Sunday 31 July 2011

Everything Will Be All Right

Over at French Village Life, Elizabeth posted yesterday about the concert at her church – entitled “Music To Free the Soul”. The music came from the Callington Community Gospel Choir [website here]

As we approach Holiday Bible Club Week – which is in turn both exhilarating and exhausting, full of burdens as well as blessings, I was particularly encouraged by this CCGC song…

Joshua I:9

Saturday 30 July 2011

Just Jammin’

The best laid plans and all that. Yesterday afternoon Bob announced that the bottom of the church car park was covered little cherry plums – the trees were dropping their fruit in profusion. I could not bear the thought of all those cars driving in tomorrow and squishing them – so we went down and in less than half an hour had three full containers. There are loads more ripe for picking from the tree, and picking up from the ground – but there is only so much space in the freezer, and it would be greedy to take all the crop for ourselves.

But I was unbelievably tired in the evening – so I made Saturday’s to-do list, had a bath and went to bed at 9pm. I thought this was a sensible move! Bob went on working on Holiday Club stuff. At 10.30pm I remembered I need to thaw some chicken stock – so I went downstairs and removed it from the freezer.

DSCF1839This morning I intended to make a batch of carrot soup, make more Eqyptian plaques and do some other craft prep. This is where it all went slightly wrong. I had some stock in the fridge to use up, some thawed stock from  the freezer, and lots of carrots.

WRONG! the defrosted stock turned out to be stewed apples! I had broken my own rule about ‘always label food when it goes into the freezer’

DSCF2036Rethink the plans – make slightly less soup, and use some of the plums with the apples to make a batch of mixed fruit jam. Prepared the carrots and got that pan simmering away. Sorted out the fruit and put that in another pan.

Notice the Sugar Thermometer bought at Trago Mills last year finally getting some use! I use my pressure cooker pan for jam making – one day perhaps I’ll get a proper jam pan!

Off to the garage to get some jars. Then I remembered that I gave away all my ‘regular’ sized jamjars in April, to a teaching colleague. She and I worked with her class to make pretty tealight holders for her wedding reception. I did find an assortment of random sized jars. I washed and sterilised them, and the jam bubbled away.


It was an amazing pink colour. I got all my kitchen jobs done, made more plaques [whilst answering the phone and taking still more bookings for next week]

Then we had lunch [the soup was lovely, if I say so myself] and I potted up my jam. 

I shall work through last night’s to-do list later – when we get back from this afternoon’s Garden Party.


Lots of jars of jam for the winter months, and two lots of soup.

And now the sun is shining, and once I have finished listening to Baldi on the Radio solving a murder mystery, I shall get changed into a pretty frock and go to the Party.

I shall need my sunhat!

Summer Holiday

summerholidayI first encountered Una Stubbs back in 1963, on that double decker bus with Cliff Richard and co…

Then about twenty years later, as a young Mum, I found Una’s craft books in our little library in Bexleyheath – In Stitches, and A Stitch In Time.

They were great books, with lots of ideas. Using her book as inspiration, I did a little cross stitch picture of a Gloucester Old Spot Pig [US’s bro-in-law, Joe Henson founded the Cotswold Farm Park – and we’d visited it on holiday]I wonder where that stitching went?

stubbs in stitchesstubbs stitch in time

And now she is back on our screens as Mrs Hudson, in ‘Sherlock’, with those talented young men, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. She’s looking a little older now [well she is 74!]

sherlock stubbs hudson

The current ‘Sherlock’ on Wednesday nights is a re-run of the first series- I understand there are new episodes on the way. I do like Benedict [but then his mother is Wanda Ventham – popular with one member of my family since the 60’s!] And my Liz now works in Baker Street, so that’s another link.


I must try and find Una’s books in a charity shop somewhere – and do some more summer holiday stitching…

Please Take Your Seats

In one room at the church there are some old, padded chairs [not sure of the exact age – but 20 years plus] and they are looking the worse for wear – the vinyl is ripped, the foam is showing through.


Bob noticed the orange plastic, and had a flash of inspiration – underneath the hideous mustard, are they Robin Day Polyprop Chairs?


You can find out more about these chairs on my post here from February last year.

Well, we fetched one chair home, and Bob got a Stanley knife [that’s a box-cutter if you are American] and a pair of pliers [no idea what Americans call them. Pliers I think!]

And I fetched a black rubbish sack for the debris. He set to work…


And ended up with this…


The yellow marks are bits of foam still stuck to the seat. And we thought we’d solved our problem – we just needed to apply some sort of solvent to remove the sticky bits of foam, and we’d have two dozen ‘new’ chairs without having to spend any money.This would keep the Church Treasurer happy. But things are rarely as straightforward as that. The padding had been held in place with rows of staples - which had come right through the plastic. Bob pulled them out with pliers.


Sadly all the little holes have sharp, scratchy edges, and there are splits in the plastic – it is like a row of perforation along the front. It would probably hurt a child with bare legs, and ruin a pair of tights!

So after half an hour of work, we reluctantly concluded that this was not going to be the great thrifty project we thought it was!

What a shame. Three cheers chairs for Bob, for trying, anyway.

Friday 29 July 2011

Grin And Bear It!


Happy to report that the sewing machine is now running splendidly [thank you Bambers] and the Barnaby Bear for my colleague Sian now has a pair of striped pyjamas.

He also has his school uniform [sweatshirt and black trousers] plus rolled-up sleeping bag, small bag for storing pjs, and large bag to hold BB and all his luggage.


And just as I was finishing this project the doorbell rang. There stood a man with a carrier bag, enquiring if he was at the right house, only he had a teddy bear to deliver!

I assured him he was in the right place, and I am the Bear Lady.


Yes, that is a red sweat shirt – because the owner is best friends with a boy at ‘my’ school, and wondered if I could possibly sort out his bear, even though he was at the school in this village!

Where will it all end?

Meanwhile we continue to get very last minute Holiday Club bookings, so in between sewing things, I am producing still more plaster of Paris Egyptian plaques. White dust everywhere!

It’s Back– Go Baby, Go!

Janome MS2522

Just after 8am, the courier brought back my sewing machine. Bob suggested I spent time today doing some sewing to check it is all OK now. Pomona is having a phenomenal giveaway this week [here] Busy dreaming of the things I could create if I won this little bit of kit!

pomonas gobaby giveaway

However there is a Barnaby Bear waiting for some new pyjamas and a sleeping bag – so that is today’s activity ‘sewn up’.

Thirty Years On…


Do you remember that Royal Wedding? Where were you that day? [The BBC website has a feature about it here]

I was on my first ever holiday abroad – three days in Paris with Bob, just before he left his work in electronics to become a Student minister. That evening we had a memorable meal here…

outside chartiers

Chartier is a great restaurant in Montmartre, dating back to 1896. It is relatively inexpensive,and the tables are in long rows.



inside chartiers

When you go in, you are seated in the next available space – so you find yourself engaging with complete strangers in conversation over dinner! The waiter writes your order on the paper tableclothtablecloth.

There are numbered wooden racks along the walls – in a bygone age, regular  customers had a place to keep their napkins!


One day, maybe, Bob and I will get back to Chartier for another meal.

Thursday 28 July 2011

Making The Most Of M&S


After taking a communion service at a local Care Home, Bob and I zipped across to M&S this afternoon. They were having one of their ‘events’ and had sent me an invitation – plus a voucher to spend in the “Home” department. They recently sent me a voucher to spend on “Clothing and Home” as well. So what’s in the bag?


First, a bowtie for Bob – so he can dress like James Bond* next week [£5 ‘outstanding value’] Then a pair of silicone spatulas [spatulae?] because my wooden ones have split and been discarded and I wanted to replace them [£4]. Also you will notice two plastic ‘disposable’ goblets [they were giving out orange juice and red wine to their guests, along with ‘vegetable crisps’ and cheese straws] I always keep these [free] goblets as they are useful for small floral table decorations. And finally a lock’n’lock type box. [£1]

That's £5 + £4 + £1 = £10

I said I was only going to get genuine L&L boxes from now on, but I needed to get this one – I felt obliged to spend the full £10 so I could use my two £5 vouchers. All this at no cost to me. I am so smug.

Thrifty shoppers like me do nothing for the profits of M&S do we?

d craig bond*Bob is a spy in the Holiday Club Drama, and having been unsuccessful in his attempt to borrow a trenchcoat, he has opted for the suave Daniel Craig look![although DC’s bowtie is a properly tied one!]

Apple Of My Eye

Is it just me, or do other people enjoy polishing the apples in the fruit bowl so they are all red and shiny and tempting?


There are so many lovely fruits on sale right now – whether you shop at Sainsbury’s or the market

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries-
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries--
All ripe together, in summer weather.

from Goblin Market by Christina Rosetti.

Here’s Arthur Rackham’s illustration for her poem



You can tell that Holiday Bible club starts on Monday

midnight oil

midnight oil2

Latin lucubration-, lucubratio study by night, work produced at night, from lucubrare to work by lamplight; akin to Latin luc-, lux [First Known Use: 1595]

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Three Cheers For The Zeer!

No, I hadn’t heard of a zeer pot either until today. I was on my knees again – defrosting the freezer this time – when the post came. It was a flyer from “Practical Action” [formerly known as Intermediate Technology, the charity founded by Eric Schumacher, the ‘Small Is Beautiful’ guy]

Their Harvest Appeal this year [entitled ‘Hitting Hunger Hard’] is for Sudan, and lists three projects that PA are carrying out in that region. Here’s the info on one of them – the Zeer Pot

practical action zeer potIn the heat of Sudan, food doesn’t stay fresh for long. Tomatoes go off in just two days. After four days carrots and okra are rotten. For poor families in North Darfur and Blue Nile State, without any means of preserving their crops, this can lead to hunger and even starvation. The situation is especially grave for those most vulnerable like children and elderly family members.

One ingenious solution is the zeer pot: a simple fridge made of local materials. It consists of one earthenware pot set inside another, with a layer of wet sand in between. As the moisture evaporates, it cools the inner pot, keeping up 12kg of produce fresh for up to three weeks. Fruit, vegetables, water… The zeer pot keeps them all fresher for longer – providing much needed help to starving families.

A zeer pot makes an incredible difference  to food preservation in Sudan. For many families, it can mean the difference between potential starvation and having enough food to feed themselves.

Jawahir Eisa Mohmed says ‘Just one day after harvest our vegetables were spoiled by the heat. Now this clay refrigerator is changing things for the better’

Practical Action is Technology challenging poverty

Simple–but brilliant!

As I sorted out my bags of frozen peas, and blocks of frozen chicken stock, I realised how easy it is for us to take our fridges and freezers for granted – if you can, please send a donation to Practical Action, to help a mother in Sudan be able to provide food for her family.

Mosaic Mnemonic


I decided that before Holiday Bible Club starts, I really ought** to memorise the Plagues of Egypt in the right order. So here’s the mnemonic I’ve made up.

Recently, FRightened Girls Forgot Plagues, But Had Learned Diligently From Disaster.

which stands for

  • River turned to blood
  • FRogs
  • Gnats
  • Flies
  • Pestilence [livestock dying]
  • Boils
  • Hailstones
  • Locusts
  • Darkness
  • Firstborn Die

Notice that there are 3 beginning with f – but everyone knows the firstborn come last – and so I made sure the cue for FRogs began with FR as well – then the other F must be flies. And you al

[**why? If I have managed for 50+ years without knowing the order off by heart, does it really matter now? I suppose it is because I never want to stop learning – especially learning Bible stuff]

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Has PomPom Been To Putney?

Having recently discovered that the great Gertrude Jekyll didn’t start serious gardening till she was in her 50s, I have been encouraged to pursue my horticultural efforts.

So here are some pictures of progress thus far…




In April, Chris gave me a kit from M&S for my birthday – to grow sweet peas in a bucket. Bucket, compost and seeds provided.

Above right, you see the bucket in June, sprouting lots of green foliage.

This week, the first flower has bloomed, with promise of others to follow. Fabulous colours!

So this one has worked!

I mentioned before my pea shoots on the windowsill – well, I moved them outside and transplanted them – and now have a few pods growing – so we may have some fresh peas to pick there soon



I also had a couple of pots of herbs- bought on offer in Sainsbury's, and I transplanted half of each, and they are outside too.


Mint and Greek basil – both really thriving – we are already enjoying them adding extra flavour to our meals. I was given two ‘yellow pepper’ plants after the school fete. Lots of lush greenery here


Hoping that those funny little buds will turn into yellow peppers one day. They started off with just two leaves each.

DSCF2009I have had a rosemary bush for years – in fact, I started with one in a pot when Bob was at College, before Steph was born. I planted it in the garden, and managed to get friends to take cuttings for me twice when we moved house, and I brought some rosemary here which originated with that first pot plant.

Now I have managed to root some cuttings by myself and will be planting it in the Cornerstones garden soon.

DSCF2011All of this has been a great encouragement to me – however the fig has been quite pathetic this year and lost all its leaves and baby figlets. You can’t win ‘em all.

The tomato plant [25p, Scouts Rummage Sale] has grown to a massive five feet in height.

But it only has TWO tomatoes. We’re doing something wrong there, I think!


The gardens in Putney are beautifully tended, I noticed last weekend.[Although I suspect many of the wealthier residents pay someone else to do their weeding and pruning for them] In one avenue, only a stone’s throw from the tube station, there are trees along the pavement, and people have planted flowers in the earth around their roots. One tree in particular reminded me of PomPom. Steph said “Mum, you have to see the little door in the tree. You will probably want to photograph it!” And sure enough, there was a cute little fairy door. It is definitely the sort of thing PomPom would create for her grandchildren, don’t you think? [click here]


So I will continue with my attempts at gardening, as this looks like being the most successful year to date. If I can do it, anyone can!


Have you noticed how there are ‘fashions’ for using particular prefixes? Just lately, it has been PRO – particularly on toothpaste

pro argin

with pro-argin technology


and pro-namel


and pro-relief

pro expert

and pro-expert

Apple have got the i-thing sewn up [but did you hear about the pirate who couldn’t afford an iPad? he had to have an eye-patch instead]

Then on Friday, Steph and I saw something to add to the great list of e-things out there in the market place. When we visited the ladies loo at Sands, they actually had one of these for your baby…


…fixed to the wall was an e-changer. The mind boggles!