Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

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Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Friday, March 29, 2013


Technically and it is right...The Bedroom Tax is not a tax. It is a way of reducing help the state gives towards the rent that a tenant pays to stay in a property. But it is as good as a tax because income will be reduced further.

But in our history Governments have always looked for other ways to raise taxes and one of the longest was the Window Tax.

And in the previous blog entry you may have seen the idea of a politician to avoid paying the bedroom tax is similar to how some beat the window tax by bricking up some of the windows.

There was even a tax on powdered wigs which were worn in the 1700's-1800's. Well the tax was levied on the powder that was used.

The bedroom tax is a worry and has got the majority of publicity but many more will hurt with all the other changes coming...

Help with legal costs for those who are on low incomes is being taken away(and that includes from people who lose their benefits)and need to appeal. The Citizens Advice Bureau which helps many of the poorest who need advice is having its budget slashed by millions.

Many more will be using Food Banks and Soup Kitchens.

Sadly, these articles put it all into perspective...

Benefit cuts: Monday will be the day that defines this government

Food is now the ultimate class signifier

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bedroom Tax Again...

Its causing problems for many and the biggest misconception is that it always people who are scroungers who take handouts from the state.

Circumstances often suddenly change and many of those about to be affected are working.

There are more protests planned against the tax(I know that is a populist term)this weekend, more than the last time and they are hoping for greater numbers as publicity increases.

Some councils, authorities, housing associations are trying to help tenants as they feel it is unfair too, others have rolled over and given in.

Some very ingenious ideas have been tried and it will be interesting to see if they will work as many are on technicality.

It is easier if I just link to some of the stories. Whether they will work is any ones guess...

Brick up spare rooms, urges Labour MP Frank Field

If that could be done here I suspect I could reduce my home to a one or two bedroom property(as again it is suggested)a room that is a certain size ca be classed as a box room/study. I think my Housing Association would not entertain these ideas...even though the alterations could be reversed.

Changes to Nottingham tower block flat rules

Bedroom Tax – How to get rid of it quickly and simply

And just to worry everyone further and it runs alongside the concerns about the bedroom tax is the following...

Welfare cuts will cost disabled people £28bn over five years

Scary Times...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Have Been So Good At Rationing The

use and cost of electric and the gas central heating but that means I really am tight. It has been very cold lately so I have been under the duvet and made use of my electric blanket and allowed the heating to go on for one extra hour.

I submitted meter readings earlier today and that extra hour and I assume the electric blanket my usage of both has doubled!

I am really careful but if this is so...

Right! Back to wearing more clothes indoors and for bed...hot water bottles(though boiling a kettle can be costly too)

You can't win...even if you stop, you have to pay the standing charge.

Update:Had to find an extra £31.50($47.74)on top of what I pay normally pay monthly. The lady at the call centre said "Well you'll probably use less in the summer and hopefully prices will come down!"

How much less could I use than I do already? I don't have the heating on most days, I have to put the gas on to get hot water for washing myself or the dishes. And when did the cost of energy ever come down? And the same for the electric without the electric blanket on(that will be used sparingly from now on)I use one light, one PC, fridge/freezer and occasionally the washing machine and that all costs too much.

The standing charges do it. If I paid only for the energy I use my bills could be halved and that would save money or I could spend what I do now and have more benefit from them.

The Government keep telling us that because they are introducing green policies and due to taxes on energy that penalise carbon emissions, prices will continue to increase(these charges are passed onto us)not absorbed by the energy suppliers and any chance of cheaper energy is 10-15 years away. But in the meantime the costs will continue to increase. By then I'll be a pensioner and on a fixed income so will I be any better off, its not likely.

And who believes cheap energy is coming?

Monday, March 25, 2013

If I Make The Effort...

I should be eating well for a few weeks if I can make space in the freezer and juggle what I have. If not because of dates I may use the following more quickly.

I hit the supermarket today when some decent food was yellow stickered, my supermarket seems to reduce most stock between 4pm-5pm so I am fortunate that I am around at that time and I found approx £23($34.92)of food for approx £11($16.70)

I can stretch some of the food by cooking the container with two chicken breasts, eat one as a hot meal and the next day make sandwiches or have the second one cold with salad or vegetables and potatoes...that saves time and energy costs. Or I can split the contents and cook them individually.

I have...

2 chicken breasts topped with cheddar cheese and a creamy leek sauce.
2 chicken breasts filled with garlic and herb butter and roasted garlic mushrooms.
2 gammon steaks with mature parsley and topped with a cheese sauce.
A leg of pork.
A Spatchcock poussin.
Fresh pineapple chunks.

I have cheese, garlic, herbs, leeks, mushrooms in the house so I could do some of the toppings myself but as the following are all at least half price or less why should I bother?

If I can get some of these into the freezer they will last me even longer because I can eat other meals and vary the menu.

I also spent £5.69($8.65)in a local cake shop and these items are ok between April and September, longer if I ignore best before dates.

6 Lemon Bakewell tarts.
12 Cookie crumble bars.
10 Golden syrup oaty bars.
12 Caramel cake slices.
12 Mint crumble bars.
10 Chocolate all butter golden syrup oaty bars.

So I am reasonably happy with my shopping trip.

I reckon my meals will be working out around 50p-75p(76c-$1.14)per day. Which means approx £22($33.40) per month.

And there is fish and some other meat already in the freezerI really could do with making room and using some of what I have.

I think this means that I can avoid needing to travel to other supermarkets looking for bargains for a while which is good. The big problem is not knowing the times others reduce items and being unlucky. But perhaps I can avoid spending much on food for the foreseeable future. Perhaps bread, milk and salad.

As said before you are also working against others who need or are looking for reduced items for the same reasons as you and this makes it harder to successfully find a bargain and the choice that once existed.

Also some items are reduced earlier but not be much but then you have to weigh up if by waiting they will be reduced still further and whether they will still be there.

I'm not usually that lucky and miss the bargains as they have already been snapped up or not reduced enough and the choice is poor.

Don't Think I Said Where I Was On Friday...

watching a return visit by Richard Digance. It was enjoyable but to be honest...he had done virtually 99% of the act when I saw him in November. He said then that this show would be different and to come along...

Oh well...

There are a few more shows lined up between now and the end of June then it goes a bit quiet. I won't go to see just anything and as income gets tighter it will mean I may have spare towards paying bills/buying food or if not spent this year, if better shows are staged next year I can use it then. I know what the programme is for the two main venues I can attend for the rest of the year so unless they slip something extra special that soon ends for me.

However, I will attempt to attend the free music club on the town and the monthly shows at the town hall in Bishop Auckland. As they are only £8 and if I have my bus pass that's quite reasonable. It seems crazy but it is cheaper than the club on my town if you take in the cost of going to and from the venue(if you need to use a taxi)the cost of a drink and a strip of raffle tickets to help keep it running(paying for the room)and performers.

I ventured out yesterday just locally to the shops on town and thought just maybe the weather had improved but once you reach the bottom of my street it is very open and I hit a freezing wind and was walking into a gale and being buffeted all over the place with my shopping trolley. But being so near to the supermarket I was determined to continue.

I originally had a reason for going out...on Friday the zip on a really warm coat with hood failed as I was going to the show...various people online suggested ways to repair it and what it may cost if replaced.

One suggestion was to rub a pencil over the zip(I had no pencils)I don't use them. I managed to get ten for 40p and a pencil sharpener for 35p. It made the zip glide more easily but sadly the teeth on the zip refuse to lock. And now perhaps attempting my repairs I may have made it worse. Who knows!

The reason I say that those trying to help have all come to the conclusion that the zip will need replacing. One price quoted in another part of the country was approx £28!

I phoned a local repairer earlier today and they quoted around £13. Which is better...but then they added(and I would never have thought of this)it could be the zip head that is faulty, if that can be repaired they will do it for free or if that needs replacing it will only cost £1.

So I'll decide what to do soon and hope it is the cheaper option.

Whilst in the Supermarket I found a duck breast roast with apricot and orange stuffing reduced by half to £3. I have never ever had duck and the price they usually cost counts them out and this is very much a one off.

I hope to have some special meals over Easter.

In time I am going to look into buying perhaps a joint of lamb and/or pork. And try and afford the initial cost which puts me off, then cook it and try to slice it into realistic sized portions and perhaps freeze it so it will give many meals and may be easier to store in the freezer in suitable freezer bags or containers then perhaps the cost won't seem as bad.

I do prefer sliced meat and smaller portions to chunky cuts of meat like chops etc...

Annoyingly I still have a piece of loin pork frozen in the freezer that I can't shift and the only way I will is to defrost the whole fridge/freezer. So it will have to wait...if it ever happens...I don't fancy winding it down so it is totally empty. And I keep finding bargains to put in it.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In Space? No Under The Sea...

Occasionally I mention some of the work and images of those working on the International Space Station and this is particularly interesting. But this time we are not in space but depths of the Earth.

We've all seen the weightlessness of space and heard what happens with the food that is eaten, spillages and waste even what happens to clothes that are worn but what happens down below? I assume it is something to do with atmospheric pressure...

We've all had times where a can of a fizzy drink has been shaken and upon opening it sprays everywhere...

Opening A Can Of Coke

OK I'll say what happens for those unable to watch You Tube video's though it spoils the surprise.

The liquid stays in the can and does not go all over the place.

Did I Say That It Was Cold? Oh And A Review Of Pam Ayres Show...

It was so cold yesterday that even with all my warmest clothes on including two hats, two scarves and gloves I was still cold and my face was the reddest I can remember it ever being...mainly caused by the biting wind.  

Now whether because I had been in a theatre and warmed up or it really had changed I don't know but I can say that when it was time to come home the wind had dropped considerably and it did seem warmer.

Back in my own town that wind had returned and once indoors I could hear it occasionally through the night. And it is still doing so this morning.

Snow in this part of the North East had all but disappeared. Some areas are really struggling as are other parts of the UK with no power to homes. Perhaps here it is too cold for it. Though ice can be more of a problem and there is a fair bit of that still.

I found a new place to eat my sandwiches which was protected from the wind and rain, not the greatest view in the world I have to admit...Durham bus station.

So I was well fed before the show and still had one salad roll to have whilst waiting for the bus home.

Did I mention what I had taken with me...Two bottles of Ribena fruit drink, a small strawberry trifle, custard donut, some breakfast biscuits, small packet of crisps and two wholemeal salad rolls containing ham, cheese, watercress, tomato, egg and spring onions and a cereal bar.

Having said that, that was my total food intake for the whole day...most days I eat less calorie wise and some things there are not eaten that often so were treats.

I am seriously thinking of making something a little special today for my meal, I don't think I have before...a kind of ham, leek and potato pie and other vegetables on the plate(I have yet to decoed whether to put mashed or sliced potato on top)and for the liquid I may use some celery condensed soup. I'll tell you if I do but I have so much salad in the fridge(and it wasn't cheap)I don't want to waste it so I may go for the easy option and have salad.

Now as for the show what can I tell you about the person that I saw...It would help if I said who before I go on. Pam Ayres.

I really don't know that much about Pam except that I have watched and listened to her for around forty years. She performs comedy and has had a variety of tv and radio series...I go back to the start of her career in television

She is most famous I guess for her poetry but thankfully is able to perform as a comedian and has the gift of words and just seems to be funny seemingly naturally gifted but I am sure that there is a lot of work put into making it look so easy.

Pam entertained us with poems(new and old)some stories of her life and made two hours fly by. Just her and no one else on stage, to command an audience and keep their interest is not easy(It was sold out)She has personality and a warm smile. One of the best nights I have had at a theatre. I can truely say that I enjoyed it and it was worth the effort.

When mobility is poor, you are watching the pennies, have to depend on a less than perfect bus service(hanging around in the cold waiting for the next one to get you there and home)and often alone walking slowly on a dark street it does take some effort. So you want it to be good. Pam delivered.

Often TV neglects performers like Pam, oh they get invited onto some magazine or afternoon programme as a guest and the interviewer will tell you how popular they are and what they have done and the audience obviously likes/loves them but will they offer the artist a series or a special...very rarely. In fairness the performer may get to a stage in their career where they like to pick and choose what they do and slow down, have a family life but often TV and it does often depend on ratings(especially commercial TV)goes for soaps, the new loud, brash talent contests like Pop Idol and so called reality series these days. Having said that I have found that she still has some guest spots such as this appearance on "QI"

Yet programmes from 30, 40 years or more often still pull in respectable audiences and are remembered with great fondness. The TV executives often seem to aim their schedules at the younger end of the market and yes it is true with technology much of it can be watched via the internet on catch up or downloaded but looking at the age of those out in Durham City at the bars, clubs and for want of a better word Disco's the audience the TV people are after, the last thing on their minds was watching TV.

But Pam has a reputation built on years of hard graft by having appeared on TV and writing collections of her poems and quite recently her autobiography. Also getting out there and meeting the public and performing on stage. In recent years radio has been kind and she has had some wonderful series on the National speech network BBC Radio 4 and also appeared on the long running game show "Just A Minute" In this edition made for TV(which I have just discovered)sadly only Pam and Nicholas are still surviving.

Sometimes I come out of a show/concert and I know each person has their own take on what they see but I am disappointed, perhaps I think it was ok but nothing really special but it filled a couple of hours. Pam was special and it was one of the best nights I have had in a theatre, one of those you don't want to end.

Should you get the chance to see Pam at a theatre near you. Do try and go, I am sure you'll feel like me.

Just to say the links take you to You Tube videos apologies if some of you are unable to watch them for some reason...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Yesterday It Tried To Snow Most Of The Day...

and in many parts of the UK there have been floods and snow. Homes without power but so far my area has got off lightly. We have a slight dusting of wet snow that fell overnight.

Its still mighty cold.

You know that I eat less and have small portions and watch what I spend on food. But I have discovered that I can during the day time(and it does involve a bit of planning)now able to visit a new retail area in a neighbouring town where some shops have moved out of the town centre. And they are all within easy reach of each other so that is another option open to me.

If I get my bus pass.

Otherwise it would have to be an occasional trip because changing buses it becomes a bit expensive.

I've said before the evening bus service leaves much to be desired.

5-7 miles from my town the service is better or you can connect to other services that will take to quite a few places even up to midnight but none of them come this way.

So you can reach some locations but if you find a bus that comes my way they only do half a route, terminate and go back to the garage.

Ironically to go back to the garage they have to pass through my town or complete the route they stop half way through so they might as well offer a full journey as there is a bus using fuel, a driver its wasting resources.

The main bus company in my area is also making a big thing over new buses being introduced that use gas not petrol/diesel and lets just say I have heard that they cannot be housed like the usual buses(I forget why)and if they break down the local mechanics cannot repair them and they have call specialists in...

Wouldn't you think those problems would be sorted out first before using them?

And I suppose all fuel can be dangerous if things go wrong but just as well smoking is banned as guess where the gas is stored on the bus?

In the roof

I may have a warm meal for lunch(possibly soup seems a good idea)but yesterday as I ate my salad wholemeal rolls I realised how much I enjoy them and never tire of them.

I also had a small packet of crisps and had a custard donut, well that doesn't happen often and seeing all was quite well at my hospital appointment...why not!

I am out again tonight and thinking about things I may try a different bus route to go to Durham for my show. Trouble is the service is better from a neighbouring town but if I start to use it and numbers drop on the route that passes through my town may mean those who make decisions could cut that service back further.

I don't worry about best before dates on food but I find my bread etc...does not go stale and mouldy that often even if not put in a freezer.

And now using that test where you put eggs in water and see if they rise or sink, I find my eggs are usually ok well after the date on the carton so I am managing to make them last longer and am not wasting them by worrying if they go past the date.

Also when I boil an egg now I do a few so they are there to be used in a variety of ways and avoid having to keep putting the hob on un-necessarily. They are always ready for salads or sandwiches.

Not sure why(getting older?)my shoulder is painful and certain movements set it off. Bursitis or frozen shoulder(maybe or maybe not)I have to be careful what painkillers I use and the frequency. Then again I suppose it could be arthritis or connected to the immune system deficiency.

Managed to sleep though so that's something, hopefully it will improve.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Concert Went Well And Other Things...

Steam Radio...locally based performed a night of Irish based songs and music. Very enjoyable and as said there was a themed supper in interval. Though a few days late the night was linked to St. Patrick's day which was at the weekend.

The meal was I assume based on an Irish recipe...a bowl of a kind of Irish Stew with diced beef, sliced potato, onion etc...and a kind of gravy. It was nice for once to have something to sit down to rather than having to decide what to have and then having to do it.

I attended the hospital and my appointment earlier today. And of course my main worry health wise could, worsen at any time but for now all is reasonably well, they are happy, so I am. Weight is nearer what I used to be(Helps take the strain off my joints)blood pressure reasonable, body mass index, protein and bloods in check. So more reasons to feel positive.

I forgot to ask about my cholestorel but as they did not mention it I assume all is well. I know some time ago I was told that it was high but that could be due to the medications I take and statins were were mentioned but only once and though they are seen as having many good reasons for taking them, I have also heard that they can cause problems too.

I may have lost the weight again but sadly the overstretching due to steroids and water retention over the years has resulted in a slack tummy and not the nice tight one I used to have. Not that I go around showing it off.

Once again I have been eating better I believe even though I have to watch what I spend. I often balk at how little I have for what I spend but if careful and I stretch what I have so it goes further, I suppose I am quite a frugal shopper...

It helps that I eat less, have smaller portions and use more vegetables in my cooking.

Today I came home with tomatoes, spring onions, cabbage, cucumber, onions, shallots, swede, carrots, parsnips, leeks, spinach, watercress, rocket and mixed leaves. Better quality sausages(half price)unsmoked streaky bacon, eggs, bananas, custard dougnuts, some crisps(Canadian Ham/Salt and Vinegar)again saved £1. Various cup a soups that had been reduced and offer a quick snack(Broccoli and Cauliflower, Tomato and Basil, Minestrone, Chicken and Vegetable, Mushroom)Twenty sachets in total. And a Bloomer loaf of bread.

Whether I buy one or make my own, I have a hankering for a leek, ham and turkey pie...

These past few days I have had a kind of mixed grill(OK I fried  it)but I did use olive oil. Sliced mushrooms, tomatoes, eggs and toast, it did not take too long to prepare/cook and I have to admit that I felt lovely and content afterwards.

Its good to make the effort. And all too easy sometimes not to.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Today is World Happiness Day and the official start of Spring and...

Here in the United Kingdom it is budget day when we expect another bad one for most of the population and more troubled times ahead.

Tim Harford a correspondent at The Times newspaper does a great series looking behind the statistics that are put out by Governments and companies that survey the popuation on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service is available on line and worth listening to. It is called More or Less.

And here he has produced a piece for TV which is worth taking a look at...

Budget 2013: Harford on Macmillan and living standards

Update:Came across the following. Yes I am biased but I think the following is written so well it deserves to be linked to here...

7 Reasons Why You Should Stop Bitching About People On Benefits.

Quite pleased with myself I have had not so long ago a late lunch or early tea and feel lovely, I had two fried tomatoes, two fried eggs, mushrooms and toast. I used olive oil.

And I am at a concert later tonight celebrating St. Patrick's Day and there is a themed supper.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Is This Value?

Six toilet rolls, five bottles of  Ribena(500mls)vitamins and three meals to be made in a mug...total cost(£5.49)$8.30

The only good thing is that these will be stretched and last more than a few days(and the toilet rolls and vitamins)will certainly last for a month.

As always its the initial cost.

The bottles of Ribina give me an alternative to taking a flask of tea or coffee when out of the house for a while. And unless you are filling a bottle with tap or filtered water you can pay that or more for a bottle of plain water, though if you are not fussy you can get a two litres bottle(still or sparkling)for around 17p and also make up your own using various squashes.

Well, I had my blood tests taken earlier today so I hope all is well on Thursday when I see my consultant. It is always a little bit of a worry waiting to hear how things are.

I Won't Say That What The Future Holds...

does not worry me but I do think what was once called Mothers Little Helper* is helping take the edge off things so that even if the thoughts are the same I don't get that feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I still feel in control and not in a kind of fog.

And further investigation suggests that I am on the lowest dosage and therefore it is not classed as an anti depressent more for panic disorders...

My bus pass should have been with me already but they have just put me on the system so it could take another 10 days(that probably means they had misplaced my application)and when I phoned they had to make an excuse. No point getting angry over it but this week I have needed to use a bus quite a lot and it would have saved me quite a lot of money.

If it arrives later I can go out but have less of a reason to...

Since Mum passed away its been easier to make coffee and I make is so weak its likely to cause few problems and I can make it go a long way. But I have started to drink tea again and once more I can make teabags go a long way, often getting 4-5 mugs from one tea bag. Honestly...

This past week I have also been managing on powdered skimmed milk £1.15($1.74)

I have been very good at not eating items that are sweet and high in sugar content. I don't add sugar to my cereal/porridge/tea only coffee and now I usually avoid sugar and use a sweetner containing Cyclamate and saccharin. The container has 1,200 and lasts longer than a bag of sugar would. No calories. I have become used to the flavour. They cost £1.40($2.11)

I am getting a bit more into my cooking again even though I still do not need to eat as much as I once did(even though I love food)and hopefully I get all my vitamins and minerals.

But I am eating more fruit, cereal, porridge, vegetables and looking to add more variety into my meals.

I think I have mentioned using my slow cooker(one of the best things ever)and having access to a couple of microwaves...they use less energy and whilst every kitchen gadget can do something another is unable to they really are energy friendly and ideal for a single person especially the newer combination microwaves. You can steam vegetables(Fresh or frozen)in a microwave and steaming keeps more vitamins in them but if you do add any water to cook them, the trick is to reuse the water in stock, soup or gravy.

This little video is quite interesting(once you get past the advert at the start...)Sometimes the video starts immediately.

Cooking vegetables in a microwave

*That was valium/diazepam. I am on Citalopram and it is used to replace/increase the chemical Serotonin.

I wonder how good we will feel after tomorrow when our Governmnet announces its budget for the next year and it is the start of Spring(with much of the UK still in the grip of cold weather)and winter drags on...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Protest Could Have Been Better Attended...

They thought it a success publicly but it looked small in number to me, I have no idea how the rest of the planned events went across the country. If we think that we have it bad(and I think it will become much worse)especially after what I just heard on the radio as I awoke an hour or so ago.

I hear it was largely ignored in the press and media.

It is to be discussed in the Cyprus parliament(and probably approved today)A bailout regarding its finances and the idea causing most worry is that they are being told to put a 10% levy on savings you may have in the bank, so if you have 100,000euros(£86,590)or more and around 6.75% for those upto 100,000euros.

So naturally people are attempting to withdraw cash. It does make you wonder how safe anyone's money is across Europe...even here. Will we see runs on banks because people get the jitters...

I don't want to really get into the immigration thing and recent worries of the influx or possible people from Europe coming here as it always turns into racism or attacks on people who depend on benefits and whether an influx of people takes jobs away from others etc...

But another report on radio the other day showed how the population in Bulgaria are suffering and I looked it up the internet. They are in real trouble too(we have already heard of Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain and Ireland)but rarely of Cyprus/Bulgaria. We are now.

So in Bulgaria they have been protesting at the price of electric but it has escalated to other problems such as the cost of food etc...and some people have been so deperate they have set fire to themselves.

So that's 7 member states out of 27 in real trouble. There will be more.

Update:On the radio a few minutes ago, some expert(in an important post)has said that is a widely held view that what they are doing in Cyprus regarding savings is being tried out on a small country and if it works, the idea will be rolled in larger countries like Spain and Italy etc...That Cyprus is being used as...an experiment.

I decided to stay in the town until the show...how I filled 7 boring hours I have no idea but I did. I was so tired I could hardly walk(well worse than usual)and in the last hour I was feeling the cold and had to put my gloves, scarf and had on.

By then the area that the theatre uses for a café/bar was open so I went into that and as soon as they opened the doors to the theatre I went in...I had taken an extra jumper so put that on too. Considering I had thermals and a shirt on as too it was quite nippy. I was thankful I had a small flask with me and I managed to make it last over the day, it really only was enough for two cups of tea but stretched it out so I was only having half cups and doing so stops you having to look for a public toilet.

I had plans to take some sandwiches and cereal bars but in the end that plan did not happen and I opted for a portion of warm chips which took the edge off my hunger...for the first time they were not as nice as they usually are. I ate them and had a cup of tea on the seats that I often use that offer some protection against wind and rain.

Otherwise, I am more likely to be found in the market place...which is also near the theatre and a number of retailers. This was also where the protest took place. I tried to link to an interactive image but it doesn't work that way. To be honest there are not many areas in the retail area for sitting if you become tired or have difficulty walking. It seems to be more of a problem in many towns these days...

The area around the Cathedral is said to be nice but unless you catch a bus or can walk easily you are taking yourself further away from the main areas you need to be(shops/bus station)I believe the last time I visited the Cathedral and Castle was 1984. And until late last year I reckon I had not set foot in Durham for around 20 years.

By 5pm it was starting to get cold so appreciated that I had scarves, hat and gloves in my rucksack. By 6pm I was able to sit in the theatre's cafe area to keep warmer. Before the concert I was able to put on my new lemon coloured jumper from the charity shop costing 99p($1.49)

Now to the show. It was pretty good. Starring vocalist Clare Teal. Her set found her not just singing the standards and songs that are heard often but it does mean that I did not recognise some of music.

I reckon the show lasted around 105 minutes. I do remember her singing Mountain Greenery(Mel Tormé)Dream A Little Dream Of Me, Twenty Mile Zone(Dory Previn)Why(Annie Lennox)Sing It Back, Get Happy(Judy Garland)California Dreaming(Mama's and the Papas)Chasing Cars(Snow Patrol)Tea For Two(and familiar songs had been arranged to sound different)

The music Clare sings and programmes that she presents on radio tend to be standards but this concert proved that she will attempt music by composers/singers of today and other genres. It probably has to be done to ensure that you attract new followers.

She was accompanied by drums, double bass and piano.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Busy Day Ahead...

Unless I fall ill or some unforeseen problem gets in the way.

I have a concert to attend(booked last year)and by chance earlier in the day in the same city there is one of fifty protests/demonstrations against the introduction of  the so called "Bedroom Tax" being introduced in the UK(there are slight variations in Wales, Scotland and N.Ireland)and I hope to attend that. It is the first time that I have attended such an event.

Usually, such events have been too far away, difficult to get to or expensive. And to be blunt for many of the major events like this in the past I have not seen any publicity that would give me time to get involved. And I was too young in many cases.

I just hope the weather is kind and the event does not turn into a damp squib.

Update:I've looked out of the window to be greeted with rain, hope that doesn't affect the numbers attending too much...

Friday, March 15, 2013

I Don't See It As Giving In...

On the spur of the minute I arranged an appointment yesterday with my Dr and persuaded him to allow me to have a short treatment of Anti-depressents. Just to take the edge off things...I'll still be doing most of the work myself(they are mild and non addictive)

He found(like me)that it is amazing that it is almost one year since Mum passed away. And also with all the changes coming, he felt that it was ok.

I thought that my bus pass had arrived yesterday but upon opening the envelope it was one dated until 2018 but it was for...Mum. And had a photo on it of her too.

Mum hasn't used a pass for years so why this came through now, I have no idea. Mixed feelings seeing it.

Oh well...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

This Day In Music...

Quite an interesting one today to listen to(its an audio file)not a You Tube video...

In 1964 on this day for the first time the top ten singles were all performed by British artists in the UK charts but today Quincy Jones celebrates his 80th Birthday. I found that difficult to believe  I have to admit.

This Day In Music 14th March 2013

I Could Keep Quiet And Say Nothing...

In general I am doing quite well but tonight I feel really down not really able to pin it to anything in particular, I guess it will run its course and hopefully leave as quickly as it came.

Oh and I have discovered I must have bumped my laptop and the casing now has a couple of hairline cracks on one corner. Luckily its still working and if it continues to I'll just accept the damage. It would cost too much to repair and it is out of its guarantee now.

I only discovered it earlier today so I don't know how recent it is.

I also discovered I forgot to attend a hospital appointment with my consultant last week, that's not like me. Will have to arrange another and hope that all is well...

Update:I attend again next week, just hope that all is ok...they will be all the usual tests to be done before then(blood/urine)weight, blood pressure etc...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mutton Dressed As Lamb...

The previous post had me thinking...

What should you wear when you are older? Especially, having mentioned the singer from the group ABBA who I noticed was wearing long black leather boots.

I remember though my Gran and Auntie dressed smartly they looked as we expect them to...lots of cardigans, head scarfs, hats and floral print frocks.

People don't dress that way these days and though it is perhaps easier for a man, if I survive into my old age I cannot see me dressing much different to how I do now. Shirts, jumpers, coats, jackets, trainers, trousers etc...whether that will look wrong, I don't know. I do believe that we feel younger inside than perhaps our outward appearance suggests. I have never really been one for spending hours looking in the mirror.

Though I do hope that I am reasonably smart when I do go out(even if I wear more charity shop clothes these days)

I have plenty to change between but of late with the cold weather, I did take to wearing something I never thought I would in my life...thermals...

Sometimes it was just as easy to go to bed in them but these past few nights I have made the distinction of wearing pyjamas, I originally as you may remember purchased all the things I thought I needed when I found myself alone and thought if money gets tight, I would be prepared and also in case as could happen I may end up in hospital for an op and have to stay in for a day or two.

Luckily, I have another three pairs of which two are more like a t-shirt and lounge type trousers not what would be seen as the kind older men once wore.

I did not bother with PJ's for years because the house was always warm but now I have to watch the cost of the central heating it is easier to wear extra clothes and cheaper too.

I have conceeded to using where necessary, hot water bottles and an electric blanket.

To be honest I probably have enough clothes to last me the rest of my life. And as I am unlikely to change much and my weight is constant they should last me years.

Speaking of which allowing in the past for weight gain due to illness and medication. It is not the most accurate scales machine in the world but maybe a couple of hours ago I weighed myself and I do believe that I have managed to come down to approx 9st 7lbs and that makes me happy. It's going in the right direction.

Update:I don't believe in weighing myself much but found that I am even less in weight nearer 9st so some of that extra might be water retention. I have added a badge to my blog that will show when I lose/put on weight but hopefully it will remain as now, where I maintain it. I did a rough calculation of my Body Mass Index and I am for my height and weight, in a comfortable range.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I'm Looking My Age...

Even if I dress smartish, get shaved etc...with the loss of hair and needing glasses and soon extensive dental work if I look as I do now, the years are not being kind...even if I am managing to avoid putting weight on and eating all the right things...

The passport photo for my bus pass isn't any better and I'd like to say passport photos never look good.

Anyhow, it has been announced that Agnetha Faltskog(the blonde female)of the popular Swedish group ABBA has released another solo single and it will be followed by an album. OK even with all the help that will make her look good, she does and she is older than me and is able to wear clothes that suit younger people and she still sounds good. I already look older than she does...

Good job I am not vain.

Here's the video plus feature...enjoy!

Agnetha Faltskog - When You Loved Someone

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Seth Macfarlene...

is popular for his long running controversial cartoon series Family Guy but I know him best because I know he is intelligent and he also has an easy vocal style that reminds me of artists like Sinatra and you feel that he should be in the kind of films Hollywood used to produce, what I see as the Golden Days and recently Seth has come over to the UK to take part in the Proms that have been dedicated to the Hollywood musical.

Seth happened to tweet about a piece of music but I remember it from a Hollywood biopic of the pianist Eddie Duchin with Tyrone Power playing the leading role.

Next thing I knew I found myself watching a documentary about Tyrone Power and to be honest I did not know that much about him...but I do know these were my kind of films and actors...

I don't seem to see such films these days and its been years since I have, perhaps I'll have to try and do something about that...

Tyrone Power - The Last Idol

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Mothering Sunday Tomorrow...

My first without my Dear Mum.

It would be unfair to mention him by name(he could be inundated with messages and requests)but lets just say that a priest/vicar who is on TV and radio in the UK and I have had some contact with reminded us that tomorrow is that special day and has offered to say a prayer for Mum.

It has touched me and brought a tear to my eye. That was very thoughtful of him...

If you still have your Mum and are able to tell them what they mean to you and if possible give them a cuddle. If not do have a few quiet moments and think of them.

I don't always agree with Iain Dale politically but generally he is fair and listens to other points of view but I can identitify with this post on his blog when he talks about his mother and I suspect many others can too.

I'll let his words speak for themselves.

A Difficult Mothering Sunday

How They Tell You Bad News...

I know the Bedroom Tax is coming but instead of sending a letter and saying from the 1st April you will be paying(insert the amount)

The Housing Association decided and I think it is quite the worst idea they could come up with, they sent what is basically a greetings card and when opened a little house pops up like a little childrens pop up story book and on the side of the house in the smallest text possible it says you will pay upto and has an amount as an example. So it is still guess work.

Yet in another letter that arrived on the same day from the same HA I was also told that my rent and water rates have increased. Thanks a lot.

I think the greetings card idea is in bad taste and quite thoughtless.

Now I hear that the Bishops are saying that the cuts are going too far and children will be affected but why stop there...people who are working, ill, disabled, single, elderly and many more are affected.

This is quite an interesting article I have found.

Where austerity really hits home

New Teeth...

Looks as though I have no choice...

I always looked after my teeth and went to the Dentists regularly and then a few years ago I found both Mum and myself were not registered. Then with Mum's illness and various other things we did not bother and well the truth is I haven't many left but I manage. Normally because all the broken ones cannot be seen but I have lost one of my front teeth and now another is in the process of breaking in half.

So I guess I will have to admit defeat and decide to have all the broken bits removed and probably the last few teeth I have of my own at the front and try to get used to wearing dentures. If I can, then again I don't have much choice. What I mean are the teeth on either side of the front teeth.

My jaw aches if I keep it open too long so they may have to put me out to do the work. I think its happened mainly due to the fact I have been told that I grind my teeth when I am asleep so that has probably caused most of the damage and probably as can happen the medication I am on...

I cannot say that I am looking forward to this...but it cannot be avoided...so I'll make an appointment with my Dr next week and get his advice. It could be I need to have this done in a hospital as opposed to a Dentist. Heaven knows what dentures they'll decide for me but my Gran had them, as does my Uncle and my Father managed so I guess that I will too.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Kenny Ball...

Last year he was appearing with Acker Bilk and Chris Barber at the Sage in Gateshead. The only reason that stopped me from attending was it is a very difficult place to get to if you have to use public transport, the venue is one of the best in the country. The tickets aren't that expensive if compared with other theatres in the area.

It all comes down to problems with public transport...connections between one service to another but  in the end even if you get there, its getting the last bus home or managing to book a hotel room locally overnight.

So I gave up.

Well, that was my last chance as news has been announced that Kenny passed away this morning, he was 82.

All my favourites continue to leave and so much for the continued line that is spun about living longer, our time is fleeting. He always had a boyish charm about him...

Kenny Ball

Kenny performs "So Do I"

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Space Cleaning...

Some posts back I mentioned I occasionally follow what is happening on the International Space Station orbiting the Earth, we are treated to some wonderful images of the planet that we live on but for anyone with a curious mind it also allows you to ponder about scientific things. Often tasks we take for granted here are not as straightforward when in a weightless situation.

I thought this was interesting on the cleaning up of spills...

Spillages In Space

Tuesday, March 05, 2013


I quite like Twitter not because I say anything of importance myself but if you treat them with respect quite often "The Famous" will reply to a question/comment left on their Twitter account(publicly or sent as a PM)and using e-mails or mail is not always easy or suitable.

I have some contact with dj's/presenters that I have followed for many years and even some performers on tv and radio. They get to know who is genuine and are worth responding to.

Monday, March 04, 2013

I Often Wonder What Is The Point Of It All...

I would not end my life but when I see and hear what many people live like from day to day and what our politicians have planned for many I do wonder what we get up for? For many they are on a treadmill, in a rut. For others they spend their lives trying to keep warm, have a roof over their head and food on the table. One small change is enough to send that fragile life spiralling out of control.

It could be a loss of a job, illness, an accident...so many reasons...

I have mentioned the Food Banks in the UK and only a few posts back one in the town where our Prime Minister lives and represents.

You and I know that we are often fed by the media and those in charge, a rosy view of life in countries that are said to be rich and abundant.

The stories that trickle out of Greece are frightening, people are suffering in Portugal, Italy and Spain(occasionally there will be a protest and people will go on the streets to make their feelings known)but then it goes away again for a few weeks and then another happens...

The United States of America is struggling too...yes. some are doing very well. But I would suggest many are just "Getting by" and cosmetically they look as though they are doing ok but it will just take one unexpected "Blip!" to change things.

Then there are those already affected...

I see that NPR are broadcasting a documentary 'A Place At The Table' but will it change anything?

According to the US Dept of Agriculture's own statistics, 50 million Americans are "food insecure"

I see many of the comments being left reflect what many in the UK are experiencing...and just in case someone feels that it is only one parent families with many children, there is even a US policeman saying that his wage once paid for a month of groceries, now it will only cover two weeks...

Trailer for A Place At The Table


Wealth Gap

This is not officially available outside the UK and even then is only on the player for approx 7 days but here's a link anyhow...

This World - America's Poor Kids

I understand it can be viewed via the PBS website in the States...

Another Lost Day...

I blame the head cold. If/when I am asleep I don't cough and wheeze...I get peace and so do the neighbours. I think at last I have turned the corner. I can breathe through my nose some of the time at last.

I did not plan to stay in bed and snooze, it just happened.

Well, tomorrow I have things to do...I have to try and sort out problems over benefits...again. I have an appointment with a drop in centre that is held on the town.

I may be entitled to a bus pass too so will be taking a passport photo tomorrow and sending the form in...

I doubt it will have any effect but in approx 12 days there will be at least 36 protests against the new bedroom tax across the UK and for the first time in my life, I shall be attending one of them. I had the choice of two but as I will be in one of the destinations for other reasons later on the same day and I want to be sure the bus service is not disrupted I will catch an earlier one and attend the protest and continue to do my other reason for being there.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

I Missed This...

but it was a piece of radio that has caused a reaction with listeners and is already being talked about via Twitter.

It would seem that the presenter Paddy O'Connell was so touched that he found he was unable to speak. Being sensitive(I'm not always cynical)which hopefully I don't come across that way in my blog, I suspect that I will be affected too. I would have been without losing those dear to me. I'd say that I get disappointed by a lot of what I witness rather than being cynical. Have you heard there was a news story in the last day or so saying that if you have a pessimistic outlook on life, there is eveidence such people live longer.

I was tempted to shout at the radio, "No you don't, it just feels as though you have!"

This radio moment has come about because of a published love letter to a partner. I missed it because though the radio was tuned in to the programme, I had drifted into sleep. I have heard that audio clip and it is very moving especially the reaction of the presenter who obviously has difficulty speaking and is emotional.

Here is the love letter from Emilie Blanchéré to Remi Ochlik

I am sure it will be something many of us can identify with and coincidence of course that it should quote from what is probably my favourite Hollywood musical and that the simplicity of the film's title song, its simplicity says it all.

Here is the actual piece of radio as heard on Broadcasting House BBC Radio 4 3rd March 2013

I'm Biased...

I'm going to promote an internet radio station again...I like the presenters and one on the station Len Groat, I used to listen to over 30 years ago(and we did correspond back then)I always remember his kindness.

This station is mainly oldies but the generes covered are right across the board. It's not frantic. The range of music feature is wide, there are no commercials. Its available 24/7.

Some new shows have been added to the mix and are so new they have not been added to the websites schedule.

Tonight it was a country show and at midnight the new nightly programme of Beatles music was launched. I assume but know that times may change when the clocks go forward by an hour. We shall see...anyhow, here is a link if you like to look around the website and possibly listen too...

Solid Gold Gem AM

Friday, March 01, 2013


If I have said this already(Sorry)but when I came out of the theatre because it started later than it said on the ticket I only had approx 15-20 minutes to get to the bus station and catch the last bus here(I had to move reasonably quickly)well quick for me and by my standards. It was easier when the bus left approx 20 minutes later than it does now.

Having had a bit of a rest in the theatre and I guess having been taken there by taxi, I was a little bit better. The worst part is the walk from the bus stop nearest my home(often late at night)with deserted streets but at least I know when I close the door I can rest and to be honest...go to bed! If I get my bus pass what I save in fares could mean I have a little bit more give in my budget to absorb the new bedroom tax that is being introduced or could afford a taxi for the last part of the journey so I can avoid that walk.

Anyhow I had to pass some shops...now of course if you have a decent income you have to treat yourself and I am not envious of people that are rich nor mind that they enjoy their wealth but I was looking in the window of a clothing store which was having a sale.

I was quite warm outdoors(Ok I had thermals on and a jumper)but at night I usually still feel it becoming chilly but I did not need to wear my scarves, hats or gloves tonight.

I never wore one when Mum was alive but I purchased a gilet(nothing special)I think mine cost £16($24.27)and I have been amazed how warm they are in all weathers so often I just slip that on that's what I had on tonight. You know those quilted sleeveless jackets...

They were selling something not unlike what I am wearing(remember I spent around £16)my jaw dropped in their sale they had one, normal price £120($182.05)in the sale £99($150.19)no way would I pay that. It would have to be the normal price we're expected to pay and I would desperately need one to pay that kind of money.

I've Increased My Shopping Regarding Fruit...

This time I determined to get back to eating more and not wasting it. So I have some apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, melon and blackberries.

I have all the vegetables imaginable and quite a bit of various meat and fish at my disposal and thankfully I still have a £10 supermarket voucher not spent that I can hang onto and £40 of gift vouchers for the chain store Marks and Spencer which I can use for their "Posh" food(I think that they were given to Mum and she never got around to using them and may have even forgotten she had them)I found them by accident.

So I should be able to continue eating reasonably well for some time to come...

As I am eating again after my recent illness...I may try and get a bit adventurous in the kitchen again over the next day or two.

At least I did not miss my theatre trip tonight and looks I am fit for the Music Club again next Tuesday which though normally free we have a guest group "Other Roads" appearing that are doing a kind of limited tour and they have decided to play "My" club on "My" town which considering the size of the venue is quite a compliment because it's not that big. But it may bring in some more people to frequent our club on a more regular bases. Tickets are £5.