Sunday 31 July 2022

Teach Me To Be Generous

I'm not very good on Saint's Days - but today the Church of England marks the life of St Ignatiusof Loyola - a Spanish priest who lived 500 years ago. He was the founder of the Order of Jesuits, whose mission was to spread the Gospel across the world.
Ignatius is probably best known for his prayer for a generous spirit...

It is very interesting that many prayer books omit the first line and just begin with "Lord, teach me..." Generosity is the opposite of selfishness. I know which I prefer

Saturday 30 July 2022

The Laughter Of Children

Did you see young Tess celebrating England's women's football team winning a place in the finals? I care not a jot for football - but it was so heartwarming to see the sheer joy on this girl's face as she danced [well done BBC for arranging a couple of finals tickets for her] There is something so lovely about the innocent joy and laughter of children. The Hebrew name Isaac means "one who rejoices" or "one who laughs" and we have decided to name the little shepherd boy we are making from the Yard Sale Mannequin "Isaac" He is making us smile, anyway. Before he disappears up into the loft for 4 months, there has been some work done
Darned Armpits
The foam structure is covered with stockinette, and the heels, armpits, forearms and calves all had small holes which need darning before they ran into large holes. And some stains, which needed covering.
The Shepherd's Footstool
Bob has made a base from an old microphone stand [they cost £30 to buy] as the left leg is slightly raised - and rather than force it straight, we're going to build up the floor around it. The piece of wood has been labelled so we don't forget what it is.
Cut Off His Head!
Bob trimmed the neck and base of one of our spare polystyrene heads, and attached a wooden dowel so it can be slotted in place. But Isaac's skin and head were far too white. I got some spray paint which I thought would provide the right skin tone. It worked on the fabric- but Bob sprayed some on his polystyrene offcuts, and discovered the paint dissolved it! The head was given a protective coat of PVA, and the little man was taken to the summerhouse 
Spray Tan
This did not go as planned- it turned out orangey and glowing, like a sinister alien Donald Trump! I tried toning it down with brown blusher
...this is still a work in progress. 
First Coat
In the end I put a scarf over his head and draped some fabric round Isaac, and topped the outfit off with a waistcoat, just to get an idea of how he'd look in a shepherd's costume.
We are getting there, slowly. Come Advent, he will be a healthier colour, properly dressed, and have a lamb to carry! 
For now, he can join Mary and Joseph in the loft. As Ted Hastings might say "Does anyone have a spare wee donkey?"

Friday 29 July 2022

Get Your Hankies Out!

I went to the cinema yesterday [first time since covid] with my best friend Christine and her sister - to see "The Railway Children Return". It was a little sad that we'd just heard in the morning of the death of Bernard Cribbins- Mr Perks the stationmaster. Here's a reminder of the original 1970's film, an adaptation of E Nesbit's classic story.

Since then, there has been a stage show, and a 2000 remake [where Jenny Agutter is not the eldest daughter Bobbie, but the mother - originally played by the late great Dinah Sheridan] The original book is set in 1905, and this new film is set in 1944.
They have worked very hard to include all the essentials of the original
  • three children [2 girls, 1 boy] sent to live in Yorkshire [except these have been evacuated from Manchester, and are not Londoners]
  • father is away [well, many fathers away, there's a war on]
  • the stationmaster is still Mr Perks [Albert's grandson]
  • some of the original music is used
  • there is an incident involving waving signs and stopping the train
  • there is a kindly old gentleman who can 'pull strings' in London [Bobbie's brother-in-law, played by National Treasure Tom Courtenay]
  • Daddy, my Daddy [but this time disappearing into the fog, not emerging from the smoke]
  • the railway station is an important location throughout the film
Did I enjoy it? Yes- as did my friends. It doesn't pay to be too careful about historical details though - from the original book, we know Bobbie was born in 1893 - so she'd be 51 in 1944 [Jenny Agutter is 69, but wears surprisingly well!] Her daughter Annie is head teacher at the village school, and has a son aged 11. These two women both had their babies young [and I'm not sure how Annie managed a husband, baby and headship given the restrictions on females in the teaching profession. The 'marriage bars' weren't fully lifted till 1944.
There were complaints after the first film that it encouraged children to play on railway lines - so this one starts with a warning about 'scenes of dangerous behaviour'!! The new one covers all sorts of contemporary issues - including racism, sexism, and women's rights. 
Period details appeared to be accurate [Christine thought the Fordson tractor was correct] with good knitwear and kitchen stuff - and wartime hairstyles. A few phrases sounded a little too modern and jarred a little on the ear- but not enough to spoil things.

I will give this one **** I admit I am biased - it would have been hard for this to have matched the book and the original film! It's a feelgood film, though, and a lovely afternoon out.
And RIP Bernard Cribbins - thank you for so many years of entertaining adults and children alike - your 1970 portrayal of Perks was quite perfect!

Thursday 28 July 2022

An Afternoon In Poppyland


Not long after we started buying Cornerstones, I picked up a beautiful framed railway poster for £10 in a CS in Holt. It dates from the 1930s - but the coastal area around Cromer had been named "Poppyland" half a century before by Clement Scott, a poet and theatre critic. He visited the area in 1883 and wrote a piece for the Daily Telegraph, encouraging people to come up on the train to this beautiful, unspoilt corner of East Anglia.
On Monday evening, Bob spotted an ad for "A Silver Social Music Performance" at Darby's [the pub at the other end of the village] and suggested we should go along on Tuesday afternoon and listen. OK I admit, I wasn't really listening - I vaguely took in the words "local history" and "cake" and said "OK, we can do that..."
Well, it was a superb afternoon. We got there just before 1pm, and went up the steps at the back to the big gazebo in the pub garden - and found my SIL and her two friends finishing off their lunch. They had also come along for the music. How lovely to be with friends and family unexpectedly. The musician finished her setting up and began the programme - and her story was fascinating.
Bertie Anderson Haggart [do check out her website here] was born and grew up in Sidestrand - the coastal village 3 ½miles south east of Cromer. Very much part of the Poppyland territory. Her family have lived there for well over 100 years. In 2014, her father found some journals belonging to B's late great great aunt, Kit Hood. Kit had documented the lives of the people who lived around her in Sidestrand - and had kept notes of their songs and poems, and tales of smugglers and farm workers and blacksmiths, local folklore and legends. Bertie has researched these journals, found the relations [many still in Norfolk]  of the original characters, and put some of the poems to music.
She sang to us, and told us stories and it was lovely. For a mere £2 I bought her booklet "Notes on Poppyland" which contained poems, and song lyrics, and pictures, maps and old photos. One song was about Black Shuck, the mystical howling hellhound said to roam the countryside at night - if you see him, then ill will befall you. As B sang to us, the dog belonging to another pub customer started howling too, which was slightly weird. 
I loved the songs, and the stories behind them. Some were really sad, about young women treated badly by their menfolk, others celebrated the local area - sea, sands, streams, cliffs and farmland. Many were about local characters. Bertie is a very accomplished musician and composer, with an attractive singing voice. [listen to her songs on the website]
It was so delightful to relax and listen, and be taken back in time to a place where life was simpler and people lived closer to the land. To imagine families with their sheet music standing round the piano in the parlour, singing these melodies together - no TV, or tablets, no single-use plastics, eating simple foods, sourced locally...
I'm not denying the horrific abuse of women and children, or the struggles of those in deep poverty - and the poor health when there was no NHS free at the point of need. I certainly wouldn't want to live as they did - but I appreciated the way that Bertie took us on a gentle, but challenging journey to imagine life in Poppyland, back before the young men marched off to the Somme and Passchendaele. Thank you so much Bertie.
Thanks too, to Creative Arts East for facilitating this free event, as part of Breckland's Silver Social Programme. I really enjoyed the free coffee and Bonne Maman madeleines too!
It was such a shame that there were only a couple of dozen of us there! I may get to the August activity [that depends on when Grandchild #4 arrives in Manchester] They define 'older people' as aged 50+ so I am definitely in that bracket!
One song I really liked was about the Mundesley Beck [aka the River Mun- barely 6 milers long] Written in the late 1800s, by Tom Thurlow, a local shepherd, it talks of the way the locals regarded it as a divine gift - bringing them precious fresh water. The song is written from the point of view of the river itself, and describes its part in the water cycle [clouds, rain river...] The song ends thus - 
But lo! I'm drawn again on high
And float in clouds along the sky
And soon descend in drops of rain
To refresh the thirsty plain
And thus a witness I would be
Of Him who still sustaineth me
And with a soft sweet murmur tell
The Lord has ordered all things well.
We certainly need some drops of rain on the thirsty ground right now!


Wednesday 27 July 2022

I Need A Hero!

It’s ‘Norfolk Day’ today – we're supposed to celebrate the joys of our fair county, and honour our local heroes. Here are some of mine.

Boudicca, Warrior Queen of the Iceni. [1st century] Her husband had been a King over East Anglia, and the occupying Romans had allowed him to be a ‘client king’. When he died, the Romans confiscated his lands, as there was no male heir. so Boudicca, his widow objected. She was flogged, and forced to watch her young daughters brutally raped. So she raised an army of 100,000 and led them to fight the Romans in an act of revenge.  “… we must either conquer or die with glory. There is no alternative. Though I am a woman, my resolution is fixed. The men, if they prefer, may survive with infamy and live in bondage. For me there is only victory or death.” I hate violence- but I admire a woman who stood up for herself, and inspired others to fight for liberty.

Elizabeth Fry [1780-1845] Born in Norwich, into the prestigious Gurney banking family. They were Quakers, and she married Joseph Fry [nephew of the founder of Fry’s Chocolate] with whom she had eleven children. She was a very clever and caring woman. She worked tirelessly for prison reform – instrumental in the passing of the 1823 Gaols Act, which mandated sex-segregation in English Prisons, and female warders, to protect women from exploitation. And SO practical. When women were transported as convicts to Australia, she provided each with a small bag containing cloth, needles and threads. On the long voyage, they could sew a quilt. On arrival that quilt could keep them warm, or be sold to raise funds, or be displayed as evidence of skills. She set up shelters for the homeless and a training school for nurses [inspiring Nightingale to do the same] I respect someone who was wealthy, and could have been a ‘lady of leisure’ but felt that her Christian faith meant she should use her advantages to do good for the less fortunate.

Anna Sewell [1820-1878] Also a Quaker, she was born in Great Yarmouth. The family moved to London, where her leg was badly injured in an accident when she was 14. Walking was really painful, so she travelled everywhere in a horse drawn carriage. She became a fanatical animal lover- and joined her mother in working as an ardent abolitionist. Her brother was widowed  - Anna returned to Norfolk and she helped him raise his family of seven children. She’d become increasingly conscious of the cruel way that horses were treated – forced to pull heavy loads, and kept under inhumane conditions. She wrote a book – from the horse’s point of view, describing the cruelty. The book was Black Beauty. She sold it in 1877 to Jarrolds the Publishers for £40. It was an instant success [The RSPCA endorsed this exposure of animal abuse] Anna fell ill, dying just a few months later. She is buried locally near Aylsham. The book, originally intended for adults as a protest, has become a children’s favourite. Anna cared not only for people, but for all God’s creatures, and never let her own disability hold her back. I honour her courage.

There are many other Norfolk women who made a difference - Edith Cavell, St Julian of Norwich, and more …but no space left. Their legacy should be celebrated every day, not just on Norfolk day.

PS thanks for all the kind remarks yesterday about the bears. If you are considering making one yourself please email for some tips - it may save you both time and hassle!

Tuesday 26 July 2022

The Mix And Match Bears

When my friend came round with the garden cushions for recovering, she asked me about the other things I sewed, and we got to talking about Memory Bears. I showed her pictures of some of the ones I've made in the last 3 years. "Oh I wish I'd known sooner" she said - and explained that her Dad died four years ago. 
She'd passed on all his clothes to charity "and I could have kept back some shirts for a bear..." But she had been unable to part with his two Regatta bodywarmers. They were his signature garment - she kept in a drawer, and couldn't bring herself to part with them. I said that I was happy to look at them and see if they were suitable, and if there was enough fabric.
She gave me the fleece garments, one grey, one brown. I had to rethink my pattern [usually I have 4 fabrics] I decided to make one brown bear, with grey paws, ears and face - and the other in the opposite colourway. The fabric was lovely to work with [but took a while to prepare, as there was a lot of topstitching to unpick]
When finished, I had two more decisions - what should I use for the back packs - there was little fleece left and it was unsuitable anyway. I used some of M's old garden seat cushions, which worked well. I also re-used the elastic from the bottom of the bodywarmers, and put tone Regatta tag on each bear, and a second n each backpack. Bob suggested that rather than my usual 'final flourish' [a large bow with tails] I should perhaps make dapper little bow ties. An inspired suggestion. We delivered the bears over the weekend- and she was truly thrilled with them. And someone else has just delivered her late father's's a good job that I truly enjoy making these memories!

Monday 25 July 2022

#Word365 - Looking Again

 My #Word365 for this year's blog has been "look again". Here we are seven months in- over half way. At what have I 'looked again' recently?
I have looked again at belonging to local groups. The fortnightly craft group I've joined has proved really welcoming, and I have enjoyed it enormously. When I can, I cycle over to the village hall at Hoe [not when I need to transport a sewing machine though] I've really missed the monthly group at Ferndown - but the women here are just as friendly.

I have also been to a quite different group in this village - but not sure if I am going to continue attending. It wasn't quite what I'd hoped for. I'm looking again at my decision there.

I'm looking again at the Raised Bed as it comes up to its first birthday. My confidence in gardening has been growing - I actually deviated slightly from Huw's guidance. I spotted Row 7 was going to be empty for a few weeks - and so I decided to plant a row of carrots there [in Huw's Grand Plan, they don't go into Row 8 till August]
And here I am triumphantly having harvested my first four carrots on Friday. [look again and you will see my fluffy slippers - it was quite early in the morning] I really like being able to harvest a few items fresh each day [lettuce and chard leaves for example]  as and when I need them. But next year I think I will not be planting all the things Huw suggests, and trying a few different ideas of my own. Like salsify, which Bob loves.
Bob came back from the Hospice with his official lanyard.[I have covered up all the wording apart from his name] I had to look again at that. I honestly thought he was wearing a set of surgeon's scrubs. In fact it is just his blue V necked pullover. 
I wonder if anyone else will mistake him for a member of the medical team?**

I wonder if I should look again at my challenge to walk an average of 12K steps every day. My step count has been really low this week, it has been too hot to go for afternoon walks, and I've slept badly, so not felt as active in the daytime as usual. I hope this is just a blip - and I will make up the steps in August. 

**He's just fitted a splint to the shepherd boy's shoulder

I definitely need to look again at meal planning. It has been rather haphazard of late - and I have slipped back into the bad habit of evening snacks. Less walking + more snacks is soon noticeable on the bathroom scales!

Sunday 24 July 2022

Hot And Difficult

 What a week this has been. So many people I know have been severely affected by the heat in one way or another. 

Someone called on Thursday to deliver something, and I asked if they'd travelled far. "Ashill" she said.
That is one of the Norfolk villages devastated by fires midweek - a dozen homes destroyed. My visitor and her mother were evacuated, and fortunately their house escaped the flames. 
I know family members and other friends across the UK who have been unwell because of the heat.
Our climate is changing - and we need to accept that it is the behaviour of the human race which is at fault. Here is a prayer from Compassion [a charity committed to helping children across the world who are living in poverty]

O God, we pray for justice and fairness for those worst hit by our changing climate. We know people living in extreme poverty around the world are worst hit by the climate crisis but have done the least to contribute to it. They also have the fewest resources to implement change. 

We ask for your mercy O Lord and repent when our blind consumerism has led to the destruction of our common home.

Heavenly Father, we ask you to stir our hearts into action. As global temperatures increase, inspire us with ways, we can make a difference in our homes, church congregations, communities, and the world around us. 

We pray for your prompting where we can do more to love our neighbour. Amen.

Saturday 23 July 2022

Birth Announcement

There has been much excitement up on the Norfolk Coast near Cromer recently. A colony of about 8 exotic, rainbow coloured birds have been nesting at a quarry near Trimingham since the start of June - and some of the eggs laid there hatched on Wednesday. The farmer who owns nearby land has worked with the RSPB to set up a safe viewing platform, and thousands of birders have already come to watch...

These birds are European Bee-eaters. They normally breed in southern and central Europe, & Africa, migrating south to warmer climes in winter. Merops Apiaster are the two words for bee eater in Ancient Greek and Latin 
This is only the 6th time this century the birds have bred in Britain. Here are two of the Norfolk visitors.

They are so beautiful. Experts say we do not need to worry about their name - they eat all sorts of different insects, and there is no evidence that the UK bee population is at risk!
Here is a video clip from National Geographic about bee-eaters

The RSPB have set up a live webcam at Trimingham - if you have time to sit and watch a hole in the ground, you may catch a glimpse of these multicolour marvels coming and going.[here] I have dipped into it a few times, and as yet seen nothing - although in the comments, one person said she had heard the birds calling ["They sound like demented oystercatchers"!]

Mark Thomas from the RSPB said this was a very exciting event - but also a sign of climate change - these birds alter their breeding patterns to accommodate global warming, and so these birds nesting in the UK is a real concern. If the baby birds survive, they should fledge around August 19th.

Friday 22 July 2022

I'm Off My Trolley

You know how there is a definite knack to traditional deckchairs. You have to pull out one bit, slot in the other bit and then sit down and relax...

Well I had a similar issue yesterday. Bob was dropping me of at the Retail Park while he went to do his stint at the Hospice 
I took my Molly Trolley - I felt it would be easier to pull that than carry multiple grocery bags in the heat. It has been hanging, folded, on a hook in the Futility Room since we moved. I lifted it, still folded, out of the boot as he dropped me off outside Costa. I carried it up the escalator, bought a coffee and sat down. Then I tried to open the wheel/parking bar frame. It wouldn't work. One of the thinnest cross bars appeared bent. I struggled, turning it this way and that, I found a picture on the internet - but my trolley just would not comply. Not one but two kind women came over to help. .

We took the bag off, turned the frame upside-down, checked it all carefully. We straightened the bent bar...We turned it on its side, looked at it from all angles. I finally got it to a point where I could put the bag on and the trolley leaned back like a drunken golf caddy. I thanked them for their efforts. We went our separate ways

It is meant to stand upright and stable. I struggled off to the super-market, hoping that my trolley would go into the Lathe Palace later for a full MOT (Mending Of Trolley) I am too hot for this hassle!!

As you would expect, Bob collected me [and shopping] and then when we got home, he determined the problem [it was faulty folding-up] and rapidly straightened everything out.   He is Wheelie-Wonderful

Thursday 21 July 2022

Is It Too Early To Mention This?

 Last year, I turned the Carriage House into a stable, and put up a life size Nativity Tableau
It was well received, with lots of lovely comments from neighbours [and people from different villages who came to have a look!] 
But people said "Where are the shepherds?" and "You don't have any animals!" I suggested it was a work in progress, and they should come again in December 2022. 
I looked again at my Willow Tree Nativity. I could perhaps make a shepherd boy, with a lamb. A slightly shorter figure could stand in front of that wise man...
Last Saturday was Foulsham Village Yard Sale. Once again we had free cool water for passers-by [and their dogs] All very well received. 
Bob manned the pitch while I went round the other sales. And look what I found!! A shop mannequin, child sized - it says 'age 3-4' on the back, and measures 81cm neck to ankle. It has a few issues - 4 holes in the stockinette cover, and a dislocated shoulder. But it is fixable. I can just see this little character with a head, and a costume, and a lamb tucked under his/her arm, and maybe a shepherd's crook, Can't you? Just what I need to complete the Nativity for 2022.
I looked online when I got home- you can buy these new here
but they cost £158;40. My little shepherd cost me all of five pounds. Definitely a bargain!
Now to spend 5 months scouring the Charity Shops for just the right little toy lamb...


Wednesday 20 July 2022

Hey Duggee!


Do you know this wonderful little programme on CBeebies? My grandchildren watch it - it is narrated by Alexander Armstrong. Duggee is a friendly dog who runs the Squirrel Club, and the animals in it work for badges. It is a cheery, encouraging little show, and when affection is needed, it is time for a Duggee Hug. George up in Manchester enjoys watching Pointless with his parents, because he recognises AA's voice!
I thought about this show yesterday. I was feeling SO hot [who wasn't?] and I cannot find, anywhere, my very lightweight fine white cotton nightie. It was bought for a hospital visit years ago and it is my coolest item of nightwear. I suspect it is packed away, somehow folded inside another garment, as it is so fine, and has minimal volume. I'm not keen to buy another one [are there any left in the shops, anyway?] This popped up on my feed...
It is from the company Toast, and described as a cotton dhuggie. I did not know this word, and try as I might, I can only find it as a word for nightdress on the toast website. [apart from one link which said duggy was street slang for 'cool'] Did they make it up? Is it a portmanteau word for Duggee Hug? I have no idea. I am certainly not paying £99. Perhaps I should brave the loft ladder and go up to the Stash [it is boiling in the roof space] Maybe I can find a length of fine cotton.
And then I could award myself a Hey Duggee Sewing Badge!, and possibly a Busy Day Badge too...

PS thanks for all the fabulous sunhat stories yesterday - clearly a selection of scarves and pins, and a hot-glue gun, are the way forward!

Tuesday 19 July 2022

Here Comes The Sun...

 So very hot... [the video was shot in Grand Canyon - which is always very hot in July]
My ancient sun hat is looking the worse for wear. Round the rim the straw is fraying and shredding. B
ut it's comfy, it squashes into a bag, and it does its job.
I am very fond of it. I found some beige tape in the Great Stash, an almost perfect match. I folded it round the edge, and fixed it with my quilting clips.
I sat in the cool lounge, and sewed it in place. I pressed and pleated my scarf** and tacked that back round the crown. 
It should last another summer or two.
I really don't want to spend money on a new one.
** the correct name for a pleated scarf wrapped round a hat like this is a puggaree. You can actually buy them online from millinery suppliers [here] [this comes from the East Indian word pagri meaning turban or scarf]
Do you have a sunhat? What is is made of - straw or fabric? 

Monday 18 July 2022

Wise Words

 A quote from George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends [aka the Quakers] which seems particularly apposite on what is expected to be a Very Hot Day... 

Take care my friends, and avoid Macbeth's "heat-oppressed brain" 

Sunday 17 July 2022


I was asking my SIL Denise about roses [poor woman, she must be getting exhausted by my regular gardening queries - but she is always patient with me] I explained that I'd had four roses from a well known Norfolk rose specialist - and they had all died. She suggest trying a different supplier, and planting in a container.
My neighbour's daughter recommended a local nursery as being good for roses - so two weeks ago I went and purchased this beauty. 
It's a lovely peachy pink hybrid tea, with a fragrant perfume - I love it. 
It is called "Blessings."
Today I am especially grateful for
  • my loving family
  • my thoughtful neighbours
  • my home and garden
  • my caring church
...but there are many other things on my list of blessings. Too many to count. But I know this is something to share
be blessed - and be a blessing

Saturday 16 July 2022

La Dolce Vita

 Italian for "The Sweet Life". Here are two more of my library books 

Donna Leon "Trace Elements". This is the first of her novels I have read, featuring the Venetian detective Guido Brunetti. I really enjoyed it - good plot, good dialogue, and great descriptions of the city of canals. I found it witty and enjoyable, and plan to read more of these *****
The second book is by a husband&wife, restauranteurs Giancarlo Caldesi and his wife Katie. He suffered from Type 2 diabetes for 10 years, then went onto a low carb diet, losing 4 stone.
Eight years on, he is fit and healthy and his diabetes is in remission. This book, which only came out last year, is a selection of low carb, tasty recipes to help with weight loss and the management of diabetes - and all of them fast
The book has a good section by diabetes specialist Dr David Unwin - with helpful explanations about nutrition.
 It has two weekly menu plans [weight loss and maintenance] colourful pictures of all 100 low carb recipes, and recipe suggestions for feeding the whole family not just one person [or a couple] 
I particularly liked the look of quick brown bread made with coconut flour [very similar concept to soda bread - no yeast, but eggs and baking powder used as raising agents] And the recipe makes a loaf, baps, breadstick or foccaccia.
Pasta is replaced with pezzi - the Italian word for pieces - made from shredded bits of Savoy cabbage. This sounds as if it has a bit more 'heft' tp it than the spiralised courgettes popular as a spaghetti substitute!
There is even a section about covid and lowcarb too. You can find many of the recipes on their website I plan to check some of these out. This book is well written, and has a good index. I know I keep banging on about indices - but they can save so much time when you are looking things up [esp when writing book reviews]  I think that this book is a really good complement to Michael Moseley's blood sugar diet.  *****. Yes, you can enjoy the Sweet Life without a lot of refined sugar! 
One final thing - I am glad to have discovered Donna Leon. We watched the final Montelbano the other evening on the BBC. Bob and I have greatly enjoyed Andrea Camilleri's novels about this Sicilian detective. Our girls gave us a holiday in Sicily when we were 60. BUT the final programme really upset me. I really did not want it to end as it did. Not giving any plot spoilers - but I was quite frustrated by Salvo's behaviour, which seemed out of character, somewhat selfish and unkind. 
Am I alone in this - or were others disappointed by the way it all ended?

Friday 15 July 2022

Learning Curve

This phrase was coined by psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaous back in 1885 [yes, I thought it was much newer than that too] 
If it is hard to acquire a new skill, it is called 'a steep learning curve', because it can feel like climbing a mountain.
It has been just 3 years since I made my first Memory Bear for Jenny's friend Jill. I've now done nearly two dozen - and it has certainly been a steep learning curve.
With each bear I make, I pick up new skills, and find ways to improve the process. It still takes around 8 hours per bear though - I just think the finished articles are getting to look more professional, and better finished.
I have done lots using men's shirts, some using women's dresses and blouses, and the most recent pair have been created using fleece bodywarmers* [and I only had 2 garments- I usually have 4 or 5 items to choose from]
I spent an afternoon sticking my pattern pieces onto thin cardboard - they were beginning to get a little ragged. There are 30 in each bear - and I printed them on 4 different colours of paper to make the patchwork balance. I've also produced a ticklist now, especially useful when I am making a couple of bears at the same time. This stops me sewing up the back seam without making and inserting the tail, or stuffing the head before I've added the safety eyes and stitched the smile.
Everything is now tidily stored in a red folder, along with brown felt for the noses, and scraps of Aida for the personalised labels. This should speed up the progress of the next one I make!
And I keep climbing that mountain - remembering those pernickety schoolteachers in the1960s who delighted in looking at a finished piece of work, pointing out my errors and saying "There's always room for improvement, dear"
And remembering with slightly more joy, the ones who said "This is lovely, you have tried really hard with this, Angela"

* I will post pictures once they've been delivered

Thursday 14 July 2022

Hakuna Matata Frittata

 ...the Swahili phrase for no worries.

It has certainly felt as hot as Africa this week! Much daily watering of the raised bed, and my water butts are running low. As I harvest crops, I am continuing to have a ZeroWaste approach where possible. Somebody asked about using the broad bean tops in place of spinach. Here's a photo for you
I  trimmed the top 3" of leaves above the beans, and wilted them in a pan, plus a pat of butter as I served them.
I harvested my first rainbow chard leaves this week - I love that the stalks are red, green and yellow. The leaves were steamed and served at one meal. 
The stalks I chopped into shorter lengths, and used them in a frittata. This was definitely a 'fridge scrape' Zero waste recipe. Lots of bits and pieces to use up.

I had half an onion, the chard stalks, two of my potatoes [large dice] remains of some cooked ham, half a small cooking chorizo, and some  lettuce leaves cut into ribbons.[Thank you Col for the suggestion to put lettuce leaves into omelettes and stir fries] All those Ottolenghi recipes inspired me to add ground cumin and coriander. Three eggs made this easy lunch for two. Definitely a No Worries Frittata