Thursday, 21 October 2021

Happy Birthday Steph


Two of my favourite photos - above my daughters and granddaughters this summer, below Steph, Gaz and George last summer. Today is Steph's birthday. Hope you have an absolutely fabulous day. 

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

With Grateful Thanks


UPDATE : Bob has had his angiogram. No sign of coronary disease. They think the pains relate to the Atrial Fibrillation and hope they can be managed with medication. I'm collecting him from the hospital at 3pm.

Thank you everyone for your kind words and prayers. Thank you NHS. Thank God. 

I will keep you updated, when I have news to share

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

At The Heart Of It

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was going to an online Art workshop   along with a load of other Ministerial Spouses. This was run by my mate Chris Duffett, Baptist minister, artist and more [ check him out here ] As instructed I had a canvas and some acrylic paints and brushes at the ready. I've never used these before, in fact I haven't really done 'art' since O level in 1971 ...

First Chris asked us to read some selected verses from Psalm 18.

I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me…
 In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I cried to my God for help….
From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came before him, into his ears.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me… He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Then we had to select a verse which really spoke to us and sketch something [an image, not words] about. I was drawn to v19, where it talks about being rescued into a spacious place. I envisioned a dark and stormy night at sea - but at the heart of it, God's love and peace. We only had 45 minutes, and this is what I painted

When we had all finished, we were each asked to show our picture and give any explanations. I said that in recent weeks, there had been some difficult issues but even in the darkest moments, I knew God was there for me.

Then Chris said that we were not to keep our pictures, but ask God to show us who we should give them to. 

I decided to pass mine on to Bob. Recently he has had chest pains, and the GP acted really quickly [Bob has an ectopic heartbeat, and 2 years ago had a TIA] She sent him straight off to the cardiac unit in Norwich for further tests. They were so efficient and kind, and tomorrow at 7.15am he will go into hospital for an angiogram, and if necessary, an angioplasty procedure, and stents fitted immediately,  depending on what the angiogram reveals . He has been told to expect everything to take between 3 and 4 hours.

This is run-of-the-mill, everyday stuff for the medical team. But it is not so for us. It is a huge, unknown experience. To be honest, it is quite scary, when I think about what is involved. 

The picture is on the table in our study, so we both see it when we come in here to work on our computers. 

It is a reminder that nothing can separate us from God's love. And that is what is keeping us going right now ...

Monday, 18 October 2021

Please Keep Away!

For the next few days, Bob and I will be self-isolating [explanation tomorrow] In March 2019, right at the beginning of the first lockdown, Bob shared these words from an Indian writer...

"Social distancing is a privilege. 

  • It means you live in a house large enough to practise it. 
  • Hand washing is a privilege too. It means you have access to running water. 
  • Hand sanitisers are a privilege. It means you have money to buy them. 
  • Lockdowns are a privilege. It means you can afford to be at home. 
Most of the ways to ward off the Coronavirus are accessible only to the affluent. In essence, a disease that was spread by the rich as they flew around the globe will now kill millions of the poor. All of us who are practising social distancing and have imposed a lockdown on ourselves must appreciate how privileged we are."

Gratitude for being able to stay together in our warm home
Gratitude for good food and fresh water
Gratitude for friends and family who love and care
Gratitude for an NHS free at the point of need
Gratitude for all the many blessings we have

Help me never to forget just how privileged we are

Sunday, 17 October 2021


Today is Harvest Festival at Church. Unfortunately I cannot be there- I have a very heavy cold at the moment. Our Village Chapel takes it all very seriously, this is a farming area, and people are aware of how much effort goes into providing our food. I was reading through some old notes, and I came across a Harvest Prayer which Bob wrote for a Kirby Muxloe Harvest in 2002 - almost twenty years ago. 

Father -

We thank you for this day

As the leaves take on the tints of autumn

And the air cools to the touch

As harvest fills the barns and evenings shorten

So we remember your faithfulness

And the turning cycle of the seasons

turns our grateful hearts once again to you.

Protect us from ingratitude, selfishness or greed;

and just as your love overflows,

pouring out beauty and wonder,

so may our thankfulness overflow

with generosity of heart and mind.




Saturday, 16 October 2021

One Potato, Two Potatoes...

On another potato related issue- did you play with Mr Potato Head as a child? I had this crazy discussion with Bob the other day about my MrPH. In the box there were various ears, eyes, noses, mouths, hands, hats and shoes but no potato! I remember asking Mum for a spud on Christmas Day.

She wasn't pleased- we didn't have a lot of spare money, and this was tantamount to wasting food. I had a wizened specimen from the bag, and no chance of a second one to make a friend for MrPH. 

Bob checked up - and yes, although the toy was first marketed in 1952, Hasbro didn't include a plastic spud [with holes] till 1964. This was due to concerns about children playing with rotting vegetables and the features having pins which were sharp enough to pierce the skin of the tubers!

I feel this must have reduced the play value somewhat. No opportunity to put the ears at different levels, or make him cross eyed, because the holes were already determined. I'm not sure Liz or Steph ever had one. Of course, the arrival of Toy Story in 1995 caused a resurgence of interest.  Earlier this year Hasbro announced that the character was going gender neutral. 

Then they backtracked a little. 
They tweeted "Hold that Tot – your main spud, MR. POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere! While it was announced today that the POTATO HEAD brand name & logo are dropping the ‘MR.’ I yam proud to confirm that MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD aren’t going anywhere and will remain MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD" In future you will get 1 small and 2 large bodies, and a selection of 42 features in your box to create your own Potato Head Family. [but the original Mr & Mrs PH as seen in Toy Story will still be available] There will also be a 'wider palette of colours'

However 'woke' they hope to be, toys like this with small, fragile components are not conducive on my journey to a zero-waste, less plastic lifestyle. R, G& J won't be getting these from this Grandma anytime! [Sunday's post will not be about potatoes!]

Friday, 15 October 2021


Long before Nigella tried to make her kitchen gadget sound more posh by calling it a Mee-Cro-Wah-Vay, my family were upping the status of fast food by calling that potato place Spu-Doo-Lee-Kay. 

In the 90s you could get a reasonably priced snack lunch there, which felt slightly more healthy than many other fast food outlets. But over the next couple of decades, the prices went up in comparison with the others- McDo's KFC, Burger King etc all seemed a lot cheaper [and were introducing salads and more healthy options] In 2019 the chain went into receivership and sadly 300 jobs were lost. 

But it's back again! Last week it was announced that the company had been bought by Albert Bartlett [the 'Rooster potato' company] and is working with TV chef James Martin to produce a new menu. I had a look at the website

I have to say, it looks tasty - BBQ Pork ribs, Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese, and Chickpea Dhal are a million miles from a dollop of baked beans or a scattering of grated cheese.

James says he loved Spudulike as a child and jumped at the chance to get involved with the project. He does look like a comfortable 'gentleman farmer' in this picture, don't you think? 

There will be ten stores- the first four [including one in Norwich] open this weekend. They are not putting prices on the internet yet, so I'm not sure if I'll be going. We wait and see...

Thursday, 14 October 2021

What Is Wishcycling?

This was a new term for me - I confess that I have been guilty of this in the past "do you think this will be recyclable, Bob? I hope so!" And now I find that I may have messed things up by putting in the wrong stuff. Sue's post about the onions started me on this.The dilemma of buying onions loose [from Spain] or in a plastic bag [English] Which is the better eco-choice - plastic or transportation?

And when you get the goods home from the supermarket, how much of the packaging can go into the recycling?  I didn't realise that the triangle of arrows symbol can be used by any manufacturer, and does not guarantee the item can be recycled. 

I'm pleased that most supermarkets now have facilities for 'soft plastics' - bread bags, veg bags, soft plastic carriers [not biodegradable ones] And others have bins for water filter cartridges - I noticed our big Sainsburys actually has a collection point for used Teflon pans. All very laudable, but it does mean a lot of sorting, and remembering to take these things when you go out to shop. 

Local councils are trying hard to keep people informed about what to put in the recycling bins - and it really does vary from place to place. Some still insist you take glass to a bottle bank - others are happy for it to go in the recycling [unless it is Pyrex, or broken glass] Below is the chart for North Norfolk residents [here in Breckland, green is the ordinary bin, the recycling one is black. I have stenciled huge symbols on the back bin, so our visitors know whats what!]

But it  really does depend on where you live. I put some thin wire coathangers in the bin just before we left Dorset [tin foil, drinks cans, hangers - all metal, right?] But apparently that was wrong.

This site has lots of helpful advice. And getting back to those arrows, which have been around for half a century now, created to honour the first Earth Day in 1970

Numbers 1 & 2 are consistently OK for recycling [shampoo bottles etc] 3 through to 7 are the more complicated plastics. These numbers were developed by the plastics industry in the 80s. I have no idea where 9 fits in!

Wish-cycling is what we do when we put materials in the bin with a wink and a prayer, hoping they will get recycled but not knowing for sure. Most of us have found ourselves hovering there for a moment. Can I recycle a crisp packet? What about a food-splattered napkin? A half full pot of hummus?  Wish-cyclers believe that they’re better off popping the material in, because it’s all headed to a recycling facility further down the line. Unfortunately, misplaced optimism when it comes to waste can have bad consequences. 

Wish-cycling causes contamination, which prevents the good stuff getting through. Hand sorting is the first element of the process at most UK facilities. Real people will work hard to filter out the good quality recyclables so they can be sent on to make wonderful new things. This job can get quite tough if the sorting line is full of half-full soup pots, dregs of lattes in coffee cups or even broken glass bottles. Essentially wish-cycling doesn’t do anyone any favours.

Positive steps to take

  1. Where possible avoid all plastic wrapping
  2. Think about it before you buy
  3. Encourage local traders to be more conscientious
  4. Check your local bin rules
  5. Find out where other stuff can be recycled
  6. Please make sure it is clean
  7. Go to for more advice
  8. Encourage others to recycle too.
And if anybody tells you they are too old to start this game, point out that they have a responsibility to the younger generation! During WW2, it became second nature to avoid waste- saving paper and string, making do and mending, washing and cooking with the minimum of water and fuel, feeding food scraps to the animals...If great-granny could do it, then so can we. She was doing it to help the nation win the war, now it is to help the people save the planet.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Oasis [From Manchester]


Sorry, this post has absolutely nothing to do with the Gallagher brothers! 
As we move slowly and carefully back to more social opportunities post-Lockdown, our little chapel has opened a café on Wednesday mornings. 

Just from 10-12, serving tea, coffee, and cakes. We even have a fancy new filter machine from Kingdom Coffee. All free, but with optional donations to charity. We've advertised in the village magazine - and wanted a sign outside to indicate we were open. We have one of these boards, which goes out every Sunday with appropriate wording, when it is our worship service - and there was a spare plain white metal sheet with it.

For the first few sessions, I stuck a paper sheet on both sides to tell people we are open. But that is not very weather-proof or longlasting. Professional signage does not come cheap.

What I needed was a Cricut machine so I could produce my own professional quality adhesive vinyl letters and graphics. If I were younger, and still doing a lot of church and youth work, maybe I'd have considered buying one. 

Right now, I cannot see I have enough need of one to justify the purchase. However, my friend Hayley posted on FaceBook how much fun she was having with her new bit of kit. 

Hayley was our Church Youth Worker for some years, back in Kirby Muxloe. Now she is happily married, with two young sons, and lives in Manchester. So I emailed her - and she was thrilled to be able to produce the lettering for us, and posted it back to me in time to make up the sign for today's café session.  Thank You Hayley!

Now do you understand the title of the blogpost?
[D'you know what I mean? as Liam and Noel would say]

UPDATE - Everybody likes the new sign. We had a couple of dozen people come in, and I sent Hayley a picture.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

No Fly Zone

There are rather too many flies around at the moment. It happens every summer in the village. We have a very efficient Zapper in the kitchen - but these insects get everywhere. After one flew over the tea tray and landed in the milk jug, I decided action was needed. My grandmother had the right idea - she never used clingfilm or tupperware, or had a fridge. She just put a little 'hat' on the jug. 

I found a hand crocheted doiley in the small box of vintage table linens which remained after my great pre-moving declutter, and a jam jar of assorted beads. I spent a peaceful Sunday afternoon stitching beads round the edge of the circle of lace to weigh it down. The hat now fits various sized jugs, and keeps the flies out.

I'm not sure where all the beads came from - but the bright pink discs were from the bracelet my cousin gave me in 1968 when I was her bridesmaid. Our satin dresses were the same alarming shade of fuchsia pink. 

There is such satisfaction in finding a simple solution to a problem using materials you already have!

Monday, 11 October 2021

This Is Not A Wind Up!

What do you do when your wind turbine is too old to use, and you have to wind up the facility and replace it with a new one? These huge structures are a brilliant way of harnessing wind energy and turning it  into electricity. But they do not last forever.

Recent blades have been made to be recyclable, but the earlier generation of carbon fibre reinforced plastic is not so easy to repurpose.

So I was really excited to learn that now one of the Scottish windfarms is due for replacement, boffins are working on constructive ways to use the parts, aiming for ZeroWaste

In The Netherlands and Denmark, these massive pieces of engineering are already being turned into play parks and bike sheds.

In Scotland they are also considering skateboard ramps, glamping pods and wildlife hides

Very creative, and safe. How much more useful than the decommissioned Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

It's Love What Gets Us Out Of Bed In The Morning

There was a cheerful Sally Army lady standing in the marketplace, outside Cowper Church. Smiling and greeting people, despite the damp grey weather. I saw her as I got off the bus, and by the time I reached her, I'd found some change for her collection pot. The Army have been at the forefront of caring for over 150 years,. 

During the pandemic, they have used their wisdom and experience to facilitate even more good deeds. "Have a newspaper" she said, so I took a copy of the War Cry. A cheerful read for the busride home! The paper has been sold on the streets since 1879. It’s always campaigned on social justice issues. In 1885, it shocked Victorian society with its campaign to raise the age of consent to stamp out the widespread abuse of children through prostitution. Recent War Cry issues have reported on The Army’s frontline work supporting victims of modern slavery and giving shelter to homeless people. Interviews have included an FGM survivor, a former child soldier and a climate change campaigner who took part in Extinction Rebellion protests.

What caught my eye was the photo on the front - tonight we see the return of the irrepressible Larkin Family to our TV screens. I adored the original stories by H E Bates, his glorious descriptions of the beautiful Kent countryside, mouthwatering paragraphs about Ma's cooking, and Pa's carefree, generous attitude to life.

Thirty years ago, Pam Ferris and David Jason played the couple who produced this happy-go-lucky family [it launched Catherine Zeta Jones' career] Now Joanna Scanlan and Bradley Walsh are in charge. I really hope this series proves as popular as the first one [but I suspect it may be more 'woke', and perhaps not quite as true to the original books]

But the key thing is the driving force which holds the family together- love. As Pa says "It's love what gets us out of bed in the morning". He cares not just for his family, but all the waifs and strays, the lonely and elderly, anyone 'in trouble' who crosses his path. OK, his morality isn't always perfect, and he sometimes crosses the line in terms of what is strictly legal as he is seeking to do good. But his heart is in the right place. 

Joanna Scanlan was interviewed for The War Cry [read it here] and she spoke about her role in the new series "Ma Larkin is a happy woman who's spreading the love. And there is something about that. That forgiving, kind, warmness is the solution to most of life's problems" Joanna believes that kind of love is just as important in the real world as it is in the story.

I agree - and I'm looking forward to watching the show tonight [ITV 8pm]  Perfick Sunday night viewing IMHO

Saturday, 9 October 2021

But Is It Art?

Today I shall be at an online conference all day - for Thrive, the support group for those of us married to Baptist Ministers. It includes spouses of students, chaplains, retired pastors, missionaries...and those who are widowed too. It happens in alternate years, and I missed the 2019 Conference because of Bob's TIA. So I am really looking forward to this one, and reconnecting with friends- even if it is on Zoom.

There are optional workshops, and I have chosen an art based one. My paints etc are all ready. I have no idea what will happen - I am a crafter rather than an artist...we will see.

When I was at the Tate with Liz the other week, I took a picture of this - it is an installation by Peter Fischli and David Weiss, part of "Untitled" - which is "A witty recreation of everyday objects in polyurethane sculpture"

And there was me thinking it was two old tyres on a stack of pallets with some scrap wood beside it. I don't get modern art.

The Very Nice Men who put up Bob's Lathe Palace had some wood left over, which they said they'd leave behind if he could use it. [yes please!] Bob reconfigured his temporary woodstore, and wrapped it in tarps and empty builders' bags, as rain was forecast. I thought this could definitely be considered a work of art. It reminded me of the Dancing Dragons from Chinese New Year, so I added a few features.

I spent Thursday, a sunny day, working on the front path. 
My other art installation is called "I need to make my Christmas cake" - a witty reminder that all the time I was mixing cement and sand, I kept thinking of flour and brown sugar and I want to get some festive baking underway soon.  

The past fortnight has been surprisingly busy - I'm grateful to the Thrive Committee for organising our Conference, it will be a good opportunity to reflect, and take stock of things - next week we will have been retired six months! It's been a wonderful time [mostly] 

and the adventure certainly continues...

Friday, 8 October 2021

Celebrating Grandparents Day

We had a fantastic [if a little damp] weekend in Manchester with Steph, Gaz and George. On Saturday we visited Dunham Massey, a lovely NT property.
 We saw lots of deer in the park [see photo below]

Most of the buildings were closed, but we did look round the servants courtyard - some rather soggy laundry items pegged on a line - but in the surrounding rooms we saw the laundry, the butler's pantry, the dairy and other workrooms. There's that washing dolly!

George is very happy in the company of Mum and Dad- but decidedly suspicious of me - but he got on incredibly well with Grandad Bob

Sunday was Grandparents' Day [who knew?] And our young man was delighted to show his Grandad round the Science Museum! 
I liked the Whitworth quote- true for dressmakers and cooks as well as engineers. There asre plenty of female engineers and scientist honoured in the Museum, which is good.
Our stay was over all too quickly, it was so good just to be together as family. Steph gave me a classy manicure too [thank you!]  We got back home Monday evening, having called on our 'Midlands'  SIL en route. It was too dark to see the completed Lathe Palace* - but I'm happy to say it is all built now. .Also happy to see no evidence of slugs either. Maybe they are all teetotal Wesleyans round here?   [
*photos of LP will follow later]

Thank you for yesterday's dolly comments. Regarding Barbra Streisand and hats, I was amused to learn from Steph that on Thursday George found a hat he liked in the dressing up box at nursery. His daily journal said that he confidently put it on his head, and was very excited, and proudly went to show his friends. It looks like a good hat to wear if the weather gets colder...