Saturday 29 November 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Advent_Beach_Hut_Lasers in Brighton I wish I lived near Brighton! I should love to go and see their Beach Hut Advent Calendar. What an incredibly creative idea.

I spent time this morning doing a window display for our local newsagents - Marie and Mark, the owners, have very kindly allowed us to set up a Nativity Scene. However I forgot the camera, so pictures will have to wait!

DSCF1463 Steph phoned this morning- back safe from Malawi - along with her baggage - despite a four hour delay at the airport, and almost missing the connecting flight from Ethiopia.

I am so thankful she is home OK - and grateful to all those kind friends who have prayed for her safety and said encouraging words to me when I have been an unnecessarily anxious Mum.

I forgot the camera yesterday as well- it was "Decorations Day" at school. The theory is that they have just ONE DAY when they can go messily mad with glitter and paint, and produce lots of decorations. About 8 extremely helpful parents and grandparents came in to help with my class and we did 7 different Christmassy activities.


One thing was making snowflakes from folded and cut paper. The correct name for this technique is scherenschnitte, and there is even a fabulous blog dedicated to it!

The children each made their snowflake, then decorated it with glitter - causing a great deal of mess!

One little boy - who is usually incredibly quiet, (and has a relatively limited vocabulary, and finds most activities difficult) was really taking his time, and was still at the glue and glitter stage when another child sat down beside him to start the task. I explained about cutting, and drawing triangles and snipping them. I said "And then we unfold it - what happens then?" and the first child's face lit up "And then it's AMAZING!" he said, beaming at his little friend, and holding up his snowflake. He was truly thrilled to have created something so beautiful all by himself. It was definitely  'an awe and wonder' moment!

I had been a little negative about the day over breakfast - muttering about 'not real teaching' - but that one sentence gave me susnowflake2ch a buzz.  I do so love teaching.

I am a bit pedantic about snowflakes though - I always insist that they have six points, and not four or eight.

I am hoping that we do not have any real snow for at least 48 hours - I am driving down south tomorrow to deliver the futon to Liz and Jon.

Tomorrow we will light the first candle on the Advent Crown at Church. Usually I put up our decorations at home on the first weekend in Advent, but this year I shall be just a few days late.

Christmas is coming, and I am already feeling a glow of anticipation...

Dither, jitter, and clocking.

That sounds like a firm of estate agents in Midsomer Worthy. They were actually words used, frequently, by some speakers I heard yesterday. I went with Bob last night to a seminar [from Mic to mictomonitor Monitor] all about improving recording techniques. It was interesting in parts! I learned lots of technical language which I may never have the chance to use again, and was pleased that it didn't all go over my head. As well as improving my knowledge of the world of recording, I came away from the event with some interesting observations.

  1. Apart from 2 of the 4 speakers, I was the oldest person there - and I was certainly the only female. Is the recording business really that male dominated? Why do people assume that girls have no interest in technology?
  2. Having a female in the audience was a challenge for at least one of the speakers - who struggled sometimes to moderate his language! He kept looking across at me and faltering mid-sentence.
  3. I realise that the seminar was free because rich companies [like Apple] were sponsoring it. But I think that they could have found more interesting people to present their products.
  4. I was greatly amused by the fact that these highly technical burco blokes were phased by basic domestic technology. We were due a coffee break halfway through - and at the side was a table with a tea urn, cups, and biscuits etc. The urn was switched on just after the "Welcome" chat. By the time 'Apple' guy got going, it was coming up to the boil and therefore hissing and steaming. He was looking confused - having assumed the hissing was coming from part of the highly expensive sophisticated sound gear! Even when the source of the noise was established, nobody had the sense to turn the thing down [so I did it, during the coffee break!]
  5. It is vital to ensure one is sitting next to someone who not only knows what they are talking about, but also asks intelligent questions. Not to mention someone who can talk about being at Oxford with people like Michael Gerzon [who?] - people might think that I am equally knowledgeable.
  6. If it is the last night of this seminar tour, it is worth asking for an extra free T shirt. I did - and ended up with three - which is useful, because during one of the boring parts, I was working out how to implement a craft idea I had seen in a book in Waterstones last week [which required two identical T-shirts] Now I can try out the idea for nothing!
  7. Some wives only get to spend evenings with their husbands if they accompany them to watch rugby matches in the freezing cold. I am very grateful that Bob's hobby is something which inappleterests me a little, and has free coffee, biscuits and T-shirts!

What did I learn technically? Well, that timing is crucial, and if the internal clocking is affected by jitter, your recording will not be as good as it should be. That in the analog/digital conversion business, it is helpful to add noise and dither. That the human ear is a phenomenal piece of engineering. I came away rejoicing in a Creator God who designed our hearing system and inspired great composers and musicians - and smiling to myself at the first heading which went up on the screen "The Importance of Conversion"

Now that is language I do understand!!

Thursday 27 November 2008

Fired with enthusiasm!

I love Christmas time - so many things happening, and even though I IM002961 am incredibly busy, the diversity of the activities in which I am involved seems to keep my adrenalin going.

Monday was only a partial Day Off for me - into town for the Bank, GPO and coffee with Bob, teaching in the afternoon, giving a friend's child his tea and putting him to bed whilst Mum & Dad were at his sibling's concert, then onto knitting club in the evening.

Tuesday included teaching, sorting out those IKEA drawers, and in the evening,sitting in front of TV working on another Christmas project [ to be revealed later] and planning a visit to Liz on Sunday night to deliver the futon.

Wednesday I did a phenomenal amount of housework, then lunchtime was helping a friend waitressing as 30 OAPs had a Christmas Lunch. Then Sewing Club followed by a very happy Church Meeting [which didn't last too long either!]

Today I have been working on more production costumes for school, going to our Coffee Drop In, and spending a bit of time at the PC. M&S have agreed on a full refund for the non-existent flowers, and I now know the best and cheapest source of replacement walking stick ferrules [For a friend - I am not in need of a stick just yet!IM002962]

And in the middle of all that, a text message from Steph in Malawi, saying all is OK and they fly back tomorrow, and it has been a really worthwhile trip.

I made eight of the firefly headbands - and decided to fasten them with ribbons threaded through metal eyelets. That way they can be stored flat and will keep better. The holographic card is lovely and reflects the light beautifully. When the children dance they should look like little flickering flames!

eyelet punch I got the eyelet punch, along with eyelets and a variable size hole punch in Sainsburys "Tchibo" section a few years ago. The whole set cost about £4 and it has proved incredibly useful, and gives things such a professional finish.

I feel really blessed today - I have such a lovely family and belong to a really caring fellowship, and although I could undoubtedly earn more if I worked full-time, I am sure it would not be as fulfilling and happy as the varied life I lead now.

At the meeting last night, Bob read a lovely translation of Hebrews 10, which has stuck with me since - it is so good to remember that God can be trusted- and I love the idea of 'outbursts of love'.

"Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to outbursts of love and good works."

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Customer Dis-Satisfaction

Well, I give full marks to Ikearast - we purchased two 'Rast' chests of drawers - about 8 years ago - and they were for Steph's bedroom - they went down to London with her and came back here in September. I wanted to put rearrange things and put them in my bedroom. The plastic drawer runners had all cracked and the drawers were not running smoothly. A quick trip to the store - and we got twelve replacement runners free of charge. And I managed to leave the store without purchasing any candles!

On the other hand spencer bear, the basket of flowers [and teddy bear]ordered for Auntie Peggy's 80th birthday has yet to arrive!

m&s flowersMy accounts page on the M&S website claims it was delivered yesterday - but it also says [bizarrely] that they will deliver another identical order on 8th January! Bob spoke with a helpful [but equally baffled] person on the phone today.

We have now established that M&S use HDNL to deliver their flowers. Had I known they used that company and not their own vans, I would never have ordered from M&S. Recently we have had no end of trouble with parcels couriered by HDNL, as have others we know.

I will give them until tomorrow to get this sorted [that's a full week after they said they would deliver] then I shall ask for my money back I think! It would have been easier to buy a bunch of flowers and drive to Essex in person to deliver them!

Sunday 23 November 2008

Fayre Trading

My School Christmas Fayre went incredibly well. In fact, it appears to have done much better than the one in this village - which unfortunately was booked for the same day.IM002956

Here's part of my stall with everything set out - and on the left a poster and flyers for the Church Panto.

[every customer got a flyer in their bag. I'm trying really hard to advertise this event!]

IM002958 At the other end of the table was my sewing machine, and I worked hard all afternoon producing bibs and facecloths with names on.

That proved really popular. I was so busy that I never actually got away from the stall once the Fayre started, although beforehand I did manage one purchase! IM002959 The table next to mine was covered in Hush Puppies shoes [seconds] and the boots were £10, the shoes were £5.

So I treated myself to a pair of smart brown court shoes.

It was a good opportunity to chat to children and parents - many of whom were fascinated by the embroidery machine, and I hope some of them do come along to the Panto.

I was very grateful to Bob, for delivering another multiway socket and extension cable to the PFA, in the morning while we were setting up, and then for returning later on in the afternoon and fetching me cups of tea from the refreshment area! Lots of the kids [and parents] spoke to him, as they know him from Holiday Club.

There is a lot of work involved in a day like this - and I admire the commitment of the PFA Mums [and a few Dads] who labour so hard to raise money to provide the school with extra treats. The parents in general were supporting the day, and there was a lovely atmosphere. But I came home utterly exhausted - having sewn and sold two dozen facecloths and a great deal more besides.

The Calculator Song

I'm working out what it means to follow Jesusmaths

Adding up what it costs to follow him

Counting the time that his love is multiplying

Realising he took away my sin

He's always in my memory

He'll never cancel what he's done for me

When I add it together I calculate

Jesus is Great, Jesus is Great.

We sang this at church this morning - it went well. I was especially pleased to notice that in all the mathematical operations included, there is no mention of division!

We have had a brief text from Steph - she has arrived in Malawi safely! Praise the Lord for that.

Friday 21 November 2008

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep...

IM002956 That man is so kind...Bob brought me a present from Maplin [it's not like he needs an excuse to go in that shop!]

The little speaker from the radio by my bed broke, and he's just got me a new one. These inexpensive pillow speakers are great if you suffer from insomnia, or are married to someone who has sleep apnoea or who snores, or if anything else prevents you from sleeping.

You plug it in, slip the speaker inside the pillowcase - and you can listen to the radio, but NOBODY ELSE can hear it. Not even the person lying next to you.

So if Bob's snoring wakes me at 3am, I tune in to the World Service, or BBC7 and listen for a bit. Then I switch off the radio - or more usually drift off to sleep again really quickly. The speaker slips down and when I wake up next day, the Today programme is already going - and I can listen to the early morning news without waking Bob.

The only downside which I have discovered is that occasionally I plump up the pillows and forget the speaker is inside - and break the cable. So this is my 3rd speaker in 10 years. I will try and be more careful with this one !

Tolstoy said "In the dark night of the soul it is always four o'clock in the morning"

It will soon be Advent - not sure if we'll be singing this oldie - verse two always makes me think of those who suffer from insomnia

"Thy kingdom come!" on bended knee
the passing ages pray;
and faithful souls have yearned to see
on earth that kingdom's day.

But the slow watches of the night
not less to God belong;
and for the everlasting right
the silent stars are strong.

And lo, already on the hills
the flags of dawn appear;
gird up your loins, ye prophet souls,
proclaim the day is near:

The day to whose clear shining light
all wrong shall stand revealed,
when justice shall be throned in might,
and every heart be healed;

When knowledge, hand in hand with peace,
shall walk the earth abroad;
the day of perfect righteousness,
the promised day of God.

As a child, my friend Honor was always confused by the second verse - she could never understand why God did not wind up his watch!!

Thursday 20 November 2008

Keeping Abreast of the Situation

What an incredibly busy day! In school all morning, then home for lunch. After lunch, I made 8 sets of 'firefly' wings for the foundation Stage Christmas Production. It was a very quick job on the overlocker - and I was able to get them back to school at 2pm. They looked very pretty and floaty. I did take a picture before I left home - but having no small child around, I draped one pair of wings across the door in the hall to get the effect of the light on the sparkly pink fabric.


Please believe me! when a child has her hands through the elastic loops and the wings are on her back they really do look like iridescent insect wings. Looking at this photograph I realise this pair looks like a rather large piece of diaphanous ladies underwear! Oops!

After that, a committee meeting with Bob, dashed home [and a friend came to collect his PC which Bob had just fixed] then some pastoral visiting, a trip to Aldi for fabulous inexpensive Christmas foodstuffs [they have lovely Stollen and Panettone] An evening meal then I collapsed in front of TV to watch a programme I recorded DAYS ago about cryptic crosswords.

In the middle of all that, another phonecall to check if my aunt's flowers had arrived [NO] However, the helpful people at M&S [please forgive us, our computers are running very slowly today due to the high volume of custom because everything is 20% off] assured me they had been delivered and left "in a secure place by the front door at 6.45pm" My cousin assured me that there were no flowers anywhere [and there is no 'secure place' - she lives on a corner plot and her front garden is very open] The nice person at customer services has promised another delivery on Monday.

I am still waiting for my Christmas stamps - Royal Mail's website says 'delivery in 1-2 days' but apparently [their Customer Services tell me] that should actually say 'up to 10 working days'. And yes they did send a letter dated 13th telling me my order had been processed - but in fact they did not process it until 14th [although they took the money straightaway from my card] "So are you telling me the '1-2days' bit isn't true? and the 'we have processed your order' letter wasn't true either?" "Err, yes Madam. I am afraid this seems to be a catalogue of errors on our part. You should have the stamps on Monday 24th" "But I was expecting them on the 11th" "Yes, I am m&S sorry about that"

Anyway, top marks to M&S for their helpfulness [and for prompt delivery of Steph's gift which I ordered only 2 days ago] and "Cashmere Valley" who were equally prompt with Liz's gift. All the other gifts got wrapped yesterday. I will prepare the cards [sans stamps]over the weekend. We actually had our first Christmas card through the post yesterday - but from friends who are about to move house - so they sent out their cards very early to include change of address. [How thoughtful]

I will get everything done, eventually - but the list of tasks seems endless right now. The washing is done, but the ironing mountain is getting ever higher. I am truly grateful that Charlie the dog is much happier than he was last week - his digestion appears to have settled down and his appetite has returned. It is probably a good thing that my weekend is fiendishly busy - it means I will not have time to brood about Steph.

Map image

On Saturday she is flying to Malawi with 3 others from her company [TNS Global] to look at the Unicef Projects which TNS have been supporting over the past year through its charitable donations. I am very proud of her - but also a little anxious. She has had all her various inoculations. Please pray that the team are kept safe and that the whole experience is one of blessing.

battersea dogs I am equally proud of Liz, who has just taken on a new role as a Dog Socialiser. Every weekend she is giving her time as a volunteer, helping out at Battersea Dogs Home. Liz too had to have some inoculations. I hope she doesn't get bitten by any unsociable mutts!

One final question, posed by Bob over lunch - "Why are there fireflies in the Christmas Production"?" You know, I never thought to ask my colleagues that, I just sewed the costumes. I suspect it may not be a Nativity Play!! [In 'Love Actually' they somehow get a lobster into their Nativity!]

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Happy Birthday!

Auntie Peggy - my special aunt - is 80 today - I made her a card, and also sent the purse I embroidered a few weeks ago. She was really thrilled - having had her purse stolen last week [I never knew that till we spoke on the phone this evening!]

IM002872 She has had plenty of cards and good wishes, which is lovely. She's a great Christian lady and I know it has been hard for her since my Uncle died. She is struggling to cope with her new hearing aid.

I've thought a IM002943lot about age today.

Bob and I took the communion service at one of our Care Homes this afternoon. The ladies were, for the most part, very appreciative- although some struggled to stay awake for the twenty minute service! Last week I did a hymn service at another home - and I am always struck by how positive the staff are, resolutely cheerful and bright - even when some residents are behaving more like recalcitrant toddlers or sulky teenagers. I wondered what these folk were like thirty or forty years ago - were they busy Mums, career women, wives and homemakers?

One lady today said she was just visiting - she really came from Ilford. I told her that I had been born in Romford, and that my Auntie Peggy belonged to a church in Ilford. She was SO pleased to talk to someone who knew were she came from! I guess when you are in the middle of Leicestershire, Essex does seem a long way away.

After the service, Bob and I visited a family in the village whose 18 year old daughter died suddenly on Friday of meningitis. It was incredibly sad, and my thoughts and prayers are with them. The parents allowed her organs to be donated - and a number of people now have life because of that. I can only admire them for that - in their grief, they wanted others to benefit from their loss if it were possible. That girl will not grow up and grow old - their memories will always be of a bright, beautiful teenager just starting at Uni.

Two weeks ago at the War Memorial, we sang Watts' great hymn "O God our help in ages past" based on Psalm 90, and today I was thinking of other verses from that Psalm

The length of our days is seventy years— or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Whether we live eighty years or just eighteen, may we learn to gain a heart of wisdom - and may we sing for joy because of the unfailing love of the Lord.

Monday 17 November 2008

A Drink With Jam and Bread

"There are those who love to get dirty and fix things.
They drink coffee at dawn, beer after work.

And those who stay clean, just appreciate things,
At breakfast they have milk and juice at night.

There are those who do both,
they drink tea." 

(by Gary Snyder, of the James Norwood Pratt Tea Society)

My teapot just got smashed. Spectacularly! I put a tray away on the top of the cupboard. then I put the kettle on and found some mugs. They the tray slid, slowly, silently, off the cupboard and fell down onto the teapot [which had some cold tea inside it] and the pot smashed to smithereens all over the floor in a nasty puddle of cold tea and leaves [the bags split]. I yelled, loudly, the dog was confused, and Bob came in from the garage to offer help in whatever crisis I was undergoing. [He is very good like that]

IM002956 Fortunately I have a spare pot which my cousin gave me last year ["I know you like dotty things, Ang!"] but it does dribble alarmingly from the spout. It looks pretty but I am not sure how long it will stay in use.

We drink lots of tea in this house. Fairly Traded, of course. Eleanor Roosevelt said "A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water."

enamel pot

I also possess a large enamel teapot- a proper Minister's Wife One- inherited from my mother - ideal for large quantities and church events - too large for everyday.

And  I have a small traditional "Brown Betty" - but that only holds two cups - not even two mugs worth- so a bit small for the two of brown bettyus.

I am Very Traditional in my views about teapots. I like them to be the classic shape, not 'novelty', preferably pot, not fancy bone china or stainless steel.And they need to pour without a dribble. And [although in Staffrooms there is often no choice in the matter] I prefer tea madredlabel teae properly in a pot -not with a bag swished about in a mug of hot water.

Liz likes Redbush and Bob likes Earl Grey and Green China Tea. But I am happiest with Red Label from Sainsbury's.


Q; "Why don't Marxists drink Earl Grey"

A: "Because they think Proper Tea is theft"

Nerd, Geek or Dork?

Bob posted about being a nerdnerd - but then I never had any doubts I was married to one. However,   in the interests of science, I tried out this test, on myself, and I'm slightly alarmed to find that I come out as a "modern, cool nerd". Was I a nerd before I married him? or has thirty years of nerdiness in the home somehow infected me? And what effect has this had on our children? I watch "The IT Crowd" occasionally - and I really don't think either of us is like any character in that series. And if we are, please don't tell me, it would upset me too much!

Saturday 15 November 2008

It's a Wrap !

I made tuna salad wraps for IM002952lunch, but decided it was a pretty cold day outside and we needed a Hot Pudding.

Challenge - to turn three sad plums and one egg into an exciting and warming pudding for two.

The results was very pleasing,so here is the recipe.


Preheat oven to 180'C. Rinse, and chop up the plums and divide between two small ovenproof dishes. Microwave for 1 minute on HIGH.

Separate the egg. Beat the yolk with 150ml milk, I teaspoon custard powder, 1 teaspoon sugar. Microwave for 1 minute on HIGH.

Divide this custard between the two  dishes. Beat the egg white till stiff, fold in 1 dessertspoon of sugar. Pile on top of two dishes. Bake for about 10 minutes till golden brown. Serve


The pudding proved satisfactorily tasty and impressive looking, as well as being hot and extremely thrifty.

[Confession time - I wasn't sure if it would work, so the egg and plums pictured are the ones I had left afterwards, not the ones I cooked with!]

Friday 14 November 2008

Let's play Tag!

I have just been tagged by Catriona with this meme:


The Rules

Link to the person who tagged you.

  1. Post the rules on your blog.
  2. Write six random things about yourself.
  3. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
  4. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
  5. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

OK - six random things

  1. My first car was a green mini van
  2. I was the youngest person ever to get the Girls' Brigade Queen's Award [and always will be, as they changed the rules after that!]
  3. I have got Harry Corbett's autograph [and also Sooty's!]
  4. One of my childhood ambitions was to be the first woman president of the Baptist Union. But Mrs Alexander beat me to it - and she was a wonderful, gracious lady so I didn't mind too much!
  5. I always cry at the end of "The Railway Children"
  6. I love Marmite - especially on toast.marmite                    

I now tag Susan, Jo , Melody, Tori ,Dawn and Dulce

The Best of the Vests

Another mad burst of creativity - all three sewing machines set up on the dining table [so all meals in the kitchen - sorry Bob!] First, a waistcoat for my friend Claire, who is in charge of the Children in IM002945 Need Spectacular at school today. I made her a spotty waistcoat - but lined it with the fabric I used for her trousers back in June [see here]  That way, it is reversible, and she can always wear it with the trousers if she wants a completely crazy outfit! I also embroidered a "Music Rocks!" patch to go inside.

That's the end of the 10 metres of black jersey which someone was throwing out [and I caught it!] back in 1999! How's that for thrift?


Yesterday afternoon I lengthened a pair of cords for Bob, and took in a pair of my trousers [the diet must be working!] It seems so perverse that all my married life I have been shortening my trousers and lengthening his.

Then I finished off some of the stuff from the Wednesday Sewing Club, ready for the girls' Children In Need Sale. They have prepared aprons, cushion covers, bags and pincushions.

Today - after collecting my new Palin-esque spectacles from Boots, I came home and made some little voile IM002948bags to put the button bracelets in.

More thrifting there, the green fabric was originally -I think - a curtain from Marion's conservatory in Norfolk, and the pink ribbon is from a spool somebody gave me a while ago.

I have a sneaky suspicion that this being Leicestershire, it may have come originally from Symington's Corset Factory. It is definitely that shade of pink!


It is so sad that so many of the local clothing manufacturers are no longer in business. Mind you, as a child, I could never understand why such a constricting garment should be called a "Liberty" bodice! Market Harborough claims to be the original home of this product - but they didn't start manufacturing them there till 1908, and they'd been advertised in Scotland years before that. Whatever the derivation of my ribbon, it looks very pretty on the bags!

My other activity today was preparing little Christmas Stockings for the School Christmas Fair next week. They contain small bottles of shampoo or shower gel. Here they are, hanging on my IKEA display trees [Another sale purchase - 10p from their bargain corner]



I made thirty and spent ages matching up the various fabrics, so no two stockings are identical. I am not quite sure why I did that, but it was very satisfying!  And I love all the red and green Christmas stuff. Each little stocking has a cotton wall ball in the toe, and another in the top, above the little bottle, to help keep a good shape.


It has been a lovely day - I put jacket potatoes in the oven earlier, for our lunch, and loaded the slow-cooker with a casserole for this evening - and then spent the whole day happily sewing and listening to the radio. It has really relaxed me, which is a good thing! I am made in the image of a Creator God, so I should not be surprised if I enjoy being creative too.

The problem is that whenever I do manage to create something beautiful, I also create an incredible mess as well! The floor is covered with bits of thread, and fabric scraps.

Another linguistic mystery - when Brits say "Vest and Pants" they mean underwear - when Yanks say "Vest and Pants" they mean waistcoat and trousers. As G B Shaw said "two nations divided by a common language"

Thursday 13 November 2008

Neither shaken nor stirred

craig tea towel We went to see Quantum of Solace on Monday. I enjoyed it more than Casino Royale. I am still not altogether convinced about Daniel Craig as Bond though [so please do not buy me this Emma Bridgewater tea-towel for Christmas!]

007 solace

Good things - great chase scenes, Judi Dench [she is a brilliant actress, I think], wonderful scenery [although I think the shots of 'Bolivia' were done in Chile] Daniel Craig in a suit [but then I do think almost any man looks good in a suit] I adored the shots of the Palio de Siena [Steph and I visited Siena the day after the Palio in 2006]

llewellyn Less good things - not enough proper gadgetry [I miss Desmond Llewellyn as 'Q'] not enough plot. The song didn't strike me as memorable. There was an awful lot of 'product placement'

Bob was annoyed that the "In Case of Fire" [en cas d'incendie] notice on the back of the hotel room door was misspelt. I am sure there was one scene where Judi Dench's earrings changed halfway through, but I shall just have to watch carefully when it is on TV at Christmas sometime!

My overall conclusion is that the film had a theme rather than a plot. If you like Bond films, you'll probably enjoy it - but I don't think it will be listed among the "Best of Bond" films.

According to Ian Fleming's original short story, the Quantum of Solace is defined as "a precise figure defining the comfort/humanity/fellow feeling required between any pair of people for love to survive. If the Quantum of Solace is 0, then love is dead." No - I do not really understand either!!

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Spots before my Eyes!

One thing I loved when my own children were younger was making their costumes for special days at school - so it is really great when friends ask me to help out with their little ones now.

pudsey 2008

On Friday it is "Children In Need" day. The BBC has had an annual charity appeal for children since Christmas Day 1927, when it was [naturally] a radio broadcast. In 1955 it moved to Television, and was fronted by the glove puppet Sooty. Then in 1985, Pudsey Bear made his first appearance as the charity's mascot. He has been updated and now has a bandage with multi-coloured spIM002941ots. My school has suggested that children wear spotty clothes on Friday.

So I have spent a happy hour or so with the Great Stash and half a yard of Bondaweb, turning an old pair of pyjamas into a suitably spotty outfit for Matthew. My young friend Grace tells me that at her school they have to dress in either pink or blue for the day. [Which sounds a much easier option for those Mums who don't have the facilities for making costumes!]

As far as I know, I amIM002842 not needed for supply teaching anywhere on Friday. If I do get a phone call, I shall just have to drape myself in my mock-Cath-Kidston spotty kitchen tablecloth!

The Sewing Club girls are busy making aprons and pincushions, and the Sunday school children have made biscuits, to raise money for this year's appeal. It's certainly an event which catches the kids imagination, and encourages them to think of others.

Monday 10 November 2008

Post Early For Christmas

Well, maybe not this early - but Royal Mail have just announced the designs for this year's Christmas stamps.

2008 stamps Now I appreciate they have a policy of alternating 'religious' and 'non-religious' designs, so this year is the N-R one. But being first, a boringly efficient person who gets her cards posted promptly [so never relies on last minute collections] and second, a mean and thrifty person who wouldn't buy a first class stamp if a cheaper option available, I was a bit frustrated this year. Quite frankly,I do not like the rouged-up, pouting pantomime dames of the 2nd class design. Captain Hook is good fun [I love Peter Pan, and visited J M Barrie's birthplace in Scotland a few years back] but I do not often need 50p stamps.

However I am thrilled to discover that you can still buy online at  last year's stamps online from the Royal Mail Website. So I have just ordered 2007 stamps these, which were one of last year's designs. I'm intrigued they are still available - in 2007 Royal Mail produced two 2nd class stamps- the Angel and the Madonna, but did not make the latter widely available, and a number of people made a fuss about it! Perhaps they have suddenly woken up to the fact that there are other [bizarre] people like me out there, who like their Christmas Greetings to reflect their Christian faith. [My apologies to the Village Post Office, for not buying there, I do try and support this excellent facility when I can.]

This is one time of the year when I feel justified in going on [and on and on...] "It's all about Jesus!" - don't even get me started on my rant about those cards which display snowmen and Victorian coaching inns!

I must leave the PC now, it is Monday-Day=Off, and my own personal First Class Male wants to use up our freebie cinema tickets to go and see Quantum of Solace. It is pouring with rain, so a cosy seat in a warm cinema seems a reasonable destination for the day!

Sunday 9 November 2008


This morning's service was very well attended - including some folk who came simply because it was Remembrance Sunday. Bob was continuing his Seven Deadly Sins Series- and today was on Pride.IM002943

On arrival at church, everyone was given a small coloured slip, which they subsequently filled in with the name of a person of whom they were proud.

Later on, during the Sermon Slot, the children went out and pasted IM002938 all these slips onto a template shaped like a Victoria Cross.

It looked really effective - and some of the words on the slips were quite moving.

People were proud of parents, children, friends - for all sorts of achievements.

One of the Williamson children in Peru is celebrating a birthday soon [I am fairly confident he doesn't read this blog!] so the children also made Samuel a birthday banner today.


Feliz Cumpleanos is Spanish for Happy Birthday to You. On the back are the names of the children and a greeting.

Due to the wonders of modern technology - and a lot of hard work with a recalcitrant church PC this week - we were able to link in to the BBC broadcast from the Cenotaph. I always find this very moving, the two minutes silence, then watching the Queen laying her wreath on behalf of the nation, as she has done for 56 years now. Some things change each year; no longer The Queen Mum, Diana and Fergie watching from the royal balcony [now it is Sophie and Camilla] and the various politicians change [Mrs Thatcher looked rather frail, and I wish Boris would get a proper haircut] and the religious dignitaries vary each year - but for as long as I can remember, the Queen has laid her wreath, then walked carefully backwards down the steps, and bowed her head briefly. She is always gracious and dignified. Prince Phillip looked rather cold and old. Hope they didn't keep him outside too long in the bitter weather.

After the service, we joined the congregation from St Barts, and walked down to the War Memorial by the Village Hall. There must have been around 200 people present - not bad for a small village on a cold damp Sunday morning in November. The Guides & Scouts were parading too. Today - like the Queen, I wore a hat [a rather gorgeous black felt affair which Liz left in the wardrobe here] I think it is an important mark of respect on this occasion [and it also helped to keep me nice and warm.

dunsmore chrisd Added to the roll call of names this year was that of Christopher Dunsmore - a 29 year old local lad who died in Southern Iraq last year.

It was good that he was included- but so sad that the list had to be added to.

We began our service with that great old Isaac Watts hymn, "O God our help, in ages past" and ended with a newer one as a benediction

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me;
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father, Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother In perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.
With ev'ry step I take, let this be my solemn vow;
To take each moment
and live each mopoppyment
In peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.