Saturday 31 August 2013

Cherry Trees And Fuchsia Bushes

Up late last night at the Golden Wedding Event. Amazing cake – one layer plain sponge, one layer chocolate sponge, and one layer a brandy-laced fruit cake [rather a lot of brandy*] This morning we  collected a van to transport PA gear to tomorrow’s event, then I dropped in on the Macmillan Coffee Morning at Cherry Tree Gifts.


Home again, and I went and harvested the berries from my fuchsia bush. Considerably more fruit than last year which is pleasing.


I have a small amount of homemade ice-cream in the freezer, so that will make a good dessert for our meal this evening.

It is the last day of August – it has been a really good month, with lots of lovely summer activities. September tomorrow. Lots of bloggers are taking on new challenges for the month. Sft has a Stretch it out September Challenge [here] and NYK has a Septimus Frugalus Challenge [here] I have decided not to sign up for either. Not because I plan to spend madly during this month but I’m already stretching the budget to its limit. Taxing the car and the new motorbike** during August [when there is no Supply Teaching and therefore no pay] has been enough of a challenge already! Fortunately there is school work already booked for next week, so I know the budget will be on track again very soon.


Don’t you just love this ancient motto? It was over the door of the Museum in Ipswich. According to the guide, it says

“Live frugally, so that you do not fall into dissipation”

“My wife says that all the time” Bob told the guide!

*does eating brandy soaked cake count as ‘falling into dissipation’?

**we had no choice this time – but Bob has taxed the bike for just 6 months, so that the two won’t coincide again]

A Century and A Half Of Marriage!

By the end of this month we will have joined with family and friends to celebrate three wedding anniversaries – 40th, 50th and 60th – which by my reckoning is 150 years of wedded bliss!

IMG_0180I have crafted handmade cards for all three couples, and had great fun doing so.

On two of them, I continued the vertical ribbon down the inside as well and added a little extra embellishment.

I have kept the designs relatively simple though. I don’t like to make cards too fussy! Inside I usually write a brief greeting and an appropriate bible verse.


Thank you friends, for letting us share in your celebrations – and for the great example you set to others of loving faithful relationships. You have all kept your wedding vows through times which have been better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness and health – and that is brilliant!

Friday 30 August 2013

The Pen Is Mightier…

The death has just been announced of Seamus Heaney, that amazing Irish poet. He visited Oxford in the mid 70’s when I was a student – but I had a really bad cold and could not go with my friends to hear his poetry reading. I should have loved to have heard him.

The portrait on the left is by Edward Maguire – painted in 1974– the one on the right by Tai-Shan Schierenberg was done 30 years later.

Seamus Heaney. maguire

Tributes have poured in from all over the world – but especially from Ulster. Former SDLP leader John Hume, who was a close friend of Mr Heaney, has said: "His poetry expressed a special love of people, place and diversity of life. That profound regard for humanity has made his poetry a special channel for repudiating violence, injustice and prejudice, and urging us all to the better side of our human nature.”

Here are two of my favourite poems by this Nobel Laureate, 


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.
Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.
By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.
My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.


Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.

RIP Seamus Heaney 1939-2013

Completely Innocent


Thirty One little hats- one for each day of August, prepared for the Innocent Smoothie Age UK Appeal. This has been my charity knit project for August. You can find out about it by clicking here for the pattern, and clicking here for the information about the Big Knit


Thursday 29 August 2013

Going Dutch

I was just about to go out when the postman rang the bell, and delivered a parcel


It was a holiday gift from Liz - Ontbijt Koek and Wasknijpers Hout.


The first is Breakfast Cake [ginger flavoured to be served sliced and buttered] the second is a pack of 48 wooden clothes pegs. Liz and Jon got caught in a downpour on their cycling trip round The Netherlands, and had to buy the pegs to facilitate clothes drying! As they have no use for the pegs back in the London flat, Liz sent them on to me. Now I have this urge to decorate them with paint or tape or something. But I really must ignore that for now and tackle the ironing mountain instead. Thanks Liz – you have brightened my day!

Three Minutes On Thursday #5

3-minutes [3]

The fifth and final post in this series on how to spend a few minutes making a meal seem a little bit more special.

First – napkins [or serviettes or whatever you call them in your house]


We don’t use them at every meal, but sometimes they’re a good idea [esp if you have messy ‘finger foods’] Here are some easy ways to present them. Two ‘cutlery pockets’ which you can put at a place setting.


FIRST IDEA Fold the napkin in half longways, and arrange knife fork spoon at the top.

Fold up the bottom edge.

Remove cutlery, turn over and fold in one third from each side and tuck in.

Turn over and insert cutlery into the pocket you have made.

IMG_0227SECOND IDEA Fold in half widthways, and then fold down the top right corner. Fold the right half over the left.

Now turn this over, and fold in the sides to the centre.IMG_0228IMG_0230IMG_0231

Turn back and tuck the cutlery in the pocket.

If you have a glass by each place setting, then fold the napkin into pleats. Fold it in half and tuck loosely into the glass so that it fans out.

Works with a fancy wineglass or a plastic Miffy Tumbler! [they are now re-writing Miffy stories for “modern children” I am told!]IMG_0232IMG_0233

And finally, I took these pictures for last week’s post, but couldn’t upload them due to PC problems.

Cucumbers are great in salad, but the centre part is mostly water. Cut your cue in half, and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon


Now cut in half again and slice, or just slice into arcs. They will retain their ‘bite’ and not make the rest of the salad soggy.

IMG_0416Garnishes – a small cube of cheese [shown here with £1 coin for reference] if grated on a microplane grater, will make a garnish to sprinkle over salads or soupsIMG_0417.

This piece cost less than 4p, and will make a garnish for at least 2 portions [3 if you spread it thinly]


I don’t eat cheese, IMG_0418but I know that I can grate one small-to-medium sized carrot to produce a colourful topping for four portions of salad.  My final garnish is one I am rather pleased with.IMG_0419

Take one bourbon biscuit [Sainsbury’s basics – less than 1p] and slowly but firmly crush it with a rolling pin. That picture shows the crumbs you get from just one biscuit.

That costs you less than 1½p and contains 66 calories.

I used this to make a generous topping for a couple of rice puddings – and put the remainder in a small jar.


The following week I made 2 pseudo black forest desserts using leftovers. Sadly I forgot to take a picture before we ate…

[Per person] In a small dish, 1 slice Sainsbury’s basics choc swiss roll, topped with a few blackberries [picked on our walk through the Sandringham Estate with Steph and Mark] and spread half a pot of Sainsbury’s basic strawberry yogurt, then sprinkle with bourbon powder.

The dishes looked quite splendid, and worked out at less than 10p per person. And I was very pleased when Bob said “Is this grated chocolate on the top? I didn’t know we had any chocolate left?” I think he was impressed to discover my latest thrifty idea.

Thanks everybody for the positive comments about this little series [explanation here if you missed it earlier] It doesn’t take much time, effort or money to make a meal a little bit special, and show love for those who will eat it.  As Bob is often fond of quoting at me

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

Anybody else got any 3 minute tips to share? Doesn’t matter if they are not original – it is always good to be reminded of old ones we may have forgotten.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Fifty Years Ago Today

…let freedom ring…

Holiday Snaps

The trouble with having a digital camera is that I take hundreds of photos[about 500 during the past fortnight] Here are some selected holiday pictures. The amazing hat shop in Burnham Market


There is a whole rainbow of ‘Mother Of The Bride’ hats – this was just part of the pink/red section. Loads of men's hats too…


Norwich with Mark and Steph, and swimming at Salthouse [ when Mark was showing me the ‘colour accent’ thing with my camera]



What was Bob looking at?

It is weird how Steph’s clothes and Mark’s shorts come up as blue, but the blue towels have black patches.



Cromer Pier. I am extremely pleased with this picture!

We walked through the town and I had to photograph the greengrocer’s shop. It took us a little while to figure out what ‘no enchaners’ meant.




We ate crab salad on ‘The Albatross’ at Wells. Utterly delicious.

Bob found something on Salthouse beach

“Here’s that sick squid I owe you!”IMG_0514


Very excited to find all the Cardinal Wolsey stuff on our visit to Ipswich. Will somebody please come to Leicester and dig him up now?


It is my understanding that he is probably somewhere under the Car Park at Leicester’s ‘Abbey Park’ – I suggest you start looking under the “W”!

Ipswich also has connections with the cartoonist Giles, so in the Buttermarket is a statue of his wonderful “Granma” and her family. We walked to the quay, where Bob enjoyed a Baklava in the rain by the flower market



On our final day in Norfolk we enjoyed a trip to Aylsham show – where we saw falconry, the White Helmets Army Motorcycle Display Team, and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.



Most of my pictures were clear blue sky, as I snapped after the planes and birds had flown past!


Bob dreaming about riding the Triumph


Me – on a Husqvarna [a mower, not a sewing machine]


I take most of the pictures these days – but seeing this one which Bob has taken makes me realise just how much weight I have put on lately. Less cake, more exercise this autumn I think!!

It’s a good job the computer wasn’t working properly, I would have probably posted all 500 pictures.