Sunday, November 28, 2010

Living off the grid

Just a general update today, because I didn't take my camera out with me - more's the pity!

Which was somewhat of a shame because we had around 5-6 inches of snow overnight and I had promised LMB that I'd take her into the city today to buy a book with her birthday money. I was working yesterday, so hadn't managed to do it then.
What I hadn't counted on was that there would be enough snow overnight to bring the world to a stand still! Well, scrub that, this is the UK afterall, any amount of snow, leaf, ice, rain, sun, brings the UK to a standstill.
So, we decided to dress up warmly - because, there is no such thing as  bad weather, just bad clothing - and head for the main road as we figured we'd stand more chance of catching a bus on gritted roads.


Did I just say gritted roads?
Did I just presume that with at least 48 hours warning, that the council may have chosen to grit the roads prior to the snow fall?

I have spent too long in the US, where snow falls, and is dealt with and you're out of the house again by lunchtime.

The non-gritted roads meant that the buses were struggling with the hills that Edinburgh is blessed (or cursed!) with.

Bribes of hot chocolate at the Zulu lounge as an alternative were falling on sad and very deaf ears. No, she wanted that book!

So, we set off to walk -there and back!

6 miles in total!

My amazing, sturdy and resilient, newly six year old driven by the thought of a new book to add to her already bowing bookshelf drove her on through the six inches of snow!

I was just driven on by the thought of Dorian Amos and the type of weather and life he landed himself in when he arrived upon a Yukon winter. Scottish winter is just a sneeze in comparison.

One book, one build a bear (she spent the rest of her birthday money!), one hot chocolate and six miles later her head has hit the pillow this evening with a resounding thud!

I on the other hand, have my head back with Dorian and his choices of finding somewhere to live that is allowing them to go back to the foundations of life. Somewhere they can live off grid.  If you haven't read this book, it is a great read. It is quite humbling to read about how little some people can live on and how pampered most of us are. Of course, for Dorian, spending the best part of five months living in 40 below conditions was a choice, but for some bizarre reason, the whole thought of not being able to have something unless you can naturally source or make it, yanks on my heart somehow and one of the things I'm desperately seeking when we move to our farmhouse in Banbury, is that whole attempt to reduce our output and naturally source our input. I know I'll be doing this the "softie" way, I can't live without my computer, I can't live without the stuff I've collected from our travels, nor can we live without our car, but we are looking the source our heating by wood chips, put in solar panels, possibly a wind turbine (this may not be as possible as we hope due to our location), start growing our own veg again and we'll have the chickens for eggs. I already make some of the childrens and my clothes and source lots more through charity shops. It's not much, it's not as extreme as Dorian and his wife, it's not living off the grid, but it's what, at this time, we can do to reduce our output, maybe eventually we can go further.

I just wish I could lay my finger on what the romantic pull is to try to, honestly, make life harder for ourselves lol!

Now I'm going to finish that pair of socks I've started!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Faerie Party

Well, the sun is well and truly over the yard arm and thus I am enjoying a well earned glass of vino this evening!
In all honesty, I may actually not manage to get up again this evening and that's not, sadly, due to over indulgence. More for the fact that I have spent the whole day preparing Little Miss Beehive's faerie kingdom birthday party which, for the most part this morning, involved ensuring the house was clean - so scrubbity scrub scrub. I felt more like Cinders than Tinkerbell!

Two hours with twelve children - I can cope with that! Well, that was what I said back in  September! I thought, to my detriment, that having Master Beehive the younger as my son, would prepare me for any level of noise and giddiness.
W . R . O  N . G

My eardrums are currently still ringing and the speed in which these small pseudo faeries can move around a house, wands raised at adult eye level, ready to whip out the closest adult's sight forever more - or if that doesn't work, then those evil wings on the back will smack you hard in the belly each time you so much as dare to pass by with a bowl of jelly and ice cream!

I thought boys were grim with leaving seats up and peeing wherever they manage to hit rather than aiming straight, but no - sugar and spice are just to soften the blow - think salt and vindaloo and you'll be close. Don't even talk about pooh - pooh can be fitted into little girl sentences with even more frequency and high pitched screeches of laughter than it can with little boys!

Then there's the kiss chase!

If there is a boy in the house to kiss - then the poor bugger needs to run for his life as soon as the first car pulls up the driveway. So, at one point I had Master Beehive the younger being a good sport and being chased by a rather enthusiastic kissing machine in a red party frock and a pair of crumpled wings; Master Beehive the elder retiring to whichever corner of the house he can find solace in somewhat of a sulk (not sure if it was due to not being kissed or having been on the receiving end of a smacker); at least six girls telling ever so gruesome "Tales from the U-bend" in full glorified details; a birthday zhuzhu hamster charging around making dubious noises that sound rather like a fart or that it's just ended up under the foot of Mr Beehive and myself try to regain control and carry plates of sandwiches; the poor dog is in the kitchen whining because she doesn't know where to put herself - her safety net, my legs, keep leaving her in the kitchen with a handful of over enthusiastic future veterinarians who are not quite of the understanding that crawling and chasing her around the kitchen, squealing her name loudly like a lobster exhaling it's last, won't actually encourage her to come to them.

Still, we all survived - no juice was spilt, nor vomit spewed forth. There were no tears or breakages. We had pleases, thank yous and the turning down of some sweet or chocolate goodies! So, the makings of a great party and the party girl had fun, so the objective was reached!

So here are some pictures of the party.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Linky Tuesday

This weekend the youngest Beehive turns six, so we're having a fairy party. Hence I don't have much time to blog this week, so I'm going to give you some links that have touched me instead - just so you don't think I've forgotten you x

This blog post is inspirational, what would it take to say "hi" to a stranger today, or talk to the parent in the playground who you don't normally speak to because..., or when someone pushes out in front of you in the car, to just smile and say "that's okay today"?

It can't have passed any of our notice that Haiti is now suffering a cholera epidemic. Cholera can last in water supplies for up to a year. It is killing, daily. This is a site of a group of midwives and naturopaths who have taken it upon themselves to go to Haiti and try, amidst all this destruction and disease, to bring babies into the world in as safe an environment as possible. They are funding it themselves. There are no grants coming forth. Please, if you can, dig deep and send a few dollars or pounds. You probably won't think twice about popping into the supermarket this afternoon to get something you've forgotten - what will you spend? 3, 4, 5 pounds? Maybe you could, instead, send that to Haiti and this bunch of midwives?

If you like to fill a shoebox for a family each Christmas, or send a gift to a needy group, consider this group for your gift. They are a non religious organisation who put no literature in at all, so for those of you who don't like the idea of a specific religious message within your box, then this might be the organisation for you.

I have just started this group on Ravelry I was inspired by the Headhugger groups that seem quite prolific in the US and Canada and thought that it might be possible to start groups over here of a similar nature.
If you drop by, please join the group and even if you've never knitted before there are some ridiculously easy first time hats to be knitted. Just remember, however, soft yarn is the answer - bamboo, mohair.

Okay, so I need to get on. Enjoy your day and I'll see you soon x

Monday, November 15, 2010


York is a beautiful city. Full of grace and charm and gorgeous rounded old age!

Mr Beehive and I have just spent a lovely weekend there courtesy of my darling sis who had all five children for two days. She took them to the armoury in Leeds for their special outing. Yes, you did read that right, she attempted (successfully by all accounts!) to take all of them, including two mini soldiers in my younger son and hers, to a place with guns, swords, knives and fighting replica! Kudos to her in getting them back with all limbs and digits and her sanity in tact and no replicas pleaded for and purchased!

We on the other hand did the Snickleway walks and walked the wall. I think the Snickleways would be even more attractive than they are, if they weren't now used for trash bin storage. I suppose though, in ye olden days there would have been cries of "Gardyloo" (or the English equivalent) and a surprise from above, or, small streams and rivets interlacing around our feet - I suppose a few brown plastic trash bins aren't such an abhorrance in the grand scheme of things.

I really enjoy York. Each time I go, and I have been many, many times over the years, I always discover something new or rediscover something. However, despite having been many times, I haven't, until now, seen York from the wall.

So, if you've never been, or have been and have always had it in your mind to go back but never got round to it...Go! Hopefully some of these photographs will whet your appetite. Enjoy x

 Sunday morning - a beautiful, fresh, freezing November morning.

 The Secret Garden at the National Trust property we stayed at.

 Yeah - not a lot to add to these - boiled wool slippers - I fell in love - the orange pair now adorn my feet and arty sock picture waiting for Mr Beehive to try on some shirts...

 Fantastic 100 year old vinegars and fruit vinegars - like a pub for vinegar! The Hairy Fig - Fossgate - you must try it out! Stinking Bishop cheese and onion bread too - nothing like food for kissing xx

Ah, that's better - York Minster!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I don't know why, but whenever I say that word I always sing it in my head to the tune of Roy Castle's Record Breakers - Of course, the real word was the exact opposite of what I'm experiencing, but - hey ho!

Just out of interest, if you are a child of the 80's - this site will please you!

Anyway, Procrastination is the name of the game today. I should be colouring in the structure of the gastrointestinal wall, or, if I can't summon the energy or inspiration to do that, I should be working through the gazillion piles of stuff everywhere that I need to downsize for our move, or, if I can't bring myself to do that:
the pigs need cleaning out
the bathrooms need cleaning
I have to write more for my writing class on Monday morning
I could be packing to go down to my sister's tomorrow
I could be finishing the final 20 or so rows of the cardigan (yeah! Don't look that the date is 12th July 2009!!!)

but instead, here I sit with coffee number 2 of the day, chatting to you lot! Although - wait for it - I have booked some concert tickets today!!! That's an achievement right?

I haven't even really got much to say - we could talk about the weather, but I live in Scotland, so you already know what the weather is like and I'd feel I'd robbed you if I take up your all important procrastinatory moment when you settle down to read some blogs with your mid morning cuppa and all I can do is ramble on about the weather and  housework and my Ani DiFranco tickets - did I say it was Ani? I love Ani - she rocks - although, we are in standing, so I am not sure whether Mr Beehive will feel up to getting back to his university roots and sweating it out with the youngsters down at the front - I feel I may be sacrificing his ability to get out of bed for a few days afterwards for my selfish desire to pretend I am 18 all over again, yelling myself hoarse, my head firmly embedded in someone's armpit, a raging desire to swing my arms in an ape like fashion whilst staring at the floor and not moving my feet, dressing my feet in Dr Martens with tippex flowers all over them and drinking lukewarm cheap beer out of plastic glasses ! Still never mind - it'll be worth it !

This weekend Mr Beehive and myself are going to York for the weekend. My sister - henceforth known as Sister of the Beehive (that sounds rather officius actually - like Order of the garter or something!) has kindly (or stupidly!) offered to have a the mini and not so mini Beehives for the day and night so that the Mr and I can have a night away.

I'm really looking forward to it - I think Mr Beehive is looking forward to lazy morning, newspapers, pubs, chilling and I'm looking forward to sticking my camera into everyone's face and racing around everywhere to get the best pictures, shopping in all the one off quirky places, going to the sweetie shop in the Shambles - ooh, the Shambles... - I always see a night/day away as a timed event in which I have a countdown to do as much as I possibly can in as shorter time frame as possible, doing anything and everything that I generally can't do with smalls. Mr Beehive on the other, sees it as a time to be more laid back and chilled than normal - see that as flatlined! I wonder if it mightn't be better we split up for the day and meet again in the evening hee hee?
It must be such agony for him being married to a full on Aries - albeit an Aries today that seems to have an inability to get motivated!

Okay - kick up the butt, suitably taken - I'm off!

Have a wonderful weekend - don't procrastinate too much, but if you do - call it dreaming - it sounds so much more acceptable xx

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Up and Running

Just a quickie this evening folks to say that my folksy shop is now open!!

Please come and visit me HERE!!

Friday, November 05, 2010

For Lisa x

Cancer you bastard, you take, never give.
Leaving behind those who don't want to live,
the life left behind, void of laughter and voices,
of happiness, friendships now barren and souless

You drive a knife into hearts of those who love hard
Dividing, destroying, you play your trump card.
Children are parentless, partners now widowed,
Parents are childless, saddened, embittered .

Like a shadow you creep, from breath you survive,
Leaving your trail in the depths of our inside.
Black, sooty handprints on the hearts of the soul
Twisting and squeezing you take your control.
But cancer there's one thing that you have left out
One thing you can't win, I'll give you no doubt
You can't destroy memories or life that is past
Of that we have dominian and look, it is vast.

Photographs, memories, genes, books and time,
All of these victors over your dirty crime.
Cancer you bastard, cancer you scum
Humans WILL beat you, every last one! 

I just wanted to write this today for anyone who is suffering with cancer, or a relative with this dreadful disease and especially, Lisa, this is for you, David and Holly xxx

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Moving on up.

  • Sometimes it's important to make a decision that might not seem easy or the best but in the long run you know it'll be better for everyone involved. 
  • Sometimes that decision might be really hard to make and might even cause you to grieve for something that was or something that you hoped it might have been but hadn't been for a very long time.
  • Hanging on for something that can't be anymore is destructive, particularly if it is one sided.
  • It's healthy, for the soul not to wish for things that aren't going to get better and to let them go.
  • It's good to accept life doesn't always take the path of least resistance and walking that path may be littered with stones or pebbles to trip us up.
  • Much as we can control what we choose to do, we cannot control the choices and decisions of others and it is an awakening to realise that fate has different paths even for those whose paths were once entwined.
  • Realising all of this is refreshing and opens up new life, like cutting deadwood and watching the new buds shoot forth.
  • Memories are great things to have, nothing can take them away. Be grateful that you were able to share them with that person and you had the time together to do that - and move on.
  • The past is yesterday, the future is tomorrow, but today is a gift, it is the present. Live it like it's your last and don't put off today what needs to be done. 
  • You get one chance to be you! Do it well!

Monday, November 01, 2010


My life is dominated by lists!
Lists about the immediate future, lists for future events in the near and far future, mental and physical lists about things I need to do before I turn 40, 50, 65 and before I pop off this mortal coil! Sometimes I even have lists reminding me that I've written a list!!

I really do think I need to kick the habit, at least a little bit.

Do lists actually make me more stressed or less stressed? I'm trying to decide whether I feel more irritated by not having done what is on my list by the end of the day or more stressed by getting to the end of the day and having forgotten to do something because I didn't have a list! Maybe, just maybe, I'm analysing this a bit too much lol!

I've started to read "Buddhism for mothers of school age children" by Sarah Napthali. According to Sarah, a mother's main nemesis is time. Time is the root of all evil when you have a list (oops, there I go again) of things to get through in a very precise time slot, when, as a mother you have to organise all the social calendars of all your offspring, occasionally that of your partner AND remember which relative has a birthday/anniversary/christening/bar mitzvah/thanksgiving when, whether the school asked for cakes/tombola prizes/dinner money/milk money/ homework/or your help in person, whether you paid the piano/guitar teacher/ window cleaner/ small child trick or treating/ scout subs/ rainbow fees etc.  to ensure that you're not seen as slack because you *gasp* forgot! Then you actually have to get them to the various events for the right times, get back to put on the dinner, take another child to an after school activity, do homework with child number three, shoot back to pick up number one, drive home to take off the dinner so it doesn't burn, feed child one and three and then go back to get two, get them all fed, send them off for bed, then get out to work yourself... you get the picture. Did I pause for breath there? Sorry people!

Anyway, I have my faith in Sarah that she has the answers to lists and time and possibly whether or not Tony Soprano died!

On other lists of things to do today, I made a start on the Christmas pudding!
I have finally passed over the threshold into the realm of being old enough, or maybe it's sensible mad enough, no...wait...MOTHER OWES have in my possession my great grandmother's recipe for Christmas pudding. I feel like a mafia mama - it's awesome! Last year, no, scrap that, every year, my mum makes the pudding and sometime in November we are delivered of a beautiful succulent pud with strict cooking instructions for Christmas day. Last year we hosted. Yunno - turkey, veggies, timings of perfection, lists, gifts, decorations, more lists, I was the domestic goddess.  My mum had one job - yes mum, one job - to bring the pudding....luckily the speed-pud from a recipe I found on the internet on Christmas morning midst sticking my hand up the turkey's arse, peeling potatoes with my toes and opening the wine with my butt cheeks, did produce a fairly edible and light pud if not with a twinge of turkey juice and added stress cos it wasn't on my list of things to do - hee hee!

Last week I got a call from mum, she still had the pudding from last year.....WTF? Did I want it? Hmmm did I want salmonella or e-coli?, no!
Thanks recompense I am now the proud owner of "the family pudding recipe". My little sis is the new owner of Christmas pudding 2009 - she's far less finickity than me - that's another thing she can tick off her list *wink*

Of course, on the recipe, were three lists - each list made a different size pudding. We are now going to be the recipients of a pudding that will feed the five thousand or maybe we can hang onto it for next year ;-)
In all seriousness, it will easily make a large pud and a slightly smaller one, so I think I will see if the food kitchen might take one - better write on my list to call them.