A jumbled July.

July has come and gone and we are now in August. How did we do?

Good things about July were:

  • I had a chance to go home and see my family at the beginning of the month, which was lovely. I visited my mother and siblings, and met up with several people from school, and met my best friend twice. Sister and her husband also sent me home with a lot of lovely food which has helped us a lot.
  • Work has finished for the year which has meant Husband and I have been able to spend more time together as I’ve been home more. The weather has been hot and sunny which I love (and Husband hates). We celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary this month with a takeaway.
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  • We were once again under on our grocery budget, even with a £60 online food shop at the start of the month with Sainsbury’s (so naturally I ordered six bags of cat litter, the less I have to carry home the better!). Foodprint has helped a lot on the budget, and I started using Olio. I also went and foraged near our home and found lots of blackberries.
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    Still got some reduced bargains.
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    Foodprint has really helped us live healthily this month.

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    The bread and pastries came through the Olio app which is an app where people share surplus food for free. If I have time to carry on using it I might do a post about it.

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    Went foraging last week and found these lovely blackberries. There is more left, just needs to ripen first.
  • Another things that went on behind the scenes is that I have got a new job! I will work at the medical library at the local hospital in the week. This replaces the library job I have at the further education college (my weekday job). I predict that the work will be more academic (finding journal articles for consultants etc.) and the likelihood of being called names by our users is significantly reduced. I am waiting for HR to agree to a start date and then I will hand in my notice. Another perk is that this job is within walking distance to the house. This is important.

Things that could have been improved about July were:

  • We went to Husband’s tribunal hearing for PIP after over a year of waiting for it to be resolved. However due to Husband’s distress and the discrepancy between the DWP report about him and what we put on the form, the court decided to adjourn to access Husband’s medical records to get a more complete picture. They have 30 days from the day of the tribunal hearing to do this and then they will call us back in. So we are still waiting.
  • Husband has had to have a change in the dose and kind of epilepsy medicine he takes, as the one he was on made the ammonia levels in his blood unacceptably high. This change has left him feeling very tired and out of sorts, and so he has spent a lot of time resting and going to bed early as feeling tired brings on myoclonic jerks.
  • Having time off has meant eating a lot of good food and not moving around as much as I usually do, so have gained weight. Hopefully this will shift when I start my new job as I can walk to and from work, combined with bringing healthy lunches to work again. At my former job we have a standing desk and I will miss that sorely as, let’s face it, a lot of people, me included, sit far too much during our day.

I wonder what August will bring?

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My week in Norway.

As I finished for the summer at one of my jobs early this year, I took the chance to travel home for a week to see my family.

I wanted to get the chance to see them now, as I am unsure I will be able to see them for some time with Husband needing me to support him through the changes in his medication.

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Sister’s farm. They are dairy farmers. Home, sweet home.

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Three of the heifers on the farm. Southern Norway has much like a lot of Europe not had any rain for weeks now and farmers are pulling their hair out as they desperately need rain for their animal feed to grow. Sister and brother in-law are currently at a third of the food they need for the winter and have had to cut all the grain they planted to use for animal food. If they don’t have a significant amount of rain this or next week, they will have to start sending animals to the abattoir as they can’t have livestock and not be able to feed them.

One tip I would like to share: If you’re on summer vacation in Vestfold County, the bus company there sells the Vestfold Card. You can buy it onboard or at their bus offices and gives you limitless travel for one week within Vestfold County for 110 NOK. Travelling one way to see my mother cost 60 NOK alone so it’s a great way to get around and save money.

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My Vestfold Card – great value for money ^_^

Spending time with family and friends was lovely – I got to see two ladies I hadn’t seen since leaving high school and spent two mornings with my best friend.
I also ate and drunk far too much, so it’s back in the saddle with sensible eating now that I am home.
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A very Norwegian thing to do in the summer and something I miss over here: Eating prawns. You defrost them (if frozen),and sit and peel enough to put on a slice of bread you have buttered. Add some mayo and dill (and lemon juice if you like), just heavenly.

There has been a lot of talk in the UK about reintroducing the bottle deposit for plastic bottles to ensure they get recycled. I think this a great idea – it’s something we do in Norway and it means 97 per cent of plastic and metal drinks containers get recycled.

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The large majority of bottles and cans produced in Norway will have the Pant icon on it and the value which means it can be returned and you get the deposit back. For smaller bottles and cans it’s 1 NOK you get back, for larger ones it is 2.50 NOK for each.
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Return them at the deposit machine, found in the very large majority of grocery stores. Just put them in the hole and press the green button when done to get your voucher.
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Take your voucher to the checkout and they will pay out the amount on the receipt.
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Result! So 13 bottles got me 13 NOK, about £1.

Hopefully it won’t be too long before we have a chance to visit again.

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A jovial June.

Gosh where does the time go? We’re already in July!

Good things about June were:

  • The weather has been lovely and sunny – well, that is, for me. Husband doesn’t tolerate the heat well. It does help my mood, I can really tell, when it is bright and sunny outside. We had a lovely morning in Wollaton Park and I got a chance to see NTU’s Brackenhurst Campus. I have done so many loads of washing as I can just peg them out.

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    At least the Cat is enjoying the sunshine.
  • We’ve tidied up the front garden and had bespoke cupboards fitted in the bedroom, lots ot lovely storage for us now!
  • After waiting more than a year, we now have a date for Husband’s PIP tribunal date. It will take place on July 13th. They have asked us to send in anything else we would like to court to consider, so last week I sent in two letters from the hospital, one letter from Husband’s therapist and one from Husband’s employment support worker.
  • We have continued to stay under budget, food-wise. This has been due to Foodprint, buying reduced bargains and saving food from being thrown out. Twice at work this month I have come into the staffroom to find people throwing food away, simply because it was beyond the expiry date – as in they didn’t check to see if the food could still be eaten. They were being dictated to by the date on the pack. I immediately volunteered to take the food home where it was a welcome addition to our meals.
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    Lots of lovely bargains, helping our budget, and more food saved from the bin from Foodprint.

Things that could have improved about June was that Husband’s dose of Epilim was reduced to help some symptoms he was experiencing – this we had agreed to but it was to be done in a way so I could be at home and support him with it.

As it was, it was done suddenly and it meant he had to stay home from work for five days, and I for three, as he felt too unwell to go in and I didn’t want to leave him that way on his own. Husband is better now but I am quite cross that we were put in this situation as I was very worried about him and there wasn’t really anyone who I could ask about if this was normal and could be expected. In addition to this it meant I lost three day’s worth of wages as dependents leave is now unpaid at my weekday job.

My weekday job seems to be imploding now, with more and more people leaving or looking to leave as it’s becoming harder and harder to work there. I am in the same boat now.

July should be very interesting.

Art in the Community: Sherwood Art Week.

The area Husband and I live in is called Sherwood and once a year local artists together with local businesses do a week-long event called the Sherwood Art Week.

Local artists display their work in business windows here and there are free art events being done at the community centre, generating interest for their art and for local businesses, a win-win!

Stuff like this is why I am so pleased we live here and have managed to purchase our own home in this area.

Here are some of the displays I saw last week while running some errands.

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The last two weeks in review: A test of patience.

We’ve made some changes to the house the last two weeks, both inside and out. Not without its challenges, as the gent doing the work for us took much longer than he had forecast and so we spent a week on the sofabed downstairs while he did this to our upstairs bedroom:

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Before. Two awkward spaces, one on either side of our bed…
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….aaaand after! Just have to find all our clothes and things again now and put them away.
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Lots of lovely storage.

So pleased with how it has turned out. Just need to find the will to live to apply some varnish to it now.

I have also been doing some stuff around the garden at the back. Husband’s Dad surprised us by coming by one morning and bless him helped us cut the hedge for us. Our next door neighbor has said we are more than welcome to use their hedge trimmer when we need to, so that saves us buying it for the garden.

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Our back yard. I’ve managed to weed it now and clear some of the dead plants. I am so pleased so many of our plants seem to have survived a cold winter.
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Our sage, still being savage. I have cut it back a bit not as its size meant I couldn’t get in through the back gate.
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Aaaah! A wild tiny tomato plant appeared!
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A nasturtium has also sprouted, hope it’ll do as well as the one we planted last year did.
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Our front garden desperately needed a tidy. Before…
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…aaand after! Husband and I weeded and swept it and Husband’s father very kindly cut the hedges for us and helped us pull the last of the chickenwire out. We may get the front garden landscaped next summer.

Half term was very relaxed. The first half of the week was spent just with Husband and I enjoying it. Had dinner with his family and celebrated his birthday by going with him to see the new Solo movie and having breakfast out. I also travelled to London to see my friend and her sisters, and got some badly needed bras as several of mine are just unsightly now.

Last week was very different however, it was unsettling for us both.

Husband has been discussing lowering the dose of Epilim he is on as it is starting to interfere too much (seizure control ok, but impacting him in other ways). It was agreed with the consultant that the dose reduction would be done with his approval and with us discussing it first with the GP.

Naturally we went to get his prescription last Monday to find it had been lowered from 2300mg to 2000mg. Husband and I were both cross at this as it had been done without properly discussing it with us, but Husband was prepared to give it a try.

Husband and I ended up staying home for most of last week as his withdrawal symptoms were quite strong. Husband felt shaky constantly, tired all the time and felt like he couldn’t focus on tasks; he also felt on edge and tingly which he has explained is how you feel before having a seizure.

So he didn’t feel well enough to go to work, and I did not want to leave him on his own, so I stayed at home with him. Saturday one of the neighbours checked up on him while I was at work at my weekend job, and Sunday friends came by so he wasn’t alone for too long.

It’s been a week now and Husband is feeling more himself thank goodness. We just didn’t expect this to just be dropped on our laps.

We have however had a court date for PIP which I am pleased about.

I’m also quite happy with myself for getting some good reduced bargains these past two weeks. Buying yellow sticker items just helps us so much and has saved us so much money, especially this month.

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By going by four shops on my way through town after work on a Sunday night I managed to find us this food. Couldn’t believe the lovely fresh chicken we got for £1.31!
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Lots of lovely food, saved from the bin by Foodprint.
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Really chuffed with these finds, 24p for the punnet of plums! ❤

A walk around the lake at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham.

Half term this week so Husband and I have both had a week off work. The weather has been nice all week so Tuesday morning was spent taking a leisurely stroll around the lake in the grounds of Wollaton Hall.

I am so grateful that we can access these beautiful spaces.

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The last two weeks in review: Both losing faith in humanity, and having it restored at the same time.

These two weeks have been very mixed. No surprises there, as the Silver household normally is.

Last Monday was incredibly busy at work with students trying to finish their work and submitting it within the deadlines, all while the computer systems continued to crash and freeze. This has been on-going since the latest Windows OS was installed and people were pulling their hair out as it kept happening. All we could do was restart the PCs for them and keep encouraging them to save their work.

I just felt so unprofessional as even though it’s not our fault and we can’t help it, I didn’t feel we were delivering a very good service. In addition to this several of the students had their work saved as files that were so large the email system rejected them as being too large, so were not able to email their submissions to their tutors. We found ways around it but those two things combined with a chair that got vandalized left me feeling quite drained.

And to top things off we found out later that three of the students had formally complained about the PCs, understandably, but also about the staff in the library that day saying we had been unhelpful and laughed at their troubles.

I am absolutely incandescent. We were nothing but as helpful and understanding as we could be that day given everything we had to deal with. Not to mention one of the students who complained was barred from coming and seeing us for a term due to behaviour earlier in the term.

All the same, it left me feeling quite drained that evening. Didn’t have the energy to cook so we had takeout. Not great for the budget.

Tuesday was a bit better. I had a day off which helped my mood a lot, plus Husband’s visit to Occupational Health went very well.

The appointment went really well. I accompanied Husband to the appointment not sure what to expect. I needn’t have worried however as the occupational health nurse had clearly taken the time to read about Asperger’s Syndrome and how it can present, and went through the information carefully with Husband, checking repeatedly that he was alright and if there was anything he wanted to ask.

It all went swimmingly – until we got to the vaccination history. As Husband will be dealing with items that have human blood on them in his work, he needs to have the Hepatitis B vaccine. Husband hates needles. But to help him they have booked him an appointment to have the injections and blood tests done at the occupational health clinic so he can have them done in peace and at his own pace, rather than having to go to the drop-in sessions.

For some, it may seem like a small thing. However given everything we have gone through these last two years, anyone treating Husband with a bit of dignity and making adjustments so that he can participate fills me with immense joy.

Wednesday and Thursday last week were spent getting the garden together. I have planted nasturtiums and sweet peas and will try my hand at tomatoes this year. I have also planted some flower seeds we were given.

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Before. Garden has become a bit of a jungle…
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…and after. Need to borrow something to trim the hedge with as it’s growing out of control. Contemplating having the garden landscaped as it would mean less maintenance we would have to do.
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The weather has been lovely and warm, and the Cat has been enjoying the garden, at least.

Saturday after work I met up with Husband and the family and his parents very generous paid for a meal out at the Wetherspoon up the road from us. A lovely gesture and it meant I didn’t have to cook after a long day at work.

One thing I have been thankful for as well these last two weeks are my colleagues at both workplaces. Colleagues have listened and offered advice and support, and given us stuff and help.
A receptionist I like at work and I managed to have lunch together and she very kindly gave me lunch, and gave me lots of leftovers to use up. My supervisor gave me a box of cereal she’d bought but didn’t like so gave it to me, and a colleague at my weekend work has been giving me lifts partway home which saves me so much time. It also meant I was able to swing by Tesco Sunday night to get these beauties:

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My lovey bargains from Tesco. Note the muffins, 8p a pack!

I have continued to use my smartphone responsibly (?) and have installed Shopmium and continued to use Job Spotter. Shopmium has netted us £10.02 in free groceries via their cashback, and I have gotten a £10 Amazon voucher from Job Spotter and I am working on another one.

This Monday was an odd day for us – it was our PIP anniversary. We are still waiting for a court date for Husband’s PIP claim.

Tuesday was spent doing washing and things around the house. The weather these two weeks has been lovely and warm so have gotten several loads of washing done.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were spent at at my weekday job – I enjoy my work and like my colleagues and (most) of the students, but several changes to our procedures were announced this week and I am not sure I can stand behind these changes and how it will impact how we deliver our service. It has made me wonder if I have a future there. It left me drained and Friday night was spent feeling really off and unsettled.
It’s hard to explain, but I felt really flat and drained, and my skin feeling prickly and my hair kept standing on end for seemingly no reason.

So once again we had a takeout.

Must stop dealing with feelings by eating stuff….

Saturday and Sunday have been quite quiet at the university – this is a good thing as we have two new hires starting this month. My colleague very kindly gave me a lift almost the whole way home on Saturday. As the weather was nice I decided to do the right thing and walk the rest of the way, which I enjoyed.

Sunday morning was spent lounging around at home, and moving stuff upstairs from the bedroom in preparation for the carpenter to come next week to make the bespoke cupboards for the bedroom.

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The Cat enjoying a quiet Sunday morning.
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Got these lovely things when I swung by Sainsbury’s on my way home. Three packs of ham for the freezer and some satsumas ❤

Next week is half term, which gives Husband and me a nice week off from work, which we sorely need. We’ll get some time together, we’ll celebrate Husband’s birthday, and I will travel down to London to see my friend and her sisters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An affirming April.

April came and went by so fast!

  • Part of this is because two weeks of it was taken up by Easter. I had a lovely time, spent one week at home with Husband and another week at home.
  • Food spend is continuing to be good and we are being very frugal, keeping below our targets. Part of this is because my sister and her family were generous when I visited at Easter and sent with me a lot of meats for the freezer. In addition to this I have managed to continue to go to Foodprint and get bargains. They now have a referral scheme with the Salvation Army foodbank in their area. Customers can donate a sum which they make vouchers out of, and people visiting the Salvation Army can ask for a voucher if they’re in hardship to get food from it.
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    Lots of lovely food bought over two weeks from Foodprint, saving it from the bin. I was especially pleased to find the peanut butter. Where were you when I did my challenge in December, hmmm?

    I have started to keep a very detailed grocery log and depending in how it goes I can perhaps post it in a few month’s time to show how it’s going. Or not, depending.

  • I am thankful for my colleagues this month who have continued to be supportive and kind. One of my colleagues who works a different shift to me normally has been working with us at the weekend. It’s been so nice to catch up with her as we normally don’t get a chance to talk. Two Sundays in a row she has offered me a lift partway home which has saved me a lot of time on my commute on a Sunday night. Last Sunday her generous offer meant I had time to swing by two of the shops while walking home to get these lovely things:
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    Packs of ham, 25p each, wholewheat thins, 21p and some lettuce, 21p.

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    Lovely red peppers from Sainsbury’s, 14p each.
  • We had three full days of glorious, gorgeous, hot weather. It’s gone back to being normal spring weather now, so I have continued to peg the washing out. One night it was so cold, but we managed to resist turning the heating back on.

Things that could have been improved about April are:

  • We are still waiting for a court date for PIP. We are in May now and on the 21st of May it will have been precisely one year since we started the application process for Husband’s PIP claim. The gent who will be representing us has said it may be some time yet. Because of this, it’s holding everything up at the moment. I don’t want to book any flights home or travel until we know when our court date is. Goodness knows what people who don’t have anyone to support them do in the meantime.
  • The higher-ups at my weekday job is continuing to be vague with what will happen to one of the sites I work at on a Monday when we finish for the summer. People who work and teach there have been kind enough to tell us their departments are being moved out to other sites, and by our reasoning they will not need our services there if there isn’t anyone there. However we have about eight weeks to go until we break up for the summer and we have not yet been told officially if we are going to be there when we return in September or not.
  • Logging in to eBay after a long hiatus, I have discovered that all my listings (the unsold ones) have seemingly disappeared!

Plans for May include:

  • Having a local carpenter bespoke cupboards built into the alcoves of our bedroom, one on either side of our bed.
  • Celebrating Husband’s birthday. Still need to fully decide what to get him.
  • Reclaiming the garden.

I also want to let you know something wonderful and precious has happened.

Husband has been offered a job!

I helped him apply for a vacancy in January and spent a considerable amount of time doing it as the application form was quite complicated. At the end of it we got to the dreaded Equality and Diversity questionnaire. Now, every time we get to this, Husband and I have to discuss the nature of the job he is applying for and if it would benefit him or hinder him if we choose to disclose that he has Asperger’s Syndrome.

In our experience, even before he was formally diagnosed, declaring anything did not count in his favour for the great majority of vacancies he applied for and he wouldn’t hear anything back. Even from jobs where we have made it clear through the person spec that he has the right skillset.

But we nevertheless decided to declare it for this job.

January, February and almost all of March passed and we heard nothing. I was a bit upset by it, but mostly resigned, as it’s just something we have come to expect.

Then suddenly at the end of March, Husband had an email, inviting him to interview.

By this time Husband had been getting some good quality support from the Work Health Programme and so they spent an afternoon with him preparing him for the interview and working out good responses to give to questions they may ask. So Husband felt confident and well prepared.

So naturally he thought he’d bombed the interview.
Two people interviewed him and the person taking notes shook their head every time they put the pen to paper. Every time. For the whole duration of the interview. He then had a technical task to do which he did flawlessly and quickly. Nevertheless he left the interview feeling quite cross  and unnerved as he’d felt he had prepared well for it.

We had resigned ourselves to that Husband would get a rejection email but to our immense surprise and joy, he had an email a few days later offering him the position. It’s full time which he wants to try, but there is always the option to ask for a reduction in hours if Husband feels he cannot cope.

At this stage we are waiting for the background check and references to clear, then a contract will be offered. Once this is all done Husband will work his notice at his part-time job before starting.

Of course I, being paranoid and based on the $%^& we have had happen to us over the last year and a half, won’t lower my guard fully until Husband a. has signed a contract and b. passed his probation period.

All the same, I feel hopeful. For the first time, Husband has been offered a job despite (and I am truly sorry to say it like this, but it’s how it feels being rejected all the time) declaring that he has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Husband is overjoyed and has made statements like ‘Now that I’ll be working more, maybe you don’t have to worry so much and I can look after you’ and ‘With me working more, maybe you can work less so we can spend more time together.’

Sure, money is nice, don’t get me wrong.

But what I want above all else is for Husband to have some confidence and faith in himself again, and to be happy.

Here’s to hoping this new start can provide those things.

 

 

A manageable March.

Goodness, where does the time go?

Good things about March were:

  • The snow/Beast from the East/Hysteria from Siberia. I had two days of enforced rest as the college was closed due to the adverse weather at the start of the month. This was sorely needed after my trip home in the previous week left me feeling really worn out and distressed.
  • We had brunch with our old neighbours one Sunday and got to meet their baby. It was so nice just to see them again and hear about how they were getting on with stuff.
  • Did some product testing for Sensory Dimensions, got £20 for doing this in Love2Shop vouchers.
  • Spring is coming! It’s getting lighter outside and I can start pegging the washing out.
  • Our neighbour who minds the Cat has been very supportive.
  • Husband has got a lot of support through the Work Health Programme. As he feels wary of travelling to unfamiliar places they have met him in town and then travelled to their office together so he feels more confident doing that on his own now. They help him fill in job applications. And they reimburse him for his travelling to and from the sessions which is a great boon to us. It has really helped my mood and how I am feeling as it means I have less to do and I know he is getting the support he needs with getting work.
  • Counselling has continued for us both, I have found my sessions helpful as I have identified some things I need to work on.

Things that could have been improved about March were:

  • Still no court date for our PIP tribunal. We are still waiting.
  • Work situation at one of my jobs is very unsettled as there’s been a change of management there and we are worried they will come for our department next, in terms of looking at where they can make savings.

Thank goodness for Easter.

Well thank goodness for Easter – have had two whole weeks off work. Heavenly and weird in equal measure as it was lovely yet strange to not be at work.

This Easter I have:

  • Read a lot. I have read Penny Dreadfuls (gothic horror stories), Everything, Everything, and Pandemic 1918. I keep finding books while shelving in the libraries I work at, and now have three books on the go, plus one our neighbour lent me.
  • Supported Husband with TWO job interviews. Will wonders never cease?
  • Used vouchers gained from surveys to do two badly needed replacements, so got a new vacuum cleaner and toastie maker and only had to pay the £10 the vouchers didn’t cover.
  • Spent quality time with family and friends and neighbours.
  • Attended Sharing Sherwood for the first time in months and really enjoyed it. Got some nice food from it as well.
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    The menu from Sharing Sherwood; the fritatta was delicious!

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    Saving food from the bin, one dinner at a time.
  • Had lovely and relaxing romantic candlelit dinner at home with Husband.
  • Found coat hangers and a cake tin for cheaps in the charity shop, and a cardigan for myself. Also found reduced deodorants in Boots so added it to our stash. Some of them will go to the foodbank.

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    A lovely 11 inch tin I got for 50p, and some more coat hangers for the laundry routine, 30p per bunch. And all the deodorants!
  • Been to Norway and seen my family. Going there the flight was so empty I had a whole row to myself. Score!
  • My sister and her family gave me two nice skirts and a dress, and sent me home with a load of food for Husband and myself. I came home with two packs of lamb mince, two huge packs of bratwursts, two lamb steaks, a pack of pork, four packs of reindeer dogs and a pack of nice steak. It will really help on the old grocery budget.
  • Pegged washing out!
  • Got some nice bargains at Tesco after work on Sunday (Got time and a half for it as out of term as well).

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    My lovely bargains from Tesco. I do like going by, you never know what you might find! Husband was delighted with the 45p pie and 32p coleslaws. This cost me £3.87.

I wonder what this spring term will bring?