Sunday, 31 August 2014

Chaos, Randomness, Chance and Meaning

As mentioned, yesterday we went for a talk about chance, coincidence and probability at the art gallery in Middlesbrough. It was fantastic. I loved the exhibition and hearing David Spiegelhalter talk was really exciting and got me buzzing with energy (if you want to know more you can look at understanding uncertainty).

After coffee and cake the talk continued with a number of the artists with work in the exhibition discussing their process, and chance in art. There was waaaay too much to take in. Thankfully the afternoon was filmed so hopefully it will be available somewhere in the future to enjoy again. 

Anyway, it made me think about things. When I started (the now eaten by the internet) nine-to-five, it was just about what I was doing at 9, 2 and 5 each day. I moved away from that and ended up here just talking about things in general. What yesterday lead me to think was that we can't really know what's going to be significant or meaningful when it happens a lot of the time. Planning and editing attempts to predetermine what's important, and removed the chance to look back and reflect. I'm choosing the snapshot, rather than allowing the patterns to form.

When I do a 9-2-5, although I am choosing what to add, and there is the Hawthorne Effect because I know if I have to write it down I may make my day more interesting than if I didn't have to report it, it is what it is. It's not about what I think someone might want to read, or how I want to represent myself, it's just what happened. In some senses it's a positive, to help me to spend my days living as I want to live and forcing me to do the positive things. That way what I report, what I do and what I want to do are closer to being the same thing. 

So, for a while at least I'm going to be 9-2-5 posting, let's see what it throws up. 

Friday, 29 August 2014

Another Shop Whinge

On Wednesday, my favourite co-vol asked if I was available to work this morning as she thought she would be on her own. Deputy manager said she'd check and call me to let me know yesterday. No call. I thought I'd nip in this morning just to make sure I wasn't needed, to be welcomed with open arms and told deputy manager had said she didn't know why it was up to her to let me know if I was needed, it was up to someone to sort the rota out beforehand.

At the moment, as you probably know, we have no manager. This makes me wonder who might be responsible for doing the job of a manager when there is no manager available..? 

This has not been a good week in this aspect of my life.

However we are off to Middlesbrough to a MIMA talk about chance in art, should be good. 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

All Glamour, All The Time

I had an annoying day at the charity shop yesterday. More of the same from the inside, plus a very unpleasant and the saga of the table.

A lady came into the shop wanting to buy a small table, she handed over her card and I read out the price to my co-vol.

Woman: It's not £3.99 it's £8.99
Me: there's a reduced sticker here
Woman: TUT. I can't use my card now
Me: you can pay £8.99 if you like**
Woman *death stare*

So after lots of faff and huffing around she found something else to take her spend up to a fiver so she could use the machine. This is where the trouble began. My co-vol made a mistake with the till, the deputy manager didn't know how to void it, so instead of just putting the sale through and dealing with it when the shop was quiet, we had a load of messing about. The woman by this time was pretty cross and started having a go at my co-vol (I was off doing something else by this point). 

Woman: Well, you can't expect service and for you to know what you're doing, you're only volunteers
Co-vol: *death stare*
Deputy Manager: *silence*
Woman: I don't mean to be funny but I don't want to spend all day in here with you I have things to do you know
Co-vol 2 (in an effort to restore harmony): Shall we call you a taxi while you pay for your stuff, save you walking to the station?  
Woman: Yes, you can do.

Taxi arrived, the woman left, we all looked at each other, shrugged and moved on. Two minutes later, the taxi driver came to the counter wanting to use our dustpan and brush, the glass tabletop smashed when it was put into the taxi. 

Oh dear. 

About an hour later I happened to stick my head out of the door, what do I see? Broken glass all over our forecourt. Co-vol 2 was about to leave, so I helped her to clear it up so she didn't have to drive over it, and it was just the right thing to do of course. I was just about to return to the shop with my bag of glass when I noticed a large pile of glass. It appears the taxi driver swept the glass out of the car then dumped it in the small garden area at the front of our forecourt. I was furious. What choice did I had but to clear it up? It was unsightly, dangerous and it would have reflected badly on the charity to leave it there. Fine. 

An hour later the Estate Agent from two doors down came in, he informed me he'd seen the whole affair, noted that I'd spent a good long time clearing up the mess, but that he'd seen a couple of pieces still around so would I deal with them. OK, I accept that I'd started the job so I suppose it was my responsibility, but I just thought what on Earth am I doing this for, I don't do this mush sweeping at home!

The one positive was that a lady walked past, commented that I was a good girl for cleaning it up (I'm nearly 40) and right there and then got her phone out and called the taxi firm to complain about the driver's behaviour. You wouldn't believe how much that raised my spirits. There were also nice biscuits. 

Speaking of spirits, or something similar, I picked up the phonecard/keyring for my brother for 29p, he loves a drop of sherry, it's just the ticket. 

** Yes, I'm already aware that I'm already out of the running for the Customer Service Representative of the Year award.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Freebie of the Week

It's true to say I didn't receive this freebie this week, and I can't remember if I've mentioned it before, but I was given this unused sewing machine for nothing. Yay!

There's no tool kit or spares with it but the bobbin and threads kit was still intact. I'm sure should I need anything it'll be pretty easy to source. The machine itself is small and lightweight but I'm sure it'll be good for any small projects or tasks that may crop up. It's certainly easier to get this out and set up than the beautiful Singer I bought from a place for an amount I'm not allowed to discuss. 

I've just given it a little run this morning to hem a piece of fabric we occasionally use as a curtain on the small window on the stairs - calling it a curtain is a bit grand it's just a bit of fabric we tape to the window if it's very hot or very cold. Nice to have it all hemmed and things though. 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Impulsive and Considered

After reading about it on a few blogs we took ourselves off to Redbrick Mill on Saturday. Mainly to feel the heft of furniture but also to just have a nice drive and a poke around. We didn't find a sofa we like more than the one we have fondled many times in Lytham but we did see many other things. Dan chose three lamps to come home with, which I'm more than happy about. since his realisation that the house was a little scruffy, rather than the gorgeous vision he had in his mind, he has been unstoppable!

Sometimes I say to Dan that I wish I could remove everything from the house and start all over again, just bringing certain things in and giving other things a rest. Well, over the next two weeks we'll be doing just that. Everything has to come out of the dining room to house the rabbits and everything has to come out of the living room to house the workmen. It'll be fun shopping from the garage to bring the right bits and bobs back in. 

This is a bit negative so forgive me. Yesterday we went to see Dan's mum, prior to that we went to look for a new duvet cover (Dan's idea) so we asked his mum if she wanted to come, knowing full well she'd say no. But we ask anyway. We bought a duvet, which means the much stitched and otherwise repaired cheap one (well, really it was free as I bought it with a giftcard I received one Christmas) can be retired and used as a dust sheet when everything goes into the garage next week.

I am finding it near impossible to spend time with Dan's mum at the minute, the negativity is overwhelming to me and because nothing will change it's exceptionally frustrating and I just find it difficult to cope when I'm around her. Yes, I know that's horrible, I am trying to let it wash over me and work on my feelings. 

One positive from it all is that it's motivating me to not become like that, so I can aim to keep my world large, to look outwards and to keep my mind as open as possible. 

Dan has already been asking me what I'd like to do for my birthday, as I am 40 next time round. Obviously my world is smaller than a lot of people my age because we can't leave the buns, but I don't want my life to stand still, I don't want to be stuck in a timewarp where the time I was happiest was 30-odd years ago. I'm not going to be jumping out of a plane or starting my own multi-national business but I can do all those little things that make life better. I may want to live inside my comfort zone, but even that can change and adapt. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Playing With My Winnings

Last week I was delighted to hear I'd won a set of knives that Caroline was very kindly giving away over on her blog Putting Your Life In Order (thank you yet again). The arrived today, and in the spirit of testing them out I am having an early lunch. 

So far all I've sliced are some tomatoes and cucumber and sliced a sandwich in half but I like these knives very much. They're very lightweight with a soft, easy to grip handle and are very very sharp indeed. I promise to not run around the kitchen with them in my mitts. 

I only own three knives, well four if you include the weird bread knife that only Dan uses because it just doesn't work very well at all. We've looked at ceramic knives quite a few times so I am over the moon to have some. Will they help improve my cookery skills? We can only hope! 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Blam! And It Happens

Things picked up pretty quickly yesterday. 

The floor measurer arrived, without a tape measure, luckily I had one to hand. He said they'd get back to us with a quote before the end of the week. an hour later we received a phone call. I'm kicking myself a little as they wanted to do it next week, but on the day the drain guy is coming, so it's the week after. 

The quote was a lot less than we'd anticipated, probably because we went for the thinner tiles. So, next Wednesday morning the tiles are arriving, giving them plenty of time to acclimatise, then bright and early the following Thursday the screed layer will go down, then the following day the tiles will be fitted. I was relieved to hear that the screed only takes 5 hours to dry so we won't have to move out overnight. The tiles will take about 5-6 hours to lay so I'll probably take myself off into town for the morning to get out of the way. 

The electrician didn't show up, but you can't have everything can you? That's not quite as urgent a job though. We we discussing getting the furniture out of the living room for the floor fitters, and I already knew what Dan was going to say, long story short we're going to look for a sofa at the weekend. 

The shift at the charity shop was frustrating to say the least, I thought the worst was over but apparently not. One of my friends there (the person previously known as the nasty lady) gave me a heads up that I was being spoken about in ways I might not appreciate. Then to top it all pictures of our Christmas meal have been damaged to cut the old manager out! I mean, come on, how pathetic is that?

On the other hand Blam! was amazing! So unusual, fun, energetic and LOUD. A lot of the discount tickets had been given/sold to youngstrels, which was at times a little annoying as the lad in front of me felt the need to add a running commentary of the entire show. On the other hand, having a lot of younger people in the audience added a nice energy. It was very disappointing that an argument broke out behind us which resulted in someone being asked to leave the theatre! Thankfully I'd already decided to see the show again so I'll be able to see it all unhindered by two men arguing about crisps. 

I'm starting to think we just sit in the right place for such excitement. I blamed the violence on stage for last night's disharmony in the crowd. Last year when we went to see The Mousetrap at the same venue, a lady collapsed part way through the show. Who knows what might happen next time? 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


There's not much to say at the minute. The menu plan is working, money is just going as and when it needs to (I received a £5 voucher from the supermarket this week). We're all booked up with flooring people, drainmen and electricians, things at the shop have settled down - so much so that I'm doing an extra shift today, everyone seems fine in terms of health. Hopefully not the calm before the storm, I'll enjoy the quiet for as long as it lasts. 

I am excited to be going to the theatre tonight to see Blam! should be fun. 

Monday, 18 August 2014


The drain man came on Friday afternoon. I liked him, he was way better than the plumber who didn't listen to me at all and seemed to have already decided what our problem was. The drain man had a thorough poke around, and seemed to be impressed and bemused in equal measure by the invisibility of our pipes. I have no experience of drain men but the price seems OK and he made noises that I was happy with. 

On Saturday we finally bit the bullet and went floor browsing. We started off at a showroom in Blackpool. I think calling it a showroom is probably making it sound far grander than it really was, but wow it was cheap! We spoke to a man who, for me, was an appropriate carpet bloke as he winked at us as he sent us on our way. We we sent off to the main warehouse, on an industrial estate somewhere deep in the heart of Blackpool to speak to a bloke who would take us into a special room "at the back, near the toilets" to look at the flooring we were after.

We arrived at the warehouse but were not greeted by Wolfie, we were greeted by someone who seemed suspicious of our motives for requiring a commercial grade floor. Eventually we spoke to the right person and were soon on our way with our little sample cards. Talks began and with must throcking back and forth we have decided on a colour. It's different to the floor I thought we were going to get but for very boring, practical reasons, it's the best thing. So, someone is coming round to measure up on Wednesday. 

We have to have a levelling layer put over our current concrete floor first, which thankfully this company will do, they're used to commercial work. To say I am nervous about the quote is putting it mildly, but it will be what it is and then we'll be done.  

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Running Low

In the spirit of something or other since I started at the shop we've moved over to shopping twice a week. Once for the main stuff and once for me to buy stuff from other shops and for the dreaded "top up". It's so annoying!

Although it's been surprisingly good for the budget, it feels as though I'm always shopping and we always need things. So we're going back to once a week shopping, other than a trip to the greengrocer for rabbit greens on my way to the charity shop.

The main thing I dislike about it is that we never run out of anything, as soon as we run low on something I add it to the list to buy on Tuesday, or it goes on the main list for Friday, depending on when we run out. Where's the fun in that? It's good for us to have to make do, to use up the bits from the fridge and the things that have been hanging around in the freezer. There's satisfaction in eating something that's been cobbled together and more joy in adding something to the list when we've not had it for a while. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Very Domestic

I know it's only the second week in August, but it's important to be ready for the change isn't it? We've been busy with the sticky tabs getting ready for the menu changes. 

I bought the soup book from the charity shop a couple of weeks ago, it wasn't all that cheap at £1.49 (had I have been brave and waited until last week I could have bought it for 49p as we had a flash sale, but I wasn't brave enough to hold my nerve!), but it's a really good book, including sections for pulse and tofu based soups, brilliant for us. 

We've chosen this week to have a low spend week. It won't be a no spend week as I need greens and some nail clippers for the rabbits, nothing for us though. We have enough food in for the next week without too much hardship - very thankful for the pantry and the freezer at the minute. We'll be a little bit veg light by the end of the week but it's not the end of the world. 

If the wind and rain ever vanish we'll spend the weekend we're not spending at Wembley finishing the back of the garage. We're still working through our snag list, not sure it's getting any shorter though! We've spent a little bit of time doing those bits and bobs we never seem to get round to - I have things soaking in buckets, the specialist cleaning products have seen light of day, cushion covers and blankets have been washed or aired and we've started talking about what to grow next year. 

I've even finished reading a book! Bad weather isn't always all that bad. 

Monday, 11 August 2014

An Ill Wind

I've spoken before about how sometimes we have to trick ourselves into believing certain things as it helps us to get through a period where we have to sacrifice things or live in a certain way. Yesterday I saw the negative side of that. Unless you glaze over very quickly you'll be aware I am a supporter of Widnes Vikings. If you've been reading recently you'll know we were playing in the Challenge Cup Semi Final yesterday at Leigh Sports Village. It didn't go well. 

Of course we lost, lost to a very good Cas side, they're fantastic to watch and I have a not-so-secret-mega-crush on their coach Daryl Powell. That was not the worst thing by a long way. The worst thing was the behaviour of some of our fans. Here's the edited highlights - throwing bottles at the Castleford team coach, throwing a flare, invading the pitch, causing aggro with the (exceptionally patient) stewards and all manner of other pathetic behaviour. All live on the BBC. 

At pretty much every home game Dan and I have comments directed at us from a fellow home supporter and her friends because Dan asked one of their party not to use a racist term when we played Bradford last season. According to them it's called supporting your team, apparently little is off limits for some. There's no sense of personal responsibility, never their fault, always their attitude that's right, their words and behaviour are passion and everyone else is a killjoy. 

There's a lot of talk about channeling passion, if people can be so creative and work together so well for ill then what great things could be achieved if people used this abundance of energy for good? It makes me think about myself, what can I do better and to make things more positive, what do I let slip by without taking a stand and do I live according to the standard I believe I set for myself? I have a lot to think about today, and I think the shameful behaviour of others might help me to make my world a bit better. 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Buyer Beware

spot the difference

We went to Clitheroe Food Festival yesterday and came home with some curtains for Dan's dressing room and a lazy susan. We spoke to the curtain lady for quite some time so I was fairly peeved when we got home to discover the curtains are different sizes! That's a little bit naughty isn't it. I suppose I was daft to assume that the label stating "pair of curtains" would suggest that the curtains would be the same, fool that I am. 

My mum queued up for hours to buy our Challenge Cup semi final tickets (although she did get a free vodka shot and a voucher for half a chicken at Nandos - you can't buy class). Even without howling wind and torrential rain being on the third row behind the sticks, rather than half way back in the main stand tickets that she asked for, is a pretty bad thing. If I get hit by the ball I'll be furious (when I regain consciousness). Unless it's a kick that Danny Tickle sticks over to win the game for us, then I won't care. 

Friday, 8 August 2014


This week I've read a couple of phrases a number of times in different places - life begins at the end of your comfort zone and something along the lines of remember the small things in life because one day you'll realise they're the big things. 

So I wonder which, if either, of these things are true? It doesn't really seem as though they're compatible. Either way they both seem to be giving us a positive message but they really point to the idea that we're focused on the wrong things. They're both explanobrags, and that kind of thing is what I've been seeing all around me this week. the idea that someone is explaining something to me, but what's really happening is bragging about something they've done but I haven't. 

As I've said before, I'm happy with how things are shaping up, that's not to be confused with a lack of ambition, knowledge or awareness of other things. Due to this, over the past few weeks (remember the gossip?) I've noticed that certain people seem to be mistaking my easy going nature as weakness. 

For a little while I've just ignored what's going on as it doesn't matter one jot, but I've noticed that at the shop someone is not necessarily trying to bully me, but they're certainly trying to undermine me to boost themselves. Boost themselves where and to what end I have no clue whatsoever, I don't think I can be undermined as I'm just a till widget with no opinion or power either way, but there you have it. I'm choosing to find it charming and amusing, I can handle it because I just don't care, but it's kind of sweet that I'm a perceived threat (am I eating too many chocolate digestives?). Should I see it happen against anyone else, I can assure you I will not be slow to act. 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Bargain of the Week

No freebies this week, unless you count cutting open the toothpaste and sun cream for one last blob when we "ran out". I'm testing out Sainsbury's basics toothpaste this time round, initial impressions are good. 

My bargain of the week is the brooch pictured above. It was on a cushion with a ton of other brooches in the charity shop. This one stood out as it wasn't the usual glittery floral thing we get in. It's a Lord Python (Sheffield) stainless steel affair, I think it's very cute. And for 99p I'm not going to complain. I also picked up a green and blue bag, but it has the smell, so it's not allowed in the house yet. 

The plumber is coming back today as the noise hasn't gone away. The noise has changed, but it hasn't gone. Plus now the shower drips. In positive news we may well go floor shopping this weekend. We didn't make it last weekend as Dan revealed he really really really doesn't want a wooden floor, he wants marmoleum. An exceptionally good choice in my view. 

Monday, 4 August 2014

You Don't Have To Be Rich (to be my girl)

As mentioned we went to see Tom Jones at Lytham Proms on Saturday. He was actually very very good! I was particularly excited to hear him cover "Tower of Song" by Leonard Cohen. Anyway, my wellie wearing night out is not the point (although when we nipped out to buy wellies we found two plants we were after at the plant hospital for a couple of pounds each). 

The following morning, my brother and his girlfriend were still asleep for a few hours after we got up. It was so nice, we just relaxed. Normally even on a relaxing morning we'd do stuff. We'd be making plans, or puttering about in the house or garden, flicking through books or just talking about stuff. Yesterday we didn't, we just dozed on the sofa with the cycling on tv. When our guests arrived we lounged around drinking tea and chatting until lunchtime then we went to the rugby (Widnes beat Hull KR 28 - 10). 

It doesn't sound like much but it made me realise how little down time we really have, even when we're not doing anything we're usually doing something - reading, quilting, poking around on the internet. Our nothing is rarely nothing so occasionally a real dose of nothingy nothing is a very good thing.