Thursday, 14 November 2019

Passing Bells

In days gone by "Passing bells" were bells rung to announce a death, and to call people to prayer. [as in Wilfred Owen's poem] Today is the day when many of us are hoping and praying that bells will not be rung to announce the demise of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London.
I have been blogging about the possible destruction of this wonderful place for three years now. And I will continue to rant about it. This is part of our nation's history, but the greed of property developers, and the apparent unwillingness to listen, by those who give planning permission have brought matters to a head.
The Gentle Author, of the blog "Spitalfields Life" explains it far better than I can.
Please read what she has said here and here 
This is part of our heritage - and in this foundry have been produced some of the bells which are famous around the world
Big Bell
The Liberty Bell
The 9-11 Memorial Bell of Hope
The bells of St Clement Danes ["oranges and lemons"]
The Great Bell of Montreal
The bells of St Pauls Cathedral and Westminster Abbey
Bow Bells- broadcast on the radio during WW2 as a symbol of freedom and resistance to fascism...
Bells have been cast in Whitechapel for over six hundred years. Shakespeare would have walked past this foundry and heard the bells, in 1588 the people of England rejoiced in the victory over the Spanish Armada, and Whitechapel bells pealed the news across the land - and in 1918 and 1945, they rejoiced again as bells announced the end of war. Bells made here, or restored here were rung as we entered the new millennium at the start of 2000.
For centuries, those who have laboured here have been commemorated by plaques on the wall. This has been a true 'family' business.
And now they want to turn it into a "Boutique Hotel" The Planning Committee are making their decision about 'change of use' today.
The Gentle Author says
The planning regulations for Change of Use for industrial premises are precise. Firstly, the owner must prove that the previous use is no longer viable. There is no evidence of this with the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Secondly, the owner must prove that no-one wanted to buy the premises and continue the previous use. In this case, UK Historic Building Preservation Trust offered to buy the foundry to run it as a working foundry before the sale went through to Raycliff. Thirdly, the owner must market the property for a year seeking a company to continue the previous use. Raycliff have not done this.

Tower Hamlets Planning Committee’s legal responsibility is to decide the Optimum Viable Use for the foundry. By its nature, there can be only one Optimum Viable Use. So, while a boutique hotel might be viable, it is obvious that the Optimum Viable Use for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry is as a foundry.
It does seem that Tower Hamlets have, thus far, ignored the pleas of the local people, and the offer of the UK Historic Buildings Preservation Trust, to maintain the foundry.
This is Robert Oliver- his family have worked at the FouNdry for 250 years - Robert is holding a bell made by his late father.
Along with thousands of others, I signed the petition to preserve this place. I really hope that THPC reconsider earlier decisions, and recognise that we will lose something very precious if they allow the developers to have their way.
Today is the day...

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Comfort Me With Apples...

...for I am faint with love.
This verse from the Song of Solomon always amused me when I was much younger. OK, I admit, we did sit in Bible Class giggling about much of that book - I hope I have a more mature attitude now.
But do I think apples are a comfort food at this time of year. For many people, biting into a fresh, juicy, crisp apple is a delight- but I love them cooked, when their flesh becomes sweet and soft and soothing. 
There wasn't much food to bring back from Norfolk, but there were 4 small eating apples which were beginning to look a little withered and tired. I had leftover chunk of marzipan in the fridge - so I grated that into a bowl, with some raisins, a spoonful of demerara sugar and a knob of butter.
Stuffed into the cored apples [I'd cut a slit in the peel round 'the Equator' of each] they baked in the oven alongside the main course to make a delightful pud. 

And a spoonful of cool yogurt was an easy sauce
Then on Monday a friend brought a bag of larger apples from his orchard. This is my one-pint Pyrex ceramic loaf dish - and it makes just enough for three average [or two generous] portions of Eve's Pudding.

I use an incredibly simple recipe.
First peel and chop up enough apples to cover the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle over 1 tsp sugar. Cover the dish and microwave for 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, weigh one egg, and add the same weight of soft marg, sugar and flour [if it is plain add 1 level tsp of baking powder] add 1 tbsp milk. Beat till smooth with an electric hand mixer, and then pour this over the cooked apples. Bake at 180ยบ [fan] for 20 minutes till golden brown. Serve with yogurt, custard, cream or ice cream. Again I was able to cook it in the oven alongside the main course. 
I may make some of this gift of apples into pies for the freezer. Or maybe crumbles. 
What is your favourite apple pudding?

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

I Take My Hat Off To You For This Tutorial...

... as the Actress said to the Bishop.
I just have to share this one- because it is so easy and you just never know when someone will need to dress as a Pope, or a Bishop. I wanted to make a Mitre for the bishop in the play, so I looked on Pinterest for inspiration. 
Believe or not, there are dozens of these hats online - mainly posted by Catholic friends- it seems that when the Bishop [or even the Pope] visits their parishes, the children love to dress up. 
You remember those paper hats we made as children from folded newspapers?
Well if you make two, and fold one round and tuck it into the other, you end up with a bishop's hat.
I looked at the many online instructions [such as these] and began with a paper version, then attempted to make a hat using the leftover purple fabric.
It was a bit floppy at first.
I realised I needed to actually sew the centre slit closed, and put some card triangles into the hat for stiffening [cereal packet weight] 
Having done that, I wrapped them round and sewed them together at the side edges, and then trimmed the hem with a piece of decorative ribbon. This worked really well. I stitched the top points together, and here's my Mitre.

Now if only Bob were a member of the Anglican clergy, I could happily spend all my time making embroidered ecclesiastical vestments for him...

Monday, 11 November 2019

Caped Crusaders

I have always had a fondness for capes and cloaks. When I was a student, my landlady showed me an offer in her Woman's Own Magazine, for a cloak pattern [this was back in 1975] I sent off my 40p. It needed 3½metres of fabric- but my Dad had spotted a Tailor in Norwich with a closing down sale - I got some lovely heavyweight Trevira suiting for £1 a metre and whipped up a cloak which I wore for years. I swished and swirled my way happily around campus. When maxi dresses were in fashion, it was an ideal outer garment for going to parties etc. 
In 1981, Bob needed a Wizard Outfit - so I added an extra 50cm to the hem, cheap black lining fabric, spray painted with stars. And it became a dressing up cloak after that, and the added length has remained.

But there have been many other cloaks - Superhero cloaks for young friends [and 8 teachers] and Rosie's Cat Cape - which is still proving useful on Nursery Dress Up days.
This year, I'm doing Ferndown First's Play Costumes, and the production is Robin Hood.
"That's OK" I said, "I did that ten years ago, so I have some ideas and patterns already"
This one is slightly different - no need for a Town Crier or Taxi Drivers - but there is  a bishop, and the script specifies King Richard and Maid Marion both need a cloak.

Distinct similarity here. I have yet to find a belt, and get the sword down from the loft. The cloak is made from the old blue Kirby Muxloe curtains [the matching pair to those currently hanging up in the Ferndown Dining Room]
The bishop's robe is ecclesiastical purple, his cloak is one of the old red Cornerstones Dining Room curtains [my SIL Marion passed on to me a much nicer pair in August] I am going to provide a cross on a chain for him to wear too.
Maid Marion's dress is a 1970's maxi from the Stash, cut down to fit an 8 year old.
I'm having a lot of fun doing these - but working to a tight deadline - so there are cut-up dining room curtains all over the dining table, and we have been eating our meals in the kitchen or on our laps in the lounger for a few days. Bob is wonderfully tolerant of my Crafting Chaos!

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Posting And Pausing

Aren't this year's Christmas stamps lovely? You can see them all here. I shall buy lots, and continue my custom of using them all year. 
A couple of people have mentioned the Advent Pause to me recently. If you'd like to take part [explanation click here] then add a comment at the end of this post.
Christmas will be here before we know it - but there are a lot of things to get through first. It will be good to plan some reflective moments in all that busy-ness. 

Friday, 8 November 2019

A Penny For Your Thoughts

"To spend a penny" is one of the many coy euphemisms for going to the loo with which our language abounds. The first ladies' conveniences which had a coin-in-the-slot mechanism appeared outside London's Royal Exchange in the 1850s - although the first usage of the phrase in print didn't appear til 1945. Men's toilets have traditionally always been free [typical!]
Fortunately most places these days offer free facilities, and many also have areas where people can change a baby's nappy, and disabled folk have room for wheelchairs, grab bars, lower basins etc. This is all how it should be.
Sadly there is still little recognition of the fact that many women are travelling with a baby in a buggy and may themselves need the loo. Cubicles are so tiny that it is often impossible to take the buggy in with you - and you cannot leave the child outside unattended, nor yet leave the buggy, and somehow balance baby on your lap while you go about your business. Liz was complaining that at times she has had to wedge the door open with the buggy half in/half out of the cubicle to she can go to the loo and watch Rosie. It is well over 30 years since I was doing that sort of thing, and it hasn't changed much.
We stopped for 'tea and a wee' on our long journey home on Tuesday, and I was interested to see that the Chievely Services have installed new loos. 
There was a poster explaining the advantages of the new fittings on the inside of the cubicle door. Reductions in water consumption, energy use, flush-times - with greater hygiene all round.
But the grammar police got there before I did.
"Here's some facts" has been amended to Here are some facts"
And "95% less allergens" now reads "95% fewer airborne germs"
Somebody clearly got her knickers in a twist about this!

Thursday, 7 November 2019

You're A Brick, Angela!

This wonderful study of 'fiction for girls 1839-1975' was first published in 1976, around the time of my 21st birthday. I never actually owned a copy - but some friends made me a huge birthday card covered with reviews and press cuttings. I remembered it last week in Bury St Edmunds, when I bought my brick "That brick represents you, and your involvement in this project" said the lady behind the desk.
And here it is! I paid £1 for the privilege of adding a small Lego brick to a structure will will eventually join on to a much larger model. This will form part of the scale model of St Edmundsbury Cathedral. This has been designed in conjunction with the amazing Bright Bricks Company 
Even if you haven't heard of BBC [the Lego one, not the broadcasters] you have probably seen their creations. They specialise in making models out of Lego bricks - using only the ones that are available to the public, not specially created components.
This model has been going about 3 years [Durham, Exeter and Chester Cathedral are also doing similar projects] and will involve over 200, 000 bricks to create a perfect model of the Cathedral [Facebook page and lots of pictures here]
Different views of the progress so far.
It is so cleverly thought out too - in one corner of the model there is a model of the model ['and that little blue person is me' said the lady who was supervising the building]
She also pointed out a lego workman in a high viz vest wielding a power tool."He represents the section being worked on today. Your brick will go there at the top of the column in the Nave"
And yes, they are quite serious about using existing bricks from the Lego range.

The candlesticks under the lampshades in  the choir stalls are made from the hilts of Lego Star Wars lightsabers. 
It seems that many of the younger visitors recognise these immediately. The lady spent ages explaining things to me, and pointing out details.
The original BrightBricks design is a model of the Cathedral as it is now. But one junior resident of the town felt that there should be some recognition of the saintly King who gave his name to the place.
So he donated the 'King' piece from his own Lego castle set. And the ecclesiastical powers-that-be graciously accepted his gift, and stood the little monarch alongside the altar.[even though he's probably not technically in the right clothing]
I was happy to donate my £1 - all the money is going towards [a] improving the visitor facilities at the Cathedral and [b] to fund a youth and children's worker** for the Diocese. To very appropriate and worthy destinations for the dosh, I think.
There was so much that was memorable about our visit to B St E - we must definitely go again sometime!

 **and I pray that this youth worker will help 'build the church' in a way which is even more longlasting and meaningful than merely assembling Lego bricks.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Gazing At A Gazebo Intently

"What's the difference between a tent, a gazebo and a marquee?" mused Bob as we drove through the Norfolk countryside one day last week.
"A tent is a simple fabric shelter, a marquee is a big posh tent, and a gazebo is something without walls you gaze out of and say 'Bo!' to passers-by" I replied.
He laughed, and proceeded to check the etymology. So now we know
Tent this word comes from a Latin word meaning a stretched piece of fabric.
Marquee is from the French marquise - [the Brits misunderstood and thought it was a plural] and referred to a fancy linen canopy placed over a tent to make it posh for the officers.
And Gazebo is cod-Latin. Videbo is the Latin for "I see" so gazebo = I gaze [because my rent has no walls] I felt quite smug that my guessed definitions were pretty accuare!
Our old pop-up gazebo was retired this summer after the celebration tea in August. The frame was really bent and it was unstable. We'd had many years of good use from it.
But we kept the walls - I was sure I could make use of the large pieces of blue fabric.
I spread out one wall, and from it I cut out three pieces to make dust covers for Jon's record decks. And I also cut out some larger strips to make some dividers. 
This is the case for microphone stands I got for £2.50 from the Scrapstore in September. A lot of calculations and use of clothespegs enabled me to make an inner cylinder with six sections. Bob stuck it in place with his hot glue gun. 
Now Jon has a set of dust covers, and Bob has a useful case for his microphone stands. Creative recycling at it's best. 
Thanks for all the kind comments yesterday. We got back to Dorset safely, just in time to listen to The Archers! 

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Going Home - But The Puzzle Remains Unsolved

San Francisco 
Four lovely jigsaws, all completed. But no, that missing piece has not turned up. I kept hoping that one of the other jigsaw bags would contain a spare Parisian piece. 
And Cornerstones is all tidied up ready for our return today.
It has been a good break, for which we are both grateful. 
We've had lots of quality time with friends and family. Bob is noticeably better. And I am heaps more confident about driving the Skoda. 

Monday, 4 November 2019

Happy Birthday, Bob

The last twelve months have been rather mixed.
Great celebrations - our niece Lucy's wedding, our own Ruby Anniversary, a great-nephew born last month, lots of good things at church, and the news of another grandchild on the way.
But also sadness at the loss of some dear friends and family members. And we've both had unexpected health issues. 
I am so pleased that this week in Norfolk has been so relaxing and you're looking very much brighter. 
Have a brilliant time today - and may God fill the year ahead with many blessings and moments of joy, and surround you with love and peace. 
Happy Birthday, Bob xxx

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Resting, Reflecting, Remembering

On Wednesday we visited Bury St Edmunds. A lovely day, with lots of pictures which I'll share later. Just two for now - we walked through the Abbey Gardens and then round the Cathedral. There is a Peace Garden, and this is where a service is held each Holocaust Memorial Day. The beautiful Teardrop Sculpture is 1.5 metres high.*
"chosen for its universal and natural symbolism. It reminds us of the pity of war and persecution, wherever and whenever they happen, and its reflective surfaces enable us to see ourselves and will hopefully prompt us to reflect upon the part we can play in opposing humanity's inhumanity, and supporting those who have suffered from it"
In the Garden Of Remembrance, a simple stone is inscribed with words from Psalm 46.
The gardens were so beautiful and peaceful. This is definitely a place I would like to visit again.
*If you look at the picture, you can see Bob on the right in his navy sweatshirt and jeans, I'm next to him, in the centre, with a bright red scarf. 
As we come closer to the Teardrop, we become involved. It is a very thought provoking piece of art...

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Breakfast In Ber Street

That's pronounced Burr not Bear.  We started at the John Lewis end, by the marker for the old Great Cockley river. This part of Norwich is full of history. Two hundred years ago, this street was where many slaughterhouses and butchers were located. It was nicknamed "Blood and Guts Street"
Over the years the street saw many changes. The Italian immigrants who came to Norwich settled here, then the area was condemned and a slum clearance programme was set in place 60 years ago. But now this street is home to a few small businesses (and a large motorcycle dealers) With John Lewis on the corner it is only a short walk to the heart of the city.
Passing the store and the business next door [with a Beach Boys quote] we came to Brooke Place. An attractive piece of modern art and a bench made it a peaceful retreat [a good place for workers to enjoy their sandwiches] 
We were going further on to the Ber Street Kitchen. This opened about eighteen months ago, and has had rave reviews. The FryUp Inspector recently praised their Sunday Roast menu, and they've been fully booked every weekend since. 
We'd intended to arrive before 9am, but an incident on the A47 held up the traffic, and it was gone 9:30.

The staff were so friendly. The menu was very diverse, and we watched other diners tucking into variations on The Full English, and trendy Smashed Avos, Eggs Benedict and Salads. There was a good selection of hot and cold beverages. Bob tried Matcha Tea - but didn't really enjoy it. 
We opted for Pancakes. Bob went savoury - bacon and maple Syrup. I chose sweet - fruit compote, Greek yogurt and honey. Very fresh, excellent flavours, cooked to order. 
Not exactly budget dining - but OK for a holiday treat. And very filling - when I pointed out later that it was lunchtime Bob said he wasn't really hungry, which is unusual for him. 
The decor was interesting - industrial/steampunk/hipster. A huge pair of bellows in the corner. French bistro tables and copper pipes in the loo. This cafe is well worth a visit

Friday, 1 November 2019

Great Grandmothers

This is my Auntie Jean. She is 94 and she lives in Western Australia. Last time I saw her was when she was 72 and she came to the UK for a family wedding in 1997.
She has 10 children and dozens of grandchildren and great grandchildren. She is amazing. 
Here she is painting her fence panels. Last week she went for a ride on the pillion of a motorbike.
I admire strong women who don't give up, and don't get stuck in a rut. 
The Queen is just a little younger at 93, but she keeps going. She's only an inch or so taller than I am, and could easily 'get lost' in a crowd - so she often wears bright colours.
Check out this rainbow wardrobe! This week, a new book has been released about Her Majesty. It is written by Angela Kelly, who has been her PA and Senior Dresser for 17 years.
She shows a different side of the Monarch, and some hitherto unpublished photos are included. 
I love this one! The Queen looks happy and relaxed, and she has her hands in her pockets. 
There are not enough pockets in women's clothes in my opinion. 
I need somewhere to put a hankie, a phone or a door key. And when I'm preaching, and it's too hot for a jacket, I need a pocket for the microphone. 
Or for my hands. I frequently put my hands in my pockets. I do not subscribe to the opinion that it is a sign of shyness, lack of confidence, or disrespect. 
Surely none of these apply to HM? 
If it is OK for her, then it is socially acceptable. Thank you Ma'am. 
And thank you Auntie Jean, and my centenarian friend Mary, and all the other great old ladies who encourage us with their enthusiasm for life. And the late great Jenny Joseph, whose poem Warning inspired others to be themselves and be bold. 

Thursday, 31 October 2019

No Thank You

So it isn't Brexit Day after all. But it is Hallowe'en. I'm not a big fan.
According to one article I read, the plastics used in the costumes sold this October in the UK are the equivalent of 85 million plastic bags. That's a lot of waste going to landfill
And do we really need displays like this when we go to buy groceries? 
I was at the checkout at one shop and as I paid for my stuff, the assistant asked "Would you like to buy a raffle ticket for our Halloween Hamper?" I replied, in a polite tone, "No thank you. I don't do raffles and I don't do Halloween"
"Oh" she said, clearly surprised "I'd rather have Hallowe'en than Christmas"
"But Halloween is all death, doom and darkness - and Christmas is celebrating love, joy and peace" "Depends on your family, doesn't it?" she retorted, and started serving the next customer. I felt incredibly sad. 
A friend [who shares my feelings about the ghosts and ghouls costumes]  asked on Facebook what she should wear to a party - she's a Baptist minister and has been invited by some teenage friends to their event. The invitation specified Hallowe'en Fancy Dress. I said that as it is All Hallows Eve [ie the night before All Saints Day] she should dress as a Saint. I suggested St Francis would be an easy one. She's got herself a habit and I think will carry a small animal [the stuffed toy sort] I hope she has a good evening

Wednesday, 30 October 2019


 Look at these! We planted 3 fruit trees here at Cornerstones five years ago. We've never had any fruit until this year - Bob spotted over the weekend that some pears had dropped onto the grass. 
One had been eaten by wildlife, but three were intact. 
I decided to make a cake and found this recipe

I had 500g of pears, so made half the quantity, in a tin half the diameter (correction below, thanks Nana Gogo) . Things were looking good. I kept back a couple of pieces of pear, and we agreed they tasted juicy and sweet. I put it in the oven to bake, and set the timer. Then I got out my sewing machine. 
Then things "went pear-shaped" as they say. There was somebody knocking frantically at the door. It was our neighbour, asking for Bob's help. "We need a strong man" Another elderly resident of the close had tripped and fallen and could not get up. Bob and I both went over the road and found two other friends with the injured party. We helped her to her feet, and walked her home [only 3 doors away] Fortunately apart from a few bruises, and a sense of embarrassment, she was OK. I settled her into her armchair, whilst her friend made a cuppa Then I came home. . 
And remembered the cake! The timer had gone off whilst we were outside. I estimated the cake had been in the oven for 75 minutes instead of 50! 
It tasted OK, if a little dry. I served it with custard as a pudding. I must try it again and reduce baking time. But I'm glad our friend is OK and that we were on hand to help.