Friday, 28 October 2011


Last night we went to Prezzos for a meal. It was delicious... Over the last six months or so, I have saved my Tesco clubcard vouchers and converted them into Prezzo tokens for a meal out some time. I have never taken the children out for a meal by myself and McDonalds doesn't really count as a proper restaurant. This was our first "booked table and pay the bill at the end" meal out.

We worked out roughly what it would cost us, I wanted the children to choose anything that they wanted and not have to ask "is that OK, is it too much money?" The most expensive main dish was about £10.15 (from the pasta menu) and side orders were around £3. Desserts were about £5 but drinks were an extortionate £2.20 for a bottle of diet coke. We had two drinks each. 

We had enough tokens for the whole meal but we could not pay for drinks with the tokens. We took some cash with us too. I had saved £120 in tokens, of which I still have £40 in tokens left. The bill came to £101.25 of which about £20 was for the drinks we had. As we still have more tokens to use, I think next time we go we will take Mum and My Brother with us. The tokens have to be used by 29th February..

And so the three amigos walked off into the sunset......(aka...bus stop) 
Katie always trots along beside me..

As Katie was spending the night at her Dads, we had to take her overnight bag with us...

Inside, Sam was confident he would eat all that was put in front of him... But it ended up like an episode of "Man V Food"....or should I say, "Sam V Food"

This was my dish, I had the chicken ravioli..

Sam had a "classic burger" and I ate his salad..

Katie had "tropicana pizza" of which she only managed half and even that was helped along by Sam, She had the rest put into a bag for her to take to her Dads house.

Charlotte had the Spaghetti Carbonara but would not let me take a photo of her (teenagers eh?)

Jim had the lasagne and it nearly beat him to the ground and stole his lunch money....He was so full up but was determined to eat it all....and he did.. but had to lay down for a while afterwards...

We had a lovely table that was a curved "C" shaped padded seat with a high back and I had a comfy chair opposite the children. It was perfect as Sam and Jim both had a mild case of food coma and needed to be horizontal while their food went down between courses..

I should have taken a photo of the desserts, they where really nice. Katie and Jim had an ice cream bombe, which was meringue rolled in ice cream, rolled in toasted hazelnuts. Sam had chocolate fudge cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Charlotte and I had Crushed strawberry eton mess cheesecake. It was garnished with a sprig of mint which we dared each other to eat.... It was gross... don't ever do that....

Outside we waited for Katie to be picked up...

It was getting cold as we waited outside, Charlotte and Jim went and looked in the nearby Hollywood Bowling alley and had a go on the guitar hero arcade game while we waited.. Sam had one more go on the revolving door.....

This was an awesome revolving door which you have to drag your children away from...If they go round too fast and too many times they might turn into Superman...and we can't have that.... we've still got to get the bus home.....

Friday, 21 October 2011

I'm having a bad day...

Well... two days to be exact... Yesterday I was due to have a council annual gas inspection, when the gas man started to check over the meter and the gas boiler and fireplace, he discovered a small leak. He was not able to detect precisely where it was coming from and, as a result, he capped off the gas until another engineer could come out to check it further and hopefully rectify the problem. Last night we had no hot water, heating or the use of the gas hob. No big problems, we got round it quite well thinking that today it would be rectified. 

Not a chance....... The new gas man came out today and could not find the leak either but confirmed that there is one.. So, still no gas, hot water, heating, hob.... I have to have my pipes re-laid.....apparently.. 

The council will contact me when this can be done, they are usually not too bad on this score but, as luck would have it, it's a weekend... I think from Monday onwards will be the likely time frame.... it will be at least a days work and so I will ask my wonderful Mum to come and sit with me for the day, if she is free... (Mum, will you come and sit with me for the day, please...?? If you are free)

Also, Asda has been having games with me, hopefully the email I have sent them will fit on tells the story quite well...

Dear Buttheads (I didn't put that)

I have finally received my Asda grocery delivery today but, unfortunately it has taken some time and numerous phone calls to get to this stage. Yesterday (20th October) I was due to have my shopping delivered between 9am and 11am. Order number ***********.. 

Early in the morning I had checked my on-line bank and I saw that my account had been debited £119.99 This was the correct amount for my Asda order. But at 11:30am my shopping had still not arrived. I then checked Asda on-line and read that my order had been rejected. At 11:45am I phoned the Asda customer helpline to see what had happened to my order. The gentleman on the phone could see no problem with the order, no problem with the bank and there was no apparent reason why this order had been rejected. He said he would phone the store to see what the problem was. 

An hour later I had not heard from him and so I phoned the helpline again. The gentleman on the phone was very apologetic and said, as a goodwill gesture he would give me a e-voucher for £15. He could also not see what had happened to my order, other than it had been cancelled by mistake. He passed me to his colleague Leanne, she was very helpful and was able to re-book my order for today between 9am and 11am today. I was very pleased that my order would now be sorted out and would finally be delivered, albeit a day late. This order would be order number ***********.

This morning at 5:45am I received a text to say that I must ring the customer helpline before 6:45am as my order may again be cancelled..  Also my house phone received an automated message to give me the same message moments later. I am sure you can appreciate 5:45 am is not a reasonable time to call or text unless it is an emergency. 

I called the customer care number and spoke to Chad. I asked why I had been called at this hour and why my delivery would be cancelled yet again. He took my details and said he would look to see why again my order would not be processed. Within ten minutes he called me back to explain that, as the money had been debited the day before for my rejected order and Asda was again trying to take another amount for this new order, my bank had refused to grant this next payment as there were now not enough funds in my account. Also this days delivery charge was more than the previous days delivery charge. 

However, he did say that he would have to arrange with the store, that my order continue to be delivered even without the bank clearing the new amount to be charged. As it turns out, the final delivery cost today was less than £119.99 and was a final total of £117.99 but still with the higher delivery charge added. As there was no payment made (because the money was taken the day before and has now left my account) Chad had to suspend my Asda account until my bank had refunded my money back into my account (which will take 7-10 days) and I would then have to ring the customer care line again to re-pay this order.

I am very disappointed that firstly, my order was mistakenly cancelled. Also that no one thought to phone me, to tell me that it would not be arriving at all. I am also disappointed that I had to then, phone again to see what was happening to my order an hour later as no one called me back to tell me what was happening. 

However, I am quite angry that I was phoned today at 5:45am and also a text received as well, so early in the morning. Usually being called so early indicates an emergency and not a failed shopping delivery...

When the first problem arose, I accepted that these things do happen and mistakes are made, the customer care line staff were helpful and eventually rectified my problem. What I cannot accept is the early morning phone call and the prospect of another delivery being cancelled. 

I have myself and my children to provide food for and without a car, I have no alternative but to shop for my groceries on-line. This week I thought it would be a nice change to shop at Asda.  I usually shop at Tesco but find Asda often offers many things that we would consider a treat that we cannot find at Tescos. Next week, being half-term, I wanted to specifically get these items delivered for our half-term break. 

I am hesitant to use Asda again as the worry of delivery problems far out weigh the benefit of a variety of groceries.

I do hope that you can reply to this email and reassure me that this will not happen again, I will be unable to shop with you until my account has been unfrozen... I do hope this is a one off and a genuine mistake and not standard practice to call customers quite so early. 

I look forward to your reply.

Prof.  Rachael Plummer. OBE. CBE. BBC. ITV. Radio 4 :)

So, there we are... rant over...

Monday, 17 October 2011

This Weather Widget is provided by the Met Office

Friday, 14 October 2011

locked out

OK, so I've already got a headache and yet another nerve has got itself caught in my back... again. 
Or perhaps it's the same nerve but it just feels worse today... I could not find my bunch of keys when I took Katie to school this morning, so I took the back door key instead. When I got home I went round to the back door only to find that my bunch of keys were inside, in the lock... Which means that I can't turn the lock with my back door key.. In short, I am locked out. 

Penny and Florrie were in the back garden an pranced about thinking I was out there to play. I went round to the side window but it was shut tight and even if it wasn't, there was no way I could have climbed in as it is too high.....Jim however, would have had no problem.. So back round to the kitchen window. I pulled at it, low and behold it came open. Thankfully I had not pushed the handle down properly when we left. 

I then had to figure out how to get my big butt through the window..

I put the garden chair under the window and stood on it. I had to clear the window sill and hoof myself up and into the window. At this point Penny thought it was a good idea to join me in climbing through the window..... 

She slid between me and the sill, turned around to face me and meowed... I mentioned to her that she might want to "get out of the way and stop mucking about"... As I clambered through the window, I became increasingly aware that, if I got stuck or the chair fell away, I would be well and truly in deep trouble...

I was then able to get nearly all of myself through the window and most of myself onto the worktop. On all fours I slowly lumbered into the house, at which point Penny went back out of the window by running under my arched body and meowed as she went. I suggested to her that "doing this was not a good idea, it was not helping and perhaps she might want to go somewhere else for now..." 

I managed to get past the full sink of water and dishes without a hitch but was unsure of how to negotiate the hob and swing myself round enough to be able to lower my feet to the floor.. Penny decided to help again by running back in and flicking her tail in my face and showing me her bum... At which point I blew very hard to get it out of my face. Once again I mentioned that "I did not want to see her bottom and she was being very inappropriate"

One foot gingerly lowered to the floor, then the other and I was in.......

It is not a big window and it only opens so far, however my fat bottom was able to clamber through. Burglars would have no problem at all..
(well, apart from Penny's help)  Oh dear... I think I need to get another key cut for such emergency's and make sure I lock the window properly next time..

Penny was pleased with my efforts, she meowed with delight as she jumped sideways to avoid my foot treading on her as I stood upright again in the kitchen. She is such a helpful soul and will possibly be the death of me.....

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Squashin' washin'

Today's job is to get the laundry and ironing done, If we are not careful we will have no cleaned or ironed clothes left to wear and will end up wearing paper boiler suits for the rest of the week....

Today I have run the washing machine at least five times and have now hung it all out to dry. Where does it all come from??? It's not as if the children wear their clothes for five minutes and then change their minds, putting the clean things in the washing pile. I have to beg the boys to wear something else as the clothes they are wearing will need fumigating.. Charlotte and Katie don't seem to smell too bad as they wash everywhere everyday. They keep their clothes clean and wear them until they actually need a wash..

I suppose there are just a lot of towels and bedding this week that needed washing and drying..still, I have been very good and have ironed nearly all that needs ironing..

I hope no one needs the loo, this is in the doorway.

Yet another door full..

Heaps of folded washing waiting to go upstairs and be put away.

Thankfully, nothing in these piles needed to be ironed and that makes life so much easier..
But there is still more to do, and tomorrow there will be more again...
The idea of paper boiler suits doesn't sound too bad  actually now...

I wonder if the kids would go for it???

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Health Checks

Yesterday I had an appointment at a health centre in Luton. I am very fortunate that my Uncle Eddy was able to take me. He had already taken my brother to the same place that morning as he also had an appointment there and it happened to be on the same day as mine.. I am very grateful that he was able to take me, wait for me and safely bring me home again.. :) This is all in reference to my on going back problem..

Today however, I have had to have a blood test. Firstly for my thyroid problem which I have had for 16 years now. So that was quite routine, I also had to have a test for diabetes as my brother has just been diagnosed with type 2, Mum has diabetes, my Nan and Great Aunt also had it. To put Mums mind at rest I have asked for a blood test just to make sure. 

The test was a fasting test and as a result I had no food since tea time last night, I have only drunk water  this morning and have had no breakfast. At 9:20am the very nice blood lady took four lots of blood and sent me on my way. I was wondering if I would get a sticker but she said she had run out...

So, here I am, back home and enjoying a coffee and a spot of breakfast before I plod on with my day..

I was very brave and having my blood taken is only a few notches down from my fear of the dentist but parallel to my fear of potato roots...

The blood lady tried my right arm...

And then the left, which thankfully decided to squeeze out some blood for her. 

Like I said...I was really brave ..

I might leave my poorly plasters on until the children come home and show them just how brave I have been.. Nothing like a bit of drama :)

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sleepy Sunday

Sunday will be sleepy when we have finished blitzing the house. The children have been helping me to hoover and tidy the living room. They pulled out the sofas and found a million bits of rubbish, wrappers, odds and ends that should not be there. They helped hoover and dust until it was my standard of clean and not theirs. (Which takes longer..and is done properly) They have helped wash and wipe up, tidy the kitchen and hoover all of downstairs. They then took up the hoover and finished their rooms too..

They have changed their beds, the covers have been washed and are on the line..all five sets of them...Homework is being worked on and by 
this evening everyone, including me, will have had a bath and their hair washed.

For tea we will be having beef casserolio with apple and pear crumble and custard.. except someone has already been testing the apple and pear crumble....

I am not amused......

This evening I will light my Glade "honey and chocolate" candle, drink my Horlicks and watch a real bit of TV indulgence. I rarely watch anything on television, I do however watch the news and weather, Glee and Downton Abbey...a bit of a mixture, but that's about it..

I love this storyline with Lady Sybil and the chauffeur Branson..

I am looking forward to tonight's episode..
There are a few more jobs to do now. When I am done I will collapse in a well deserved heap.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Winterizing in October

It's that time of the year when the leaves begin to fall and the nights are drawing in, that I feel the need to feather my nest a little bit more, find a good spot to hibernate or just gather nuts.... 

The dinners I now plan are hearty and warm. Tonight we are having baked potatoes with beans and grated cheese or chilli con carne with rice. I put it all on the table and everybody helps themselves. There are often some leftovers and with growing boys, they get supper too as they can finish off what is left later on.

 Usually Katie has a bit of everything, Charlotte will have chilli and rice, Jim and Sam will have potatoes, beans, cheese and try to pick out the kidney beans and only eat the mince, but no rice for either of them... 
You can see why I let them help themselves... 
fussy lot :)


My best friend over the next few months will be the slow cooker. I have already made a chicken casserole and a beef casserole for the freezer. When I make tea I often make another batch at the same time and freeze it.

The living room has been warmed up with blankets, duvets and cushions. I found and old double duvet that we don't use and I then cut it into four squares, I found two single duvet covers we rarely use and made covers for each square. These "mini duvets" are perfect for keeping you feet and legs warm in the evening :) With the added bonus of being able to be washed in the washing machine because it is not too bulky.

The hallway has an open doorway to the store room and there is always a draft, It is good to have a cool store room thought. So I used cup hooks and then put up a thick garden bamboo stick as a rail and hung an old curtain I found in a charity shop years ago up at the doorway. A perfect solution as the cats can still go out under the curtain and there are no more drafts.

The garden has needed some attention. While the weather was unseasonably hot at the beginning of this month, we took the opportunity to paint the sheds. We have had the wood preserve in the shed for a few years now so it was about time to use it. .....I also re-fixed an old glass cupboard door as the window, you can see that it has slipped down at the window.. The cats can still get in the shed but the rain and snow can't.

Nearly there, it was so warm that we only painted early in the morning or after 4pm when the sun had gone behind the trees, it was dry in no time at all.

When we got to the smaller shed I realised that some of the roof felt had come away. We found a large tarpaulin that we had cleaned and folded in the summer. Jim and I flung it over the shed roof. Jim climbed up there to make sure it was straight and we placed the car roof box on top to anchor it down. I tied it down on the other side and secured it to the fence at the front and back.

It will do the job until we can get some new roof felt and someone to climb up there and fix it..

I have also cleaned out the freezer in the store room. There was more ice in there than food.

I have begun to re-stock the freezer with things like chilli con carne,  lasagne, Sheppard's pie, and casseroles. I have a tendency to label things rather oddly, but I know what I mean.. We have "Beefish casserolio" "omm nom nom chickens in a casserole" "Yummy scrummy shep-pie", "lots of lovely apples for apple crumble :)"  and "yum yum piggy's bum spaghetti bolognaise"

Finally, here is the first candle that we have used this autumn, it is a Glade "honey and chocolate" it smells divine and we only light it in the evening when we watch TV together. Most of the winterizing has been done as general maintenance. These jobs need doing anyway but as the weather deteriorates the outside jobs in particular need to be done now while the weather permits. Simple things like closing the curtains when the sun goes down and checking for drafts then insulating windows and doors are all good practice to keep cosy and warm with little or no expense.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The summer holidays are over

I am painfully aware that I have not "blogged" for quite some time. It has been pointed out to me on numerous occasions and the question has been asked "will you ever blog again?" In an attempt to re-cap the entire summer holidays, I have chosen to do so in pictures... a cop out I know many things happened over the holidays. But there were equally as many days where nothing happened of any significance at all...

OK, so here we go...

I spent an absolute fortune on school uniforms so everybody had clean, fitting and smart clothes to wear in September. Believe me, it is not easy trying to make sure that four children are fully equipped for school on such a tight budget...  
Katies new uniform and coat

During some of the cloudy and miserable days that make our typically British summer, Sam and I spent a boring morning watching the television...... then I drew all over his tummy....just for fun :)

Charlie helped himself to his "Cat Munch"

On the sunny days, the washing blew dry....

Sam was continually hungry and pretty much lived at the fridge door...

Other games were played, this one was, make a picture using the sticky shapes and then explain...
It was hilarious.... :)

Jim pretty much lived at the computer...

We made plasticine cats, burgers, snails, teddies, houses, flowers and cups..

Lots of biscuits were made and then consumed...

Many a cheesecake was made and also consumed...

We actually did have a good holiday. We went to the cinema at least four times, we went bowling, we ate McDonald's at least four times, we ate cake, we played piggy in the middle, we slept, we argued, we watched TV, we laughed, we cried laughing, we slept downstairs, we picked berries, we picked apples, we read, we played games, we played cards, we watched films, we made jam, we tidied the garden, we enjoyed each other company, we nearly killed each other, we slept in, I blogged  didn't find time to blog, but we did have fun.....