Category Archives: Family

Such a perfect day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mummies out there! It was a gorgeous spring day here today and I was desperate to get out and do some tidying up and to plant some little shrubs we picked up in B&M last weekend. They are quite good for plants. They don’t have a huge range but what they do have is very reasonably priced. We decided on a hebe and an azalea. At £4 each they were a massive bargain.

Whilst we were out fighting with the weeds, cutting stuff back and mowing the lawn, my daughters were making a delicious roast beef lunch. We were so ready for this after a few hours in the garden. We had it with a £5 bottle of cava from Lidl and strawberries for pudding. They even cleaned it all up. Fantastic! What a lovely bunch of girls.


Mr S found a very pretty Portmerion tea set in the charity shop on Friday for £25. We looked on eBay and found the teapot alone going for £75! This lot has to be sold on as we could make a handy profit. I should start getting up early and perusing the bootsales soon to see what else I can find to sell on. This could be a useful bit of extra income. 

We went to visit Mum and dad yesterday. He is quite frail and tired still but this isn’t surprising as he has undergone a serious bit of surgery. It’s hard to keep him out of his garden on a sunny day but we need to for now. I will try to get round to help in the week.

What could be better than sunshine, fresh air, exercise, home cooked food and family? It was a perfect day to set me up for a busy week. Mother’s Day or not, I hope you had a super Sunday.

Red nose fundraising – and a bit of good news

We had a bad taste dress down at work today to raise funds for Comic Relief. It was hilarious; people turned up in some hideous outfits! We also donated raffle prizes and baked cakes. I bought some as I had no time to make any, but I didn’t eat any cake as I am still not eating sugar. 

We were pleasantly surprised yesterday when my dad was sent home from hospital. He had a good night last night but we are all keeping a close eye. I will pop round tomorrow with some groceries and to water his plants. I don’t want him straining his staples trying to do this.

So nice to see them back home together, even if they are the walking wounded!

Are any of you fundraising for Comic Relief?

The Waiting Game

Yesterday was the longest day! We were initially told dad would be going to theatre at 10. My sister went to sit with him until then and was advised to come back at three, which she duly did. He didn’t appear and the nurses seemed unable or unwilling to find anything out so she waited and waited. At 5.30 the hospital called mum at home at my dad’s request to say he was fine and in recovery, so she waited again thinking he would be back any moment. My other sister joined her after work and they waited and waited….we were all on tenterhooks wondering what on earth was going on, when he finally arrived back at his bed at 8 pm!

It seems he hadn’t had his op until the afternoon in the end,  although why no one could tell the family this is beyond me. We wouldn’t have known anything at all if dad hadn’t made the nurse ring mum. Let’s hope their medical skills are better than their communication skills anyway. 

I did an hour’s yoga and drank a large G&T as my own form of recovery. It is stressful this hospital lark and I wasn’t even there!

We are off to see him after work today so hope to see him rallying. Have a good day. 

A gem on our doorstep

I often think that people love to spend a fortune jetting all over the world yet don’t take the time to explore what there is on their doorstep. We often get out and about in the local area and I think I know it well. However, this morning I found something wonderful to see five miles down the road!

We went for a walk in the village of Copford, not far from Colchester. We wandered down to the lovely old church and discovered some very old painted frescos on the walls inside. They are fabulous! It is a lovely church with a wooden frame and some gorgeous stained glass. The roof and walls were restored in the nineties. What a great find.

Outside there was a sea of daffodils, absolutely stunning. It was a very windy day but sunny and we had walk past Copford Hall and into the woods. I recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.

We came home and went straight outside again to do a bit of pruning and tidying and to dig the second veggie patch. I worked up quite a sweat. Gardening is such good exercise and cheaper than the gym!

Keeping busy is stopping me worrying about my dad. My brother and sister took him to hospital today and they waited hours whilst they tried to find a bed for him. This makes me cross – it’s not as if they weren’t expecting him. He finally got a bed when they opened up a day centre as an extra ward. Here he is having his dinner. He won’t be able to eat after this as the op is tomorrow afternoon. 

I think the NHS is wonderful but gravely under funded at the moment. Let’s hope they do a good job and we get him home safe and sound. 

Back soon – have a great week.

Feeling grateful

I went to see my parents again today, partly to check on my mum and partly to see my dad before he goes in for his op tomorrow. My mum is doing really well with her new hip. Tough as old boots, that one. Her younger sister is staying with them to help out whilst my dad is in hospital. We could have done without both their operations coming within 10 days of each other, but what can you do? All the family is pulling together to support them, which is exactly what families should do. I am so grateful to have such lovely relatives!

My parents have always been so supportive so all of us so now it is pay back time 😀. 

I made a quick mushroom quiche and took it round for lunch, with new potatoes and salad. I don’t know why I don’t make pastry more often. It’s easy peasy really. We had some lovely strawberries from Lidl for dessert. I would have bought some of their gorgeous pastries to take but I am still off the sugar.

I have been catching up with myself all afternoon but now is time to curl up with Mr S and a glass of G&T. We are wild on a Saturday night! Whatever you are doing, have a good one!

A Simple Supper

I have been visiting my mum in hospital after work and my daughters have been great at organising dinner. Last night darling daughter no 2 made a really tasty lentil and vegetable stew with crusty baguettes. She adapted it from a Nigel Slater recipe to suit what she could find in the fridge, as follows:

2 onions
2 tbsp veg oil
2 tsp rosemary
2 bay leaves
3 medium carrots
4 parsnips
2 sticks of celery
125g mushrooms
2 small sweet potatoes
150g red lentils
2 tbsp plain flour
750ml hot veg stock
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
Large handful of spinach
tbsp wholegrain mustard

Chop all the vegetables and fry up in some oil until the parsnips are starting to turn golden. Stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the stock to the pan with the herbs and lentils and bring to the boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the spinach, mustard and redcurrant jelly and stir then leave for a further ten minutes for the spinach to cook. This would be good with rice but we enjoyed it with some ready to bake crusty baguettes from Aldi.

I was able to take my mum home today. She has a lot of cramp in her new hip joint, but other than that she is doing well. My dad sorted her tea and I left her in bed as she didn’t get much sleep in hospital so needs to catch up. One down, one to go – my dad’s op is on Sunday.

It was a glorious day today with daffodils and primroses everywhere. I love spring! Until tomorrow, bye for now.

Growing our own

Finally, spring has sprung! This afternoon we got out into the garden to get some jobs done. Mr S dug up and moved the compost heap as it had been invaded by bindweed so the compost was unusable, whilst I dug over one of the veg plots. 

We have decided to sow wild flowers on one of the plots this year. We were short of time last summer and cultivating, harvesting and preserving everything felt stressful. If I didn’t work full time I would grow a lot more but it is difficult to find the time. So this year we will stick with a few crops that we know are likely to do well: perpetual spinach, runner beans, courgettes, broad beans and chard. We shall also grow tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse. Keeping it simple, but still growing some of our own food. A wildflower garden will be lovely too!

We have blackcurrants, blackberries, blueberries and a few apples as well, but they take very little work. So healthy and delicious.

I just loved getting outside. I am sure we must both be lacking vitamin D, we have been cooped up so much!

We went to see my lovely Mum in hospital this morning. Her hip replacement operation seemed to go well. She was a little uncomfortable but not in great pain. I will pop in again on my way home from work tomorrow. She has had a steady stream of family in today so she might actually enjoy some peace when we are all back at work tomorrow 😀.

Have a good week. Bye for now.

Lidl or Aldi?

I have been using Lidl for my weekly grocery shop recently, mainly because they built a brand new store five minutes from Shoestring Cottage with plenty of parking. However, I am really an Aldi girl. There are just enough differences between their products for me to prefer them.

Last night darling daughter wanted me to take her to her local Aldi so I went back 😀. Yes, you all know I am sad but savvy and this kind of thing cheers me up after a long, hard week at work!

I have particularly missed Aldi’s moisturisers. They are amazing value at under £2 a pot and really work. When you consider that some folk happily spend £40 on the same size pot, fooled by pseudo scientific claims of wrinkle reductions and firmer skin, it just proves just how gullible many of us are! All you need for good skin is to keep it clean, wear some kind of moisturiser, don’t spend too much time in the sun and don’t smoke! Seriously, I truly believe it is that simple. I have followed this advice for years and I am regularly told I don’t look my almost 54 years so it must be working 😀. Whilst I was there I went crazy and bought two. I prefer these to Lidl’s versions as I find theirs too highly perfumed. 

I have a couple of potentially stressful weeks coming up with my parents. They are both in their eighties and in great shape generally, but have operations within two weeks of each other. Today my mum is having a hip replacement. She had the other one done last year and will soon be almost entirely manmade…I am meeting her there this morning to see her in and, all being well, hope to get her back home on Tuesday. 

The week after next my dad will have a potentially more serious op to repair an aneurism. This is at a different hospital further away so will mean a lot of to-ing and fro-ing to visit and take my mum and then make sure they are ok once he is back home. 

I need to make some meals for their freezer and will start with a big vat of lentil soup tomorrow and maybe some shepherd’s pies next week. Fortunately, I have three siblings so we will be sharing the duties. 

Wish them luck and good wishes and, if I don’t manage a daily post, you will know why! Have a great weekend everyone.

A cheap date in La La Land

All of my daughters were here at the weekend so decided to go to the cinema. They had vouchers and treated us, otherwise I wouldn’t have. My no spend January won’t allow for cinema tickets! They are expensive!

We saw La La Land. I would say it is as good as the hype, stylish, nostalgic and touching. Emma Stone was fantastic in it. She has a beautifully expressive face. I will see it again once it hits Netflix and I can see it for free 😀. 

We popped into Lidl beforehand for a few bits and bought the popcorn and drinks in there. Twelve small assorted bags of popcorn, a pack of five orange juices and three bags of Minstrels came to less than £6. In the cinema a small bag of popcorn and a drink was £7! 

It was lovely to all go out. It’s rare that this happens now that they are all so grown up and independent. 

My new lodger arrived today and got herself unpacked and settled in. I have cleared a cupboard for her food and some space in the fridge, plus a shelf in the bathroom. She seems nice so let’s hope it works out. It’s funny living with a stranger! I downloaded a lodger agreement from Spareroom.com and have done an inventory. You have to keep these things professional in my opinion.

What do you do for  a cheap night out? Have a good week everyone!

Perfect Sunday 

I don’t normally let Christmas in this early, but I needed to go through all my decorations to take the spare ones into work and before I knew it we had put ours up!

I bought loads really cheaply at my favourite charity shop and the others I have had for years. It looks really cosy.

We had a lovely autumn walk today in the sunshine, walking five miles  from Colchester to Wivenhoe and back. If you haven’t walked the Wivenhoe trail I recommend it. When you arrive there is a great pub in the village called the Rose and Crown, by the estuary. Today we settled for a cup of tea in a little cafe before we headed back to Colchester. 

We now have roast pork in the oven which will be followed by apple and blackberry crumble made with foraged fruit for pud. Can Sundays get any better?