Sunday 31 October 2010

Oh Happy Day!

Tonight we had a visit from the Emmanue’-EL Apostolic Gospel Academy [check out their website] – it was the final event in our Month Of Music.

Here’s their official picture as used on the posters


and here are the choir sitting in the pews beforehand


however, once they got up to sing, they were so full of vitality and movement, that I couldn’t manage to get a photo in focus properly!




…the lady doing the signing for the deaf was amazing!

They sung a number of songs in Zulu, and others in English, including “Soon and very soon we are going to see the King” and “Oh Happy Day”

A number of the choir gave their testimony and told wonderful stories of how they had been healed from sickness and freed from drug addiction through the power of Jesus.

It was a great evening [but very loud- my ears are still ringing ]


We were thrilled to have quite a few visitors too – including Scott and Anjanette, our missionaries, who are back from Peru for a few months on home assignment.

It has been a day of mixed emotions here – in the last 48 hours, two elderly ladies from our fellowship have died. Both were very special – real characters and good friends – I will miss them. Whilst we are confident that they are singing [and probably dancing] in heaven now, we are sad for their families – and quite a few other members are ill in hospital, and causing concern.

Soon and very soon
We are going to see the King
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
We're going to see the King

No more cryin there,
We are going to see the King
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
We're going to see the King

Should there be any rivers we must cross
Should there be any mountains we must climb
God will supply all the strength that we need
Give us strength till we reach the other side.

Soon and very soon
We are going to see the King
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
We're going to see the King

Great memories of Kathy, and Phyllis – who are with their King now!

Forty Days Of Purpose

Off to preach at another church this morning. They are doing the 40 Days of Purpose Programme. Today they are on session #3, Discipleship


For the Children’s Slot, I am planning to teach them the “40-Days-Aerobics” we made up when we did it here at KMFC.

    • worship – hands raised
    • fellowship – hands reaching out to one another
    • discipleship – hands in prayer
    • ministry – hands stretched out to give
    • evangelism – hands pointing to Jesus

I’m sure you get the idea!

Putting The Clocks Back!

I always feel that the extra hour gained this evening should be used constructively. So I have been busy wrapping my Christmas gifts [many of which have been constructed over the summer]



That’s about 60 gifts done and dusted, only 3 more to organise. Whilst I worked,  I listened to the Neil Diamond Concert on Radio 2, humming along to that song about casually dressed clergy - “Reverend Blue Jeans”

I apologise to anyone who is way behind me on their Christmas stuff – I just know that life gets impossibly manic here in the run up to Dec 25th – and the only way I can give love and attention to my gifts is to sort them out good and early.

Saturday 30 October 2010

My Eyes Are Dim, I Cannot See…

Jesus stood up in the synagogue [Luke 4] and read these words from the prophet Isaiah

God's Spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
   Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
      recovery of sight to the blind,
   To set the burdened and battered free,
      to announce, "This is God's year to act!"

The whole theme of ‘visual impairment’ seems to be following me around lately.

number one - Next week we have a speaker from the Torch Trust coming to our Friends and Neighbours group at church.

torch trust

number two - Our daily Bible readings have been in Mark 8, focussing [oops, sorry about pun] on spiritual as well as physical blindness.

number three - My spectacles have broken!

Now this is somewhat self-inflicted

  • I sit with my elbow on the desk, resting my face on my hands, pushing against the side arm of my specs.
  • I read in bed and fall asleep – and Bob finds me lying there with specs bent round my face at a bizarre angle.
  • I put on my motorbike helmet and then wriggle the specs onto my nose, again stressing the side arms.

In fact I treat these glasses quite badly. But

  • I do not take them off and swing them round by one arm.
  • Or leave them in places where they will be sat on/walked on.
  • Or push them on to the top of my head, risking them falling off from a great height to be smashed [if 150cm can be considered ‘a great height’ that is]

It is two years since I last had an eye test and I know my eyesight has deteriorated. So I went off to my opticians for an eye test.

boots opticians2

No, don’t say “Should have Gone To SpecSavers” – cos my personal choice is Boots – they are reliable, reasonably priced – and I get Advantage points, and parking is free…and I am a creature of habit.

Deepa and Janine were really helpful – and when I admitted my bad spectacle habits, they gave wise advice about  which frames would be good/bad choices.  And now I just have to wait a week for my specs [plus free second pair] to be ready.

eye chart

Bob encouraged me to ‘choose frames that you are happy with – don’t be all thrifty and just go for the cheapest on the display’ – so I opted for mid-price Boots Own Brand [the designer ones weren’t any better, anyway, just more expensive] and then he phoned me whilst I was paying for them, with the good news that my pay has not only come through at last, it is a little more than I’d expected. Hallelujah!

And now I have all these thoughts buzzing round in my head for a sermon on a Mark 8/Luke 4 – but I have already been given a theme for the service I am leading this Sunday, and carefully picked appropriate songs to go with that sermon – so I shall just have to make some notes somewhere and store this new idea away for another Sunday.

Friday 29 October 2010

Fewer Chillies, More Wallies!

On Thursday Night I did another of Jamie’s Thirty Minute Meals [here] This one took me 33 minutes though! Here is his meal -

jamies pie

Mine took longer because;

1; my puff pastry wasn’t ready rolled [it very nearly wasn’t thawed either, but fortunately I was able to ring Bob at lunchtime and he kindly retrieved it from the freezer for me]

2; I collected the ingredients together beforehand, including some fresh thyme from the garden – but then couldn’t find it 10 minutes later, so I had to go outside and pick some more!

I didn’t do his dessert [berries. cream, shortbread biscuits] – I just sliced some bananas into glasses of yogurt and drizzled some caramel sauce over them.

It was all very tasty. I forgot to photograph it before we ate – but here’s the remaining half of our pie! Not sure why Bob sliced it on the diagonal – but you can at least see the pretty effect of the criss-cross scoring on the pastry!


There were also some French Style Peas left. So that will make another meal tomorrow with some mashed potatoes perhaps.

I reserved a little of the pastry to make some Quick Portuguese Tarts – posting a picture of them especially for The White Van Man In Scotland [you know who you are!]


The Book People Rep brought new boxes of goodies into the staffrooms of the two schools where I work this week – including Jamie’s book for only £10. So I have ordered a copy. On Tuesday someone asked “Is it true you actually did his curry in 30 minutes and it worked?” [how fast news travels!]

The only down-side of this system encountered thus far is that I work flat out for half an hour, and produce a great meal which we both sit down and enjoy together – but then my kitchen looks like a bomb has hit it, and it takes me another half hour afterwards to clear up!

The up-side is that I can manage to fit more stuff into the day – after school I was able to visit two friends in hospital and still have a meal on the table at 6.30pm.

Whilst I think that I shall enjoy doing meals from this book, and I know Jamie says he produced it because he was keen to make good meals quickly and spend more time with his children [and the ever-pregnant Jools] I am not sure how well this system would work for younger mums. It does require intense concentration, hands-on, non-stop activity for the full half hour. Not really achievable if there is a three year old needing to be taken to the loo, a baby wanting a feed, and a seven year old getting stressed about homework – and a husband ringing on his mobile to say he will be late home anyway.

And he is so very fond of chillies – which I omit all the time because I am not. But, like Jamie, being a true child of Essex, I am quite happy with his recipes which include wallies [the Essex name for pickled gherkins]

Enough blogposts about Mr Oliver. Please Sir, I don’t want any more for a bit!


Thursday 28 October 2010

What’s On Your Christmas List?

Among the predicted ‘top twelve toys’ for Christmas this year comes this amazing pair - retailing at around £25

sylvanian george and mildred

“This old-fashioned motorcycle & sidecar has storage spaces in the front of the sidecar and the pannier at the back of the cycle. George & Mildred Mulberry are the racoon Grandparents and enjoy riding around the country lanes. George has a helmet & goggles so he can see where he is going. Mildred likes to wrap up warm before they set off as it can get a bit breezy in the side car!”

Why, oh why didn’t they have these a quarter of a century ago, when my girls were first into Sylvanian Families and their Dad was riding his previous bike into college every day? I’d have scrimped and saved to buy this sweet couple!

I can think of absolutely no justification whatsoever for us to get them NOW – but I think they are wonderful all the same!

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Maybe Ms Conran Was Right After All!


Shirley Conran’s ‘Superwoman’ mantra back in the seventies was “Life Is Too Short To Stuff A Mushroom”

But that was thirty five years ago, and now I am contemplating doing that very thing.

Looking out of Bob’s study window, I spotted something strange at the corner of the lawn.

Three very large mushrooms…

The pound coin should give you an idea of their size


Bob identified them as Macrolepiota procera: The Parasol Mushroom [he is a real fun-guy!] and I found this recipe online

Stuffed Parasol Mushrooms
The cup shape of the parasol mushroom lends them very well to being stuffed and here the traditional sage and onion stuffing typically used for chicken stuffing is employed.
12 parasol mushrooms
1/2 batch Sage and Onion Stuffing
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp olive oil to baste
Cut off and discard the stems of the mushroom then pack in the sage and onion stuffing. Arrange, open end uppermost, in a baking dish drizzle the olive oil over the top then transfer to an oven pre-heated to 180°C and bake for about 25 minutes. During this baking time baste twice with 2 tbsp olive oil.


Well this looked reasonable, and I had this packet of stuffing lurking in the cupboard [OK it isn’t actually sage and onion, but it is still stuffing, isn't it?]


So I arranged the mushrooms in the dish and carefully spooned stuffing onto each and drizzled with oil etc. Alongside I roasted some butternut squash, and cooked up some sweetcorn – this had the makings of a filling vegetarian dinner, I thought. HOWEVER…as the mushrooms cooked, they sort of flattened and the stuffing oozed out and covered the whole surface of the dish in one layer, nothing like the picture with the recipe!


“What are we eating?” asked Bob

“Stuffed parasol mushrooms” I replied

What are they stuffed with?”


It’s just that if this is to be my last meal on earth, I’d like to know what it is!”

[ but HE was the one who had deemed this fungi to be edible in the first place!] However once we had served up the food, it became apparent that the mushrooms had gone all leathery and rather odd. So we just ate the stuffing and accompanying vegetables.

Don’t you just love the way Aldi call their brands similar names – Quixo for Paxo, Norpak butter for Lurpak etc

Four hours later we are both still alive with no signs of food poisoning. After the disaster of our meal, here is a mushroom joke

A woman announces that she’s getting married for the fourth time.
"How wonderful! But I hope you don't mind me asking - what happened to your first husband?"
"He ate poisonous mushrooms and died."
"Oh, how tragic! What about your second husband?"
"He too ate poisonous mushrooms and died."
"Oh, how terrible! I'm almost afraid to ask you about your third husband."
"He died of a broken neck."
"A broken neck?"
"He wouldn't eat the mushrooms."

Carry On Camping!

I can remember exactly when I had my first cup of ‘real’ coffee – in January 1963 – I was 7, and we had a minor car accident on the icy road. A lady [wearing a fur coat] in a big car stopped to help. Whilst her chauffeur, my dad and others got the car towed out of the ditch, Mum and I sat in her luxurious vehicle and she poured us hot coffee from a Thermos. [My brother was only two months old- he just had milk]I didn’t taste coffee like that again for about 10 years!

1960s coffee

We were a household of tea drinkers. There was, lurking in a cupboard in the kitchen, a sinister tin of brown powder, looking like the Bisto used for Sunday’s gravy – which was fished out when inconsiderate visitors said “Oh, I'd rather have coffee, please” but as a family we never touched it!

Then came the advent of “coffee granules” and I started drinking that as a teenager because it was somehow ‘cool’. But what we never had in the house was “Camp Coffee”. Somehow Mum viewed this stuff with suspicion. First up there was the matter of the label

camp old 1

Dad had a ‘thing’ about this picture on the label of the Sikh Servant waiting on the kilted Scottish officer [Camp was manufactured by Paterson's of Glasgow] He felt that it was wrong to celebrate the British Raj because of the way that many Indians were badly treated by the Army and others. [and this was back in the 60s – before ‘political correctness’ came upon us]

Then of course it contained chicory which my mother greatly distrusted.

Chicory was something [like garlic] which came into the category of ‘foreign food, eaten by Frenchmen’ [Mum – like Dad – believed God created all men and women equal, whatever their race – but she definitely didn’t want to eat their food, thank you very much!]

Our next door neighbour had a bottle of Camp Coffee in her kitchen. I was fascinated by it! Like any ‘forbidden fruit’ it was strange and mysterious to me.

Somewhere along the way I developed a taste for ‘proper coffee’ [I am married to the worst coffee snob in this village] but when I did finally taste Camp Coffee, I thought it was awful! [most forbidden fruit is never quite so good when you actually get to try it, is it?]

camp new

But now Paterson's have a new, politically correct label, and the guy in the turban is now sitting alongside the guy in the kilt, as his equal – they are sharing a coffee break together

The banner still says “Ready, Aye, Ready” to show that it is easy to make coffee instantly with this product.

I do not think I have ever purchased a bottle – but then Jamie Oliver flourished his on TV this week. He was using it to add flavour to his banoffee pie.

Well, if Jamie uses it – perhaps I too should get some as a cooking ingredient [but never as a drink!]

Two questions remain

1; For Elizabeth - who is teaching out in Ooty – that part of India where the Ladies Of The Raj went to be cool in the blistering heat of the summer – do they still have Camp Coffee in your neck of the woods?

2; If I buy a bottle and keep it in Norfolk, for when I am cooking at Cornerstones, would that be classed as my “Holiday Camp”?

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Curry In A Hurry

I have to report that Jamie’s 30 minute recipe for curry actually works! Check out the website here

jamie 30

My only comments:

His timings, impeccable though they are, do not allow for stopping cooking to deal with the breadmaker [my mistake – should have sorted it earlier] or for phone calls from daughters [sorry Steph! at least your Dad was on hand to chat] But it is literally ‘all stations go’ from the moment you start till the meal is on the table.

I set the timer for 30 minutes when I began – and it went off just as I took the photo.


Mine is not strictly to Jamie’s recipe. I am, as he would say, a total wuss – so I used a jar of Korma Paste as it is milder than Rogan Josh, and I omitted the chillies. I don’t really enjoy spicy food. Also I missed out the coriander [I forgot to buy it!] We had naan bread instead of chapattis [on offer in Sainsbury's] and I never made any lemon pickle [we had some lime pickle in the fridge] Here is Jamie’s version

tv pic

The main difference in appearance is all that green coriander garnish! But the curry was lovely - a good flavour, but not too hot for me. I made half quantity of rice and salad – but the full quantity of curry, and we ate one third on Monday evening. The remainder I split in two and froze for other nights.

Astute readers may spot something on the bookshelf behind the table. The ant killer has nothing to do with the meal. I really should have moved that before I got out the camera!!

I am hoping to try out some of the other ideas from the website soon - particularly his chicken pie and the quick Portuguese tarts.

Monday 25 October 2010

At Last! The Gospel Light Is Shining!

Our dining room has been looking decidedly shabby. It has never been redecorated since the house was built, 20 years ago – and much moving of furniture, a disaster with a red Christmas candle one year, and life in general has left its mark.  So we decided that we ought to do something about it [we actually thought that around 2008, but then we got Cornerstones, and all our energies went into that property for a while]


But this autumn we have been hosting the Alpha Group, and each week’s session begins with dinner. The food is absolutely brilliant [the girls bring that along every Tuesday, and we have some fabulous meals] and I get out all my best wedding present crockery and cutlery and set the table with napkins carefully folded etc. But I have been very conscious of the sad state of the walls…

Now I know my friends probably haven’t even noticed – what with the delicious grub and sparkling conversation…but all the same, I did feel we should do something.

cornmeal room

Then I read on Frances’ blog about her new cornmeal dining room.

That is the sort of colour I want! I declared, showing Bob her splendid pictures. So we concluded that if we were returning from our half-term trip early [for my SIL’s 60th birthday party] we could use the two remaining days before we went back to work to paint the room.

I collected all sorts of paint colour charts and studied them…

Which was all well and good, but a combination of factors [car tax and MOT, and the payroll department omitting to process my pay claim this month, and other bills…] meant there was no spare dosh for trips to B&Q to purchase paint! [and, of course, WHAM]

However we did buy a huge pot of “Magnolia” last year for Cornerstones very cheaply in Homebase – and in 1996, Liz chose to have her bedroom [now Bob’s studio-cum-oratory] repainted in a deep yellow called Dulux “Honeybee”. The leftover paint was in the garage.

So there we were, somewhere between Harry Potter mixing a spell, and Mary Berry mixing icing for her cupcakes, combining the two colours…


and a close up…


We ended up with enough paint for the room, without spending any more money!

All the wall stuff was removed [bookshelves, pictures, antique clock etc] and holes filled with Polyfilla, and as much furniture as possible was temporarily redistributed to other rooms.DSCF0003

And we set to work



It is a little darker than the paint Frances used - but exactly the right shade for my room. When I took down the curtains, I realised the label said ‘dry clean only’ – but the cost of dry cleaning being what it is, and the curtains being twenty years old – I slung them in the washing machine. They came up beautifully – but five inches shorter! Fortunately they had deep hems, which I have let down.

Bob has decreed that I am not to put ‘all that stuff’ back – the sideboard was full of crockery, plus there were boxes of stuff under it and some glass cake stands on top…

DSCF0004 I have got some re-organising to do there. We have yet to decide what is going back onto the walls – certainly not the overloaded bookshelves, but definitely my great grandmother’s clock.

But one thing has at last seen the light of day – after twenty years, my £10 IKEA bargain ‘Gospel’ chandelier has finally left its box in the garage and found a home [I tried last year at Cornerstones, but it wouldn’t fit there] Bob has modified it, and we have agreed that it looks good over the dining table. So here is our finished room…


So thanks, Frances for the inspiration for the colour – and thanks Bob for all the hard work you did [especially the high bits, in places I cannot reach]

Now I shall go and think about how to store the china efficiently.

Please do drop round for a meal if you are in the area!!

Sunday 24 October 2010

To Do More…

united nations

"UN Day is a day on which we resolve to do more.  More to protect those caught up in armed conflict, to fight climate change and avert nuclear catastrophe; more to expand opportunities for women and girls, and to combat injustice and impunity; more to meet the Millennium Development Goals."

[Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – message on UN Day 24 October 2010 – that is TODAY!!]

The United Nations General Assembly declared that United Nations Day shall be an international holiday and recommended that it should be observed as a public holiday by all United Nations member states. What has happened to UN DAY? I have NOT read any reports of UN Day events – have you? It is noted, amazingly, on my Forgotten English Calendar, which is what drew my attention to it.

On Friday, the POTUS said…

Though the future we envision for all the world's children may not come easily, the founding of the United Nations itself is a testament to human progress.  Let us continue to be guided by its founders' soaring example, and move through the conflicts and divisions of our time to a day when people from every part of this world can live together in peace.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 24, 2010, as United Nations Day.  I urge the Governors of the 50 States, and the officials of all other areas under the flag of the United States, to observe United Nations Day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth. BARACK OBAMA

So are they having street parties in the States?


I haven’t heard of anything happening here.

I am marking the day by wearing my Unicef Tee shirt which Steph gave me [she went to Malawi with them in 2008]

But you will have to wait to find out what this is about, and why I am holding the paint roller in such a menacing fashion!

Saturday 23 October 2010

Poste Restante

What do you do when you first get home from a week away? We usually follow the same ritual – all the bags in from the car, kettle filled and switched on … and then we sit down together with mugs of tea, to sort through the mountain of post that has accumulated on the doormat. Much of it is stuff we skim through then discard almost immediately and consign to the recycling bin.

Today there was some mis-delivered stuff, as the next road has a name just one letter different from ours – and the lady at the same number there has a very similar surname, so we frequently get each other’s post.[What a ridiculous decision it was by the planning people to allow such street names!]

And bizarrely an invitation for Bob to pay £50 attend the Annual Dinner of the Oxford University Pistol Club. [he isn’t going!]

And lots of stuff to recycle


And in the middle of all that, some real treats!


Two Marie Claire Idees from the magazine swap organised by Floss, all the way from France, and some pretty cards, and a Thank You note from my newly-wed niece.

After the post-sort, then Bob checks the answerphone messages. Among them was one from the library saying my book was in! So I popped out to deliver post to the correct house and collect my book

sew pretty hopmestyler 

That looks like a lot of crafty reading lined up for next week then - but as we will be back to normal, holiday over, I am not at all sure when I will fit it in!

And after the post-sort and phone-messages, there is sorting out the food situation and loading the washing machine…and the holiday feels well and truly over!

These Boots Are Made For Walking!

Actually, as they are for 3-6 month old babies, probably not…


Over the past week at Cornerstones, I have really enjoyed making a dozen pairs of Scandinavian Style Bootees.

I’ve used felt from my stash, plus ribbons and tapes and motifs, and also embroidered with some DMC cotton tapestry thread which I have had for a while. I was given this tin of skeins and it has been such a pleasure to work with the lovely soft threads.


The shades of yarn in the tin go beautifully with the fabric on the Cornerstones armchairs! Perhaps I should do a cushion next?



The skeins carry a little diagram and instruction on the bands of paper which encircle them…


n’enlevez pas les etiquettes i.e. do not remove the labels

[my Mum taught me years ago how to pull thread from these skeins and showed me that if you remove the bands, everything tangles] but if etiquette also means manners, perhaps in this day and age,it should say don’t forget your manners!

Friday 22 October 2010

We Went To Wymondham And Watton

[btw Wymondham is pronounced Windham]

Wymondham is a lovely market town with a lot of history [find out more here] Today was actually market day. There is a Market Cross atop a building nearly 400 years old.


The Tourist Information Office is now housed in this building.

The rest of the week, the market area is surrounded by bollards, I think to restrict parking – but today all the bollards were neatly stacked in a rack to make room for all the market stalls.

They reminded me of cannons!


There are some superb old buildings to look at…


We wandered down to Becket’s Chapel – now an art gallery, which was  first a chantry chapel, then the boys’ grammar school, then the library before its current incarnation.

Outside is the town sign – designs on either side celebrate the wood turning heritage of the town – as do street names like ‘Spooner Row’




Inside the gallery was an exhibition based on a recycling theme – all the exhibits were made from repurposed things. Some just artwork to hang on the wall, like these made from locks, keys and tickets


DSCF0040 Others were a little more strange – these hanging plastic bottles made an interesting noise when touched – and you were invited to stand in the middle and see/hear how it felt.


I thought this interpretation of the water lilies at Giverny was very cleverly constructed- it is made entirely from old plastic carrier bags


and Monet’s original…


Outside the gallery is a plaque to two Norfolk heroes


By the gallery is the Dragon Pub – this inn dates back over 500 years!


After all this culture,we had a good wander round the many charity shops, and Bob bought an LP for 50p [“we don’t sell many of them” said the surprised assistant] and had a cheap lunch in a greasy spoon cafe.

Then we went to Watton – Bob looked at Triumphs in the motorbike shop [whilst I went in still more charity shops – but bought nothing] then we drove to the Norfolk Guitar and Bass Centre, which was enormous fun. [website] Watton is twinned with Weeze in Germany [since 1987] I love the sound of “Watton and Weeze”!ngbc_logo

Then back to Cornerstones, time to catch up with the neighbours over a cuppa, then Bob cooked a brilliant evening meal. I shall really miss his cooking when we get back to our regular non-holiday-timetable next week! He did a warm chicken salad, accompanied by new potatoes. He cooked the spuds a la Jamie Oliver – boiled, smashed and pan fried [recipe here]. They were delicious!

Now I should go and help him wash up!