Friday, 23 July 2010

Herbs and Spices.

But not for cooking.

I daily have to take a concoction of modern pharmaceuticals. A necessary evil.

But one day, looking around a Chemist, (pharmacy) while 'Er 'Indoors was paying for a tummy-ache medicine for one of the (then) little 'uns, I thought, hey. I can do that. Free.

Now, 'free' to a Yorkshireman, is a very, very interesting word. Which does not include Tesco Points by the way.

And so, someone who would almost certainly have been burnt at the stake a few hundred years ago, was born.

A discovery of herbs and spices, pickles and poultices, sauces and salves. But not, absolutely not, anything that means diluting anything to the nth degree. That to me is a faith issue, and I don't argue with people of faith. Faith is the hope of that yet unseen. To quote Paul of Tarsus.

For everyday cut's and bruises, headaches, tummy aches, there are lots of common garden herbs, plants, supermarket spices and chemicals, if used correctly, solve everyday ups and downs. That is where many modern pay over the counter medicines originate. For instance, fizzy tummy ache medicine tablets? Citric acid, Tataric Acid, sugar and bicarbonate of soda. The ingredient that does the job is actually the Bicarb. If you bake, you have it. But on it's own, it's tastes rubbish. The other ingredients just make it look spectacular.

I tuck Rosemary and Lavender sprigs in my 13 year old's pillow when she can't sleep. I don't know all the chemicals (and compounds) involved, but I suspect the smell goes a long way to help.
I have many more I'd like to share, a little at a time. If you have any concoctions or recipes you'd like to share too, feel free. I'm not interested in making money from it - heck, if I did, I wouldn't post about it. I'm more interested in sharing experiences. Besides, I checked. The market's flooded with rubbish :)

If you have some remedy that granny swore by, that works for you, please feel free to share.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


Interesting article about the Crime writer PD James in the Uk Telegraph Today. Good read (linky)

Daft Animal

Meet Sigma. Don't ask me, I didn't name him. According to 'Er 'Indoors, she's Mummy, and I'm Daddy. I'm sure I'd remember producing that. Eek! Anyway's , this is his "Oooh, look, a camera", and "It wasn't me, honest" thingie dubire wotsit.

He's been sleeping like that for the last hour. I'm sure that my slippers being nearby, and that I said OY! just before
Le Chien flopped like that is purely coincidental. :) Hmm. Looks like I've got some sweeping up to do. Again......

Here, he's picking up some tips from his favourite program, 'Dog Borstal'. Whether that's 'how to behave badly' or how to avoid me growling OY! at him is debatable.

More like "what the heck is that, and is it female?" Yup, he's 3 months, 3 weeks, and five days old, and he's discovered the ladies.

And I've just realised 'Er 'Indoors has got me talking dog. Shakes head in bewiderment. Woof, anyone?

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Odd World.

People never cease to amaze me.

I've been accused by another Stroke Survivor of 'cheapening the impact' of strokes. More, "my overly positive portrayal of of the aftermath of strokes undermines disability issues" she goes on "how are we supposed to push forward the necessary changes in disability issues if you put an unnecessary positive spin on recovery?"

So I challenged her "How so? Stroke affects different people in different ways. The brain is a complex organ. Every stroke is different, I should know, I've had many."

"Yes", she replied. "I'm aware of that, but the disabilities can be crushing, the impact devastating, and depression invariably follows. If we duck away from that, we undermine a better deal for the cared for and the carers"

Ah. Now. Depression can affect anyone. But it's treatable, it's a mental illness with many causes. Mental illness is a different subject really. It, like any other mental illness, has a stigma attached to it (wrongly). I personally don't do it. Grumpy, yup. Depression, no. And it certainly isn't 'invariable'.

I'm lucky enough to look quite 'normal' . Hard to tell, admittedly. I look like a refugee from ZZ-Top. With a bit more white hair (I went grey in my 20's) But I'm working on that. I'm not going to go out of my way to spell out my disabilities, because I can't see that being productive. I prefer to refer to disadvantages only if I can offer solutions.

The Cause?. Ah, the 'disability movement'. I'm all for causes. Sometimes you have to bang on the door, ring on the bell, and rattle your ratchet and lobby at the gates of parliament for something you believe in. I'm o.k. with that. But I think being extreme just turns people away from any cause you're trying to promote.

I love colour, change, and the just plain silly. But you don't have a go at those with a similar heart, and, I'm gobsmacked that I could be pulled up for being positive.

I had no idea anyone can be "too positive". Blimey.

Sunday, 18 July 2010


No, not posting one today :)

But I'm thinking of it. In fact, I'm thinking of doing a regular cartoon.

It's a strange old world. I just kinda toddle along, doing my own thing, rather empty-headed, to be honest.

Then I'm daft enough to leave a folder of sketches I do for my own amusement - mick takes on everyday life that tickle me. Then, well. I'm not a very sociable person. But 'Er Indoors most definitely is. Next thing I know a - I dunno? Flock? Gaggle? Pile. Yessum, pile of rather tizwazzed neighbours turn up, one with 'Er Indoors under her arm.

Yes. I did say 'her'. Shaz (name changed to protect myself) is a big, strong, lassie. Lovely lady. Heart of gold. But the kinda woman you say "Yes! Miss!" to. She lives two streets way, but you can still hear her putting her kids to bed. They go 'Wheeeeee THUMP". You can spot her fella's. They are the one's outside Doncatraz (South Yorkshire) hammering on the door to be let in, tripping over the wires on their hearing aids.

For the record, nowt wrong with big strong lassies. I was asked by The Boss to read her digital scales today. Unfortunately, they were upside down to me, and she hadn't got her glasses on. It was in Kilo's, and I mistook a 4 for a 9. I'll be alright in a minute.

Like I said. Heart of Gold. Loves my Bear to bits. So, when in the wee hours, it's just me, two cats, and the wuffler, I sketch. Neighbours found it. Now, I wasn't daft enough to use real names. But much merriment ensued, and I've had no death threats yet.............

Meanwhile (meanwhilst?) Bear wants me to post here some of my Penny Dreadful's. I'm not gonna describe what a Dreadful is, I'm sure there's a Wiki about them. I can't read a Wiki, it would affect my writing.

In my case, its..., umm, its... it's a celebration of the style of early mass produced detective novels, that usually begin "It was a cold night in the windy city". As one of my sisters say's, with some exaggeration, "She rolled her her eyes, he rolled them back..." Tart.

I once produced a blog of them, many moons ago, but got hammered by 'cease and desist' rubbish by American Lawyers. I'm much more rebellious nowadays. I'm willing to give it a shot. It's silly, it's fun, it's over the top. Worth it do you think?

Friday, 16 July 2010

Growing your own

I've grown my own veg, rather unsuccessfully I might add :(

My potatoes never got bigger than golf balls, Slugs clobbered my lettuce - though I was able to get my own back using the 'beer in half a plastic bottle' trick. They love the stuff! And you never know you have carrot fly unless you try to grow them. Last years yield? One. Sheesh.

More luck with the herbs - my Rosemary - couldn't kill it if I wanted to. Same with Lavender. I use that in cooking too. Same with Coriander. Until aged father-in-law decided to help out with some weeding, and destroyed it thinking it was a weed. The dog dug up my Thyme. Last year the cats did. I suspect the beer trick won't work with them.... Well, if I want to get on with the RCPCA it won't :) Garlic, though quite tiny, grows extremely well - though a bit 'leggy'.

Aye me.

But poor Tatties, slugged salads and dogged Thyme pales into insignificance to the spectacular failure of my Romenscoe Broccoli, cabbages, I thought they were supposed to be round? No they ain't. They go up.

And up. And up, and bloomin' well oop. I didn't know if you left cabbage long enough it turned into a six foot tall triffid. I've only grown my own for three years, and I've yet to grow anything vaguely roundish. Don't get me wrong. The leaves are still usable, just a bit tough and leathery, but since I'm brave enough to have a pretty good pressure cooker - it's ok-ish. Nice strong taste too, if you like that kind of thing.

I believe it's called 'bolting'. From the net, best I can work out is that it's caused by bad soil nutrition.

But I've composted for years, and I've got that down to a fine art. I have to - my garden is heavy clay, and I need to compost to get more nutrients in and provide drainage. I'd be grateful if someone has, or has read a solution. I dream of a nice, compact cabbage :)

Footnote. For two years, I've applied for an allotment from Sheffield council. The proviso, of course, is that it needs disabled access. Sometimes I need my wheels, sometimes I don't. Not complaining, it's just the way it is. But I get to do stuff in short bursts, and it doesn't take that many 'bursts' to get something done. All down to pride and attitude. My plan is to get an allotment, and do some raised beds. I mean like, at least 3 feet/ 1 metre.

Have I had a reply? I wrote, I emailed. 'Er indoors phoned (I don't do phones) Nope. Get back to me, they said to the missus. Have they? Heck no. I have a Stroked friend in Norwich pressing me to get into a disability rights organisation - but their into chaining themselves to railings and painting themselves red. Don't agree with their methods, (just plain silly). But I empathise.

For our American friends. An 'Allotment' is various patches of land, broken up into smaller patches, usually within a city, not suitable for building on. These are rented out at very tiny rents, so people can grow their own veg and or flowers for their own use or sell any excess to sell to local shopkeepers. I want into that.

They've become very popular recently. Credit crunch is the main reason cited for the popularity, but I've done a quick cost-up, and actually, it's cheaper to buy from a supermarket. I just want to do it for pleasure of it.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Sunset :)

We're lucky enough to live on the side, near the top, of one of the Seven Hills of Sheffield. I can see right over the valley, over the tops of the houses towards the fields and woods towards Worral, some miles away. Though Sheffield tends to have a fairly moderate climate, we can get some quite spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

This is a sunset from the 7th, a week ago. I tipped the camera, a little Panasonic TZ7, up a little bit to avoid the few rooftops atop the hillside opposite. I love my sunsets.

I hold my hands up here to say I cheated a little bit. The camera has a 'Sunset Mode' which exaggerates the colours a teeny-weeny bit. Still, I like it :)

Sunday, 11 July 2010

About the post Below.....

I guess the reason I'm so annoyed is because when our kids were very, very, young, we hit the red, big time. Worse time possible.

We fought, scrapped, and clawed our heads above water, without benefits or help from anyone. Heck, it was rough, but we survived. We never want to go through that again.

Now I'm older and better informed, I've a sympathy for those who struggle and try to make a go of it, even if they fail now and again. I'm happy to help out. It's pure stupidity that drives me crazy. I've also a suspicion that some people just factor any help they get into their financial equations.

They're just feathering their own nest.

If they're clever enough to do that, they're clever enough to sort themselves out, even in these difficult times. Heh :) I guess it's "Welcome to the real world, Wheelie". It's quite hurtful tho'. Not that, that matters. :(

How not to afford expensive items. Credit. Don't do it. Don't care what it is. My eldest daughter had a refund after changing her gas/electric supplier. Made a massive saving after digging around MoneySavingExpert - on my net connection, of course! First, it took two months to go through. Then her previous supplier agreed they owed HER money. Being in a hurry, she decided to go to a 'Money Shop'. By showing some ID, she was able to get the cheque cashed immediately.

She lost 10% of the value of the refund. Over £40 quid in this case. That's a lot of money if you want to catch a bus.

Don't use shops (such as the above) who might provide something like a HD TV for interest rates above 30% interest, while avoiding credit checks. 30% of anything is a lot.

Avoid banks. Silly? No it ain't. One way or another you'll end up paying them something. I'm going to keep saying this, but every penny counts. Most area's have a Credit Union. Credit Unions are for patient people. If you are just saving money, it's a doddle. Just pay in a little regularly. Downside - you may have to apply a week in advance to draw something out. But see below.

If you want a loan, most credit unions are for people on a low income. Save a small amount for twelve weeks, and you can you can borrow at 3-5 times the amount you have saved, repayable at a few percent interest. They will never touch the original amount you have saved, unlike a bank. Larger amounts, maybe £1000 or greater, even with larger weekly savings, may need to be negotiated. However, the interest rate is still very low compared to a bank.

Most credit unions have a pre-paid cash card. For a monthly fee of between £2-£5, you can pay onto the card as much as you need, and use on and off line. How cost effective that is for you depends how much you save with that credit union. You can't top up the card if you have nothing there.

Great for parents who are supporting their children through Uni, College or have left home. Down side? No money no top-up. If they (or you) aren't on the Electoral Register, it isn't going to happen.

For the record, I have a HD TV, or any other expensive item, Here's how you afford one, even if your circumstances are reduced.

The average life of a TV is 5-6 years. And remember you're going to need a TV licence - and this applies to students too. If you don't have what want at the moment, same principle applies. But I'm assuming you may have bought a TV, just as an example.

Get yourself a big jar :) Or into a Credit Union. Put £3 a week in, every week. Over 6*50 week years, you will have saved £900.


Now, see, this is what I find bloody annoying.

For many months I've been helping a single dad (widower) with his claim for disability living allowance. He, and his two late teens & twenties daughters are in pretty dire straights financially, being unemployed, thousands of pounds behind in their council house rent, struggling through one of the coldest winters for years those expensive to feed so-called 'key meters' - prepayment meters. Installed because they are in debt with their utilities.

We've helped out with their claim forms, provided them with food, loaned them bus fares to 'sign on', and no end of tea, coffee, sugar, eggs, and net access for his daughters to find their own places, for a long, long, time.

Eventually I arranged for the final tidying up of his claim, to see a a specialist disability advisor .

The claim failed, so I helped to prepare his appeal to take it to a solicitor. Meanwhile, we continued to help out with food and what have you.

He won his appeal, and was awarded lower rate Mobility Component at £18.95 per week.

DLA is paid four weekly, which gives him £75.80.

So what does he immediately go and do? Order and have installed a top-of-the-line SkyTV+ HD package, Sky Sports, Sky Movie's, the lot, costing (drum roll............. )

£79 per month.

Now they're complaining a pup they have has chewed through a cable, leaving them unable to order films over Sky Box Office (approx £3 per film on top of the £79). Sky wants to charge them £65 to replace the cable.

"Can you repair it for us Wheels?".

No. No I can't. Too fiddly. Nor am I going to tell them it's only £4 to buy a new one from Argos.

Ever felt you've been had?