Saturday 28 February 2015

Don’t Get Into A Flap!

The kitchen has felt rather cold and draughty, due to the ill fitting, broken cat-flap on the back door. Outside it was sharp-edged and unsightly - inside it was coming away from the door panel.


But then John from HiQ installations arrived to fix it – he promptly took off the old panel and fitted a new one without a flap in it – and now everything is hunky-dory. Just after I took the picture of the door sans panel, whilst John was collecting the new panel from his van, a huge spider climbed into the kitchen through the hole. I bravely scooped the creature up and threw it outside again!

catflap replacement

Three bits of catflap trivia*

  1. Isaac Newton is credited with inventing the catflap. The doors of his rooms at Cambridge did have a cat-sized holes- but nobody is quite sure of their purpose[see here]
  2. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales mention a cat door,PRINCE-CHARLES-REX_1755037a in “The Miller’s Tale”
  3. cat-flap is an anagram of flat-cap [here is a picture of the heir to the throne, in said headgear]

*trivia ought to come in threes, I feel

Friday 27 February 2015

The Name’s Bond…No, It’s Bob!!

bobs jumper 2015


More than sixty years ago, a young chap in his twenties, from Stockwell in London modelled menswear for knitting pattern companies. He went on to become the actor Sir Roger Moore, whose most famous role is that of 007.

Some of you requested a photo of Bob in his new jumper. Who knows where this foray into knitwear modelling may lead him?

Bob’s CV does include time in The Eglesfield Players, Oxford, alongside this guy, and also a stint as President of Marconi Instruments Theatrical Society. But I don’t think he wants to change career just yet!

Thursday 26 February 2015

A Shedload Of Joy

The jury is out on this one, it seems- is it shed [noun] meaning the amount of stuff to fill a shed or is it shed [verb, past tense]meaning the amount of stuff which is shed from a lorry ?? My Essex roots and links with Romford market lead me towards the fell off the back of a lorry definition. Anyhow, whatever its roots, we have a shedload of joy round here right now. KMFC gave a us a generous parting gift, and we’ve been able to buy a much needed shed for the back garden [moving from double to single garage meant problems storing motorbike, two bicycles, garden tools, much DIY gear, a work bench etc – not forgetting my precious palm tree!]


Tiger Sheds delivered the parts last Wednesday. There was already a slabbed area so we had somewhere to erect the shed almost immediately. Bob put the floor panel down then checked the rest of the wood.


We propped up the various components then carried them to the base and started assembling. The instructions were clear and it was all remarkably easy.P1000772-001

We had a choice about the window panel- and opted to put it on the ‘house’ side.

The shed it 6foot square and about 7foot at its apex.


Bob can stand up straight in the centre section- I can stand [or lay down] anywhere! He put the roofing felt on, and the job’s done. Bikes and mower locked away securelyP1000792

P1000776The garage is still full of boxes, many as yet unpacked – although Bob has built a workbench and sorted out most of his tools. The motorbike will stay in the Cornerstones garage till after Easter.

Bob’s a very happy guy – he has never possessed his own shed before! [Thanks KMFC]

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Tunic, Take Two


Last year, I knitted myself a tunic in the Christmas holidays using my friend Janice’s pattern. This year, in the holidays I knitted Bob a jumper.


robin fx

The yarn I used for Bob’s jumper was Robin FX Aran, shade ‘Milky Way’ – and it came in huge 400g balls. When I had finished Bob’s sweater, there was quite a lot left*. I decided to make myself another tunic, as I wear my green one a lot.

I started the front, and realised the cable pattern did not work at all – the yarn was too dark and it did not really show up very well. So I re-wrote the pattern [basically just missing out the cable panel up the centre of the front and sleeves] and simply made it in stocking stitch. It was fine – but dull. So I joined the raglan sleeves in place using a double crocket, to give a raised seam o the outside. That looked messy. I re-sewed them, neatly and then dug out some big and bright buttons. I put four in a row along one seam, and sewed one in the centre of each pocket [I’d had ‘gaping issues’ with the pockets on the green tunic] It was so quick to do– only 2½ weeks!



Here’s the final result – well almost. I put the top on and persuaded Bob to take a photo – but after ten minutes of wearing the tunic, I realised the final green button was wrong. It was too near my armpit! I took that one off, leaving just three at the shoulder. Much better. [He’s right – I do look a little anxious!]

* The weight required by the pattern was 750g, so Bob suggested I bought 3 balls as I was intending to make it larger. In the end, I have knitted two jumpers and still have loads over. I may pass the yarn onto Liz who wants to knit a scarf.

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Time On My Hands

You think you have the budget under control, and then things start breaking! The kettle lid broke – and was beyond repair – so we had to buy another. Then my watch strap snapped. I did not want to buy a new watch, or even a new strap [and my lovely silver dress watch was nicked in the burglary] After a morning of frequently staring at my naked wrist, wondering what time it was, I remembered an idea from Martha Stewart, using a piece of ribbon to make a new strap.


I had some pretty ribbon in my stash, and I re-used the buckle, and put Velcro dots on the end of the new strap, and all is well again!

Monday 23 February 2015

FairTrade Fortnight

I have signed up for the 40 Acts Lent Challenge


…and today we are reminded it is the start of FairTrade fortnight. For our challenge today, we are encouraged to support FairTrade, and promote FairTrade.



So far today, I have drunk 2 mugs of FairTrade tea, I mug of FairTrade Coffee, 1 mug of FairTrade Drinking Chocolate, and eaten a FairTrade banana. I read a friend’s blog about FT. Then I reminded the ladies at the Bible Study Group this Morning about FT Fortnight. Now I am reminding you. However, I suspect that some of the other Lent challenges will not be so easy or enjoyable!

I have put ‘charity’ as one of the categories for this post. But really that is only to give me the opportunity to rant a bit, and say

To buy a FairTrade product is NOT an act of CHARITY, it is an act of JUSTICE!


Bless The Bride!

Bob’s been here less than four weeks and he’s already done a wedding – sort of. Lauren and Matt live in Essex, and got married there a few weeks ago. But her grandparents are in a care home here. As her grandparents could not attend her [Registry Office]wedding, Lauren wondered if there was any way that she and Matt could have a blessing ceremony, in the Care Home. As UFC take a service there each month, it was agreed that this would happen in place of our regular hymn service. The staff decorated the place beautifully, and laid out a buffet reception. I was impressed with the effort they had made, to make this day really special for everybody.

ferndown lauren&matt wedding blessing 02 15

P1000756Our team turned up to sing- with Peter at the piano playing wedding music – and Gordon [who is a member of the Gideons] had a presentation Bible for the couple to mark the occasion.

Beforehand, Bob chatted with the bride and her Dad- here’s a bridesmaid resplendent in deep blue.











The happy couple stood under the floral arch to make their vows [again!] There were readings and hymns, and Bob made sure everyone was included- in place of “Who giveth this woman?…” we were all asked if we supported Matt and Lauren in their marriage. The prayers too made mention of the home and staff as well as the happy couple and their families. Afterwards there were lots of photos [the grandparents, three generations of Essex girls, and more] and we all got to enjoy the drinks and nibbles!











The residents definitely seemed to enjoy themselves, singing and laughing and clapping throughout. An official photographer was there from the Care Home Management recording the event [a first for them, apparently] He warned us that we may be appearing in next year’s promotional brochure, and possibly the local paper too!!

[Thank you Peter, Gordon and the ladies who came with us]

Sunday 22 February 2015

Pause In Lent #1 – Getting Dressed

A Pause in Lent Floss

I love words and their meanings – and recently I have been thinking about the word dress [that is probably connected with weddings…] but not the noun, rather the verb

We dress lots of different things – ourselves, windows, salads, lawns, wounds, crabs…

My Bible readings this week have been from 1 Peter, and I read this

As you come to him, the Living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

I started pondering the idea of living stones and remembered that the craftsman will dress stones before he uses them for his building. I looked it up, and discovered this

Dressing of stones is a process in which their surfaces are prepared to a form, fit to be used for any constructional purpose. Dressing is according to the type of work and demand. The Purpose of Dressing Stones is

  • To make them fit, to be used for particular construction.
  • To provide horizontal and vertical joints in the masonry
  • Generally to give them a neat and good appearance.

Horstead stone dressing 1960The more I thought about this ancient craft, I realised something important – all the instances of ‘dressing’ in my list at the top of this post involve adding something [clothes, curtains, oil, fertiliser, bandages, pepper…] but when stones are dressed, something has to be chipped away. The worker removes exactly the right amount of stone to make it truly useful.

And that is what God does with us, patiently and lovingly - He chips away the rough edges which prevent us ‘fitting’ into the construction of his kingdom. He helps us to form secure joints [relationships] with our brothers and sisters in Christ. He enables us to have a good appearance [witness] to those looking on.

bridge stones

God had graciously given us gifts already – and he knows our inner strengths and abilities [he created us, after all] and he knows where we will be of most use. I love this picture of bridge-building in the Lake District. The stones are different shapes, colours and sizes – but together they make an attractive structure, which will help carry people over the water. Being chipped away at by a hammer may be temporarily painful – but the end result, when set in its appointed place, is something beautiful and useful. I want to be a living stone, even if the process of ‘dressing’ isn’t always comfortable! It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase

Getting dressed for church

Saturday 21 February 2015

Mamma Mia!

liz and steph

Just to say thank you so much everyone, for your amazingly generous response to my two posts about Liz and Steph this week. Steph has already exceeded her target for EAP for the Marathon [but her Just Giving Page is still open to receive sponsors] and Liz [and I] have been grateful for all your very kind comments about her guest post.

Be sure that I will keep you informed about Steph’s Marathon and about Liz’s competition entry. I have to admit that I have been through Bruges briefly a couple of times – and would love to have a proper break there, so would be over the moon if she won a trip for the pair of us!

Thank you again!

Kung Hei Fat Choy


I felt a bit sad on Thursday – for the first time in years I didn’t have a class of children to celebrate with for the Chinese New Year. 

P1000336Then I received a card from a lovely 5 year old and his parents – thanking me for his Christmas present – and saying how he missed me [I’d embroidered a facecloth for each child in the class with their names – they loved them!]

I was quite weepy and nostalgic for a bit, then decided that even if I had no children around, Bob and I could at least have a Chinese meal


I had borrowed this book from Ferndown library last week, and wondered if Jamie had anything suitable for the festival.


Chicken Dim Sum seemed a good choice. I tweaked his recipe a bit – I had all the ingredients to hand except tenderstem broccoli – but used savoy cabbage instead. And I skipped the ‘Ginger Pickles’ [isn’t that from Beatrix Potter?] and the chopped chillies. [JO loves them, I hate them] I got out all the ingredients and put the kettle on. Then I decorated the dining room with stuff from the box in the loft labelled CNY – a banner, some fabric, a fan, and a Chinese doll – plus a lantern hung from the lampshade. Romantic lighting with candles [the Wolf Hall effect] and then I set about cooking.

chinese new year 2015

I have to report that it took twenty minutes to get the room ready, and only seventeen to cook the meal! We thought the flavours were good, but decided we could have done with a bit more moisture, so added extra soy sauce at the end. The kitchen looked like a bombsite afterwards – it took another 20 minutes to clear up!

chinese new year 2015-001

The coconut dumplings are very easy to make in the steamer – I think Jamie’s bamboo steamer must be much larger than mine. I was using half quantities as there are just two of us, but the two baskets were still full. Kung Hei Fat Choy – or Gong Xi Fa Cai depending on which bit of China you are from!

So far since we got to Ferndown, we have enjoyed

  • a romantic Valentine’s meal [Moules et Frites from Lidl – very economical but still tasty]
  • a Pancake Party
  • and a Chinese New Year Feast

I don’t think I canmaintain this level of celebration of the culinary calendar! What would be next in season? I suppose I could do something for Purim in March [Hamentaschen, Chollah and Kreplach?] And no, I am not making a big deal out of National Chip Week!

Friday 20 February 2015

…Always Find Him In The Kitchen At Parties!


Tuesday’s Pancake Party went really well – over 50 people there, and Bob has estimated in excess of 120 pancakes were cooked!

pancake party 2015-001

Toppings offered were lemon, sugar, Golden Syrup, Nutella, and IKEA choc spread-with-butterscotch pieces. Someone thoughtfully brought a punnet of blueberries to the feast too. The Chef had four pans on the go from about 6.15pm – 8.45pm!

pancake party 2015

People took their pancakes and toppings, then went into other rooms to chat. The men seemed to gravitate to the kitchen to chat to the Chef. I forgot to take enough pictures.


And there was a very small jug of batter leftover – so Bob even made pancakes for breakfast on Wednesday too!


Thank you everybody who came and made the evening so successful – especially thanks to the Chef  [P.S. I love THIS ad!]