Friday 30 November 2012

Not Lost In The Darkness!

Really looking forward to sharing worship with Rend Collective tonight! [here] This seems appropriate for dark November nights

Thursday 29 November 2012


back in the old days…

I have been singing this song all day. Using the sewing machines, they all seemed rather ‘fluffed up’ [this time of year lots of projects involving fleece and felt create rather a lot of dust and debris inside]


So I borrowed Bob’s air duster, and puff! puff! blew it all away in seconds [the only sort of dusting I really enjoy] I can really recommend getting one of these for keeping the bobbin area of a regular machine [and the innards of an overlocker] clean and fresh. Lots of places sell them [but don’t let them charge you more than a fiver- it’s only air after all!]

HobNobbing With The Clergy!

Bob reminded me that this morning he has a group of local ministers coming round for a meeting [coffee and biscuits required]. Slight panic - no biscuits in the house! I remembered that the MSE Forum had an easy recipe for Hobnob-type biscuits. I checked it out – and it required simple ingredients already in the cupboard. So I made a batch. Using my 1” ice cream scoop to portion the mix, I got 61 biscuits spread out on 3 baking sheets. One broke whilst being removed [cook’s perk!] but I reckon 5 dozen biscuits is good going! [Thanks to Twink at MSE for this one]


I priced up my ingredients and added a bit for fuel etc [although I was heating up the oven for something else] and my cost for the batch came in at 90p – for 900g. Best price in the supermarkets is £1 for 300g.

Tasty, easy, and very economical. Here’s the recipe – do try it.

8oz sr flour
8oz sugar
8oz porridge oats
8oz margarine
1tbsp golden syrup
1tbsp hot water
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Mix the flour, oats and sugar, melt margarine, syrup and water in a pan. Stir in bicarb and add to dry mix.
Then mix well and make into smallish balls which you then put on a greased tray and flatten slightly with a fork. Put in the oven at 180ÂșC for 15 mins... and cool on the tray. The aim is to get them golden in the oven not brown.

I am not leaving all sixty biscuits out for the Revs to eat.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

The Name’s Bond…


Let the skyfall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together

As Bob’s diary for December appears to have something virtually every day until Christmas [including Mondays] we treated ourselves to trip to ‘Skyfall’ on Monday, as it was his last day off for ages. Our friends Graham and Jonathan were quite right – we really enjoyed it!


I have warned Bob not to ride his bike** in his best grey suit. You notice that Daniel Craig’s choice is a Honda too. [It is a modified CRF 250 R motocrosser, which was recently auctioned for Children in Need and raised a fabulous £101,400]

skyfallqmugI will not give away any plot spoilers in case you have not seen it yet. Great performances from DC, plus Dame Judi, Rory Kinnear and Albert Finney. Not so sure about Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton Wykeham Fiennes [that’s probably just me…I know others really like him!]

Ben Whishaw made a believable, geeky, young Q – and did not make any attempt to copy Desmond Llewellyn or John Cleese, but rather took a fresh approach to the Gadget Creator. I loved his Scrabble mug [but ‘Q’ is worth 10, an ‘A’ mug sadly only scores 1!]

The film is shot in a number of locations – many in London, but all round the world too [read about the sites used here] I shall mention Chris Lyons, in the credits for ‘special effects, teeth’ – there were lots of clever special effects, but that one was amazing! I did get a little sidetracked early on – I am sure ‘M’ picked up her coat and walked away without bending to retrieve her bag, but was clearly carrying it as she left the room. Now I am getting really geeky!

If you like the other Bond films, you’ll like this one!

**recently reprieved, we will not have to sell it!

PIF, ARK And Other TLAs**


My famous friend Froogs – now a regular contributor to Radio Cornwall, and also recently featured in the National Press has been in touch with me. Having climbed out of a huge hole of debt herself, she is seeking help a friend who is rebuilding her life after a similar experience. Keep an eye on Froogs’ blog this week to see if there is any way you can share in her ‘Love bomb’

You know I love Bible stories – and there are some great ones about giving – the widow in Zarephath who shared her last meal with the prophet, the Samaritan who paid for B&B for a complete stranger in difficulty, Dorcas who spent her time sewing clothes for her neighbours and their children…

Morgan had a good post this week about giving – pointing out that giving our time is just as valid as giving money

I’m not trying to heap guilt on you if you can’t share in Froogs’ Current Project – there are many, many hands stretched out right now, asking us for help, urging us to give to this charity or that good cause. You must steward your resources in the way which is right for you, and respond as and when you feel it is right.

[**Pay It Forward, Acts of Random Kindness, Three-Letter Acronyms]


Very Old Joke [updated]

A little boy told his Grandad he was going to church next day. Grandad gave him a 50p and a £1 coin. “You can put one coin in the offering plate, and spend one on sweets” the old man said “You decide which coin goes where”

The following week, Grandad asked the boy what he had done with the money. His grandson replied

“Well, Grandad, I thought God could probably use the £1 for all those poor children. Then the Vicar said ‘the Lord loves a cheerful giver’ and I thought ‘I shall be more cheerful if I have lots of sweets’, so I gave the Vicar the 50p instead”

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Hello Kitty!


Two bits of trivia I have discovered in the past couple of weeks.I am probably the last on the planet to pick these up, so do forgive me for my tardiness. In my defence, I have been busy praying for the CofE and the new ABC, and knitting hats for merchant seaman and other important stuff.

KACKBut how come I never realised that Krusty Allsorts is the cousin of Cass Kitten?? No wonder there is so much CK stuff lurking around the homes she re-styles!

titlepageWe have lost the warmth of Montelbano’s Sicily on Saturday night TV and are now wearing jumpers, and watching cold, gloomy Scandinavians. In Denmark this programme is called Forbrydelsen which means ‘The Crime’ – but BBC4 calls it ‘The Killing’

What’s bizarre is that ‘Killing’ is the Danish word for ‘Kitten’

[btw, if you want the jumper, you should check out this website]

On A Roll!

hooksHaving just the one crochet hook, I consulted Mags about what other sizes might be of use. She recommended this set from Amazon. £3.99, free delivery, for a dozen colourful aluminium hooks in various sizes. Less than 34p each, and all the Hookery in The Bookery crowd use them. Must be OK.

cute&easycrochetBut they came in a very flimsy plastic wallet. I checked out my crochet book, and sure enough there was a pattern in there for a case. It is basically a rectangle of double crochet, with a fabric lining and inner divided pocket. which rolls up neatly and ties. A simple project for a novice like me!


I modified it slightly. I made the main lining piece of felt, to give a little more ‘heft’ to the finished article, and folded over the top few centimetres to make a top pocket. That way if I put it in my bag upside down [which is very likely] then the hooks won’t fall out.


The bottom pocket is part of the ‘fat quarter’ Liz gave me a few years back. I hand stitched all the fabric in place.


The hooks look very pretty – and I like the finished roll too!


It didn’t take long to make. About the same time as it took Bob to watch the last Grand Prix of the season! We both found that extremely exciting [poor Lewis Hamilton, I did feel sorry for him]

I can highly recommend the Cute & Easy Crochet book by Nicki Trench. When I emailed her to say how much I was enjoying the book, and how easy it was for a newbie to follow, she was kind enough to reply [that gets her an extra load of Brownie points!] I have also discovered that she has another book coming out next year. Watch this space…

Monday 26 November 2012


Here’s mine, still going strong after eighty years – my trusty little Remington.


And here is the last ever typewriter to be made in Britain – produced last week, and destined for the Science Museum.

last uk typewriter

The first idea for a typewriter came in 1714- Englishman Henry Mill patented his idea for "an artificial machine or method for the impressing or transcribing of letters singly or progressively one after another."

Then in 1808 that Italian Pellegrino Turri built the first working machine. But is wasn’t till 1870, when Danish pastor Rasmus Malling-Hansen invented his 'writing ball’, that production of typewriter-like machines began on an industrial level. Perhaps he wanted to speed up his sermon writing?

Typewriters as we know them first appeared in 1874 with the Sholes & Glidden Type Writer in the USA. This brought in the QWERTY keyboard, and was designed to solve problems during printing, separating frequently-used pairs of type-bars so that they would not clash and get stuck. This model looked very like a sewing machine and had limited success – but Remington later became the commercial leaders in typewriters and is the basis of all subsequent machines.

acer keyboard

I am typing this on an Acer SK-1688 keyboard – it is all electronic, with no typebars to clash – but we still use the qwertyuiop array.

I love the fact that the longest common word you can type with the keys along the top row is…


…but for future generations, that information will be utterly meaningless, as they may have no idea what these machines were!

Sunday 25 November 2012

The Fading Of An English Rose

The death has just been announced of the actress Dinah Sheridan, aged 92. Despite having a German mother, and a Russian father, she made her fortune playing very English ladies! Throughout a somewhat turbulent private life [four husbands!] she starred in some great films. My two favourite DS films are Genevieve from 1953[with John Gregson and Kenneth More] and The Railway Children from 1970 [with Bernard Cribbins, Jenny Agutter and others] She was in heaps of other film and TV stuff too, and had a beautiful voice and a winning smile…

dinah_sheridangenevieve bw

railway children bw

Her first husband was actor Jimmy Hanley. Her daughter, Jenny Hanley, presented the children’s programme ‘Magpie’, and her son, Jeremy Hanley became Chairman of the Conservative Party.

A Grace From Glenfall

For food, in a world where many walk in hunger



For friends, in a world where many walk alone


For faith, in a world where many walk in fear


Thank you Lord

[one of my friends used this as our prayer before lunch at the conference this week. Simple- but to the point]

Saturday 24 November 2012

Top Tips For Christmas 2012 – #1

Like many of my friends, I have been struggling with Krusty Allsorts and her Vintage Home programme. Good grief, doesn’t the woman know the word ‘thrift’? I cannot imagine spending fifty pounds on a set of knobs for a chest of drawers!

And as for having your fabric hand printed before you cut it up to make patchwork…well!

lakeland bunting

But for KA, CK and friends, bunting is still ‘on trend’ – the Lakeland stuff [above] will set you back £12.99 for 210cm. Or make your own!

Here's the bunting [double sided] I made for Liz and Jon last year – Christmassy one side, African print on the other


Here are my top tips for making your own – easily and cheaply
My first tip is about proportion - make it 5 units wide by 8 units deep [inches, centimetres or multiples of either] as I have found that seems to be most pleasing in appearance. Draw a T-shape 5 inches across the top, with an 8” vertical line, and make that into a triangle. That’s your pattern – make lots, out of scrap paper. And for most economical cutting out, put alternate pieces upside down on your fabric. [Apologies if that seems obvious to you- but not everyone knows that trick]


Second tip - leave a gap between flags - equal to the width, or half the width, of a flag. That makes the bunting much easier to hang, because you can use the spaces to loop over curtain rails etc] and is more economical in terms of fabric.

Third tip - leave a good length of tape [between 30cm and 50cm] at each end for tying.

Fourth tip – [which should probably have come first] – decide if this is going to be long lasting, precious stuff which you will dig out year on year, or a quick project to last a few weeks. If the former, take time, and hem and sew neatly, if the latter, then cut out with pinking shears and forget about fancy finishing off!

Here’s the crib sheet I made for friends who needed yards of the stuff, very quickly, last March [I did that using 6 x 8 triangles for some reason!]


Fifth tip- if you want to add any lettering, then use bondaweb to applique the letters – quick, effective and unlike glue it allows you to reposition if you get it wrong!

Final tip- afterwards, wind it round a piece of cardboard – it will store tidily – and be so much easier to hang up next time!

Friday 23 November 2012

Cold Day, Hot Drink

percolatorIf you have a Coffee Percolator lurking in the back of the cupboard [or in a box in the loft] here’s a recipe you may want to try.

Put 1 litre of apple juice in the jug. In the basket put half a lemon [cut into three or four pieces], plus two cinnamon sticks [snapped in pieces] and 1 tablespoon of honey [or demerara sugar]

Plug in the percolator and let it…perk…You’ll end up with a lovely warming [non alcoholic] drink – just the thing for a wet, windy day. If you don’t have one of these, then tie up the flavourings in a square of muslin, and drop it into a saucepan of apple juice, and warm through gently to just below boiling point.

My Russell Hobbs dates back to 1977 – I used to make my coffee in it when I was a PGCE student in Oxford!

Thursday 22 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I did enjoy West Wing!

I see that President Obama has pardoned two birds this year [here] but I do not pretend to understand quite why this happens.

Carry On Cleo

There were some amazing costumes at last night’s concert . It has been a great conference, and I have enjoyed making so many new friends. But I will be thrilled to get home this afternoon.
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Wednesday 21 November 2012

Toot And Come In!

Because our WWDP conference has been focussing on Egypt, there have been lots of very bad Pharaoh and Mummy puns, and frequent references to “Wilson, Keppel and Betty” [That may give you a clue to the ages of many of the people here]

W,K&B formed one of the greatest eccentric dance acts of all time, but their story is shrouded in contradictions and myth. Liverpudlian Jack Wilson and Irishman Joe Keppel were doleful, gangling, moustachioed and skinny-legged. They wore parodies of Eastern dress, usually a fez and a short nightshirt, revealing their scrawny legs. The third member was the glamorous Betty - who over the years was played by several different women[they kept changing her for a younger model!]

tutThe discovery of Tutankhamen’s Tomb in 1922 had led to an obsession with all things Egyptian and they capitalised on this.They performed a side-splitting sand dance based on poses familiar from Egyptian tomb art, with Betty as the central seductress. Their complete seriousness added to the hilarity.

From the early 1930's the trio became an established feature of British variety shows and were chosen for several Royal Variety Performances. Because the act was visual and hence instantly understandable to anyone, they received many offers to perform throughout Europe. In 1938 it was reported that whilst performing in Berlin they upset Goebbels who was disgusted at the display of bare legs, calling them 'bad for the morals of Nazi Youth'. Mussolini, however, is said to have loved the act.

The pair retired in 1963, and Wilson died in 1970, Keppel died 7 years later. I remember seeing them on the tiny black and white TV of my childhood. They were, indeed, very bizarre!

Happy Hearts At The Hart!


Here’s Bob, Adrian, Lucy and Marion at the White Hart, Hingham last Friday night, celebrating Adrian’s 50th Birthday. He knew he was going out for a meal with A&M – but did not expect Bob and myself to turn up! For more about Hingham see this post. We arrived at 7.30pm, in the dark – but in daylight, the pub looks like this. A welcoming atmosphere, and comfortable seats [I must be getting really old if I’m starting to notice details like that]


It is part of the Flying Kiwi Chain [an odd name, I thought, for rural Norfolk] We had great food – Bob had squid as a starter and Adrian had a ‘plate of pig’ – various pork products [we missed you, Jon!] I enjoyed antipasti, and L&M had red pepper and tomato soup.


Our main course  choices included brisket of beef, chicken breast with pancetta and mushrooms and home made burgers.

It was all quite ‘cheffy’… little pots of sauces, and things served on slate tiles…but the staff were helpful and attentive.

We ended our meal with coffee and birthday cake – an unusual Light/Dark Sponge with chocolate icing. There were not 50 candles on the cake, as that may have constituted a fire risk.

A good time had by all – especially Adrian

It was wonderful to be able to surprise my brother on his special day [and to have a brief stopover at Cornerstones too]


Lucy helpfully blew out all the candles for her Dad.


No more birthday celebrations for a bit [apart from The Best One, of course, on December 25th!]

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Evening Prayers, Glenfall House

Day is done,but love unfailing dwells ever here;

Shadows fall, but hope prevailing, calms every fear.

God our Maker, none forsaking

take our hearts of Love’s own making

Watch our sleeping, guard our waking, be always near


Dark descends, but light unending shines through our night

You are with us, ever lending new strength to sight

One in love, your truth confessing,

one in hope of heaven’s blessings,

may we see, in love’s possessing, love’s endless light

night sky

Eyes will close, but you unsleeping watch by our side

Death may come, in Love’s safe keeping still we abide

God of love all evil quelling

Sin forgiving, fear dispelling

Stay with us, our hearts indwelling, this eventide


Two Wits

two owls-001

first owl; Would you eat a mouse who could quote Shakespeare?

second owl; Only if he took liberties with the text!

Monday 19 November 2012

Arrived Safely


Here I am at Glenfall House [I hope this is where I am – picture from the website as I arrived in the dark] Pleasant room, excellent food, and good company. Very tired, off to bed now! Busy day tomorrow.


I am in Cheltenham this week for the Annual Planning Conference of the Women’s World Day Of Prayer [having been on the National Committee since September] I confess that I am a little apprehensive – not altogether sure quite what is expected of me.


However I have been asked to take one Christmas card with me, addressed to ‘my friend on the Committee’. Apparently these are all put in a basket and then we each draw one out [presumably not the one we just put in!] This is, quite sensibly, a way of ensuring we all get a card, but we only have to give one each, rather than two dozen. It is a large committee. But I got the distinct impression that this is a Significant Event [mainly because at least 6 people made a point of telling me about the custom!] So clearly we are not meant to hand out a cheap Poundshop greeting! What to do?

I began by turning the WWDP logo into a cross stitch design


This logo represents women kneeling in prayer all round the globe – N,S, E, W, with the cross at the centre.

I mounted my stitching onto a tag made from Christmas paper, and put a hole and eyelet at the top. [I frayed the edge of the rectangle of Aida, and stuck it down using double sided tape]

Then I made four more pieces of stitching, with the themes Love, Joy, Peace and Hope and mounted them on tags too. I wrote appropriate Bible verses on the reverse.


Then I took a piece of card, which had a different Christmas print on each side. It measured 30cm x 15cm. I folded up the bottom 4cm, then did ‘concertina' folds, to get a card 7½ x 11cm, which had four pockets. I strengthened the pockets using very narrow strips of double sided tape down the edges and the folds.

I stuck the Logo tag on the front, and tucked the other tags inside.


I wrote a greeting on two pieces of paper to put on the back


And finally attached ribbons with brads so that the card can be tied neatly to slip in the envelope


I hope ‘my friend’ will like her card, and have a happy Christmas

[yes, I have checked, we do put our own name on it. If we signed it ‘from your friend on Committee’ it feels rather like a 10 year old sending an anonymous Valentine!]