Friday, 22 June 2018

Liquid Sunshine?

Last week I did something I have not done for forty years- I purchased some Heinz Salad Cream! You see, my future MIL was Belgian, and she made the most divine mayonnaise i have ever tasted. I was marrying into a family who only ever put 'proper' mayo on their salads.
This was a bit rough on a girl whose experience of salad to that point involved church functions where one was served with slices of ham, accompanied by lettuce, cuc and tom, drizzled generously with one of Mr H's 57 varieties. 
This was what Baptist girls in East Anglia expected at the Harvest Supper, and the Anniversary Tea! I was used to the familiar curvy bottle on the table.

In 1978, I went 'cold turkey' overnight [actually, cold turkey sandwiches are fabulous if spread with a little mayo...] I never purchased Heinz SC again. But Heinz SC has been around for well over a century [altho the bottle has evolved]

In the 1960s, once rationing had ended, Fanny Cradock and co were making amazingly colourful salads garnished with it.

In 1999, sales had dropped significantly, and Heinz announced it was being discontinued. There was an outcry - and so it was relaunched.

There were some very classy ad campaigns, promoting this 'pourable sunshine'  [but who wants to pour, when you can spoon the lush golden gloopiness that is best home made Belgian mayo?]

But sales haven't picked up - and now Heinz say that they are not going to stop producing the stuff- but they are going to rename it SANDWICH CREAM. It appears that the majority of people who buy this product are not using it on their salads. 
I saw some on offer at 60%off so I bought a bottle. 
Watch the blog to see what I'm using the Salad Cream for .. [but I'm still using mayo with my salads] 

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Salad Days

It's been hot this week- proper 'salad weather'. I found this lovely recipe in my HFW "River Cottage Veg Everyday" book. "Herby-Peanutty-Noodly-Salad. Hugh says "a bright and zingy dressing, handfuls of herbs and crunchy peanuts pack loads of flavour into easy-cook noodles...When it comes to the fresh herbs, the mint is pretty much a must; the other two are desirable but optional."
INGREDIENTS [serves 4]
75g roasted unsalted peanuts
200g fine egg noodles or Thai rice noodles
150g French beans or mangetout, or a combination [I used beans and frozen petit pois]
½ cucumber
6 spring onions, trimmed
A small bunch of mint, roughly chopped
A small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped (optional) 
About 12 basil leaves (ideally Thai), roughly torn
2 tablespoons rice vinegar [I had none, used white wine vinegar]
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime, or ½ lemon
½ small red chilli, finely chopped [don’t like chili, used ½tsp paprika instead]
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil [I used sunflower and a pinch of toasted sesame seeds]
½ teaspoon soy sauce, plus extra to serve
Bash peanuts lightly to break them up a bit.
For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and rinse under the cold tap. Add to the dressing and toss until well coated. Leave to cool completely in the dressing.
Cook the beans and/or mangetout in a pan of lightly salted boiling water till just tender and still a bit crunchy, 3-5 minutes for beans, 2-3 minutes for mangetout. Drain, refresh in cold water and drain well.
Halve the cucumber lengthways and slice thinly. Finely cut the spring onions on the diagonal. Toss the cooled noodles with the peanuts, cucumber, spring onions, beans and/or mangetout and herbs.
Serve with soy sauce on the side, for everyone to help themselves.
This picture is from the book - I forgot to take a photo before we ate our salads. I halved the quantities. I love this recipe because I had fresh mint in the garden, beans and petit pois in the freezer, and cucumber and spring onions in the fridge- and everything else in the pantry - so I could make it with the resources i had to hand.
It was fresh and tasty, and I will definitely be doing this one again.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Jesus Said...

...but whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea...

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Pelvic Flaws

Alternative titles I considered for this post were Mrs Vicar's Knicker Stickers, and The Bottom Line. If that's already too much information, and you feel that a post about feminine hygiene will put you off your breakfast or afternoon tea, then may I respectfully suggest you go and watch an edifying and amusing DIY film by Big Clive instead, and come back here tomorrow.
I have debated long and hard about posting this one, but as I am trying to be more eco-conscious and this is one significant change which I have made to my lifestyle, I thought it was worth sharing. And this is World Continence Week [yes, that is a thing!] and gussets are the topic of the day after my MP's outburst last week.
Bottom line - I am a woman in my early sixties, and I'm past the menopause. My first pregnancy was difficult, and there were problems when the doctor stitched me up after Liz was born ['stitched me up' is an understatement] Fortunately the doctor who saw me after Steph's birth was great and said "I think we can repair some of that damage". But I subsequently needed a colposuspension operation to treat incontinence issues and a prolapsed bladder. 
I'm grateful my op was before the great pelvic mesh scandal which has blighted the lives of so many women. I am truly sorry for the way they have suffered. However, I still experience the occasional leak. I calculated that my use of sanpro and pantliners has contributed more than 20,000 pieces of plastic to landfill in the past 45 years. Every liner has a plastic strip, every tampon comes wrapped in plastic, and then there's the outer packaging...I feel bad about that. 
If I were younger, I'd definitely be using a Mooncup each month. These reusable devices cost under £20 and last for years - conservative estimates show the average British woman spends in excess of £1000 on sanpro in her lifetime, and 1.5 billion items of sanpro are flushed each year in the UK.
So, what have I done about it? I heard about Thinx - a company in the USA which produces 'period-proof undies' - you wear 'em and wash 'em. Admittedly, they have had mixed reviews, and some women say they have had problems with leaks and stains. But the Thinx company then decided to tackle feminine incontinence, and produced a range called "Icon- pee-proof-panties" 
I am alarmed by the growing popularity of Tena Lady briefs. The cost [around £200 p.a.] is bad enough - but just think how much plastic is going into landfill. And however hard the ads try to persuade me that they are a glamorous solution to a potentially embarrassing problem, these are, quite frankly, Pampers Disposable nappies for grown-ups.
I appreciate that OAPs in a Care Home with major incontinence issues might need something like this. But I am not ready for that yet.
I investigated Icon a little further. Developments in fabric technology in recent years has meant that super absorbent cloth [often using natural fibres like bamboo and hemp] can be made so that a lot of liquid can be absorbed by material which is not excessively bulky. This is often the basis for babies' washable nappies. Other fabrics have a one-way wicking system which can draw moisture away from the skin [used in sportswear as well as underwear] and lightweight, waterproof, but breathable fabrics can contain the moisture.
I calculated how much I spend on underwear and pantliners each year. Icon pants are expensive- they are only available from the States. In the autumn they had a deal for UK customers, and four pairs for the price of two. I agonised about it - if they last me 5 years, that's equivalent to my current spending on pants and liners. I bought some, and in November started wearing them.
I love them - so comfortable, in comparison to having paper stuck in my briefs. So efficient dealing with leaks, and they look just like ordinary pants. They wash and dry quickly. The company prides itself on its ethical standards, and for every pair sold, a donation is made to a charity which helps women in Africa who suffer with fistulas. Apart from the price, I am absolutely thrilled with my pants!
And the best bit? Once I owned some, I was able to check out the construction thoroughly - they are just like regular pants with a built in washable pantliner gusset. And there's a fabulous UK company called CuddlePlushFabrics which sells the wicking fabric, the 'Zorb' and the waterproof cloth, so you can make your own. I picked up some appropriate briefs in TKMaxx, ordered some fabrics, and made myself some more pee-proof-panties - these worked out at around £5 a pair. The picture shows two pairs of pukka Icon pants [black, blue], and two of my home made ones [black, pink]. 
As far as I am concerned, this is a no-brainer. If I can have more comfortable underwear, which handles my occasional leaks better than regular pantliners and reduces the amount of plastic being sent to landfill, then that is what I am going to do.
I started wearing these back in November - well over six months ago - so they have been thoroughly road tested now [on the motorway, on the bicycle, in the classroom and in the pulpit, walking, running, dancing] You can keep your Brazilians, thongs, tangas and G-strings - I am very happy with this hip-hugger style which keeps me cool, fresh and comfortable all day, thank you.[that's a model in the picture, not me!!] Someone else left her underwear outside our MPs constituency office at the weekend!
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Monday, 18 June 2018

Faith, Chope, And Clarity

I am a woman of strong convictions, and I wish to make my position clear...
I believe that I have a responsibility to be a good steward of God's creation. That includes caring for animals
  • so horses and dogs should be properly protected from attack, when they are being used by Police Officers, to maintain law and order.
  • so circuses should not be allowed to use wild animals in their acts, whip them, or dress them up in undignified, uncomfortable costumes. Wild animals should not be or kept in confined conditions and forced to travel long distances to perform for the amusement of people.
I believe that it is important to show compassion on the sick
  • so homes for those with mental health issues should be carefully monitored and regulated, especially with respect to force being used against residents.
  • so it should be as easy as possible for their carers to visit them in hospital, and have free access to car parking facilities
I believe that those who are in positions of power have a duty of care to those who are weaker
  • so landlords should not be allowed to enforce 'revenge evictions' when tenants raise complaints about serious faults in their housing
  • so repeated complaints about bullying should be properly investigated
  • so a proper inquiry into the response to the Hillsborough tragedy was vital to the injured and bereaved.
Furthermore, whilst I may not always agree with another person's lifestyle choices
I do not believe homosexuality is a crime, or that it was right that a man like Alan Turing should have been prosecuted. I agree with the Queen's wish to grant him a posthumous pardon.
I do not believe a person should be forced to inhale someone else's carcinogenic cigarette smoke, so I feel it is right to ban smoking in public places.

And I believe that a woman has a right to walk to church, or stand in the street, or do her shopping, or teach her class, or enjoy music in the park without some perverted man taking a photo up her skirt - either for his own gratification, or to post on his Facebook page, or share on a pornographic website.

Unfortunately I live in Dorset, and my MP has blocked all the above issues when they were placed before Parliament. With one single word on Friday, he delayed the 

Please don't tell me that he is 'concerned about sloppy lawmaking'. It is one thing to be concerned about Parliamentary procedures- it is quite another to repeatedly impede the course of lawmaking just for the sake of it. He has already admitted that when he objected, he didn't really know what 'upskirting' meant. His daughter, like mine, is in her thirties. How would he react if this happened to her?

Sunday, 17 June 2018

In The Palm Of His Hand

When I went to Albania with Siobhan two years ago, we discussed the fact that I seemed to know all their hymns and she knew none of them. We decided that the Protestant and Catholic music traditions overlap, but there are some songs which one group sings more than the other. Last Sunday we went to our Churches Together Songs Of Praise, held at St Antony's RC Church, West Moors. We had a hymn I do not recall singing before. 
It was written in the 1970s by a priest, Michael Joncas, for a friend whose father had just died. It's based on words from Psalm 91, Exodus 19 and Matthew 13. It has been bouncing round in my head all week and I thought I'd share it today. My research shows me that every Catholic on the planet seems to know it, and probably sang it at their Granny's funeral. Please forgive me if you know it already.  I'm obviously rather late to the party with this one. Whether it is new, or familiar, I hope you enjoy it too

And He will raise you up on eagles' wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Two Ingenious B*st*rds!

Not my usual language, but this is the surname of the two brothers who played a significant role in the town of Blandford. They are commemorated all over the place. 
In 1731 [65 years after London's Great Fire] Blandford suffered a similar fate.  The fire began in the afternoon of 4th June in a tallow chandler's workshop [these men made soap and candles]A hot summer's day, a light breeze, and plenty of thatched roofs and wooden buildings meant the fire spread rapidly - over 90% of the property was lost. By 7pm, the fire had burnt itself out, leaving just a few brick buildings [like the Old House and the Almshouses] remaining. 
The word spread to London of this disaster - and the following year an Act of Parliament decreed the town should be rebuilt within four years in brick and tile. Benefit events were held at places like Drury Lane Theatre, the King and Queen sent money, and Commissioners were appointed to oversee the building.
John and William Bastard were in charge of the rebuilding and regeneration..
As Bob had an appointment at the Blandford Community Hospital last Tuesday, we decided to make a day of it and check out the town. We saw the information panels, the Almshouses, and many of the interesting properties
The brothers certainly worked hard to fulfil their remit to make the town 'rise like a Phoenix from the ashes'
In 1540, the term 'Forum' was added to the name [because a market was held there] but most of the time now, that addition seems to be dropped. 
The town is home to the Hall and Woodhouse Brewery, and just behind the town centre you will find the Woodhouse Gardens, given in 1945 in memory of  family members. The modern sculpture, the lovely planting of roses and lavender, and plenty of benches , make this a pleasant venue to sit and enjoy the day.
Blandford received its royal  charter in 1604, and in 2004 that was commemorated in a number of ways. There was a mosaic design in the centre of the gardens, and a number of well maintained floral displays [sponsored by the Rotary Club] throughout the town.

We parked just behind the  town centre, in the Long Stay CP adjaent to the M&S Foodhall. £1.50 for 10 hours is good value!
The scruffy little path through to the main street was full of colourful wildflowers - untended but charming
The Parish Church may be full of history - boxed pews, old tiles, memorials to those brothers, and to Mr Lewen, also instrumental in the rebuilding. Mr L's plaque is topped by a marble flame - the Victorians added wooden choir pews, and copied the flames, as a sign of regeneration and new life in Jesus.
This generation has added some lovely embroidered banners, and the presence of informative posters, a drum kit, guitar amps, and a good PA system encouraged us to believe that today's congregation is lively and active.
We arrived early and had a good breakfast in The Forum coffee shop, where the affable owner directed us to sit in "The Royal Box" - a cosy corner with armchairs and coffee table. Excellent coffee was served - and there were magazines and papers to linger over as we ate. Then we wandered round all the many CS, and a number of wool/craft shops. We were conscious that people were all very friendly, and it is clearly a town where the locals know each other and smile and chat to visitors too. We had lunch in Reeves' Bakers [same chain as we visit in Salisbury] 
Lunch was;
a round of chicken and bacon sandwiches on lovely wholemeal seeded bread
a round of coronation sandwiches also on lwsb
a packet of crisps
a fresh side salad - with tomatoes that tasted lovely
six cakes [2 each of light fruitcake, coconut slice, and malteser cakes]
and a pot of tea [4 generous cups- we could have had refills if we'd wanted]
and paper bags to take home any leftovers [4 cakes!]
We got all this food and drink - and change from a tenner. What excellent value!
The visit to the Sleep Disorder Clinic was very successful too - Bob no longer needs his sleep mask, and has been signed off by the SDC. He is officially no longer suffering with Sleep Apnoea!
A great end to a lovely day.
Well done John and William - I think you would be proud to see how this town continues to thrive, almost 300 years after it was nearly destroyed.