Sunday, 7 March 2021

The problem with before and after photos during construction

Trying to find a spot at the beginning of a construction project from where to take regular photos from is getting harder and harder due to the number of projects on the go in Dubai. The first project I started to document was the building of the Dubai Water Canal however within a few months, my view point was now the middle of the 120m wide and 12 m deep canal. So I've started to look for 'above' photo vantage points.

Recently I've been documenting a build in the UK on the old Qinetiq site in Malvern. Without realising the order of the build, I returned the other week to discover the view of the build is blocked already.

Well I can provide an updated photo of the view from above, easy. However I'd made an error of judgement....the weather. If I'd just looked out the kitchen window before I set off, I would have realised I couldn't see the Hills from the ground, therefore it was unlikely I'd see anything from being up there.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

2021 Week 9 - One Daily Positive. Hospital and vet appointments.

Before I started this week, the only thing I had in my diary was the Osteopath on Friday, so I booked a visit to Croome with Bob, which is 12 miles by road from here. Bob is going over to Northern Ireland in April so I can return to Dubai until the end of June. However he now requires additional paperwork and treatment before he can travel there after the change in rules with Brexit, so vets booked for him and his cat for its jabs also. 

Then I got the appointment through for my iron infusion, so it's turned into a super busy week. Thankfully we are within 10 miles of Worcester City Centre and the hospital. 

58 Saturday Nothing happened all morning, then I finally kicked my arse into gear, got off the sofa around 3pm, walked Bob then finally finished tidying away the attic rooms, just need to clean them now and I now have the space to do jobs properly. Need to make a list for curtain amendments, clothing repairs and new dog bed to be sewn.

59 Sunday Had a lie in, dressed and off to Morrisons for a paper, flowers, compost, cooked chicken, some GF foods and a take home latte. Set up the garden outside, table and chairs, read the paper, ate cake and drank latte. Mowed the lawn, weeded the front, tidied up the shed, sorted through the recycling, walked the dog, cooked a roast, watched a movie, had a bath, watched TV and a late dinner.

60 Monday Off to Croome Park at 10am with Bob, needed fuel so grabbed a coffee at the same time, a lovely sun shiny walk. Home to a bacon butty and the afternoon was spent blogging and watching TV.

61 Tuesday Vets with the cat in the morning, home to tidy paperwork and back into Worcester 4-7pm followed by an iron infusion, a bath, a facebook call with a friend and bed.

62 Wednesday Cold, damp and foggy out so took Bob for a 3 hour walk up the Malvern Hills, hardly saw anyone until we walked down through the town. Only Iceland, Boots and the coffee shops open on the high street, but Bob and I walked down the road to avoid the number of couples, kids and mobility scooters. Spent the afternoon reading the Sunday papers, evening in front of the TV and bed after a couple of video calls.

63 Thursday Been sleeping in till around 8am at the moment, showered and dressed and walked Bob, then sat blogging. Vets in the afternoon for Bob, he had some calming medication last night and a few hours before the visit, he was chilled, chewed on a pigs foot treat, I then muzzled him and he had his jabs. No one bitten but he was absolutely petrified when he was held and fought hard to escape, then as chilled as anything afterwards and let the vet make a fuss of him. We had a short walk when we got home, then a chilled out evening in front of the TV and I did some blogging. Child 3's parcel arrived back from Australia, I sent it the end of September and had just made a claim earlier this week from the Post Office.

64 Friday Osteopath at 8.30am, then took Bob for a long walk, home into my pjs, rearranged a few things in the craft room and fixed the dogs bed. Bob and I almost got mown down today out walking, the vehicle flew over the roundabout and narrowly missed another car, losing control and heading straight towards us, they clipped the curb and bounced back onto the road. I called the police, they didn't even ask my name or even ask if I was OK, they weren't interested as I didn't have the plate number. It's a small town, they'll know who the vehicle belongs to, all the windows were painted out and the van had a wide and low wheel base, not road worthy with all the black smoke pouring out the back.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - Update on the construction site in Malvern

Counting Calories - Losing the weight after stopping smoking 

Post Comment Love -  Reflections of flying during covid

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Friday, 5 March 2021

Reflections on flying during Covid with Post Comment Love - 2021 5th - 8th March

Welcome back to this weeks Post Comment Love or #PoCoLo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I. We host this weekly linky for anyone to join in with any blog post written this week and in exchange we'll comment and tweet a link to your post out on twitter. We can also send a weekly reminder, when the link is live.

All we ask is that you comment on the hosts post and one other post, most of you do and it's lovely and it's really great to meet other bloggers now a lot of us are spending more time online during covid.

I'm planning the rest of my trips this year, organising house and pet sitters ready to return to Dubai. I'd just arrived back there this time last year and Covid was now very much a topic for almost everyone.

A facebook memory popped up yesterday about the schools being closed in Dubai and how most had just hit the malls with the kids or had booked holidays to take advantage of the kids being off school. I was back in Dubai and within a week I was keeping a very close eye on my flight home.
Travel will be very different from now on I'm sure. I've already had to have PCR tests before travel and on arrival and have quarantined/isolated on 3 times now on my return to the UK. I've also been fully vaccinated whilst I was in Dubai to ensure mine and others safety for when I next get on a plane, hopefully in a months time.

Flying has been incredibly daunting during covid but it has also been in general a much better experience than normal. Less people, less stress, reduced queues, more space, less time. I imagine it's similar to the days of early aviation in terms of numbers, but obviously with a lot more checking.

A lot has changed in aviation since my first flight in 1989, aged 18. I smoked on the plane and went into the cockpit. You booked your suitcase into the hold, but carried a toiletry bag with full bottles of hairspray, shampoos etc as hand luggage.

It was only after 2001 they locked the cockpit door, stopped you driving up to the departure door to drop your loved one off and in 2006 stopped you taking liquids on board, then for a brief time in 2017 all electronics were banned in hand luggage with certain airlines and routes. 

Now I have to present time sensitive, negative PCR tests (£120 each) complete forms for permission to leave/enter/return, test on arrival, isolate/quarantine as per latest guidelines in both the UK and Dubai. My next flight is in April, I will return to the UK in June, I will follow the guidelines/rules/laws on arrival as who knows what may have change by then.

Seeing empty airports, departure boards and closed airports is actually quite daunting and really does make it quite clear just how deadly Covid is for the world to come to an almost stop.

Terminal 1 Dubai Arrivals Hall.

Terminal 3 Heathrow - Closed.

Birmingham Airport, Departure Lounge.

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Counting calories to lose the weight gained after stopping smoking.

Weight gain is easy, losing it is harder. We all know that.

I've spent this week counting calories to try to understand how I can best lose the 8kg in weight gain since I stopped smoking back in December.

According to my BMI I am over weight. I'm 5ft 7in and in mid February I was weighing just over 76kg. I've always weighed between 70-72kg for most of my life, but with some additional exercise and a house renovation during lockdown, I'd dropped to 68kg, where I felt my most comfortable, was happy with how I looked and how my clothes fitted. 

I'm not happy now and if it wasn't for lockdown I'd be having to buy new clothes for going out in.

I googled a few things, starting with my medication 'can it cause weight gain?' well medication doesn't cause weight gain, it causes an increase in your appetite, the weight gain comes from what you put in your mouth, however, my medication started in November, Beta blockers, does cause weight gain *sighs* Iron infusions also cause weight gain. I've had 2 iron infusions since October.

But that is no excuse, I've been more sedate with my activities and had bursts of exercise when I worked at the golf then did nothing for a few weeks in between, followed by isolation on my return to the UK and in general just eating the wrong foods, snacking and more snacking.

I decided to investigate the best way to lose some weight, then maintain it, without going on a special diet, just plain and simple lifestyle choices. After all for most of my life I've weighed between 70-72kg. I've snacked, had takeouts, have a sweet tooth, enjoy chocolate, sweets, cakes, ice cream alongside a normal diet and moderate exercise in the form of dog walking, gardening, housework etc.

So that's how I came to count calories. If I can cut 500 calories a day I can expect to loose 2kg a month. I've lost 1kg in the first 3 weeks, but that's been with increasing my exercise, longer walks and joining in daily with Joe Wicks exercises for seniors, yes I know, but I have coordination issues, I need a slower pace. 

Here's what I've been eating, how I'm counting and why I'm so giving up cake and sweets and allowing myself the occasional bar of chocolate instead.

I'm already on a wheat free diet due to my migraines and a bleed in the small intestine and I don't have citrus drinks/fruit due to dental and bone implants.

Calories in hot drinks come from milk and sugars. If I make a latte at home it's 110 calories as it's a smaller cup.
Swopping apple juice for no added sugar apple squash saves almost 90 calories per glass.

Weighing out ingredients gives you an idea of how much you are eating. There are 109 calories in 30g of this fruit cheese, slightly less than cheddar. How many times a day do you just snap off a piece of cheese to nibble on?

I weighed the amount of butter, sugar and mix used to work out how many calories each pancake contains.

I don't always get to eat all my calories anyway.

It gets a bit complicated keeping note of everything you eat. I started day 1 recording items as I ate them, Day 2 I planned a bit more as I knew roughly how many calories were in a lot of things and Wednesday/Thursday and over the weekend, I'll be planning the calories, snacks and drinks to achieve 1500 calories a day.

I followed the advice to have a breakfast every morning, but that makes me want to eat more during the day as once I start eating I want to keep on going.

A typical example of Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Non fat yogurt, tsp honey, banana. Low fat bacon, gluten free roll with butter and brown sauce and Chicken breast, carrots, hummus and beet root salad, all contain similar calories.

And here come the extra calories. A slice of cake and 5 boiled sweets. This is the same as 2 and a half Crunchies, almost 6 milky way bars or 10 kitkat fingers. I do have some banana bread I made in the freezer that I omitted sugar from and it works out at 80 calories per slice.

There's so many other things I've discovered about food that I will continue with after the weekend when I finish counting the calories as it's so time consuming.

I'm starting a list of the most common foods I eat and their calorie content, I'm already reducing the amount of butter/oils I use in baking/cooking and cutting out sugar in drinks. Weighing dried products such as rice and pasta before cooking not only keeps the calories within the RDA but cuts down on food waste also. I often meal plan to help with reducing the amount of trips I make to the supermarket anyway and with meal planning I can swop meals around, reduce quantities of cupboard and freezer items if I want to eat a bar of chocolate or treat myself to a glass of wine.

To lose the weight gained I need to cut out cake and sweets, alcohol, chunks of cheese from the fridge as I pass. Staying up late makes me snack, eating too early makes me eat all day. Writing everything down makes me more honest with myself about what I'm eating, weighing foods and working out the calories makes me think twice about having that extra snack or eating just the one bag of sweets. I'm drinking a glass of water before each meal as it does make me feel a bit fuller. 

I aim to lose a further 2kg this month, increase my exercise and improve my diet. I won't be counting calories next week, I'll just be reducing portion sizes and thinking twice before I eat or drink something.

Do you have any tips on maintaining a healthy diet, losing weight and exercising you'd be happy to share with me?

Saturday, 27 February 2021

2021 - Week 8 One Daily Positive - Just another week.

I've decided to unlink my blog from facebook. I post a link each week, people read then that's it, apart from fellow bloggers leaving a comment, I have no idea who has read it, then randomly get asked a question by someone I know that has so obviously come from a blog post but it is asked in a way as if they haven't read it and have been given the info by someone else.Why not just say 'I saw it on your blog' or 'someone else told me about it from your blog' I hate the fact so many people in real life now have access, it seems quite unfair, they read the blog, know what I'm getting up to, don't tell me and therefore miss an opportunity for me to ask them what they've been up to.

I've put on 8kg since I stopped smoking, I didn't realise this was happening until last week when I struggled to get into my jeans. I've been mostly wearing my walking gear when out or PJ's/track suit bottoms at home. I'm reducing the amount of food I'm eating and not buying any junk food so I can't eat it if it's not here. I've already cut out Gluten and citrus fruits due to migraines and dental implants, now to focus on cutting out/down sugars and stopped taking it in my tea and coffee. I refuse to go without my caffeine (once a day) and dairy in my latte. Although I have cut down on my cheese intake and have bought 'no fat' yogurts.

Sadly there is currently no increase to my iron intake or a reduction in my white blood cells. There is nothing little left I can now do other than regular infusions which are booked for next week.

51 Saturday Awake at 4am, more rain, stayed in bed on the lap top, walked Bob, spent some time sorting through the kids and mine keep sake stuff. Bob had a bath in the evening he was starting to stink and I sat on the sofa, watching The 2nd best Marigold Hotel and blogging under the cat.

52 Sunday Morning spent commenting on blog posts. Finally with help from my friends/neighbours the sofa is now out the other neighbours garage and back in the living room. I would like to add at this point, I've not had anyone else in my home for 11 days, this is technically a bubble for one day as they don't see anyone else either. I doubt I'll se anyone else now until regulations/rules are relaxed. Drove the car to the other side of town to walk Bob so I could take some photos of a construction project. I then spent the evening tidying and cleaning the attic rooms which I'm using for storage and as a craft room/study.

53 Monday I did nothing all day till 4pm other than have lunch and snooze on the sofa. I then had a bath, took Bob on a long walk, cleaned the bathrooms and did some more tidying in the attic rooms.

54 Tuesday I did nothing all morning. Visited the Osteopath in the afternoon, a quick shop in Waitrose for fresh items and the evening was spent as a virtual guest for the filming of QI from the comfort of my living room.

55 Wednesday I did nothing again all morning, then all of a sudden I was dressed, walked the dog, did some weeding, baked bread and cakes, did some washing and research for getting the dog to Northern Ireland as well as several telephone calls with family and friends.

56 Thursday Walked Bob at 7am then off to Worcester for my click and collect shopping from Tesco. I had a walk round the empty City centre and down by the river, had a lie down in the afternoon then rearranged the dining room. 

In the evening Peter and I shared our view of the moon from 3000 miles apart.

57 Friday Took Bob for a walk, then off to the Osteopath and post office on the way home. Rest of the day spent in bed or on the sofa, so tired. Did the ironing, watched TV and bed.

On the blog this week:

Post Comment Love - A weekly link for any post written this week

My Sunday Photo - Construction in Dubai. The Beach - 6 years apart.

What happens at on a TV recording ass a member of a virtual audience - My TV experience with QI

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Friday, 26 February 2021

26th - 28th February 2021 Post Comment Love.

This time last year I was preparing to return to Dubai as my friend and neighbour was following me the next week for a holiday and my Sister in Law and her friend were coming for a visit. Currently I can't even get a flight out to Dubai.

In the UK Covid was still a virus that was in China and had spread to a few other countries. In Dubai they were talking of closing schools and it seemed a bit more real, but there were no concerns about me flying back on March 2nd or my friend joining me on the 6th. 

This week I had the opportunity to join a recording of QI as a member of a virtual audience, I really enjoyed it and hope to be joining in with more shows soon.

Stephanie and I would love it if you joined us at #PoCoLo this week and linked up with any post you've written this week.

Please don't dump and run, it's not fair on the others who comment weekly.
If you share your post on twitter, please tag us and #PoCoLo, it makes it easier for us to share your post back.

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Thursday, 25 February 2021

What happens as a virtual TV audience member?

This week I was invited to be a member of the audience for a recording of QI. Not giving anything away that could spoil your enjoyment of the show when it is screened later this year, just sharing my experience.

From the right 2 across and 7 down

I've made many a guest appearance on a TV show, usually Match of the Day as a spectator in the crowd and more recently I've been involved behind the scenes as a mic holder on the European Tour, doing my best to avoid the TV cameras, picking up sound and alerting the studio to the action on the course so they can 'go live' (on a delay) camera and commentary.

Studio audiences are a thing, I'm assuming it's similar to sitting in a theatre, a warm up act, an introduction where you're asked to cheer louder, but then in a live show, what happens, happens. Where as in a show being recorded there will be stops, retakes, make up/hair adjustments, 2nd, 3rd, 4th takes.

Never having been to a studio recording I cannot be sure that a virtual audience is the same as a studio audience, but I'm assuming it is.

So how does a virtual audience work?

I had a website to click though and a password to sign on with. There was a dress code, no all white or bright coloured clothing and to ensure I was visible from the waist up, that I wore headphones, had good lighting, no logos or advertising on display in the background and that I agreed to stay signed in for the full duration of the show, as well as not disclosing anything from the recording.

From 6.30pm to 7.15pm I took part in quizzes online, which given information and reminded of the above.

Next, information about when to clap was given and throughout the show there were signs for 'applause' there were no instructions on when to laugh and everyone was informed that they may be replaced on the screen if they weren't t clapping or paying attention.

The show started around 7.40pm and continued till 9.30pm. It just ran straight through with a couple of pauses to fix the stage, costumes and sound issues. I could hear the studio fully but not the other members of the virtual audience and the contestants mentioned they couldn't hear the audience at one point and that our video stream disappeared off their screen at one point, although the audience were muted in parts some of the contestants commented that they could hear conversations taking place on peoples sofas.

At the end of the filming there were a few retakes of the introductions and the endings, but not with any of the contents and answers to the questions.

I've no idea when the show will be aired, it'll be really interesting to see what answers made the cut to get the programme down to its 45 minutes screen time.

On the whole I really enjoyed it and hope I get the opportunity to take part in future episodes and with other programmes.

I'm not sure the cat and dog enjoyed the experience as much, they were a little confused by me clapping randomly.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

The road from The Beach to Bluewaters - Dubai. 6 years apart.

My first visit to Dubai was January 2014. The rocky outcrop I'm sat on was the harbour wall for the Marina. It's now the half way point and bridge support to Bluewaters Island. I can only access this spot now from the bridge 30ft above as in the second photo.

Directly behind me (to my right) is the Sheraton Hotel where these photos of Bluewaters land being built in the sea were taken from and Ain Dubai.

January 2014

January 2020

Close up of the differences. 


How many did you find?

You can see the harbour wall from The Beach, where both photos were taken from. This photo was taken from the Sheraton.

Looking back from Bluewaters to The Beach.


Saturday, 20 February 2021

2021 Week 7 - One Daily Positive. Not doing much.

I'm just hanging around now in the UK, house unpacked and everything put away, can't do much outside due to the weather, but have tidied up the sheds and started a list of outdoor projects I can get onto as it warms up. I'm here till mid/end March when child 4 collects the dog, just need to sort something out with the cat. Can get house sitters but would need two and sorry but I'm reluctant to ask one stranger to hand over the keys to my house to another stranger. For some reason quite a few people think that it's a good idea until I ask them if they'd do it. Will probably put the cat in a cattery for 2-3 months.

Back hurting, probably from Osteopath visits and new exercises. Neck killing me also, but it'll be fine. 

I've been sorting out paperwork, writing letters and packing up gift boxes for birthdays through till the end of June, plus Easter gifts also. It's this type of activity, fine motor skills and sitting, that actually cause me more pain and damage. I've lacked motivation this week 

I can't wait till we're allowed to do garden visits again. Hopefully I'll be able to go back to Dubai by the end of March once I've sorted out a house/pet sitter for the cat, so if anyone is looking for a change of scenery with outdoor space in exchange for cat sitting, do get in touch.

44 Saturday Morning spent in bed other than making tea and toast and putting the roast on. I did some blogging, commented on blogs and caught up with the TV soaps. There was a visit from a friend today, she hasn't seen anyone since I was last in the UK, back in October, so technically she's remained in her bubble and as I  haven't seen anyone since I arrived back, our bubble still exists. 

Cooked myself a Sunday roast because I thought today was Sunday when I'd planned it and defrosted the meat.

45 Sunday Happy Valentines Day and Happy 11th Birthday to Bob the Dog. I didn't get him a McDonalds drive thru as I can't justify that as an essential, but I may get one next time I have to get fuel and am in the retail park. I assembled the last Ikea unit for the lounge so all the boxes downstairs are now unpacked.

46 Monday Exciting day. Osteopath, delivery and windows cleaned. Spoke to more people today than I do in a week. Did little else for the day.

47 Tuesday I spent most of the day in the attic rooms, sorting through my fathers stuff of things I still have to sell that I've been storing, most of it will be on ebay, but I do already have a box of bric a brac, items from the flat I no longer need now our kitchen stuff has arrived.

Peg Solitaire.

48 Wednesday Off to the tip then for a socially distanced walk with a friend and the dogs over the golf course.

49 Thursday I got full on dressed up for my click and collect shop, made popcorn and did very little else for the day.

50 Friday Osteopath appointment in the morning, really feeling the benefit. Walked up into town to the post office, a carefully planned trip. Parcels stamped, list written. PO in town doesn't sell food items and/or magazines. Went to WHSmith, only 4 people in store, but felt incredibly hot and claustrophobic, I'd picked up a TV guide, felt obliged to have to buy it, stood in the narrowest confined space for the queue for an age while a woman was assisted using the self service check out. Left quickly and ended up in Wilko's which was much better as I could get everything on my list and a few things I'd put off getting due to not wanting to go in the shops.

On the blog this week:

Post Comment Love - A weekly linky. 

My Sunday Photo - Happy 11th Birthday Bob.

Trying not to cry over spilt milk and other stuff.

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Friday, 19 February 2021

19th - 21st February 2021 - Post Comment Love

This time last year I was in the UK getting ready to move back here full time when my husband retires next year. The cat and dog arrived the end of January, the house had been reclaimed from tenants in November 2019 and most of the repair work had been done. 

The plan was to return to Dubai month on month. I got back in March last year, but it was touch and go whether I got back, since then I've been back out to Dubai twice and hopefully I'll be able to get back out end March/April so I can close bank accounts, finish the tenancy, sell a car, the garden, close utilities down and arrange the rest of our belongings to come back. 

There aren't any direct flights available at the moment, child 4 and his wife is taking the dog and I need to find a cattery for the cat for a few months, it won't be happy. 

Everything with me has to be 'last minute' I'm not sure I'll ever have any normality in my life.

Time now to join up with Stephanie and I for this weeks #PoCoLo

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Thursday, 18 February 2021

Crying over spilt milk and other stuff

I didn't spill the milk, but I did run out last night. I managed to get a click and collect delivery for today after signing into every account I now have. I struggled to get an order up to £40. I find cooking for one difficult so I've been cooking for 2-3 people then freezing the spare portions, when I checked the freezer I had 11 meals, 7 days worth of breakfast and 5 light lunches/snacks. Some meal planning and rooting through the cupboards and I only needed to order dairy, frozen fruit and veg. 

The wine, radox were added to make up the minimum basket shop and the chocolate eggs are for child 5.

I then decided to try click and collect orders for the other stores at the retail park while I'm there, but I need to collect either within the hour or place the order tomorrow or wait 2-3 days for everything to be in stock, so I cancelled that idea. I'm trying to avoid going out/near people other than daily dog walks.

I got full on dressed up to collect my shopping today, I stopped smoking end of last year and have been none stop thinking about not eating as a way to combat stopping smoking. Not thinking about cigarettes has been easy, but the 8kg weight gain now has to go.

I was home by 9am and spent the rest of the day sorting out paperwork and tidying things around. There's only me here and it's easy to get stuff out and not tidy up afterwards, although I'm not, never have been and never will be trying to create a perfect home. I like the lived in look and feel.

 At the moment I can't get a flight to Dubai booked, I've managed to sort out the dog as child 4 and his wife will be taking him in, but I can't get a house sitter to commit to more than 2 months and the cattery is coming in at around £1000 and one place has closed after a foreign traveller gave them all covid. Not one place has offered a long term stay discount, is this common for the UK? 

I'm also making sure that all birthdays, anniversaries, events etc are covered between the end of March and mid June when I hope to be back, I have to arrange, shop and post early and from now on no response that something has arrived = nothing arriving next year. Harsh but tough. I don't want gratitude. I'm trying to keep lines of communication open, which obviously aren't wanted everywhere.

I've found a parcel post box down the industrial estate which will save me a trip to the post office, but I have a few to post abroad and require proof of postage so will have to go to the post office this week, where I will be able to pick up a couple of cards, tv guide and some treats for the week. I'll do that tomorrow after seeing the Osteopath. Then I won't have to go near the shops or other people for a week or so.

This constant adapting to climate, covid regulations, travel requirements, culture, home, being alone is all really wearing me down now. I can't even get the dog food order right. I travel with a 30kg suitcase but appear to have no idea online how large 2.5kg is when it comes to buying dog food.

I've given up trying to get the contract with the shipping company fulfilled, my sofa still sits in the neighbours garage. Every box has been unpacked, rooms just need rearranging and then hopefully by this time next week I'll have finished and given the house a clean from top to bottom.

I've been putting off taking the cat and dog to the vets for their (late) annual jabs. Bob requires a sedation and my stress levels are rising just typing this.

I've no idea what day of the week it is, Friday has just arrived again.