Saturday 29 February 2020

Sales Pitch

Mags asked about my Etsy shop. It's herePeople seem to choose bizarre names for their shop - so I decided that as much of my stuff is vintage/retro I'd go for Mistress Marchpane - which is a vintage version of Mrs Marzipan [i.e. Almond paste] Currently I am selling off vintage kitchenware and haberdashery. Thus far I have had fifteen sales, in seven weeks. I think this is not bad going. I'm trying to keep my prices low. It is alarming that items which I first had in the 70s when we got married automatically count as vintage now!
Taking the photos and writing the ads takes time - but I've had some good customer feedback. Yes there are fees for using Etsy - but on balance it is easier than carting a bootload of stuff to a cold wet field and standing around all day hoping for a customer.
Much of this stuff has 'sparked joy' for me, but I really cannot justify keeping it all. This seems a sensible  way to declutter.
The proceeds have gone into my savings account, which had a small amount in it already.
And on Wednesday, I'd got to the point where I had enough money to consider making an appointment with the opticians for new glasses. This is wonderful, and I feel I have achieved what I set out to do. 
Except...following yesterday's visit to the dentist, the Spectacle Fund will be diverted to pay for the more urgent dental work [another crown] and I shall keep the shop going a little bit longer!

Friday 28 February 2020

Happy Families!

This week, had he still been with us, my Dad would have celebrated his 96th birthday. He was an amazing, wonderful person - and full of joy and love [as anyone who ever met him will tell you] In January, Liz sent me a picture of Rosie enjoying her fish and chips - and it reminded me so much of a picture someone took of Dad on his 70th birthday...
I miss Dad - but I am so grateful for the family I have around me now - and Dad would be so proud of them all too. So whilst I am not sending Dad a birthday card this week, it is still the week when the family celebrates 3 other birthdays - Rosie, my niece Lucy, and then today, my son-in-law Gary. This picture was Christmas 2018, when we were all together at Cornerstones. Gaz at the back, Lucy on the right, and Rosie centre front [as usual] Happy birthday to these three special people, who continue to bring love and joy into our family life.

Thursday 27 February 2020

There's No Hurry...

Some days I'm quicker off the mark than others!

Wednesday 26 February 2020

One Piece Short Of A Jigsaw

I finally finished that Scottish Jigsaw I bought in January.
It was 75% good fun.
But the looks like white clouds on a blue sky - but honestly it took me hours. Furthermore, I did some in the evening by artificial light. The pieces did fit together- but next morning, it was quite apparent they were wrong.
There was much undoing and redoing.
Plus there was one edge piece missing - although I realised on closer inspection of the picture on the box, that whoever donated it to the CS must have known this. There was a little blue cross indicating the location of the missing piece.
But in the end I managed it. It will shortly be going off to Scotland to its new owner, a blogfriend of many years acquaintance. I hope she enjoys it too. And at least she will not be spending hours sifting the pieces looking for that edge piece, or crawling under the coffee table wondering where she has dropped it!
Happy memories of a beautiful place! [and another useful diversion which took my mind off the toothache over the weekend]

Tuesday 25 February 2020

The Toothache Queen

On Saturday afternoon I developed slight toothache. By Sunday morning, during church, it had developed to a raging pain [Bob knew something was up, I wasn't singing the hymns with my usual enthusiasm] and I took some strong painkillers. It got no better so Monday, as we left Cornerstones I rang the dentist and got an emergency appointment for 8am Tuesday. The dentist  X-rayed, and thought it might be a cracked filling, but couldn't see it, her senior colleague was called in. He thinks there may be a problem with the root... So I have a 45 minute appointment booked with him for Friday, when he may have to extract the tooth. 
The pain comes and goes, with varying degrees of intensity - I feel like the Queen in that wonderful Chess Set from the Isle of Lewis.
I'm trying to avoid the pills, so Bob is being brilliant at distracting me with mental challenges.
When I mentioned the Queen, he posed me this question...
"If you were redecorating 'The San' in a Girls' Boarding School what pieces of artwork would you put on display?"
Now this left me wondering - when Bob was much younger, did he actually read those "girls' books", which I am sure were on his sister's shelf - Malory Towers, The Chalet School, Angela Brazil et al? Should I be surprised? after all, I read Biggles, Nevil Shute and John Buchan - previously labelled "boys' fiction" in the school libraries. However, it was a good question. I came up with three artworks [as well as the Toothache Queen] to represent 'female malaise'
Mariana, by John Everett Millais. One of the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, this picture is always referred to as "Backache Woman" in this house. Many teenage girls [my younger self included] found the P-Rs deeply romantic
The Lady Of Shalott by John William Waterhouse [another P-R chap] just for that line from Tennyson's poem "The curse has come upon me!" said whenever we were trying to claim we were too ill for hockey due to monthly cramps.
Munch's The Scream might seem a little drastic - but teenage girls occasionally tend to be drama queens. [Art historians now believe that the violent, blazing red and orange sky was actually inspired by the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa ten years before Edvard did this painting. The atmosphere, even far away in Norway, was filled with flaming ash and debris]
So, what art would YOU put in The Sanatorium to encourage those "clever gels" to get out of bed and return to their jolly hockey sticks? And which books should go on the bedside cupboard?
[I should stress, I never went to a Boarding School myself, I just read the stories - but I did loathe hockey]

Gone With The Wind

Each February Bob has a "Reading and Reflection" break, when he can get away briefly, to study, pray and prepare for the year ahead [particularly to plan all the Easter stuff for church] So we get away to Cornerstones and he shuts himself in one room and I do other stuff **[finish jigsaws, knit, odd jobs etc]
However our weekend away as been a little more complicated because of recent storms. Gary was here overnight last Monday, as he had a business meeting in East Anglia, and he'd reported on the State Of The Fences, and had a chat with our neighbour. Sadly things have got worse since.
At the side, the little gate has come away, and the fence panel by the bins is coming loose.
At the back, the whole fence between the garage and summerhouse was adrift, and the roof over the bbq and smoker had blown right off. Fortunately it landed on the patio and had not caused any damage in its flight.
We spent part of Saturday removing dodgy disintegrating panels and posts, and stacking them on the patio. 
There's a small wire fence between us and next door - so even though the panels have gone, Archie the dog will not be able to get into our garden. 
But there is a lot of fencing bedding to be repaired. 
Maintenance of a property when you live 200 miles away is neither straightforward nor cheap. Bob 
So some of my weekend has been spent going through cupboards and decluttering - I'm planning a Saturday Yard Sale when we get back to Dorset to raise some cash towards the Fencing Fund [Boot Fairs are usually on Sundays, so I don't do them]
The Etsy shop is ticking over - I've just sold the big kettle. By Easter I should have raised the money for my new glasses. 
**I had one very interesting outing, which will get its own blog post later. 

Monday 24 February 2020

Birthday Girl

Rosie is four today. She continues to bring so much happiness to us all. Being grandparents is such a privilege. Happy Birthday, darling child - God bless you today and always 

Sunday 23 February 2020

Lord In Your Mercy...

...Hear Our Prayer
Last Sunday, I said the "Prayers of Intercession" at Church. It is an important part of Sunday Worship for me, that we look outside the walls of the building and pray for the world around. I used part of the beginning of it on my prayer leaf in Salisbury. Here are the words from the end of that prayer. 
Lord Jesus
we have prayed about the storms
 - your words calmed the winds and the waves
we have prayed for the sick
 - you healed the deaf, the blind and the lame
we have prayed for the sad and bereaved
 - you stood weeping with Martha and Mary at the tomb of Lazarus
we have prayed for the homeless and the refugees
 - you had no home of your own, and as a baby, you and your parents were refugees fleeing persecution
Lord Jesus
You truly understand our prayers because you are the God Incarnate, who walked this earth and experienced suffering. We rejoice that you are the Risen and Powerful Saviour, who brings hope and joy and love - and peace beyond all human understanding.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer
Don't forget to comment if you are joining us for Lent Inspirations, starting next weekend.

Saturday 22 February 2020

It's A Wrap!

Or so they say when they finish filming.I'm afraid I never got to see Little Women - there was too much going on in January and I never got round to finding someone to come with me. Which is a shame for lots of reasons, not least because I really wanted to see the wraps [ie shawls] which were worn by the actresses. They were made in the UK just 3½ miles from Cornerstones!
Jenn Mohahan of the Fibre Workshop in the village of Elsing produced around seven pieces for the film - 400 hours of knitting! Here she is with Beth's shawl [and she's wearing Jo's shawl]
Jenn has also knitted items for the films Churchill and 2017.
Wool is part of Norfolk's history - and Jenn champions the "Norfolk Horn" - a hardy little black faced breed brought to the county by the Saxons, around 420 AD. Numbers declined in the 1960s,almost to extinction, but now it is recognised as a rare breed - and there are 79 flocks.
Jenn runs workshops, on processing the yarn and dyeing it - maybe in a few years time I shall be able go to one [it's near enough to cycle]
What a lovely story - and there's a further twist ...
Jenn made a copy of Beth's shawl. She raffled it off for "Barefoot College and the Solar Mamas" - an amazing charity which works in 1300 villages in 80 countries worldwide to empower women. She hoped to raise £250 to help train women to produce energy, reduce carbon emissions and bring lihght, employment and self-reliant solutions for their communities. Her Raffle raised a whopping £4118. 74.
I haven't seen the film yet - but I'm thrilled to realise that there is a connection to my corner of Norfolk. Jenn's determination is helping to maintain a Rare Breed, and her generosity has blessed women across the world. 
That is an inspiring story.

Friday 21 February 2020

I Thought Back Then It Was Comedy...

...But Now It Seems Like Fortune Telling
Do you realise that it is forty years this week since "Yes Minister" first hit our TV screens? [and many of you reading this were not even born then] We lost Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne sometime ago. Derek Fowlds died just last month. "The Thick Of It" by Armando Janucci is today's answer to YM [personally I find TTOI just a little too sweary - even if it has got Roger Allam** in it] But somehow the antics of Whitehall seemed such fun back in the 80s, and Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn wrote such witty scripts. 

I enjoyed the programme - and the sequel, Yes Prime Minister, so much! Now I look with despair on the antics in Downing Street.

** I have watched many episodes of "Sarah and Duck" [on CBeebies] with Rosie, just for the pleasure of listening to RA's voice.

Thursday 20 February 2020

Let There Be Light...

Hours later, and I'm still awed by the fabulous Sarum Lights which we watched in Salisbury on Tuesday Evening. To mark 800 years of the Cathedral, a fabulous son-et-lumiĆ©re event, facilitated by Lux Muralis, is showing for five nights this week [weather permitting] I saw an ad somewhere last week, and booked tickets online- only £5 each, and worth every penny.
We arrived at 7, and watched the display on the West Front then were efficiently whisked inside, out of the wind and rain.
The queue was sent round a circuit of the cloisters. This kept us moving, and also meant the hundreds in the line could better shelter from the elements as they waited their turn to go into the cathedral and walk down the nave.

The lights were awesome, my pictures do not do justice to the event. The music was lovely, and the displays gave a sense of history, and the passage of time - from Creation, through the Middle Ages to the present day. Architecture, art, science all represented.

Bob and I stood and marvelled at the beauty of light and sound...In one of the side chapels, was a beautiful altarpiece, and also a chance to write a prayer on a leaf shape. I decided to copy part of the prayer I'd written for last Sunday's service. The guide said I could take it home, or hand it in at the chapel on the other side, and it would become part of a larger display. When I got there, I was told to place it on the altar, and it would be collected later. My leaf-prayer was bathed in pink light!
We left by the cloisters again, looking at the important truths in which we as Christians believe - and reminded that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of our faith.

Then back across the Market Square to catch a bus to the Park&Ride Carpark. Earlier in the day, the market had been in full swing, with brightly coloured stalls, traders and customers everywhere. It was strange to see it deserted but lit up - with the lights reflecting in all the puddles.
What a fantastic evening! I drove back - and found one section where our carriageway was coned off, and there were traffic lights. Since we'd left at midday, one side of the road had become quite flooded. Not a fun journey. But I am so glad we went, and grateful to all those Cathedral Volunteers who stood outside directing the crowds so cheerfully
Watch the official video to get a better impression of the Sarum Lights...

It was indeed a 'family friendly' event. Norwich had a light show last weekend too - "LoveLight". BBC report here. If you really want to see someone utterly awestruck by the glory of it all, here's Rosie in Norwich, totally enraptured...

Wednesday 19 February 2020

One Step At A Time...

Two authors are adjacent on our bookshelf- Milne and Mitchell. Not one's immediate choices in terms of Health and Safety Literature. However, in one, we find the dreadful story of Scarlett O Hara falling downstairs, in the other, there is poor Edward Bear [aka Winnie] suffering as he descends behind his owner.
Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. And then he feels that perhaps there isn't. 

Having got my new slippers, I realise that my old ones were getting a little too loose [as well as holey] Stair safety is very important. Not just for vulnerable people [children, pregnant Mums, people carrying things, the infirm and the elderly] but for every person [and teddy bear] As Sue as wisely pointed out, Cornerstones is a bungalow - which is a good thing if you are approaching retirement. I won't have to worry about fitting a Stairlift when I am 75! 
The British Woodworking Federation have produced this poster to remind us all about Stair Safety, based on the acronym S T A I R S. 
Read it, and stay safe, my friends!
But you do have to wonder about the designers of this New York Subway Station. Watch it and wince!
Fortunately the guy who made the film posted it on Social Media, and the staircase was fixed very quickly - presumably before anyone was able to sue for broken ankles or worse.

Tuesday 18 February 2020

A Right Royal Rabbit Hole

You hear something on the radio, and it interests you, then a couple of days later someone blogs about it, and you decide you really should look this up, but you get sidetracked..and before you know it, you have fallen down the rabbit hole, and you end up discovering stuff you had not been looking for, and forgetting quite where it all began...
It began with Radio 4's Kitchen Cabinet.
The programme came from Bakewell, and there was much discussion about the difference between Bakewell Tart and Bakewell Pudding. Explanation here
On Saturday, Jean, a Derbyshire lass, posted all about the same topic- here is her splendid looking tart. She says that her Mum often made one for Sunday tea, and used her BeRo book. That sent me scurrying to check out my well used, stained 1982 copy.
You will notice that there are added comments- so many of the great ladies I have met at Church Teas use this little book. Gwen Toon - in Kirby Muxloe -advises soaking the milk before you make the Coconut and Orange Cake, and Betty [Dudman] of Ferndown added 1tsp vanilla to the Easy Fruit Cake. I think I put [Dudman] in brackets because there are so many ladies called Betty on Church Tea Rotas across the country! 
Then I started wondering, where did the name Be-Ro come from? It appears that Thomas Bell started a company producing flour, baking powder etc 150 years ago in Longhorsley near Newcastle. 
He called his brand "Bell's Royal". But there was confusion with another brand, so he shortened it to Be-Ro [and you thought Su-Bo, SamCam, J-Lo etc was a new idea]
And here is the other brand. Royal is owned now by Kraft foods. The distinctive tin has a Droste Effect recursive design.
The red tin shows a smaller picture of the red tin showing a smaller picture of the red tin, showing a smaller picture of the red tin...
In fact, if you stare at it for too long, it is just like falling down a right royal rabbit-hole. 
For £2.99 you can still buy a copy of the BeRo cookbook [here] now in its 41st edition. You can read the Royal Cookbook free online, at Project Gutenburg [here] This is an Americn Book. It does not include British delights like Bakewell Tart or Toad in the Hole - but you can find recipes for Penuche and Albuminized Orange, whatever they are!

Monday 17 February 2020

Fine - But Frugal - Dining

I decided to push the boat out and make a fancy meal for Valentine's Day. It's ages since I went over to Wimborne Market early on a Friday. Having fortified myself with a bowl of porridge, I loaded my Trusty Trolley, and 2 large bags of CS donations and set off. I met Peter, Steve and Mike, three very good friends from church, also buying their veg. I declined their kind invitation to join them for breakfast in Wimborne. 
I bought lots of lovely fresh veg at good prices, and a ham hock from the New Forest Farm Stall. Then into Waitrose for a few more bits. I sat down with my free coffee, and had a pleasant chat with another lady of similar age and height [we were both struggling to clamber onto the barstools!] Off to drop off - but not buy anything - at the CS. Then home... 
Valentine's Menu
Smoked Mackerel Pate 
with Rye Crispbread & Red Pepper Garnish
Slow Roast Ham Hock, 
with Roasted Root Vegetable Melange
Gravy & Apple Sauce
Gu Zillionaires Cheesecake 
with Fresh Cherries
Coffee & Chocolates 
Nero D'Avola Sicilian Red Wine 
The meal was almost all homemade, I did buy the Finn Crispbread, and the Gu puddings [and Bob's favourite wine] but I made everything else from scratch. The veg mix [thank you Peter for the celeriac idea] was celeriac, sweet potato and squash.
I added a heart garnish to the starter and stuck paper hearts on the after-dinner chocs. And lit the candles in my new candelabra. It was all very romantic, and very well received. The cost of the ingredients of the food we actually ate [not counting the 50%of the meat left for other meals etc] came to just TEN POUNDS for the two of us. A very happy Valentine's day

Sunday 16 February 2020

Lent Inspirations for 2020

We are barely 2 weeks from Shrove Tuesday, and the beginning of Lent. The first Sunday of Lent will be March 1st. Since 2010, I have been doing some sort of "Pause in Lent" - a tradition started my my friend Floss in France. 

The idea is to take some time to reflect, either in a specifically Christian way or just in a more general 'spring-time, new-life' manner, on what this season means to us. You can share with us what you have been thinking about, what you have been doing at home or at church, what you have been reading or experiencing, and what your hopes or prayers are. The first Sunday of Lent is March 1st and Easter Sunday is April 12th. 
If you would like to join in, please leave a comment on this post. Please feel free to take the picture above and to make a link back to this blog, where I will make a list of all the participants and link to their blogs in my sidebar. I am looking forward to joining up with you all!
So please join with us to post when you can [no obligations, no guilt] on Sundays or Mondays between now and then. [You can sign up to be a reader, even if you are not posting] Maybe your thoughts will inspire others 
I've changed the picture for this Leap Year, to reflect my #word365, inspire because I was particularly taken with the image of a snowdrop threaded through the palm cross.

Saturday 15 February 2020

Slice Nippers!

Thank you for yesterday's comments and witty Spoonerisms. The new 'berry' slippers are gorgeous. Mulberry rather than raspberry, but they go well with my dressing gown. And my socks.
Inside there was this interesting tag attached...
Is this wording intended to be

  1.  Informative... "M&S love slippers" [because the sale of slippers, esp at Xmas, generates good profits]
  2. Instructive... "You must LOVE slippers" [because they are to be appreciated and enjoyed]
  3. Strangely Descriptive... "These are not just slippers, they are M&S Love Slippers. " presumably they only come in Adult sizes? 

Friday 14 February 2020

She Slopped Her Dripper!

One of my 'Party Pieces' used to be telling children the story of Rindecella, a gritty pearl who bent to the wall, and pranced with the Dince, till the mock cluck stridnight. At which point she stan down the rares and slopped her dripper.**
Well I nearly "slopped my dripper" down the stairs last week. I've had these blue suede slippers for ages- they are certainly BC [Before Cornerstones] This photo was taken about 4 years ago. Eleven years on, and at least four repairs later they've finally given up the ghost and my toes shot through the top as I was coming downstairs.
There's a gaping hole in the top, holes in the soles,the furry lining is threadbare, and the repair stitching has started to disintegrate.
Well fitting slippers are important IMHO. I need to feel safe - particularly when I'm wandering to the loo in the early hours, or blearily descending to the kitchen to make the morning cuppa. Bob felt that I might be carrying my usual thriftiness too far, and suggested it really was time to replace them.
Fortunately M&S recently sent me some loyalty vouchers and a 3xpoints on clothing offer. I've checked out the website, and there is an almost identical pair available. Colour options: light blue, beige, mustard, navy or berry.

After all these years with safe navy, I'm pushing the boat out and having red instead of blue!
Thank you everyone for your comments - and some of you have been kind enough to email because you cannot seem to comment online. I've been told that if you use a different browser [eg Chrome] you may have more success with commenting. 
**at the end of the story, Rindecella gore fave her muggly other, and her sad bisters. She parried her Mince, and they all lavved hippily avver ifter!

Thursday 13 February 2020

He's Behind You!

We've just got back from our annual Baptist Conference in Cheltenham. It was really good. But there was an added unexpected surprise.
On the first day, this vehicle was spotted in the Hotel Car Park. 

Gloucestershire Live website had an interesting article about this lot.
And when I looked over my shoulder at breakfast on Tuesday, there was Nick Knowles and co, chatting to some Baptist Ministers
I returned to my room after breakfast, and met Billy in the corridor right outside my room. I had a huge hug and a selfie!
Yes they are as cheerful and friendly as they appear on screen. A really affable crowd.
I think DIY-SOS is a good programme - they go and work very hard to make living conditions better for a family in difficulties.That has to be considered a positive thing to do. They get the local community involved, and they all work together to build a better future for people who have often lost hope.
You can follow the story of the Chapman family rebuild here. Nick wasn't sure when the programme would be shown on TV - probably after the summer. 
This lot are definitely poster boys for my #word365 INSPIRE

Wednesday 12 February 2020

...Happily Ever After

The latest batch of Memory Bears were completed on Saturday - and I used the leftover fabric to make a patchwork cushion for another member of the family.
These safety eyes came from Hobbycraft. I liked the blue colour - but found them a lot harder to fix than the brown ones I'd found in The Range and Fabricland last year!
Each bear has a little khaki backpack, and I also used that fabric for the edges of the cushion. I realise that almost all the shirts I've been given for bears thus far have been in shades of blue - the khaki shirt was quite unexpected!