Thursday 30 June 2011

Manners Maketh Man

william of wykehamThis was the motto of William of Wykeham, who died just over 600 years ago. He was Bishop of Winchester, and founder of both Winchester College, and New College, Oxford. I learned this motto from Miss Holdforth- my teacher in 1963 . Every Friday, she had us laboriously copying out various mottoes and maxims, in our best copper-plate handwriting, to give us practice at all the loops and hooks of that script.


I thought about her today – a brilliant teacher from whom we learned so much more than just reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. She taught us about behaviour, and thinking of others.

I thought of her example of kindness and courtesy as I was reading about the email sent from Carolyn Bourne [60] to her future daughter in law, Heidi Withers [29] She was generally condemning the girl for her bad manners. Heidi showed her friends, and now it has gone viral – eliciting comments in the press all round the world!


You can read all the details on the BBC website here and here. I can’t help feeling there have been displays of bad manners all round. Maybe Heidi wasn’t the model daughter-in-law she was hoping for – but that doesn’t excuse Carolyn’s incredibly critical words – and has the situation been helped by the way Heidi has shared it with us all?

Is this going to help put the marriage on a firm footing? Heidi and Freddie have been ‘an item’ for a number of years – but this is not at all helpful as the basis of a solid relationship for the young couple. Maybe Freddie’s relationship with step-mum isn’t that good either [I notice he is wisely staying silent about it all] Has she already sent him sniffy emails, do you think, saying how uncouth she finds Heidi?

I want to say to Carolyn  [altho I realise she’s step-mum not mum]

Get real, woman! EVERY mother at some point* feels that there is NOBODY who is good enough to be the girlfriend/boyfriend/partner/spouse of their child. But at 29, your child is adult enough to know what sort of person they want to share their life with. So let them get on with it. YOU should not expect others to be just like you, YOU aren’t perfect either! Hurtful emails do not help anyone. Just try and be a little more thoughtful in future.

I want to say to Heidi

Marriage is a WONDERFUL arrangement, given by God, bringing joy to the couple, stability to families, and strength to society. But it is incredibly HARD WORK sometimes. Remember it is FREDDIE you are marrying, not his stepmum, or the rest of his family. Be loyal to him, and keep any family disharmony to yourselves, don’t make it public. Just try and be a little more thoughtful in future.

I just feel the whole business is incredibly sad – and it may all end in tears…

split cake

[*personal disclaimer – I got over this feeling quite a while ago! I am grateful that my girls have grown up in a home where they’ve had a brilliant loving Dad, and they’re are wise enough to recognise which qualities to look for in a relationship, and I hope and pray that when they are my age, they’ll be as happy we are]

30 Days Of Creativity Complete!


A massive sense of achievement that every day this month, I can honestly say I have created something.

Today is being spent creating a space for my best mate Chris who is visiting next week – as is usual when Holiday Club and School Plays are in the offing, and crafting and sewing is going on round the clock, the bed in Steph’s room [and the floor and the desk] get covered in bits and pieces.

I am determined to get it straight well before Chris arrives. It is all too much of a bombsite at the moment to photograph [I am so looking forward to her visit and do not want to frighten her into cancelling!] So here is another picture instead -

DSCF1871At our penultimate sewing club of the term, one young lady finished her shoulder bag.

It is reversible – and inside is the plain turquoise, with a navy and white printed pocket. She is justly proud of her efforts.

We were all doing different projects last night – pincushions, pennie pockets, and fabric flowers. I may post a tutorial for the flowers at some point.

And then I came home and ran for over 2 miles on the treadmill. Tired but happy!

flaming june

It was warm here again on Wednesday – although not as hot as Monday.

Here’s “Flaming June” by Frederick Leighton.

Falling asleep in the sun like this is not a good idea. I hope she’s wearing sun cream with a high SPF!

I always wear a hat if I go out in the sun or I get headaches.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Move Over, Imelda Marcos!


Creativity isn’t just about making new things, it is about making the best of what you have, and creating a better environment. I saw this great idea in Real Simple magazine recently.

lilly's ottoman

It’s a Lilly Pulitzer shoe storage ottoman – holding 16 pairs in pockets round the edge, with space for bags or more shoes in the centre.

At only $599 [yes, that’s right, £375] what a bargain! But I did think it was a good way of keeping shoes out of the way. I am very fond of shoes. I buy about a pair a year – but rarely spend much.

The trouble is that I keep them forever. I have some that came here when I moved from London nearly 16 years ago. All still wearable.

shoe store

I have a couple of these canvas hanging shoe stores, which were both in my wardrobe. But the wardrobe is relatively narrow, and they took up too much of the hanging space. So I just had one in there, leaving many shoes “homeless”

shoe store 2I got some lightweight plastic boxes and put my fancy stilettos in them. But this has not been 100% successful. However I do have a small, old ottoman full of sheets. So I took the sheets out and put both the hanging stores in the ottoman. They stood happily on their sides – although I lost 6 of the ‘cubbies’.  Result!



The only problem is that I am afraid that I have almost as many shoes as Mrs Marcos – and there is not room for them all in the 14 pockets. [We won’t even mention the motorbike boots]


lillyP shift deliaI am sure I can find somewhere to store these softer canvas casuals – and I am pleased with the extra wardrobe space. Should I fill it with a Lilly Pulitzer dress, do you think?

I love the colourful splashy prints, and the simple retro shift shape. Beautifully cool if the weather stays so very hot. Not so keen on LP’s prices though. Two more tasks on the to-do list

1- Tidy the Airing Cupboard

2 – Re-cover the ottoman



Bind Us Together

Bob returned from some Pastoral Visiting yesterday with a carrier bag of goodies for me. A friend is decluttering prior to downsizing from house to bungalow [must go and take lessons from her before I retire to Cornerstones] and sent back with Bob some haberdashery and fabric bits. The bag included yards of bias binding, and this wonderful pack of Woolworths mending material.


Another friend on Sunday gave me a carrier of bits – including a bag of Cross Stitch kits. Just when I had finished all those other mini-kits, some more come along…


I hope I have finished all the teddies now. The borrowed sewing machine is going back to church tonight for Sewing Club, and I shall concentrate on hand-stitching for a bit.

Thank you again to the people who are sponsoring me. Sadly I cannot run and stitch at the same time, or I am sure I would!

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Keep On Running!


Following so many kind comments on, and off, the blog, I have set up an on-line giving page here

The more people who know I am doing this, the more responsibility I feel to do it well!

Confession Time

When I met with Floss and co the other weekend, we talked about the fact that there are some things which we all keep private and do not blog about.

“There is a time to speak, and a time to keep silent”


When we purchased Cornerstones, in Spring 2009, I didn’t feel able to say anything about it until it had all gone through. Not for any superstitious reason – I just wanted it to be all OK before kind people asked questions.

Because that is what friends do “How are you getting on?” “Is the sale going through OK?” and the like. And if there are hitches, it can get quite wearing giving explanations, trying to be always positive. Similarly with health issues. You don’t always want to shout it from the rooftops. Too Much Information!! echoes a voice somewhere.

heart_thumb[8]However I have been keeping silent about something and now feel confident enough to admit to it. For the last eight weeks I’ve been following a strict regime of diet and exercise, on the advice of my GP.

I was having really bad reactions to the statin medication I was on for high cholesterol - to the point where it was very painful even to walk upstairs. So he suggested I stopped taking them to see what happened. I felt instantly better- but my cholesterol levels went very high again. So he suggested I spent a few months trying to reduce my weight and cholesterol level by means of diet and exercise.

That all began eight weeks ago

gi diet jbm_thumb[2]Bob very generously offered to join my new fitness routine, and diet with me. On our return from Blackpool we began to diet on May 3rd, following the GI plan [using Jennie Brand Miller’s book]. That’s worked well for us, as we can fit in the ‘social eating’ of Church Fellowship Lunches and Funeral Teas which are a frequent part of our life.

A friend at school mentioned a 6K charity run which her Running Club was organising, so I signed up. Bob’s brother – on the point of moving house, generously lent us his treadmill on long term loan. Steph [who runs a lot] sent me a training plan. And now I feel I have actually made some progress, I am sharing it with you.

fatlady_thumb[7]I started at 11stone3 [157lbs] which for my height made my BMI 31.7 – so I was clinically obese. I am now down to 10st 5 [145lb] my BMI is 29.3 so I am now in the overweight category. But my average weight loss is 1½lb a week, which I am pleased about.

And as for the fitness- I’m the girl who asked at school for extra maths so she could get out of hockey [the Head refused, and said she would allow that to anyone in the school except me!] Now I am running at least 1½ miles almost every day on the treadmill. When we went to Cornerstones at Half Term, I ran every day round the Norfolk country lanes. On Monday evening I did my first run round the village here [1.9 miles, according to the wonderful Mapometer site] I was lobster coloured at the end of it.

And in two weeks time, I shall be joining the Desford Striders in an all female event, to “Run For Your Man” in aid of the Prostate Cancer Charity.

So that is what I have been doing lately – and now I can actually believe myself that I am making progress, I am telling you!

Don’t expect a regular declaration of weight loss – I am not into the Slimming Club Mentality where someone announces to the room that “Angela has lost 2lbs since last Wednesday, well done, dear”.

Floss made my day by saying that I was slimmer than she’d expected when she met me for the first time – and friends here have commented that you can see the difference. Bob is losing weight even faster than I am, and it is really noticeable. The other Sunday I said “Did you get any comments on this morning’s sermon?” and he replied “Yeah, a few – but mostly people remarked on my weight loss!” Folk at church have even stopped offering us biscuits now!

treadmill_thumb[3]I have a long way to go – with slow and steady dieting like this, and regular exercise, I should hit my target weight around October. But it’s manageable, and I am feeling much better and so much fitter. Someone at church said she realised that her extra weight was actually getting in the way of her ability to serve God, and so went on a diet. I can see her point.

Don’t expect as many recipes for puddings and cakes on the blog for a bit either. When I pass important milestones, with both weight and exercise, I’ll let you know – but you won’t get daily updates.

And thankyou, especially, to the friends who have been ‘in the loop’ who have been such an encouragement already.

  • My SIL Marion, who has shared some of her Slimming World recipes with me

  • Chris, who invited us for a meal – and thoughtfully found and cooked a British Heart Foundation recipe [a lovely chicken dish]

  • Elisabeth, who took me for coffee but did NOT have cake herself in order assist my resolve to avoid temptation

  • Steph, Simon and Lee who have been incredibly encouraging about the whole running thing, with lots of tips

  • Frank, for the loan of the treadmill [Which is a Milestone 6200HR]

  • Friends at church who have signed up to sponsor my run

  • Liz, who has made lots of really helpful suggestions about food [I have borrowed one of her GI recipe books]

  • Most of all, thanks to Bob, who keeps me going with frequent reminders of the progress being made and my changing shape!

So now you all know - I’ll let you know how things go…

Wait And See!


I have been very creative today, but the items involved are gifts, and so I cannot reveal them just yet!

They will appear on the blog in the next couple of weeks though!

Another Tesco Rant!


Saw this sign again** yesterday and just had to take a photo. Was sorely tempted to give them a piece of MY mind but couldn’t find any spare assistants.

On the subject of poor English, I read that the government’s latest attempts to raise standards in teaching will “Ban would-be teachers from unlimited resits in basic English and maths tests that form part of training courses. They will give them just three attempts to pass – potentially affecting one in 10 trainees who take the numeracy exam at least four times.”

I am horrified to think that 10% of our new teachers need at least 4 attempts to pass a basic maths or English test. I have looked at sample questions online – and honestly feel that if a graduate cannot answer them correctly and pass the tests then I really wouldn’t want them teaching any children in my family!

It was a credit to the staff that the children had low levels of … the run-up to the tests.

[select answer from anxsiety, anxiety, angxiety, anxciety]

Teachers organised activities for three classes of
24 pupils and four classes of 28 pupils.
What was the total number of pupils involved

Note that in the ‘spelling’ test it is actually multiple choice – they simply have to recognise the right word from a given list! And overall they have to score just 60% to pass. I am turning into a Seriously Grumpy Old Woman about this, I think.

Maybe all the would-be teachers who cannot pass the tests are getting jobs in Tesco?

[**I first noticed it on May 9th, just after our Exploding Washing Machine debacle – but had no camera with me seven weeks ago. If it is still on display next time I go in, I may ask to see the Manager!]

Monday 27 June 2011

If You Can’t Stand The Heat…

I just do not cope at all well with this sticky heat – my sympathies are with Catriona who has been suffering much worse than I. It is exactly two years this week since I posted about being Too Darn Hot.

One positive thing – the Plaster Plaques are drying faster. Another good thing - the sewing machine has been despatched to Eccles, and the borrowed one has been working extremely well.

But I am only operating at half speed.

Feeling as hot as Kate Hepburn in African Queen [I shall follow her wise example – get rid of the gin, and drink lots of reviving tea]

it’s showing at a cinema in Eastleigh, Hampshire tonight!

Decided that it is nearly as hot as it was when I went to Seville with Steph, so our meal tonight was a tapas selection…


chorizo, black and green olives, hummus, green salad of romaine, cucumber,  spring onion, celery, rice salad, tomatoes and roasted red peppers [sprinkled with greek basil]

and finally some Scottish oatcakes – which have nothing to do with tapas but are delicious spread with hummus! It was quick and easy and just enough to provide two platefuls of cool food – no slaving over a hot stove for hours. And I had such fun arranging all my little dishes on the Lazy Susan.

[btw - why is it called a “Lazy Susan”? I can think of three Susans in our church and they are all incredibly industrious women who work really hard]

Find A Lobster And Take His Hand…


…dance together along the strand

[the Lobster Dance]

The brief for this one was quite specific

“the dancers need to be able to get into costume quickly. They’ll already be wearing black tee-shirts and leggings. They need some sort of sleeves with dangly fringes to pull on for the Lobster Dance. Can you make them in greeny/bluey/aqua/sparkly sort of stuff, please? A sort of sea/seaweed/waves theme?”


And I pondered on this, and realised I had lots of sparkly blue scraps – and I even had a load of green sleeves [left over from all those sweatshirts from the other school] A bit of modification and I have made eight pairs of snug fitting sleeves.

I reversed some strips so the sparkliness shows on both sides.

I have also made eight sets in red/brown/orange colours.

They’re for the dancers to wear in the Caucus Race [I love that song]

I think that’s it for this year’s costumes. Unless they need a Dodo.

tenniel dodp

Back to the last few teddy sweatshirts…

Habitat Has-Been

logoSo, Habitat is no more – 47 years after Terence Conran launched his store. I found myself thinking about the bits and pieces we have acquired over the years.

My first Habitat item came from Coventry in 1975, a birthday gift.

DSCF1861It was actually meant to be a toast rack – but I have only ever used it as a letter rack. Still in use here.

When we first got married and had a tiny flat we got some red and white flooring, a red wire grid to hang our kitchen utensils, and four red folding chairs, and cherry fabric for the curtains, from the store in Watford.

red chair

The chairs are still going strong, and live at Cornerstones now. Then we acquired loads of pine bedroom furniture [mostly dirt cheap, secondhand, through the local free paper] The range was called Andy and we got two cupboards, a wardrobe, one dressing table, and two chests of drawers for £50! Now [mostly] at Cornerstones! We got our dining table and sideboard from the Habitat Warehouse at Wallingford [for a very low price, as it had been discontinued]

andy drwers

dining suite

Then there was the ‘bistro’ garden set – two folding chairs and a table [a sale buy in 2000, just £20 the set] TrĂ©s chic, I thought!

habitat blue chair

habitat garden table

There was cheap ‘Primula’ crockery too – mostly broken now, and white paper lampshades, and candles and candlesticks [long before IKEA sold us all those tealights]

And we had just one wedding present from Habitat – from my chief bridesmaid, and favourite cousin, Gill – who bought us a wok. It’s huge and came with a scoop and a stirring spatula thing.wok

And our friends all thought it was a weird gift – but it is still being used, and we still have the tools!

There’s probably more stuff here -

but it does seem that the Habitat stuff from the 70’s and early 80’s has lasted well.

However, in 1987, we discovered IKEA – and their prices suited our pocket better. Sorry Sir Terence- we liked your style, but couldn’t afford it! But our home will still have Habitat pieces for a good few years yet, I think.

Do you have a favourite piece of Habitat at home?

Sunday 26 June 2011

Going Round In Circles

So my engagement ring has been fixed [thank you Greens]



And now it is beautifully round again, and sparkling as new.

But I have a dilemma, and I cannot make a decision – the ring is old and worn very thin in places. The jeweller said that if I catch it and bend it out of shape again, it may actually break and become irreparable.

I’ve worn this ring almost every day since September 1978. These past few weeks without it, I have felt bereft [it was the same when I left it at home during our motorbike camping holidays] I kept looking at my finger and missing the ring. I know I still had my gold wedding band – but I really missed wearing my engagement ring.

A few years back, some smart jewellers introduced the idea of a ring worn on the 3rd finger of the right hand, and designated it ‘an empowerment ring’ – so I decided at that point to start wearing my Mum’s engagement ring. It fits very snugly there. I tried yesterday replacing my engagement ring with Mum’s on my left hand, but it is too loose and slips off too easily.

Bob suggested I just wear my engagement ring on ‘special occasions’  - but I am convinced that if I keep taking it on and off, I shall lose it.

Do I continue to wear my ring constantly, and run the risk of breaking it for good?

Or do I just wear it sometimes, and run the risk of losing it?

What would you do?

Near And Far


Do check out Jessica’s poem, click here

Holiday Bible Club And Heaven

There are so many parallels when you think about it

Heaven has

Love, and joy


Special Clothes – white robes

Food – the bridal feast of the Lamb

Holiday Bible Club has

Much Love, Joy and Laughter

Worship – including some very crazy songs

Special Clothes – Thursday is Dress-Up Day

Food – drinks and biscuits each morning, and also the Barbecue Night

30daysofcreativityHBC also has crafts – and I wondered, is there also creativity in Heaven? The Creator is there, so maybe there will be opportunity to create [but please Lord, no Plaster of Paris!]

This morning in Church I shall be reminding people of two verses in 1 Peter. Both important as we prepare ourselves for heaven.

The first being “Desire the milk of the Word, that you may grow in your salvation” and the second is “Be holy, as I am holy”

These verses are also important as we prepare for HBC.

bottle tops

I need around 2500 plastic milk bottle tops – so that means I need the congregation to desire lots of milk  and bring me the tops.

Also, I need volunteers to drill through each one of the tops, and thus make them holey!

Saturday 25 June 2011

Don’t Panic!

corporal jones


My Main Sewing Machine is not working properly! I only have straight stitch – no zigzag- nothing fancy. Bob and I looked at it carefully, rethreaded, and removed and cleaned out the bobbin case etc [and puffed lots of air through the works to shift all the green sweatshirt fluff] – but it still refuses to stitch properly on the right hand side. Instead of 3-step zigzag, it only does a 1½step!

janome 25222

It does need a service – last summer I sent the embroidery machine and the overlocker to be serviced – but lack of finance meant I didn’t send this one. It will have to go off to those helpful people at Bambers first thing on Monday morning.


And I may have to borrow one of the Sewing Club machines for a few days to get the remaining costumes finished. At least I have that option – all is not lost! Don’t Panic, Mr Mainwaring, said Cpl Jones

What Will Become Of Me Now, I Wonder?

aliceI can’t imagine what I should do

Is this a magical spell I’m under?

Things keep happening that hardly seem true

[more Out Of The Ark/Alice here]

Making the Alice dresses were easy compared to the MH jacket. I used a New Look pattern from 1992 – previously used for Liz and Steph [and used here], and a vintage Simplicity apron pattern given to me by a church member [costing only 3 shillings originally]



I had to make two dresses- the girls playing Alice are quite different sizes.

When I took them in for a fitting on Friday the girls were incredibly appreciative. “I hadn’t realised they’d be this good – I really feel like Alice now. Thank you so much!” one girl said.

When school children are that polite, I am really happy to be involved in the costume making.

 Two useful tips

  1. Don’t bother with zips – a 6” opening at the back plus button and loop fastening is quicker and cheaper – and easier to adjust if used another year.
  2. Iron your pattern pieces before AND after use – they will fit back into the envelope so much better! I forgot last time



5 days and counting…