Thursday 29 December 2022

Resting up

 I was up and running this morning, the moment I opened my eyes and saw it was 8.10.  The GP's surgery opens at 8.15 to take calls and make appointments and Keith needed an appointment.  He has been sleeping badly over Christmas (which means I have too) and we needed some advice about changing his medication.  Unfortunately, only the PD nurse can do that and we are waiting to get a reply from our message to her before Christmas.  Instead Keith has different medication to help him sleep if he has a bad night.

A cheering-me-up picture - a reminder that it won't always be winter!  (The Elan Valley).

So, having spent the morning getting ready for/at the Dr's/Pharmacy, I came home and tried a power nap.  Nothing doing as two kittens were using me as a speedway as they hurtled up and down the gym (e.g. sofa!)  I went back down and collected the prescriptions and as we watched an Hercule Poirot film (Evil under the Sun), I did fall asleep though I woke up just in time to find out who done it.

Three more lovely books from a good friend of over 50 years standing.  When we were still in Dorset, we used to walk together in the Purbecks and enjoy the best pubs down there.  Happy Days.  Great books - have plenty to keep me quiet this week whilst we rest up.

This was the vegetarian option for Danny's girlfriend on Christmas Day.  Mostly made by Tam to a recipe from BBC good food's Homemade Christmas magazine, this is Squash, Winter  Herb and Crispy Butter Bean Pie.  It called for 3 HEADS of Garlic.  That is the entire bulb x 3, not 3 cloves!!  It went down very well.

Off to put my feet up now. From tomorrow, various Christmassy bits will gradually be taken down and put away for another year, but I will leave the tree until after New Year's day as it hasn't been in long.

Tuesday 27 December 2022

A rather busy Christmas

 We had a houseful - both our daughters, our son and his girlfriend and her little girl (3) and then yesterday Tam's partner.  Our big cats (brothers Alfie and Little Whale) promptly left the premises and have only been tempted to come in and stay longer than a second, this afternoon.  They are nervy of strangers anyway, and had even forgotten Danny and Gabby and the fact that there was an excited child in the house wrecked their nerves.  They would only come in very last thing at night when she had gone to bed.  Even Ghengis was getting fed up of being "fussed" by Christmas evening, and the kittens were quite subdued too, although bless her, little "I" was very good with the kittens, and gentle, but they found the noise levels a bit overwhelming.

    I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and for followers in America and Canada, stay safe - I hope that you were caught out in or by the snow or had power failures.  Rather hoping it doesn't head this way next too.

     I had some lovely gifts for Christmas, including these books:

When I asked for the Church Monuments book I didn't realize it was so heavy - or SO expensive - I was spoilt!  Gosh, SOME of the monuments (many of them in fact) must have cost a king's ransom to sculpt and build. The Pictish book is good as so much has changed in the archaeological excavations and research since I was studying and writing my Pictish-orientated dissertation.  Currently reading about excavations around the Rhynie Man stone.

The one on the left is brilliant too - never knew of its existence, but I love the fact that the places included in it are known to me - some very well in fact. The other book is old but has some fascinating facts in - did you know that Gingerbread men/women/LGBQ began as Yule Dolls?  Nope, neither did I.  Or that Oranges and Lemons was originally sung as part of the 12th Night Celebrations?  I can remember it as a Playground song -we'd form an arch and sing it and children ran through, hoping not to be the ones to be caught when we sang "And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!!" and the arms forming the arch would come down and capture the victim.  Anyone else remember that?  I never knew it dated back to Medieval times.

I have to say it's nice to have a quiet house again, and I don't have to be watching the kittens' backs, so to speak.  Those two are currently absolutely out for the count on kitchen chairs.  They slept with the big boys last night for the first time - having been separated into two different rooms before.  

Things have quietened down today and we just have Tam and her partner here, so the Big Boys have come in for food and realized it's ok for them now.

          Life should be back more or less to normal tomorrow, and we will have to be in touch with the GP again as Keith has been bad at night.  

Friday 23 December 2022

First make your Mincemeat, and a Poorly Pippi


Tam arrived yesterday, and the tree is finally up.  So far the kittens have idly tapped a branch but that's all.  Mind you, poor little Pippi made herself feel very ill last night by finding a cup of sardine oil which I had drained when making Keith sardines on toast for lunch.  I quickly removed it, but the damage was done.  She spent the evening sat very quietly, obviously feeling very sick.  I hated to see her like that.  This morning she is back to normal but has an oily throat so will have to have a little rub down with a warm flannel or she will soon start to smell somewhat rancid!

We didn't put the best decorations on the tree, but instead hung them on the pair of Japanese bronze candle holders on the sideboard. This has given my sewn decorations top billing on the tree!

Two photos demonstrating daftness of kittens!  This is Pippi (pre-Sardine oil!) wriggling round under the end of the sideboard, sticking her head through the cut out bit at the end.  I was worried she would get her head stuck and then we would have to lift the darn thing up, and it is solid oak and weighs a ton!

I had an enjoyable day in the kitchen.  One of my cookery magazines had a recipe for  Mincemeat and Banana cake.  I began to assemble the ingredients and then noticed that the Mincemeat I intended to use was two months out of date.  Fortunately I had a recipe for Mincemeat in the same magazine, and all the ingredients, so in next to no time I had 3 jars of home made mincemeat and enough for the cake too.  

I had an even more enjoyable video chat with my dear friend Rosie in NZ too.  She is laid up with Covid (more like a bad cold with her) and this will mean that the family Christmas lunch is on hold for a week or so until she is better.  It was just like we had only spoken yesterday - not 12 years ago when she came to stay at Ynyswen, and I got our close friend group together to stay. That made my Christmas, it truly did.  I even know which keys to press to get the camera and audio back on the video (these always seem to fall pray of cats wandering across the keyboard!)

Right, this won't do.  I need to have a sort out (silently as Tam is in the bedroom above, and the floors aren't very sound-proof) and get started on more baking.

Merry Christmas everyone, and all the best for 2023, although I shall be back before then!

Thursday 22 December 2022

Playing catch-up


FINALLY, I began again with the wreath.  I was never going to hack it with the bits of spruce I cut a week or so ago.  I just couldn't get myself enthusiastic about continuing with them so listened to what Sarah said about going out for a wander and finding wild greenery, and that's what I did. Not my best effort, but it has bits of the wild in it, and that's what counts for me.  I don't have the long trailing strands of ivy that used to grow over the wall at Ynyswen, and were trimmed each December for the wreath, but there were sufficient bits draped over the post and rail fence bordering the orchard, so those sufficed.

Two little faces at the window.  They have just discovered how nice and warm it is on the windowsill (radiator nearby, and it's south-facing).  They like to watch the world go by.  They've only just discovered it this week.

The Christmas cards had been hanging down from the candle box, but of course that was too tempting for kittens!

I got my act together and did the baking for the farmers up the lane, who help us out with garden jobs - cutting the holly/ivy hedge and trimming the overgrown bottom triangle of land this autumn.  A Lemon Drizzle Cake and a tray of Chocolate Blackberry Brownies.  That should keep them fuelled up over the Christmas period anyway.

Keith has already remembered the downside of any steroids - they affect your sleep.  So now the effectiveness of taking them has to be balanced against the side effect of non sleeping.  Keith used to take them just before bed when he was on a much bigger dose.  I have suggested he takes 1/4 tab in the morning and the other 1/4 just before bed.  We shall see if that helps.  Meanwhile, I have left a message for the PD nurse.

The oil delivery came today, so that's us topped up for the winter.  Tomorrow is make up a spare bed, do some domestic economy, more baking and enjoying Tam's company as she should be here around lunchtime.  Oh, and once she's here we'll put the tree up.  The kittens will LOVE that!!

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Good things come to those who wait . . .


Two tired little girls in the kitchen (they'd bagsied my chair). Gosh, that word has just taken me back 60 years! "I bagsy that"!!

Keith has now had his 2nd half a steroid tablet and they must be helping a bit as when I got back from The Big Shop, he was collecting the post from the front hall. He hasn't done that all the time we've been here!  His speech is clearer too and he doesn't look quite so wobbly.  Let's hope they do the trick. I  was hoping to hear from the PD nurse today, regarding Keith's medication and changing it but the GP perhaps hasn't been in touch with her, so I shall phone tomorrow and hope to hear from her after Christmas.

The Big Shop was mostly done in Lidl and covered 90% of what I had on my lists.  Then I went and spent slightly more in Tesco as I decided to get the replacement microwave from there.  I got a Breville one which was on offer.  The alternative was to go home via Rhayader and spend 3 times the amount on one there which might not in the long run be much better.  Only time will tell.

Sorry the light is so poor in these photos.  The finished decoration for D's girlfriend's daughter.  The felt on the back is a similar colour pink to the blanket stitch.

Here is the Just Cross-Stitch Christmas magazine I bought from Ebay.  Some lovely designs in it and I've begun on one already. The posties did me proud - this was posted 2nd class on Monday.

 I decided, on a whim, as I walked back from Boots with yet another prescription for Keith, to pop in the Red Cross charity shop (the other two were shut).  On the shelf were two Eva Rosenstand bags, and about 2 metres of linen fabric.  Total price £5.  Well, as you can see, I reckon they had my name on! 

In the  plastic case on the side, are a pair of small "sewing spectacles" at more or less my strength! Oh bless her, I think the lady these came from no longer has any need of them.  It looks like the previous owner didn't get very far with her stitching - perhaps it was  a strain on her eyes, bless her.

Sorry it's such a gloomy photo, but the kit is the birds bell pull on the left. These retail at about £75! I've looked at Eva Rosenstand designs down the years but was only able to afford a spectacle case design which I had a Christmas present about 30 years ago.  I first found out about this company about 40 years ago, when I visited a lady in Bridport, who had a lot of time on her hands and a hubby who was well paid and often away from home. She was working on this very design I think - I remember it was a wild birds bell-pull anyway. Good things come to those who wait - isn't that the saying?

My new kettle also came today and pours beautifully and isn't too loud when it is heating the water.  The microwave also works - we had leftovers from last night for tonight's meal, so a night off from cooking.

Tomorrow I intend to do some baking, and a deep clean in a few rooms!  I think I need to tidy boxes away too, as these "kitten toys" are all over the place!

Tuesday 20 December 2022

All I want for Christmas . . . and Update

. . . is for Keith to feel better.  He is booked in to see the GP today, and have blood tests.  PD Nurse wants Thyroid levels checked and thinks his BP is low too.  Something needs to happen before he is bedbound. He is struggling to get around, too tired to sit and eat a meal at the table and has no energy whatsoever. I have been awake half the night, worrying.

UPDATE: It's low blood pressure, so he has a prescription for low dose steroids, which we hope will help.  Apparently one of the medications for Parkinsons can cause high or low blood pressure.  Pulse also low. Blood taken for testing his thyroid levels too.  Thank you for all your comments - I will answer them tomorrow.  Meanwhile, guess what, the blardy Microwave has just decided to melt the door when it heats things up.  Out of Warranty of course. . .  What will the 3rd electrical thing be?  

I managed to get to Carmarthen yesterday, to see our friends P &  D and drop their pressies off.  It was good to chat, and I did enjoy sitting by their wood-burner. Really miss ours.

I only managed one shop in town - TK-Maxx - and bought an extra gift each for the girls in there and some William Morris crackers.  We don't normally have crackers but with extra family here, I treated us.  I came out, intending to go to Charlies, but the traffic was queued right back in that lane, so I went back through Abergwili instead, thinking to go to Chris Thomas for our Christmas fruit and veg, but no room in their car park . . .  that's the trouble with not getting there early, as we used to be able to do when we lived 10 miles away not 50 plus.

I did, however, manage to finish stitching the 2nd tree decoration as a gift for Danny's girlfriend's little girl.  Just have to put the back on it, stuff it and blanket stitch around the edge.  I have enjoyed doing those and having checked out Just Cross Stitch mags on offer on Ebay, bought another Christmas ornaments magazine.

The kittens are still being naughty as usual.  I still haven't got the tree up - may try today.  I still have a half made wreath - using tree greenery this year -far prefer trails of ivy and wild decoration.  My heart just isn't in it.  

To add insult to injury, my new kettle died yesterday - 3 weeks after I bought it.  I have ordered a new one which I am hoping will last longer.  Someone on here kindly recommended a Dualit kettle, so that's what I've gone for.  The cheaper end of the range as some are £130!!!  

Saturday 17 December 2022

Glad that yesterday is over!

 I will admit to be totally wound up (emotionally) yesterday morning before I took the kittens along for their 2nd jabs.  I was struggling not to cry at home and prayed I wouldn't cry in the surgery, but I held it together.  They really didn't enjoy having their temperatures taken and Lulu was struggling to get away when she had her injection which didn't help matters.  Pippi was calm for her jab, bless her, and the vet gave them both treats of Dreamies which pleased them.  They didn't have the reaction they did last time - they were just more sleepy than usual during the day, but it didn't stop them eating!!  In the evening they decided to go and play upstairs (hide and seek under the guest room bed) and we could hear them thundering up and down the hall - you would have thought they were baby elephants, not tiny kittens!

Glad to be back home again . . .

I am relieved to report that Tam managed to fix her heater.  A 2nd heater "went" in the Victorian house her flat is in and the Landlady did some research - turns out it was the Condensate pipe which had frozen solid . . . Then my friend Pam came round at teatime, and had to have the Plumber out - same problem! So . . . at least Tam is warm again, but she is STILL testing positive for Covid and can't be with her boyfriend.  He has a family wedding today, so didn't want to get infected.  

Whilst it has been very beautiful out, the perishing cold has not been so enjoyable.  I will be glad to see the back of it.  I am glad to see "rain" on the bar at the bottom of the screen, and 2 degrees instead of minus 9!  Mind you, apparently back in 2010 (the year we had a foot of snow and our central heating boiler died on Christmas morning), it was even colder here.  In the vet's yesterday, a chap (who must have been selling tractors) who had a stand at the Royal Welsh Winter Festival said when they arrived onsite it was - 21 and the Welsh cakes they left in the cab of one of the tractors froze solid!

    I will be glad not to have to be up and down to the front door every 15 minutes because L. Whale was Most Insistent he wanted to Be Outside. Then he would change his mind, but couldn't remember that the cat flap worked and so would sit there waiting for me to let him in.  I didn't get ANY peace, and if you didn't let him out he would sit and make vocal complaints.  This did not start until it got dark - he spent all day on the bed!

    Anyway, I did have an enjoyable afternoon as I spotted that Victorian Farm episodes were running back to back so I relaxed and watched 3 in a row.  I did enjoy that series and Ruth Goodman really helped us travel back in time.  Good to see old skills (like the oak basket making) kept alive.

    I have just had an idea for an extra little gift to include in the basket of comestibles for our son's girlfriend - a little x-stitch tree decoration, so am off to choose one to stitch.

Addendum:  Be careful how you step outside this morning as I have just gone a*se over t*t on the path, which has turned to ice with rain starting to fall.  That was bad enough but I happened to be carrying the filthy contents of the compost bin, containing hot soapy water and what rotting bits had been scrubbed off the interior.  This of course, went all over me - it did NOT taste good!

Thursday 15 December 2022

Quite the stupidest idea!

         I had an email from Yodel today.  Delivery of parcels locally was delayed, so instead customers could collect their parcels from The Groe, down in the town.  I got down there to find about 15 people ahead of me. They had been waiting half an hour and not one parcel had been allocated yet.  It was a huge pantechnicon full of parcels, and due to their ineptitude, there was a huge delay in trying to locate any particular ones.  I waited half an hour (2 parcels handed out, to the same person) before leaving, by which time my legs were frozen from the knees downwards, and even now, 2 1/2 hours on, I have had to put a hotty botty in its woollen jacket across my feet and ankles to restore them to normal temperature.  So I am still waiting on two parcels that Yodel have - don't know when those will be delivered.  They said they needed proof of identity, but apparently not.  You just needed a name and a post code!

        Tam is still testing positive, and still no idea of when heating may be restored.  As it's Friday tomorrow, she may end up going the entire weekend without any. Victoria - thank you SO much for your helpful advice.  Tam has told me because she had touched the heating controls, trying to get it to work, she couldn't risk anyone coming there and perhaps passing Covid on to a vulnerable customer they might visit next . . . Which is all very well, but what about HER health?  

        Tomorrow the babies have their 2nd innoculation and I am dreading them reacting badly to it again as they did the first time.  Poor little souls, they were clearly running temperatures and panting rather than breathing.  I hope this 2nd jab doesn't hit them so hard as their body recognizes it.

        It was minus 10 here last night.  We had the heating on low overnight for fear of  the kittens becoming chilled or the pipes freezing.  We will do the same tonight - it's already minus 4 and set to be minus 6 or 7 (or more).  I will be so glad when it warms up and have a week of rain next week.  Totally fed up with the freezing temps now and worried about folk who have to choose between heating and eating.  This truly couldn't have been a worse spell of weather when bills are so astronomical and set to be worse next month.

The PD nurse phoned today and we had a chat and she's going to suggest some normal health tests with the GP, so I need to book in blood tests in the morning for next week sometime.  She suggested his fatigue could be due to low Thyroid levels as he's on the lowest possible dose of Thyroid treatment possible.  He also needs to drink more.  Yup - wish me luck with that one!  When he did suddenly drink lots in very short order the other night, he was better the next day, but when I try to insist he increases what he drinks I get told he can't do that as he chokes . . .

Well, keep warm everyone.  I had better sort out an evening meal now.  Fish tonight (mine will be in Kedgeree).

Wednesday 14 December 2022

"Don't feed them after Midnight!"


Butter wouldn't melt . . .  but don't be deceived by their quiet demeanour.  After they have had their next meal they will hurtle round the room as if their tails are on fire.  I am beginning to think they may be related to Gremlins - in which case, I shall definitely not feed them after midnight, however much they plead!!

Ghengis has shed years and has a whole new lease of life.  It's always Lulu he plays with, who loves a Rough-house with him, but yesterday he was tapping Pippi with his foot, so think she will soon be included too.  First thing in the morning they run up and down, and steeplechase in and out of the chairs in the Library.

We took the crate out last week, so they are free range in the living room at night now.  The Big Boys have calmed down sufficiently that they can soon all have the run of the bottom half of the house at nights.

We had sunshine today for the first day in a while, so I took the camera up into the orchard to get some photos.

Looking down the steep hillside which is our bit of land too.

The Long-Tailed Tits discovered the fat balls today.

The view from across the lane from us - a little bit of snow and frost still on the hills, as here.

Looking across to Aberedw.

Well, Keith is brighter today and more mobile today, but at teatime it's just like someone has pulled the plug.  Phone messages and a note to the PD nurse have not elicited a reply over our worries.  It is frustrating and worrying.  We want to know if what Keith is experiencing day to day, is the best we can expect from his treatment.  Fatigue is ever-present.

Now worried about darling daughter who has no heating in her flat as the system has broken/frozen and because she has Covid, the Landlady can't get anyone in to fix it. It never rains but it pours . . . Tam has spent the day in bed with the electric blanket on, though she's been loaned an electric heater now for the living room/kitchen, where it is barely 13 deg.  They have - 2 tonight.

Here it will be - 7, so we are thinking of leaving the heating on low overnight.  Don't want frozen pipes or kitties.

Monday 12 December 2022

So nearly home . . .

 Just about 30 yds from the gate in fact, and then the ice got the better of me - I got a wheel in an icy dip in our track and that was it, we woz going nowhere!  The journey into Llandod for groceries was fine - our lane navigable, main road fine too, though I kept to a sensible speed just in case.  Freezing fog all day had not helped our track though and as I turned into it, the car decided it would like to go sideways. I reversed, turned in higher above the obviously slippy bit, and made a little progress, some of it sideways, but hey, it was forwards too. Then the wheel got into the frozen puddle dip and that was it.  I went and got a shovel and started putting grit from the nearby bin down in front of the wheels and along the track.  I saw our next door neighbour was at home (not window cleaning weather!) and asked him if he could help and between us we got the car going and into the yard.  The first thing I had to do then was to phone the Dentists' and tell them we would not be coming along to our 2.30  appt, as even if we got out, no way were we going to get back in again and I couldn't  risk Keith falling on the ice if he had to get out to walk.

The view yesterday across to the Quarry.

It would seem we have this weather for the week. It was - 5 last night, and as I type this is already -3.  The cats have insisted that this is the weather to be indoors and who can blame them.  When they go out for ablutions though, I have to keep checking the cat flap as it got stuck a few days ago and they haven't worked out that it is functioning again, and so just sit there, waiting to be let in. Since the babies have been sleeping on the kitchen chairs during the day, the Big Boys seem to have accepted them more, as they are more used to their scent I suppose. 

Hoar frost has covered all the trees and hedges with a silver sculpture.

As you can see, cold weather doesn't stop play with the girls!

With not a great deal to do this afternoon, I cleaned the top oven and grill pan, hung up the washing and then settled down to re-read Phil Rickman's The Fabric of Sin again.  Love his books.

Saturday 10 December 2022

Busy baking

This morning's sunrise - red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning . . .

I am glad to say we have only had a couple of short snow-showers, and it as warmed up enough to melt the frost on trees and hedgerows and  on the front path.  Let's hope it continues to thaw.  I haven't been out today - just up the garden a couple of times to top up the bird-feeders.

Straight after breakfast I made a big pan of soup.  Onion; mixed veg from a stew pack and frozen; a portion of ratatouille from the freezer; red lentils; half a tin of baked beans and a tin of Taco beans for flavour.  It made for a tasty hearty soup, and I have lunch for the week I think!

Then I set to baking and made Choc-Chip Applesauce Cookies, from a Canadian apple recipe cookbook sent by a penpal back in 1985.  I have referred to it regularly down the years and had to have it rebound eventually, as the cover had had it (spiral gone).

Though I had gone off the boil by the time the 3rd tray of cookies came out of the oven, I wanted to make use of the hot oven, so quickly knocked up my Manderin Orange Cake - just fancied it today.   Keith and I had a piece mid-afternoon, still warm, and although the manderins had sunk to the bottom, it still tasted great.

    Then I gave myself a couple of hours off and watched a nature programme filmed in Germany and read a few chapters of A Fenland Smallholding by Pam Ferrers, which I bought after reading about it on Farms on My Bookshelf (see sidebar).  The babies were sleeping - Lulu on the top of the sofa, and Pippi under a quilt on my lap.  She was like a little hot water bottle.  Alfie and Ghengis were beside me and L. Whale on a chair in the kitchen.  He isn't limping quite so much today, I'm glad to say.

Keith and I had intended to go to the Fleamarket on Carmarthen Showground tomorrow, but it sounds like the roads will be shocking tomorrow (very icy after the bit of rain we had this afternoon), and we know from experience just how cold it will be in the farm shed the indoor stalls are in from when we used to stand at this Fair in the past.  Warmer outdoors than in . . .

Tomorrow I shall venture up to the attic and find some more Christmas stuff I think.  Keep warm everyone.  Please send some healing thoughts to Tam, who has come down with Covid (that'll teach her to go on holiday - Copenhagen, so flights were involved).  As mum, I am of course in worry mode though she doesn't sound too bad this evening, her fever broke this afternoon.