Last week in review: Norway, Pneumonia and Not resting. Or something.

I would rather not this sort of week become a regular feature in my life. Last time I went home in February I found it incredibly stressful and it really threw me.

Monday morning at 2am I took the coach to Heathrow to fly to Norway for a week to see my family. I was aware my mother hadn’t been in great shape as she’d had the flu for the last week  and a half or so, so I went to see her as soon as I arrived and stayed until Tuesday, getting the fire going in the living room and doing bits and pieces around the house.

This delightful little stove at my mother’s house heats up the sitting room, dining room and kitchen.
Close-up of one of the details. One of the things I miss about living in Norway – having a fire going.
The view from my mother’s kitchen window.

My sister had told me she wasn’t very well – but I hadn’t expected her to be as unwell as she was when I got there.

This is the most ill I have ever seen my mother.

Even when she had chemotherapy and radiation therapy she was not this sick.

She was so weak that she couldn’t even raise her head and she stayed in bed for my whole visit, not having the strength to get out of bed and feeling completely wiped so didn’t want the carers to help her out either.

What I found very unsettling and distressing was how confused she was.

She asked me repeatedly if I’d been to check on the house. When I let her know we were home, she stated she didn’t recognize where she was. She asked me repeatedly where Husband was, if I’d fed the cat (her cat had to be put to sleep a year ago due to poor health), and where her grandchildren where. She would ask me about people who (I assume) were from her past and what they were doing.

My visit was spent tucking her in, giving her a drink as she didn’t have the strength to hold the glass, and trying to coax her to eat something as she hasn’t eaten much at all since becoming ill. I could see how sunken in she has become and how much weight she has lost since I saw her at Christmas.

I felt so helpless as I couldn’t really help her or make her comfortable or get her anything she wanted. She asked me to buy blue grapes when I went food shopping, but then said no thank you when I’d washed them and brought her a bowl. I’d offer her some cake or dessert and she would say yes, only to say no thank you when I brought it to her bed.

As I had to get up in the middle of the night to get to the airport, I was completely wiped by Monday night, but sat with her to ensure the carers did come to do their night routine. I could feel myself falling asleep sitting on the stool next to her.

The next morning the carer came and woke me, to let me know they had persuaded Mom to have an emergency appointment that afternoon with her doctor. I thanked her and silently wondered how they would get her into a wheelchair let alone out into a disabled access taxi, but two carers came and ensured we got in alright. I packed a bag for her in case she was admitted, and I packed my things so I could travel on afterwards. My sister called me and when I explained how Mom was not making any sense at all, she explained that Mom had developed delirium and that she would need to be admitted whether she wanted to or not that day.

At the doctor’s office, they did a CRP check (measures infection in the body) and we were seen by her usual doctor. He had a listen to her chest, got her CRP score and declared that she had pneumonia. He then said that it would normally be treated at home but due to her state he wanted her to be admitted to have treatment administered intravenously.

A CRP reading was taken from her the Friday before I came which showed a reading of 37 – so something wasn’t quite right, but Mom did not want to be admitted. When the second reading was taken on Tuesday it showed 185. Most healthy adults should have a CRP reading of between 0 and 5, and most people will die if their CRP reaches 300 or higher.

I steeled myself, as I was expecting to have to challenge Mom as she has been very reluctant in the past to be admitted. But surprisingly, she accepted it and the doctor’s office ordered a taxi for us to take us there. So I travelled with her and once she’d been settled in I travelled down to stay with my sister the the rest of my stay.

The view from my room – the countryside of Norway.
My sister’s garden and apple trees.

We visited Mom on Thursday on the ward and she seemed a bit better and less confused. Saying that, I called her this week and she still seems very confused so I will have to ask my sister if the treatment is working. Pneumonia is no longer as fatal as it was in the past as we now have antibiotics. However in someone already weakened, or if it is a viral version, it can be quite hard to treat. Mom is home now.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom.

I got to see my sister and her family and my brother and his family. I could have a fire going every day. My sister and her family were very generous and sent with me two sides of salmon, some lamb and some beef, a bunch of sausages and wiener dogs and some sliced ham, so that will all help on the grocery budget for us.

Husband’s mother suggested I ring the credit card and explain that our lives are in upheaval as a reason for forgetting the January bill and asking them if they would as a gesture of goodwill waive the charges. I rang them while waiting to board on Monday and they could see we had been paying diligently and in full every month so waived everything.

Last year I applied to the student loan company to get some of the interest on my student loan written off. They responded last week and they could see that in 2014 we met the requirement to be classed as a low income household, so £1440 has been written off the student loan as that was the interest we had paid that year. They asked me to apply for 2017/2018 once we have our Annual Tax Statements to see if we could be eligible for even more to be written off.

All the same.


My flight home was on Friday afternoon, and the coach from the airport got in at midnight. I had to get up at 6.45am the next day for work at the uni. Didn’t manage to finish unpacking my suitcase until Tuesday as I worked Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Got some nice reduced stuff on Sunday night from the Tesco Express while waiting for the bus.

My lovely bargains. You never quite know what you’ll get when you go by at reduction time. ❤

Those three days were spent on autopilot, as I didn’t feel like I was all that present due to being so worn out.

I just found it incredibly stressful and upsetting to watch my mom in such a state, and feel quite raw about it. I certainly don’t feel like I have had a break at all.

It was as though I was sitting by someone who was passing away.




Summer at my sister’s farm in Norway.

The driveway, with the heifers grazing.
They have wheat growing this year; previously they have had PYO sweetcorn but last summer the crop was so poor due to bad weather they decided to do something else this year.
A very inquisitive heifer. My sister’s family have Norwegian Red dairy cows and breed their own animals. They have never bought livestock.
The heifers out grazing and enjoying the sun.
Enjoying the silence out here. Norway is the secondly least densely populated country in Europe; sometimes it is nice to come home and sit outside and hear nothing.
The entrance to the farm, and our bags. Off to see my mother.

Our visit to Green’s Windmill and Science Centre in Nottingham.

Despite having lived in Nottingham since 2009, I hadn’t visited the Windmill here until last Sunday when husband and I went.

It’s free to visit (donations encouraged) and there is also a community garden next door you can go and look around. There is free car parking, or you can take the red 43 bus there.

Green’s Windmill is a working windmill; it grinds grain and you can buy flour made at the mill on the souvenir shop. The Science Centre has some cool activities which deal with magnets, power and illusions.

The Windmill
One of the sails. We were lucky enough to see the windmill in action; they can slow down the speed the sails are turning at, by opening the shutters on them.
The view from the top of the windmill.
This is the chute where the grain sacks come up. The sacks have to be hauled to the top floor so the power of the wind is used to pull the sacks up to the top floor. How clever is that?
Millstone, grinding grain.
The finished product.
The community garden next door. Hard to believe this is in the centre of Nottingham.
The community garden next door.

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.

Our lovely garden seat. Just need the weather to warm up now that I’m better to actually sit out there and enjoy it.
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?
Aaaah! We have a solitary tomato! Just hoping it’ll grow now!
The Cat enjoys Husband’s lap.

Our trip to Wales.

We visited husband’s sister and husband this weekend. They live in Newtown Powys, Wales.

During our weekend away we visited the Corris craft centre and also drove along Dinas Mawddwy and Lake Vyrnwy.

Up in the mountains. Could not believe how quiet it was. We expected birdsong etc. but it was very still.



Wales is probably the place in the UK I have visited that reminds me most of home (Norway) because it’s so wooded and hilly.
Juvenile Robin.
A piece of Bakewell cake.

Sunday we visited the Mid Wales Arts Centre; they have several pieces there and is a gallery, cafe and B & B owned and run by Cathy Knapp, widow of Stefan Knapp.

Our welcoming committee. Insisted on fetching several sticks and a ball but to never surrender them. Maybe that was part of the game after all, having the silly humans chase after him to get him to give us the things?
One of Stefan Knapp’s works. We spent a while looking at this, husband said they were dancing and enjoying themselves, but I looked at the man standing on the woman in the right corner. To me that looks like subjugation
Several of the sculptures are outside in and around the main building.
Piece # 24 ‘Sharktooth’.
We initially thought these were penguins, but according to the programme, they are elephants.
A lot of the sculptures are placed in the back garden, where I found this enormous thistle plant. One bulb easily filled my hand.
This piece is aptly named ‘Life study.’



Our trip to York.

Here are some of the things we saw while we were in York:

Micklegate Bar, just by our hotel. You could get onto the walls from here and there is a museum inside.
We took a guided 45 minute boat trip with the YorkBoat. We really enjoyed it but think it’s best for when the weather is nice.
A part of the Wall that you can walk along.
The entrance to the York Minster cathedral. Absolutely stunning.
One of the towers of the Minster in York.
The West window of the York Minster, constructed in 1338 with its famous Heart of Yorkshire



Greetings from my sister’s farmhouse.

I hope you are all having a lovely Easter. I am currently visiting family and friends back home and really enjoying it.

I travelled home to see my family on Sunday evening from Manchester Airport this time (a lot of football supporters on this one can’t imagine why!) and I’ll be travelling home again on Friday afternoon, to start work on Saturday at the uni. Sunday and Monday I’m off due to Easter and Tuesday is my day off so will be back at work on Wednesday.

Husband I spent last week in York, just him and me, for five days. We really needed it now as it did not feel like I had a break at all in February so that meant going from Christmas to now without reprieve.

We stayed in a hotel we really liked within the city walls so everything was close by and we could walk everywhere to everything we wanted to see. The hotel had a all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet with hot and cold food and a waffle press, so we had a good filling breakfast before setting off in the morning to look around the city.

My mother very generously gave us £100 towards food and drink so we had lovely dinners every night were there; husband even expanded his horizons and tried and enjoyed Indian food.

While in York we:

  • Visited the York Castle Museum and Clifford’s Tower, the remaining structure of the castle that stood there.
  • Walked through the Shambles and the market.
  • Visited the York Minster.
  • Walked along the walls that used to fortify the city.
  • Visited the Transport Museum (only place outside Asia that has a Shinkansen train on display you can go into, and it’s FREE to visit!).
  • Visited the York Museum and gardens.
  • Went to the cinema to see Ghost in a Shell (Reel Cinemas has a Saver Wednesday deal where we got our tickets for £5 each).
  • Took a guided trip on the river.

The only thing we were not able to do and that I’m quite disappointed with, was to visit the Jorvik Viking Centre. Two years ago the river Ouse that runs through York burst its banks and it was flooded. They were going to have a lovely opening ceremony with people in costume and all kinds of things…on Saturday. We travelled home on FRIDAY. Nevermind, maybe we will go for the day sometime and visit it?

I spent some of Thursday afternoon as husband was resting at the hotel, wandering the streets and having a look in the shops as I never really feel I can justify spending the time to do this back home. Ended up in Primark and bought two tops and four packs of briefs as they were reduced to £2 a pop (each had four pairs in) for myself, and then while in the Tesco getting some stuff for the train ride home, I spied some reduced Christmas wrap, costing 25p a roll! So yes I bought some.

What is the strangest thing you have bought while on holiday?

EDIT: Forgot to say : before I travelled home I swung by Sainsbury’s to get some cheese for my nephew. I have read on different sites that yes, you can freeze shop bought birthday cakes provided you defrost them in the fridge to avoid condensation. So I saw a birthday cake that had been reduced from £11 to £5.50, an R2D2 cake, that would be perfect for my husband’s 30th in May. So I bought it and bunged it in the freezer (hoping he won’t look for it!); I will let you know how it goes when we defrost it!