Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Never In A Month Of Sundaes!

Last Friday, when we stopped at the Motorway Services en route to Telford, my phone buzzed with two pictures from Jon. The family were in Morrison's Supermarket, up in Norfolk and also having a coffee break. Rosie was clearly enjoying her treat
Little-Miss-Two-Spoons is shown here, tucking into the "Children's Sundae". Liz said "I didn't realise the Kid's Sundae would actually be the size of the kid!" I drank my coffee and read the paper. This headline caught my eye.

"I could give them advice on portion control" I thought. but then I read the article. It is about the fresh/deli counters, where items are weighed out individually for each customer.
"This new service aims to reduce the amount of food thrown away in customers’ homes – which amounts to £500-a-year – according to the government’s Food Waste Champion. Its fresh food counters means that customers shopping at Morrisons can purchase the exact amounts of food they need. Morrisons has listened to many customers who struggle to know how much food to buy."
This does seem like a good idea to me - if it is going to reduce food waste, then it is definitely to be encouraged. 
I doubt any of Rosie's Sundae got wasted- I imagine her parents helped out if there was any left!

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Tweet Of The Day

BBC Radio 4 fans will recognise the phrase Tweet Of The Day as a lovely little programme where a birdcall is broadcast and a story told. Recently Rosie & her parents went birdwatching up at Holkham on the North Norfolk Coast. Jon snapped this lovely picture of the two girls with their bins watching the birds. 
He posted it on twitter. At the weekend, the NNR [National Nature Reserve] which is part of the Holkham Estate tweeted about their special half term activity here. And they used Jon's picture!
More details about the event - the Bird box Trail - on the website here.
Very proud of my Twitter Famous family. 

Monday, 20 May 2019

My Coronation Day

Today I am taking things very gently. I have an appointment with my dentist to have my crown fitted. Considering how much it costs, I am a little disappointed to report it is neither gold, nor jewel encrusted!
I'm not very good at the Dentists. I don't enjoy injections, and hate the drill. I usually close my eyes and recite hymns and Psalms and poetry in my head, to take my mind off what is going on in my mouth. 
In preparation for the crown, temporary work was done a fortnight ago on the offending molar. 
My dentist, a kind and capable woman, said I was not to chew food in that area, nor even brush the tooth. She mimed swishing mouthwash "for one whole minute" with my head tipped to one side. 
In the privacy of the bathroom, I have undergone facial contortions which make me look like a demented parrot.
And at mealtimes I find myself humming "Always chew on the right side of mouth..." I shall be glad when it's all sorted.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Good Advice For Families Everywhere

This popped up as one of my daily Bible verses this week. Wise words worth sharing!

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Some of my friends keep a journal, others write down three greatitudes each evening [a greatitude is a blessing for which they are grateful - the word is a hybrid of gratitude and beatitude. But I have no idea how to pronounce it]
I just write my blog - but there are so many things which have come out of this daily rambling which are definitely things for gratitude and cheerfulness...
Two weeks ago I blogged about the amazing South East Asia Collection in Norwich. Since then, two blogfriends have told me they were in Norwich, so took their spouses to find this place, and really enjoyed it. 
In January, when Bob said "We need to find two nights B&B in Telford, do you have any friends round there?" I immediately said Yes! - and so here we are, staying in a Methodist Manse for the Baptist Annual Meetings this weekend.
Last month,when I was beginning to feel better, and needing a project to occupy myself, Kezzie sent me some cosplay outfits to alter. I am so thrilled that she is pleased with them - and that they've even got the seal of approval from other Whovians. 
Kezzie is a longtime blogfriend  - and one day I hope we will get to meet in person.
That's just three things which instantly came to mind - I know if I sat down and considered it more, the list would be incredibly long. There are all the books I have read because of good reviews on other blogs, gifts and cards from friends all over the world, recipes I have found on other blogs which are now part of my regular repertoire...
I stopped putting a 'blogroll' in my sidebar, because so many people who were on it when I began in 2008 no longer write blogs, and others take 'sabbaticals'. But I do try to comment regularly on other blogs which I enjoy.
When the blog stops 'sparking joy' I shall stop writing it. But for now I'll keep going. 

Friday, 17 May 2019

We're Sloping Off To Salop

I don't think I have ever been to Shropshire, but that is where we are going today. I know very little about this county.
Telford is the largest town in the county with a population of 138,241 (which is approximately 30% of the total Salopian populace); whereas the county town of Shrewsbury has a lower, but still sizeable population of 71,715 (15%). The other sizeable towns are Oswestry, Bridgnorth, Newport and Ludlow. 
The old name for Shropshire is SALOP which is the weirdest word! Historically used as an abbreviated form for post or telegrams, this name is thought to derive from the Anglo-French "Salopesberia". It is normally replaced by the more contemporary Shrops although Shropshire residents are still referred to as Salopians.
Floreat Salopia  means "May Shropshire flourish".
We are going to be staying in Telford for a couple of days, for the Annual Baptist Assembly Meetings. It's the first time we have travelled to Assembly since we moved to Dorset.
Shall we gallop to Salop?
Shall I visit shops in Shrops?
Do they dress in slops in Salop?
And in gynaecology department, do the doctors worry about Salopian Fallopians?

I'm particularly excited because as well as meeting up with my old Baptist friends, we will be staying with my newer URC blogfriend Pauline. [And Pauline is moving to Dorset in August, which will be lovely] A proper report on Shropshire to follow [a sort of Show-And-Telford]

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Sew Mysterious!

I'm working very slowly on a new sewing project. I'm amused to realise that "running stitch" is not necessarily done at speed. I cannot give you any information about why or what for...but it does involve some smaller sections of embroidery which will become part of the larger finished piece.
With each one I've had to create my own stitching chart first, before even picking up a needle. I've just completed the first four of these. Here they are
My challenge to you is this - can you identify any of these? 
And can you find any sort of connection between them? 

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Punch Drunk

According to the Oxford Dictionary, this means "to be dazed or stupefied, as if by heavy blows to the head"
In recent weeks, I have on occasion felt punch-drunk. I have also become quite fascinated by a range of craft punches which I had never heard of until last summer.
I purchased two secondhand We Are Memory Keepers Punchboards from a Ferndown lady who was at a Craft Fayre, and then at the Fete. 
The first was the giftbox board. This makes cube shaped boxes from a square of paper.

Then a week later I bought her Candybox punchboard. This makes boxes shaped like Christmas Crackers- or you can make them into flat bottomed boxes. I produced a batch for Steph and Gary's Wedding Party last July, to hold sweets.
Then I was given a gift token just before Easter. I bought yet another WRMK punchboard - this time full price [but of course, I used my token] This was the mini-alphabet board
Unlike the first two boards- which have a double sided punch, and scoring channels, this incorporates two punches and a cutting blade and guide.
You prepare cards 1.5" x 2.5" then following the little guide book, you punch and slice to make letters.
This one board produces the whole alphabet and numbers 0 -9.
I used it the other week with the children to make "Joy Spinners" using old CDs, and letters cut from recycled greetings cards.
On the other side of the disc was a picture which the children coloured in, and the words "Shout to God for joy, everybody!"
I also made a birthday card on Wednesday, and was able to punch out the person's name.
I am getting quite obsessed with this WRMK range.
They are so well designed, and incredibly versatile - once I started poking around on the internet/Pinterest I found loads of different ways to use these punchboards.
The two 'box' punchboards have little charts printed on them to show which size of card you need for the final box - but enthusiasts have produced extra charts showing a huge range of different sized boxes and alternative ways of using them.
And then last Monday, there was a craft table in Blandford Church where  people were selling 2nd hand craft kit for church funds. And I picked up yet another WRMK board, for just £1.

I made a lovely envelope to go with the birthday card - using a sheet of double sided scrapbook paper. It looked Very Professional with the contrast lining.
Again there is a double sided punch [which makes the notches, and the rounded corners] and an integral 'bone folder' for neat scoring and creasing.
You can also use the envelope punchboard to make gift bows, but I have not had time to practise that skill yet.
It does seem as if these gadgets will be getting a lot of use - I certainly think you could say that they punch above their weight. To buy them new would be a bit of an investment, but I've spent well under £10, plus a token and feel they have already sparked JOY for me.
More information on WRMK here - and plenty of other stuff on YouTube and Pinterest,
I imagine I shall be showing other punchboard projects here in the future.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Fog Slowly Lifting, Sunny Spells Anticipated

A number of blogfriends have contacted me for details of the book lent to me by my friend Richard. It is this one
I feel I should make some important points

  1. The book is almost 25 years old, and  there's been a lot of research into CFS and greater understanding of the problem in that time. [much of it by Trudie C alder herself] so some of her comments are possibly outdated. 
  2. Her ideas about CBT [cognitive behaviour therapy] are not universally accepted - in fact Richard had noted this in the margin
  3. Online reviews vary between "This book has been my saviour" to "Despite my lack of energy, I still managed to hurl this awful book across the room" 
I am ambivalent. Richard kindly lent it because he had found some parts helpful [he didn't specify which ] and I would agree with that. I am grateful for his thoughtfulness, and appreciated the opportunity to read something which had short, manageable chapters, and lots of practical tips. 
I recognise that my situation is not extreme, I'm not bed-bound, or in pain. Many CFS sufferers cannot even lift their arm and brush their hair. I imagine folk like that might resent the chatty "come on, you can beat this" approach in the book. 
I did find the passages about pacing myself, and not feeling guilt over unfinished tasks to be useful - but some of the ideas about sleep patterns didn't work at all for me.
So whilst I am happy to identify the book, please don't take that as a *****star recommendation. It may not be right at all - or it may be just what you need.
If you think you are suffering with any degree of CFS, do see your GP. And do not give up hope. And if someone you love is struggling with this, please be patient, don't expect Instant recovery. Help them to say no to things. 
As I continue to tell people, the love of friends and family is so important. Kind comments and patience and understanding are wonderful. Other people I know and love are much sicker than I am right now. They, and their carers, are the ones who need most support. 

Monday, 13 May 2019

George The Third

Monday, April 29th - I took Bob to Wisbech to look at a Georgian town. This obviously sparked an interest - one week later, Bank Holiday Monday, May 6th, we went to Blandford Forum, yet another Georgian Town. Our first visit to this fine town was a year ago and there are lots of pictures and historical details on my earlier post.
But Bob had discovered that on MayDay they were holding a proper Georgian Fayre.
We set off early...
The free car park was well signposted, and as we went to cross the bridge, volunteers were collecting donations. £2 suggested- for which you received an informative programme - the monies all going to local charities, but I was pleased they were clearly sensitive, suggesting OAPs shared a programme, and children with adults were let in free. There was so much to see and do, £2 seemed a fair price. At the end of the square near the Corn Exchange was a fabulous Carousel. There were stalls all along the main street, up the side roads alongside the church and in nearby fields 

 The Lord Mayor, and the Town Crier were dressed intheir traditional robes, and walked amongst the stalls and exhibits, accompanied by the Carnival Princesses.

There was entertainment from the Mangled Wurzels, who sang cheerfully at regular intervals throughout the day.
The Anonymous Morris troupe, in their wonderful purple outfits, which bizarrely steampunk headgear hopped, skipped and danced around the square. There was also a team of Gurkha Soldiers doing their dancing with traditional kukri knives.

Many of the stallholders had put on Georgian dress. The lady in green was happy for me to photograph her, but insisted on concealing her mobile phone! The lady in the pink bonnet is called Rachel. She was one of those at a stall in the parish church - and is an old friend of two of my Ferndown friends.
 This stall was all about Georgian dress. The husband and wife team running it are costume enthusiasts. They make these outfits as a hobby and display them round the world- they have won awards at Venice and at Versailles for their stunning gowns and robes.
And she grew up 2 miles from our old chapel in Kirby Muxloe. What a crazily small world it is.
There was a wonderful display of classic cars - I couldn't take pictures of all of them. I thought the red and yellow one was a "Noddy Car" till I got close, and realised it was a Fiat. Bob was very taken with the Triumph - he travelled round France with his brother and sister in one like this, about 50 years ago!
The 1935 Beardmore Taxi with the info board in front was utterly fascinating. 
It was originally owned by Stephen Fox-Strangways of Melbury House in Evershot. He died in WW2 and the taxi was kept up on blocks in a garage till 1970. It came up for auction and a man from Weymouth bought it. The new owners set about restoration, then 2 years later, circumstances forced them to sell it. 35 years later, they saw it advertised on eBay - and bought it back! Now fully rebuilt and restored, it is in use again.
We left the cars and went for lunch in The Brewery Tap - this is the eatery attached to the Hall and Woodhouse Brewery. Our programme contained vouchers for cheap beer and 2-4-1 sandwiches. Food was good [but not sure I'd have wanted to pay full price] The weather had proved brilliant and we'd seen lots of interesting things. 
We decided to go home - and as we were passing Wimborne on the way, I suggested that a cup of coffee and a cake in Le Petit Prince was in order. LPP is one of our favourite coffee shops - we've been in there with the family and Rosie likes it too.
And as we walked from the carpark into the town centre, we passed a load more people in Georgian dress. Bob enquired as to why they were looking so splendid, and they explained it was the Annual Southern England Town Crier's Competition. 
There are some great photos on the Bournemouth Echo website [here] As we walked back to the car park, the MC interrupted a chap about to shout the odds, and said he had an important announcement. "The Duchess of Sussex has been delivered of a son. God Save The Queen!"
Everybody cheered. And we went home.
I think I have had my fill of Georgians for a bit. There will not be a George The fourth post any time soon. 

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Brain Fog

When I was first diagnosed with "Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome", my friend Richard sent me a very helpful little booklet. One section that I found particularly reassuring was the section on "Brain Fog". It basically said that when you get over-tired, your brain stops processing trivial stuff- hence you do daft things. Like; forgetting why you went upstairs, hang the towel on the coat rack and the coat in the bathroom, put milk in your husband's coffee when he has always drunk it black, driving to the church car park when you are meant to be going to Lidl, going out with house keys in one hand and letter in the other, almost posting the keys in the letterbox [fortunately I stopped just in time with that one]
What was so reassuring was that the book said this 'brain fog' is not unusual - and furthermore, it is not permanent, not degenerative and not a sign of imminent dementia. I confess that in January/February I was concerned that I was losing the ability to think properly.
But things are looking up, I am taking my Vitamin D sunshine pills, I am having a Proper Rest most afternoons after lunch - and having told the Agency I am not available for work, I sleep well, and wake naturally [instead of the alarm disturbing my slumbers] The family gave me a Fitbit for my birthday- so I can monitor the exercise and rest I am getting, as well as my weight. [thanks family, I love it]
All very useful - and it is encouraging to see data that proves my sleep patterns are improving considerably - and things are looking brighter by the day.
The GP [and Richard] stressed this is not something that goes away quickly. I have no idea when - if ever - I'll be back in a classroom again. But I am taking each day as it comes. 
I am incredibly grateful to friends and family for their support. People are amazingly kind - including blogfriends I have never met, who've sent messages of support.
Yes I do get it wrong sometimes - Monday and Tuesday I had loads of energy. Then on Wednesday I pushed myself quite hard - and Thursday I was totally exhausted. I am learning to plan my weeks better. If Friday is going to be busy, I keep Thursday and Saturday clear. I say NO more often than ever before, and I am learning not to beat myself up when I forget, or cannot achieve everything.
There's a passage in Mark's Gospel which talks about the disciples being so busy that they didn't even have time to sit down and eat properly. Jesus gently reminds them of the need for rest. Being an old grandma, I originally learned these verses in the King James' Version...
And Jesus said unto them "Come ye  apart into a desert place, and rest a while" for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
I have always been amused by these verses - the idea that Jesus said 'come apart' - but of course he didn't mean 'disintegrate' - he meant 'come away from the busy-ness'.
We all need to learn the truth that if we don't take time to 'come apart and rest', then we probably will just come apart.
Take a regular Sabbath Rest my friends, and the brain fog will start to clear!

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Marmite Effect

I am definitely in the "Love It!" camp. Marmite was in the news yesterday, because Google selected Dr Lucy Mills as the Google Doodle of the day. She was born on 10th May 1888 - and was a pioneer in the field of obstetric health. In the 20s and 30s she spent a lot of time studying pregnant women in India- and particularly those who developed anaemia and other health problems in pregnancy.
It was she who discovered the importance of folic acid in the diet - and that there was a nutritional factor in yeast which both prevented and cure this anaemia.
And that it could be easily introduced into the diet by eating Yeast Extract, aka Marmite.
Although I had extreme morning sickness throughout both my pregnancies, I was always able to manage a cup of tea and a slice of toast and Marmite!
Such a simple thing, yet this discovery has made a difference to millions of women and their babies the world over - and to others [male and female] who have suffered with anaemia. Well done Lucy! You deserve to be honoured - thank you for your hard work.
When she died in 1964, her obituary in the British Medical Journal said 
"The excellence of her work on tropical megaloblastic anaemia has long been recognised by nutritionists and haematologists. Every medical student has heard of its cure by her discovery of the Wills factor in yeast extract, which paved the way for the subsequent work on folic acid. It was one of the simple but great observations which are landmarks in the history and treatment of the nutritional anaemias.
Wills even in her seventies was always a tireless worker and seeing her example other people found themselves working harder than they had believed possible. Though impatient with laziness and with half-baked opinions, she was compassionate to other human failings. ... Her generosity and magnanimity, combined with outstanding ability and resolution, made friends of all who ever worked with her and found her worthy of profound respect and deep affection"

Friday, 10 May 2019

Page Turners

In my post about Peckover House I mentioned the amazing papercrafted creations in the Library. Here's a quick review of three books I borrowed from Dereham Library whilst we were in Norfolk [and that was before I went to Wisbech]
First up, Clare Youngs' superb Papercrafting In No Time. I will read anything  she writes- because her books are always beautifully illustrated, with clear instructions - and eminently readable. She is a gifted craftswoman, and this book is full of inspiration and ideas. I particularly liked her clothespeg princesses.
I found online a website showing all  the projects in the book. [PINT images here]  
There just isn't enough time to make them all...
Sweet Paper Crafts by American author Mollie Greene caught my eye because I liked the little bird perching on the front cover.
This one has just 25 projects [CY's has 50] and they are very varied, from simple garlands to complex creations.
I did like the 'ship parcel topper' - but I wonder if the gift recipient would recognise all the work that had gone into making it, in their hurry to open the parcel. Good illustrations, clear instructions. Again I'd say *****
My third book, Makery by Kate Smith was a little bit disappointing. Kate Smith runs Makery Emporium in Bristol, and her stuff has been in Mollie Makes magazine I think.
This one is a mixture of various crafts - nothing wrong in that. I began reading and decided that there was nothing particularly new - and maybe this would be a good gift for a novice crafter - maybe one of my teenage friends who is 'just getting into makery'. 

However I found the instructions were unclear and occasionally had errors [I notice that other reviewers have bemoaned the lack of 'proper editing' too, and faults on the pattern sheet]
So maybe a novice would really struggle.
The pictures were pretty - but "decorated tags" are something most papercrafters start with.
I suspect I was predisposed against the book as the cover says 'pullout patterns included' and inside on the library ticket it said PATTERNS MISSING.  Verdict - good variety, nice pictures- but not as good as I had hoped, and badly proof-read - so just ***
I have recently earmarked a couple of old books - both beyond 'normal' use, for recycling into papercrafts - French and English dictionaries. The latter has quite fragile paper, which splits when folded, but works fine for backgrounds. I've been playing around too with Waitrose magazines [they use paper which is lovely for Origami] and making some boats for use with the children in church.
Do you do origami or papercrafts? 
and what materials do you use?
Have you found any good books which inspire projects?

Thursday, 9 May 2019

George The Second

Here is Peckover House, Wisbech. It is a beautiful red brick Georgian property, with wonderfully perfumed wisteria climbing the walls. 
The building of the property began in 1720, as the town of Wisbech began to grow. Various families lived here until 1752, when the Southwell family purchased it, and kept it until the end of the century. They made lots of changes, adding many decorations - carved plaster, rococo swags etc. Then in 1794, it was bought by the Peckover family who kept it for 150 years.
The Peckovers were Quakers, who owned a Bank [later to be amalgamated with other Quaker Banks to become Barclays] The bank was the front part of the property- then over the years, extensions were added on east and west sides, and the banking business moved out.
The last member of the family to live there, a single woman, Alexandrine Peckover, donated the house to the Trust in the 1940s. Sadly much of the original furniture was sold - but the NT have worked hard to restore the property to its Georgian splendour.
Below - entrance, sitting room, dining room and green house[pictures from NT website]
I was so busy enjoying the house that I did not take that many photographs!
I really want to go back again and have another look round. There were some excellent displays explaining that the Peckover family took their faith very seriously and it impacted their lifestyle.
They displayed compassion and generosity in their dealings with others, they were therefore respected for their integrity in business - and they also show a keen interest in the world around. Their hard earned wealth enabled them to travel and bring back items from around the globe, which they used to educate others. 
Lord Peckever was a great philanthropist and avid book collector. His immense library contained many early Bibles and other interesting books[but many were sold after his death]. Gradually the NT has been re-acquiring some of these volumes, and there is currently a display of "Lord Peckover's Lost Library"
I was particularly taken with some paper sculptures made as part of the Lost Library Event.
Here is a paper dove, representing the Holy Spirit, flying out from the pages of a Bible, and a galleon sailing out on the wild waves of an atlas. Do click on them for a closer look.
Many NT properties place teasels on the seats of valuable chairs, to prevent visitors from sitting down and damaging them, and neatly printed notices on display items which must not be handled. At Peckover, someone has gone to great trouble to make these notices in needlework- Please do not touch, please read me, please do not sit on this chair...
And in many rooms, there was a handwritten notebook with details of the pictures on the walls and the furnishings. 
What a labour of love, when so often these days we resort so quickly to typing out the details.
It somehow sat well with the simple Quaker way of life.
The everyday china was plain black and white, avoiding fancy colourful decoration [ even if the boiled egg came in a fancy copper device]. The kitchen was a typical NT display with many Victorian baking items on a large table.
There was a cookery book which was interspersed with advertisements. Cleavers Terebine Toilet Soap seems to have been the most splendid product. I'm not sure you'd get away with ads like this nowadays!
"The only person saved from the wreck was one little maiden, and she with the cleverness her sex, had taken a piece of Cleaver's Soap and washed herself ashore"
The Housekeeper's Room, off the kitchen, was set up as it was when the NT acquired the house - with 1940s furnishings. But the little radio was playing Wartime Songs, and a gas mask box, a make-do-and-mend leaflet and a recipe book using rationed foods reminded visitors that the house had a past that was not just Georgian or Victorian.
This was an excellent house to visit.
I love the proportions of the Georgian Architecture, and the elegant furnishings.  I didn't get time to look round the gardens properly, just a quick peep into the stable block, and a moment to admire plants arranged on a step.
There was a real sense of peace here - and many indications of the kindness and integrity of the Peckover family. They were clearly held in high regard by the community. There was a photo from 1907 - Alexander Peckover was made a Baron of the Realm [the first Quaker to be ennobled] The whole town turned out to welcome him home from his visit to the King
Lord Peckham insisted his peerage should not be hereditary - he wanted his sons to achieve things for themselves, not be handed them on a plate!
Peckover House is definitely on my wishlist for a second visit [combined with seeing Octavia Hill's house too]
I am really getting interested in the Georgians now [sorry Tudors, you are going on the back burner for a bit]