Monday 31 January 2011

One World, One Heart 2011

Like Floss, I am joining in the One World, One Heart event this year.


This event [details here] was set up five years ago by a blogger called Lisa to bring together bloggers around the world. I’ve been blogging for nearly three years now and made so many new friends through the blog.

I never would have believed that I would have found myself in regular contact with people in Australia, Canada, England, France, India, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Peru,Scotland, the USA, Wales …and more [all those places listed alphabetically so as not to offend anyone!]

I have also caught up with old friends too – who have stumbled across my ramblings, and then made contact again. That has been a really unexpected bonus.

Lisa asks for all participants to have a ‘door prize’ – and as many of my posts have revolved round books, films, food and crafts, I have decided on this little parcel


Contents: A sampler book of 30 recipes from Julia Child’s French Cooking [that’s covered book, film and food!] and then a handcrafted ribbon bookmark and finally a facecloth – which will be embroidered with the initial or name of the winner’s choice [so do not worry if you are not Rachel, Ruth or Robert! this one in the picture is destined for someone else]

So leave a comment ON THIS POST if you would like to be included and then I will make the draw on 17th February

And do check out some of the other OWOH bloggers over the next few days - you may find other blogs you really enjoy and make more friends!

My Amazing Village [#2]


Do you think our village Bowls Club has a suit to fit someone my age? I shall have to wait till April to find out. Mind you, my birthday is in April. Not sure about a Birthday Suit for bowling in!

Sunday 30 January 2011

The Kingdom of Heaven…

…is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field

So says Matthew 13. I have been thinking about this verse a lot recently, as I have been given a set of 4 postcards showing pictures of “The Staffordshire Hoard”

This treasure was found in a field near Lichfield in the summer of 2009. It is the largest ever hoard of Anglo Saxon treasure ever found in Britain. 5kg gold and 1.3kg silver - rather eclipsing the 1.5kg Sutton Hoo Treasure found in 1939.

I have four postcards – but you can find a complete slide show of all the artefacts at the official website.

There is a beautiful horse’s head


part of a dagger hilt


and another sword hilt


Almost all of the items are weaponry or armoury – they date from the 7th century. One item [picture courtesy of the website] is this strip of gold

biblical strip

The Latin inscription is from the Book of Numbers chapter 10

“Surge domine et dissipentur inimici tui et fugiant qui oderunt te a facie tua”

"Rise up, O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face”

But the fourth postcard in my set is this one


I couldn’t work it out at first, but on the back of the card it explains “There are four crucifixes in the hoard. This one is the largest, and has been folded at some time before being buried, perhaps to make it fit into a small space”

The website talks about ‘a lack of apparent respect shown to this Christian symbol’ – and suggests that maybe it was pagans who buried the hoard.

…but it has made me think. Are we, as Christians, sometimes guilty of trying to fold up the Cross into a neat little package, so we can make it fit into our lives? Bending our theology to make it a little more comfortable to live with? I need to ponder a bit more about this

Have a blessed Sunday!

Saturday 29 January 2011

Speedy Saturday Supper

As planned, I made Jamie’s 30-minute Mustard Chicken for our meal tonight. It took – thirty minutes and ten seconds!

Then, as we cleared our plates, I remembered I had forgotten to photograph it!

jamies 30 min mustrd chicken

This is the official picture from the website. Mine looked almost like this – but I did Savoy cabbage, as I don’t like chard!

The Affogato dessert I also modified slightly, as I had some raspberries in the freezer, and not cherries. Jamie suggests serving that in espresso cups – but I thought it was a good opportunity to open one of our Christmas presents. Adrian and Marion gave us a Hot Chocolate set [2 mugs, a tub of Green & Blacks Cocoa and 4 little squares of dark chocolate] so I used these wonderfully cheerful red mugs – and then grated one of the squares over the top as a garnish.

DSCF1377 gondoliers-choc-wafers

I didn’t have any shortbread biscuits, so I used a couple of ‘cappucino chocolate wafers’. I got a tin of these in Poundland [yes, for £1!]

They keep well and make any dessert look fancy.


I also set the timer for ‘clearing up’ and found that I’d got everything into the dishwasher, processor etc packed away and all the pans washed up in just 10 minutes.

All very satisfactory – and delicious. Although I halved the quantities, I found there was more than enough for the two of us, and I have plated up a meal with the leftovers for Bob to have one day next week when I’m at school.

Hardy Perennials

far from the madding crowd 2

'When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance to his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun.'

I think “Far From the Madding Crowd” is just about my favourite Thomas Hardy novel**. I have really enjoyed listening to the serialisation of it on BBC Radio 7 this week. The great thing about BBC 7 classic dramas is that they repeat throughout the day – so if you miss the morning 10am one, you can catch it again at the insomniac hour of 3am – or just pick it up on BBC iPlayer.

I loved the 1967 film with Julie Christie, Alan Bates,Terence Stamp and Peter Finch. I had just discovered Hardy that year. We had to read “The Mayor Of Casterbridge” at school – and our teacher kept banging on about “Hardy’s main theme is Fate – if you are fated for bad things to happen to you, then they will” [Mind you, she was a fairly miserable lady herself] I am not sure I altogether agree with this analysis of Hardy – I think that often he was showing that the ‘bad’ things happen because someone has made a ‘bad’ decision.

far from the madding crowd 

But I remember our adolescent arguments [it was an All-Girls school] about who was the better suitor- Troy or Oak. The Soldier or The Shepherd [we may have been in Norfolk, but nobody in the class wanted Rich Farmer Boldwood – he was just old and creepy!]

We definitely fell into two camps – those who thought handsome, dashing Sergeant Troy, for all his faults, was The One. He brought excitement and romance and fun into the equation, and knew how to show a girl a good time. The bright uniform, the thrilling displays of swordsmanship, the sense that if he took you out, then people would regard the pair of you as two of the beautiful people. And somehow, he’d always find the cash to buy special, sparkling presents

And there were those who felt that good, solid Gabriel Oak was a better choice. He may have been not quite as good looking, but he was reliable, and faithful – and in a crisis, he was the one who could be trusted to make the wise decisions and take the best course of action. But he wasn't rich and never would be.

I suspect that having seen the film, many of the class voted for Troy thinking that Terence Stamp was more glamorous in appearance than the homely Alan Bates.

Bates died in 2003 – but I think both retained their good looks as they grew older.

terence stamp

alan bates


Julie Christie doesn’t look bad for a 70 year old either!

julie christie 2010

I was – unsurprisingly – firmly in the Oak Camp – and got more and more annoyed, as I worked through the book, at Bathsheba’s short-sightedness when it came to her relationships with the men in her life. All that time wasted, when there was a good bloke right there beside her!

It was years later before I made the connection that the first Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11 was originally married to a soldier- and then married a man who had once been a shepherd.

**My least favourite Hardy is Jude the Obscure. Those poor children!

Trivial factoid…

The Kinks recorded Waterloo Sunset in 1967, which ends with

Millions of people swarming like flies 'round Waterloo underground
But Terry and Julie cross over the river
Where they feel safe and sound
And they don't need no friends
As long as they gaze on Waterloo sunset
They are in paradise
Waterloo sunset's fine

There is an urban myth that the T&J here are Mr Stamp and Ms Christie – but in his autobiography, Ray Davies denied this – and said it was based on his own sister and her boyfriend of the time!

Do they still read Hardy in school these days? Which of his books is your favourite?

Friday 28 January 2011

Have You Got A Light Mac?

…No – but I have a dark green overcoat!


It is a Dannimac, and I bought it in Fenwick’s in Leicester in the autumn of 1997. So it is pretty old. But it is a brilliant coat – as well as two deep pockets outside, it has an inside pocket with a zip. The top is double layered- as well as having the interior lining. It has a hood. And behind that row of buttons, it has a zip. So it is brilliantly warm. I love it.

I was really glad of it on Wednesday when I stood in the playground for an hour watching an enthusiastic guy in a tracksuit teaching my class to play Tag Rugby. It was freezing that afternoon- and it even started snowing briefly after school.

However, I’m afraid this aged coat is also a-frayed!

The cuffs [wool outer/corduroy inner] were worn right through, and also the stitching on the pockets was coming undone.



I found a scrap of pretty fabric in The Great Stash, and got out my trusty 25mm bias binding maker


I made some long strips of binding


Then I applied the binding to the cuffs, and also round the collar [which wasn’t frayed, but I thought it made for completeness]


I also mended the pockets. then I decided that I needed a bit more detail – so I found another scrap if fabric [plain red] and a couple of buttons. Using this crockery as circle templates…


…I cut out circles of fabric and made ‘yo-yos’ and stitched them together with the buttons to make a little brooch. This I attached to a safety pin so it is removable.

And now the coat will be wearable for a little longer.


Very pleased with this little renovation project. [the photo above has come out way too pale – the picture at the top is a better reproduction of the colour of the rich green wool]

[For details of my lovely red French crockery, see my first ever post – here]


Use it up, wear it out, make it do

…or do without!

Thursday 27 January 2011

Just 1800 Seconds

I have been watching series two of Jamie’s Thirty Minute Meals – this time round, I have the book in front of me, so I know what’s coming!

jamie 30

I mentioned an earlier attempt at one of the meals back in October [here]

Now that did take me 33 minutes – but that was really my fault [I had deviated from his recipe slightly by not having ready-rolled pastry, and also I somehow mislaid the thyme and had to dash into the garden and cut some more!]

But so far I have done six of the fifty recipes and all of them have come in at 33 minutes or less. So I am feeling a little frustrated when people keep telling me they “read an article in the paper that says the recipes don’t work in the time he says”. My experience is YES they doas long as you follow the instructions carefully.

We had a good conversation in the staffroom about the book – and one other staff member said she had managed them in the time- except when she had cooked the main course and dessert separately and not followed Jamie’s order of work. But we all agreed the recipes were very tasty.

deliaPeople often say “You can rely on Delia – if you follow her recipes exactly, they never go wrong” - well, I happen to feel the same way about Jamie.

But I am quite a speedy cook anyway – most days there isn’t time for ‘faffing about’ – and I usually find that I don’t have more than 40 minutes, often less, to sort out our evening meal, in between getting home from school preparing for the next day, and getting out to a meeting at church.

I am prone to rushing about in the kitchen scattering disaster and spring onions in my wake – and we do not have a dinner gong to summon people to eat, I just set off the Smoke Alarm!

Bob said this week [when we had guests present!] that I am a true Domestic Goddess. Then he rather spoiled it, by saying my role model is Shiva, Deity of Destruction!


Two good quotes from Jamie this week

“You should keep tomatoes out, in the warmth, not in the fridge – like my wife does” [poor Jules!]

“A proper pudding – after all, there are only so many days when you can offer the kids ‘fruit, yogurt or ice cream for dessert’”  - I just imagined Liz and Steph watching this and saying “His kids got offered ice cream sometimes?!”

fruit bowl

Jamie’s Equipment-  my mate at school said she doesn’t yet have a processor- so chopping stuff adds time for her. I have checked out his list, and I am fortunate to have all the things he suggests except a fancy garlic crusher. Currently I’m using a large, very sharp knife for crushing and chopping.

The other thing I don’t possess is a selection of large platters and wooden chopping boards for serving. My chopping boards are cheap plastic IKEA ones. Also I think I really should look for a small glass jug for salad dressings. Recent forays into charity shops have yet to yield any suitable candidates. Liz is not overkeen on the ‘serve it on a wooden board’ technique. She says she is waiting to see him try to serve SOUP like that!!!

Following my friend’s recommendation, I am considering doing the Mustard Chicken this weekend. Watch this space!

A Charmed Life

A number of my friends have recently acquired Pandora Bracelets


Some have a ‘complete’ one, others a ‘starter’ set to which they are adding beads at birthdays and Christmas etc.

[I asked my niece about them, but she said she was holding out for something from Tiffany’s – shrewd girl!]

I am not hankering after one - I have a mortgage instead! And anyway I have my own vintage charm bracelet which is very precious.

It was given to me 40 years ago when I was 16 by my Girls’ Brigade Captain. She was having a clear out, and decided she was never going to wear it any more. It had been a 21st birthday present from her sister – and every year her sister had bought her a couple more charms to mark significant events. I think it dates from around 1950 – which makes it over 60 years old.

I have added one charm – a tiny Eiffel Tower which Bob bought me when we toured France on the motorbike in 2006.

I stopped wearing the bracelet, as the charms were working loose and one came off once- although I found it almost immediately, I was afraid of further disasters. Last year, I was preaching on the passage in Luke 15 about the woman with the lost coin. I held up my bracelet and explained how I had been anxious when the charm came off, and I could identify with the distress of the lady in the story.

After the service, a friend came up and said she was doing a jewellery making course and would fix it for me. A few weeks later she returned it – all charms fixed, and the whole thing cleaned and sparkling [no charge – it is my gift, said my generous friend]. Since then I have worn it on a number of special occasions.


What is amazing is that although the charms were originally chosen for their special significance for my GB Captain, I can find a reason why I love each one too

Music Stave       

she was a music teacher -- I love leading worship

Edinburgh crest  

her holiday in Scotland -- our holiday in Scotland

Norfolk sailboat  

her holidays in Norfolk -- Cornerstones, our Norfolk home


her 2nd holiday in Scotland -- our 2nd holiday in Scotland

Coventry Cathedral  

holiday in Coventry -- my degree ceremony was held in the Cathedral

London Crest

her holiday in London -- we lived there once, my girls live there now

Viking ship

her Scandinavian holiday – all my IKEA stuff [rather contrived, sorry!]

Eiffel tower

my wonderful memories of that most romantic of cities

Now my bracelet has been repaired, I am pondering on whether to add any more charms. I quite fancy a little motorbike – and perhaps a thimble or sewing machine!

Do you have a special piece of jewellery?

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Write On!

I love writing – not simply putting thoughts into words which can be read by others via a keyboard, but the actual physical exercise of holding an implement and forming the letters onto a surface.

With a pencil on a cheap rough notepad

pencil notebook

With a piece of white “Cosmic Anti-Dust”chalk on a blackboard


With a ballpoint pen on a banana skin [go on, try it!]DSCF1169

With my finger in the condensation


With a Sharpie Marker [on just about anything!]


With a stick in the sand


But I especially love writing with a proper fountain pen. As a child I was fascinated by the bottle of Quink on my Dad’s desk. And yes, the ink was permanent [my Mum’s best tablecloth had a stain for years due to an accident whilst doing my homework]


Some years ago, Bob bought me a lovely grey “Core” fountain pen, made by the Rotring Company. It used standard cartridges – so was much less messy. And I lost it! I hunted and hunted and couldn’t find it. I struggled to find any shop selling these pens. Nobody seemed to stock them any more. So I bought a cheap cartridge pen for £1.20 from Wilkinsons [well, I had a huge tub of cartridges to use up]

Then this week, my darling husband gave me a belated Christmas gift. He had found as supplier of these pens in France. He ordered it – and it finally arrived this week…

Here is my lovely new pen


I shall look after it really carefully! And use it for writing important things.


What is your favourite way of putting things into words?

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Another Late Night Rant

The decisions taken at BBC Broadcasting House do not make sense to me this week

broadcasting house

A year ago, Haiti suffered a dreadful earthquake. At the time, I posted an encouraging story about how the BBC World Service was able to help a young student contact his mother in the USA to let her know he was alive [here]

haitian mother bbc 03 02 10[4]

Last Saturday, the BBC World Service began new programmes in the Creole language for the Haitians -  BBC World Service Director, Peter Horrocks, said

“We believe our new service in the Creole language will be a vital source of trusted information to Haitians at this time of crisis, as well as to the rescue and aid teams who are working so hard on the ground. “We have had lots of positive feedback that our broadcasts in English, French and Spanish have been appreciated on the ground.”

More information about all this here


This evening I was reading the BBC news website before I switch off and go to bed and saw this

The BBC World Service is to close five of its language services.

It is thought that about 650 jobs will be lost from a workforce of some 2,400. It is believed staff will be informed on Wednesday of the redundancies.

The Macedonian, Albanian and Serbian services will be axed, as will English for the Caribbean and Portuguese for Africa, in a bid to save £46m a year.

Check out the details of these cuts here

“These ferocious cuts to a valued national service are ultimately the responsibility of the coalition government, whose policies are destroying quality public services in the UK," said Jeremy Dear [general secretary of the NUJ]

It is only a few days since I posted about the amazing benefits which the Burmese people have gained, through the radios provided by Amnesty International.


I believe passionately in the value of radio to spread information – and I think this is an incredibly short-sighted move to cut these services

Peter Horrocks [the same guy who made statements last week – see above] says

“There is a need to make savings due to the scale of the cuts to the BBC World Service's grant-in-aid funding from the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and we need to focus our efforts in the languages where there is the greatest need and where we have the strongest impact."

I know the Government is having to make cuts – but I cannot see that reducing funding to the World Service is the right place for them. The cynic in me says “Well, they probably feel it doesn’t matter, because these broadcasts are not actually for British people, it is mostly foreigners who listen”

We have the best public radio in the world – and I have always been glad that the BBC has such a brilliant World Service. Terry Waite, Aung San Suu Kyi, and many others who have been in difficult situations abroad, have spoken of how the World Service was their lifeline, and gave them hope in dark days.

The BBC crest says “Nation shall speak peace unto nation…”

bbc crest

…but not in their own language, it seems…

Trivial Pursuits

what I learned this week

I love trivia – and soak up random facts like a sponge. This has been a particularly good week for such stuff, and I share some of it with you now. It may be useful for the next Pub Quiz – or give you an opportunity to astound your family or work colleagues if the conversation starts to flag!

  • Mr Incredible’s first name is Bob the incredibles
  • In England, we eat about 100grams of mussels per year

    per person [that’s about 5 of them] In Belgium, the average per capita is over 5kilo [that’s fifty times as much!] I must try and develop a liking for these – it will please Bob if I serve them more – and keep Hugh FW and Jamie O happy toomussels

  • To set up the controls for Bob’s stage lighting, you need a working knowledge** of binary arithmetic!PARcan

  • If you eat chocolate five times or more a week, you may be 57% less likely to have coronary heart disease than those who don’t [according to research in Boston, Mass.]bournville

  • The stockinged leg you see on that famous film poster for “The Graduate” [1967 starring Dustin Hoffman] graduate-poster is not that of his co-star Anne Bancroft – it is in fact the leg belonging to Linda Gray [aka Sue-Ellen in Dallas]ann bancroft graduate

linda gray dallas

  • The moving staircase which takes you to the next floor is called an alligator! I know this because the three year old next to me in a shop yesterday asked her mum if they could ride on the alligator! I think I shall add this word to my vocabulary forthwith  escalator alligaotr








[**an excuse to repeat my favourite, rather arcane, mathematician’s joke. "There are 10 sorts of people in the world - those who understand binary arithmetic, and those who don't"]