TOGETHERNESS

Major holidays have passed. The best bit for me will be to see a lot less advertising of the virtues of gluttony. I always feel uncomfortable with the putsch to eat, eat, eat and drink by way of celebrating the advertisers’ idea of what our tradition and enjoyment ought to be. These holidays mean different things to different people. I like the thought of togetherness with whosoever you choose to be and where you choose to be. I can’t be doing with the pressure to spend your way into emptying your purse and filling up the cupboards to overflowing with rich foodstuffs and excessive amounts of booze you would never usually upset your digestive system with the rest of the year….all because we are told it is expected, it is what to do.

I have warm memories of holidays past where, in one case it was insisted I stay and join in with a family in their togetherness. They wouldn’t hear of me returning home. Never mind that my oven was on gas mark number one ever so slowly cooking my meal. (Fortuitously as it turned out).  

Another memory, I was in a hostel in isolated splendour, not a soul in sight.  Over the road was the police station. The boys in blue, mostly single men, were working, but their canteen was closed for two days. The civilian staff were on holiday.  I offered to cook Christmas Day and Boxing Day meals for them.  A kitty soon built up, enough to buy a chicken or three and sufficient veggies. I am not sure they really believed I could give them a hot meal. But, a hot meal is what they got,  at whatever time they arrived to eat.  It was all very friendly with everyone helping out with the washing up and drying dishes in shifts, then leaving the kitchen as it should be at the end of each day.

Endings And Beginnings

Today has been a day for remembering, the eleventh day of the eleventh month anniversary of endings and the green shoots of new beginnings. Primarily, we will remember events and people who are personal to our inner being and emotions; global memories can be much harder to connect with. Those of us that do, will have unique ways of linking. These were the thoughts that ticker-taped through my mind after the two minutes silence. I haven’t dwelt upon them, I haven’t attempted to analyse them, I have accepted they were what they were. I did feel peaceful for a time and comfortably pottered around putting away the pots and dishes. I Just felt I was safely wrapped around in a very comfortable special space.

 

 

TArgetS.

P1000459 A pair of FulmarsProgress has been on target, at least my target. Seven weeks today I landed in hospital with fractures. I am not quite ready to throw away my crutches, but I no longer use them at home. It’s a slippy time of year and outside I like the security of being able to test out the ground in front of me with the crutch ferrules when needs must.

P1020204-Shell-in-Spume-Wb

Shell in spume

I finally finished reading a particular book while I have been restricted. It was one of those that I willed myself to read, just so I could say I had read it, if anyone asked me again, if I had. It is amazing how quickly you can learn to skim through a page. The book would have benefitted from a good bit of editing. After all, short books are not unknown. One even won the Booker Prize one year. I think you could say that’s another kind of progressed target.

 

 

 

 

 

2. ACCIDENT – BAG RAGE

WEEKS TWO AND THREE
I feel there have been changes for the better, however, toddling lesson number one still applies; not to run before I can walk.

Once or twice I have been late taking my medication and became very aware why I should keep up with the doses. 

We have been out in the car, not long journeys, I would’t manage that. Getting stuck in a traffic jam  is a great indicator of what I can tolerate.

We chose to go to a particular Tesco’s store about 5 miles away from where we are staying, because the store provides mobility electric scooters with which I can tootle around the store. That wee bit of independance is a great boost. Staff in the store were so kind and thoughtful, e.g.telling me how to jump the Customer Services queue so as to get a scooter key!

Electric Mobility Scooter

The car park attendant let us park in the disabled people’s parking bays without a permit, though not before he scared us witless by suggesting he’d test out my need of crutches. Hubs jumped in front of me as a protective barrier. Car parking man told us what he said was a joke. (*******!!!)   The car was ignored by him from then on.

Elbow Crutches

I’ve only had one other doubtful incident, and that was passing through the checkout at a Lidl’s store. A customer  behind me, (who was definitely no youngster) got into a shopping bag rage when the cashier asked if I could manage, (I wobbled on my crutches when I paid).  Cashier and I gave each other knowing looks and I thanked him profusely for his concern. Surprising what ownership of a shopping bag can do.

NICE TO BE WANTED

Update on utility provider: https://menhir1.wordpress.com/2019/07/12/what-price-loyalty/#comment-16574 for anyone who has not following this, the link will tell all.

Today I have been contacted three times by the electricity supplier I am leaving. I was offered a super exclusive deal for a one year fix….but, it wasn’t. It was close, but not better and there were strings. I had to agree to consider having a smart meter.  Yes, they had a two year fixed deal, it was way off the scale!!  No competition there then. The last caller from the company said they’d love to have me back anytime, even tomorrow!

My angst with the smart meters is that they have not been universal, other than in their requirement to try to control how we use fuel.  We have been encouraged, nay, exhorted by government to shop around for ‘best deals’ and the companies have been prevailed upon to get everyone on smart meters.  Each supplier used their own preferred technology. So, how could you move seamlessly between suppliers. They would not necessarily accept the smart meter you had. This was a nonsensical situation. I could talk about the distraction from fuel poverty, structural failures in the supply chain, their causes and other costly politics, but I won’t.

Series two smart meters are meant to ease the way to seeking and obtaining the best deals by being a universal for suppliers and customers. I intend to wait for the evidence. It will be sometime coming because the advertised universal meters are only just now being rolled out, and then only because the majority of customers refused to install version one.

The two year fix I am taking is with a company called Green Network Energy (GNE).  The website was intuitive and I requested a quote, but only after I had looked at the comparison websites. The difference between my supplier and GNE for a two year fix was off the scale!!!  I can only say at this early point in the change process, that communication with GNE has been straightforward by phone and online. The account will be online. I started the switch through the Moneysavingexpert site.

 

 

You may make additional savings on your prices with suppliers if you have dual fuel supplies and you don’t live where I do. We have higher prices to contend with.

So, guys, there you have it.  I’ll let you know how it all flows at some future date.  Just a note here; I did go through an awful lot of reviews for GNE on Trust Pilot. On the whole,they were pretty good, just the odd one of dissatisfaction. Don’t just take my word for it, have a look at Trust Pilot. As I said, it is too soon for me to make a judgement of my own. My every digit is crossed though.  🙂

WHAT PRICE LOYALTY?

 

The yearly hunt for new utility suppliers and insurers has been in full swing. Loyalty is costly, there is no value to the customer, you and me,  in being loyal to any utility and insurance company.  I noticed one company was lauding its plans for offering loyalty to its customers. Attractive though it sounded, on further investigation, the primary up front costs were not competitive in order to give it a try.  With terms and conditions always changing – the requirements of the underwriters, or because of taxes, are the stock reasons to date – there’s no confidence, nor is there any evidence on which to base this offering.  The annual research of the market is wearisome, but made totally necessary, if you want to keep budgets within personal means. Service companies, (including banks) rely on inertia. Many signals have indicated for some time that people are being priced out of the insurance market. There is already significant fuel and food poverty here in the U.K.

My suppliers’ fuel quote for a 1 year fixed price tariff has changed in four days and not to my advantage. A quick review of a number of companies I had considered demonstrated that the increase was across the board. What was not general, were the amounts by which prices had increased. My energy supplier wanted about £108 per annum more than their original quotation.

In general, increases with the other companies of interest ranged from about £13 – £24 per annum for a one year fixed price tariff.  Then, I tripped across an attractive two years fixed price deal at a very similar increase to one of the other competing providers.  It was described today as the cheapest two year fix on the market. Considering the volatility of the times we are living in on so many fronts, including international fuel supplies, it goes without saying, after hair-raising experiences with a previous supplier that I checked a lot of reviews on this company.

 

 

Two years peace of mind and one less concern next year is very tempting…….

 

EUREKA MOMENT IN THE MEADOW

For the last three years I have been attempting to cultivate a difficult corner in our ‘meadow’.  It is a very uncultivated  area of grassland, apart from mowing, which is a slalom that hubs undertakes, not me. I cannot handle the petrol mower. He’s glad of it I believe, as it’s a task that is uniquely his own. I don’t mind at all!

Why is grass-cutting a slalom? About the time of year when you have to decide to do a cut, our wild orchids burst forth and flower. They are prettily  multiplying. Last year we discovered amongst the ‘crop’ of Orchids one that was a bit different. To my surprise, research threw up that it is known as the Common Spotted Orchid.  The spots are on the leaves. These Orchids are becoming hard to find.  Anyway, hubs carefully mows around all of the Orchids. How he manages to control that heavy bit of machinery to such a fine art, I do not know.  It’s paying off though, as this year I saw that we had increased our Common Spotted Orchids by 100%: we now have two!  One is at the front of the house and the other one is near the whirly washing line at the back of the house.

Common spotted Orchid-a rarity

The difficult corner is a nice sunny corner where I have seen plants thriving then suddenly horribly wilt and die.  Hubs was creating a bund there between us, the chain link fence and our neighbouring farm. When the sheep are milling around behind the fence, there is likely to be all sorts of temporary run off courtesy of them. In addition, to keeping unwanted nettles and other grassy weeds under control there is the occasional farm spraying just in that location, usually broadened out by the prevailing winds.  My Lamium and other hardy plants couldn’t cope with it. Yesterday, with some difficulty, I pulled out the Lamium. Talk about networks of roots.  They would have been ideal to hold the soil in position, if the circumstances had been right.  Meantime, I put on my thinking cap. Question; what grows easily and well forward of that corner? Looking around me I had a eureka moment. Of course, grass grows no problem.  So, I have planted a small cluster of evergreen ornamental grasses and for good measure, I have put a fascinating evergreen Curry Plant in the mix.

This was the only plant that thrived in ‘the corner’ patch last year. It came from a seed dropped courtesy of birds I suppose.  At its peak, supported by a pair of my tights, which were tied to the fence,  it stood at approximately  5ft.7″ high. We let it seed, sadly, there is no sign of it this year.

AND SO WITH A SMILEY….

I felt guilty about posting my bits of relative trivia when there are so many seriously, serious life events unfolding all around me. I don’t mean navel-gazing, though if you think about it, with the various muddles and crises going on in our own back yard here in the UK, it would be very easy to navel-gaze and shut out the rest of the world.  The ‘life must go on’ adage keeps popping into my head, paradoxically, adding to my hesitation to write. I do not really have any idea what writer’s block is. I assume that it would be different for every writer and maybe, this is mine.  Ho hum.

 

Am I okay to say I wrapped up the first Christmas parcel for 2019 a couple weeks ago; or, a visit to my dentist left me with neck-ache! I’m seeing him again tomorrow.  Also, I have been following Deacon Gilly’s Lenten determination to place negativity on the shelf in ‘my daily doings’. That’s proving to be a hard one, much more than I expected it to be. The corollary is working through it and to see and hear things that lift my spirits through the more positive spirits of others. What about, “I whistle a happy tune so no-one will suspect…’, except, people would run a mile hearing me try to whistle.  Better still, where I live, people make eye contact and smile at one another in greeting; you don’t have to know them. (There are the exceptions). However, just wandering around and sharing smiles I find can be uplifting.

So, with a smiley….TTFN    🙂

 

JUST ANOTHER WAIT

We are sorry, we are ever so busy with a high volume of calls. Your wait could be up to twenty-five minutes“.  Sub text: it is a late evening call- they do say they are contactable up till 10pm -and what the recorded message probably means, is, that there is a skeleton staff working. I half wish this was entirely true, but, I have to admit, I have waited on occasion equally as long and much longer during usual daytime business hours, whichever department I tapped through the menus to contact.

The digital  auto message voice is quite nice; the heavy metal noise has been replaced by something with two or three repetitive music phrases that it is possible to switch your ears off from while you think about things. Tonight, I promised myself I will not wait twenty-five minutes. I bet though, if I phone tomorrow morning, there will be a repeat performance. (Sigh).

Just For Me

Nearly fifteen minutes in, I have disconnected the phone. Just as well I am able to call with a freephone (toll free) number.