Thursday 28 February 2019

A Right Royal Order

We Brits know how to do pomp and ceremony, and among our great catalogue of Royal Events, there are the occasions when Her Majesty celebrates the Order of the Garter, and the Order of the Bath.
But did you know that there is such a thing as The Royal Order of Adjectives?
Victoria Coren Mitchell made mention of it on Only Connect this week. Bob and I hadn't heard of it, although it seems we sort of knew about it, and I had a vague memory of an English lesson back in the 1960s...
It seems that it is something that we instinctively learn as we grow up speaking English, and it is the correct order in which to place our adjectives.
For instance, if I was describing the bottle in front of me, I would say it is a small blue glass mineral water bottle.
I would not say it is a glass mineral blue water small bottle
The same adjectives, but they just don't sound right when describing this item [a souvenir of my holiday in Florence with Steph 17 years ago, which stands on the bathroom shelf, still sparking joy]
The order in which you put adjectives before a final noun has significance. The Royal Order depends on nine categories of adjectives, and here they are.
Determiner - that's articles [a, the, an] possessives [my, your, his etc] number [ten, some, several...] and demonstratives [this, that, those, these]
Observation/Opinion - cold, ugly, heroic, retired, enthusiastic, soft, priceles...
Size- huge, minuscule, massive, petite
Shape - square, circular, trapezoidal
Age - old, young, ancient
Colour - green, blue, pink
Material - wooden, velvet, steel
Qualifier  - a noun used as an adjective to identify the type of noun. hound dog, evening gown, Baptist minister, or an adjective ending in -ing like walking stick, frying pan etc.
In the car returning from Norfolk, we were trying out this rule, to see how it sounded with different well known adjectival phrases
Little Red Riding Hood
The Jolly Green Giant
Great grey-green greasy Limpopo
Long winding road
The thinking man's crumpet
A tall dark stranger
Cheap tin trays
Silly Old Mrs Pepperpot
A beautiful pea-green boat
Bob kept on about a Tall blonde Swedish Assassin. I think he has been watching too much EuroCrime on TV.
There is a very helpful article about it all here
But did you learn this rule at school? 
And why is it that we instinctively know if the order is wrong?
PS Happy Birthday today to Gary, who is my generous young son-in-law

Wednesday 27 February 2019

Dead Ringers

When I wrote about Sansom's Tombland a few weeks ago, I mentioned that the picture on the cover is one of the door panels from Norwich City Hall, depicting the execution of Kett
These bronze panels were made in 1938 by sculptor James Woodford.
Opposite the City Hall, just above the market are the War Memorial Gardens. Here you will find the City's cenotaph, designed by Lutyens. 
I knew about the doors, and about Lutyens Memorial. But I didn't know until Monday that the flagpoles at either end of the gardens were also sculpted by Woodford.
We were sitting eating our pork rolls at lunchtime and I noticed the bases of the flagpoles for the first time.
The matching poles are encircled by dancing Assyrian figures celebrating agriculture. I took some photos
 They are incredibly detailed. 
 I realise that agriculture is important to Norfolk but I'm not sure why Assyrians are involved! 
 I think it's Art Deco. 
I have tried to find out more  but not doing very well so far. One article said "the flagpoles are decorated with figures who are walking lie llke an Egyptian" but was no more informative than that. 
We finished lunch, and walked to the second identical flagpole. Bob stopped to look at the motorbikes parked next to St Peter Mancroft Church. 
I stopped to take a picture of a memorial by the door, which made me smile. 
Samuel Thurston, truly a Dead Ringer. 
His sudden death clearly upset the other exercisers. I hope it wasn't during bell ringing practice. 
You just have to love Norwich - a fine city full of hidden gems. 

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Finally Facing My Waterloo...

I bought a jigsaw to do over Christmas. Only I forgot to bring it up to Cornerstones. So it came up last month instead, and I completed the edge before I returned to Dorset. This past weekend whilst Bob studied, I relaxed and completed my jigsaw.
I have had so much fun with this double picture of Waterloo Station. 
It is very clever - obviously the architecture is almost identical in both scenes, but the characters vary a little. The upper picture is set in Wartime, the lower is post-war. So you see things like

  • Top sailors, bottom boy scouts
  • Top khaki clad soldiers, bottom Coldstream guards with bearskins
  • Top army truck, bottom civilian van
  • Top people in uniform, bottom in civvies
  • Top two nuns, bottom two nuns [ but with different suitcases! ] 
There was so much that was so very similar, yet not quite the same. What an intriguing challenge. I know lots of you enjoy jigsaws, and when I posted about buying this in the CS, some people said they'd enjoyed this puzzle too.
If anyone would like this one, please comment below, and I will pick the winner on Friday then post it on to you. 

Monday 25 February 2019

Don't You Know?

There's no such thing as a Gruffalo! 
Can you believe it? Rosie celebrated her third birthday this weekend. 
Here she is at Grandad Ian's in her new Gruffalo outfit. 
Dressing Up is her big thing at the moment. Auntie Steph and Uncle Gary provided a Cat In The Hat outfit. 
I sorted out a Where's Wally costume, a pink ballet tutu, a bag,scarf and hat - and a Superheroine Cape with her initials on it. 
And I also sewed a huge bag for her to keep all these things in. 
It says Rosie's Dressing Up Stuff, so nobody need be in any doubt. I'm really looking forward to seeing her again after Easter so we can have fun together. 

Sunday 24 February 2019

Tune My Spirit To The Music Of Heaven

Eleven summers ago, we rode the Honda into Bantry on a windy August morning, and admired the statue of St Brendan The Explorer. [made 50 years ago by husband and wife Ian and Imogen Stuart] According to the popular myth, Brendan and his monks set out to find the Island of Paradise somewhere around 500 AD . They endured a forty-day fast then set out in a westerly direction. During their harrowing Atlantic journey, the monks encounter unusual creatures, briefly settle on a whale’s back after mistakenly identifying it for an island, meet Judas marooned on a rock, and eventually reach Paradise, before returning home. The Island of Paradise, or St. Brendan’s Island, as it became known, was treated as a legitimate location, and appeared on most maps and globes, including Behaim’s 1492 globe. According to Columbus’s son, Ferdinand, his father wholeheartedly believed in it. Until the late 18th-century, sightings of Brendan’s mythical island were reported, although some have since speculated that Brendan and his crew had actually ventured as far as the Americas. In the spring of 1976, British explorer, Tim Severin, accompanied by a small crew of four, successfully sailed 4,500 miles from Ireland to Newfoundland in a handcrafted currach built using the 6th-century standards as Brendan’s.
While the exact geographic location of Brendan’s paradise is still a matter of speculation,  we mustn't overlook the impact that he had on the central figures in the age of exploration, who looked with wonder upon both his voyage and his Christian fervour . Unfortunately for the indigenous population of the Americas, the desire of Columbus and other European explorers to spread Christian principles to these perceived "godless lands"  lacked the innocence and religious zeal of the Munster monk. Instead, they were driven by greed and contempt rather than religious longing.
I remembered our Irish holiday, and St Brendan, recently, when my good friend Ali Boulton used his prayer as part of our morning worship at the SCBA Conference. I don't know if this really is 1500 years old - but the words still have relevance today

Saturday 23 February 2019

Auntie Angela Is An Old Hen

Top two pictures- my niece Lucy about 15 years ago- still at primary school and obsessed with all things equine. 
Picture below- Easter 2018, grown up Lucy with her fiance Josh. This weekend is Lucy's Hen Weekend in Norfolk. As her only aunt, I have been invited along. I shall be enjoying Afternoon Tea later with friends of all ages - but I've declined the Cocktails'n'Clubbing this evening! There may be pictures to follow. 
Bob is having a few days Study Leave in the peace and quiet of Cornerstones. 
When not being a 'hen' I plan to get plenty of knitting done! And no, I'm not wearing pink, and no I am not dressing up - though given her history [see picture top right] I wouldn't be surprised if Lucy turns up in an interesting outfit!

Friday 22 February 2019

Focusing In Lent

Sunday 10th March will be the first Sunday in Lent. That is just over a fortnight away. Easter Sunday is April 21st. 
For eight years I joined with others doing a reflection on each of the Sundays of Lent, uder the title of "A Pause In Lent".[explanation here]
Last year I gave it a miss - there were lots of other Lenten challenges going around, and it seemed just one more thing to add to the list.
I've already had loads of messages in my in-box from different groups inviting me to sign up for this and that.
I've not yet decided which, if any, I should join. There are deeply spiritual activities, charitable activities, 'caring for the planet' activities...
But my blogword2019 is focus
Right now I just want to focus on being healthy, getting enough sleep, loving my neighbours, listening to God and doing good.
I expect there will be some "reflections" popping up along the way- not necessarily on Sundays though.
Do let me know if you are doing any Lent Challenges, and how you get on with them. This one looks interesting  You do need to check out the website carefully though - at first glance, I thought I was supposed to do all 6 things for 40 days!

Thursday 21 February 2019

Salt'n'Vinegar With That?

I was in one of those 'Grumpy-Old-Women' conversations the other day. All very light hearted, then somebody said that the trouble with Youth-Of-Today [YOT being the antithesis of GOW] is that they will eat in the street! It was clear my friend felt that no food is fit for Public Consumption. I ventured the opinion that strolling along the Prom with a Flake Ice Cream, or a bag of chips is one of life's little pleasures. I suspect I got away with it, because such activity could be permitted on holiday.
But I don't live in Leicestershire anymore, where it was so far to the sea that being on the Prom meant you must be on holiday. I'm in delightful Dorset, where the beach is just around the corner - chips and cornets are a frequent temptation..
On Tuesday, in an effort to blow the cobwebs and our colds away, we went off to Swanage. [earlier Swanage post here ]We arrived around 11am, so stopped on the edge of the town at Emmanuel Baptist Church . Excellent coffee shop, delicious cakes, friendly staff - plus easy parking. I can really recommend this one.*****
Then we went on into the town, parking in the LongStay by the Pier [24 hours £1] We had a good wander round the town, dropping off another box at a CS. I met a TA I'd worked with in 2017, and we caught up with family news.  
Bob and I didn't want a huge lunch, as we were having dinner with friends in the evening. "Just a bag of chips on the Prom" I said. It was 1.15pm. So we went it the large HR chippie and ordered. "It will be at least 30 minutes" said the bloke. We thanked him, and left empty-handed, walking back to the shop at the other end, nearer the pier. Success!
The Fish Plaice had a fast moving queue of cheerful, chatty customers. Clearly popular with holidaymakers and locals, a board gave the names of the Dorset trawlers which had brought in the day's catch. And details of the Lincolnshire potatoes used in the chips. The portion sizes were generous, and the server apologised we'd had to wait [a mere five minutes]
We walked to a nearby bench and sat enjoying our food, watching the sea, the boats, the birds and the passersby.
As we left, I was pleased to see the local council have installed proper lidded wheelie bins for refuse, to deter the gulls from foraging open bins in search of food. Also I noticed a lovely pebble mosaic on the ground. My photo didn't come out well- but I found these on line from a useful mosaic-resource website. Thank you, Rod Humby]
It is stunning! I discovered it was a Millennium project, and created by Maggy Howarth, an artist from Lancaster.
Her website is equally informative, explaining how these mosaics are made in a 'reverse' process, so the finished piece has a flat, non-trip surface.
The fish looked beautiful, such detail, with beautiful coloured pebbles, carefully selected.
Maggy has also produced a 'Neptune' piece which is in Bournemouth. I shall have to check that out.
Our evening meal was splendid too. Another lovely day off together. Feeling blessed...

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Keep, Donate, Discard...

Our helpful GP now suspects anaemia or thyroid issues, so I am still 'taking it easy' - with instructions to stay hydrated, avoid alcohol, and rest when I need to. So no Supply Teaching for a while then. The heavy cold over the weekend was no fun - especially as I passed it onto Bob. 
It is sometimes hard, when you both have heads full of cottonwool, to understand what's going on. Poor man, he got really confused by one conversation.
Would you like a hot drink, sweetheart?
Yes please Bob, could I have a Blackcurrant Cold drink?
Do you want a hot drink or a cold drink?
Yes, both!
I knew what I meant!
[next week, we discuss fork 'andles]
I've lazed on the sofa, binge-watching rubbish TV, including lots of programmes about hoarders and declutterers, minimalists and zero-wasters.
I conclude that probably I am middle of the road in all this. 
I do not have any 'collections' [Beanie Babies, football programmes, little resin cottages] but I do admit to 14 glass jars of buttons sorted by colour [and two biscuit tins, contents awaiting segregation]
I have quite cheerfully gone through my bookshelves on a regular basis since we moved into this house, sorting out volumes for Ziffit and the Oxfam bookshop. [you can use the code IYBRCFFMI for a first time bonus at Ziffit] - but I still cannot bring myself to cull my massive knitting needle collection.
Bob and I no longer use the everyday crockery - I've sorted out the chipped IKEA Dinera stuff and discarded it- and the unspoilt plates are in the CS box. We've started using our best Hornsea Cornrose, 40 years after we received it as wedding gifts, on a daily basis. It's strong, it's attractive - and improves the presentation of my more dubious cooking. 
I'm not sure I'll ever be a true minimalist though.
I continue to work, slowly, towards Z-W.
It is good see see the supermarkets picking up the challenge- e.g. M&S now have wooden forks with their takeaway foods, and Waitrose are phasing out black plastic packaging for ready meals.
Pattypan over at Tarragon and Thyme has a helpful post full of links regarding ZW this week - thanks PP! But I am still reluctant to freeze things in heavy glass jars, for all sorts of reasons. And like PP, I'm reluctant to discard perfectly good Tupperware to landfill while it still has a use, simply because we are avoiding plastic.
It is Very Hard to be consistent about all this. I was chatting with a friend about women who declare "My Family Lives Plastic- Free" and said I wasn't sure how they produced their blogs using wooden tablets, or hand knitted i-phones. And is it right to jet all around the world, lecturing on climate change, when your aeroplane is a big part of the problem? I started off the weekend with soft old cotton hankies, but by Monday was back to paper tissues [it felt more hygienic] 
What is your best decluttering tip?
And what has been your most useful Zero-Waste discovery?

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Human Kind

Last week I mentioned JMBarrie and Peter Pan. I hadn't realised till yesterday that PP first appeared in 1902 in a book called "The Little White Bird". There's an intriguing quote therein...
...always try to be a little kinder than is necessary
Which was when I remembered that many people had marked Sunday 17th February as "Random Acts Of Kindness Day" - and I had completely missed it. Ooops!
In my defence, I am not sure any of the blogs I follow mentioned it either, and you're all very kind people, I'm sure.
I was pottering in the kitchen, listening to Radio 4 Extra, as I'm wont to do. And I heard about  the most bizarre RAK.
It involves "Cake Circles"
You take a map and draw a circle on it. The centre of the circle must be somewhere where you are able to bake a cake [eg your own kitchen, or your granny's house] You then bake 40 cakes,  load up your car, and drive out to the point where you reach the edge of the circle. Now you travel round the circle, stopping at random points. You then give a cake to someone who lives or works at that point of the circle. 
This seems an interesting way to spend a weekend. The artist* who came up with the idea maintains this is an art installation rather than a humanitarian act. Furthermore he says than in Birmingham the recipients were cheerfully accepting - but in Liverpool and London he encountered cynicism and unwillingness to accept his offerings.
I'm not at all sure about this one.
We've recently started a new course on Sunday evenings at church, called Fruitfulness on the Frontline [it's brilliant- expect more on this later] and we were talking about the fruits of the Spirit including kindness. Surely we shouldn't need to mark out one day of the year for kindness? ...just seek to make it part of life.
*In case you are wondering, the artist in question is Bill Drummond- formerly of 'Echo and the Bunnymen' and 'KLF'. He's also the guy who [he says] burnt one millon quid of KLF's profits, as a 'piece of artwork' on the Isle of Islay in 1994. I'm rapidly concluding that [a] I do not understand modern art, and [b] it would have been better to have spent that money on ingredients for giveaway spongecakes - or maybe just given it straight to Oxfam. What a waste!

Monday 18 February 2019

You Don't Often See Heffalumps In February

One day, when Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet were all talking together, Christopher Robin finished the mouthful he was eating and said carelessly: "I saw a Heffalump to-day, Piglet." 
"What was it doing?" asked Piglet. 
"Just lumping along," said Christopher Robin. "I don't think it saw me."
What is it about elephants? They are such great, majestic creatures, swaying through the forest - their powerful feet trampling everything underfoot, their stentorious trumpeting alerting everyone to their arrival. And yet - the pictures of the little cubs scampering along under their mothers' protection, and the scenes of them playing in the water, squirting with their trunks - they are also such fun. Might, majesty, motherly love, and merriment - with what wonderful qualities the Creator has endowed them. I'm not surprised that children love them so much - and they occur so often in children's literature. It took me a very short time to remember half a dozen family favourites without including Pooh [pub. 1926] 

Wonderful patchwork Elmer [1968], Horton from Dr Seuss[1940], Babar [1931] Jill Murphy's Large family with the hassled Mum [1986] Rosie may be a little young for Kipling's Just So Stories [1902] and Morpurgo's wartime adventure [2011] just yet. But these tales span more than a century and show the enduring fascination these beasts continue to have for youngsters, and adults too.
On Saturday, as I was sneezing and snuffling with a cold, and feeling sorry for myself, the post came came. A batik of an elephant! A gift from my friend Bless
This elephant has travelled to Dorset from Sri Lanka via California!
Bless tells me it was made by her friend, and depicts the Kandy Esala Perahera. This is the great Buddhist Festival held every year on the Island, and features a perahera [procession] of wonderfully dressed elephants. I am in awe of the art of batik- the skill with which the crafters use wax and dye to produce such stunningly detailed  pictures. This photo isn't quite true to colour- but the background is deep red, matching our dining room curtains at Cornerstones. So it will be framed and hung there, to be admired by dinner guests!
Having opened my post, I started humming 'Nellie the Elephant' to myself. I taught this song to Rosie last year and she enjoys it [this maybe because the word Trump makes her giggle] Then my phone pinged- Jon sent us a photo of their Saturday morning walk. Rosie's grabbed Liz's binoculars, and is clearly looking for something in the distance. Is she too on a Heffalump Hunt?
"I saw one once," said Piglet. "At least, I think I did," he said. "Only perhaps it wasn't."
"So did I," said Pooh, wondering what a Heffalump was like.
"You don't often see them," said Christopher Robin carelessly.
"Not now," said Piglet.
"Not at this time of year," said Pooh.

Sunday 17 February 2019

Deeds, Not Words

It is just a year since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. Seventeen students and teachers died, and another seventeen were injured. 
2018 was the worst year ever for school shootings in the USA - according to CNN, there's been a school shooting on average every twelve days. 
After Parkland, Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, an American screenwriter and Methodist Pastor, was moved to write a biblically based response to politicians who, after every gun massacre, do nothing but send best wishes and empty piety to survivors.
She believes there is no contradiction between the sanctuary and the street when it comes to changing social policies that go against Gospel values. "If we don't follow through on what we say we believe, it's just talk," she said. This past week, Bob and I have been at the annual conference for Baptist pastors and spouses in our area. At the final session, we shared communion, and we closed with Carolyn's hymn. I found the words very challenging
If we just talk of thoughts and prayers
And don't live out a faith that dares,
And don't take on the ways of death,
Our thoughts and prayers are fleeting breath.

If we just dream of what could be
And do not build community,
And do not seek to change our ways,
Our dreams of change are false displays.

If we just sing of doing good
And don't walk through our neighbourhood
To learn its hope, to ease its pain,
Our talk of good is simply vain.

God, may our prayers and dreams and songs
Lead to a faith that takes on wrongs —
That works for peace and justice, too.
Then will our prayers bring joy to you.

This is set to the English Folk tune Waly,Waly - and Carolyn says of her hymn "I give permission for its free use. I only ask that you share it with others."

Saturday 16 February 2019

Token Of Appreciation

For three years we took our summer holidays on the motorbike, travelling to France, Belgium and Eire . Bob bought me a proper Moleskine Notebook, so I could record our adventures en route. I'm afraid my literary output didn't match that of other Moleskine users such as Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway 
[you can read about our French trip if you want, it's now an e-book]
I picked up my notebook last weekend, and suddenly realised there was something in the envelope pocket inside the cover. A Boots Voucher - inside a cardboard folder, labelled £50. Where had this come from? Neither of us could remember. How old was it?Was it still valid? And had it been used at all? 
I took it into Boots, and the lady checked it and it was worth £39.64. - so I decided to spend it all, right there on the spot.
But what should one buy with such a windfall? Perfume for me, aftershave for him, some crazy red nail varnish, a fancy new hairbrush?No. None of these things. Because they were on offer [buy one, get one half price] I bought four month's supply of these...
Because of his sleep problems, Bob finds these strips extremely useful. And I benefit too, as my sleep is less disturbed. I felt guilty about having been careless with this generous gift - but now it has been spent on something which we'll both appreciate, for 120 days [and nights] Thank you, whoever you were, for giving the token in the first place.
I also discovered, tucked on the same bookshelf, the last two of the Leon Breakfast Vouchers which I won three years ago. They have two branches in Manchester now, so perhaps I can use them there.

This sorting of the bookshelves is yielding many unexpected benefits.

Friday 15 February 2019

My Gorgeous Girl Is Growing Fast!

Three years ago I was eagerly anticipating the birth of my first grandchild. I was keeping myself busy with knitting from this bookI did the fish jumper, the cable jumper, the striped cardi, a hat and bootees [they were in pink and went to a friend's newborn daughter]  The book cost about £7, and I felt at the time it was good value because I would use it again.
The patterns go up to 8 years in size.
Liz mentioned that Rosie could do with a cardigan in a neutral shade. 
My friend passed on some Patons washable wool blend aran, in the hopes that I could find a use for it. Thank you Beryl. 
So I've cast on and started knitting design K. That's middle row, bottom picture [shown in navy on the cover but cream inside] 

It's a straightforward double moss pattern. I thought I'd knit it quite quickly but I seem to be on a Go Slow right now, everything is taking longer. Good thing I'm doing the age 3-4 size. It makes a pleasant change from knitting angels. 
Rosie's 3 at the end of the Month. I doubt I'll be done by then. Still in two minds about the contrast blanket stitch edging. Will decide when I've finished it. What do you think? I've got some pretty buttons in my stash I may use instead of plain ones. 

Thursday 14 February 2019

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Thai For Two

Bob and I had a special treat last week- we were given the opportunity to dine at the "Koh Thai" restaurant in Bournemouth. 
After an unexpected week apart, followed by a busy weekend, it was lovely to have such a treat. 
I don't recall ever eating in a Thai restaurant before!
The decor was amazing - we sat at a table by the wall [just to the left of that yellow logo in the picture - which comes from their website
The waiting service was excellent - rather than a 'dedicated' waitress, any member of staff passing the table would ask if you needed anything.
I'm no good at selfies, but here's us!
Bob enjoyed Massaman Lamb, with noodles, and I had Tamarind Duck with Jasmine Rice.
The food was delicious. The atmosphere was pleasant, and we found the waitresses very helpful.
Would I go again? Not sure- whilst I enjoyed the experience, and found the flavours were good, I thought the price did not reflect the size of the portions*. Bob's massaman curry was served in a small cereal bowl and cost £11.50 - the small amount of noodles were a further £4. The picture of tamarind duck on the menu was a little misleading  - there was nothing like as much meat on my plate under those crispy noodles as there was on the menu photograph.
We wondered how big the tapas plates were!

But it was lovely to have an evening out together. We dined quite early, and when we came to leave, the place was comfortably full - couples, families, and larger groups.
It's clearly very popular with many Bournemouth diners. 
[*I suspect my daughters will tell me I have unrealistic expectations about restaurant prices. They're probably right!]

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Soap Opera

I had a little box containing odds and ends of soap. The sort you get when you stop in hotels or conference centres. A few were unopened, but most had been used a couple of times whilst I was away, then brought home in my sponge bag and put into a soap dish. But they get too thin to be of any use.
I looked up ideas on the internet, and decided to grate, melt and pour into moulds. I had some small silicone pudding basins which I planned to use. I broke the bars into chunks then grated them in my processor [I did try to use the cheese grater but was afraid I'd grate my fingers!] It reduced the soap to mostly powder with a few pea sized lumps.
As per instructions I added 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp water to 250gm of soap, put it in a Pyrex bowl and balanced over a pan of boiling water. I stirred diligently with a spatula. At first nothing seemed to happen, then suddenly I had a large lump of 'mashed potato'
Using my ice cream scoop I weighed out around 60gm into each mould. The soap cools very quickly so was easily to handle. But the moulds were too wobbly. I tipped out each lump onto a strip of parchment paper, then pushed it into my biscuit cutter instead.
I ended up with four reasonable sized round cakes of soap. The average 'hotel bar' weighs between 15 and 25gm - so these are 3 times that size. Currently they are in the airing cupboard drying out. 
top tips
  • check out recipes on the net 
  • only add a little water and oil- don't soak the slivers
  • don't bother with the 'add water and do it in the microwave [I did that once before- it's messy and unpredictable and doesn't really save time]
  • weigh out your lumps so they are approx. the same size. you can use immediately, but they will benefit from drying out
  • don't make them too thick, the centre will not harden properly 
  • ignore 'add food colouring' - it may look pretty, but might stain your fingers [which defeats the object of handwashing!] 
  • ditto 'add perfume'- these just smell of 'soap'

Wash utensils thoroughly afterwards, so you don't find your next batch of baked beans tastes of soap. It took less than 20 minutes to make these. Most hotels throw away leftover toiletries, this is making good use of them [mottainai again]

Monday 11 February 2019

The Gifts That Keep On Giving

In the 1880's, the Scottish author J M Barrie moved to London. He lodged in Great Ormond Street, right behind Great Ormond Street Hospital. In 1904, he wrote the stage play Peter Pan, and in 1911 the story appeared in book form. For many years Barrie had supported GOSH - and in 1929, he gifted all the royalties from the book to the Hospital. 

Amazingly, with a sprinkling of fairy dust, in 1988 the House Of Lords amended the Copyrights Act so that GOSH could receive royalties in perpetuity. 
What generosity!
Fifty years later, than Barrie's gift, a similar gesture was made by Abba. 1979 was declared by the UN to be the International Year of the Child, and in January of that year, the group released Chiquitita [it's a term of endearment, meaning 'Little One'] as the first single from their album Voulez-Vous.
Already each member of the Swedish quartet was as rich as Croesus, so they donated half the proceeds from this song to UNICEF. To this day, that raises over £4million per annum for the charity! 
[Thank you Liz, for sharing this lovely story as we sat for hours in a traffic jam on the M11 recently, singing Abba songs to amuse Rosie!]
Gifts that go on 'sparking joy' long after the day you first receive them are great. An elderly friend here is moving, and clearing her flat. She gave me a simple pale wood  chair. My SIL in Surrey gave me two books of upholstery fabric samples at Christmas. The designs are in sets - 4 or five in each colourway - around 100 samples in all. They have a lovely 1950's Lucienne Day feel about them. I offered the chair to the girls, and Steph said she'd like it for her bedroom. 

"Do you want me to make a tie-on cushion pad? If so, what colour?"
"A shade of grey?" 
"Any particular shade? I have around 50 in my remnant bag"
"A middle grey - not charcoal dark but darker than Manchester clouds"
I made a thin cushion pad from some spare wadding, and covered it. I chose two fabrics from the same palette [each sample is slightly larger than the chair seat - so Steph could choose which print she'd have on show]
Steph prefers the grey circle pattern to be on top [I tied that on properly] I can give it to her when we meet up in Norfolk on 22nd Feb.
Thank you Joyce, than you Denise. The chair and fabric will go on giving pleasure for a long time!
Below - Abba, Chiquita, Unicef Concert 1979
[If anyone gives you one of these fabric sample books, be careful when you dismantle it! The long staples are really vicious]