Thursday 28 February 2013

Happy Birthday, Mark!

Exactly when do you wish someone ‘Happy Birthday’ when they were born on February 29th?  Mark was a Leap Year baby so only gets to celebrate ‘properly’ every fourth year. Steph and Mark are fond of moose [mooses?] so I’ve made him an appropriate birthday card.


We are going down to London on Sunday night and will see Steph and Mark then [and deliver his birthday gifts along with more curtains!]

What’s The Opposite of ‘Rev Up’?

Answer – Rev Down.

Bob came off his bike this morning – and by the Grace of God he is absolutely OK. Sadly the bike most definitely isn’t

All this happened at around 10am when he was on his way to a Ministers’ Meeting in Hinckley, and hit a patch of dodgy road surface as he braked approaching a roundabout. The bike went out of control and went over as he got to the roundabout. Bob came off and the bike skidded round, hitting a traffic sign [thus causing damage to offside, nearside and rear]

Major damage to both panniers, the top box, the fairings, mirrors, pillion footrest, the lights and electrics…


My thanks to

  • the first car which stopped, and the woman driver who parked it in such a way as to offer protection for Bob in the road
  • the next car, and the bloke who helped Bob get the bike off the road and onto the grassy centre of the roundabout
  • the anonymous person who called the incident in to the police, and the patrol car which was very quickly on the scene.

At this point things went a little crazy [the caller had apparently reported ‘motorbike and car’ involved] so as well as police, along came a paramedic, then an ambulance, then the Air Ambulance. Thank you to all of them for their efficiency and thoroughness in checking Bob out [they even did an ECG]

I am so incredibly grateful – Bob really was uninjured apart from a grazed knee – but had the injuries been worse [as they so easily could have been] it is very reassuring to know that the emergency services were there so quickly. The scuffs on his leather jacket and biker boots show that they did their job too! ATGATT is a good mantra

Carole Nash Bike Insurance were brilliant, and provided prompt recovery to get the bike back home to our garage. Now we await the visit of their assessor. Then we’ll know if it is a write-off or worthy of repair [we suspect maybe the former, it’s a rather elderly bike]


We are not at all sure what happens next. Clearly our plans to take the bike to Norfolk after Easter, and also to Blackpool in May for the Baptist Assembly are scuppered.

Bob texted me at lunchtime to say he’d had an accident with the bike and that he was uninjured but the bike was a mess. I picked up the text just as my two Year 6 pupils arrived [early!] for their afternoon SATS support session.

Are you OK? one asked, so I explained why I was a little distracted..

“Miss, you can buy another bike, but you can’t buy another husband” said one of them. Which is absolutely true.

Oh and thank you too, to all Bob’s Facebook friends for their kind messages of support, which have poured in all afternoon.

And thank the Lord for his protection and grace.















Wednesday 27 February 2013

Upper Crust

DSCF3358I am working my way through the bag of McDougall's Suet Mix which I got from Approved Foods last year.

It’s been really cold, with more snow, recently, and rib-sticking puddings were high on my agenda.

I got out my little bowls [see my first blog about them a year ago, here] and decided to make a savoury filling.

DSCF3359I made enough suet pastry to line and top the puddings [sometimes I just do ‘top only’] and made the filling from what I had to hand – I chopped up three rashers of bacon, two small onions and one small eating apple [unpeeled] I mixed all that up with salt, pepper and some fresh thyme from the garden..

I divided the filling between the puds and put a small knob of butter on top, then covered each with a circle of pastry, sealed and crimped round the edges. [hint; measure the distance from one edge down to the bottom and across then up the other side. Make a circle of pastry with that diameter. Now cut out one third. Use two thirds to line bowl, and re roll the one third to make a lid]

Instead of cooking them in the microwave –which I often do for speed and economy, I cooked them in the oven at 180ยบC for around 45mins. I stood the puds in a baking tin which I’d half filled with boiling water from the kettle. I popped some jacket potatoes in as well. [The oven was already hot from some cakes I’d been baking earlier.] The pastry cooked to a golden colour. I prepared some carrots and gravy too.


I presented each pudding on a dinner plate with a napkin tied round the bowl. As well as looking cute, the cloth insulated  our fingers when we turned them out  [I’d greased the bowls so they slid out very easily]

Very tasty, and very economical!

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Double Chins!

For Jane and Frances – Thatcher and Clinton, Clooney and Craig . I think the lipstick is a bit of a giveaway with Mrs T, but I see what you mean about Clooney/Craig, their mouths are very similar.


Chin Up!


I am sure you guessed them all!

Mo Farah, The Queen, Aung San Suu Kyi

Maggie Thatcher, Nelson Mandela, David Cameron

Barack Obama, Marilyn Monroe, Daniel Craig.

Monday 25 February 2013

One Very Cheesy Joke


The Soup Kitchen

During Lent, “Churches Together” in our village are doing this…


Every Tuesday night, we meet together, and after enjoying mugs of soup and bread rolls, we listen to a speaker from a different charity working somewhere in Leicestershire.

emmaus-logoLast Tuesday we had a great time with Keith Lawson West, who spoke about “Emmaus”, the charity which works with the homeless. Check out their website [here] They have a property in nearby Hinckley, which currently provides a home for 6 ‘companions’. One of these, Barry, came with Keith.

He told of his past life – and how Emmaus had helped him turn his life around. It was really challenging, and very moving to hear him. Many people feel that such projects are just a bottomless pit for people’s charity – but I  was most impressed by these facts…

A Social Return on Investment (SROI) study carried out in 2012 by social and economic company Just Economics forecasts that each year Emmaus Communities generate £11 in social, environmental and economic return for every £1 invested. [To get a return of £4 for every £1 is considered good going by many charities.]

Emmaus is really giving back to society, generating significant savings to the taxpayer. For the 21 UK Communities included in the research, the study forecasts that the present value of savings to local and national Government stands at almost £6 million per year.

Key outcomes for Government from Emmaus’ work include fewer rough sleepers, fewer people claiming benefits, reduced substance misuse, reduced crime and fewer health problems.

The report finds that Emmaus Communities successfully provide a place for people in vulnerable housing situations to rebuild their lives by offering them meaningful work and support.


I’m hoping tomorrow night’s event will be just as good!

Sunday 24 February 2013

Those Whom God Has Joined Together…

All Saints Church, Newtown Linford, dates from the 16th century with links to the Grey family. Inside there is a stained glass window commemorating the life and death of Lady Jane Grey [who lived just across the way in Bradgate Park] Yesterday I was there for Sophie and Rob’s wedding – which was extremely lovely despite the cold church

The colour theme was lilac/purple [useful as it was Lent, so matched the hangings on the pulpit etc] I really should have taken photos of the two Mums, who both had stunning outfits. Sarah had a fabulous blue fascinator, whilst Lynda’s long hair was in a stylish ‘up-do’ which reminded me of Audrey Hepburn.

Sorry, I didn’t take many pictures- just the happy couple coming down the aisle. I imagine Sophie was very grateful for her little fur capelet – but I am not sure how warm Rob was in his kilt! You can just see the balloon weights inside each pew.

Here’s one of the pedestal flower arrangements I prepared on Friday [when it was snowing outside the church and freezing inside]


My friend Peter, the vicar who conducted the ceremony, gave the couple a wedding present – a “Twix”. He used this for his sermon, and said this was a good picture of marriage –

  • the two parts belong together
  • the base should be firm
  • there is a sweet, soft layer
  • the bars are surrounded by chocolate [and in a happy marriage the couple should be surrounded by love]
  • Twix is made for sharing
  • if they get warm, the chocolate melts and fuses the two bars together, similarly in marriage, if bathed in the warmth of God’s love, a couple truly become one.


[I have also heard that James and Kirstie’s wedding was equally great, the bridesmaids in champagne colour dresses, and the wedding sermon was based on The Marriage at Cana!]

Pause in Lent 2013 #2

A Pause in Lent Floss

This one is not mine – it is based on something Bob did in church the other week [using photographs of our own church members]

Look at these chins – can you recognise these famous people?


Having given people the opportunity to work out who was who, Bob said that we don’t always need to see the whole face to recognise someone. Often we can work it out from just a glimpse of the person – but obviously, the more you can see, the better.

If we are Christians, do people glimpse Jesus when they see us? How much of his character is shown in our lives? Challenging thoughts.

[the selection above is quite random. I shall give you the answers later in the week!]

Saturday 23 February 2013

Music Night

Just home from the Church where Hayley, our youth worker, had arranged a Music Night to raise funds for the youth group. She and her band provided music, another of her mates organised the Hog Roast, and I did an alco-free bar [ably assisted by Hannah and Grace- thanks, girls] Despite my assertion yesterday that I don’t do disco dancing, I did get a little carried away [and followed Bob and friends all round the room, dancing to "the Proclaimers “500 miles”] I shall suffer for this tomorrow!! But it was all enormous fun

hayleys music night-001

Not quite sure about all those people dancing like Suggs…


But we certainly enjoyed ourselves


[If you want details of the cocktails we served, do email me.]

To Love And To Cherish

Love is invincible facing danger and death.
Passion laughs at the terrors of hell.
The fire of love stops at nothing—
it sweeps everything before it.
Flood waters can’t drown love,
torrents of rain can’t put it out.
Love can’t be bought, love can’t be sold—
it’s not to be found in the marketplace.


For Sophie and Rob, Kirstie and James, getting married today – may the future be filled with love, life and laughter.

Friday 22 February 2013

Beating Inflation–A Tutorial

wedding balloonWhen Mel and Shane got married in our church a few years back, they had balloons all down the aisle.

This weekend, two more friends are getting married [in another church] and decided on a similar arrangement. They have managed to order the helium balloons in the right colours – but there was a problem about getting the weights which keep them from floating to the ceiling. Could I help?

DSCF5201I just happened to have a balloon weight in the kitchen […it was a Teachers’ Christmas Meal in 2011, and my friends had ‘liberated’ the balloons and tied them to their wrists for the disco. The waitress was going to throw the weight away, and I asked for it. This is why my house is full of clutter…] I unwrapped the weight, and found it weighed 161 grams.DSCF5203 Bob and I thought hard…DSCF5204

We needed to recreate the small pyramid shapes


We took 18 silicone pudding moulds into the garage and gave them a light coating of sunflower oil.

Then Bob mixed the concrete and we made a batch of concrete ‘puddings’



When they had set, I cut out some circles of thin foil [these were quite large – about 12” in diameter] and bent 36 bits of wire in pairs [these were twist ties which came with a roll of plastic bags]

I used one tie to make a loop [to attach the balloon strings] and the other was to gather up the foil round the concrete lump [which looked rather like a little sandcastle]DSCF5215DSCF5216DSCF5218

I decided against cutting the top into fronds – but think our eighteen home-made balloon weights look just as good as the shop-bought ones. And they cost a lot less than £1 each!

Thursday 21 February 2013

Stitch Up!

There is such a great deal of satisfaction in teaching someone a new skill. Especially when they try hard, listen to what is said, and then remember it for next time!

My latest sewing pupil had never handled a sewing machine before. At our first session recently, she learned to thread up the machine and make a tissue holder, and produced a name-badge on my embroidery machine. At the second session, she made a bag to hold future sewing projects.


My efforts at teaching numeracy and literacy do not always produce such good results in such a short space of time. Maybe I should have concentrated my career on being a needlework teacher!

“Have I taught any of you children in this class before?” I asked some Year 3 children this week, when doing supply cover.

“Yes Miss, in Year 1 – you told us the story about Bob and Ben the builders” replied a little girl

“And Ben built a bungalow on the sand, but Bob was sensible and put his at the top of the cliff” added one of the boys.

I found it quite encouraging to realise they remembered the story, when that RE lesson must have been about two years ago.

Today will be intensive numeracy and literacy support groups all day!

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Heart-Felt Request

Just before my op, I borrowed this lovely book from the library

mollie-makes- xmas

I fully intended to blog about it – and then completely forgot! It has all sorts of fun projects – knitting, sewing, crochet, papercrafts etc.

mm xmas cottages


mm xmas starsmm xmas stocking

I have never done needle-felting, but I was particularly taken with the lovely little Christmas Village. Felt is so warm, and tactile…


Then yesterday I read a post by Pomona – about Gretel Parker, the talented artist who created this felt project. Although I did not recognise GP’s name, I remember seeing some of the Christmas Decorations she has designed for Gisela Graham [they sell them in the posh shops of Upmarket Bosworth near here]

gretel parker holly-mouse-fairy-giselagretel parker Little-rocking-horses-decor

Since Christmas, Gretel’s life has been turned upside down, and she is experiencing real problems. Only a few weeks after buying their first home together, she suddenly lost her sweetheart, Andy, after 21 years together. She has to face bereavement, funeral costs, a mortgage to pay…and much else besides [and artists don’t earn much, and don’t have a regular income, and she’s not in a position to create much right now]

gretel parker, artist

Gretel’s blog is read by artists and craftspeople round the world- and two of her American followers, Suzanne and Tara have worked out a way to help Gretel. They set up an online charity [here] with the aim of raising a fixed sum in 40 days. They are two thirds of the way through their time – and thus far have just 40% of their total. But as the story is spread, I hope there will be a greater influx of donations.

Just lately I have thought so much about what it means to be “Community” and this is one example of the Virtual Community of Blogland working together to do good.

I am not suggesting that everyone who reads this blog should send some money – giving is a very personal thing, and we all have to decide how and where we share our resources. But if 20% of the people who read this blog pass on the story – through blogs, Twitter,or Facebook – and 20% of their followers reblog or retweet – and 20% of their followers each sent just £2 …they’d probably exceed their total! If you do feel able to help – thank you!

gretel parker Circus-bookends

Tuesday 19 February 2013


adjective, blander, blandest.

1.pleasantly gentle or agreeable: a bland, affable manner.

2.soothing or balmy, as air: a bland southern breeze.

3.non-irritating, as food or medicines: a bland diet.

4.not highly flavoured; mild; tasteless: a bland sauce.

5.lacking in special interest, liveliness, individuality, etc.; insipid; dull: a bland young man; a bland situation comedy



A wonderful [and anything but bland] comedy which has brightened Sunday evenings for the past few weeks. And now, sadly, it’s finished. I do hope the Beeb produces another series!


Mags tells me it was filmed on the Crom Estate in N.I. That’s another reason to go back to the province for a visit!

Monday 18 February 2013

A Good Life!

goodlife logoThe BBC just announced the death of Richard Briers – a  brilliant actor, with wonderful comic timing.

Perhaps he is most well known for “The Good Life”- with Paul Eddington and Penelope Keith – and of course his ‘screen wife’ Felicity Kendal.

good life

Marriage Lines

My earliest memory of RB is of my parents watching “Marriage Lines” on their little black&white TV, and laughing their heads off. [63-66]

It is actually fifty years this month since that series came to the screen. Richard was ‘married’ in that one to Prunella Scales [I suspect she may count as a National Treasure too] I guess many people have forgotten that programme now. But it was great fun at the time

Seems rather dated now!

Richard was also an oddball husband in “Ever Decreasing Circles” – married this time to Penelope Wilton [now Mrs Crawley in Downton], with Peter Egan playing the chap next door – and of course, Howard and Hilda in their matching jumpers [that was 1984-89]

everdecreasing circles

And most recently, married to Susan Hampshire, Hector and Molly in “Monarch of the Glen” It ran from 2000-2005 altho Richard left at the end of series 3 in 2001 [but re-appeared as a ghost in the final series!]


And quite apart from all his TV appearances, mostly light-sitcom-on-a-Sunday-night sort of stuff, Richard Briars had a very distinguished stage career [including lots of Shaw and Shakespeare] and did some children’s TV [Bob the Builder, Roobarb]

Earlier this year Briers stated that he had smoked half a million cigarettes before quitting in 2003, and had been battling lung disease since 2008. I find that very sad. His wife Ann and daughter Lucy are also actors.

Did you enjoy any Richard Briers programmes-

and which was your favourite RB character?