A Weekend Of Toil

I think it is safe to say we have just had one of the best and most productive weekends since we got marries last year. We had assumed the weather would be cold and damp much like the previous week so we had a less than inspiring weekend of housework planned, which became even less appealing when I opened the curtains on Saturday morning and let the bright sunshine pour into the bedroom.

Resigned to our plan for the day I set about making breakfast. A caramelized onion sausage and fried egg butty for the husband, and a sausage, mushroom and spinach omelette for me (with a bit of crusty bread on the side). Having taken on our fuel for the day, husband stood up and decided to turn the weekend on it’s head.

“Should we make a start on the driveway?” He said suddenly, hands on hips as he looked out at the strip of gravel outside.

We have kind of overloaded our driveway recently, what with buying a boat that needs a complete overhaul and now a motor home which only just squeezes past said boat on our double driveway. It’s a risky think and ended up making it very difficult to get the motor home off the driveway when we took it for a habitation report at a specialist the day after we got it (long story for another post).

With a rather bemused “Errm…’kay” from me we donned our scruffy clothes (the only time I seem to wear blue denim anymore is when I’m working in the garden), boots and head outside into the glorious sunshine.

And started digging.

What was our mission? To extend our driveway sideways by about a meter into our lawn along the 8 meter length of that part of the driveway.

Husband did the majority of the digging with me scooping up bits of terf and soil and piling it in the rough vicinity of the area where a raised veggie patch is going to go eventually. While we were half way through this I dashed off and wandered around the local DIY store like a lost sheep trying to find a suitable piece of weed barrier and trying to match up the gravel in our driveway to what they had in bags.

Having returned with the weed barrier and the truly pitiful number of bags of gravel (who knew you would need SO MUCH to cover a 1×8 meter slice of driveway) I set about the next part of my mission, to scrape up as much loose gravel from the back of the driveway as I could to compensate for my lack of calculations when at the DIY store.

I dug up, carried and poured out about 15-20 full buckets of gravel which was just enough to cover the patch … and then we had to move the boat.

She is a small ‘trailer sailer’ called a Lysander which we bought as near scrap with the intention to do up over last summer, but we never got round to it what with wedding planning and all that. But even though she is small, this girl is heavy! We had to MacGuyver a way of hauling her up the slight slope of the driveway in order to zig-zag her across so she sits neatly next to the new lawn line and let me tell you, it was not easy (or safe) but somehow we managed it.

All in all it took about 5 hours to get done but by the time we had finished we were both exhausted, aching and absolutely filthy, not the type of dirty weekend one might have had in mind.

but, even though I am covered in bruises and my back is still giving me grief, we both feel so accomplished and proud of what we have achieved. And I dread to think how much it would have cost if we had hired someone to do it.

Cooking For The Indecisive

My husband, bless his soul. must be one of the most indecisive men on this planet. Whenever we go out for the day he starts off by saying “I’ll take you for a pub lunch!” and then a bit later on “Do you just fancy a McDonalds or KFC?” and then … “Shall we see what they on offer at the supermarket?”. I like to try and have the weeknight meals all planned out before I do the weekly food shop yet we always end up going off list.

Hopefully this is something I can work on as part of my ‘kitchen streamlining’ program which started with food store clear-outs and compiling a full inventory of what food we have in the house. Below is what will hopefully form our meals for the week.

Sunday – Steak & onion pie with mash and veggies. – Sundays have always been the last treat day of the week for us. Yes, the meal isn’t the healthiest but it is hearty and is undoubtedly the comfort food I need before heading back to work on Monday morning.

Monday – Chicken pieces with home made potato wedges – All oven roasted to try and keep it a little healthier than it may otherwise have been. With a home made herb rub added for a bit of seasoning to the chicken and a corn cobette on the side. A lovely way to end the first working day of the week.

Tuesday – Pork belly with spicy vegetable couscous salad. I cook meat such as pork belly on my Gerorge Forman grill now to try and take away any excess fat yet the pork belly pieces still retain a lot of moisture and flavour and do not dry out. That evening I have a dance class that starts at 7:30 so plenty of time to get home, have a filling yet not too heavy meal and then head back out again.

Wednesday – Ham & cheese panini – On Wednesdays I have a dance class from 6 till 8 so it’s a bit late when I get home to be having a big meal. I used these small square panini rolls from the local bakery, fill them with ham and a reduced fat cheddar cheese and combine it with a nice side salad for a light yet satisfying meal for myself and my husband when I get home.

Thursday – Pasta bolognese – If my spiralizer is here on time I’m going to make this with a mix of tri-colour pasta and then some ‘zoodles’ to test the taste out a bit. I always add a ton of extra mushrooms to my beef bolognese sauce to build it up a bit too.

Friday – Takeaway or ‘Fakeaway’ night – depending on how we are feeling we will either have a takeout meal (Chinese, Indian, chip shop, kebab shop …) or we will buy a ‘fakeaway’ from the local supermarket to create our own Indian, Chinese or any other takeout meal we can recreate for a fraction of the price.

Saturday – Gammon & Chips – With a grilled pineapple slice, a fried egg and a heap of garden peas thrown in for good measure. This is a firm favorite in my household.

I will have to see how things go during the week if we stick to this plan or not …


Simple Things In Life

A majority of us in the western world are materialistic, whether we like to admit it or not. We value material objects to the point where we feel we could not function without them. We use objects as a way of competing with each other or impressing each other. We also use objects to make ourselves reel better or to cheer ourselves up. This trait causes us to miss out on the simple things in life and is only a temporary fix for deeper issues.

I myself have fallen victim to this so many times! I’m a “retail therapy” kind of girl however I don’t head down to the high street when I’m feeling a bit blue, I head to eBay. Constant access to the internet is a very dangerous thing! Especially when this includes the ability to look up items on my phone during a looooong quiet shift at work. I constantly try to remind myself that it’s the simple things in life that can give a person the most pleasure, but I keep on slipping back into the materialistic money pit and end up buying something I either don’t really need or will never use.

Today, I have bought yet another kitchen gadget. A couple of years ago I purchased a juicer with the intention of using it as often as possible to try and increase the variety in my diet. My husband (then boyfriend) and I used it once and then put it into the deepest darkest kitchen cupboard we could find. While the orange and mango juice it made was very nice, the two small glasses of juice the appeared from the spout of the machine did not in any way justify the amount of time it took to then clean the machine. The inability to use a dishwasher added to the problem and we both chalked it up to a failed experiment and never touched the thing again. (I really should get round to selling it)

Today, I have bought a Spiralizer.

I have been aware of these things for a long time but only really in relation to things like “zoodles” so I had believed that options for this gadget were somewhat limited. However, I recently stumbled over some recipes online where people have used these things on sweet potato and so on. So I get to my usual researching, I read reviews and trials, I watched youtube videos from people using the machines and then settled on one model. I checked on Amazon and the one I liked was showing as being £19.99 reduced from £49.99. Bargain! however, I like to try and be a bit more savvy than that, so I hopped over to eBay and found the exact same model, new and in box, listed as an unwanted Christmas present for £8.99 including delivery. Now that’s what I call a bargain!

So I will shortly be able to make tiny ribbons and spirals out of all manner of fruit and veg … I just need to make sure I use the darn thing. In one way though, it may help us to be better equipped to enjoying small things in life as it will be perfect for making picnic salads to take out to the park with our dog!

I will post a follow up of how well the thing works once it has been tried and tested.

Up On My Soap-Box

OK, this is undoubtedly a bit of a rant if I’m honest. While I have been working to reduce the amount of stress on my life by practicing meditation, yoga and mindfulness techniques, it was 8:45 AM before something happened that really got to me today.

It’s a foggy morning over here so the drive to work was a little bit more treacherous, especially while making my way down some of the smaller country lanes. One would assume that other drivers on the roads would take the same extra bit of care while making their way through the fog too. Not so, as it seems.

At a roundabout I waited a little longer than some others would have to give way for a learner driver who was a little slow when pulling onto the roundabout from the junction to my right. The learner driver made his way slowly past me to turn down the junction to my left, which was the same one I was also aiming for. The problem occurred when two other cars followed into that same road.

Tailgating is not only dangerous, it is illegal. It amounts to dangerous or reckless driving and is very much an intentional form of intimidation using a 1ton piece of metal moving at speeds of upwards of 30 miles an hour. Stopping distances are a compulsory part of a learner driver course and they can be asked on any driving test, but it seems that some drivers dismiss this as an unnecessary use of space.

These two cars sped up behind this learner driver and proceeded to drive down this winding road, through thick for, less that tree feet behind. If anything had started the learner into simply tapping the break pedal, it would have resulted in a three car crash. But it seems that these two were in a major rush as they both overtook the learner, on left-hand bends over solid white central lines (meaning it is a no overtaking zone) and raced off into the fog.

While I bet that the learner was relived to have those two out of his rear view mirror, the maneuver they both took was equally, if not more, dangerous than their tailgating as they had no way of knowing if there was anything driving towards them from around the corner, such as a nice solid lorry for example.

We were all learners once. I know I hated it when someone was driving that close behind me when I was learning. Even for an experienced driver it can lead to feeling pushed into going faster than you would normally have liked to be driving.

Driving is dangerous. People have to learn out there in the real world which is why they drive with “L” plates, to let other drivers know that person may not be as confident as someone more experienced. We should treat these people with compassion, not annoyance. They are not in your way intentionally.

*climbs down from soap-box*

Specifically … Well, It’s Infinite

The events of 2016 have thrown open a whole world of opportunity, choices and options for both of us in 2017. To be honest, having this much choice is mind boggling and more than a little intimidating.

We now have the chance to either renovate our house so that it works better for us to start a family in, move into a house we recently inherited that is in a better area but needs more work doing to it, rent both out and go travelling, sell both and go travelling, sell both and start a business … our options, quite specifically seem infinite right now.

Staying put is safe, but as I said in a previous post, that would just mean us treading water. Living in a place we don’t really feel any connection to and have nothing in the way of a social circle. But to move on from here … well now that’s just scary.

We do both want to move, we want to be near the sea or a lake or a river .. somewhere near water (The Husbat is an Aquarius). But where? This is where our “Plan A” is to buy a motor-home and go a-travelling. My bet is that we will happen upon some place with a house for sale and we will just feel the zing for it instantly.

But taking that jump … that’s tough. We are currently sitting in the doorway of a plane, looking down at the vast emptiness below us and wondering if the parachute will open. Still … nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that jazz.

To infinity and beyond!

Daily Post Prompt: Infinite & Specific (a couple of days late but hey, better late than never)

Taking Life One Small Thing At A Time

Today, after braving the zombie throngs of supermarket shoppers and actually surviving without blowing the rest of this month’s budget, myself and the Husbat managed to find enough energy to take the dog up to the local country park for an off-lead walk. It’s wonderful to watch our dog bounding across the open fields, generally having the time of her life while at the same time never straying far from either of us.

We walked along muddy forest paths, across soggy grass fields and followed rain washed gravel paths until we reached a rather active duck pond. Thankfully, our dog didn’t pay any attention to the docks, geese or gulls squawking and quaking their little heads off around the edge of the pond.

There were a few nice surprises though, in the form of one very attractive young female duck and her fella –


A very handsome male Mandarin duck (who I hope hadn’t wandered off from his mate or a domestic collection somewhere) –


And a very energetic flurry of what I think may be Terns, all fighting over a hunk of bread someone threw –


Having washed the mud off the dog and our boots, dried said dog and stoked a nice cozy fire … yeah, today has been a good day.