Are you bored from being all cooped up from this awful polar vortex, or maybe you’re still locked down cause of the Wuhan flu? Are you experiencing some cabin fever from all that indoor time? Well here’s one possible cure for your boredom, you can watch a guy build a cabin!
A friend sent me a link to this video many months ago, and it did take me a while to find time to watch it because of it’s length. Once I did finally watch it though, I found it quite interesting. So much so I’ve watched it twice now. The YouTube channel is called My Self Reliance and it belongs to a Canadian named Shawn James. In this video he takes clips from his vast library of videos to showcase his two year project of building a log cabin in the wilds of Canada, completely by hand. No power…
Heard of ‘The Road TO Wigan Pier’ by George Orwell, a social study of the north west town of Wigan? Now you can read ‘The Road FROM Wigan Pier’; a true story of one woman’s life in that same town.
It’s misleading to believe this town was alone in its hardship and squalor, the Great Depression of the 1930s affected most, if not all of them.
Elizabeth Alker was eighteen in 1936, the year of Orwell’s study. While he concentrated on the filth and deprivation he found in that working-class industrial town, Elizabeth’s story shows the closeness and love evident in her extended family circle. Read her true story and marvel at her courage and resilience during those tough times.
At the time of Orwell’s study, various illness had taken most of her close family. Only her mother was left and she had serious lung problems owing to her work in the cotton mill. Knowing she was dying, her mother’s greatest wish was that her only child, Elizabeth, would be married and settled before she died.
Fortunately, Elizabeth already had a young man from Liverpool who was keen to fulfil her mother’s wishes. They married that same year, a few months after Elizabeth turned eighteen. Just a couple of weeks after her twentieth birthday in 1938, her mother, the last of Elizabeth’s close family, died. She had a baby by then and felt the loss of her mother keenly.
Even worse, the following year, when WW2 was declared, her husband, as a territorial reserve, was among the first to be called up. Now, Elizabeth, alone with a toddler, had no close family to turn to, Yet, even in the uncertainty and fear of the following war years, she coped and found humour.
As I’ve just turned 75, and my husband is also in his 70s with serious health issues, we are just two of the many elderly and vulnerable people who feel we have to self isolate to protect ourselves. In consequence, we have been doing this since March, the week before the government advised us to do the initial 12 week isolation. That’s 9 months so far, and next week, when we come out of this current month long national lock down, our area of Lancashire will be entering tier 3, the one with the most severe restrictions. We would have preferred the initial lock-down to be a more severe, short, sharp act of defense to prevent the epidemic rather than this start, stop, action which does nothing except slow it temporarily. That didn’t happen. Now we are left with the consequences.
I really don’t think the testing and tracing helps that much either, and such a huge amount of resources have been thrown in that direction. For one thing, testing results are only a guide to see if you have it on the day you are tested. If your results come back as negative, by the time you receive them, you may have actually been infected. The only way testing would work, is if you live alone, are tested at home, and stay at home, with no contact with others until you receive the results. If anyone else in your household is going about their business, then you could still contract corona-virus while awaiting your results. This doesn’t even take into account the people who won’t isolate, even when told they have the virus.
Until vaccination becomes a reality for everyone, the only real way of stopping the virus is a world-wide synchronised lock-down. No shopping, no eating out, no working (for anyone, even emergency services), no travel of any kind, no contact outside your household, at all. Yes, it does sound ridiculous and would be impossible to implement, but it would be the only way to eradicate it. Failing this solution, we are left with this on/off stab at controlling the numbers affected with the disease. It’s not perfect, by any means, but I’m convinced, there isn’t much else we can do.
So many businesses are struggling to survive in this current pandemic situation. It’s not just the small enterprises, but also the huge concerns too. Even knowing this, I still believe the temporary closure of businesses, where people meet and mingle, is the correct response to stop people spreading the virus. I know those who have businesses at risk will disagree with me but, in a civilised society, we have to put the welfare of people first, especially those who are vulnerable. It all boils down to a choice of protect the people, or protect the economy.
It is regrettable some businesses will close, without a doubt, but there are some new opportunities. A few businesses are booming as a direct result of the pandemic and ‘stay at home’ rules. The growth industries include online stores selling everything you can buy in the High Street, Online grocery shopping, delivery services, and PPE suppliers, and these are only a few of them.
Even with the new business opportunities, it is inevitable the number of people unemployed is increasing as the old businesses die. This may be a transition period while the new industries become established, or it may be more permanent. Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, those who have lost their jobs, and often their self-esteem during this pandemic, must be helped as much as possible. Along with losing their source of income, these people may also have teenage children whose education qualifications have been compromised at this time, and younger children who have missed vital education lessons. All this disruption is bound to affect future opportunities for them. It is up to those in power to remedy this for them.
My 3 boys had experience of some lean unemployment years when they were in the early years of their working lives. Here is a poem I wrote about them, during that time.
Michael Bronte is the author of nine crime fiction thrillers – all available to buy here. His protagonists are everyday heroes and his stories could happen to anyone; exploring how these ordinary people react to extraordinary circumstances is his speciality and it’s what makes his novels unique. Learn more about him on his website!
So, Michael, tell us about your latest work!
I have just released Homicide: Party of Twelve. The short description is: When his boss is gunned down in a drive-by outside Chez Alain, the Jersey City restaurant where Frankie Fortunato works as a server, Frankie takes over as manager. Reluctantly, he becomes an integral part of New Jersey State Police Detective Matt Klimecki’s investigation aimed at bringing the criminals who perpetrated the crime to justice.
When did you start to write? What was your first work you wrote ‘for fun’ (as opposed to school…
It is a pleasure to warmly welcome Ellen Read to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, a short form author interview series. To help celebrate the release of The Inca’s Curse, we sat down for a chat. Thanks Ellen!
What is your drink of choice as we sit down for a chat about your new book?
At the moment I’m having a cappuccino. With this year being so restrictive, I bought a coffee machine. I can’t do without one cappuccino a week.
Can you give us an overview of your writing career to date?
I’ve written since I was very young. To start with I wrote poetry and short stories. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. One book was accepted by an agent in London and I very nearly had a contract, but the publisher merged with a…
As I am reviewing all the stories in this anthology, I can’t review mine, so instead, I will tell you little bit about it, and where it came from.
The whole tale evolved from a dream I had way back in the nineties. I was being forced to cross a river and was terrified I was going to drown. A nice guy, no idea who at that time, helped me overcome it and coaxed me to take the first steps to join the others on the opposite bank. I’m not scared of water, in fact just the opposite, I love it. So it probably came from something I saw or read.
At the time Yugoslavia was being broken up into what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia. Slobodan Milosevic was a politician and instigated the break-up of the country. He was continually in…
What a fascinating blog post. As a girl, until I was sixteen (1950s), I lived in an old house with an unusual door bell, not a knocker. Your photo of number 11 reminded me of it because our house was number 11 too. Our door bell was similar to the picture but ours was a Lion’s head and the tongue could be pulled out to ring the bell. I loved that door feature.
I’ve had a ‘thing’ for pretty front doors for a long time. It all started when I realised that we had actually been living in the house of my dreams for a few years and took a photo of our own front door, just to remind me in the future of how lucky I’ve been to have lived there.
Over the years my camera roll has been slowly filling up with front doors from here there and everywhere that I’ve quickly snapped. Whilst Europe may have some amazing front doors i found classic British front doors are just as fascinating.
The caravan has taken us out and about into villages and towns here and abroad capturing old, new, magical and heavenly front doors.
Doors are the entrance and exit into and out of peoples lives. Doors so old they could tell a story or two. I love a trip out…
Although I’m self isolating and have been since 10th March, I’m lucky enough to have both a front and a back garden. They are only small, but they give my husband and I the opportunity to take in some fresh air.
Others self isolating, maybe living in flats or apartments, don’t have gardens to sit in. I’ve just discovered that The Wildlife Trust has gone some way to bring nature into the home of those who cannot get out in the country. They’ve got some great web cameras situated around the country so you can see wildlife. Here’s one showing nesting ospreys. Enjoy!
In these troubled times where incomes are not guaranteed, most of us need to start considering how we’re going to eke out what we already have. It’s certainly a time to start thinking how we can cut back, especially if you’ve never had to before.
I’m no authority on this subject, but I do have many years of personal experience. Over thirty years ago, when my sons were teenagers and still at home, my husband, aged forty-three had a severe heart attack. At the time, I was studying for a degree as I was hoping to establish a career for myself after many years of child raising. The consultant told my husband he should not work again, and as he couldn’t walk more than a few steps without pain, I willingly gave up college to assist him.
Six whole weeks went by before we received any state benefits. That was a difficult time as you can imagine. I sincerely hope those dependent on the state due to this self isolation won’t have to wait so long.
That first week, I cancelled every home service I was allowed to. In those days we had our milk and newspapers delivered, so they were the first to go. Next I had to tell the window cleaner his services were no longer required. Then I examined my endowment insurance policy and saw I could cancel that. It paid us a small amount of cash back, but there would have been a much better pay out if we could have left it until it matured.
Everything we could let go of, we cancelled. Luckily, the car we had on monthly payments was covered by insurance, so we no longer had to find the money for that. Our mortgage was our biggest worry, so I wrote to our lender asking if something could be done. We were paying 14% interest on the mortgage at that time. Unfortunately, they weren’t very helpful and we were still liable for the full payment. To cut a long story short, we found ways of cutting back and managed to still pay everything we were required to.
This was more than thirty years ago and since I’ve been the primary carer for our children, my husband, and both sets of our parents, I don’t even have my own pension. Instead, the state take £77 from my husbands state pension and pay it in my name. So you see, I’ve always had to stick to a tight budget. Now, I feel the lessons I’ve learned and the tips others may give, may help others at this critical time.
I intend this blog to have a go-to list of helpful hints and suggestions to help the reader better manage the resources they have. If you have any posts about money saving tips, recipes, make do and mend ideas, or anything else which could be useful to those struggling, please drop the link in a comment and I’ll add it here. Every little bit helps when you’re on a tight budget. Thank you!
This isn’t the time to bury your head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening. Aim to limit the financial damage straight away. Start by examining all your entertainment, contracts and see if it’s worth cancelling them. Obviously, don’t cancel if the cancellation fee is more than you’ll save by not paying the remaining installments.
Look at your phone contracts. During this pandemic while you’re stuck at home, do your family members all need their individual mobile phones to keep in contact with each other? If you have a landline, that may suffice for keeping in touch with others. However, If your mobile phone is your ONLY link to the internet, then keep one contract, otherwise, opt for a pay-as-you-go voucher instead of contract if you can. Again, ensure the cancellation fee is not more than the remaining contract payments. If it’s still necessary for other family members to keep their own phones and you can afford it, get a minimum pay-as-you-go voucher for them and persuade them to limit their calls to make it last.
Check with your power supply providers that you’re on the lowest tariff for gas and electricity. Often, if you have separate power providers for gas and electric, you can get a better deal by having one supplier provide both gas and electric.
Hopefully, you will have enough food already in to keep you going for a short while but, if not, seek out any Food Banks or Community Food Initiatives in your area. Don’t be too proud to do this. They have been set up to help people in unforeseen situations like this. You won’t be the only one in your area looking for outside help. Continuing to get nourishment can help you remain healthy.
If you smoke, now is the perfect time to give it up. What would be the point of foregoing food on the table or missing important payments for a few packets of cigarettes? yes, it will be hard, but think how much better off you’ll be when things get back to normal.
The occasional drink is alright, but consider how much you usually drink. Are you usually a pub drinker? How much would you usually spend a week on drinking? Now is the perfect time to consider your spending habits. Resolve to not buy any more alcohol, at least, until your income improves.
Those trips to the hairdresser and beauty salon will have to be curtailed if you are going to survive living on state benefits for a time. Don’t worry, they can be resumed once your income is back to normal again. The treatments would be wasted anyway if no-one can see you while you’re stuck at home.
Put a temporary hold on newspaper deliveries, window cleaners, laundry, and gardening services. You have the time to do most jobs yourself now so why pay others money you can’t really spare to do it for you.
Don’t waste any food. If you’re used to having a fully stocked fridge and larder, you may think you have nothing in to make a meal, but we can all make our food go further. For example, most people cut off the thick broccoli stalk and throw it away, serving only the little broccoli florets. Don’t throw the stalk away; chop it up and freeze it for later. You can add it to stews and soups or even serve the chopped pieces with the florets to make it go further. If you think your veg isn’t going to get used before it goes off, chop it up and freeze it. Carrots, parsnips, swede, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, and peppers can all be rescued.
Here’s one end-of-the-week recipe I used to do when my 3 sons were at home and the cupboard was almost bare. It can be eaten hot or cold, and can be frozen.
Cheese and Onion Quiche
8 oz Flour
4 oz Margerine
1 Large onion
half a pint of milk
3 to 4 oz cheddar cheese
Using the fingertip method, rub the margarine into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Slowly add a few drops of water to the mixture while stirring, keep adding a few drops until it all holds together in one mass. Roll it out on a floured board.
Switch oven on at 170 degrees Centigrade (adjust for fan oven). Grease a 9 to 10 inch flan dish (23cm to 25.5cm) and line the flan dish with the pastry.
Dice the onion and fry gently in a knob of butter on a low heat until the onion is soft but NOT browned. Put the softened onions on top of the pastry in a level layer.
Grate the cheese. Heat the milk, but don’t let it reach boiling point. Whisk the eggs a little and add to the hot milk. Add most of the cheese to the milk mixture leaving about a quarter of the cheese for scattering on the top of the dish. Season the mix with salt, pepper, and paprika (or cayenne pepper) if you have it. (Alternatively use Season All which is paprika, salt and pepper already mixed.) Pour the milk mixture on top of the onions in the flan.
Scatter the remaining cheese on top of the quiche and sprinkle a little more paprika (or Season All) on top. Bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes. Enjoy!
If you prefer, for a firmer pasty base, bake the pastry in the flan blind for 5 – 10 minutes. That means weigh the pastry down with a smaller flan dish of something similar while baking for a few minutes before adding the milk mixture.
If you have cooked ham or bacon pieces you can also add this to the milk mix for an extra tasty dish. Alternatively, choose your own fillings.
Today is Valentine’s Day so here’s a little poem to celebrate it.
Not everybody is naturally romantic. Yet, relationships can be loving and fulfilling regardless of that fact. Don’t confuse romance with real love.
Despite not being particularly romantic in the way of bringing flowers etc,. my husband of 54 years shows his love in a million other ways. He’s always here, calls me his best friend, keeps me supplied with coffee, tea, breakfast, and lunch, looks after the garden, and considers me in everything he does. In return, I keep the house and all the gadgets in it clean, wash and iron our clothes, make our evening meal, and also help out in the garden. That’s the type of love I wouldn’t swap for anything.
What is your ideal type of love? Describe it in a comment below.
Although I won’t offer my books free, my books will be discounted for a few days on a Kindle Countdown Deal. It is two years since these books were offered at a discount price, so a deal on them is quite rare. If you want to read them, I would advise you take advantage of this rare bargain price.
If you’re waiting for them to be offered free, you’ll probably wait forever. The reasons I won’t give away my books are mainly listed in the image below, but, added to those is the fact that free books devalue the time and effort writers put into their work. For more on this subject see my previous post ‘Why My Books Are Never Free.
So what are you waiting for? The reduced price only last a few days. Grab one, or even both of them, right now!
Recently, I received a message on social media from a cheeky individual asking me how much I’d pay her to read one of my books. Really? Would this same person approach a shopkeeper and ask him how much he’d pay her to take away his goods? Sounds ridiculous when put like that, doesn’t it?
Needless to say, I was shocked by this particular message. Has the writing game become so cut-throat now that some authors are actually paying people to read their books and bookworms are expecting payment for reading them? Oh wait! Yes, it has!
There are some authors out there who will pay for reviews. So, it looks like this particular opportunist was just taking advantage of that fact. I, for one, would never pay for reviews, and this little episode has just convinced me of the full consequences of their actions. Writing has become devalued, I think.
Genuine readers can no longer trust the reviews attached to books and authors, like me, who have spent about 2,000 hours writing, editing, and publishing a single book, get comments like the above.
It’s enough to make one give up. Instead, I’m having a Kindle Countdown Deal on my books, starting 15th November. I do hope some of you will support my book adverts if you see them. Thank you!
When my youngest son was two, he could recite every nursery rhyme I knew. So, I visited my local library to find some new ones I could teach him. Although I did find a few more that were suitable, my hubby and I couldn’t stop laughing when we read the one below.
I put my finger in the woodpecker’s hole,
And the woodpecker said, “God, bless my soul.
Take it out, TAKE IT OUT!”
Well, do you think it’s suitable for a child, or is it just a reflection of how our minds work? Since it’s been turned into different versions of songs which can be found on Google, I don’t think it’s just us.
Funnily enough, by the time my son was 12 , he could hardly remember any of the nursery rhymes I taught him. Maybe he was too young.
I’m not very observant! How do I know this? It was brought home to me one day, many moons ago, while out shopping on my own.
Minding my own business walking to the next shop I wanted to visit in the high street of a busy town, a lady with a clip-board and pen blocked my progress and spoke to me.
“Tell me everything you’ve just seen and what you think just happened,” she said, her pen poised ready to record my answers.
“Pardon?” I was stopped in my tracks and taken aback by this interruption out of the blue. “What do you mean?” I was now on my guard as I didn’t know what was happening and why this strange woman was asking me these odd questions. My mind was occupied by the items I’d just seen and the possibility I might find a better match to my requirements in the next store.
Raising a well-defined arched eyebrow, she continued, “You must have seen the man in a mask running out of that shop and heading off down the street.” She gave me a quizzical, unbelieving look as she pointed in the direction the man had taken.
I didn’t have a clue what she was going on about, but she went on to explain they were staging a robbery to test how observant passers-by were. I’m afraid I failed miserably. I never even saw the man, nor heard the shocked gasps of other shoppers who had seen him. I just stood there feeling such a fool.
It did teach me a lesson though and I’m much more aware of my surroundings nowadays when I’m out and about. This was in the days before mobile phones. Now people are texting while out and about, I wonder how many of them would actually see an incident happening around them.
Have you ever missed something you should have seen? Tell me about it.