Fly by, July!

Whew, where did July go?

July has been a good-ish month for us.

  • We came in at £133 for groceries which, while it’s good, is not £130! Must get this together for August!
  • Travelling to Wales to see husband’s sister and husband for the weekend was lovely. Very relaxing which is just what husband needed.
  • Our anniversary is on the 31st of July so we went out for breakfast and dinner as my mother sent us some money.
  • We were gifted a lovely garden seat!
  • College finished in the start of the month and as the uni job is largely finished for the summer I’ve had this month off. I’ve been doing self employed work, caught up on eBaying, doing surveys, and jobs around the house I’ve had to put off as I just haven’t had the time to do it until now.
  • We enjoyed going to the foodshare event in our local community.

Things that have not been good about July include:

  • Husband had a cold which he gave to me. It hit me much harder and I spent a little over a week in the house feeling really rubbish and drained of energy.
  • Husband’s workplace are still being mean. Manager has left now and since then Deputy has been running the show; Husband was not given any hours at all last week. When he went by with the time sheet for July so it could be processed, they had two new members of staff in. Looks like the meeting regarding the grievance will be held in August. Husband is very anxious about this and doesn’t want to talk about it, and alternates between being cross and sad about the whole thing.
  • Husband’s younger sister who has a learning disability has been exploited by someone she trusted by asking her for money under all kinds of pretexts. She was not supposed to be able to access her account but can transfer money out via the banking app and she’s been defrauded of £4000, her savings account is now empty. Bank have said they can’t help but we have contacted the police who are considering it to be fraud. Will challenge the bank via the Financial Ombudsman Service – how was she able to transfer the money out of her account if there are two people named on the account (her and her mother who is her financial guardian), without the other person’s authorization?

To end on a more positive note, here are some pictures from the garden.

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Our lovely garden seat. Just need the weather to warm up now that I’m better to actually sit out there and enjoy it.
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The nasturtiums are really growing well now and we’ve used their leaves in our salad for dinner on several nights. If I can grow this, maybe I can grow salad next year?
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Aaaah! We have a solitary tomato! Just hoping it’ll grow now!
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The Cat enjoys Husband’s lap.

The goals of this year’s staycation.

I’m done working at the college and the university for the summer (apart from the odd Saturday 10am to 2pm) as I work term-time. Won’t be back at work now until the 28th of August now, and not back full time (six days a week) until the 1st of October.

Part of me wants to bask in this. You’ve worked SO had and this year has brought out feelings you didn’t even know you possessed, you DESERVE a rest!

But not going to lie, it feels super weird to not be at work. It’s quite unsettling, the lack of routine. It’s been about two weeks now and I feel ready to come back!

Because of husband’s work and the grievance we have decided to pursue, I feel a bit in limbo at the moment as I don’t feel we can go anywhere until this has been settled. We are due to travel home to Norway in the end of August for a week to see my family but that’s everything we are doing travelling wise.

Husband’s workplace have received our grievance and confirmed that they have received it so we will see what they do with it. They have to investigate it and respond in a timely manner, they cannot legally ignore it according to our union, so we’ll see what happens with that. Work itself has been very calm and nobody has mentioned the grievance at all. However the quite frankly infuriating way husband has been treated at work this year is not diminished or excused by this period of apparent calmness. I don’t trust them and am very interested to see what they come back with once they have investigated our allegations, as the burden of evidence is on the employer, it is THEIR responsibility to prove husband has not been discriminated against.

Anyway. Yes, Staycation this year. So in an attempt to make it more structured, I sat down and wrote a list when the staycation started, naming some things I want to do this summer.

I have added to it though as I’ve completed things. I know, I know, I need to relax! But let’s face it, as I work six days a week from September to June, WHEN will I have time to do things like:

  • Visit the Windmill. We have a working windmill that’s open to visitors and in all my years of living in Nottingham I have never been to visit it.
  • Clean the whole kitchen. Cupboards, inside and out. Sort them. Doors. On top of cupboards. Clean oven. Clean outside of oven. Pull oven out and clean behind it. Done! YASS!
  • Clean the windows and windowsills I can reach. Done.
  • Visit husband’s sister and husband in Wales. We are going, this weekend!
  • Write a review a week. Since finishing at work I have written two. I write and publish my reviews here.
  • Go through our clothes upstairs and my clothes in the bedroom to sort and donate/sell/give away stuff not used.
  • Dust the blinds downstairs. Done
  • Visit the park up the street, bring food.
  • Go to Wollaton Hall and walk around the lake.
  • Tidy, wipe down and sort the shelf by the bathroom. Done.
  • Copy down all my reviews and store them somewhere safe.
  • Do our tax returns. Done.
  • Get a will written?
  • Take our duvets and pillows to the launderette. Done.
  • Do 30 minutes on the exercise bike every day. Pahahaha. Not even done this once yet. I am so bad at this whole healthy lifestyle thing:(
  • Clean the covers of the two Poang armchairs. Done.
  • Defrost and clean the fridge freezer.

What about you? Do you have anything you’d like to do this summer? Are you having a staycation?

Going exploring in your own garden.

After having lived in our house for a year we’ve been talking about what we want to do with the garden space we have, especially the front garden, which has been a mess.

We decided to tidy it up a bit more one Saturday as the weather was ok and we had time. Husband’s family have very generously helped us with trimming the hedge and cutting back plants (we had some shears here that frankly look like a prop from a horror film, that’s how rusty they are).

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Before we started. Looking a bit drab.

While I raked the ground and weeded between the slabs, husband swept all the dirt out to neaten the front up a bit.

I was surprised at what I found while raking; found a honeysuckle among the ivy which I’m hoping will bloom as it smells heavenly, I also found these guys:

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There were quite a few of these, I wonder what they are?
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And what are these?

Who would have thought you could go exploring in your own garden?

I finished off by putting some weed-killer down so hopefully that will keep the weeds at bay. Knowing me I think I’ll just have to keep pulling the weeds up, though.

Husband’s parents and a family friend visited the day after and mother-inlaw has taken some of our pots back as they are moving plants and she has said she’ll gift us plants for the garden, which is very generous of them. I was able to use some nasturtium leaves in the salad we had which was awesome. It’s quite strong so use sparingly; I think it tastes similar to watercress.

The front garden looks much tidier now.

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Looking much tidier now.

My mother in law suggested potting up the tomato plants and the pepper plant as they need the space to grow, and I think they like it here. Thank goodness for people’s gardening advice though as I feel anything we’ve managed to do has been out of sheer dumb luck so far.

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Everything seems to be growing nicely, even the nasturtiums are starting to take off. The leaves are delicious.
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Aah! Look what’s coming out!
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Sweet peas are bouncing back but have discovered there are still aphids on them so will spray them again.

New series: I am grateful for…

I wrote a post a while back about being grateful and thankful for little things.

As a reminder to myself that we are incredibly blessed and fortunate, I have decided to add things I am grateful for – when I think of them.

That already sounds so blessed/privileged, doesn’t it?

We are just so fortunate. Some things and facilities, we do not even think about, they are just sort of there, and we expect them to be there.

Today I have been grateful for two things:

  1. Our washing machine.
    We have the privilege of being able to wash our clothes in our own home, efficiently and quickly and to a high standard, whenever we need to do it, unless it’s something too bulky or weird like leather.
    I took our mattress topper to the laundrette down the road today as our washing machine isn’t big enough to wash it. I paid £6 to use the launderette and while it only took 40 minutes, I still had to get the mattress topper into a bag of some kind, take it down to the launderette, put the money in and wait there for the load to finish as it says boldly that loads that aren’t collected promptly will be removed. I then had to stuff it back into my bag and schlep it back home, sopping wet, as I didn’t have time to run it in the dryer as I would have been late for my voice work, and I couldn’t leave it there for the above reasons.
    I got there for 9am when the launderette opened, and you know, almost all the machines were taken already at that time, and people were coming to do their laundry, their normal laundry stuff. I’m trying to imaging having to do that every week and I just can’t.I am grateful that if I need to wash clothes all I have to do is go downstairs and get the washing machine going. I can leave it in the drum for a few hours if I don’t have time to peg it out immediately. And I can do this whenever I want. Without having to leave the house.
  2. Regular public transport/good infrastructure.
    To get to the launderette, I took the bus down. I could just walk round the corner from our house, down the street and onto the main road, without having to plan anything. I knew there would be a service shortly and I could just wait there for one, and sure enough when I got there the display said one would be arriving in three minutes. And it did! And it was safe to use and the bus was well maintained and it got me to the launderette in a timely manner. I had the same experience travelling back home, I could just walk a few yards down and the bus came in a matter of minutes.A book that I read once that really stuck with me puts this into perspective. If you have a chance, read Blood River by Tim Butcher, which is about his attempt to cross Congo across from east to west in 2005 on land. One of the things that really got to me was when the group he is with comes to a little town deep in the jungle. There is a railway station there, and the stationmaster still works there and attends his duties. he sweeps the platform and keeps things as maintained as he can, and waits for the trains. When he wrote the book, no trains had passed through there for SIX years. And throughout the book, Butcher encounters communities that were isolated islands in the bush, with rivers, tracks and roads growing shut as people daren’t use them as it’s too dangerous to travel (HINT: YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK!).

    I am grateful that we have access to good transport links that are safe to use, well maintained and that are reasonably priced. I am grateful we have good infrastructure so I can travel to work and we can travel to other places in our community. Good infrastructure also means that I can live here as I am able to travel home to see my family, on a whim’s notice if I wanted to or needed that.

 

What are you grateful for?

 

 

 

 

A Jam-packed June.

Where did June go? It seems to just have whizzed by.

Despite this, June has been a very calm month, which we needed. Calm before the storm methinks, as we have asked the union to send husband’s employer the grievance letter now. Not a moment to soon as his employers continue to be infuriating.

Good things about June has been:

  • The weather has been lovely, meaning we’ve got some gardening on. I was gifted some plants for the garden so will see if I can get those going.
  • We’ve been under budget for the groceries again, which I’m very pleased about. We’ve still got some left of the food my sister’s family gifted us in April and it’s been such a boon to us. I managed to get some lovely reduced food and bargains from the fruit stall near my work. I also managed to snag some freebies with our last shop with Sainsbury’s.
  • Having Sundays free now as term has finished at the uni for the summer. No Sundays at work until October now! Yass!
  • Visiting our friends for a weekend, which was lovely and just what we needed.
  • We managed to list 47 new items on eBay we cleared out from when we did the flooring downstairs, when we had to empty the bookshelves.

Things that could have been improved about June were:

  • Husband’s workplace are still being ridiculous. The second part of his review which was due to happen mid-June was postponed due to a staff meeting and they have not arranged another date. This is the 6th time it has been pushed back. Manager texting husband at midnight to ask if he can work the next day. Husband was pulled to one side this week and was told to get in touch with the union rep as they have been trying to ring them but not getting a reply. They want a meeting arranged so that they can ‘hear what he has been saying to the union about them.’

We’ve had a letter regarding husband’s PIP application to say that Capita will be handling his PIP assessment.

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Hmmmmmm.

Not quite sure how to feel about this.

To finish off, here is a picture of some street art we’ve got at the end of the path by the house:

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I think these are so cool. I especially like the ‘Practice Kindness’ one.

 

 

 

 

Some news and a gardening update.

It’s been an interesting week and a half.

We are having a heatwave here; husband has been melting and his joints have been giving him a great deal of bother – this happens every summer. Remedies consist of eating Ibuprofen as though they are sweets, having cool cloths and taking cool showers, and for tonight, setting up the sofa-bed in the much cooler downstairs sitting room.

The heat has done wonders for the garden though, everything is just growing away there. I have discovered that we now have aphids on the sweet peas I planted – I need to use something on them that is safe to use on edibles as well as the sodding rosemary is growing next to it. Many people have suggested washing up liquid in water so will make that up tonight in a spray bottle and try to get rid of them.

Husband’s parents did an amazing thing for us yesterday; they came and helped us tidy up the front garden and cut things back. We have so much space there now, I’ll get us a rake on Tuesday so we can tidy it up and then we can perhaps put our tables and chairs outside there. Not quite sure when I’ll have time to sit in them but never mind.

Have had a text from the DWP to say they have received the PIP form.

We stayed with friends from Saturday to Sunday and had a lovely time eating good food and playing games. A much needed break and a lovely treat for us, husband really enjoyed it.

Last week we went to see the union solicitors at their surgery. It proved to be a very interesting day. They took a look at husband’s contract and recognized the name of the employer; they are quite confident they have had to represent someone from the same place before. We have decided to go ahead with a formal grievance due to disability discrimination and bullying and harassment, as we cannot sit and wait for the employer to get it together, not to mention, employers are obligated to respond to it.

Not oh, I don’t know, push husband’s performance review back for the 6th time as they needed to have a different meeting that afternoon.

That meeting also proved very interesting as the manager announced suddenly and unexpectedly that they have handed in their notice and their last working day will be in the end of July. Everyone present including husband was very taken aback by this. Not even the deputy manager knew and asked if it was a joke. The manager would not say why they had handed their notice in and was and has been very tearful since. Some of the staff are wondering if the manager has been given a choice by the board: To either hand in their notice or be asked to leave.

The union rep has written a blistering letter to the employer – I showed it to my manager and she said she was feeling faint at reading it and it is not even addressed to her! Just need to put the finishing touches on it. Husband pities his manager now and wonders if we should send the letter at all. I feel that even though things are hard for the manager now, they are still at the end of the day the manager and is responsible for what they have said and done (and not said, and not done!) up until this point.

The manager is still an adult who has to face the consequences of their behavior.

Such as sending husband a text at MIDNIGHT on Monday this week to ask if he could come in to work Tuesday morning.

The delight of zero-hour contracts.

 

 

 

 

 

My Not-New Years Resolutions – halfway point.

It is the middle of June now. How am I doing with the not-New Years Resolutions?

Well, let’s review what I decided to do:

 

  • So one of my not-New-Years-resolutions was to continue to make healthy lifestyle choices in a bid to lose weight and then maintain it. Well when my sister left after having spent a week with her eating things in October, I weighed in at 85 kilos. This morning I weighed myself and I weigh in at 75.1 kilos, so have lost almost 10 kilos or 1.5 stone. I have done this through eating more healthily and making healthy lifestyle choices. This is an ongoing resolution I think; my problem is that I eat things because they taste nice, not necessarily because I am hungry. Need to get myself out of this habit!

 

  • Using beauty and toiletries stuff up before buying more. I have done really well with this I think! I have not bought any body lotions or creams at all this year as I’ve just got so much to use up, so this is still ongoing. I had to buy conditioner and shower gel in May as we used everything up, as well as toothpaste. After having read Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, it does make you think about how much plastic and packaging we surround ourselves with – one of the things that have been suggested is to use bar soap as it lasts much longer and creates less waste than liquid soap, so we’ve done that.  This resolution is still ongoing as well.

 

  • I wanted to be even better at planning meals and using food up to avoid waste. I feel that we’ve done well with this, there have been a few slip ups but these have been few and far between. Some nights I would come home bone tired and the temptation was there, all seductive and whispering to me: ‘But you could, y’know, just go out for dinner tonight, right?’, but then my mind would be prevail and be all like ‘But dude, you’ve got perfectly good food in the fridge that needs eating anyway!’ And you know what? Once I got in, had a cup of tea and got over the hurdle of preparing stuff, food was ready as quickly as it would have been if we’d gone to the ‘Spoons across the street and ordered food. True, there have been some odd combinations (sausages in korma sauce and brown rice, anyone?) but we have not food poisoned ourselves and I feel good for using up what we have. In addition to this I’ve made quite a bit of soup with stock I’ve made from chicken carcasses and herbs from the garden.
    We have worked so hard to pay for this food after all, so why throw it out? But we have to remain ever vigilant so I am going to be boring and say; this one is also ongoing.

So all in all, I think my not-New Years-resolutions are going alright but are still ongoing.