Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Human Kind

Last week I mentioned JMBarrie and Peter Pan. I hadn't realised till yesterday that PP first appeared in 1902 in a book called "The Little White Bird". There's an intriguing quote therein...
...always try to be a little kinder than is necessary
Which was when I remembered that many people had marked Sunday 17th February as "Random Acts Of Kindness Day" - and I had completely missed it. Ooops!
In my defence, I am not sure any of the blogs I follow mentioned it either, and you're all very kind people, I'm sure.
I was pottering in the kitchen, listening to Radio 4 Extra, as I'm wont to do. And I heard about  the most bizarre RAK.
It involves "Cake Circles"
You take a map and draw a circle on it. The centre of the circle must be somewhere where you are able to bake a cake [eg your own kitchen, or your granny's house] You then bake 40 cakes,  load up your car, and drive out to the point where you reach the edge of the circle. Now you travel round the circle, stopping at random points. You then give a cake to someone who lives or works at that point of the circle. 
This seems an interesting way to spend a weekend. The artist* who came up with the idea maintains this is an art installation rather than a humanitarian act. Furthermore he says than in Birmingham the recipients were cheerfully accepting - but in Liverpool and London he encountered cynicism and unwillingness to accept his offerings.
I'm not at all sure about this one.
We've recently started a new course on Sunday evenings at church, called Fruitfulness on the Frontline [it's brilliant- expect more on this later] and we were talking about the fruits of the Spirit including kindness. Surely we shouldn't need to mark out one day of the year for kindness? ...just seek to make it part of life.
*In case you are wondering, the artist in question is Bill Drummond- formerly of 'Echo and the Bunnymen' and 'KLF'. He's also the guy who [he says] burnt one millon quid of KLF's profits, as a 'piece of artwork' on the Isle of Islay in 1994. I'm rapidly concluding that [a] I do not understand modern art, and [b] it would have been better to have spent that money on ingredients for giveaway spongecakes - or maybe just given it straight to Oxfam. What a waste!


Monday, 18 February 2019

You Don't Often See Heffalumps In February

One day, when Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet were all talking together, Christopher Robin finished the mouthful he was eating and said carelessly: "I saw a Heffalump to-day, Piglet." 
"What was it doing?" asked Piglet. 
"Just lumping along," said Christopher Robin. "I don't think it saw me."
What is it about elephants? They are such great, majestic creatures, swaying through the forest - their powerful feet trampling everything underfoot, their stentorious trumpeting alerting everyone to their arrival. And yet - the pictures of the little cubs scampering along under their mothers' protection, and the scenes of them playing in the water, squirting with their trunks - they are also such fun. Might, majesty, motherly love, and merriment - with what wonderful qualities the Creator has endowed them. I'm not surprised that children love them so much - and they occur so often in children's literature. It took me a very short time to remember half a dozen family favourites without including Pooh [pub. 1926] 

Wonderful patchwork Elmer [1968], Horton from Dr Seuss[1940], Babar [1931] Jill Murphy's Large family with the hassled Mum [1986] Rosie may be a little young for Kipling's Just So Stories [1902] and Morpurgo's wartime adventure [2011] just yet. But these tales span more than a century and show the enduring fascination these beasts continue to have for youngsters, and adults too.
On Saturday, as I was sneezing and snuffling with a cold, and feeling sorry for myself, the post came came. A batik of an elephant! A gift from my friend Bless
This elephant has travelled to Dorset from Sri Lanka via California!
Bless tells me it was made by her friend, and depicts the Kandy Esala Perahera. This is the great Buddhist Festival held every year on the Island, and features a perahera [procession] of wonderfully dressed elephants. I am in awe of the art of batik- the skill with which the crafters use wax and dye to produce such stunningly detailed  pictures. This photo isn't quite true to colour- but the background is deep red, matching our dining room curtains at Cornerstones. So it will be framed and hung there, to be admired by dinner guests!
Having opened my post, I started humming 'Nellie the Elephant' to myself. I taught this song to Rosie last year and she enjoys it [this maybe because the word Trump makes her giggle] Then my phone pinged- Jon sent us a photo of their Saturday morning walk. Rosie's grabbed Liz's binoculars, and is clearly looking for something in the distance. Is she too on a Heffalump Hunt?
"I saw one once," said Piglet. "At least, I think I did," he said. "Only perhaps it wasn't."
"So did I," said Pooh, wondering what a Heffalump was like.
"You don't often see them," said Christopher Robin carelessly.
"Not now," said Piglet.
"Not at this time of year," said Pooh.



Sunday, 17 February 2019

Deeds, Not Words

It is just a year since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. Seventeen students and teachers died, and another seventeen were injured. 
2018 was the worst year ever for school shootings in the USA - according to CNN, there's been a school shooting on average every twelve days. 
After Parkland, Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, an American screenwriter and Methodist Pastor, was moved to write a biblically based response to politicians who, after every gun massacre, do nothing but send best wishes and empty piety to survivors.
She believes there is no contradiction between the sanctuary and the street when it comes to changing social policies that go against Gospel values. "If we don't follow through on what we say we believe, it's just talk," she said. This past week, Bob and I have been at the annual conference for Baptist pastors and spouses in our area. At the final session, we shared communion, and we closed with Carolyn's hymn. I found the words very challenging
If we just talk of thoughts and prayers
And don't live out a faith that dares,
And don't take on the ways of death,
Our thoughts and prayers are fleeting breath.

If we just dream of what could be
And do not build community,
And do not seek to change our ways,
Our dreams of change are false displays.

If we just sing of doing good
And don't walk through our neighbourhood
To learn its hope, to ease its pain,
Our talk of good is simply vain.

God, may our prayers and dreams and songs
Lead to a faith that takes on wrongs —
That works for peace and justice, too.
Then will our prayers bring joy to you.

This is set to the English Folk tune Waly,Waly - and Carolyn says of her hymn "I give permission for its free use. I only ask that you share it with others."


Saturday, 16 February 2019

Token Of Appreciation

For three years we took our summer holidays on the motorbike, travelling to France, Belgium and Eire . Bob bought me a proper Moleskine Notebook, so I could record our adventures en route. I'm afraid my literary output didn't match that of other Moleskine users such as Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway 
[you can read about our French trip if you want, it's now an e-book]
I picked up my notebook last weekend, and suddenly realised there was something in the envelope pocket inside the cover. A Boots Voucher - inside a cardboard folder, labelled £50. Where had this come from? Neither of us could remember. How old was it?Was it still valid? And had it been used at all? 
I took it into Boots, and the lady checked it and it was worth £39.64. - so I decided to spend it all, right there on the spot.
But what should one buy with such a windfall? Perfume for me, aftershave for him, some crazy red nail varnish, a fancy new hairbrush?No. None of these things. Because they were on offer [buy one, get one half price] I bought four month's supply of these...
Because of his sleep problems, Bob finds these strips extremely useful. And I benefit too, as my sleep is less disturbed. I felt guilty about having been careless with this generous gift - but now it has been spent on something which we'll both appreciate, for 120 days [and nights] Thank you, whoever you were, for giving the token in the first place.
I also discovered, tucked on the same bookshelf, the last two of the Leon Breakfast Vouchers which I won three years ago. They have two branches in Manchester now, so perhaps I can use them there.

This sorting of the bookshelves is yielding many unexpected benefits.

Friday, 15 February 2019

My Gorgeous Girl Is Growing Fast!

Three years ago I was eagerly anticipating the birth of my first grandchild. I was keeping myself busy with knitting from this bookI did the fish jumper, the cable jumper, the striped cardi, a hat and bootees [they were in pink and went to a friend's newborn daughter]  The book cost about £7, and I felt at the time it was good value because I would use it again.
The patterns go up to 8 years in size.
Liz mentioned that Rosie could do with a cardigan in a neutral shade. 
My friend passed on some Patons washable wool blend aran, in the hopes that I could find a use for it. Thank you Beryl. 
So I've cast on and started knitting design K. That's middle row, bottom picture [shown in navy on the cover but cream inside] 


It's a straightforward double moss pattern. I thought I'd knit it quite quickly but I seem to be on a Go Slow right now, everything is taking longer. Good thing I'm doing the age 3-4 size. It makes a pleasant change from knitting angels. 
Rosie's 3 at the end of the Month. I doubt I'll be done by then. Still in two minds about the contrast blanket stitch edging. Will decide when I've finished it. What do you think? I've got some pretty buttons in my stash I may use instead of plain ones. 



Thursday, 14 February 2019

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Thai For Two

Bob and I had a special treat last week- we were given the opportunity to dine at the "Koh Thai" restaurant in Bournemouth. 
After an unexpected week apart, followed by a busy weekend, it was lovely to have such a treat. 
I don't recall ever eating in a Thai restaurant before!
The decor was amazing - we sat at a table by the wall [just to the left of that yellow logo in the picture - which comes from their website
The waiting service was excellent - rather than a 'dedicated' waitress, any member of staff passing the table would ask if you needed anything.
I'm no good at selfies, but here's us!
Bob enjoyed Massaman Lamb, with noodles, and I had Tamarind Duck with Jasmine Rice.
The food was delicious. The atmosphere was pleasant, and we found the waitresses very helpful.
Would I go again? Not sure- whilst I enjoyed the experience, and found the flavours were good, I thought the price did not reflect the size of the portions*. Bob's massaman curry was served in a small cereal bowl and cost £11.50 - the small amount of noodles were a further £4. The picture of tamarind duck on the menu was a little misleading  - there was nothing like as much meat on my plate under those crispy noodles as there was on the menu photograph.
We wondered how big the tapas plates were!

But it was lovely to have an evening out together. We dined quite early, and when we came to leave, the place was comfortably full - couples, families, and larger groups.
It's clearly very popular with many Bournemouth diners. 
[*I suspect my daughters will tell me I have unrealistic expectations about restaurant prices. They're probably right!]

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Soap Opera

I had a little box containing odds and ends of soap. The sort you get when you stop in hotels or conference centres. A few were unopened, but most had been used a couple of times whilst I was away, then brought home in my sponge bag and put into a soap dish. But they get too thin to be of any use.
I looked up ideas on the internet, and decided to grate, melt and pour into moulds. I had some small silicone pudding basins which I planned to use. I broke the bars into chunks then grated them in my processor [I did try to use the cheese grater but was afraid I'd grate my fingers!] It reduced the soap to mostly powder with a few pea sized lumps.
As per instructions I added 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp water to 250gm of soap, put it in a Pyrex bowl and balanced over a pan of boiling water. I stirred diligently with a spatula. At first nothing seemed to happen, then suddenly I had a large lump of 'mashed potato'
Using my ice cream scoop I weighed out around 60gm into each mould. The soap cools very quickly so was easily to handle. But the moulds were too wobbly. I tipped out each lump onto a strip of parchment paper, then pushed it into my biscuit cutter instead.
I ended up with four reasonable sized round cakes of soap. The average 'hotel bar' weighs between 15 and 25gm - so these are 3 times that size. Currently they are in the airing cupboard drying out. 
top tips
  • check out recipes on the net 
  • only add a little water and oil- don't soak the slivers
  • don't bother with the 'add water and do it in the microwave [I did that once before- it's messy and unpredictable and doesn't really save time]
  • weigh out your lumps so they are approx. the same size. you can use immediately, but they will benefit from drying out
  • don't make them too thick, the centre will not harden properly 
  • ignore 'add food colouring' - it may look pretty, but might stain your fingers [which defeats the object of handwashing!] 
  • ditto 'add perfume'- these just smell of 'soap'

Wash utensils thoroughly afterwards, so you don't find your next batch of baked beans tastes of soap. It took less than 20 minutes to make these. Most hotels throw away leftover toiletries, this is making good use of them [mottainai again]



Monday, 11 February 2019

The Gifts That Keep On Giving

In the 1880's, the Scottish author J M Barrie moved to London. He lodged in Great Ormond Street, right behind Great Ormond Street Hospital. In 1904, he wrote the stage play Peter Pan, and in 1911 the story appeared in book form. For many years Barrie had supported GOSH - and in 1929, he gifted all the royalties from the book to the Hospital. 

Amazingly, with a sprinkling of fairy dust, in 1988 the House Of Lords amended the Copyrights Act so that GOSH could receive royalties in perpetuity. 
What generosity!
Fifty years later, than Barrie's gift, a similar gesture was made by Abba. 1979 was declared by the UN to be the International Year of the Child, and in January of that year, the group released Chiquitita [it's a term of endearment, meaning 'Little One'] as the first single from their album Voulez-Vous.
Already each member of the Swedish quartet was as rich as Croesus, so they donated half the proceeds from this song to UNICEF. To this day, that raises over £4million per annum for the charity! 
[Thank you Liz, for sharing this lovely story as we sat for hours in a traffic jam on the M11 recently, singing Abba songs to amuse Rosie!]
Gifts that go on 'sparking joy' long after the day you first receive them are great. An elderly friend here is moving, and clearing her flat. She gave me a simple pale wood  chair. My SIL in Surrey gave me two books of upholstery fabric samples at Christmas. The designs are in sets - 4 or five in each colourway - around 100 samples in all. They have a lovely 1950's Lucienne Day feel about them. I offered the chair to the girls, and Steph said she'd like it for her bedroom. 

"Do you want me to make a tie-on cushion pad? If so, what colour?"
"A shade of grey?" 
"Any particular shade? I have around 50 in my remnant bag"
"A middle grey - not charcoal dark but darker than Manchester clouds"
I made a thin cushion pad from some spare wadding, and covered it. I chose two fabrics from the same palette [each sample is slightly larger than the chair seat - so Steph could choose which print she'd have on show]
Steph prefers the grey circle pattern to be on top [I tied that on properly] I can give it to her when we meet up in Norfolk on 22nd Feb.
Thank you Joyce, than you Denise. The chair and fabric will go on giving pleasure for a long time!
Below - Abba, Chiquita, Unicef Concert 1979
[If anyone gives you one of these fabric sample books, be careful when you dismantle it! The long staples are really vicious]

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Beauty For Brokenness, Hope For Despair

I'm feeling a little bit despondent today. On Friday when I heard that yet again, the Dorset MP Christopher Chope, had blocked the progress of the anti FGM bill, I confess I stood in the rain in the car park outside M&S and wept. Has the man no moral compass? The thought that more little girls, precious in the sight of Jesus, may be maimed, scarred physically and emotionally, possibly left unable to bear children...and some may even die because of his actions..  How does this man sleep at night? And how come so many people in my town voted for him? 
I told Bob it was probably a good thing I am preaching in another town today. If I were here in Ferndown I might start ranting in the morning service at UCF. My heart is aching. 
Here's a picture of the lovely snowdrops in our garden, and Graham Kendrick's prayerful song. 

[and before you ask, yes I HAVE emailed CC,MP to express my sadness at his actions]

Saturday, 9 February 2019

A Penny Saved...

...is a Penny Earned
Or so the saying goes. Since my handbag was nicked last year, I have seriously reduced the number of 'loyalty cards' in my purse. Bob still thinks I have too many. Especially when I am struggling to find a card or coupon just to get a few pence off my purchase. But as my M&S Credit Card gets me loyalty points, I am glad of the coupons they send me.

I recently got a whole sheet of them - and as Bob is in dire need of a new pair of 'smart casual' shoes [his old ones were literally falling apart] I suggested we might look in M&S for a new pair, on our day off. We went to Salisbury, used the Park&Ride, and loaded the shopping trolley with well over 200 books for the Oxfam Bookshop there. The Manager told us they are able to sell 80% of all donations, and raise between £3K and £4K a week. Then on to M&S...
Oh, the great satisfaction of actually finding some he liked, at a price I was happy with! Bob took a picture of the shoes, and the label, so we could come home and order them on line. The price was £1 short of earning 1000pts/£10, and buying online got me an extra 200pts/£2. And there was a 5x points bonus before Feb 10th. 
I'm a little uncomfortable about the" buying online bonus"- surely that is contributing to the closure of more shops on the High Street?
Back at home I ordered them, adding some tights, to tip me over the £1 shortfall. Even allowing for the cost of the tights [my navy ones are beyond repair] I reduced my total bill by 20%. I shall add my next voucher to the £3 remaining on this sheet to buy food. [Assuming the lorries aren't held up at Dover/Calais...]

REMEMBER; A coupon only saves you money if you were intending to buy the product anyway!











Friday, 8 February 2019

It's Hari Kuyo Day!

I have only just discovered this Festival, and I am intrigued by it. If you've watched Marie Kondo, you will know that before she discards items which do not spark joy, she also holds them briefly and thanks them for the past contribution they have made to her life. It is part of her Shinto belief system.


 On February 8th every year, hundreds of Japanese women, in colourful kimonos, will gather at Shinto and Buddhist Shrines to mark Hari Kuyo - the festival of broken needlesThroughout the year, the women save any broken needles in a special jar, then on the day, they bring them, and bury them in cakes of silken tofu.



It’s not just about needles, several Japanese women consider Hari Kuyo as a time to value the small, everyday objects of daily life that are otherwise forgotten. Burying needles in tofu is said to symbolize rest for the needles, as they are wrapped with tenderness. It’s also about the many sorrows that women are believed to carry in their hearts, the burdens of which are passed on to the needles during many hours of sewing. So the needles do deserve a proper farewell and rest at the end of their service. According to Ryojo Shioiri, a Buddhist monk, “Sometimes there are painful things and secrets that women can’t tell men, and they put these secrets into the pins and ask the gods to get rid of them.” This is another example of Mottainai - the concept of not being wasteful about small things. 
I don't believe my needle has a soul, nor do I tell it my secrets when I am stitching - but I thoroughly approve of not being wasteful with our resources, and disposing of things thoughtfully when they are no longer of use.
You have to admit, this Festival is quite charming, with its colourful Tofu Cake, and silent rituals of mindfulness. 
Just compare it with the yellow plastic "Sharps Bins" at the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospital!

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Snakes Alive! [And A Giveaway]

My PC seized up on Tuesday afternoon. That meant that whilst Bob was fixing it, I had to find other tasks. Options- ironing, or preparing more craft materials for Zone [our Sunday Children's Group] Crafts beat ironing every time! I didn't fancy sewing any more finger puppets. 
But I did fancy making a snake. There's a great shipwreck story involving Paul and a snake in Acts 27/28 which I want to tell them. We made dozens of milk-bottle-top-snakes in 2011, at the Kirby Muxloe Holiday Club [for pictures and tutorial click here]
I am preparing crafts for 20 children in each storybag. That would require 600 bottle tops and a load of champagne corks.
A few years back, a friend gave me a large tin full of wooden  'macrame beads'. I knew I had a jar of assorted coloured beads, and a tin of pound-shop shoelaces. With a large bead as the head, and a small foam bead at the end before the know, I was confident I could make a snake which would be simple enough for the children to copy.
I cut shoelaces in half, stick goggle eyes on large beads, and prepared 20 strings. Then I spent ages counting out the beads into little bags - I had a smaller number of painted beads to vary the colours of the snakes.
At last my exemplar was done and the bags were all packed. 
And Bob had fixed the computer. It's definitely on the way out, but I'm inheriting one from Liz shortly so that will help.
Bob is very pleased- I have just depleted my stash of wooden beads by 30%. I've used up all my coloured beads, large and regular sized, so only natural wooden coloured beads left.
If anyone reading this would like any oval macrame beads [approx 15mm long, 15mm at the widest part] please email me and I'll gladly pop a jiffy bag full of them in the post to you. You need about 15 beads per snake. Or you can use them with cord for more macramish purposes [MacRamish sounds like the name of a Scottish Crofter]

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

WRM

Back in the 80s [years before everything was on Facebook, or tweeted] I remember reading articles talking about "the need to focus on WRM" - What Really Matters. If you were a busy young Mum with children under your feet, laundry mountains all over the house, meals to prepare and a mile-long-to-do list, many recommended this approach.
Write a to-do list by all means - but prioritise, and put things that are unimportant way down the list. Confession; I frequently wrote my list the night before, and it usually went like this ...
  1. make a cup of tea
  2. get dressed
  3. have breakfast
...and I did that so I could be sure tick at least 2 items before mid-day - I couldn't guarantee all three!
Yes, I really am working on the 'focus' word this year. The craziness and unpredictability of January has made it plain that if some things do not get done, then they do not get done - but I am still here, and my family are all OK. 
I am not superwoman - and I do what I can, when I can...and leave the rest to the Lord.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Half A Century Of Home Cookery!

We have two copies of the Dairy Book of Home Cookery. One dates back to 1972- it was the cookbook his Mum gave him to take to Oxford. My second copy is from 1995. I bought it from the milkman just before we moved to Kirby Muxloe [after which, a drop in income meant I gave up daily deliveries and bought milk in the supermarket] Here they are
Both well used and quite grubby [I shall have to wipe them before they go back on the shelf]
I got them out yesterday mid-morning, because I decided soup would be a good thing to have for lunch. I have soup in the freezer, but hadn't thought to get any out to thaw.
I made a recipe I've not used before, from the newer book. 

This was delicious and quick! 
I was short of peppers and only had one, a yellow one.
But the soup looked and tasted very good.
The recipes in the 1995 book often have alternative instructions using the microwave. 
There didn't seem to be much to save time-wise with this one, so I made it on the stove.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first edition- back in 1969, so they have a new book out. I honestly do not think I need yet another copy! I have 950 recipes in the DBHCs I already have, and these are in the new book - plus just 50 more. However, if you are interested, details are here




Monday, 4 February 2019

There's No Business Like Snow Business

Thus far this year, every week has turned out a little differently than expected. Notably
  • having an extra week's teaching, when I thought the job ended at Christmas
  • spending 1 day in Manchester instead of 5
  • spending a night in Hospital
  • losing a dear friend, and having to attend her funeral
  • spending 5 days in Norfolk instead of 1½
Bob had an important committee meeting on 31st, so I knew if I went, I'd have to go alone.This last trip was meant to be "drive up on Wednesday, attend funeral on Thursday, drive back Thursday afternoon - or if tired, being sensible and returning Friday" But life got very complicated and I ended up driving on the Monday, via Elephant and Castle. Liz rang to say that Rosie was too unwell to go to Nursery, and workmen changing windows meant their London flat was too cold for her to stay home.
I collected Liz and a rather poorly Rosie, and the three of us went up to Norfolk together. Due to an accident on the A11 we arrived just before midnight!
Liz caught the heavy cold too, but still managed to do work 'from home'. We had a remarkably relaxed week [what I needed really] Lots of lolling about on the sofa, plenty of cuddling and story-times, and a little bit of sewing. The plan was that on Thursday I would drive back down, and Jon would drive up, and they'd return together over the weekend. But he rang to say he had the cold and the workmen hadn't finished. I said I'd go back Friday, and take L&R back with me.
Here's the view from my kitchen window at Cornerstones on the morning of Jean's funeral. Isn't it beautiful? I love the snow on the trees.
Very grateful to Adrian and Marion, who collected me so I could travel to the Crematorium with them, and then to the Thanksgiving at church. The three of us went out for a meal in the evening.
Friday my car was loaded and on the road soon after 9 - various neighbours wished us a safe journey. 
We set off. Then a 2 hour delay, totally stationary, due to accident on M11. We entertained Rosie by singing Abba songs and doing hand jives [a driver in adjacent lane was taking pictures on his phone- presumably we're now out there on the Internet!] 
A brief stop in E&C to deliver L&R, and grab a snack, then I set off again. It was raining slightly in London. Just after 3, when I'd got onto the M3, the gantries began flashing "Jns 5-7, 60 minutes delay" and light snow started falling. I decided to come off at the next junction [4] and go down the A31 instead. As did almost everyone else - at which point the snow came down very suddenly and incredibly heavily. 
I was sensible - I could see things were getting worse, and I needed to get off the road and have a rest from driving. I diverted to Bob's sister's house, in Farnham, just a few miles from the M3. The snow got thicker, and the roads got worse, and drivers were skidding, or abandoning their cars... I persevered, and did ok till the final hill up to her home. The line of cars ground to a halt - more drivers parking and walking off- but an enthusiastic crowd of cheerful guys, well wrapped up against the weather, appeared with big shovels and strong muscles, They really helped, by giving our cars encouraging pushes to get us going. I am so grateful to these young men.
I arrived at Denise and Kevin's home at 7. They were wonderful - producing tea immediately, then hot chicken soup, toast, and then insisted I should stay the night. Next morning, we watched the reports of motorists stranded on the M3 - and I was grateful to God that I had left the motorway when I did, and that I had a loving family close by! We discovered my hazard lights were flashing intermittently - and the battery was flat. Kevin charged it up. One of his neighbours had already cleared their road, so I was able to drive away around 10.45am, in beautiful sunshine. 
The clear roads and snowy trees on the Surrey/Hampshire border looked so delightful. Acompletely different picture from the night before, when the freezing cold, falling snow, deserted cars, and the dark had been much less pleasant.
I finally got home at 12.15pm.
What a long week it was! 
Bob had almost forgotten what I looked like - he hadn't expected me to be away for 5 whole days. Yes my week was crazy - but...
  • I got to see lots of family members
  • I had plenty of enforced rest
  • Despite incidents en route, we were kept safe, and I [& car}got home in one piece.
  • Bob's meeting was cancelled [due to weather] freeing up time for him to do other things.
"Have you got snow in Ferndown?" I asked him on the phone. "Just a light dusting" he replied. "I try to avoid dusting" I responded - but I came home anyway. I'm feeling so much better than I did a fortnight ago - but continue to be as sensible as I can and take things easy [mostly!] I am so sorry for all the people who were involved in accidents, or stuck in cold snow-bound cars overnight. I know the Scandinavians say "there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing" but all the gloves, boots, and woolly hats in the world don't make travel any easier when it is like this.
Stay safe, keep warm, keep well- wherever you are.