Thursday, 24 July 2014

Three Minute Thursdays–Or Not!

3-minutes [3]

I haven’t done any of these for a while – but I am feeling rather perverse this week, so I am going to post some tips which I think are ones which are WRONG and not good tips at all [feel free to disagree with me – they may work for you]

Steph started it all off- she said she was wearing a long necklace, and it reminded her of Julie Andrews in Thoroughly Modern Millie

TMM beads

And that reminded me of the evil Mrs Meers, who runs the hostel where these bright young things are staying. When caught out doing something wrong, she pretends to be cleaning a carpet stain by rubbing it with soy sauce. This ‘tip’ has disastrous results later on for an expensive Paris Gown

mrs meers soy sauce

Here are the tips I have seen recently which I consider pointlesscut flowers

1; Put a soluble aspirin in your flowers to keep them fresh Real Simple magazine debunked this one [here]– and anyway, most shop bought flowers have a sachet of food with them these days.

dishwasher cutlery

2. Save time by sorting out your cutlery when you put it INTO the dishwasher. No, no, no!!! All the manufacturers recommend that you mix it up for a more efficient wash – handles up and down, forks in with spoons etc. This prevents ‘nesting’ and ‘spooning’ so they will come out cleaner.


3. When you use perfume, never shake the bottle rub or rub your wrists together or you will damage the atoms and bruise the perfume. This is balderdash! It may evaporate faster if friction warms it up – but ‘damaged atoms’ – don’t be silly!

bin liner

4. Store your roll of new bin-liners in the bottom of the bin, then you will always know where they are. Well, yes, but you also run the risk of having to rinse and dry them all when some well meaning person punctures the bag currently in use, and soy sauce, chicken fat or old gravy escapes down the side! Keep your spares in a drawer or cupboard nearby.


5. A lemon and some bicarb makes an inexpensive air freshener spray to deal with cooking smells. Well, I priced this up – and it is the same price as a Basics Spray from the supermarket – but that can will last ages, the lemon spray will only be effective for a week or so. I accept some people do not like putting unknown chemicals into the air – but a candle on the kitchen windowsill also works, is cheaper, and prettier, and lasts longer. Do not believe Anthea Turner who once said on TV ‘the acid in the lemon masks some smells, whilst the alkali in the soda deals with the others’ – no dear, when you mix them, they will be neutralised.

Have you ever been given a tip which subsequently proved to be worthless? Please tell us, so we can avoid it too!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Coupon Queen

I had a sheaf of vouchers in my little wallet, and so when I did my SelfScan at Sainsbury’s I put them all through at payment time


I’d bought a few extra non perishable essentials [tissues, shampoo, toothpaste etc] to push up my total, and therefore qualify for a money-off voucher – altogether, I managed to save £6, and get about 500 bonus points and use a double Nectar voucher. However the bonus points voucher for buying pickle didn’t work. I’d got some beetroot [on my list] and it was from the ‘pickles’ section. ‘That’s daft’, said the assistant, ‘take it to Customer Services, they will add on your points.’ I finished my transaction, and the machine spat out my receipt plus a new voucher - £6 off a £40 spend. But it was only valid for a week, and there was no way I would be spending £40 in the next week. I turned to the older couple at the next machine, who were coming to the end of their transaction.

“Can you use this?” I said “I hate to see it go to waste” The lady was astonished “But it is for £6 off!” I agreed it was, but explained I would not be spending that much again this week, and she might as well use it and get the saving. She thanked me, and took it.

beetrootI went off to Customer Services and got my Beetroot Bonus points – which meant another receipt showing my new Nectar Points total – along with yet another voucher – double Nectar Points on fuel. Which was wonderful, as I was just on my way to buy petrol. Unexpected bonus #1

As I pushed my trolley out of the store, a voice said “Excuse me – you are the lady who gave me the voucher, aren’t you?” There was the couple again. “Look, I’m feeling bad about this, I must give you the £6 for it” I smiled and said “No – it’s a gift. I cannot use it, and I don’t want it wasted. God’s blessed me, let me bless you” This was clearly a very complicated concept for her “Well, can we at least share it- can I give you £3 for it?” “OK – but you really don’t need to” There was no putting her off, she got three shiny pound coins from her purse. “I have never seen a voucher for that much before, and nobody has ever given me a voucher either” she said. I thanked her, and took the money. Unexpected bonus #2

We pushed our trolleys to the car park together and talked about sunshine and holidays. I filled the tank with petrol, and drove home with a big grin on my face. Every little helps! says Tesco. Our values make us different! say Sainsbury’s Amen to both! say I

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Going For A Spong!

I love our Spong mincer, my fiancé Bob purchased it in the 70’s in order to turn the leftovers of a Sunday roast into a cottage pie. At the time, I grumbled that this was extravagant- we were saving up for a wedding. I have had to apologise profusely down the years, every time I have used it [and that is quite often!]


Here it is – ivory and orange plastic with a suction base. But the plastic is starting to disintegrate, and the part that holds the suction unit in place cracked badly, to the point where you really needed three hands to operate the device!

I checked out replacements from Lakeland- £55 for an attachment for my Kenwood, or £25 for a cast iron one [clamps to the table] or for a plastic one with suction base. The clamp doesn’t work with modern fitted kitchens, and reviewers said the suction wasn’t good [it looked like thin plastic too] I looked at eBay for a genuine Spong. Spong have been around over 150 years, the company was started by James Osborn Spong [son of a nonconformist minister] in 1856.

advert 1960

Here is an ad from 1960 – Formice had become a popular material for kitchens in the UK in the postwar years, so the company modified its original screw clamp for a suction base. I bought this


Just like the one on the ad, and I am guessing from the 1950s, as the address is London and the company moved out to Essex in 1962. But there was a problem when I opened it – all the parts were there, but…


..that grey rubber seal suction unit was split and so didn’t work. And I still do not have three hands. I contacted eBay saying I was sorry this had not been mentioned in the ad, but I did not need a refund as I planned to keep the mincer anyway.However, the seller apologised, and generously refunded my 99p & postage costs. This made me very happy indeed.

design award 1979

Those clever people at Spong modified the design of the 601 in the late 60s, replacing the cast iron hopper with nylon fittings, and adding a shorter handle. The base and suction unit stayed a similar size, as you see in this photo.


And underneath the square base of my original 1970’s model was also a round black disc – and it fits my new cast iron one perfectly! Both the red/white and the ivory/orange mincer won awards from the Design Council – but I love my new older one. We swapped the black suction disc for the split grey one and it works perfectly. I have successfully made a meatloaf using my new Spong to mince the meat, onion and crusts. Hoping this one lasts another 35 years! Here’s an ad from 1972 – he’ll really appreciate a wife with a Spong!


This is very clearly pre-feminist advertising. I am not quite sure what is meant by ‘a meal in a mincer’ Close  scrutiny of the picture shows tomatoes and radishes that have been ‘Vandyked’ with a sharp knife. I think the brown sludge may be minced meat though. I think our first cost around £3.50 from Timothy Whites – and this one is a freebie!

Do you have a mincer? and what do you use it for?

Monday, 21 July 2014

A Ministry Of Deliverance


This was, of course, Postman Pat’s Special Gifting. I thought about PP last week, as we had lots of stuff to deliver for upcoming church events. Some ‘general’ flyers, to go to homes all round the village, others were letters addressed to specific individuals, confirming places at Holiday Bible Club.

The former were done on foot – the latter Bob and I did in the car – he drove, and I planned the most sensible route between addresses, leaping out to pop envelopes through letterboxes, then going on to the next. This worked out much cheaper than posting them all – and we knew they had reached their correct destinations.

But it made me realise what a strange world we live in. I have a number of unanswered questions. There are clearly some who do not want any communication with the outside world…

  • why grow a rose bush right in front of the letterbox, so you cannot put anything through without being scratched?
  • why bother with a letterbox at all if all the gates to your property are padlocked?
  • why block the pathway with your three wheelie bins [2 days after the binman came]

Because of the current craze for throwing up houses on any available space and selling off the end of your garden so a property can be built there, the whole business of numbering goes out the window. So we have a number of places where houses are numbered things like 4, 4A, 4B, 4C,4D – and if you have been given leaflets for a street you may find you are a few short, because of these extras.

house signs

And please do not get me started on house names. Many of the houses in the more upmarket lanes and drives in our village do not bother with numbers at all. Which makes it harder to find the different addresses, especially when the foliage overhangs the signs. Too posh to prune?

Furthermore, why do people choose such unlikely names for properties? “Miramar” means sea-view. We are one hundred miles from the sea here! If I stood on the top of the tower of our Parish Church, I couldn’t even see Rutland Water [a mere 30 miles away]

Baden_PowellSome names reflect when the properties were built – the village expanded greatly at the time of the Boer War, so Ladysmith, Pretoria, Spion, Mafeking and similar names crop up.

Other houses have names representing their original owners – strange combinations of surnames and first names. Others seem to be called after favourite places [from honeymoons or holidays, perhaps?]

parsons farewell

This lovely Grade 2 listed property was once the vicarage- but  rather than “The Old Vicarage”, the owners named it “Parson’s Farewell”, a very creative way of incorporating both its former use and their passion for folk dancing.

Our house here was called The Shambles when the church purchased it for us – but is now The Manse [OK, it is still a shambles inside quite often!] I hated the original name, as The Shambles is derived from the AngloSaxon Fleshammels (literally 'flesh-shelves') where the butchers hung their meat. I have spent most of my life in  properties called “The Manse”! But although our property in Norfolk has a number, we have also given it a name – Cornerstones. It is on a corner plot, and cornerstone is a good biblical word. [I rejected the suggestion of ‘Dunpreachin’ for our retirement home]

I did decide one thing last week – if I ever lived in the property situated between 2A and 2C, I should definitely have to call it OrrNott!

Does your house have a name- and do you know why it was chosen?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

De L’ombre A La Lumiere

itfr logoFrom the shadows to the light – this was the title of a superb little video clip I saw on Tuesday at our WWDP committee in London.

One of the grants we gave last year was to a charity called iteamsFrance. Our national WWDP gives away over a quarter of a million pounds every year to various causes – which is wonderful, and as the 2013 service was planned by the women of France, this was one charity we helped.


Matt and Manu, two enthusiastic twenty-somethings came to our meeting, and talked about how they went with a team to Nepal. They went up to the villages high in the Himalayas, where there is incredible poverty. They took the Light of the Gospel – and also solar panels, so each household could have electric light in the evenings. “These people have both spiritual, and material poverty” explained the guys, and spoke of how they were able to support these friendly families. As well as poor lighting, the people also suffer with chest illnesses., because they have open fires in their homes for warmth and cooking. Simple stoves, with chimneys to the outside are much healthier – so the team took these too.


This clearly wasn’t a jolly little jaunt – the trip involved travel on very treacherous roads, much hard work, and rough living. But these lads did this for the sake of the Saviour who had brought light into their lives. Thanks M&M for sharing this challenging story with us! [Oh, and thank you dear reader, if you follow WWDP on Facebook]


Sorry, I can’t seem to get the video to load – but you can watch it by clicking here [it is just 12 minutes long]

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Lassi, Come Home!

lassie come home original poster

Did you weep over this 1943 classic when you were a child? Look at the poster – and notice that there is no mention of the 11 year old girl who was playing in her first MGM role. Later posters did feature Elizabeth Taylor’s name, as her career took off!

I didn’t spell the title wrongly – I just remembered the film because we have been drinking Lassi this week! I picked some up on offer in the supermarket recently. It is lovely and cool from the fridge on a hot day. Lassi is a traditional Indian yogurt based drink. There are loads of recipes out there [here is Jamie’s] But I have found that the Pakeeza Mango has a good flavour and is amazingly thick. It is currently available in Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and Asda. 1 litre is usually around £2.80, but currently £2. Because it is so thick, I dilute it 50/50 with milk and stir well. I have also frozen some lassi-lollies! The bottle has a sensible screw top, so the drink keeps fresh for a few days in the fridge. The homemade stuff needs using up faster!

pakeezamango lassi drinkIMG_2585

Did some wise guy tell you that in the film, “Lassie” was played by a dog, and not a bitch? And that there were lots of Lassies?

lassie with ET

A man named Rudd Weatherwax [you couldn’t make this stuff up]trained a dog originally called Pal who starred in the 1943 film, and then bred him with a number of bitches, thus producing lots of offspring who starred in subsequent movies, and made celebrity appearances worldwide, all under the name “Lassie”

I suppose you could say that Lassi is a great drink for the Dog Days of summer!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Give Me A Ring When You Are Home Safely!

Do you say that to your family when they leave you and start their journeys? My Mum even used to make sure I had a 2p coin for the call box at the end of the road when I was at Uni, so I could let her know I was back OK!! I seem to have been sending reassuring text messages to family members all over the place this week whilst I have been driving so many motorway miles [M1, M4, M25] and negotiating London traffic.

My Mum always asked “Have you got your tunnel money?” in the days when our Norfolk-Kent journeys involved going through the Dartford Tunnel [the Bridge opened a few months after her death] She was always concerned we were prepared for the trip, and was glad to know when our travels were safely over. I am just the same - it was lovely on Sunday evening to get texts from Liz and Jon asking if I’d reached their flat without problems.

photoSteph and Mark both travel a lot on business, but their last trip together was to Canada. This time “I’ll give you a ring when we are home safely” had a whole different meaning!

Knowing Steph’s fondness for ‘Tiffany blue’ Mark found some jewellers* in Hatton Garden who had a selection of aquamarine rings. This is the one they chose together.

And yes, they are her own nails. She maintains them beautifully! [*he researched Tiffany’s beforehand – they had no rings with stones in the right colour!] KM Church and Glenfield Hall booked for 20th June 2015. 337 days and counting…