Nella Martin

an appointment with a nurse in practice

Month: March, 2014

Budgets and Calories

While George Osborne has been preparing and delivering his fifth budget, I decided that it was a good time to do my own. I find budgets are comparable to diets, except it’s the other way round. Too little in V too much out with money. Too much in V too little out with calories. Both things make for disastrous consequences.
The theory is nice and easy in my head, in fact both things more or less match, my daily calorie total and my monthly pounds to spend total are pretty much the same. I need to keep them both to around 1500 and then everything balances out beautifully. Except I don’t seem to be very good at counting. Children and all their various needs devour the pounds, whilst I try very hard to not devour too many calories. I can keep both things on track for a while but then life happens to divert my mind from my counting and it all goes horribly wrong. I stand on the scales and I’ve gained three pounds, I check my bank statement and it’s lost £300 😦
Mostly this month but especially yesterday and today I have counted everything out beautifully. I have numbers jotted down on the corner of the tissue box, in my diary, on page margins. I have £50 to spend on shopping (I’ve already shopped this week to the sum of £70) and £40 on petrol until next Wednesday, when I should be paid again. Everything else is accounted for and I’m hoping to finish the month in the black and with no extra lbs or kilos on me. 🙂
I’m at work, three consecutive patients have failed to turn up for their appointments.


The Cold and Oil.

Today has been cold. I’ve been cold at work and cold at home. Husband and Practice Manager had both pre empted the ending of winter and the coming of summer and turned off the heating.
I had been getting nervous at home about the depleted oil tank. Living where a part of England comes to an end, miles from any town, there are no gas supplies. You have to ensure oil tanks are kept topped up if you don’t want the hot water tap to run cold and your radiators to remain icy to the touch. There are no monthly bills or direct debit payment plans. If you have no money you can’t buy oil. We are lucky that we still have coal fires and chimneys for those occasions when we have run out before, such as the freezing, snowy December of 2011 when oil tanks wouldn’t attempt to drive this far via snowy country lanes. This year our oil has lasted all through the winter months. Husband ordered 500 litres last week and it has been delivered today. I can now have a bath without the anxiety I’ve had over the last couple of weeks. He says we will probably need to order 1000 litres in August. We are both working, but it’s still a big outlay to find up to 500 pounds in one go. I wonder how other families who are struggling financially, manage? I expect many don’t and that they endure the cold.
I have oil but still no working computer!

A Weekend Without A Computer.

I’ve missed our computer so much. I’ve felt all restless and unable to settle to anything. I did get rid of all the laundry piles, clean have been ironed and put away and dirty piles, washed, rescued before they became creased in a pile and put away also.
My little kindle isn’t really up to blogging, I wanted to write about dolls but it can keep.
I took D2 and a little friend of hers swimming today. Luckily because of the friend I didn’t have to go in. I hate it. I hate the smell, I hate the changing rooms and wet floors, I’m not happy being braless and virtually naked in front of strangers. I understand why Nigella wore that big black burkha thing at the beach. Some of us just like to keep our bodies to ourselves. Then the being all wet and having to get dry, put clothes back on with dripping wet hair and skin all taut, dry and itchy. I find it all torturous. The girls loved it though. We then went to see a friend’s pond which is full of spawning frogs, it was quite a sight and sound.
Husband had had his brothers round to watch the football. I can’t be in the house at the same time. It’s hard to see husband, an intelligent man, reduced to behaving like a foul mouthed yob, screaming at players and a referee that cannot hear him. I can’t bear all the high expressed emotion over some men running around after a ball. It’s not nice or dignified and I lose all respect for him, so I have to leave the house for both our sakes!
It’s really hard writing on this kindle, I apologise for any grammatical errors.

A Spring Morning Walk Around The Sea Wall

Blackthorn Blossom

Blackthorn Blossom

mud flats/ sea wall.

mud flats/ sea wall.

Thursday, my fourth annual leave day off. Husband had a day off also today. I walked D2 to school, she skipped along and chatted merrily about playground gossip all the way there. Back at home with the essential domestic drudgery completed, H and I faced the expectation of having to do something together, we very nearly managed it but we fell at the last post. We didn’t fall out out and it’s not that we didn’t want to spend time together but the truth is he wanted to go out for a long brisk stride with the dog, radio to his ear listening to sport live five or radio 4. My heart sank at the thought of being in his stinky car with stinky dog and trying to keep up with him during the walk with radio blaring and dog barking at anything that moves. Following a hand hot discussion, he went off on his own, much to my relief and I had my day off back to myself. I walked down to the sea wall and got lost for two hours, an hour of that felt like an eternity as I tried to work out where I would end up. I enjoyed the peace and solitude and it all worked out OK as eventually I found my way home.

I commented on some friends soppy FB post thing about finding perfect love. It doesn’t exist. It really doesn’t, it’s just an illusion at the beginning. Eventually, it is all about picking up dirty discarded socks, a sink full of washing up, bills to be paid. Children, barky dogs and cars needing their various needs attending too. It becomes about survival, TOLERANCE, compromise. If you can still manage to snuggle up in bed at night, give each other a kiss goodbye as you leave for work and remember to ask the other about their day after work, you are both doing fantastically well. It’s not really essential to go out on your precious annual leave day together, surely??!! That’s what little gossipy friends are for (and it does help if they are a similar height as I can’t tell any little fibs about anything then as they are on my eye level!)

No great cuisine today, just sausage and mash for dinner. D2 managed to bring another little friend back to play. They shut the bedroom door and got the dolls out, I think the dolls and teddies had to endure some harsh schooling. This was followed by music on the iPod and bracelet making. I have to pretend to not notice what they are doing as they have started to become self-conscious about playing with dolls. It won’t be long before the poor dollies are discarded for good.

The Humble Overlooked Beetroot Transformed into a Gorgeous Velvet Chocolate Cake


I love beetroot, baked, boiled, pickled, grated raw in coleslaw or salad, curried…. Today I have a big bunch of it, I’ve decided to make a beetroot and chocolate cake. I’ve quickly scoured internet recipes. They all seemed fiddly and involved melting dark chocolate that I do not possess. So I’ve kept it simple and I’ve done my own thing. I had 360g of boiled peeled beetroot and I’ve then added in the 80gish of cocoa powder and 300gs of plain flour (50/50 wholemeal to plain), 360g of sugar, 360mls of oil, 4 eggs, 2 tsp. of bicarbonate of soda. I’ve split it into two sandwich tins and it’s now baking in the oven. I’ll update this blog when it comes out!!

Cake came out rather on the large side, I think I should have made one small one with half the ingredients. I did cream cheese icing and coloured it with beetroot juice. Not the best quality photo. It is very nice, a slight bitterness from the chocolate, I maybe could have put in a little less, but very yummy overall.

I’m NOT a Dog Hater but what about the Pigs?

I was the last one up this morning, generally I am. D2 awakes at around 6am each morning, sneaks in for a quick cuddle and with cunning stealth tries to steal the iPad from husband’s side of the bed. He still pings awake like a small child, he has no sleepy in between, it’s either wide awake or fast asleep. As soon as Dog realises H is awake she’ll start her sharp, relentless barking until he takes her out for a walk at around 6.30 am. Sometimes as I lay in bed listening to the barking I do have fleeting, intrusive, violent thoughts, but don’t worry all you dog lovers out there, they only ever remain 6am thoughts. I’m not a dog hater, but neither am I a dog lover. In the main, the mess, the hair, the noise, the constant demands for attention, the smell, dribble, slobber, faeces, occasional vomit and the tie of having to get back or take with inappropriately, outweigh any benefits in my experience and opinion. People say about the love that they give. I’ve personally never felt the need to be loved by a dog. I’m very aware that it’s dangerous to voice any negative feelings towards furry creatures, it’s a crime greater than, well I don’t know, anything, eating little babies or shooting Grannies for instance. Many of those self-same dog lovers, treating their pets better than many humans are treated around the world. hypocritically munch away on bacon and sausages and battery farmed chickens without a thought for the suffering inflicted on these less aesthetically pleasing creatures. I like pigs, I wouldn’t like one as a pet anymore than a I like having a dog but I couldn’t eat one or even a little bit of one either and I haven’t done so for over 20 years. I could go on with graphic details of cruel animal husbandry from around the world but I don’t feel the need, people know already but choose not to think about it, yet they call themselves animal lovers because they pamper a pooch or two. It makes me cross.

Sweet Potatoes

photophoto (2)

I’ve noticed that this little blog is in danger of becoming dominated by food, however I suppose that makes sense, food is the main thing that I think about!  So much of my time is given over to shopping, making packed lunches (although husband has taken to making his own colourful salad creations) and of course dinner. Every day dinner has to be given some thought, ingredients obtained and prepared. Today it’s over to the sweet potato. They are very popular in this household. Husband prefers his curried, D2 roasted or mashed, D1 doesn’t mind how they come and when she is home from Uni is generally grateful for any food that she hasn’t had to forage for or prepare herself. Unlike potato potatoes, sweet potatoes count towards your five a day. I also found them to be the perfect weaning food for babies. Today at husband’s request I’ll be making a sweet potato and chick pea curry. I mostly make it up as I go along and I never measure anything. D1 will be reading this so she can use it on her Uni house mates!!

Fry onion, garlic and fresh chopped tomatoes, or use a tin if no fresh around.

Add herbs and spices to your own tastes, again this varies each time, I generally add cumin, mustard, coriander, turmeric, cardamom and ginger, then I separate some out for D2 before adding in fresh chillies with a little chilli powder, you could just use a curry paste if you prefer though.

Then add the chopped sweet potato and really any other vegetables you have about, sometimes I add in courgette or aubergine, maybe a carrot, some red pepper to make it even more colourful, finally put in the pre cooked chick peas and simmer for about 20 mins. Serve with rice or bread. Quick, very simple, cheap and nutritious.

D2 has another little friend round to play tonight, she only eats pasta, chips or pizza. I feel really lucky that mine eat almost anything really.

Chicken Pie

Chicken pie was demolished without ceremony by three, nine-year old little girls and one huge husband.

Chicken Pie

It’s another cool but gloriously bright and bird chirpy spring day! Twin girls from further down our lane, came here this morning to walk to school with D2, their three little faces were all sunny and chatty to match the day. They didn’t want me to walk with them, so three little red and grey dressed nine-year olds set off to school, calling for another along the way. I want to record these moments, they are so fleeting. She is my last, before I know it there will be no little youthful face to wave off to school.

I have an annual leave week, however I’m going into a care home to do some outstanding health checks this morning. It’s a lovely home. You only get to read about the bad ones in the press, yet all around us are care homes with hard-working staff, working for minimum wage doing their very best and with real affection for the people that they care for.

I roasted a chicken yesterday, I paid extra to try to ensure that it had been a happy chicken. I’ve salvaged enough of it to make chicken and mushroom pie for dinner tonight. I cyber spoke with a friend of mine last night about pastry making, To me it’s one of the quickest and easiest things to do, I’ve never bought ready-made. I think that’s from all those early years spent with my Grandmother and helping her bake, I don’t have to look at a recipe, the amounts and hows have been etched in my brain alongside my first words. If I ever develop Alzheimer’s, I will remember how to make pastry right up to the very end. I do meet many disadvantaged families through work and It always saddens me that so many people do not know how to cook even the simplest of meals from scratch, to them cooking is switching on the oven to heat up oven ready prepared foods. It’s such a very important part of life and living healthily. I believe that there is a real need for schools to include food and nutrition with some cookery classes on the curriculum. It will probably do many people more good than some of the other subjects that will be instantly forgotten and never used again. Some people will argue that those skills should be learnt at home, but sadly if the parents do not have the skills and many do not, there is nobody to teach the children.

Finance management is another important life skill, not one that I’ve ever been good at. Information on credit cards, APR, loans, mortgages and budgeting should also be taught in schools because again if many parents struggle with this themselves how can they help their children. They are my thoughts this morning!! I need to go to do those health checks now.

Shopping and Loyalty Schemes.

I loath supermarket loyalty points schemes. They make me feel trapped, obliged, hoodwinked even. Some send out vouchers for extra points if you buy certain products. Husband has always collected them, he would  leave them out for me. I would then have to try to remember to pick them up and take them with me, remember what they were for, remember to get them out of my pocket and give them in at the checkout, Invariable every single one would be invalid for some reason, “Not that one love, it’s for the bigger size”, or “you need to get three of these” or “it is only if you spend over £10 on oranges.”

Husband would also count up his points gleefully each month and see how many miles he could fly with them. He still sometimes mentions with disbelief about the years I shopped at JS without bothering to get a Nectar card. He has several loyalty cards in his wallet. I, however, usually go about my day without a purse or wallet, preferring to just have my debit card in a pocket somewhere about my person, hence I would find myself at a supermarket without the necessary card.

“Keep your receipt love and you can put your points on at the customer service desk next time” the checkout person would say to me. I’d feel a sense of fleeting alarm that I must try not to lose this receipt and I must remember to bring it back next time and I must come to this chain of supermarket and not forget and go to another instead. Moments later the receipt would be forgotten, languishing on my car floor or in the car door, maybe in my pocket to be washed with my jeans or screwed up forgotten at the bottom of the carrier bag. It’s the same with the little piece of paper/coupon they give you now if you could have shopped for 67p cheaper elsewhere. For all of 5 seconds I think “I must keep that safe” then it’s forgotten, most probably it has a fate similar to that of the receipts, but the truth is, that I don’t really know what happens to them!

I’ve now rebelled defiantly against points and prizes giving supermarkets. I prefer to shop at Aldi or Asda, neither has a loyalty card scheme and this suits me very happily. I save money as It does work out cheaper. Same for Morrisons. I decided to go to Morrisons today, normally schemeless but to my horror,  the lady gave me a coupon/leaflet thing. I have to shop three times to get £10 off my shopping bill or 10p off a litre of fuel or maybe both. I looked at the coupon in disbelief and went through all my usual anxieties. I’ve just tried to find it, but I can’t, it’s gone, somewhere… .. I’m NOT going back there.