Monday, 27 April 2015

A Simple Snack


One thing that really irritated us both about “Back in time for dinner” was the repeated assertion that ‘nobody ate snacks before the 1970s’. Both of us being advanced in age, we would like to disagree – we remember ‘food in between proper meals’. After all, Leicester’s great “Walkers Crisps” company was started in 1948, when food was still on ration [because Mr W couldn’t get enough meat for his sausages, but potatoes were plentiful, so he diversified]

Biscuit_plateIn the late 50s, I always spent one afternoon a week at the neighbours while my Mum ran the Ladies Meeting at church. I was given a packet of Smiths crisps [with the salt in a twist of blue paper] – meanwhile the good Baptist ladies had their cup of tea and biscuit. Bob started at the Simon Langton Grammar in the 60s, where they had a tuckshop. And for as long as I can remember, fairy cakes and Victoria Sponges have been lovingly baked and served at church events. Surely all these things, eats-between-meals are snacks?

McVities and Huntley&Palmers biscuits were both being manufactured before Victoria came to the throne. Check your history, Mr Coren! The reason they didn’t show up in the National Food Survey was that the NFS asked people to simply note their meals. Biscuits, other snacks, and street food have been around for centuries!

P1010213I made some Anzac Biscuits last Friday, to acknowledge the Gallipoli centenary. I used this lovely book which my blogfriend Carole in NZ sent me some time ago. I decided I wasn’t leaving the entire batch for Bob to eat, so took a plateful round to Jim, my affable OAP neighbour. The biscuits were really simple to make. Next time I may do a double quantity.


I haven’t made them before [though clearly the recipe was popular with the book’s previous owner]. They are very similar to the pseudo-hobnobs here – but Anzacs have coconut in, which adds to texture and flavour. Rather than being sent to the front lines in WW1 for the soldiers to eat, as some people think, Anzac* biscuits were commonly eaten at fetes and other public events, where they were sold to raise money to support the war effort. At the time they were often called "soldier's biscuits", and this fundraising accumulated £6.5M for the to support New Zealand troops in WW1. One in ten NZ adults went to the War [both men as soldiers and women as nurses] and there was a 58% casualty rate. That’s a devastating loss for a fledgling nation. Australian losses were similarly high.


The Gallipoli Campaign was an utterly futile waste of life. Anzac biscuits may have been around a long time – but remembering what they represent, I don’t think I should take them for granted.

[*Anzac = Australia & New Zealand Army Corps]

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Vocation Sunday

In many denominations, this Sunday is marked as Vocation Sunday – when Christians are asked to reflect on how God has called them to serve Him in their daily lives, and also to pray for those who have committed themselves to full-time work in the life of the Church.

I shall miss worshipping with my friends this morning- it is the London Marathon, and I shall be supporting and encouraging Steph. The Christian life isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon – we are called to run with patience the race set before us. It is good for us to stop occasionally and reflect where we are going, and if we are running in the right direction. Maybe God wants us to be serving Him somewhere else, or in a different way, or in a new role? Wherever, however that may be, we know he is beside us as we run, empowering and encouraging. He has a task for each one of us.

marathon logo

I’m not important, I can’t speak well

No-one will believe me, I don’t even know Your name.

You can’t possibly mean me!

I’m too young, I wouldn’t know what to say

You can’t possibly mean me!

I’d rather run away. I’ll sit under a tree and sulk

Even if it does get eaten by a worm.

You can’t possibly mean me!

I’m just a home- maker- so was Mary

I’m just a simple worker –so was Andrew

I’ve made a lot of mistakes-so did Peter

I thought I’d got my whole life mapped out-so had Saul.

You can’t possibly mean me! I’m not good enough

I’m not clever enough. I’m not wise enough.

You can trust me, you can put your hope in me

I will not let you be put to shame. I will guide you,

Show you the path to walk, and teach you my ways.

Can you possibly mean me? Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said “Here am I, send me.”

Because I realised that

Just possibly

He might mean


[Rosalind Selby: United Reformed Church’s Vocation Sunday 2007]

Saturday, 25 April 2015

It’s Through The Arched Window!

arched window

From 1964 to 1988 thousands of children loved Playschool and wondered which window we would look through today. I am rather pleased my own children were able to sit and enjoy it with me. From the Blessed Brian Cant, to kooky Floella Benjamin, with maths-loving Johnny Ball [that Zoe’s Dad, for you younger ones!] I for one thought it was an excellent production.

johhnyball, carol leeder, derek griffiths


The BBC did try to resurrect the windows thing for Tikkabilla [the Hindi word for Hopscotch] which ran for a mere 5 years from 2002-2007 - but the Arched Window will always belong to Playschool as far as I am concerned. I thought about it this week when I was watching the progress of the building work at church.



On Sunday we were able to walk across the new concrete on boards, and go in through the front door – but they have already started demolishing the roof of the vestibule. By Wednesday this had progressed even further – look how blue that sky is!


And just look what’s happened to the UCF arched window.


playschool toysWhat would Big and Little Ted, Jemima, Hamble and Humpty have to say about all this activity?

Friday, 24 April 2015

A Day To Remember, To Learn, And To Cherish


Tomorrow is Anzac Day – and this year is the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign when over 130,000 soldiers died, including 10,000 Anzacs. The BBC Website has a helpful article . The quote is from Bob Carr [Australian politician, former Foreign Minister]



I decided to ‘cherish my home and family’ by making some Anzac biscuits. I’ll leave these in the tin for Bob to enjoy whilst I am away in London for a couple of days. Gallipoli is on the NW corner of Turkey – it’s quite near to the old city of Troas, where the apostle Paul left his cloak [2 Timothy 4;13] but it’s a mighty long way from the Antipodes.

Something Old, Something New…

…Something Borrowed, Something Blue.

More Hen Party favours needed [this is to be the sort of hen party which is a memorable evening rather than the sort where the girls wake up next day with absolutely no memory of the night before] Liz emailed me a link and asked “Can you produce anything like this?” – at £5+ each, I can see why they didn’t want to buy them!


But I had vintage paper, and other bits in the stash, so…

Something old- a dictionary from a CS, bought by Steph in 2004 for another craft project for our Silver Wedding

Something new – two sheets of new card from my card-making friend Carol

Something borrowed – 2 craft punches, also from Carol

Something blue- some pretty voile ribbon my friend Elisabeth gave me

Here’s what I did

stage 1

  • for each rosette, cut 4 strips approx 5cm x 20cm, stick them in a row [overlap about 0.5cm] then fold a concertina
  • using a needle and thread stitch through the end of the folds-[about 0.5 cm in] and knot a loop note- you must not make this tight. You should be able to slide the tip of your little finger through, or the fan won’t open!
  • gently open each fan, and glue the end papers together to make a rosette. Hold in place with paperclip whilst it dries.

stage 2

  • using stiffish paper, punch a couple of flowers for each rosette. With tape [I used white gaffer, it’s strong!] stick a safety pin to one circle. With a hot glue gun, stick that to the base circle, and then stick the whole thing to the back of your rosettes.[tip – open all the pins first so you can see which part to tape to the card]
  • Cut your ribbons. Here’s the quick way. Fold a piece of card till it is 6cm wide. Wrap your ribbon once for each rosette[so I did 16] Now cut diagonally across the middle. You ave all your ribbons, with neatly slanted ends. Repeat with your second ribbon [I used blue voile for all, but a selection of colours for the others. I put the voile on top each time]


  • cut some 5cm squares of paper, fold in half. Tuck the two ‘V-shapes’ of ribbon inside, fold over the paper, and staple. Hot glue them to the back of a flower shaped punched in your ‘good’ card. Hot glue that to the centre front of your rosette

stage 4

  • Print labels saying bride, bridesmaid, hen onto a different coloured sheet of card, and punch out with smaller punch. Glue on the front. Embellish as desired!
  • Make a small box [the rosettes are surprisingly strong, and I made these boxes each from 1 sheet of regular printer paper, just folded and glued. This site is helpful]
  • Tuck the rosette inside, and seal with another name label.


My friend suggested that I should have chosen the dictionary pages to suit, so that Steph got the page with ‘bride’ and others had ‘love’ or ‘wedding’ or ‘party’. A nice idea, but I didn’t think of that, I just began at A and worked through.

My apologies to the girls who end up with aardvark, asp, baboon or behemoth on their badge! I will deliver these to Steph tomorrow when I get to London.[thanks to Carol and Elisabeth for your help!]


Btw, the cake is now cooked. Marzipan and icing to follow later…

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Happy People At Happisburgh

Except it isn’t pronounced Happys-Burgh, but Haze-Bruh. Bob and I visited this Norfolk coastal village on the last day of our holiday.

happisburghhillhouseWilliam Cowper, the poet, came in 1795, and he “ate Apple Pye at the Hill House Inn, the worst I ever tasted” Well, in 2015, I must tell you their coffee, and fresh scones were excellent. Hill House is clearly the hostelry to visit, and full of history. It seems that dozens of famous people called in here.

P1010091Daniel Defoe visited this ‘shipwreck coast’ in the 1720s and looked at the treacherous Happisburgh Sands. This was after he’d written Robinson Crusoe.

Next up was Joseph William Mallard Turner, the artist.

jmwturner hasbro sands

When he stayed, in 1834. he produced three pictures of “Hasbro Sands” which in recent years have fetched very high prices at auction.

Sixty years later, the landlord was one Mr Cubitt. His son Gilbert liked cyphers, and developed an alphabet of stick men, which he used to sign his name. This intrigued Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and led to one of his famous Sherlock Holmes Stories.


Not surprisingly, the local brewery calls itself after The Dancing Men.

Sir Ernest Shackleton

Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic Explorer, dropped by in 1908, to give a lecture about his travels, accompanied by lantern slides – the Church Hall was packed [after all, there isn’t much to do on cold winter evening’s in Norfolk]

And then more artists turned up


In the 1930s, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and other up-and-coming British sculptors spent their summers at Happisburgh. The were particularly fond of finding large ironstone pebbles on the beach and polishing them “They are good for carving and polish up like bronze” one of the artists wrote. I cynically wonder how much they sold these pebbles for when they got back to London…

I am intrigued as to why so many notable people have popped in to this tiny place, population less than 1500. But for the past ten years, an archaeological study, “the Happisburgh Project” has been going on here. And two years ago they discovered footprints which were believed to be around 900,000 years old! The earliest human footprints ever discovered outside of Africa.


Here’s a picture showing the British Museum archaeologists’ idea of a summer morning for Stone Age Man on the beach at Happisburgh. Clearly Happisburgh has always been a popular destination


When we visited on April 13th, we did not eat our picnic there.We went a few miles along the coast to Caister. We bought a bag of chips, and sat on the sand to eat them, looking at the boats and the windfarm, under the watchful eye of the lion!


All in all a very informative day out! [and more great scones]

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Knitting For Victory

When we visited Blickling Hall on April 11th, we discovered that in one of the outbuildings is a small museum dedicated to RAF Oulton, which was a wartime outpost of the much larger airfield at Swanton Morley. Rooms in Blickling Hall were requisitioned to be the Officers’ Mess, and some USAAF crews were there too. When we went round, enthusiastic chaps talked to us – and there were displays of P1010072newspapers reporting of successful bombing raids which flew from Oulton – including this one about Bombing Berlin in June 1940.  Then I spotted a tiny article at the bottom of the front page of the paper.


Dear Miss Furnish- knitting for the soldiers when she was a teenager in 1853 [Crimean War], then getting out her needles again at the turn of the century, when she was 60 [Boer War] and 14 years later [WW1] – most women would have felt they had ‘done their bit’ by then – but the noble Elizabeth was still casting on and off at the age of 101 to produce ‘comforts for the boys’ at the start of WW2. She deserved her Royal Birthday Greeting, I think! She would have certainly taken this poster to heart [also displayed in the RAF Oulton Museum] – but she’d died before the USA entered WW2


Knitting for the troops really started during the Crimean War. The Crimean winters were bitterly cold. Lord Raglan, who had lost his right arm at Waterloo, gave us a style of sleeve, designed for his greater comfort by his tailor and later taken up by the world of fashion. And then there was the Balaklava helmet. And the other big thing was that Queen Victoria herself liked knitting. It had earlier been seen as a man’s pursuit, but her involvement made it fashionable.

Then the Boer War came along, and Lord Kitchener [he of that poster] When the campaign for home-knitted hosiery for the troops got going, he declared that men could not march on lumpy socks, and so ‘Kitchener Stitch’ was invented, to give a flat seam which was more comfortable [I suspect Lord K got one of his back room boys to do it, I doubt he sat by his oil lamp, struggling with a needle!] By WW1, more and more women were casting on to knit hats, socks, mufflers and gloves – and again in WW2.


Look, here’s a photo of Queen Vic, and another of our own dear Queen with her Mum and sis, doing their patriotic duty!

VR knitsroyalknits

More recently, a Welshwoman called Tina Selby, set up a charity in October 2010, with the aim of sending 500 woolly hats to British soldiers in Afghanistan, where it gets very cold at night. Within 18 months, 5000 hats had been sent. When the charity was wound up last year, and the troops finally came home, more than 14,000 hats had been made, and Tina was awarded the British Empire Medal.

If you want to knit for somebody else, check out the UK Handknitting Association website [here] where you will find lots of good causes, assorted free patterns, and all the information you need. And many of the patterns are both easy, and good ways of using up oddments. I’ll stop knitting soon, as my hands get too hot in summer. Maybe it is like eating oysters, knitting is something which should only occur when there is an ‘r’ in the month!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Pom Pom Ponderings

No, this has nothing to do with my friend Karen’s blog of that name [here] – although I can recommend PP if you want a bright and cheery blog, full of colour and delight. She shares great pictures of her artwork, her garden, her grandchildren and much, much more. No, this is another Wedding Decoration Tutorial. Steph mentioned she’d like large white pompoms. They are all over the Internet


Some are fluffier than others, some are dyed pastel colours –most are made of tissue paper or coffee filters. Because I am that sort of crazy lady, I bought 1000 coffee filters for £2 in a sale a few years back*. Some got used here

P1010053I had more than enough to experiment with, and over Easter I used a method from Martha Stewart Weddings – but it really didn’t work. So here’s my 1st attempt. You need 17 filters per pp.

If you buy a pack of 200**, use just 16 in four of the pps, to get a dozen pps in total. Use less than 16 filters, and they look a bit ‘thin’

P1010183You also need a needle and some strongish thread- I used some button thread. The first, very tedious, job is separating out the filters, as they really do stick together. Put twelve on one side.P1010185P1010184P1010186

Fold all the rest into quarters. Stack them in heaps of EIGHT [**a few may be just 7]

Now cut a length of thread 5’ long, and thread it double through your needle. Make a firm know at the end.  Poke the needle through the corner of the stack of eight, and pull through, gently but firmly. Then take one of the spare unfolded filters, put it behind the stack and push the needle through the centre, out to the other side.


Turn the paper over, and thread a stack of 8 more on the other side. Knot the thread as close as you can to the papers [make a sort of embroiderer’s French Knot] then do a line of large running stitches out to the edge of the ‘flat’ filter. Leave that end of thread for hanging [it’s double, so knot the ends]


Now take your first completed pompom, and carefully unfold each of the quartered filter papers. You should have a good fluffy pompom, and if you hold the thread, it will hang neatly, with the ‘flat’ filter in a vertical position.



IMPORTANT TIP  - now you know how it works, carefully re-fold those filters so you have a flattish round stack again. Fold the big filter in half, tucking that long thread inside, so it doesn’t knot or tangle.

Below are two such stacked pps, which I flattened under a heavy book.


Notice that the hanging thread is hidden inside. Make all the pps you need, and then you can either store them like this in a box, or gently roll them into cones and put into a bag [which is what I have opted to do]

P1010193These will store in minimal space, and can travel safely up to Kirby, where it will take a minute or so to unfurl and fluff up each one, before hanging it from its thread.

My dozen pps have cost less than 50p in total – but even if I had purchased the filters online they wouldn’t have been too expensive. DO make sure you buy the pleated ones, not the flat filters, these ones are about 9” across when flattened.

*No, I had no idea when I got them that this was how I would use them – they just seemed an unmissable bargain at the time!