Sunday, 17 November 2019

6 weeks to Christmas!

Again I say, where does the time go? I've been terribly slack the past several weeks and November has crept up on me. I've not updated my journal but can do that tomorrow at some point, although it means I don't have a word of the month to share (yet).

My visit with my sister went very well. We have our moments where we try each other's patience (just two people used to living alone, and my dire memory), but overall it's always good to see her. She lives in a very tiny one-bed bungalow overlooking some green hills, about one mile outside Totnes. There's a railway line running past the bottom of the very tiny rear garden but it's not overly disruptive, the trains passing roughly once per hour en route to and from Penzance in Cornwall.

We found room for all the bits & pieces I took down with me (she has a garage so that's useful for things like the bike and vacuum cleaner), and we stocked up on heavy things like tins of soup and cartons of almond milk to take advantage of having the car for a few days.

She had to work most of the time I was there but that was no problem. Totnes has a lovely high street, compared to some I've been on, and I spent a decent amount of time poking around the charity shops, the independent retailers, and the usual high street names. I found two pairs of trousers at one of the charity shops (!) for myself and bought Roomie E a couple of seahorse-themed things for her birthday & Christmas (she loves them). They seemed to be everywhere! Totnes isn't even a seaside town...

Anyway, the rest and relaxation were good, despite the fact that my sister only has a coffee table and we spent our time sitting on the floor. I got a bit tired of that, but at least my camp bed was relatively comfortable and I slept well. It makes me appreciate my sofas at home! Ha ha! She's collecting bits a little at a time and a friend has promised her a proper bed from the sale of her house, so that's definitely going to be welcome. In the meantime, she's got my camp bed so is at least a bit more comfortable when she's sleeping.

She has borrowed money for groceries from me twice this month already, however, which I'm okay with (money for food is fine, anything else is not), but leaves me a bit concerned. The jobs there seem to be contracted 'x' number per week, not full-time, so it's a bit of a struggle, although her Saturday job has morphed into an extra two days a week now, so that's positive. She's also applying for the manager position at that job which would be a real coup. I know she wants to focus on and build her business but if you're not able to take care of the basics of living, it's hard to focus on anything else and justify putting so much effort into that, especially if it's not viable yet. But, if you don't, then you don't have any chance of getting to that point! It's a bit of a tough place to be, but if anyone can do it, she can.

Anyway. This month I finally got my back pay from my Saturday job (14 hours from when I first started), so that was good to see. I've also picked up the Sunday afternoon shifts through December and put my name down for Boxing Day (albeit a split shift). This pleases me and I'm planning on doing this until I can't or just don't want to anymore. It's a little bit of a bonus really, so I will take proper advantage whilst I can and try to pay down my debt and plump up my flat deposit account. Everything else seems to be okay - our utility bills are modest at last, which helps immensely, and I now need to just be cautious with my 'miscellaneous' and food spends.

This week I decided I needed to bake a cake - two, actually - so have invested in some tins, a cooling rack, and a few other necessary bits & pieces, along with the ingredients. Fortunately, there's a surplus/hardware store near the office and I got a few things there for cheap, so that's checked that box. Our oven, however, isn't working quite right, so I appealed to our friendly neighbour for use of his. He was happy to oblige (fortunately), and cake is the 'quo' of this 'quid pro quo' arrangement. First cake tastes fine but looks absolutely awful - it will need a redo. The other one I'm going to try today before work at 3:00. It's a Red Velvet recipe I found and would like to try, using!

Someone is coming to look at our oven on Saturday. I don't think the thermostat is working properly, it burns things even at low temperatures so we're either doing something wrong or there's a problem with the oven. We'd just like to know.

I have a friend visiting tomorrow for a few hours. She's arriving around 10:00 and we're going for a walk and lunch out (hooray!). I had wanted to make the cake to offer her with tea, so hopefully one will work out like I want.


  • cakes were more or less a success - hurrah!
  • our oven was fixed yesterday. I was correct - it was the thermostat! It's been replaced and is good to go now. Hurrah!
  • Cake!!
  • think I might try a salted caramel chocolate cake next. 😀😀
  • 5 weeks until I'm on holiday for two weeks. Hurrah!
  • currently thinking about what I what to accomplish during those two weeks (book-wise, writing-wise, new year-wise, etc.)
  • I am obsessed (!!) at the minute by the impeachment hearings happening in the US; unsure this is healthy, as I'm neglecting my reading and writing
  • I have, however, despite this, moved forward a little on my book
  • spooling up for YET ANOTHER general election on 12 December. This will change nothing, and I'm not sure who to vote for (apart from 'never in this lifetime' conservative). 'Free broadband for all' (Labour's rallying cry) is hardly motivating. I need a little think...
  • relieved beyond measure that Canada retained its sanity and voted the Liberals in again, however, although glad there is a coalition with the NDP which will hopefully reel in some of those disastrous environmental decisions (KEYSTONE PIPELINE) made previously. Do better this time, Mr Trudeau. Please.
  • have some Vit D and Folate supplements from the doctor to see if that helps my hair issue; another blood test end of November for some slightly low kidney numbers and then six-monthly after that. Hoping both will sort themselves out, but believe I need to make some drastic dietary steps in the new year. Have given up caffeinated tea (apart from one first thing), and that has the added benefit of helping me sleep a bit better, so there's that at least. Nothing will happen overnight, but incremental changes add up over time, so have to do some serious thinking over the holidays and then implement (and stick!) with decisions. Commitment is not my strong suit...ahem...
  • I already know what next year's word is going to be. Hurrah! (But you'll have to wait to find out).
  • Time to sort out Christmas cards (yes, I still do them!) and will take a few to the office with me this week. The international ones I will send second-class to save myself a little ££ this year. I do enjoy sending them, and having a franking machine at work means I get a little discount. Doesn't mean postage won't go up again next year, and there's a strike threatened for December, so would ideally like to get them in before that happens. Poor, beleaguered Royal Mail - a Christmas strike and £50m payout in fines...yup, definitely at least one rise next year.
Off to the shop shortly, so hope you've all had a great weekend!


Anonymous said...

Vote Labour! Seriously it's not about the broadband - it's about the NHS. I was so grateful for the NHS when I returned to the UK from Canada - in Canada I had health insurance on my ex's policy but that then expired and I found buying medications SO expensive, and the wait to see a specialist was ridiculous (never did happen - I came back to the UK for that reason).

Glad you had a good holiday with your sister. If she's not working f/t has she looked into applying for Universal Credit? It might supplement her income. I guess she's renting the house? I wonder how much rents are in Totnes? I'm still renting a room in Manchester but am looking to move on from my job in the next few months and would like to find somewhere where I can afford to rent by myself, though much depends on income (at the moment I can't do it on 18K but I really loathe house sharing at the age of 56!).

Hope things continue to go well for you. I enjoy reading your blog.

JiCaLu said...

I am so glad you and your sister had a good visit. And I am glad you got your missing pay, and that you still feel like working the extra job and picking up the extra $$$!

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi Anon - always nice to hear from you. You know, I actually like the Labour policies but I genuinely can't bring myself to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as PM. I'm therefore leaning towards LibDem but don't know enough about them to make a decision as yet. There's still some time, though, so I think I need to do some reading.

My sister is getting UC, yes, and has just got a supervisory position at one of her jobs so she's really pleased! It means a small raise and a few more hours. Her rent is less than what my flatmate and I are paying in rent! I, too, am wanting to live alone but I simply can't afford it at the moment, not on my wage. It's frustrating, isn't it? xx

Hi JiCaLu - thank you! Yes, all good for the time being. Roll on New Year, I say! Hope you are well xx

Treaders said...

Glad you had a good visit with your sister. I haven't been to Totnes for years - no, make that decades - but I remember thinking it was lovely (then). Don't know about now. And the bloody election!!! Not that I have a vote of course, but I find the whole thing so confusing - I guess they all put different spins on it don't they. And if I DID have a vote (after Brexit I will be totally disenfranchised!!! Way to go!!) I think I might lean towards the Lib Dems too!! Anna

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi Treaders! Yes, the break was welcome and it's always good to see my sister, despite our 'moments'. :D It's a very pretty town, actually, with the River Dart running through it, and a nice size - not too big. I'm not sure how this election will change anything, but I won't not vote so it's just a matter of closing my eyes and making my choice, isn't it? Who do I like most out of a miserable selection? *sigh* Sorry you won't get to make a choice. Doesn't seem fair when this stupid Brexit will affect you so much. xx

MW said...

Merry Christmas to You!!! Hope you'll have some time to indulge in some favourite things over the holidays!