Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Girl, Sister, Wife - Relatively Random Reading

"Three books for £1" said the sign in Barnardo's, Salisbury the other week. And I sawe one I had been recommended to read, and a second which looked...worthy, and a third which looked fun . So, all in a good cause, I handed over my pound.
GIRL - "The Girl on the Train" which somebody or other [Steph? Liz?] mentioned months ago. It came out in 2015 and was made into a film with Emily Blunt [pictured on the cover] a year later.
I have not seen the film*
Basic plot - the girl [Rachel] goes to London every day on the train, passing the house where she once lived. Her ex-husband and new wife live there now. She watches them, and their neighbours, and creates stories about their lives. Then one day she witnesses something shocking... 
I wasn't 100% convinced - although I enjoyed it more than 'Gone Girl' which has many similar themes. Too many of the usual missing girl/angry divorcee/depressed alcoholic tropes. But it would be a good book to while away a train journey. ***
*The film has not had good reviews-Emily Blunt, the only Brit actor, is allegedly the one who holds the movie together. I cannot see [a] how it would translate well into a Stateside setting [b] how they manage to cast Emily [slim, attractive etc] in the part described [frequently] as overweight, and looking the worse for drink.
SISTER - Mrs Luther and her sisters- Women in the Reformation. At school we had to do a project on a historical character. I chose Martin Luther - but struggled to find out much about his wife Catherine [no internet back in the 60's, and our little library in town wasn't much help] So this looked like a useful tome to find out more about his 'Kate'. Despite the title of the book, the dear lady barely manages twelve pages. 
"Women have made crucial contributions to the life of the Church from New Testament times onwards, but the Reformation saw an explosion in their involvement. Having benefited alongside their brothers from the Renaissance's emphasis on learning, and with the increasing casting aside of the belief that they were intellectually inferior, women learned to read in ever increasing numbers - and many wanted to read the Bible. They started to interpret Scripture for themselves - which put them on a collision course with the Church." says one reviewer. I found this book a little disappointing. I will attempt to read it again in the depths of winter, and see if it has improved with keeping! I rate it just ** [I should say that this book gave no indication of ever having been opened and read right through. It was utterly pristine. Maybe that was why it was in the CS...]
WIFE -101 Things for the housewife to do, 1949  This is a reprint of a book which came out almost 70 years ago, written by a married couple,  Lillie B and Arther C Horth. Intriguing ideas and activities for the housewife in the aftermath of WW2. Many practical [but now totally outdated] tips about laundry, housecleaning, furniture, and leisure activities. A surprising number of manufacturers sent contributions to this useful 'vade mecum'In the authors' preface, many of these are acknowledged- Heals, Liberty's, Electrolux, Hoover, Brillo...plus the Women's League of Health and Beauty and Harbutt's Plasticene!
Not much about cookery- food was still on ration- but practical advice for mending saucepans [presumably the ones you hadn't sent off to be melted down to make Spitfire!] An alarmingly overstocked refrigerator is pictured on p65 "economical to run, it requires a tiny gas flame, there are no moving parts, and therefore permanent silence, and no radio interference" Perhaps I should follow the advice about massages to prevent a double chin. This book is indeed great fun to read. The foreword says it is part of a series which began in the 1920s. I'd love to find a copy of '101 things for a boy to make'.
For the sheer enjoyment, fascinating illustrations and wonderfully archaic terms ["fomentations and poultices" sounds like a Terry Pratchett curse] I give this *****.

If you can learn to lift your ribs right out of your waist, and to let them expand outwards and inwards when breathing, you will soon develop that "upward buoyant poise" which is the secret of grace and which would bring less drudgery and more joy to the daily dusting, bedmaking, picture straightening, and all the dozens of things which go towards making your home beautiful'.
With such wonderful advice as this, who needs Mrs Hinch on Instagram?

Monday, 17 September 2018

Restore And Repair

The cover of this issue of 'the simple things' caught my eye. Not enough to make me go out and buy a copy...but I did think "Ooh, I could have provided an assortment of spools like that!

Restoring and repairing are tasks which bring so much satisfaction to Bob and myself. The newly repaired bedframe is a case in point - phrases like "I can't believe how much stronger this feels now!" and "Maybe I should replace the bar on your side, Ang..." indicate his [justifiable] pleasure in that repair.
I've just embarked on a restoration project for a friend- photos will follow once it is complete, but I am truly getting such a kick out of it.
Listening to  "Rule Britannia!" recently I was pondering on that final verse about "The Muses still with freedom found, shall to thy happy coast repair" ... and my mind wandered to the North Norfolk Coast [my 'happy coast'] and the serious coastal erosion there, and efforts being made to protect that beautiful area.
But I'm aware that James Thomson, who wrote the lyrics for RB, probably didn't mean that sort of repair. He meant repair in the sense of 'return to'.
I looked up the definition of repair- there are two different meanings
  1. repair; to make good the damage, or to put right an unwelcome situation
  2. repair; to go to a place [frequently or habitually, often in company]
The first repair come from the Latin 'reparare' to make ready, the second from the Latin 'repatriare', to return to one's country.
So this could lead to someone asking "I say, shall we repair to Brighton and repair the West Pier, old chap?"
restore is defined as 'to return, repair or renovate to the original state' [from the Latin restaurare to rebuild or restore - hence restaurant, where you are restored through the provision of food] Somehow "Restore and Repair" sounds so much more upmarket than "Make Do And Mend",  doesn't it?

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Seing The Big Picture

We've just started doing The Bible Course on Sunday nights at UCF. It's really very good. 
Produced by The Bible Society it is an informative and enjoyable way to see how the Bible is constructed - the "big picture" of how it all fits together.
There's the Old and New Testaments - each made up of a library of individual books, 66 in total.
The clever logo [above] is a diagram of the way the books are ordered. On the left is a circle, representing the tree in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, right at the beginning. On the right, another circle, representing the Tree of Life  in the book of Revelation, at the end of Scripture. In between come books of history, poetry, the stories of Jesus, the letters Paul wrote to the churches, etc. 
It is presented in an intelligent, thought provoking way [we watch the video, and discuss things around tables in small groups] Everybody has their own handbook too. 
Folk seemed to enjoy Session One [there are eight in total - we're doing a couple a month, to finish just before Christmas] 
It's full of all sorts of information, and accessible to all, whether or not you know anything about the Bible. Stuff for new readers, and for oldies like me who've been studying for over half a century. I'd really recommend it!
This one minute video explains it beautifully

Saturday, 15 September 2018

I Love Manchester!

The more I visit, the more I discover about this great city. Steph and Gaz are building their life there, and it does seem to have a lot to offer. But this week I learned something else...in Sweden, and a few other countries, Manchester is the name they give to corduroy fabric.
 According to quirky fashion historian, Amber Butchart, corduroy developed in the 18th century from 'fustian', which was a heavy cotton twill weave cloth, from before Tudor times. The mills in Manchester produced yards of it, as it became a durable workwear fabric for the poor folk during the Industrial Revolution.
And at the other end of the social scale, this warm cloth became popular with country gents - their cord trousers and caps were a perfect foil for their tweed jackets.
Two years ago, the catwalk trends were all about cord, and somehow [according to AB] there was rather a surplus among the clothing manufacturers. So cord is very much back in vogue [and in Vogue] this autumn. 
I'm clearly ahead of the trend here. A few weeks ago, I picked up a brown cord pinafore dress in a CS for £3 [I found a picture of one just like it on the net - £15 on eBay!] Its very 1960's. I'm sure Twiggy had one like this! [this may even be that dress, who knows]
But it is warm, looks good alone or over a long sleeved top, and it has pockets.
I just love a dress which has somewhere for my hanky, my keys and my phone!
And I just love Manchester - the city and the cloth!

Friday, 14 September 2018

And So To Bed...

We have an IKEA Malm bed. The frame is 12 years old and the mattress was bought a few months back. It's a Euro King Size - slightly longer than UK King Size. We are very fond of our bed.
But on Tuesday morning, disaster struck! We'd discussed our Day Off plans on Monday night, as usual.

"Shall we go to IKEA?" "No. There's nothing we need, and it's daft just to go for breakfast" So we made other plans. 
Tuesday 7am, I made a cup of tea, and then we got up and dressed, ready to go out. Bob sat on the bed to lace his shoes.
There was an almighty crack, and his side of the bed collapsed. 
The side rail had broken at both ends. Bedding and mattress were shifted, tools fetched from garage, and broken section removed. 
Then off to IKEA with piece of wood. We had breakfast, then went to customer services. 

Unfortunately they couldn't supply us with  replacement rail, for all sorts of reasons. So we came back via Christchurch and bought a piece of wood from the wood yard. And my very clever husband spent the rest of his day off making a new rail. 
Here it is clamped together while the glue dries. 
He does look pleased with himself [and so he should!] £18 for a bit of wood is much better than buying a new bed. 

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Happisburgh Happiness?

People who know about that place in Norfolk know it is pronounce Haze-borough. So should the post title be Hazeborough Haziness, or Happy'sBorough Happyness? I have no idea. The RNLI there are determined to keep people happy and safe- and 4 years ago this week, they unveiled a warning painted on the slipway
Two years ago , sadly, a gentleman sailed nearby who hadn't put the 'think or sink' mantra into practice.
In October 2016 John Favell set out to sail from Hull to Canvey Island, and got into difficulties near Cart Gap, part of the Happisburgh coastline.
His boat [on which he lived] ran onto the groyne - and although he managed to struggle to shore, the boat was embedded and could not be retrieved. Locals had alerted the RNLI, who found Mr Favell, mercifully without serious injury. They drained the 25 ton yacht's fuel to prevent pollution - but it had to be left stranded.
Mr Favell said he regretted not calling for help sooner, when his engine lost power and the boat started drifting. He'd not realised he was so close to the RNLI station at Cart Gap. The boat was eventually buffeted to bits by the waves. Locals were brilliant- he was given free accommodation at the local pub, and folk rallied round and arranged a fundraiser for him. Most people will be unaware of this sorry saga - until now. 
A gifted Norfolk photographer, Chris Herring went along the coast [he lives less than 20 miles away] and took pictures of the stricken boat. And this week, his picture "Fighting to the last" showing the 42 foot 'Mithril' being claimed by the waves, has won an award. The Shipwrecked Mariners' Society charity holds an annual contest for the best pictures illustrating Britains relationship with the sea. Chris won the"Ships and Wrecks" Category with this amazing picture
The sea looks as if it is boiling as the boat is dying. What an amazing picture!
You can see the other winning photos from other categories here
If you are thinking ahead about gifts- Chris has some fine photographs [and photography courses] available on his website
And the SMS offers cards and calendars [this picture will be on the 2020 calendar] here. Personally I think their Ship's Cat teatowel [printed by Seasalt] is great fun. 
All this is a good reminder that the sea is mighty powerful and we should never take it for granted. JFK had a plaque on his desk when he occupied the Oval Office in the White House.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Golden Memories

I have been a bridesmaid just twice - for my two cousins Carol and Hazel, the daughters of my Mum's brother Leslie. The first of them to marry was Hazel, and that was 50 years ago today. I can't find a photo sadly - it was a real 1960s event. We had satin empire line dresses, and my hair was back-combed and lacquered to within an inch of its life!
This is a very similar Simplicity pattern [it may be the same one Auntie Edie used to make our dresses, I'm not sure] our dresses were pink, and my hair was styled just like the bride in the picture.
Only one of my six "Spooner family" aunts is still alive - but they were all there that day, in their wedding outfits from C&A, and frothy hats from British Home Stores.Hazel and Terry still live a few miles from where they grew up, their sons are married and they enjoy being grandparents. I've not seen them for about five years.
I wish them a really happy day. 
I decided to embroider a card, and got a bit carried away with beading... 
Fifty years of happy marriage is something to celebrate, isn't it? 

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Fluffy Fluffy! [Or Faffy Faffy?]

In Japanese - "Fuwa Fuwa!" means Fluffy, Fluffy! This is the name of a new pancake shop which has opened up a few branches around London. Japanese Fluffy Pancakes are traditionally served at weddings etc- and are the latest 'street snack' in the Metropolis.
I read about them last week in the Guardian.
The basic principle is that you beat the egg whites separately before combing with the other ingredients to make a very fluffy pancake mixture. This is then cooked [relatively slowly] and flipped. Once the other side is cooked, you serve them - usually in stacks of two or three, with toppings of your choice.
If you buy these souffle like concoctions in the Westfield Shopping Centre, they will set you back around £7 for two or three. That seemed rather a lot to me [but then I am notoriously mean about such things]
They did look rather tasty though, with their scoop of ice cream and jug of sauce.

So I googled the recipe [click here for recipe] Lo and behold, the one I found required three egg whites and a whole egg. And I had egg whites in the fridge left over from the custard tarts [how clever of the Japanese to find a way to use up the rest of my Portuguese ingredients!] Excellent for Zero Waste Week.
It was a bit of a faff producing the rings - which I did with cereal packet card and tinfoil [afterwards I washed the tinfoil, and recycled everything]
Mine are not as yellow as the Fuwa ones, and I forgot to dust with icing sugar before I served them. We had syrup, sliced banana, Nutella and plain yogurt as toppings.
Conclusion; they were a pleasant, fluffy treat for breakfast, but required a lot of work - three mixing bowls- one with egg whites and cream of tartar, one with dry ingredients and one with egg yolk and other wet ingredients. Personally I don't think they will be back on the Manse Menu anytime soon.
Now if the US company IHOP [International House Of Pancakes]were to open a branch in the UK, that would be a different matter. But as Bob says, if they did, he would probably end up being 'as large as a house' himself.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Going Raven Mad!

I've had a lot of fun in the past couple of weeks preparing some teaching materials for the children at church.Including finger puppets for use when telling Bible stories.
Here we have the prophet Elijah, hiding by the brook at Cherith, being fed by the ravens [I Kings 17] and the Good Shepherd, who lost one of his sheep [Luke 15]
Technically, I don't think ravens have paler undersides to their wings - but it made them look more fun.
When I did the lovebirds and owls back in August, I carefully kept all my felt trimmings in a little bag. Even the tiniest scraps can be used for a beak, or a hand, or a moustache.[Zero Waste again]

Last week at our Craft and Coffee group, a lady came in with a carrier bag "I'm decluttering, I thought you might have a use for some brown felt" she said. How generous! I told her about my finger puppets and said yes, brown felt would be useful, thankyou. It is quite a big bag...Perhaps I should plan a lesson on Genesis 41 and Pharaoh's Seven Fat [and Seven Thin] Cows

Other suggestions for Bible Story Finger Puppets requiring lots of brown felt will gratefully received and considered

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Doing Good

This is our new motto text for the coming year in the life of our church.
I like it for lots of reasons - it is good to encourage one another when we feel tired, and to inspire one another to do good. And it is important to remember the promise of a harvest at the proper time.
Bob suggested when he gave these bookmarks out last week that we should put them in our Bibles. My Bible is already bursting at the seams with bookmarks- I find it more helpful to have this on my fridge!
In a world of broken promises, unkind deeds, fake news, and selfish actions, these positive things are a challenge.
Tohoyiko Kagawa, an amazing Japanese Christian [1888-1960] who was totally committed to peace, evangelism, and social activism, is credited with saying these words
"I read in a book that a man named Christ went about doing good. It is very disconcerting to me that I am so easily satisfied with just going about"
I think TK deserves a bit more recognition in the 21st century. He didn't just talk about doing good - he went out there and did it! Among his many achievements he developed a three-dimensional forestry programme, to the benefit of many poor Japanese upland farmers. He encouraged them to plant trees, which had 3 benefits- the conservation of the soil, the production of food for humans, and fodder for the animals. 

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Zero Waste Week - My Results

On Sunday evening, I emptied all the bins inside the house, so I could see exactly what did get thrown away.  These were my rules;

  • items which went into the food caddy under the sink did not count, as these are collected regularly by the council for their anaerobic digester- it is turned into compost, soil improvers, and is an energy source. 
  • items which went into the general recycling bin did not count - glass, paper, cans, and some plastics can be recycled into new products.
  • everything else would either go into one container in the kitchen or into the bathroom bin. These two would be considered my 'waste for the week'
  • finally, I would make every effort to avoid accumulating uneccessary waste - carrying a cotton shopping bag, and a travel mug when I went out and refusing receipts when I could [sometimes a receipt is necessary for proof of purchase]

So how did I get on?
I put the wipes from the bathroom bin in a small charity bag that came through the door, and that, along with my kitchen [nonfood] and other rubbish fitted inside a small jar.
Also in the picture is a ramekin and a small jiffy bag. They represent the ramekin which jumped off the shelf and smashed, and the bag I used to contain the resulting bits of glass! 
Here's my bin with the waste from the jar - a small layer on the bottom. 
The wheelie bin says 140litres on the top. I had between 200 - 250ml of "landfill" rubbish over the five days. If that was my regular waste, it would take 8 YEARS to fill my bin. 
I know this is unrealistic - food shopping at the weekend will yield more plastic wrapping. 
Do you think the Zero-Waste gurus who say "my family makes just one jar of waste a year" never ever smash anything? [or replace their phone or laptop]

Friday, 7 September 2018

Ferndown Fun For Friday

I frequently find myself using my phone to take photographs of things which have amused me. This week has been no exception. To some people, Ferndown may be just a boring little town on the edge of cool, exciting Bournemouth - but in the past 3½years I have discovered it is full of history, natural beauty, kind and good people...and plenty of things to make me smile.
My favourite coffee shop in Ferndown is 'Thirty Seven' - and I enjoyed a late breakfast there with Bob on Tuesday morning after my dental appointment. They always have newspapers to read - and Bob pointed out an article about the Giraffes in Worcester which we saw two months ago.
I am not laughing at the vandalism or the attempted burglary - but the headline did make me smile!

On Tuesday evening I was intrigued when we stopped behind this van at the traffic lights

What does a "Supermarket Support Service Rapid Response Unit"  do? Does this vehicle swing sharply into the Waitrose Carpark if they run out of "Essential Quinoa" or Chia Seeds?
Also on Tuesday, at 7pm I was sitting outside the library waiting for friends to join me on a Prayer Walk through the town centre. I looked up at the clock - which has four faces- and none of them was telling the correct time!
Finally, I passed another of our eateries and saw this board outside.
What does this mean? 
I can only assume that a 'Brexit Lunch' implies that nobody knows what they are going to get served up with, and everybody is afraid they will end up paying far more than they expected at the end of it!
Finally - nothing to do with Ferndown [we have to go to Ringwood or Wimborne for our nearest Waitrose stores, and the small 'John Lewis @ Home' is in Poole] But I think the new JL & W & partners ad is amazing.
If you are a teacher or teaching assistant or helpful parent, who has spent hours making costumes and building sets for end-of-term concerts and school productions, I think you will understand. Happy memories of creating space outfits from plumbing supplies, and IKEA fabric baskets, steampunk spectacles from B&Q safety goggles, and more. Holding one's breath backstage as you hope the lighting and sound effects will work properly, standing behind a curtain doing emergency repair stitching to the dancer's frock...

It's a great ad, IMHO. As well as emphasising the 'And Partners', and the link between JL & Waitrose, they've changed their strapline too - after 93 years, they're dropping "Never knowingly undersold" in favour of "For us, it's personal"
Not sure how they will improve on this ad when it comes to Christmas though.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Smile Please!

I went for my regular dental check-up this week, and met the new lady dentist. She checked my teeth, took a couple of X-rays and informed me I didn't need any treatment, other than a scale and polish. Bob warned me that I'd be quizzed on my brushing routine, and indeed I was.
She said my teeth have obviously been cleaned thoroughly. However, she said that my gums were rather pink in places- a sign that I have been brushing too enthusiastically. [Look lady, 'enthusiastically' is my approach to life generally - so that is not surprising] She suggested I try to go slowly and gently.
How often do I floss? Errm...a couple of times a week. Always on a Sunday morning before church, and a few times in between] I am to floss daily, from here on in
Mouthwash? Oh yes, I do it regularly! It seems I haven't mastered that technique either. She said I should be swishing it round for 30 to 45 seconds before spitting out. Do it slowly 
To sum up, 
  • brush gently
  • floss regularly
  • swish slowly

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

You Paid HOW Much?

I'm old. I know I am old - because when I see things labelled '50p', I sometimes think "How much? That's ten bob! I'm not paying that!"  And my family smile to themselves, and point out that this is the 21st Century and we have had decimal coinage for almost 50 years.
Well that's true - but I had a great fondness for the old £.s.d. system. 
I loved the twelve sided thrupn'y bits, and the huge half-crowns. 

If you say "Do you remember 1001?" to almost anyone over 60, they are likely to sing this jingle...
That was in the days before owning a Vax, or hiring the Rug Doctor.
Black Jacks and Fruit Salad sweets were four for one big shiny round penny. That's 960 for £1 - almost a 1000! I stopped eating them aged 9, when one pulled my filling out!

There was a bloke on Dereham Market who would sell you a pair of 'American Tan' orangey/brown tights for one-and-thrupence [1/3 = 1 shilling and 3 pence] A group of us bought 8 pairs for ten bob, and then dyed them black in my Mum's potato saucepan, so we could wear them for Girl's Brigade. They came out alarmingly blotchy [and it took ages to clean the pan] 
What's brought on this reminiscence about getting my money's worth? 
I came home from M&S and announced I had treated myself to something- I'd spent ten bob on a very small piece of fruit. 
My OH laughed at me, but he agreed that I did find enormous pleasure in eating my beautiful ripe juicy purple fig, as I sat in the sunshine in the garden.
We may have lost the tanner[sixpence] the florin [two shillings] and the half-crown [2/6] - but at least I still have my very own Bob!

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

This Is Not Just A Custard Tart...

This is a Martha Tart! I really enjoy reading Martha Collison's recipes. She's a delightful young woman - the youngest ever Bake-Off contestant, she reached the quarter finals in 2014, and she's still just 21. Bright and cheerful, she's not only spent the last few years writing about cookery, but has become an ambassador for Tear Fund, teaching girls in Cambodia to bake [so they have a chance to make a living for themselves] and visiting refugee camps in Lebanon. 
Last weekend, the Waitrose magazine featured her recipe for pastéis de nata - those delightful Portuguese custard tarts you sometimes see on sale in coffee shops.
I had half a pack of puff pastry in the fridge [leftover from the excellent chicken and vegetable pie which Bob made recently] ...and the Nigel Slater's 'Custard' programme was repeated - and he had a Portuguese guy, Bruno,  now living in Wales selling his tarts to the locals. Like M, Bruno made his custard in three stages, with a syrup, milk mix, and then finally egg yolks.
I felt duly inspired, so weighed out my pastry, and having two thirds of the weight Martha suggests, I duly did some division of quantities in the recipe. Here is the official version from Waitrose magazine.

Martha Collison's pastéis de nata
Preparation time: 45 minutes + chilling
Cooking time: 12-14 minutes, Total time: 1 hour
Makes: 10 tarts
320g all-butter puff pastry sheet
25g plain flour
150ml whole milk (preferably gold top)
100g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Melted butter, for greasing
3 large eggs, yolks only
Ground cinnamon, for dusting (optional)

1. Unroll the pastry sheet from its packaging and tightly roll it back up again, squeezing well to fuse the pastry together. Wrap the pastry log in baking parchment and chill for at least 1 hour before using.
2. Whisk together the flour and 3 tbsp of the milk in a medium bowl to form a smooth paste. Heat the remaining milk in a small pan until just boiling, then slowly whisk the hot milk into the paste until smooth.
3. Meanwhile, in another small pan mix together the caster sugar with 75ml water and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved, then add the cinnamon stick and turn up the heat. Simmer the mixture until it reaches 105°C on a sugar thermometer, then remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick.
4. Gradually whisk the syrup into the milk mixture, until it is well incorporated. Pour this mixture back into the pan and heat very gently for 2-3 minutes, whisking all the time until the mixture is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pour back into the bowl and allow to cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally.

5. Lightly grease 10 holes of a muffin tin (or pastéis de nata tins, if you have them) with butter. Slice the ends off the pastry log, then divide into 12 even-sized rounds (you’ll have 2 spare pieces, but dividing into 12 creates portions of just the right size). Place one round of pastry into each hole.
6. Fill a small container with water and keep nearby. With wet fingers and thumbs, push into the centre of the pastry round to create a well. Use your fingers to draw it up the sides of the tin, pressing it firmly against the mould to create a thin pastry case. Repeat with each piece of pastry, then chill the muffin tin for at least 15 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 250°C, gas mark 9 with a baking tray inside on the top shelf to heat up. Whisk the egg yolks, one at a time, into the cooled milk mixture until smooth. Strain this egg custard through a sieve to remove any lumps.
8. Divide the egg custard evenly between the tarts and place the muffin tin onto the preheated baking tray and bake at the top of the oven for 10-12 minutes. The tarts will puff up and the custard will bubble. After 10-12 minutes, switch the oven to the grill setting and bake for a further 1-2 minutes. Keep a close eye on the tarts while grilling, you want an irregular browning on the top to give them their characteristic caramelised flavour.
9. Remove from the oven and leave to stand in the tin until they are cool enough to handle. The filling should be beautifully smooth. Enjoy warm and dusted with cinnamon. 
Martha says 'these tarts are best eaten on the day of making.' Mind you, she also admits to eating 36 during her week in Lisbon. Ours were rationed over 2 days. 
Here are my pastéis de nata - eaten in the garden, whilst drinking tea and watching biplanes and wingwalkers soaring overhead!

Monday, 3 September 2018

Waste Away!

This is Rachelle Strauss. She started the Zero-Waste Week in the UK ten years ago. She'd watched the results of the floods in Boscastle, and was concerned about the way we were destroying the planet, and wanted to do something to make it a better place for her daughter to grow up in. The website is helpful and realistic in its approach. Click here to find out more. 
What am I doing? Well, for starters I've been rereading some of the stuff on Rachel's website and Jen Gale's blog.
I suspect my 'landfill' waste is mostly plastic wrapping from food and postal items, plus wipes. But I am not sure. I've also emptied all the waste bins and the kitchen bins. That way I can get a clear idea of just how much waste we generate in one week. I want to be more aware of what comes into my house for no purpose other than wrapping en route to landfill. I'd like to have a better idea of how much recyclable waste we produce each week. 
What do you call your refuse containers? 
Outside we have wheelie bins [dustbins] and inside pedal bins and wastepaper bins. My NZ friend, with her strong accent always called hers a "piddle bin" and an American friend talks of trashcan. The French refer to poubelles - a word I was fascinated by in my O level years. I've just discovered where it comes from
This is Eugene Rene Poubelle, who died in 1907.He was an amazingly sensible man. A public administrator in Paris in 1884, he was concerned about the rubbish being generated in the apartment blocks. He decreed every building owner must provide three rubbish containers; one for compostable items, one for paper and cloth, and one for crockery and shells. There were 2 million people in the city, generating a lot of rubbish  Initially there was resistance to these new refuse rules - but in time came to realise the wisdom behind them And poubelles became their word for rubbish bins. [He also improved the Parisian sewerage system, to reduce the spread of cholera.]
Realistically I know I shall not have a 100%Waste free week. But I can be more careful about what waste I produce, and how I dispose of it. I hope that by the end of the week, my poubelles are not overflowing! 
Congratulations Rachelle, on being given a 'Points of Light' award, TODAY, by the Queen for making a difference in society
And well done Jen Gale, for showing Nadya how to make fudge on BBC2 this evening

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Covenanting Together

Today is our Covenant Service at Church - as part of that, we will all join together in a prayer of commitment. Our Church is not the building - fine though that is - it is the people who belong, the family of Jesus. I am grateful to belong to such a loving, caring fellowship like this.
Creating and redeeming God, we give you thanks and praise. 

Your covenant of grace was made for our salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. We come this day to covenant with you and with our companions in discipleship - to watch over each other and to walk together before you in ways known and still to be made known.

Pour down your Spirit on us. Help us so to walk in your ways that the promises we make this day, and the life that we live together, may become an offering of love, our duty and delight, truly glorifying to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

This day, we give ourselves again to the Lord and to each other, to be bound together in fellowship, and to work together in the unity of the Spirit for the sake of God’s mission. In our congregation, in local partnerships, in our association and in the wider Union, we commit all that we have and all that we are to fulfil God's purposes of love.

Father, we are not our own, we are bought with a price. We give ourselves to you: use us as you choose. We are ready to be rich or poor, strong or weak, exalted or brought low for you. Freely and willingly we covenant ourselves to serve you, not for reward but out of love. 

May the covenant we make with you find approval in your sight, and give us the grace to fulfil it, for the sake of Christ, Amen.