Saturday, 31 December 2011

Triumph Bonneville!


[Gratuitous picture of motorbike* to keep Bob happy]


Picture of jolly fine British actor who has kept many of us happy over Christmas. Hugh Bonneville has been everywhere on our TV screens these past few weeks…

  • down at Downton Abbey
  • up in Notting Hill
  • with Ben Hur in Jerusalem
  • with Miss Marple in Gossington

and other places in between [I thought I spotted him in something Dickensian too] No excuse for anyone saying “Who’s Hugh?” – this clever chap is positively ubiquitous.

Three comments;

  1. please don’t tell me about the Downton Abbey ‘special’  as I haven’t watched my recording yet [I am at Cornerstones, and won't see it till I get back to the midlands]
  2. does this mean they will show “Diary Of a Nobody” again soon? It was utterly brilliant!
  3. if he had stuck to his original career plan [the Anglican priesthood, following his Theology Degree at Cambridge] would he have been a bishop by now, do you think?!

[**this is a Triumph Bonneville-  we live near the Triumph HQ!]

The End Of The Year

janusThe first month of the new year is called January after the Roman two-faced god Janus, who looked both backwards and forwards. It has been an amazing year, as I look back – some fantastic things have happened which I never imagined at the end of 2010

  • the whole Bletchley Park saga – I’m still excited about all that
  • being interviewed by three different BBC local radio stations, and being mentioned as a prize-winner on BBC Radio 4
  • meeting so many blog-friends, including the trip to London to see Floss and co, the trip to Ireland where I met Mags and Catherine, and having both Jane and Elizabethd to stay here [as well as other random meetings along the way]
  • my daughters are continuing to achieve great things – Liz doing her placement at The Brooke in the spring, and Steph travelling hither and thither [for work and leisure]
  • the weight loss [admittedly that has stalled a little this month] but we are both much healthier, slimmer and fitter. Bob looks very good in his new suit [watch out Mr Craig]
  • the running – and the overwhelming generosity of my sponsors. If you had told me last December that I would be named Runner Of The Month in July by a National Charity, I would have laughed at you.
  • there have been lots of opportunities to preach at different churches, and the studying and preparation time has been a real blessing to me [if not to those who’ve had to listen!]
  • Cornerstones – still proving a real Godsend – and we are glad it has been used to bless others too.

And yet…despite all the great stuff, there have been difficult moments.

  • Various friends and family members have had quite serious health issues,
  • We have been saddened by the deaths of a number of good friends
  • Both our brothers have had major hassles with house moves.
  • Financially, it has not been at all easy [we know that we are not alone in this] particularly since the PM decided to abandon the ‘Making Good Progress’ tutoring programme. That was a brilliant scheme, producing great results nationally, and I had been involved since the original pilot sessions. There’s been less Supply Teaching available too, as schools struggle to manage very tight budgets.

Then finally there is the fig tree – after three years of producing a wonderful crop of figs each summer – absolutely nothing! The tiny figlets fell off – then the leaves fell too.


The tree stands bare and barren in the corner of the sun-lounge. But it is a constant reminder to me of the words of the prophet Habakkuk

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I WILL rejoice in the LORD, I WILL joy in the God of my salvation.

The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.

I have no idea what 2012 will bring – but I I know that God has it all sorted out, and I will continue tracing rainbows through the rain, and I can trust His Sovereign grace. He has never let me down yet!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Fun In Fakenham

We were amused by this van in the B&Q Car Park yesterday


And excited by this book in the Charity Shop


Especially when we realised she had signed it!


The post-Christmas tiredness has really set in now- and we both keep dozing off! [although Bob has been for a run every day since we got here. How impressive is that? I have not run at all]

Dealing With One’s Hang-ups

Here are more of my hand-made gifts.

I took a selection of three co-ordinating red/beige cottons, and also a pretty blue print.



I made some lavender bags with Norfolk lavender harvested from the Cornerstones garden.


Then I covered some coat hangers


Finally I embroidered names on some Aida fabric and attached it to the bags,

And that was another set of Christmas gifts finished!


important note; It looks very pretty – but do not store your lavender in a glass jar like the one above. When the lid is opened, the jar becomes unstable. Just after I had taken these photos, the jar was open on the table and it fell over, onto the carpet, where it smashed!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Tree Trail

On Wednesday we went into Norwich and tried out the Tree Art Trail [details here] We walked a clockwise route from the Bus Station, up to the three by Jarrolds and back down to Aviva.

We saw 11 of the 21 trees. Various artists had been given identical wooden blanks to decorate, and different businesses and shops round the city had agreed to sponsor and display a tree.


To be honest, we were a little disappointed –some of the trees looked as if the artist had spent 20 minutes with a can of paint and a further 5 with a stamp and ink pad. I photographed the first one we saw – in Wilkinson's store. The green background is a print of Brussels sprouts, and other decorations were decoupaged on top.

The next two were exceedingly dull [one just red, with a few red baubles on it. The other was plain cream with one red chain wrapped round it] My favourite was this one in the Theatre Royal, painted rather like a totem pole, with a stack of animals. A lot of work has gone into this one.


The one in the Leeds Building Society [below] was decorated with birds. I was amused that they had to remove a ceiling panel to fit it in the shop. The Leeds display was the best in terms of involvement. They had a colouring competition – children could take away their own tree picture to colour in, and were also given a pencil or balloon.The one in Jarrolds Children’s book department was covered in Christmas wrapping paper. I think the white top was meant to suggest snow – but it made it look ‘unfinished’ somehow.


By every tree was a white wooden box – and a stamp [on a chain] so you could stamp your passport. After collecting ten stamps the passport went into the box to go into the prize draw. However some kind soul had nicked the stamp at the Royal Arcade tree!

The lady in the Aviva building [formerly Norwich Union] said they were quite upset that their tree was just a white thing with a few grey feathers stencils on it – it looked quite out of place in the fabulous marble atrium!

aviva atrium

However Bob and I agreed it made for an interesting walk round the city on a damp day! I hardly bought anything in the sales – just two books in Jarrolds,and some card blanks in The Range.

jrrolds The_Gift_of_the_Magi

“The Gift Of The Magi” is my favourite O Henry Christmas story. Written a hundred years ago, it is a powerful and poignant tale. If you don’t know it, then read it here – it will only take ten minutes!

This beautifully illustrated edition was reduced from £11 to £2.

My second book was this one

usvborne nativity-sticker

Yes it is a children’s book – but the artwork inside is lovely, and the text most informative. I shall spend a happy afternoon putting all the stickers in place! Most of the art comes from the National Gallery, but some is from the Uffizi and other sites in Florence  [I went there with Steph]

Two books which will go into my ‘Christmas Library’ when I get back to KM and come out each year to bring renewed excitement and joy!

We were back at Cornerstones mid afternoon. Altogether an enjoyable day! [The Norwich Tree Trail is on display for another week.]

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A Family That Plays Together…

On Boxing Day we went bowling. It was enormous fun. I get so excited just putting on the crazy red and blue shoes!

A family of Happ y Feet


Not sure about the order in which Steph entered our names on the scoreboard!


Product Placement by Millerbrands Consumer Insights Manager and her sister!


Action shots…


Ok, I came last, but Bob let me wear the crown in the photo


Then we went for a walk in Knighton Park. This has the most amazing outdoor gym equipment. We all had a go at the various machines. We laughed. A lot!



Just to say, if I ever do get some new boots, I want some like the ones Liz has…


Then Bob decided he was fed up with me taking all the photos – so he took a video with his phone. And uploaded it to YouTube. And mentioned it on his Facebook page.

The great mystery is why he named it “2 Strange Women” when there are three of us involved. Perhaps it should be “Two Strange Women and their Even Stranger Mother”

Judge for yourself!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Here’s Twenty Seven Tins On The 27th

Now my Church friends have all received their gifts, I can reveal what I made -This year I made a batch of fudge for the Christmas gifts for the Deacons and the Worship Team. I decided to pack it in these tins [because I had a box of them in the loft!]


I cut rectangles of greaseproof and pushed them down into the tins with a box, for neatness.


Then I put the fudge into the box along with a slip


I had some amazing alphabet tape which I used to seal round the lids [from Habitat Closing Down Sale in Richmond last summer!]


Here’s the stack of gifts, before they were distributed to all our hard-working friends.


They are all such sweet people after all!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Me And My Kin*

Feeling so blessed to have had a real family Christmas – many of my friends are far from their parents/children right now. On Christmas Eve we went for a walk in Melton Mowbray. Steph got stuck up a tree


Bob and Liz were quick to rescue her!


Melton Mowbray appears to exist in another time zone, if the sign by the pub is to be believed.


The stockings were left by the mantel with care!


Christmas morning we opened the stockings.


Bob and I received wonderful tee-shirts!DSCF2990

Church was great – here are a crowd of people litter picking! [there’s a baby in there somewhere!]


We came home and opened our remaining presents [thank you everybody for the lovely gifts]

Bob [the Chief Gravy-meister] and the girls produced a fabulous lunch


Before lunch, we decided on a Proper Family Photo [the stars are hanging from the curtain rail – not attached to our heads!]

So very proud of my beautiful daughters and lovely man!

Christmas 2011

**I have spent weeks trying to teach children at school to sing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” properly!