RIP -Ursula K. le Guin

I was saddened to hear today that Ursula K.Le Guin had died. I haven’t read anything of hers for a while but feel that she was one of those wide ranging authors who wasn’t afraid to put controversial subjects into her work.

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I read first the Wizard of Earthsea  and then the whole Earthsea collection.

From that I moved on to The Left Hand of Darkness – Science fiction with gender at it’s core. In 2015 the BBC presented The Left hand of Darkness as a Radio 4 play in two parts. It was well done, very atmospheric.

Before that  Goro Miyzaki  introduced a new generation to her work with the animated Tales  of Earthsea  which I still enjoy every now and again.

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My favourite was The Word for World is Forest. I realise when looking today that I haven’t read as many of her books as I had thought I had. The Birthday of the World awaits.

I espcially like the Den of Geek interview she did in 2015.

So the world has lost another creative and challenging author, groundbreaking for her whole lifetime. As someone who would like to write something good she will always remain an inspiration.


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Kickstarting the Year


This is a chatty post so nothing clever will be said but you might like it anyway.

So the last few weeks have been a bit hectic and I still haven’t got the Christmas decs in the loft yet.

I am exhausted (not sleeping so well) and have had to have a few days off from marathon training but I am back on it. I slept through The Lord of the Rings  (Fellowship) last night and felt a lot better. Its one of those comfort movies.

In that category there is Stardust, The first Star Trek featuring Chris Pine and the mini series ‘Going Postal’  which Sky did a good few years ago now. I wish they would do more Terry pratchett stuff as it is always good.

Seeing in the New Year was a quiet affair, as in just me, DH and DD.

Since then I have been busy decluttering and cleaning. Not spring cleaning as such, just keeping on top of things and doing a bit more.

DD has gone back to Uni now so I am able to use her room as a sorting area again. I have a new system for clearing out. If something is to go out of the house and is not to go in the bin it will go in her room in a box for reuse (gifts and things for the charity shoe boxes), charity shop ragbag, charity shop good stuff or it will go to work for distribution either by giving away or donating to various departments.

The important thing is that as soon as a bag or box is full it is taken and put in the car and taken to it’s final destination within a few days. This is working very well for me. I used to build up mountains of stuff and never move it on becasue I thought I would take it all in one big go. What actually happened is that things got moved around, spilled over or I would change my mind.

I do struggle to let books go. They have been my protection since childhood and I know I don’t need all of them any more, in fact I am not sure I can read all the ones I have.

Some are parts of series where I didn’t collect the next in line and so the rest have waited. I am now using my library for these or kindle if I can’t get them from the libary. Thjis is also workig well for me.

A second major area is the craft stash. Its amazing how you can build up such a collection and still have nothing to show for it. I am tackling this in categories. I am onto wool first. I am crocheting a blanket and shawl set for me for the car. I  have hot and cold flushes and they will be easire to throw off than suffering in a coat.


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Current Themes – An Update


Happy New Year Folks.

I can’t believe its nearly a month since I have written. Lots of reasons, none important really. Here is my monthly report.

Health and Fitness: STILL coughing, had a chest infection. The Couch to 5k has been dropped for now because I didn’t want to end up with pneumonia but I haven’t stopped.

In December I volunteered to do The Moonwalk. A night walk which is a marathon distance around London. Its all for breast cancer charities and I have agreed to go.

I am in training and have managed 2 weeks of an 18 week programme bar one day. Its not until May so should be up to speed and distance by then. I am walking 5 to 6 miles a day at present with work as well as training walks.

I got a Fitbit for Christmas, I lost my last one. It is showing how little sleep I have although I am not waking every hour as I used to. In the last week I have made over 6 hours once and over 5 hours twice, otherwise less than four hours. I admit I was burning the candle at both ends but even when I go to bed earlier I am still struggling to get to sleep.

I have been feeling that I am on a plateau with my health of late, not moving forward. The walk and efforts to focus on sleep should help that.

Making Money: Still not doing the surveys, I hope to get back to that once DD has returned to uni and I can put up my computer. I haven’t overspent over Christmas and this year intend to save something every month into account just for birthdays etc.

Prepping: Nothing to report again. No time or energy at the moment. We did have the water turned off at night for three days in December while the water company did some work. It was no problem as we have plenty of water stored for emergencies. As it happened we didn’t need it as we filled pans and the kettle for hot drinks and fitted all other activities around the times.

Decluttering and Minimising: Since last writing I have sent about 20 bags of books and stuff to the charity shop and around various departments at the hospital for their fundraising efforts.

This year it will continue. There is a chance that we will move house in 2108 so I could really not do with packing all that stuff up and moving it to the next place.

I am also intending to work through my craft stash to use up as much as possible.

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: This year I was lucky to get food, drink and useful presents. I have used everything and recycled the packaging. I haven’t moved much more forward with plastic avoidance. I tried to buy a glass bottle of salad cream last week with no luck.

When buying presents I tried to consider the disposal of the leftovers. Bottles of wine are an especially good present for this purpose. I also recycled and re-purposed some packaging from 2016 Christmas so I didn’t feel too bad.

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Current Themes – An Update

Health and Fitness: Aah, woe is me. A second chesty cough has now knocked me off my perch. The Couch to 5k will now have to wait again and I was ready to go onto week two too. What a pain. First time off sick from work since I went back last May.

Prioritising sleep as I was burning the candle at both ends. This was helping before my cough developed but nor right now.

Making Money: Not much this month. I have been busy, away or sick. I am a bit half hearted about the return to the surveys.

Prepping: Nothing new to report here apart from getting the Christmas decorations from the loft and packaging up a few presents.

Some may remember that last year I pre wrapped four boxes with wrapping paper to fill with stuff for Operation Christmas Child who collect October. Well this worked very well. The boxes were accessible. I Put all sorts of stuff in a box over the year as things came into the house, DD cleared her room and I decluttered. We filled the four boxes and the spare stuff went in a bag with my MiL to the sorting centre where they help out for other boxes. I will be doing the same in 2018.


Decluttering and Minimising: There has not been much done in a direct way, as in getting stuff out of the house. DH did take a load of cables and leads to the recycling centre thoiugh. These bags have been sitting around for some time.

On a positive note I did find that I can access my local libraries catalogue. This includes on line loans as well as audio books. I downloaded their app to my phone and now listen to books on the way home from work. I still intend to borrow real books too but I can now also see if any books I have are on their catalogue. Those I can donate.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: Along with my desire to clear the house I want to reduce the amount of plastics, polystyrene, (styrofoam), and other stuff that I don’t want in the house by trying not to buy it at all.

First thing, though small and an easy win, was to take all my veg loose to the checkout. No bags. I have a Jute re-usable bag which the veggies go in as it comes through. A lot of veg was pre bagged in my local Asda which made shopping a little difficult.

For the past few weeks I have been looking around the house noticing how much stuff is not recyclable or reusable.  Each shopping trip brings in hard to reuse plastics that also don’t easily recycle.

As well as preventing stuff coming into the house I want to reduce what goes to landfill. Today I have been working on hanging Christmas ornaments made from polystyrene pizza bases which and used wrappings from last year. Will post a picture at some point.

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Thoughts on Recycling

I am a child of the 21st Century. I remember shopping for veg at a grocers shop, meat at a butchers and the local store  being a small shop on which we looked with amazement every time we went in. The first shopping trip I remember was with my mum going to the local grocers. He weighed everything and poured the items into our pull along trolley, bagging up soft fruit, mushrooms and tomatoes and putting them in the top. He knew my mum and had a chat with her as he worked. After all, she shopped there every few days so they knew each other very well.

We produced very little rubbish. We reused and recycled or passed things on.

In fact it paid to recycle when I was a child. You could get 10 pence for each glass bottle returned to the shop. We thought we (two of my brothers and I)  had hit the motherlode when we found a box full of Cresta pop bottles dumped down a country lane. There were about 15 bottles and we carried the whole lot.

That was 45 years ago.

A chat with a friend last week about recycling and the use of plastics had me looking round my house in horror. We are surrounded by plastic and stuff that is difficult to recycle.

The bathroom, the kitchen, the lounge. If it isn’t plastic it is coated in the stuff.

We are lucky in my city. the council recycles a lot of plastics including yoghurt pots, card and juice cartons. We have a bin that we fill fortnightly with plastic and card.

That is great…but…do I really need to be filling my bin with waste? Can I buy without having to put anything in the bin, recycling or not? It may seem green to recycle but it still requires energy and other products to process the materials. Even a born recycler like me has got comfortable with just chucking it in the bin.

Over the next year or so I am going to have a look at what it is I am doing with everything that I buy and what leaves the house, and work out how to Avoid, Reduce and Reduce the use everyday things rather than just recycle.

The garden is an excellent place to get started. Here are some ways I re-purpose plastics on the allotment:

20150307_Allotment plastic recycling

Meat packaging cleaned thoroughly make great seed trays.

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Various plastic trays (and a basket) which would have ended up as landfill.


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You can’t see it so well but I cut the tops off plastic bottles and used them to protect the end of these posts (recycled tree branches).

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More re use than re purpose. I wash out all used pots every year and store dry. A great winter task I can do bit by bit. I even clean up used plastic plant labels.





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Current Themes – An Update


Health and Fitness: I have just restarted doing the Couch to 5k after my cough, cold and a holiday in Rome. I haven’t completed a full cycle of walk/run yet but hope to do so by the end of the week.

While away I found I was able to walk reasonably long distances; over 20,000 steps approx 10 miles on two days; but by the end of four days was pretty tired. I came back Friday and Saturday had a rest day. In fact I couldn’t keep awake. I didn’t fight it. Knowing when to rest has been keeping me going for some time. I was awake at the usual time on Sunday and did a few hours of work on the allotment.

I now need to work on my difficulty with inclines and steps. I frequently get puffed out on even short flights of stairs and mild inclines. Over the winter, and once the bulk of the work is done on the allotment, I hope to drag DH to the countryside and do some walking up and down hills.

Making Money: Since I last wrote DH and I have reviewed some of the family mobile phone contracts and our subscription to Virgin. In doing so we have saved ourselves several hundred pounds a year. We just researched what was available on other providers and rang Virgin up and requested a better deal. We also reduced our TV package to a basic one as we don’t watch it so much now.

DH is also working towards early retirement at 55 and is very on board with frugality and curbing uneccesary outgoings. He made a valid complaint to Argos this week and got a £50 voucher too. He probably wouldn’t have bothered in the past so this was a good win.

I have just restarted all the survey sites I was on until the summer as nights are dark and I won’t be going to the allotment after work now until spring.

Prepping: I restocked all my emergency bags with up to date essential medicines with long expiry dates and have recorded all the details in a paper notebook I keep for the purpose. I have swapped out  the cash as well as the UK has changed £10 notes, £5 notes and £1 coins in the last year or so. It was an opportunity to review the contents too, some of which were removed.

It is coming to winter so my winter car bag is being reviewed and the car is to be serviced. I don’t want it failing me on a cold night after work or first thing in the morning.

Decluttering and Minimising: Not much done since I last wrote due to poorliness, being busy and going away.  I will be back to it this week. I cleaned up the house before going away on holiday and it was a pleasure to get back home and only need to do my washing.

Personal Growth:  I am going to remove this heading for now but will add it intermittently if I have anything to report.

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Cancer Update: Oncology Review

I had my 6 month review with the oncologist today. After the usual prod and poke I had a chat with her about Tamoxifen as I had been told I may be starting on Anastrazole when I visited the nurse specialist 6 months ago.

I haven’t been on Tamoxifen for a full two years and so she will see me again in 6 months to swap over. Anastrazole stops cancer cells growing with evidence in post menopausal women showing promising results.

Recent research has shown that women should stay on Tamoxifen for ten years if they are to stay on it on it. There is no value for those on Anastrazole to be on it any longer than five years.

On anastrazole joint aches and pains may get worst but hot flushes may be reduced. Its all very vague because people respond differently to the drugs.

The only other thing of note is that my slow recovery from chemo may not be just about the chemo, that the menopause may be also affecting my energy levels.

So all in all, nothing much to report, which is good in itself.


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