Saturday 31 October 2009

The Pastor's Poppy

When Bob first started training for the ministry, my Mum gave me a little talk one day on the subject of "The Pastor's Poppy". It is essential, she said, that in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday/ Nov 11th, the Pastor is seen to be wearing his poppy.

poppies It will be considered Very Disrespectful if he doesn't wear one, and it is very important not to offend the older members of the community for whom their memories of the World War are both painful and precious.

Furthermore, said Mum, as the Pastor's Wife, YOU are the one who is responsible for purchasing it each year. And a spare, just in case it gets mislaid and cannot be found on the Sunday Morning.

She obviously drilled this into my brain very well - and I buy four poppies now - one for myself, one for Bob's suit jacket [worn inside church] one for his overcoat [worn outside, at the War Memorial] AND a spare!

So this week he has been wearing a poppy pinned to his shirt each day. Until this morning. And I put a load of laundry through the washing machine. I did fasten zips and remove tissues from pockets, but unfortunately forgot the poppy on the shirt. Oops!


Both of us remembered, mid-morning, but by then it was too late.

Ah well, at least I know I have a spare for him to wear to church tomorrow [thanks Mum!]

As long as soldiers are fighting wars, the work of the British Legion will continue. Don't forget to buy and wear your poppy!

Christmas is Coming!

09 stamps On Tuesday the new Christmas stamps go on sale - and as it is an 'odd' numbered year, they will have a biblical theme.

So I shall make sure I buy mine in good time! I usually buy more than I need so I can keep on using them into the New Year!

I have been beavering away with making and wrapping gifts in my odd moments these last few weeks. Bob is very patient, but I know that sometimes he wishes I would just stop and simply watch a TV programme, instead of leaping up in every advert break to get something else to knit/sew/wrap!


Here's a teaser picture of some of the gifts I have been putting together. The pretty red and white string cost but a few pence [well, cents to be precise] and came from a little shop in Amsterdam when we had a brief 'city break' there back in April 2006. I think it looks very Christmassy

The crinkly cellophane bags are "Roasting Bags" which I picked up very cheaply in Aldi - but most supermarkets have them. They are a quick and easy way to give a professional looking finish to gifts.

I know that some people feel that you should not start thinking about Christmas until Advent begins or even later - and I respect the view that things have got too commercial. But on the other hand, I like to have all the practical stuff out of the way so I can spend Advent focusing on the spiritual side of the season. Furthermore I have never been the sort of person who dashes to M&S during the third week of December with a list of names and just buys all the gifts in one go. Partly because I cannot afford to operate in that fashion, and having more time than money, I prefer make gifts from scratch - and also because this way I can think more carefully about who gets what.

I know that my system means a number of people get 'variations on a theme' so in 2008 there were a lot of handmade bracelets and tins of jigsaw biscuits - but I have observed that people who buy all their gifts in M&S tend to buy multiples of the same item as well [often cos they are on 3-for-2]

My gift list is all sorted now - apart from three people - and that's the 3 who are most important to me. I have no idea at all what to give Bob, Liz and Steph! I can think of lots of things - but they are either way too costly or cheap and trivial. All suggestions gratefully received.

Friday 30 October 2009

Cowell praying for 'Jedward' exit

xfactor jedward

I do not watch the X factor, but was interested in this on the BBC News Website

X Factor judge Simon Cowell says he is "praying" Irish twins John and Edward Grimes do not win the ITV talent show. "If they win, it will be a complete and utter disaster," he said. "I'd probably sulk for about six months [and] get on a very fast plane out of the country."

I am always pleased to hear that someone is praying - but is it wrong of me to speculate on what would happen if they did win- would the odious sparkling-toothed Mr Cowell really leave the country?

And are they sponsored by some hair-gel company? I was briefly in two different school playgrounds yesterday and was quite disconcerted by the number of little boys sporting this kind of 'do'.

At least they are dressed in shirts and ties [although they remind me of the TV ad of my youth with the two boys in white and grey shirts because one Mum used the 'wrong' washing powder!]

Whatjamacallit and Thingummyjig

I love the names people have for things - and the way that in different parts of the so-called "English speaking" world we call the same item by different names.

Steph started this train of thought in a phone call last night by telling me she had referred to someone as a Gugnunc - our family name for someone who has acted rather stupidly [derivation here] and another friend had been very taken with this word.

Another of our family words is Grollies -  small things which get where they shouldn't  - eg 'There's a grollie floating in my coffee' [although I think in other places they have even more unsavoury definitions for that word!]

strimmer Then today  I was reading an Australian blog and the writer had been gardening - with a "Whipper Snipper", a term I'd not heard before - although I knew that in the USA they call them "Weed Whackers"

Here they have the much less exciting moniker** "Strimmer" [from "String Trimmer" ]

seesaw Then of course there is the children's playground equipment the see-saw. In the USA this is a teeter-totter. But that term probably went across the Atlantic from here - the old Norfolk dialect word is tittertotter, or tittermatotter.


stitchwitchery And what do craftswomen call that wonderful invention which we use for quickly holding up hems - the iron on adhesive stuff that Brits call Bondaweb?

In many places it goes by the name Stitch Witchery.

So many of these names involve 'reduplication' - and the super-duper Susie Dent was talking about this on Countdown the other week. There's a great list of such words here.

But enough of this shilly-shallying - I've got work to do!

**Although there are various theories about the origin of this word, the most widely accepted is that it comes from 'Shelta' the language of Irish travellers. It's believed to have derived from the Irish word ainm, and became munik in Shelta. It had spread to London as a slang word for "name" by 1851. The first line of the Lord's Prayer translated into a modern version of Shelta is: "Our gathra, who cradgies in the manyak-norch, we turry kerrath about your moniker."

The Wonder of Woolies

wonderofwooliesThere is a new book just out, celebrating the sadly departed High Street Store. During half-term I was back in the store that used to be Woolworths when I was growing up- it is now a rather tacky Pound Shop.

Like many people I went into that Woolies every week - in our small town they sold almost everything a schoolgirl might want - sticky-backed plastic for Blue Peter projects, wool for knitting Christmas gifts, cartridges for my fountain pen, stockings, sweets, sellotape, shoelaces...

This morning I needed some squared paper, and remembered that I had a box of exercise books and notebooks in the loft which would probably provide what was wanted. I found this!















According to the sticker on the back I paid 20p in Woolworths for this little treasure. I think in about 1970! On the back is a useful set of charts-  multiplication tables up to 12, Metric Equivalents, Roman Numerals, and the Days In The Month poem.

DSCF0825 The pages are ruled squares- but they are ¼" - not much good for the metric system. Fortunately that didn't matter for my purposes today.

Whenever I think I ought to declutter some of my hoarded treasures, I find something like this lurking in a box and I feel justified in believing that "I will find a use for it eventually"!

Thursday 29 October 2009

Forever Ambridge


Just heard of the death of Norman Painting aka Phil Archer.

The BBC Obituary describes him as "A consummate professional" and he surely was. I have been listening to his voice on the radio for as long as I can remember [Mum used to listen to 'The Archers' norman_painting when I was a child] Norman Painting played Phil for almost 60 years - which is an amazing record.

Although his voice has been heard less in Ambridge recently, it is odd to think of him not being there at all. But The Archers was only a fraction of his working life.

He once wrote "People are always asking me, 'don't you get bored with it'? But although the programme goes out almost daily, we only have to spend six days a month recording it. The other three weeks a month I have spent on my satisfying, if undistinguished, career writing radio plays, features, adaptations and children's plays. Although to our audience, I have been Phil Archer for the majority of my adult life, my Archers salary always went down on my tax returns as incidental earnings."

Wednesday 28 October 2009

A Great Evening - and a Good Morning

demontforthall Went out with Bob last night to the De Montfort Hall in Leicester for the 22nd Annual Christian Praise celebration. Some of our friends from church were in the choir, and a large contingent of church folk had gone along - but we were not with them. We'd been invited to the Ministers' Reception - so arrived early and were taken to an anteroom for 'light refreshments' and an opportunity to meet and chat with other ecclesiastical types. Met up with some old friends, and made some new ones - and wondered how we came to qualify for this treat. It was at least real conversation with people, not social small talk.

christian Praise The evening was great. The choir and music group were superb, the drama was thought-provoking, and I enjoyed listening to Steve Gaukroger speaking on "What is the point of the Church?" - it fitted in so well with Bob's current sermon series on evangelism. Steve has recently left his church to become fulltime director of Clarion Trust. [sorry the photo is small - but he is a very small chap!]

clarion trust gaukroger


The singing varied between contemporary and older pieces- upbeat tunes and Victorian hymnody. We sang one older piece I am particularly fond of [read the moving story of how it was written here]

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul

Another highlight of the evening was watching the two ladies who were signing for the deaf. It wasn't just that they moved their hands so skilfully, but their facial expressions were wonderful at conveying the meanings too. In the hymn above, I thought the lady was going to explode with sheer joy at one point!

This morning I have done a day's Supply Teaching, with a lovely class who were bright and responsive, alongside colleagues who were friendly and supportive. Feeling very bright and cheerful and grateful to God for all His goodness!

Monday 26 October 2009

A Few Clothing Remarks!

clothes2 Bob and I just had an fascinating conversation about words - it began with him using the slang word 'scarf' in the sense of 'to eat voraciously' and we started wondering which nouns for items of clothing can be used as verbs in a completely different sense [words like 'coat' and 'girdle' aren't allowed because the idea is the same in both noun and verb] In a matter of minutes we came up with all these -

trouser [to take money unlawfully or surreptitiously]

hose [ to drench someone/something - also can be used to mean 'attack and kill with firearm]

pant [breathe heavily]  slip [to fall] tank [to drink to intoxication]

pump [move up and down/draw water]

vest [to place authority in the control of a person]

collar [seize or detain] clothes1

clog [bung up]

stock [to supply with goods]

fleece [to swindle]

skirt [to evade]

tie [to finish together]

shell [to bombard]

brief [to give preparatory instruction]

There are quite a few which refer to hitting someone forcefully -

cuff, belt, sock, boot

Historically, there are two related interesting words - 'saboteur' comes from the French 'sabot' - people threw their wooden shoes into the machinery - to clog them up! And the Vikings used to go 'berserk' -which means 'to tear off ones's shirt'

I'd better stop before I'm accused of becoming an anorak!!

Can you come up with any more words like this?

Saturday 24 October 2009

Be Like Dad, Keep Mum!

So ran the Wartime slogan about not discussing the War Effort

ww2 poster

Stan & HildaHere's a picture of my Mum and Dad - taken during WW2, when they were engaged. What is significant is that this is the time when my Mum was involved in Codebreaking at Bletchley Park - although Dad didn't know that then

This week, Gordon Brown has honoured some of the BP team [see the BBC website here] but it seems that the awards are only going to those who are still alive [there is talk of a Roll of Honour listing deceased codebreakers]

How I should have loved to have talked with my Mum about what she did - but she refused to discuss it at all, other than admit she had been transferred from her job in the Foreign Office to the BP staff.

But I am grateful for all the things she did talk to me about - she was a wise, and spiritual woman, who knew her Bible really well, and had a real pastoral heart. She had her priorities right, and knew the secret of true JOY was getting things in the right order - Jesus, Others, Yourself.

She may have kept the Enigma thing a secret for nearly fifty years until her death - but she was completely open about her faith in Jesus, and shared God's love with everyone she met.

She was a Mum to be proud of!

Friday 23 October 2009

Taking Stock of The Situation

DSCF0778 It’s going to be such hard work next week when my holiday is over – I shall have to do all the cooking and meal planning again! Bob has been in his element this week producing fabulous food.

But I really must bring a larger apron down to Cornerstones next time – the one I have here is really far too small for him [and pink!]

Tonight we have invited Adrian, Marion and Lucy for a meal, so this morning Bob went off to our friendly village butcher to get the meat. He came back with some beef – and a bag of bones to make stock.

DSCF0775He has produced some more fabulous stock [beef this time] for tonight’s gravy and is currently making bread rolls. The frantic industry in the kitchen stopped at lunchtime when he served up more chicken soup. The golden soup in the Poole Pottery bowl looked so lovely against the golden wood of the table. Very autumnal. There’s just enough soup left for lunch tomorrow, before the journey home.So that will be SIX meals each from that one happy little chicken. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall would be pleased, I am sure.

So whilst Bob is preparing all the main course [roast beef with five different veg and yorkshire puddings], plus making the bread rolls, I am taking the easy option – setting the table, assembling the starter [pate, plus rolls and salad garnish] and making the dessert [one-crust apple pie]


This is my large pyrex flan dish so we should all get a generous helping [with cream and custard]

Next week we may eat just salads every day!

The first time Bob made a beef stock from bones, he took them to church afterwards and preached on Ezekiel 37! Why do so many of the things round here end up as sermon illustrations??

Thursday 22 October 2009

Fun in Fakenham

fakenham parish church Off to Lidl first thing this morning to check out their Thursday bargains [this week – Greek food and wool! there is no rhyme no reason to their offers!] then on to Fakenham to pootle round the market and the charity shops.

We had coffee in the Parish church, and looked round the Booksale. There’s an amazing brass plaque detailing “Harrison’s Charity” – apparently a spinster named Ann Harrison, in 1794, bequeathed £1,666 13s. 4d., in her will, the yearly dividends, £50, to be applied as follows: —£10 to a schoolmistress, for instructing eight poor girls; £10 to a schoolmaster, for teaching four poor boys; and £30 (except what is required for the expenses of the trustees) in a distribution of blankets etc. The girls were to be taught “reading, writing, useful arithmetic and knitting and sewing” I know I am biased – but I find all arithmetic to be useful at times! How do they determine which bits are not useful? I wonder what happened to the bequest – did all the money get spent? And did the trustees claim their expenses fairly?

Back for lunch and in the afternoon Bob made chicken soup whilst I sewed. I do wish it were possible to post cooking smells on the blog, I am really looking forward to tonight’s meal.

The curtains and chair pads are done and in place in the Dining Room. Here is a close up of the vintage Laura Ashley fabric


I think it was called “Queen Anne”or something similar


DSCF0767Here is chair from 1979 without cushion pad – and then with cheap IKEA  pad.

The set of 4 chairs came from Habitat and they have lasted very well



And here it is with pad covered in LA fabric [the leftovers from shortening the curtains!] I heard someone say the other day that her middle name was Laura – because whilst pregnant, her Mum got new LA curtains and liked the name on the label  [poor child – could have ended up being called Sanderson, or Liberty, or Colefax and Fowler – or worse St Michael – or even worst “Next”]



So now we are all co-ordinated!

It has been another wet and windy day – and so it’s been good to be able to sit and relax in our warm lounge.

big book of christmas

One bargain – for only 50p in the Parish Church booksale, I got a brand new copy of this book – The Big Book Of Christmas by Gaby Morgan.

It has some Christmas poems and stuff I had not come across before and looks to be a useful resource.

There was a fun poem by Clare Bevan called ‘Just doing my Job’ about the children playing “Herod’s Henchmen” in a school nativity play, also some good ‘shape’ poems. Also, rather bizarrely, there is a play about Persephone and Demeter [written by Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo] and a selection of riddles [the sort beloved by eight year olds]

e.g. What’s the best Christmas present? answer – Difficult to say, but a drum takes a lot of beating!

Why are you giving your Dad two banana skins for Christmas? – answer – Because he said he wanted a pair of slippers!

…… brief interlude to eat a meal  - the soup was indeed superb!

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Broad Minded

Bob said he had never visited the Norfolk Broads, so on Tuesday we went off to Stalham Staithe to the Museum of The Broads. Check out the excellent ‘online tour’ here. Before wandering round the Museum, we went for a trip on the steam launch ‘Falcon’. This lasted about an hour and was stunning – we saw the beautiful waterways, lots of lovely things growing along the banks – and many birds – gulls and swans, a heron, cormorants – and … a kingfisher. This last was amazingly beautiful, wonderful blue plumage – and he was perching on a branch so we got a really good look at him before he flew off.

The Museum itself is well laid out, with interesting and informative displays about Broads history and life. And by Gift-Aiding our entry fee, we get free entry for a whole year. It will be nice to return again in the spring. [The museum shuts between November & April]


The wonderful brass and copper machinery on the launch


A swan and her cygnet – one of this year’s brood. The guys on the boat told us that they watched these birds grow from balls of fluff in the spring.


It was a little chilly and occasionally breezy, but on the whole a bright, sunny day.


Barton Broad – this is where Horatio Nelson first learned to sail! Quite appropriate, as today [21st October] is Trafalgar Day.


This boat is called “Bobs”-although the dummy in it is “Arthur”. We were amused by these mannequins posing in the boats. We also saw Julian and Tarquin!


The displays of boatbuilding tools were great…


…as were the carefully crafted model boats.

After a couple of hours at Stalham, which we considered to be time and money well spent, we drove down to Wroxham to ‘Roys’. This shop claims to be ‘the biggest village store in the world’ and certainly dominates the town.


Twenty years ago, my Mum used to enthuse about ‘going over to Wroxham and having a nice cup of tea in Roys’

Well it’s not changed!

The coffee shop is full of pensioners having their NCOT – but even now, in 2009, a pot-of-tea-for-one costs merely 65p! You can understand why the OAPs love it. As I pointed out to Bob, in a decade or so, we will be among that group – so we might as well start getting used to the place now!

80% of the shops in Wroxham appear to be owned by Roys now.

apple&pear hoveton Then we went and looked round “The Apple And Pear People” shop at Hoveton

Lots of unusual old varieties – many Norfolk natives – of apples and pears, plus medlars, quinces and other fruit.

Just up the road is Wroxham Barns. The website claims  Wroxham Barns is “the 'must visit' for all the family - whatever your age - for stylish clothes, gifts for home and garden, country foods, Bill LeGrice Roses & Plant Centre, Junior Farm, Children's Funfair, 12 Craft Studios and table service restaurant.”

We had a good look round – but didn’t buy any gifts – I almost bought a printed ‘Christmas Quilt’ piece in the Sewing Shop – but noticed it had American spelling, and that put me off! Apologies to my US friends – but if I hung something on my wall like that, then I would notice the ‘wrong’ word every time and it would annoy me.


The elephant and hippos are charity fund-raisers

We drove back to Cornerstones, where we had a real struggle to upload the photos to the PC. Eventually gave up! In the evening we had a lovely meal with Chris – mindful of the change in the weather, she’d made a warming sausage casserole followed by baked apples.

dining room blue curtains Today we had a relatively lazy day – up late and taking things slow. I shortened some curtains for the dining room – the ones I had originally put in there were quite thin, and I decided that my vintage Laura Ashley ones which were heavier fabric and lined would be better. So I have shortened them and plan to use the leftover beige fabric to make matching cushion pads for the dining chairs. Beige is a better colour than blue for that room anyway. I paid £10 for the LA fabric in a sale back in 1982, so I have definitely had my money’s worth there!

It was good to chat to Steph first thing and wish her a happy day!

After lunch we put on our jackets, and braving the rain, went into Dereham. Mostly we wandered round the pound shops and charity shops [there seem to be a lot of both!] Bob risked a quid on a card reader, and was very pleased that it works, so he kindly downloaded all the pictures from the camera.

Hence all the above – and here are some extra ones from Monday…


The sewing machine in action [Christmassy bits]


The Priest’s Hole at Oxburgh – those darker bricks in the corner are the end of the little tunnel you have to crawl through to get in and out.

It is roomy enough once inside, but quite a scramble to get inside in the first place!

And finally a picture of my flowers – these roses smell gorgeous – and were a gift from the congregation at Desford where I preached on Sunday night


They have quite brightened up the room – and as Bob declared it to be a “Grade A Grey Day” we have really appreciated the sunshine they bring. SO glad we opted for the Broads yesterday – it would have been damp and miserable out on the steam launch this morning!

Happy Birthday, Steph!

DSCF0698 My Steph is 25 today [where have the years gone?] I cannot believe she has reached her quarter-century. I have put her presents in the post, trusting they arrive before any postal strike kicks in. One thing I have included is a special pair of gloves.

Steph is always wearing out the fingertips of her gloves through texting on her phone, so I decided to knit her some which don't have fingertips to start with! I used some self-striping sock wool, and I'm quite pleased with the result.

I had to make a pair of cardboard hands for photography purposes as the gloves looked very strange "empty"

Hope you have a wonderful day, sweetheart. Thanks for being such a great daughter - God bless you always x

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Pleasure In Simple Things


Gretchen Joanna over at Gladsome Lights reminded me of this lovely little poem by Wendy Cope.

I love the way Ms Cope's odes are short and to the point. I hesitate to use the word 'pithy' about this particular one though!

The Orange - by Wendy Cope

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange--
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave--
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It's new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I'm glad I exist.

Monday 19 October 2009

Turbines and Tudors

After a productive morning – I was sewing, Bob was gardening, we decided to go out for the afternoon.

DSCF0713 First stop the EcoTech centre at Swaffham. We looked at the turbine – that huge grey thing behind Bob is a blade from another turbine, and also the Orchard in the same field. This is where they are growing literally dozens of old apple varieties-  all organic, without use of pesticides or herbicides. Unfortunately they don’t seem to be bothered about picking the resultant crop. The ground was covered with windfalls, all slowly, sadly, rotting. I picked up half a dozen to make a crumble! [Free Food Is Fab!]

DSCF0715 On the other side of the field was a small building made using medieval methods – and in front of it a massive snail sculpture.

We looked round the Gift Shop –half of which seemed stocked with books about Being Green and Saving the Planet – and the other half was cheap plastic pocket money tat, presumably aimed at the hordes who come on school trips. We both felt disappointed and underwhelmed by our visit. But at least it was free to look round!

DSCF0716 We moved on to Oxburgh Hall – a National Trust property a few miles further south [I had a 2-for-1 voucher] This was much more enjoyable. This quintessential moated manor house, with its magnificent Tudor gatehouse, was built in 1482 by the Bedingfield family, who still live in one wing – although the NT have been guardians for over 50 years now. The rooms show the development from medieval austerity to Victorian comfort, and include an outstanding display of embroidery done by Mary, Queen of Scots. The NT staff in each room were really helpful.


I particularly enjoyed climbing through the tiny trap door into the Priest’s Hole!

The embroideries by Mary Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick were quite stunning.

Maybe it was because it was late on a grey autumn afternoon and there was not much light outside – but we did find it quite hard to see things properly in some of the rooms. I appreciate that sunlight will cause fading – but I am sure that in some places they could have improved the illumination a little!

The Bedingfields are now linked by marriage with another ancient Norfolk family, the Pastons [famous for The Paston Letters] The Bedingfield’s are an old Roman Catholic Family, so their position has alternated between being Highly Favoured at the DSCF0719 Monarch’s Court to being quite Out Of Favour with the Crown.

The current head of the family, Henry Paston-Bedingfield is the ‘Her Majesty’s York Herald Of Arms In Ordinary  and responsible for overseeing the granting of new coats-of-arms.  He is an  expert on matters of heraldry and genealogy. So I guess that means he gets on OK with HM.

Henry Paston-BedingfeldHere is a picture of H P-B going to a garter Ceremony at Windsor – what an outfit!

After looking round the castle [including climbing onto the roof area over the Queen’s Chamber to look out over the Norfolk Countryside] We investigated the other things the NT was offering on-site.

We ignored the Cath Kidston handcream and Gisela Graham Santas in the Gift Shop and went straight to the Tea Room. The scones and clotted cream were of a very high standard!

Then back to Cornerstones – more sewing whilst Bob cooked a chicken for the evening meal. Tudor Castles are lovely to look round, but I am very happy with my little bungalow, thank-you!