Thursday 31 March 2016

March Makes

I have knitted so many baby things that I decided to take a break. So I thought I would knit the second sock of the pair I started last summer. This is a two-needle pattern, with seams up the inside of the calf. To my SILs amusement, I managed to knit two left socks! So then I had to knit two right socks, to make two 'proper' pairs.  I went on and knitted two more pairs in different colours. This was all in Strompegarn,  Tiger Sock Yarn. All was well with the grey and black colourways - but the camouflage yarn left my fingers black, and felt gritty to knit with. When I had finished, I washed the socks, and the remaining wool - and the water turned to green ink! I have contacted them about it. I have never had a problem with this yarn before. The socks were fine and soft after the washing.

Here are my four pairs [in differing sizes] - now to decide about April Crafts

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Lemon Tree Very Pretty...

Does anyone still sing this little song, recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1962? It is a sweet tune, but rather cynical about love. It also claims that lemons are impossible to eat. Well, yes, I would not eat one in the way I eat an orange, apple or banana - but added to cooking, they make all the difference. Back in February, I used my leftover Pancake Party Lemons to make Preserved Lemons [full details here

The two jars have been stored in a dark cupboard, and rotated well every Thursday - and now they are ready for use. [Once opened, jars must be stored in the fridge but should keep there for at least 6 months]
This week I used some chicken left over from Sunday lunch to make a simple tagine. I took some of the peel from the jar, rinsed off all the salt and scraped off the pulp. Then I cut the lemon into thin shreds. 

Some went into the tagine, and some went into the salad along with a 'good lug of olive oil' as Jamie would say. I picked some fresh mint from the garden and made a pot of mint tea [ a few strips of fresh orange peel were zested into the teapot] and more mint was scattered over the couscous.
I am really pleased that these have worked so well. They certainly added some zing to the salad, and an authentic taste to the tagine. Maybe these two jars will last me a full months - until next year's Pancake Party!

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Brassed Off? No, Tracing Rainbows!

Not really - but the Bank Holiday didn't quite work out as we'd expected. I'd switched off the alarm so we could sleep in [it always takes me a few days to adjust to the clocks going forward] but the high winds woke us in the night - and again early in the morning. Bob went downstairs to make tea, and came back reporting that we'd lost fence panels on both sides, and the barbecue and incinerator had blown onto the vegetable bed. I went to the front of the house, and saw wheelie bins and food waste bins rolling happily down the hill. But we came off quite lightly compared to other people.
I did some housework inside, and Bob set to mending fences. Our neighbour came round and we all sat in the garden drinking tea and looking at the damage. Then Bob put in the proper soil spear for my rotary dryer [for over a year it has been a 'temporary' arrangement, tilting at an angle]

Meanwhile I polished my brassware from the hearth. I was told by a National Trust guide once that their brasses only receive one annual polish - so today my bells, bugle, plates and urn got their yearly chance to shine.
Meanwhile, Bob finished dealing with the huge cordyline which I have loathed since we moved in! We chopped most of it down in the autumn - but as the soil was very moist after the heavy rains, today he dug out the remaining root with his fork and trusty mattock. We will gain a substantial extra area of lawn now!

After lunch the rain came down again in earnest. We treated ourselves to a trip to ThirtySeven, our neighbourhood coffee shop, and enjoyed a slice of exceedingly good chocolate cake. When we came home, there was a rainbow. Beautiful!

How was your Bank Holiday?

Monday 28 March 2016

Feeding The Five Thousand

Is it just me, or are other Christians amused by the fact that at this time, every year, Waitrose brings out their "Spring Harvest Cookbook" [here]

I do hope all my friends who are away at this event are having a great time! Some are going for a holiday, but others are going to work very hard as volunteer staff.

Watch out people who are going to Minehead Week 3 though - according to the SH website, the Chief Steward will be a Mr David Cameron. 

Sunday 27 March 2016


There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Saturday 26 March 2016

Easter Carol

After I posted this morning, I realised that maybe some people do not know the carol. It was incredibly popular in my teens, when folk music was a favourite choice for "Youth Events" at church. Written around the turn of the last century by John Crum, an Anglican priest, it is set to the simple tune Noel Nouvelet, a 15th Century French Melody. I found this lovely clip on YouTube, by two Danish Guys. So here it is [especially for blogfriend Nearly Martha, who has written some superb posts this Lent - thanks NM]

In The Grave They Laid Him...

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid him, love whom men had slain,
Thinking that never he would wake again.
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green,

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain.
Quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

At 3 o'clock yesterday, Good Friday - the hour of Jesus' death, I walked quietly round the garden. Flowers and foliage were bursting forth, glorious in the afternoon sunshine. I marvelled at the different colours, varying shapes of foliage, the blooms large and small, showy or delicate.  I take no credit - these were all planted long before I arrived in Dorset - and have lain dormant in the earth through the cold dark winter, and now they appear again to bring delight and fragrance to our home.
It was surprisingly quiet - apart from gentle birdsong, and a few buzzing bees. 
On this Holy Saturday, we wait in hope, for the joy of the resurrection morning. 

Friday 25 March 2016

Good Friday 2016

In Christ alone! - who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live. 

Thursday 24 March 2016

More Arty Crafty Stuff

Today Google has been celebrating the birthday of William Morris, with 5 banners showing his beautiful prints. I love these, and was thrilled when Liz and Jon took us to visit his home, The Red House, two years ago.

Like Mags, I am fond of Strawberry Thief top] but if money were no object, I would replace the curtains in our lounge with a blue and white Willow print [similar to the middle banner] But the window is huge, and I estimate it would cost around £300 just for the fabric - so I'll forget that dream!

A few choice Morris quotes
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.
History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed; art has remembered the people, because they created.

Dodging Artful Bollards!

Just round the corner from the Cathedral in Winchester is The Square - a street of very exclusive shops. The sort where shop windows do not display prices- if you have to ask, you cannot afford it! And all along the street are cast iron bollards. But these ones, although a conventional shape, have each been painted with famous works of art. Klimt, Turner, Lautrec, Magritte and more.  Full descriptions here - but below is my collage of these bright pieces of street furniture. 

My favourite was the Hockney 'A bigger splash' which wrapped beautifully round the bollard. I took photographs of both sides [see second row] I love that warm turquoise colour, redolent of midsummer days.
The golden Klimt [The Fulfillment] looked splendid in the sunshine too.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

We Went To Winchester!

We decided to go out on Tuesday and explore Winchester. It was really good fun. Leaving home early, we got to the Park and Ride soon after 9, and went into town on the bus. Round the corner from the bus stop was Green's Wine Bar and Kitchen. A chap outside saw us looking at the menu and said "Best breakfast in Winchester in there, mate!" So we went in and sampled it. It was excellent - good food, well cooked, and great, friendly service.

Then we wandered round the centre - I was intrigued by "God Begot House" - but it seems that God Begot may mean Good Bargain, or possibly Getter of Goods, and there is no spiritual significance in the name at all. This part of town was, a thousand years ago,the property of Emma, wife of Ethelred the Unready. Parts of the house date back to 1050!

We looked at other old buildings- Winchester is full of them.
In the picture below, reading clockwise from top right- The Cathedral, The City Mill, The Guildhall, The Round Table, and The Great Hall.

We decided to forego the Cathedral - it costs £7.50 per person [twenty five years ago, I went round for nothing with Liz and Steph] "But what if I want to go in and pray?" I said to Bob - he said the sign said you could go in on a Sunday if you made a donation. 
The City Mill is a National Trust property, and very interesting- clearly geared up for school visits. It was great fun trying out different ways to grind corn- and to watch the mill race, and the millwheels turning. Henry VIII seized an earlier mill on the site, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries- and his daughter Mary Tudor gave it back to the city in recompense of the cost of her lavish wedding in the nearby Cathedral [she married Philip of Spain in 1554]  The Guildhall is a fabulous piece of architecture- many of the rooms now available for hire- and  "Eighteen71" is a lovely little eatery at one end.[good Jacket Potatoes]
The Great Hall is part of the Castle, and inside hangs King Arthur's Round Table. It has been there since 1463 - but it is very unlikely it is the real thing! It's free to enter. The Hall is decorated with names of Victorian Hampshire MPs at one end - and there are many stained glass windows, bearing the coat-of-arms of various members of the nobility. I was fascinated to see that only one commoner is commemorated - Elias of Dereham [I first heard about him last year in Salisbury
Winchester is full links with a variety of interesting people - Jane Austen is buried inside the Cathedral, and round the city there are pieces by modern sculptors like Antony Gormley [he of the Peckham Bollards] whose 'Man II' stands in the crypt, David Kemp [Hampshire Hog]and Elizabeth Frink [horse and rider], as well as a much older memorial of King Alfred the Great.
I really need to find out more about King Alfred - I have always felt an affinity with someone who was so busy thinking that he did not notice the cakes burning. 
Winchester is fun if you like history [as I do] - but a bit upmarket shop-wise. Not many God Begot-Good Bargains to be had there this week. 

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Playing TheTrump Card

I am always grateful for comments, even if they disagree with my post. I received one from another blogger this evening- which she followed up half an hour later asking me not to post it. [fortunately comment #1 had not been posted promptly]

However, this is a comment from someone whose blog I enjoy - and who shares many of my values and beliefs. I may disagree, but I respect her, and am interested in her take on the situation. After all, she has lived in the USA all her life - this is her attempt to help shed light on the situation, and I am all in favour of people trying to understand each other. I am publishing the comment anonymously.  
As an American and a Republican and a possible Trump supporter, I think I can shed some light on your question. First off, I say “possible” because I am not sure yet. I don’t know I will EVER be completely sure. I am not a political person, I am a God-fearing Christian and I like to view the world from a religious view, rather than political. I think the support for Trump comes from citizens wanting “something else” and “something different”. Life in the US has changed so dramatically in the last 40-50 years, it isn’t even recognisable as the US I was born and grew up in. Our economy is gone, jobs taken away, security lacking…we no longer lay claim to things that made America what it was when I was a child. Growing up then was all "God, family and pride in being American." Now religious rights have been put on the back burner and families are no longer nurtured and revered…this is just one person’s answer to what she thinks is going on.
As the awful news continues to come through of what has happened in Brussels today, let us continue to pray for peace in our world, comfort for those who suffer, and for those who mourn, and wisdom for world leaders - whoever, wherever they are.

Have Mercy On US

I hope I do not have too many political rants on this blog. However, I feel I have to express my concern about the enthusiasm of a number of Republicans in the US - how come they are so eager to endorse Mr Trump? The man seems to have only a vague grasp on reality, and his answer to those he doesn't like is to thump them, imprison them, or just build a wall and keep them out. Pope Francis has reminded all the Presidential hopefuls that Christians build bridges, not walls. 
I have encountered sincere people [and in all other respects, kind and caring citizens] who genuinely believe that the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat - and would vote for Trump simply to keep Hilary Clinton out of the White House. But I cannot see that this volatile man has the qualities needed for a President of the USA, an office which holds such power, both monetary and military.

Brian Bilston's poem below will be understood by readers of a certain generation. A very succinct summing up of this man. 

Monday 21 March 2016

Travelling In Style

I just love this! Although I am not sure it would be very safe now. There were fewer cars on the roads 75 years ago. I have been riding my bicycle much more, recently, which must be a good thing in terms of my general health and fitness.
My poor little Toyota suffered terribly in London last week - it was parked in Liz's tree-lined street for 48 hours, and the pigeons decorated the roof and windows most generously - we had to get the jet washer out. 
The milometer tripped over 50,000 miles somewhere on the M3 on Wednesday night. I wasn't in a position to stop and take a photo as I did with my Daewoo back in June 2014. I liked that car very much - but I am enjoying this one even more. It feels like utter luxury to have central locking, air conditioning and a CD player. With all these trips to London and back, it is lovely to have a comfortable journey.
Thank you Carole for the video clip, and Bob for help with the car washing!

Sunday 20 March 2016

Pause In Lent #6

 The other week I was preaching at St Martins URC, in West Moors. This is the friendly little chapel a few miles up the road, where UCF was involved in the Christmas Tree Festival last December.
At the start of the service, the congregation joined in with the next stage of their Lenten Cross Liturgy.

I had not come across this before. After Christmas, the church tree [a real one] was stripped, and a cross made from the trunk and a strong branch. It was placed at the front of the church.
Each Sunday during Lent, another item was added to the tree - here is is with the chalice, the bag of 30 pieces of silver, and draped with a purple robe. 
Each item is part of the Easter narrative - nails, crown of thorns, etc are added weekly, and a prayer is said. By Good Friday, the tableau will be complete.

I had not seen this done before, and found it very moving. In the same way that the Advent Candles each Sunday focus our attention on the Christmas Day which is to come, so this simple display helped to remind me that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, to die for me. 
You can find Lenten Cross Liturgies here, here and here.
We will be marking Palm Sunday with a walk of witness through the town, ending at our Parish Church for a united service [Bob will be preaching] Sadly [unlike the Archers in Ambridge] we will not have a donkey !
RIDE on, ride on in majesty;
Hark, all the tribes Hosanna cry;
Thine humble beast pursues his road,
With palms and scattered garments strewed.

Ride on, ride on in majesty;
In lowly pomp ride on to die:
O Christ, Thy triumphs now begin
O’er captive death and conquer’d sin.

Ride on, ride on in majesty;
Thy last and fiercest strife is nigh:
The Father on His sapphire throne
Awaits His own anointed Son!

Ride on, ride on in majesty;
In lowly pomp ride on to die;
Bow Thy meek Head to mortal pain,
Then take, O God, Thy power and reign.

Saturday 19 March 2016

Painting The Forth Bridge

It is UK National Clear Your Clutter Day today - I only discovered this last night. But I shall put some time in today to sorting out a cupboard or two. But looking at their map, it seems that it is not quite the whole country involved - so maybe those of us in Dorset have an excuse for not knowing about it! The Scots are clearly more involved than we are!

 You can find out more here and there is a free booklet to download and also a Pinterest Board with helpful ideas. Personally, I shall avoid the Internet today as much as I can - it is very easy to get distracted and waste time reading about how to declutter, and not really achieve any decluttering! 
What is your best tip for this process? For me, it always feels like painting the Forth Bridge; as fast as I get one area cleared, more stuff seems to arrive to fill up somewhere else.

Friday 18 March 2016

The Dullards In Bolwich

On my return from London, I mentioned to Bob that I had seen some interesting bollards in Dulwich. Witty bloke that he is, he replied "and are there also dullards in Bolwich?" . My Mum's maiden name was Spooner, and although we cannot prove we are related, the family has always been fond of the word play known as Spoonerisms - named after Rev William Spooner, Dean of New College Oxford. He was famous for muddling his sentences, swapping initial letters of words. Quotes alleged to have lopped from his drips are
  • The Lord is a shoving leopard
  • Let's raise a toast to the queer old Dean [I suspect Victoria was not amused]
  • I have in my bosom a half-warmed fish [allegedly he actually said this to the Queen]
  • Do not fight liars in the quadrangle.
  • You've hissed my mystery lectures and wasted two whole worms, you will leave Oxford by the town drain.

Some famous modern Spoonerisms include 
  • The weather's bad outside, it is roaring with pain
  • You need to shake a tower
  • He is mean as custard
  • Mum's at home, chewing the doors
  • I must look into every crook and nanny

Favourites in our family include

  • Have you loaded with wish-dosher?
  • Clean up the crumbs with a BustDuster
  • We are going out to visit Nick and seedy Church members
But to get back to the Dullards of Bolwich** - I photographed the bollards

This cast iron street furniture was created by sculptor Antony Gormley in 2002 [the guy who did Angel of the North etc] He has named them Peg, Egg, Penis and Snowman.

**we were actually only on the way to Dulwich [I really enjoyed pushing Rosie's buggy in the sunshine] so these properly should be referred to as the Pollards of Beckham.

Thursday 17 March 2016

No Train Reservations

I don't mention my mother in law much on the blog - it is 30 years this month since she died. She was a fantastic lady, who taught me so much in the few years that I knew her. Growing up in Belgium during WW2, she learned to be thrifty and resourceful. She was gifted at needlework and knitting, and passed on some techniques to me for which I will always be grateful. When Liz was born, she took two of her old M&S skirts and remade them into little pinafore dresses. One is a fine checked woollen fabric, the other a bright red crimplene. She added little motifs at the hem. When I just fetched these down from the loft, I was very pleased to see that my dear M-I-L did not share any reservations about putting vehicles on garments for girls. 

Aren't these lovely? and now they can be worn by the next generation. We miss you Mum!

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Book This Date!

Here's a National Celebration I had not come across before - today in Lithuania it is Book Smuggler's Day.

The ban was a result of the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, which brought with it militaristic efforts to enforce Russification—including a mandate to replace all Lithuanian-language works printed in the Latin alphabet with Cyrillic works.
After the Third Partition of Poland in 1863, Lithuania was governed by Alexander II, Tsar of Russia. A ban on press in Latin alphabet was issued, prohibiting the press in Lithuanian for that matter. Under the ban, it was illegal to print, import, distribute, or possess any publications in the Latin alphabet. For many Christians, this meant they would not have access to Bibles or Prayerbooks which they could read. The first person to organize printing and smuggling was Motiejus Valančius, a Catholic bishop. In 1873, he was joined by Jurgis Bielinis who created a secret distribution network for banned books and newspapers. Bielinis made a significant contribution to the Lithuanian National Revival, therefore his birthday, March 16, was declared Book Smugglers Day. Many books were printed and translated abroad and smuggled into the country by book-smugglers and the total amount is several millions of printed units smuggled in during the ban. Many patriotic Lithuanians became ‘book smugglers’ facing prison or deportation if caught. They travelled in small groups, staying over or leaving the books at designated places in forests or with trusted people. In 1904 the ban was lifted . 

Here is the statue of Nežinomas Knygnešys (The Unknown Book-Smuggler) 

What bravery - to risk your life so that your people could read books in their mother tongue. And if you can't locate Lithuania, here is a helpful map. Surrounded by Russia, Poland, Latvia and Belarus [and the Baltic] and the capital is Vilnius.

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Transport Of Delight?

Just a couple of incidents which have lightly irritated me recently. I may be rapidly turning into a Grumpy Old Granny.
The first was a couple of weeks ago. Liz was in labour, nothing I could do except wait, and I wandered into Marks and Spencer. There on the sale rail was a cute tee shirt. It was exactly the same shades as the Gidday cardi I had recently knitted. So I pottered up to the counter with my 99p. 
"Is it for a special baby?" asked the assistant "My new grandchild" I said "Ooh, when was he born?" "Not here yet, my daughter's still in labour - and we don't know if it is a boy or a girl""Oh...well, I suppose you can give a girl a teeshirt with a car on it..." "Why not? I drove here in my car, there are lots of famous women drivers, women like cars too you know. Look at Susie Perry..""I suppose so. Hope the baby arrives OK""Thankyou, goodbye"
I cannot find a picture of the exact teeshirt - that one is a similar Boden design. But why are all the teeshirts with vehicles on in the boy's section? Boden currently has a cute bicycle teeshirt, and a motorbike one too, in the boys range - and [please don't tell Ruth, Pip or Pat Archer] a tractor one too. Not every little girl wants to wear pink frills and pictures of guinea pigs in party hats, surely? [Not that I can see Liz shelling out £14 for Rosie's tee shirts] M&S are as bad as Boden - pretty frilly pink for girls and cool blues and greys for boys. Pink does not suit everybody!

The second incident was posted on Facebook by a very good friend in Leicester. She said 
"Was waiting for a bus in Kirby Muxloe this morning, when a car with Arriva personnel stopped. The woman got out, explaining that they were picking up passengers and taking them to Hinckley Road as the road into Kirby is impassable with floods. A very kind gesture, I thought. Then the woman remarked, looking at the girl in the back: 'You are of the younger generation, you can look Arriva up on Facebook, and comment' I continued into town, completely deflated!"

OK, my friend is retired - but she comes from a great family of extremely computer literate people, she uses Facebook and reads blogs.

I think it is a little insulting to Senior Citizens to imply that they are not able to access social media. After all, Sir Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the www is in his sixties now. Mind you, I am not sure how often he has to travel on buses in Leicestershire villages... [T B-L was a contemporary of Bob at Queen's College, then came to work here in Ferndown before moving on to CERN. I can't see us ending up in Geneva]

Women drive cars, older people use the Internet. Don't patronise us. OK!! Rant over.

Monday 14 March 2016

Pie Day

So [if you are in the States ] today you write the date as 3/14 
Since 1988. this date has been celebrated as pi [π] day. The US House of Representatives made it official in 2009. Interestingly, March 14th is also Albert Einstein's birthday.

This is all well and good, but yet again in Britain we have just celebrated British Pie Week. Why can they not choose the week which includes the day?

Various manufacturers, such as Jus-Rol have had special pie events. There is also this pie money saver doing the rounds too. We had pie on Saturday [chicken] and Sunday [apple] and I think that was enough pastry for one week. There are a couple of my homemade individual fish pies [topped with mash] in the freezer.

Bob feels very strongly about pies. A dish of hot meat casserole topped with a free floating circle of puff pastry is not a pie, in his opinion. he even asks confused waitresses "Is this a proper pie, then?" 
We have had long family discussions about what makes a pie. 
Must it be double crust, pastry top and bottom?
Lemon meringue pie counts as pie, surely - it has a top, just not pastry.    Shepherd's pie, and fish pie are pies- but no pastry anywhere

 We have concluded that it is a pie, if it has some sort of top [be it pastry, mash or meringue] which is sealed over the top of the filling. All those years in Leicester have left me very fond of Pukka Pies, and Melton Mowbray Pork Pies. I prefer to eat mine sitting fully dressed, at the table

Do you have a favourite pie recipe? Sweet or savoury, hot or cold ?

But if I say "π", I know Bob always hears "Pie"

Sunday 13 March 2016

Pause In Lent #5

A couple of modern hymns I have come to appreciate in the last few years are "Be the God of all my Sundays" and also "Come, Wounded Healer". These are both by Martin Leckebusch, a gifted contemporary hymnwriter. 
So many of the Lent posts I have read on the internet this year have been about social justice - and this hymn [which I learned for the first time last year] seems to encompass many of my thoughts.

Show me how to stand for justice
How to work for what is right,
How to challenge false assumptions,
How to walk within the light.
May I learn to share more freely
In a world so full of greed,
Showing your immense compassion
By the life I choose to lead.

Teach my heart to treasure mercy,
Whether given or received
For my need has not diminished
Since the day I first believed.
Let me seek no satisfaction
Boasting of what I have done.
But rejoice that I am pardoned
And accepted in your Son.

Gladly I embrace a lifestyle
Modelled on your living word,
In humility submitting
To the truth that I have heard;
Make me conscious of your presence
Every day in all I do:
By your Spirit’s gracious prompting
May I learn to walk with you.

It challenges me to 'do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God' [the best tune is the old Welsh melody Dim Ond Iesu - Here is love, vast as the ocean]
Leckebusch says that like Mother Teresa, we must learn to "do small things with great love"