Saturday, 6 March 2021

You've Been Framed!

There are too many picture frames in this house! When we emptied the loft on Tuesday I found a whole box of family photos and random pictures - and many of them were in good frames. Then there was a box of 8 smaller wooden IKEA frames left over from a Holiday Club craft project, and the box of "pictures we formerly had on the walls in Kirby but not in this house". 

Bob helped me remove all the photos, and we amassed about 25 frames for which we have no use [if we hung all the artwork on the walls at Cornerstones, it would be like the National Gallery - 30 pictures in every room] I posted in the Ferndown Kindness Group- and a lady has been to collect the frames. No point in trying to sell them, and if a Charity shop were open for donations, this lot would rather swamp them. 

We've kept three IKEA "Ribba" frames- because we used to have a wall of black and white family photos all mounted in these frames, in the lounge in Kirby. I've found a few more pictures that I'd like to add to this and we will display them in the hall at Cornerstones. But all the rest are going.

Last Saturday, Bob and I walked to the postbox, and noticed someone had a load of 'free' stuff on their lawn. Is that a Ribba? I said - then reminded myself we did not need it. A couple of days later, on another postbox stroll, I saw the frame again- at the top of the road, this time smashed on the pavement. Had somebody picked it up, then dropped it by mistake? If so, why didn't they clear it up? Next to it was a child's plastic wheelbarrow.

It was almost 3pm, and time for the children who were at school to come home - there are often adults, children, toddlers, and dogs on the path mid afternoon. I came home home, got gloves and a cardboard box, and went back to retrieve the glass. When I got back to our house, I discovered it was like a RIbba, but different proportions. It's all been carefully disposed of now. My neighbour said she'd noticed a family with a small child pushing the barrow full of stuff, and it tipped over. Maybe he'd collected the freebies on his walk up the hill. [The barrow has gone now]

Cornerstones is in a much quieter close - very few children going past. I'll miss that. But my youngest neighbour there, who has mobility issues, has just got a fantastic new TomCat trike. This innovative company specialises in bespoke trikes for those with special needs- enabling them to enjoy the fun of cycling, and safe exercise in the fresh air. I look forward to chatting to her this summer as she pedals by with her Mum jogging behind.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Zooming Around Like A Headless Chicken

I seem to be up to my eyes in Zoom meetings lately -  a year ago I'd never been to one! Last week, Rosie had two 'birthday family Zoom' events. Then on Sunday it was the usual afterchurch coffee. Wednesday the Church Prayer Group, Thursday a friend's book launch party. [report to follow later] Today is World Day of Prayer Day

Tonight a WDP follow up Zoom coffee & cake session with members of Thrive [the Baptist Support network, where all the readers in our service came from]

Don't forget you can find this year's Vanuatu Service at anytime on YouTube HERE

And if that isn't enough online activity, it's also been Fairtrade Fortnight - focusing on climate change, with loads of online stuff

and also Food Waste Action Week which has a similar theme.

...and in between all that zooming and watching and saving the planet, I'm still packing boxes!

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Inspired Ideas

 I love sharing good news stories, and things about people who have been doing good stuff in bad times. Two stories  I noticed this week...

Krystyna Pasko is an 18 year old Polish girl. She's in the Scouts and created a Facebook Page for her Warsaw  Scouts group, and has long been interested in Human Rights. 

She was concerned to read about people affected by Domestic Violence who were unable to access help - and that a French Pharmacy had a system whereby asking for a particular type of face mask was a signal that a person needed help.

She decided to set up an online fake cosmetics company., called Camomile and Pansies.

The idea is that an abuse victim can hide her requests for help by pretending to be shopping on line. When a customer asks for cream for a skin problem, a psychologist [not a regular shop assistant] asks how long the problem has been going on, how does it react to alcohol etc...and these are coded ways of determining what is happening- if the customer 'places an order' and gives her address, then the authoritieswoill visit the home to offer help.

The Polish Women's Rights Centre, an NGO are supporting the site by supplying psychologists and lawyers who work with the site. Since the launch nearly 400 people [mostly under 40, and 10% male] have been in touch. Krystyna won an EU Civil Solidarity award [with a £10,000 prize] for the idea, which enabled her to set it all up. 

I am so impressed that this young woman has recognised a need, has seen that her generation are happiest communicating on the internet - and has provided a way of helping those who are desperate for escape from abuse. Well done Krystyna! [full story here]

And here's Jonathan Cunningham- the sort of guy I really admire. Having finished University he joined the Army- serving in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Iraq...and then he had a cardiac arrest. This changed his outlook on life, work and family, He made a full recovery and was promoted to chief of staff over the NW Army. Here he rolled out a plan to engage with disaffected youth in deprived areas. It was a huge success, in 2009 the Queen awarded him the MBE.

And he changed direction again - first becoming a director in the Wirral Foundation Trust Hospitals, and then setting up a consultancy, speaking on business models, resilience and counter-terrorism. And now he and his wife run Rosebank - a care home specialising in dementia and learning disabilities. He has been incredibly vocal during the pandemic, accusing the PM of throwing the Care Home Sector 'under the bus'

But he doesn't just complain - he acts. A shortage of proper PPE meant he had to devise alternative ways to protect his staff - so he bought them ski goggles and kagoules. And he knew that lack of contact is a terrible thing for a dementia patient- he is aware that they need the reinforcement of visits from loved ones, and mental stimulation. He devised all sorts of creative ways to enable them to keep in touch. So his latest move? He has bought an electric rickshaw and equipped it with an all round perspex screen. 

And now this caring, witty, intelligent bloke takes his residents for rides - along Lord Street, Southport's Victorian Boulevard, even enjoying the occasional icecream, as they feel the breeze, and the sun on their faces. What a true source of joy for everyone involved!
Keeping his residents safe during the pandemic  has been a great burden he admits- but says his years in the army taught him to be responsible for the men in his care. And being a family run home, he is not answerable to the 'group protocols' of large chain care-homes. 

Jonathan's passion for life is evident, he says this "Live life to the full, exercise every single day, love people and do things that scare you! Life is about putting back, adding value and always improving people’s lives. Life is short - let’s do it!"

Thank you Krystyna and Jonathan - you challenge and inspire us - God strengthen you in all your efforts to bless and help others.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Get It Taped

In 1986, I had a book published. It was called "Get It Taped" and it was a guide to recording and using audio cassettes in church. Ken Jackson,  who ran a small publishing company called "Jay Books" asked me to write it as part of his Acorn Series. It was one of a number of practical handbooks for using modern technology in church. In those days, cassettes were 'modern technology'!! It is totally irrelevant now, and out of print. But it had its own ISBN [0951008633] and I made as much money, in real terms, from royalties as PDJames made from her first book. Sadly, unlike PDJ, I didn't go on to write dozens of best sellers!

"Taping" music and sermons is old school these days- everything is digital or on CDs. And "taping" now means what it did years ago - fastening together with tape.

Here's my top tip for the month- if you have to tape a lot of boxes, whether you are packing to move, or packing parcels to post, invest in one of these. Years ago, we just wrestled with rolls of packing tape, then we got a strange plastic device that came with a pack of rolls- but finally we invested in this strong hand-held device, with a metal section to hold the reel of tape, and a viciously sharp tape cutter [with safety guard]

It is so efficient and makes the job faster and easier. I estimate that it has taped at least 1000 boxes since we bought it - at less than 1p a time. On Monday it helped me to turn a potato masher and a sink plunger into a Dalek. Yes, I know it uses plastic tape - but on the other hand, it enables us to recycle and re-use removal boxes multiple times. Judging by the labels on some of our boxes, they've already done three or four moves!

After this move, we shall flatten them, and give them to somebody else. 

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

TARDIS Tuesday, With Kezzie & Friends

My dear blog-friend Kezzie is celebrating her 40th birthday this week. She is very fond of 'Whovian cosplay' [dressing up as a character from the Dr Who TV series] and she suggested that as a sort of virtual birthday party, we might like to join her in this today - one of her regular TARDIS TuesdaysYou pick a character and recreate the scene - if possible listing where you obtained the garments. 
Longtime followers of this blog will know that I love that sort of challenge - but there is a major problem for me right now- almost all my clothes are packed up, my craft materials are packed up - I have the absolute minimum of clothing available. But the kitchen packing is still in progress. I decided to be creative with the materials to hand. The kick stool in the kitchen is affectionately know as The Dalek because of the way it glides along. I just added a few bits and pieces...
I don't think this looks too bad. Then I remembered Bob has a long overcoat and a floppy felt hat - and I am knitting a stripey weather scarf. There are 40 days to go with that- so I had to conceal a ball of wool and the knitting needle with stitches on up my sleeve.
Here is the 4th Doctor [Tom Baker] recreating Doctor Who and The Genesis of the Daleks from 1975 - six years before Kezzie was born. And below is my take on it

Monday, 1 March 2021

Do The Little Things

Today is St David's Day. Unlike Patrick, George and Andrew, Saint David [Dewi Saint] is a native to the country that regards him as their patron. I have found six facts about him

  1. He was born in a thunderstorm
  2. He was a fine preacher
  3. He was a teetotal vegetarian
  4. He performed miracles
  5. His symbol is a white dove
  6. His legacy lives on in Wales
Born in the year 500, he died on 1st March 589 - now marked as St David's Day. The week before his death he preached a sermon including these words

‘Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things that you have heard and seen me do.’ 

Sometimes, just holding on, and doing the little things is all we can do - and they are the things that often matter most. Especially now

Wishing all my Welsh friends a happy day

Sunday, 28 February 2021

I Will Hold Your People In My Heart


Saturday was not our best day - we both had quite a reaction to the vaccine, at 10pm Friday night, feeling achey, and shivery. I had a bad headache and Bob was feverish. But we took Saturday slowly, and finished all the recording stuff for this morning's service from UCF. By teatime we were still tired, but generally feeling heaps better.

The link for morning worship is HERE 

I do love this hymn, written by the Catholic Hymnwriter Dan Schutt. I found these words on his website in a piece entitled "Finding Hope"

We live in difficult times. Every day it seems we hear news that eats away at our efforts to live in hope. I’m not talking about those immensely tragic things that break our hearts, but rather, the little things that one by one add up and become a dark grey cloud that obscures the light … Being hopeful is not just about nurturing a positive outlook on life. Rather, it has much to do about becoming aware of hand of God touching the world around us, especially in the little things, and trusting that God has a future prepared for us that is full of joy

Saturday, 27 February 2021

A Nice Cup Of Tea And A Bun

Will you come to the Mission, will you come, come, come?

There's a nice cup of tea and a bun, bun, bun...

Bob maintains Terry Pratchett wrote this in one of his Discworld books - but I have this distant memory a Sally Army girls singing it. Can anyone help me out here?

We had the injections, very efficiently done, thank you, at the Wallisdown Pharmacy [including a pleasant chat to the woman doing the administration - a local head teacher who is released from her school every Friday as a volunteer for the vaccination roll-out] I made one purchase in the pharmacy, then we picked up milk and bits in Aldi, collected something from Bob's Office at church - and came home for a nice cup of tea- and we shared a Belgian Bun.

My purchase in the pharmacy was one of these - a hair clamp. My hair has got SO long, and it is really annoying me when I am cooking, or packing boxes, or walking outside in the wind. I bought one of these clips about 30 years ago and kept it until quite recently, even though I'd gone back to a shorter haircut. I dug it out last summer - and discovered that the plastic had started to degrade and half the 'claws' had snapped. I threw it away. But now I know a haircut won't happen for at least two more months. I splashed out £2,50 on this pretty blue piece- and then persuaded Bob to trim my fringe. [He did it remarkably efficiently, and I am grateful]

I have swept the fringe to one side- I don't suit the Claudia Winkleman look - nor yet Lucy Worsley's schoolgirl barrette. When I was an officer in the Girls' Brigade, I wore my hair in a proper, formal bun, formed around one of those bizarre nylon "doughnuts"

I do hope that  I shall soon be able to get my hair cut  but of course, I shall have to find a new hairdresser in Norfolk.

My last haircut was March 12th. And tomorrow, my 'temporary' dental filling will be one year old. I am still diligently chewing buns etc on the right side of my mouth, as I am terrified of dislodging or cracking it. I shall have to find a new dentist in Norfolk too. 

But I am happy to have my hair off my face and out of my eyes again!

Friday, 26 February 2021

The Cat, The Bag And The Biscuits

I knew that the 'cat' ie the catalytic converter on my Toyota needed replacing. And I knew it would not be cheap. "After Christmas..." I said. I'm hardly using my car at the the minute. Then the Ferndown Post Office closed because the staff tested positive for covid19, as did the replacement team due to come and stand in for them. 

I had to drive to another PO- and on the way back, my airbag warning light came on. And went off. And came on again -  all the way home. Help! is it going to inflate halfway down Church Road? I thought.
So the car went into the garage to have the new cat fixed, and then once the part had arrived, they fitted a new 'air-bag squib' [this is all to do with the wiring to the Gas Generator and it sets the bag off if there is a collision]
David Smith Motors, on the Ferndown Industrial Estate, have looked after my car beautifully for 6 years- and I guess this is the last time I will take it there. [Thank you DSM]
But these jobs are not cheap - cats require lots of rare metals [palladium etc] so what with the garage bill, and the cost of booking a van for The Move, the last couple of weeks have proved Very Expensive.
We needed cheering up.
And I needed a break from packing and stuff. So I made some biscuits,
I made some of Anna Olsen's ORCs [Oatmeal Raisin Cookies] which I discovered years ago.[Recipe here]
I'm using up the stuff in the cupboards - and had no dark soft brown sugar, so substituted molasses, and also substituted the end of a jar of muesli for some of the oats -they came out fine. I ended up with 50 biscuits [I use my 1" ice cream scoop which spreas out on baking to make 2½" cookies] I've sandwiched just 10 pairs together, and divided the remaining 30 cookies into 3 boxes in the freezer. 
Today we are having our first vaccinations. I shall need a biscuity treat when I get home!
People have warned me to expect an aching arm, and generally feeling lousy the day after. "Do not plan anything strenuous for Saturday" They've said.
If that's what it takes,. them I shall put up with the brief discomfort.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Through A Hedge Backwards

 "Comb your hair, Angela, you look like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards" my long-suffering mother would say. I remember how frustrated she was that the teacher made no attempt to tidy up my locks before the annual school photo. If I hadn't already packed it, I'd share that picture here. You think the PM looks scruffy - I'm told he ruffles his hair before the No 10 briefings - but scruffiness came naturally to me.

The first use of the expression in print is in the Hereford Journal, February 1857, in a report of a poultry show: “In the class for any distinct breed came a pen of those curious birds 'the silk fowls', shown by Mr. Churchill, and a pen of those not less curious 'the frizzled fowls', sent by the same gentleman, 

looking as if they had been drawn through a hedge backwards.”

I was reminded of this phrase on Saturday- there was a great photograph in the Eastern Daily Press. 

A 'concerned dog-walker' [let's face it, it is almost always a dog-walker or jogger who discovers such things] rang the police. They had seen somebody apparently motionless, stuck in the hedge.

But fear not - it was not an entrapped bird-watcher, nor yet a grisly murder incident [I admit, I have been binge-watching Criminal Minds recently, I do think Mandy Patinkin is a good actor] 

It was just the bottom half of a shop-mannequin, dressed and posed to cause consternation among the Norfolk locals. 

But you do have to ask yourself -what happened to the mannequin's top half? Will it be spotted climbing out of a chimney, or stuck in a pavement inspection cover?

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Happy Birthday, Rosie!


You are growing up so fast! I can't believe you are 5 today. The little baby became a cheerful toddler, and now you are growing schoolgirl.

You bring us so much joy - you are thoughtful and funny and bright. We are truly blessed. And despite the restrictions and complications of the the last year, you have learned so much. God bless you today and always. Happy birthday, Rosie! 

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Just Her Cup Of Tea

I am so impressed by the ingenuity displayed by so many people during lockdown. Unable to pursue their activities as they did before, they come up with creative ways to continue with their hobbies - ukulele orchestras practising together on zoom, cooks tweaking their recipes because the usual ingredients are unavailable, businesses completely changing their manner of working to accommodate the fact that things are all online, or their usual outlets have closed [eg food retailers formerly supplying the hospitality industry now selling to the public] 

I loved this story about Jan Heath, a retired schoolteacher and self taught artist who lives in Norfolk. She ran out of canvas for paintings, so decided that 'small is beautiful' - and worked out a technique for painting on used tea-bags instead. Great recycling! She began simply, with a mixed box of Pukka Herbal Teas - and just painted the ingredients...

She was running out of space to store large canvas works - this is much more compact - and they are selling like hotcakes

I love the Retro girls - and the "View from the Tate" [happy memories of sitting there with Liz for a coffee, years ago]

The three ginger cats were on bags for ginger tea - and Jan printed Wordsworth's poem "To a butterfly" on one bag before adding the red admiral. I think the washing day one is cute.

She says that friends have kindly supplied her with interesting tagged bags. I'm not sure my simple fairtrade red label are quite 'pukka' enough!

Do check out Jan's Facebook page, she adds new pieces regularly. What a great talent on a tiny workspace!

Monday, 22 February 2021

Snuggling Up With My Huffle-Buffs


No, not Hufflepuffs, That's a Harry Potter word- one of the four houses at Hogwarts. Characters are sorted into houses based on their characteristics, and Hufflepuff is known for having members that are patient, fair, hard-working, and sometimes blandly nice.

This word is hufflebuffs. This is a couple of centuries old, a Scots dialect word - for old clothes, worn out, but very comfy- the sort you can lounge about in. 

This word deserves greater recognition during lockdown - so much more evocative than lounge-wear or that other hideous portmanteau term athleisure.

Hands up if you have spent much of the last year in elasticated waist jogging pants or leggings, and perhaps eschewed underwired, padded, lacy bras for lightweight crop tops and bralettes. [note do not confuse M&S bralettes with their kalettes and cobettes, which are found in the vegetable aisle]

If you don't have to go out to the office, and your 3 year old is finger painting beside you as you tap away on your laptop at the kitchen table, why would you dress up in smart white shirt, pencil skirt, tights and heels? 

Yes, maybe put on a clean, smart[ish] top for a zoom meeting - but please dress for high comfort not haute couture. Life is stressful enough right now without worrying about laddered hosiery.

Most of my clothes are packed- I've kept out a smart dress and one tunic which are good for recording church things [and yes, I have realized to late that my best slippers make a brief appearance on the Day Of Prayer video!]  I have no idea what I can wear for Kezzie's Fancy Dress Birthday Party but I will think of something.

My Huffle-Buffs include two large zip up fleece jackets bought in 2004. I'm sitting here swathed in the black one, the blue one is hanging up at Cornerstones. Both way too big [they were required 'uniform' garments, I had no say in the sizing] but when I am feeling chilly, they go over everything else and provide a warm extra comforting layer. I am not fussed about stains and spills - and my phone is safe in a zipped pocket, even if I am in the garden or clambering in the loft.  They are wearable security blankets - old, worn, familiar, and comforting.

What are your Huffle-Buffs?

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Sing For Joy

The gifted UCF Worship Team have put together today's service. The link is HERE. You are very welcome to join us.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Who Is Humphrey?

As any giggling six year old will tell you, he is the camel with Three Humps! I have been thinking a lot about camels recently [as you do] This is mainly because I am continuing to sift and sort my possessions and downsize for retirement. 

I no longer have the palm tree - and I have never possessed a camel. But for years I had a camel coat. I bought it when I first started teaching, and wore it for years till it became thin and stained and fell apart. In the box of photos [now packed] there are various photos of me in my coat. The Duchess is taller, so looks elegant - but I definitely felt elegant in mine. It was my go-to 'smart coat'. The posh ones were originally camelhair/wool blend, and known as polo coats. 

I've thrown out dozens of pictures trimmed from Christmas cards. Far too many to keep for making future cards and gift tags. And as I tipped them into the recycling bin, I pondered on the Magi. Almost always shown riding camels. Why? Surely at that time in history, wise men would have ridden arab steeds? Maybe the camels were used as pack-animals, for the luggage, but wealthy men would have been more comfortable on the back of a horse? I looked it up - and one writer said the three wise men arrived in a horse, a camel and an elephant! That seems wrong on all counts. I suppose in the Trad School Nativity Play, the poor man has a donkey and the rich man has a camel...

Have you come across the word camelCase? It's the term used for words made up of two words strung together, without spaces, but separated by a single capital letter.

Once you know the word, you see camelCase stuff everywhere

eBay, iPhone, FedEx, WhatsApp, YouTube, EastEnders.... It is very common in this computer age - but has been around for donkey's years. For instance CinemaScope and VistaVision first  appeared on our [cinema] screens in 1953.

But enough of this wittering on, I must keep busy, and continue with my packing. If you have read Kipling, you'll know the whole problem with the camel was that he had too little to do

THE Camel's hump is an ugly lump
Which well you may see at the Zoo;
But uglier yet is the hump we get
From having too little to do.
Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo,
If we haven't enough to do-oo-oo,
We get the hump—
Cameelious hump—
The hump that is black and blue!

We climb out of bed with a frouzly head,
And a snarly-yarly voice.
We shiver and scowl and we grunt and we growl
At our bath and our boots and our toys;
And there ought to be a corner for me
(And I know' there is one for you)
When we get the hump—
Cameelious hump—
The hump that is black and blue!

The cure for this ill is not to sit still,
Or frowst with a book by the fire;
But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,
And dig till you gently perspire;
And then you will find that the sun and the wind,
And the Djinn of the Garden too,
Have lifted the hump—
The horrible hump—
The hump that is black and blue!

I get it as well as you-oo-oo
If I haven't enough to do-oo-oo!
We all get hump—
Cameelious hump—
Kiddies and grown-ups too!

[do you like Kipling? I don't know, I've never Kippled!]

Friday, 19 February 2021

At Home In Lent - In Front Of A Camera

Over the years, I have been involved in various Church Lent Activities-  we had the Hot Potatoes discussion groups, the Soup Kitchen evenings, and joint 'churches together' activities. Mostly involving food,as well as Bible study, prayer and good conversations. Large events in church halls, smaller get-togethers in people's homes. This year...none of that!

Here at UCF, we are all staying at home - so it seemed sense to work through this book. The author walks through his home, and each day looks at a different object/piece of furniture/etc and shares some relevant thoughts. It seemed particularly apposite for a lockdown situation. 

The chapters are very brief - each takes between 6-9 minutes to read. Bob has obtained permission from the publishers to produce a set of 46 readings which people can watch daily through our church YouTube channel. If you are interested in looking at these, the link is here

The World Day of Prayer Service link is now available too. The actual day is 5th March, but some people have said they'd like to check it out beforehand! That link is here. I should say again, this is not the official video, which the International Committee are going to release later. WDPHQ. This has been put together with other Baptist Rev's wives across England and Wales. This service lasts about half an hour [we have cut out a few hymns, and the offering!] WDPHQ have suggested local groups might like to arrange alive Zoom service on the day. We know that is not workable in our situation - so we're happy for other groups to make use of our recording. Do make a note of the details and share this with friends.

A year ago, I would never have believed just how much stuff I'd be presenting "to camera". It is not my natural spot. In front of a class, or behind a lectern, or storytelling in a tent - I'm fine with those. But I find this difficult. And I've made some terrible faux pas. Usually that has meant multiple retakes. Like going a complete blank in the middle of the Lord's Prayer. Or the shot where I walk in and you can see my fur lined slippers [even though the rest of me is smartly dressed] Or disturbing the 'green screen' so the background goes crazy. I have great admiration for teachers producing 3 or 4 lessons a day.

But all in all, I am so grateful for this technology - 20 years ago, we would have all felt so cut off. Looking forward to Easter, and hoping and praying that we can at least worship together in our building one more time before we retire to Norfolk!

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Love Yourself Through Lent

 I usually do some sort of Lenten Pauses, similar to the Advent ones. This year I'm not. I'm sharing instead this idea from the Together At Home group. I'm genuinely concerned about the emotional toll caused by the pandemic. The effects on our mental health are impossible to measure. We've been in this for a year. I'm printing this chart out and putting it on the fridge, then aiming to tick all 40 actions if I can. Check out the TATH website for other helpful resources. 

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Pandemic Pancake Party

We're into Lent. "Living on Borrowed Time" as Dad always joked. I recently came across a poem relating to this time of year

Knick a knock upon the block;
Flour and lard is very dear,
Please we come a shroving here,
Your pan's hot and my pan's cold,
Hunger makes us shrovers bold;
Please to give poor shrovers something here.

It comes from Hampshire [particularly around Basingstoke] where there was a custom for "Shrovers" - rather like carol singers, or trick-or-treaters, children would go from house to house asking for pancakes or money. I learned that Shrovetide is technically the three days before Lent starts on Ash Wednesday 

Ash Wednesday - the priest marks the foreheads of the faithful with the sign of the cross, in ashes [made by burning last years Palm Crosses]
Shrove Tuesday - people go to be shriven of cleansed of their sins. Also known as Pancake Day, Mardi Gras ['fat Tuesday'] or Carnival [Carne Vale- goodbye meat]
Collop Monday - [a 'collop' was a slice of bacon with a fried egg on top] - another opportunity to eat up rich foods before the simple diet of Lent.
Pork Sunday - [also called Quinquagesima = 50 days to Easter

Fasting then feasting seems to have been much more common years ago. I wonder if that is why people latch onto ideas like Stoptober, and Dry January [and Veganuary] 

Here's Little Grey Rabbit's Pancake Day, illustrated by the Suffolk artist Margaret Tempest.
Bob and I have been hosting an annual pancake party every Shrove Tuesday since 1978 - but this year on Zoom! 

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

We Spent A Steamy Afternoon On The Sofa


On two sofas to be precise. We borrowed a "Steam Buddy" from a friend, and went all over our two sofas in the lounge. I'd already unzipped the covers from the back and seat cushions, but we wanted to clean the rest of the framework thoroughly.

Bob worked away diligently - we found that the steam cleaned almost everything beautifully - except the top edge of the arms. So I scrubbed in some upholstery shampoo with a soft nailbrush, then he steamed again - and the grime lifted away very satisfactorily. Two young couples we know are about to set up their first homes - so they will probably take a sofa each. 

My two favourite sofa quotes

You can only go so far on a sofa, because a sofa’s got small wheels [Joyce Grenfell]

I make no secret of the fact that I would rather lie on a sofa than sweep beneath it. But you have to be efficient if you're going to be lazy.  [Shirley Conran]

A friend asked [in a private Facebook group] how my moving preparations were going. I replied that we'd just spent a steamy afternoon on the sofa. Unfortunately the words posted, but not the accompanying picture of Bob wielding the Steam Buddy. Cue much amusement among my friends. I waited for one of them to quote Mrs Patrick Campbell at me, but none did!