Discover my sagas and cosy crimes

Friday, March 30, 2012

Spinning plates

When you've got a creative, active brain like wot I got, it makes you kind of sad when that creativity isn't being fed.

It's been making me kind of sad.  So I forced myself to sit down and make a list of things I knew I could do to get more writing work, more freelance work, more interesting work, more creative work.

Once the list was made it sat in my handbag and I carried it around under my arm for two days. And then I forced myself to sit down and do something about the list instead of taking it for walks.

Then came the hard part and I steeled myself for rejection as I sent out emails and rang people up. And do you know what? That little list I made earlier this week has started paying dividends already. 

There are now interesting, creative and skill-developing plates spinning on my horizon and I don't know about you, but that always makes me smile.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

This isn't just ordinary vegetarian food

I like Marks & Spencer and I like vegetarian food.  So you'd think that the two things combined - buying vegetarian ready meals from Marks & Spencer - would work. But it doesn't.

Some of their vegetarian ready meal range is great and I'm a big fan of their veggie kievs and veggie mousakka. They're gorgeous, they really are, and well worth paying for. 

But, tempted after trying those two tasty ready meals, I ventured further and succumbed to buying their stuffed red peppers.  Unfortunately they ended up in the bin after a couple of mouthfuls. How can Marks &Spencer get veggie food so right at times and at others, so wrong?

Undeterred, this week I bought their new Melting Moments Mushroom Bakes. They looked nice, smelled good but if there was mushroom in there, I'm yet to find it. All I could taste was potato and as for the melting moment in the middle, it was a gooey kind of butter that tasted of salt. These mushroom bake things came in a pack of two and one of them is still sitting in the fridge. I reckon it'll go from there to the bin instead of being eaten, it was that bad.

So come on, Marksies, do us veggies a favour and get your act together. You know you can do it when you try.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Big fat tarts

I've long been a fan of the Hairy Bikers and love watching them on TV.  This weekend I used their recipes for the very first time and both were a huge success and therefore worth a mention.

I baked their lemon tart and also their broad bean, pea and mint tart.  Both recipes came from the Hairy Bikers' Perfect Pies recipe book.  Mind you, I did use frozen pastry because as much as I love baking, I reckon life's too short to make your own pastry.

Both recipes were easy to follow and worked out like a dream. Well recommended. There would have been pictures of both taken and blogged, but, well, both were eaten pretty quickly if truth be told.

Perfect Pies indeed.


I hate blog posts that start "Sorry I haven't blogged for a long time." so you'll know how much of a hard time I'm having when I actually have to type that very sentence.  Well, I am sorry I haven't blogged for a long time. But I'm  not sorry for the reasons why.  I'm busy and I'm loving it.

If I had to sum up life right now it'd be this: Cycling, beach, sunshine, fresh air, gardening, seedlings, Coronation Street, blisters from new shoes, family and love.

And so there you have it. I'll be back as soon as life lets me sit at a computer and moan.

Coronation Street weekly update, March 26 2012

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here

This week Carla Connor turned up at Frank's funeral with the Sisters of Murphys.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Coronation Street weekly update, March 19 2012

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here

This week the update found out who killed Frank Foster.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Coronation Street weekly update, March 12 2012

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here

This week the update celebrates Rita getting engaged. She's my favourite Corrie woman, you know.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Coronation Street weekly update, March 5 2012

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here

This week the update wears its t-shirt with pride.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

JSA overpayment – has this happened to you, too?

Judging by the amount of searches I’m seeing for “JSA overpayment” in the blog stats it’s clear I’m not the only one having a hard time defending myself against the DWP. They’re demanding money from me for overpaid Jobseekers Allowance while refusing to give me any details of why and how they claim I was overpaid.

You can read the mini-saga I’ve had to date with them – here.

And now, some good news, an update. My case has gone to appeal, which hopefully means that someone, somewhere, in an office, a real person, can look into my case and give me the details. As I’ve said before, if I have to pay it back I will but I want, need, to know why and how they think I've been overpaid.

Today I rang the Benefits Agency, again, asking if they could send dates and amounts of JSA I was paid last year, again. The first time I rang I was told my claim was archived and it would take 2-3 weeks for the info to be sent to me.

It’s now over 3 weeks since I made that call and as nothing had arrived, I called again today. This time I was told that my details have been lost due to computer error and a “transfer to clerical”. I was advised to speak to a benefits advisor at the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Because all of this is my fault? Nice.

However, I was also told from the guy who was checking what records of mine he was able to see on the computer system that it showed quite clearly that the Jobcentre had signed me off (DWP said I hadn’t notified the Jobcentre). He said this meant the overpayment was accidental and their fault.

I’m happy, as you can imagine, not to have to pay back almost £500 but I fear I’m not out of the red-tape woods yet. And I won't be until I receive a letter from the DWP to confirm this.

So there'll be more updates as and when news from the DWP, the appeals people or the Benefits Agency come in.

I’m making light of this here on the blog, but let me tell you something, it’s been a very stressful process just to get this far.

It's not right when a Government department brands you guilty and you have to prove yourself innocent.

You couldn’t make it up, could you?
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