Robin, a Robin is here in my garden! It already thinks it owns the place. What a lovely looking but sharp beaked pecking creature it is!


New Year

The made-over bookcase is no longer pride of place in the living area. Big Grey Bunny has been in a right old mood this week and has eaten the stereo cable, the lamp cable and last night she ate Dan's sandwich. Well, she thought she wanted to eat it but then decided she didn't like it so just took it off the table and chucked it on the floor. We've decided to find it charming.

The bookcase is now upstairs in the spare room and looks pretty pretty pretty good. Of course moving one thing lead to lots of other things needing attention as is the way. Long story short I made another doorstop. This one features a lobster. So that helped me to fiddle while Rome burned. 

I'm suffering from that "new term" feeling, I'm sure everyone is. I've decided I'm too fat (again), too unhealthy (obviously), too untidy, not creative enough etc etc. To the extent that I even picked up the freebie paper with a list of college courses. Being in the land of the distinctly middle aged the Adult Education options near me were - learn Italian (basic and advanced), learn Spanish, "I've always wanted to paint" (yes, that's what it's called), watercolour painting, English as a second language and enjoy classical music. Perhaps I could spend £99 on something else. 

I don't need a college course. Deep down I know that everything I am thinking about is just a way to avoid the fact that I need to weed the garden and finish that flipping quilt. I don't need something new, I need to get on with it!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013



where am I? in the kitchen

what's the sky like? grey

what am I wearing? pink jeans, blue top, flip flops

what's motivating me? nightmare bunnies, sweeping, lime scented candles


where am I? at home

what's the sky like? grey but sunny

what am I wearing? as 9am

what's motivating me? dead stereo (bunny related incident), guilty pleasure tv


where am I? in the dining area

what's the sky like? still grey, maybe more grey

what am I wearing? as 9am

what's motivating me? slight grumpiness, stirfry, rice pudding

Also, Widnes beat Hull KR on Sunday. 

Monday, 2 September 2013

August Budget and Clothes Shopping

Summary of the August budget is that we spent all the money. So that's good, we dealt with things properly.

We went clothes shopping in Carlisle on Saturday. I love going to Carlisle we also do really well shopping there. There is also the small matter of the great health food/veg*n food stall on the market - sadly they didn't have any Sweet Vegan marshmallows this time. I don't know why we do so well, I have a tendency to end up trying on clothes that are very seasidey/pirate-inspired if I go shopping here so maybe I just have a different mindset. Or maybe it's something to do with how amazingly nice the people are there. Or that it has the most entertaining underpass I've ever used. 

I went for basics. A basic black skirt for those early evening meal into a few drinks things that keep cropping up and a black dress to wear for nights out. You know, those versatile bits and pieces that work really hard when you add different shoes and all that caper. My problem with that is it's sooooooooo boring, my eyes slide off them and over to something more interesting. So instead of hard working basics I have a black and white dress, some kind of Beetlejuice inspired skirt and something neon. I tried. 

So I had 48 items I chucked a dress (other than the bit that turned into a doorstop), the denim skirt and a pair or trousers. Added to the wardrobe was the frock, skirts and a knitted top. Also a beret and some shoes. What I learned from this is that I need a belt.