Wow, look at that, it’s the first day of August. Another month has flown by in a flash and I’m not sure what happened in it. I was busy, of course. I think it’s because I’m so busy that time rushes by without pausing for breath. When every day is packed full of things to do there seems very little time to sit and let the pace of life slow down. I once saw a meme that stated – being an adult is saying “after next week things will get back to normal” forever and ever until you die – and it can certainly feel like that sometimes.
Firstly, let me apologise for there being no blog last week. As you know, I had eleven days off over my birthday which I enjoyed and were stuffed to the brim with activities. I returned to work on Thursday and unusually worked Friday and Saturday as well. I don’t usually work both so write my blog on either of those days. Working all three took me by surprise and yes, I suppose I could have written something in the evening, but they were three long, hard, busy days and to be honest by the time I got home all I wanted was dinner, Netflix, and bed, in that order.
Also, I had nothing to say. It had been a bit of a nothing week. I put my head down and wrote like mad on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, then I worked the next three days and that was kind of that. Focusing on my work in progress those three days though paid off and I’m proud to report that book three in The Perennials Trilogy is now standing at 36,500 words and I’m pleased with how the story is going. Returning to well-known and much-loved characters certainly helps, rather than introducing an all-new cast. I know Lili and her friends intimately, they are my friends, and there is a poignant bittersweetness in knowing this is the last visit I will pay to their world. Being the final book in the trilogy though means that I must wrap up all the stories begun in the first two books, tie up all the loose threads and conclude everything so the reader is left satisfied. So, no pressure there then.
Being Britain, the weather has been peculiar, to say the least. The heatwave that ravaged us over my birthday was blown away in a flurry of violent torrential downpours, strong winds, and a rapid drop in temperature. When I went to collect Miss F from work last night the roads were atrocious with running water flooding across them from the fields and my little car almost being gusted off the road. But today, Saturday, the sun is out, the winds have dropped, the temperature has gone back up and the weather is shrugging its shoulders as if to say “Storms? What storms were they?”
As I said, I’ve been consumed by my latest writing project so I’m prone to staring into space for long periods without speaking and my eyes glazed over. Not so bad if this happens at home but can cause problems if I do it at work. This happened last week with a colleague when apparently, I’d been staring past his right shoulder for a good ten minutes without speaking, lost in the world of my book.
HIM: What are you thinking about?
ME: Whether it’s possible to have sex in a wheelchair.
Yeah, I’m not going to live that one down in a hurry!
A couple of small pieces of financial good news – one, the policy excess of £100 on my insurance claim was paid into my bank. Finally! It only took seven months from start to completion to settle a tiny £255 claim which is ridiculous. I sincerely hope I never have to make a more substantial claim because heaven knows how long that would take! Still, it’s a relief to be able to draw a line under the whole thing and move on.
Secondly, I received the sole occupancy discount on my council tax. Disappointingly, it was a fraction of what I’d been expecting. Way back when I was first considering taking in a lodger in 2005 the discount was a whopping 25% off the monthly bill. It was worth having and something I had to consider when I took in a lodger because obviously, I would no longer be eligible for it. Since then, I’ve never been without a lodger, so it’s not been applicable.
I only applied for a seven-month sole occupancy discount because our last lodger moved out at the end of December and due to lockdown and restrictions, we’ve been without one ever since. Turns out, as the cost of living has gone up and the monthly council tax has quadrupled, the sole occupancy discount has decreased until now far from being 25% it is barely 10%. For the seven months, I received £83 which was hardly worth applying for. Still, I guess it’s a week’s groceries paid for and better than nothing. As Miss F turns 18 in two weeks, I won’t be able to apply for it again unless I am without a lodger at any point after she has moved away to university.
On the lodger front. I’ve made a decision about that. It’s Miss F’s birthday soon and I have another eleven days of holiday booked – it’s technically only three days but my lovely boss has again topped and tailed it with my non-working days to stretch it to eleven in total. Those eleven days are not going to be as full as the ones over my birthday, so I plan to spring clean the ground floor of the house, get the basement room all fresh and ready for viewings, take lots of nice photos showing the new desk and workspace, plus the TV, and then activate the ad on the last day of my holiday. It will take several days to thoroughly scrub the bathroom and the kitchen and rearrange cupboards. We have got used to being able to use the lodger’s cupboard and their space in the fridge and freezer, so I must squeeze all the food back into our cupboards and freezers drawers again.
I must say, I’ve enjoyed having the house to ourselves – but needs must. We’ve been without the rental income of £500 per month since December 2020 and that is a lot of money to do without. We’ve managed, but only just and only because there have been one or two windfalls along the way and because I’ve called upon savings. Well, they are all gone so now I have no choice and must get a new lodger this month. It won’t be so bad, after all, we’ve always had lodgers. For the last sixteen years we have shared our home with a succession of people – some nicer than others – so we can do it again, and anyway, with Miss F off to university at the beginning of September it will mean fewer people in the house trying to use the facilities and the company might be nice.
Have I ever told you that Miss F is lactose intolerant? Well, bless her she is, and we tend to be a dairy-free house. Sometimes though, if it’s a special occasion, Miss F will take a lactase pill that breaks down the dairy in the food so she can eat cheese or cake or ice cream without experiencing the severe pain she usually does. So, why doesn’t she take them all the time, I hear you ask. Firstly, they’re expensive and, secondly, it’s probably not good for her to take them all the time.
Anyway, the cheapest way for her to buy them is in bulk from Amazon and as she was running low, she ordered £80 worth ready to take to university and they were due to be delivered last week. They came, she took the box from the delivery driver and then I heard her calling me in disbelief. I went into the dining room to find she’d opened the box and instead of the packets of pills she’d been expecting there was a vape pen!
A vape pen! Sent to a 17-year-old by mistake. She had not been asked to sign for it nor produce any form of ID so there was the law broken straight away. I grabbed the box and ran out into the street where the driver was climbing into his van. I showed him the pen. He scratched his head. Is the address correct? Yes, it was addressed to Miss F, but it wasn’t what she ordered. He phoned his supervisor. As the package had already been delivered could he take it back? No, because it had been delivered, he couldn’t. We should have refused delivery. Even the driver rolled his eyes at that one and realised the stupidity of it. We’d been expecting a parcel of about the same size so until we’d opened it how could we possibly have known there was a vape pen lurking in there?
We contacted Amazon, explained the problem, they emailed a return label and a code we could use to leave the parcel in a local Amazon dropbox. It would take ten working days to refund us – that always makes me cross – they can take your money in ten seconds, but it takes ten days to refund it! No, they want to keep your money in their account gathering interest for as long as possible. I often wonder how much money big companies make that way.
Anyway, we resealed the parcel and I drove Miss F to the nearest drop box which was located at a garage about half a mile away. She plugged the code into the machine and a locker door sprung open. It was a very small locker. She looked at the box, then looked doubtfully at the space it was supposed to fit into. She tried. The box was too big. She pushed and struggled. Nope, it wasn’t going in, not anyhow, no way. She shrugged helplessly at me,
It was a blistering hot day, I had other things to do, and had just about had enough, so I got out of the car and went over to her, took the box out of her hand, put it on the ground, and stamped down all the edges – the box was big and the vape pen was small under lots of packaging so I knew it wouldn’t be damaged. I stamped all the way around then tried again. This time it fitted. Back home, Miss F emailed Amazon that the box was on its way back also mentioned that as she was underage and hadn’t been asked to produce any ID when taking in the vape pen, it was not on. Amazon thought about this. Two days later the refund was back in her bank, and she received her pills.
I cannot believe that in two weeks my baby will be eighteen and technically an adult. Where have the years gone to? Those of you who’ve been reading my blog since the beginning will remember me blogging about her Prom and her Sixteenth birthday party – those blogs are still there if any of you want to scroll back and read them, both are funny. She didn’t want an eighteenth party or anything like that as parties aren’t her thing. My parents will come over to see her, as will other family members and friends. I told her I wanted to give her something special from me, something that would last and remind her of her mother and told her to think about what she wanted. I was expecting her to say a piece of jewellery, instead, she came back and requested I pay for a tattoo.
A tattoo. Okay, it’s not what I anticipated and to be honest, not what I wanted, but, as she keeps reminding me, she will be eighteen and old enough to do it with or without me. I’d rather it was with me. She checked out all the tattoo parlours in town, I insisted it was a registered one with excellent references and a waiting list, no backstreet ink jockeys were getting their hands on my baby’s skin! She found one that met the criteria of both of us and an appointment has been booked for a few days after her birthday. Her best friend is coming with us and afterwards, I’ll take us out to lunch. I guess we will learn how high her pain threshold is.
I will be buying her a few other bits and pieces, but tattoos are so expensive that it will probably eat up all my budget. People can’t believe I’m doing this, but really, what other option do I have? She’s going to do it with or without my approval and she doesn’t need my consent anymore so it’s not like I can stop her and anyway, do I have the right to? I’ve raised her to think for herself, to decide what she wants and work to get it. I can’t complain when she does that just because she’s not thinking the way I want her to. I also don’t want our last few days together to be spent fighting over something that she will do the minute she leaves home anyway. Besides, I guess she is right when she says as an eighteenth birthday gift it does tick all the boxes – it is special, it is expensive, it will last, and it will remind her of me every time she catches sight of it in the mirror!
I will keep you all posted…
Nature has been invading my house lately in the shape of spiders that have been spinning cobwebs over every surface. I think Autumn is coming early this year and they’re all coming in looking for shelter for the winter. I hate cobwebs – as fast as I take them down, more appear hanging from every surface. I wish there was something we could spray on walls and ceilings that stopped spiders from attaching their webs to them.
Worse than the spiders, we’ve been infested with clothes moths! Horrid tiny silvery flying things, they are everywhere! They’ve eaten holes in almost everything I have – even a brand-new top I treated myself to from Next! I hadn’t had a chance to wear it and it was hanging in my wardrobe with the tags still on it. The little bastards chewed holes all over it! Every time I draw our curtains a cloud of moths flies out! They’re behind our sofas, eating our carpets and in our drawers. I’ve never known anything like it.
I went to Wilks and asked if they had anything I could use to kill moths. The assistant took me to the gardening section and showed me something for killing moss in lawns. Bloody masks. No, I explained, not moss – moths! And I wouldn’t care if they were outdoors, these sods were inside and eating everything. She took me to the home care section and sold me mothballs. I bought two packs and have put them everywhere. They smell like chemical orange. I have no idea if they will work or not, I hope so because I’m at the end of my tether. Although, all the cobwebs I keep finding in the house are full of clothes moths’ dead bodies so I’m a bit conflicted. Get rid of the webs and the spiders and hope the mothballs work, or allow the webs to remain for a while and hope the spiders solve the problem? Maybe the spiders have been moving in in force because the word got out it was an all you can eat buffet of moths in our house!
Anyway, it’s almost midday on Saturday and if I want to get anything else done, I will need to finish now. There’s a lasagne to make, beds to strip, and a book to write, none of which will happen by themselves.
Take care everyone and wherever you are stay safe, stay happy.