Monday 22 July 2024

Away In A Manger

I was recently given a "manger" hay basket to hang on the wall and fill with plants. But I needed a liner for it. I visited various local home and garden stores with no success. I ended up buying two circular hanging basket liners for £2.25 each. They are made of coconut fibre.
I used some jute string and two strong needles and stitched them together with saddle stitch. 
[Susie from the Repair Shop would have been proud of me] Mind you it did look like a rather large hairy bra when I took it outside.
Bob mounted the basket on the wall opposite the raised bed. It is just outside the side door, from the Futility Room.
I had compost already, so planted it up with 5 lettuces
My theory is that [a] I can easily pop outside at lunchtime for a few salad leaves, without walking across the muddy grass
[b] I don't think slugs will climb the wall and eat the Lollo Rosso
These plants came in a tray from Swaffham Market and cost less than £1. This was last Saturday when I put them in - they are already flourishing and will be ready to pick tomorrow once we're back from our London weekend. 
When the lettuce season is over, I am considering putting hardy herbs in here over the winter

Sunday 21 July 2024

Mum's Centenary

One hundred years ago today, my Mum was born. She died in 1991, but I still miss her. I went into the loft and found a few old photographs [and spent ages looking through boxes of pictures going back over 60 years and remembering all sorts of past events]

This was part of a collage made for their Ruby Wedding in 1988

This was taken in 1965, when we moved to Norfolk and Dad became Minister at Dereham Baptist Church. I  have the same haircut today

Clacton 1987 - how Mum and Dad loved their granddaughters
How Mum loved to relax with her copy of  The People's Friend!
She was an amazing woman. Born in Romford into an ordinary working class family, the 6th of 7 children [Auntie Peggy was her younger sister] 
She met Dad when they were 15, as WW2 broke out. They started "going out" at 16 and were engaged when they were 18. By this time, Mum had left school and was commuting into London each day to work as a clerk in the Foreign Office. She was whisked off to Bletchley Park and spent the rest of the war as a Codebreaker [no, she never told me a thing about what she did, other than that she had to learn Morse Code] 
After the War, she and Dad believed God wanted them to go to China. So they went off to Scotland to do a theology course and missionary training at a college in Glasgow. Halfway through their course, they married in 1948. But the world situation changed, China would no longer accept Christian Missionaries, so Dad became a Baptist Minister instead. in 1951 Mum became very ill, and would definitely not have survived if she'd been in the Far East. They were back in Romford. In 1955 I came along, and in 1962 my brother Adrian arrived. Dad worked in churches in Kent, Romford, Bishops Stortford, West Hartlepool and Dereham. She had a few part time jobs - but wasn't really fit enough for long hours. But she was an incredible support to Dad's work, running Ladies Groups, doing Pastoral Visiting, and being a great friend to many people. She died in 1991, just two years after Dad retired.
One final picture- Mum's 54th birthday in 1978. My best friend Dorothy was over from Belfast and staying with me for a few days. My new boyfriend offered to drive us up to Norfolk to surprise Mum. 
Here's Mum, Dad, Dorothy, Adrian - and Bob
This was the day my Mum met Bob for the first time. Her comment - "He's a really nice boy, but his hair is a bit long"
He had it cut very short soon after and never grew it quite that long again!
Look at my Dad's awful flares, and my brother's chunky boots [1970's fashions]
I learned so much from Mum, about life, and faith, and caring for others. I was privileged to grow up in a loving home, my parents had a strong marriage, and family life was very important. She would have been so proud of my girls, and their families. 
How the world has changed in the hundred years since Hilda Margaret Spooner entered the world. But her values of love, faith, honesty and service are still the best. 

Saturday 20 July 2024

Graduation Day

In my youth, most people didn't graduate till their twenties. Here's a sunny day in London back in 2006 when Steph graduated.  But now it seems you can graduate at the ripe old age of four when you leave Nursery and go to Big School. 

In 2020, during Lockdown, Rosie's Nursery had to postpone their Graduation Ceremony. Parents were asked to send in a photograph of their child in a mortar board. Rosie was with me at "Grandma's Nursery" and we made this together from black card

Now it's George's turn. His Nursery produced the outfits, and commemorative keyrings for the parents! George also received an award certificate for "creating the best Lego Models"
Time flies so fast! Steph also received a poem about two special days in a child's life - birth, and the first day of school.

God bless these little ones, and their parents as they face the huge changes ahead...

Friday 19 July 2024

The Beginning...

When we were in Paris, we visited Musée Carnavalet, dedicated to the history of the City. We went there back in 2006 and loved it, and wanted to spend some more time there. It is set in two adjoining mansions, on three floors - with a courtyard and gardens in the middle. I realised that on every floor there were leaded windows looking out onto the gardens. And they were all different geometric designs. I took some pictures

When I got home I decided to reproduce one of these patterns on a rectangle of fabric for our latest project. I found a scrap of Sanderson Honeysuckle print in my stash - a favourite print of my MIL [she made sofa covers in it] Once stitched it was reminiscent of looking through the Museum windows at the flowers.

I was happy with it and wrote notes in the travelling logbook and posted it off to Kirsten on Monday. 

Today I received her parcel.
She had used a piece of vintage Laura Ashley Curtaining and made a cover for her travelling book with the same fabric. 
Look at the superb way she has picked out the design by outlining it in a variegated thread, and adding French Knots to the flower centres. So charming. I am sure this latest collaboration is going to be as enjoyable as the last two. We are no longer constrained by the regularity of evenweave cloth - and we can enjoy Slow Stitching to our heart's content.

Thursday 18 July 2024

An Unexpected Goody Bag!

Thank you everyone who sent such kind words yesterday. My journey went very smoothly, no traffic issues. I arrived with 10 minutes to spare. Roshan the dentist was brilliant, and the who procedure went smoothly. I had to be covered with a large blue paper 'blanket' and wear a green paper mob cap to keep things clean and tidy. I very nearly asked to take a selfie,but decided against it! Everything was carefully explained, and before each stage I was asked if I was happy. Because they needed to take x-rays, we were in the room with the camera - and that doesn't have Wally on the ceiling. But praying, breathing, and mentally reciting Psalm 23 kept me calm.
When I left I was unexpectedly given a goody bag
A paper carrier


2 tubes toothpaste

soft toothbrush

2 gauze pads

a record of the implant

a cool pack

"You Rock!" sticker

The little tubes of paste will be useful [we are going away this weekend] I've stuck the sticker on my phone case. The record book is useful - "In case you change dentists" said Roshan. I told himI am never going to another dentist. He says it is so hard when people turn up with dodgy procedures they have had done cheaply abroad, and there are no details anywhere.
The Cool Pack was Once the centre is squeezed the chemicals inside mix, and it cools vey rapidly. By the time I'd got home, the local anaesthesic was wearing off and my face really ached. I was able to take 2 paracetamol and lie on the bed, with the pack on my cheek. It really helped. I've rested all day.
I had a glass of Huel for lunch. But - oh bliss- when I said I would miss my cups of tea,  he said the important thing is to avoid hot drinks. So if I drink my tea lukewarm, that will be fine. As I make my tea in a pot, and often get distracted and forget about it, lukewarm tea is my default. So that's OK.
And yes, he was right, today was not as painful as the extraction of the dodgy tooth which the implant is replacing. Grateful for a good dentist, an efficient procedure, and such kind words from friends and famly. I'm still smiling...

Wednesday 17 July 2024

Where's Wally?

 Answer; On the dentist's ceiling!
This morning I have a very early start because I have a dental appointment at 9. and I need to allow an hour for the journey. Although Roshan is the best dentist I have ever had, and I am much more chilled at his surgery than in any previous practice, I still get a little anxious [especially when injections and drilling are involved]
I have three 'coping mechanisms' for managing my stress. 
  1. I mentally sing my way through favourite hymns. Usually good until |get stuck at verse three and forget the words
  2. I practice 'box breathing' - where you inhale for a count of 5, hold your breath for 5, exhale for 5 and then wait for 5. 
  3. I stare at the ceiling and try and spot Wally on the huge poster up there. 
Roshan does change the poster sometimes, it is about the third I have seen since we joined the practice in 2021. But last year when I had a series of appointments over a few weeks, could remember where Wally was every time I sat down. 
I am trying to be chilled about this encounter today. It will be the most expensive visit I have ever had, and the day after a large garage bill. But I am grateful for having a reliable car to get me to the dentist. For having a dentist at all - rare as hen's teeth in Norfolk [Norfolk hens lost all their teeth years ago due to lack of dentists] And for having a dentist who is so good.
I have to sign a consent form before the implant procedure. I read the 'post op advice' last night. 
I can manage the salt water mouthwash for a week. 
I am not bothered about 'no alcohol' for a week.
I can avoid solid foods and drink Huel protein drinks for a day or two.
But I am ridiculously stressed about not having tea or coffee for twenty four hours!
How do you cope with dental treatment?

Tuesday 16 July 2024

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

 ...then I'll Begin

Older readers may recognise those words as the beginning of the day's story on the Radio Programme "Listen With Mother". It ran from 1950 - 1982 [ending when Liz was just a few months old] I think this was the first Radio programme which I considered 'mine'. Mum and Dad listened to other stuff - Woman's Hour, The Chapel in the Valley, Desert Island Discs and The Archers etc - but LWM was for children.
Even after my great aunt gave us her elderly B&W TV  - a tiny screen inside a heavy wooden box - we were still more of a radio family.
As I grew older, I discovered other programmes I liked, and by Grammar School I had other favourites- I'm sorry I'll Read That Again, Hancock's Half Hour and various quiz shows. But there was just the one family radio, so any programme had to be ok with everybody. Unlike my friends, I didn't have a transistor radio hidden under the bedclothes, for late night listening to Radio Caroline.
Many programmes came and went - and I love the fact that BBC I-player enables me now to catch up with all those dramas, and classic serials from years ago. Paul Temple, Dick Barton, and more recently Cadfael, Raffles, After Henry. 
I listened to the Archers from childhood right up until covid. At Uni, my landlady and I sat in the kitchen after washing up. My children were always in bed by 7 when they were in primary school, so I could listen in peace with a cuppa. I was an Archers Addict. But i went Cold Turkey in covid, and haven't listened since!
But one programme which began just a few weeks after my wedding in summer 1979  is still around. It has recently moved from its original Sunday/Monday slots to Friday/Saturday. I try and catch it at some point in the week [I previously used to listen on my way home from Sunday Morning preaching engagements]

And 45 years on, I still think
the Food Programme is excellent. In the beginning it was presented by Derek Cooper, who had a lovely voice for radio - Now Sheila Dillon and Dan Saladino are the main presenters. I have learned about the development of farming methods, food preparation. changes in the nation's eating habits, the cost of food [to our pocket, and to our planet] artisanal producers and high tech solutions, older food traditions and the newest trends. It is different every week and always interesting. 
There are well over 900 programmes available to catch up with on iplayer.
Last Friday's episode was part of Just One Thing Day - and looked at the many aspects of diet which had been highlighted by Dr Michael Mosley. Presenters had picked out their favourite highlights of his JOT show. It was excellent. 
I am definitely a Radio Girl. I can sew or knit whilst listening, and I'm not distracted by the pictures! But just recently my Radio Pleasure has been greatly enhanced. My tablet gave up the ghost [I'm losing track of Household Items which are packing up and irreparable this year] and the replacement came with an unexpected bonus - bluetooth earbuds. 
Now I can listen clearly whilst using the sewing machine, or sit in the lounge doing embroidery, listening to my radio programme, without disturbing Bob who is watching TV.
It's mostly OK - unless I am listening to the Daily Service,[15 minutes of reflection, 9.45am  Radio 4Extra] as I sometimes forget and start singing along to the hymns!
I am sure Guiglielmo Marconi  never realised in 1896 just how his invention would transform our lives.
Do you listen to the radio - national or local?
And do you have a favourite programme?

Monday 15 July 2024

Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width

Older readers may recognise this as the name of a sitcom from the late 1960s. It involved two men [one Jewish, the other an Irish Catholic] who ran a tailor's shop. It was definitely not politically correct, and we did not watch it in our home. But the saying - allegedly deriving from East End businesses who were seeking to sell their customers shoddy merchandise, came to mind recently when I bought some fabric.

In Dorset, I used to go to Fabricland  - this was a good source of inexpensive cloth for play costumes, curtains and dressmaking. 

They have an online store, but I have not used them since moving to Norfolk. Recently I discovered Pound Fabrics. They're in Birmingham. I ordered a couple of lengths of fabric, and was very pleased with the efficiency of delivery, quality of cloth, and value for money. 

My latest purchase was a grey safari print in organic cotton poplin. It was the work of an afternoon to make another little dress with pockets for Jess. 

The fabric cost just £3 and was lovely to sew. The binding came from my stash - an unopened pack of Aero tape - originally costing 9p! I bound the neckline, armholes and pocket tops. I used a fancy stitch for hem and pockets, and an 'overcast' foot to help neaten seams and raw edges.[more new skills learned on my new machine]
It is so sweet. Let's hope Jess loves this as much as her pink dress.
If you do dressmaking, where do you buy your fabrics?

Sunday 14 July 2024

For The Healing Of The Nations

I have always liked Holst's music "The Planet Suite" - especially Jupiter - and the part which is well known as the hymn tune Thaxted. But I have never been comfortable with the words of "I vow to thee my country". Somehow I feel that unquestioning sacrifice on behalf of the nation is not a good thing. And the last verse [There's another country...] is misquoting the Bible in implying it is about heaven - in fact the gentleness and peace verse in  Proverbs is all about wisdom. So I was really pleased to hear the hymn below on Sunday Worship [BBC Radio 4] last week. It was written by an American, in response to the events of  Tiananmen Square Massacre  35 years ago

Let streams of living justice flow down upon the earth;
give freedom’s light to captives, let all the poor have worth.
The hungry’s hands are pleading, the workers claim their rights,
the mourners long for laughter, the blinded seek for sight.
Make liberty a beacon, strike down the iron power;
abolish ancient vengeance: proclaim your people’s hour.

For healing of the nations, for peace that will not end,
for love that makes us lovers, God grant us grace to mend.
Weave our varied gifts together; knit our lives as they are spun;
on your loom of time enrol us till our thread of life is run.
O great weaver of our fabric, bind church and world in one;
dye our texture with your radiance, light our colours with your sun.

Your city’s built to music; we are the stones you seek;
your harmony is language; we are the words you speak.
Our faith we find in service, our hope in others’ dreams,
our love in hand of neighbour; our homeland brightly gleams.
Inscribe our hearts with justice; your way—the path untried;
your truth—the heart of stranger; your life—the Crucified.

Words: William Whitla (b. 1934) – Music: Thaxted (Gustav Holst, 1874-1934)

I think the words are great [not surprisingly, verse 2 resonates especially with me, all the fabric references!] On the subject of justice, I was thrilled to read the good news about Nelson Shardey this week. A real answer to prayer

I hope you enjoy this hymn too!

UPDATE just picked up the news from the USA. Praying for peace and justice there especially this morning. 

Saturday 13 July 2024

And So To Bed

Ebenezer Mouse likes to go to bed early with a good book. His current favourite is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens [because at the end of it, Ebenezer Scrooge realises the error of his miserly ways and becomes a good and happy man] But it is pretty cold sleeping in the Museum. so the little mouse has a long sleeved nightshirt - and a nightcap with a fluffy pompom to keep his head warm. The mice were delivered yesterday morning, and will be put in place in a fortnight's time, just as the children break up for the Summer holidays...

Friday 12 July 2024


If you are a Star Wars fan, you will know that ewoks are "sentient furry creatures, 1 metre tall, native to the Planet Endor. Skilled in primitive technology, they created gliders and catapults and helped the

 Alliance beat the Stormtroopers"  
In my back garden, however EWOK stands for Egyptian Walking Onion [from Kirsten]  The two plants she sent me last August split into four quite separate shoots, producing bulbils which made divided into more, and then leaned over...I've planted some of the small bulbils in a pot, and taken some of the red onions [size of large marbles] and planted them in the earth behind the oil tank. We wait to see what happens. Other red onions have been sliced into salad, or halved and fried off and dropped into casseroles and ragu sauces. And the green shoots chopped finely and sprinkled like chives. All very satisfactory [thanks K] 

Then there's NEPO. Bob was checking our shared calendar, and there was a mysterious entry saying "Breakfast with W @ NEPO" He knew who W was, but NEPO? I had to explain this is North Elmham Post Office.

An excellent spot to meet with friends for breakfast, elevenses, light lunch or tea and cake...

But the rest of the world has a different understanding of NEPO - it is shorthand for Nepotism Baby or Nepo Baby. That is, someone who follows a famous parent into the same line of work - leaving many to question if they would have got the same breaks if they'd 'come up the hard way' without all the right connections.
The term has nepo has become popular in the last 4 or five years, but the concept has been around much longer, particularly in the film & TV industry.

Take this list

Jamie Lee Curtis-Tony Curtis 
Michael Douglas-Kirk Douglas
Paris Hilton-Richard Hilton
Angelina Jolie-Jon Voight
Jane Fonda-Henry Fonda
Lily Allen-Keith Allen
Charlie Sheen-Martin Sheen
Nancy Sinatra-Frank Sinatra
Hilary Benn-Tony Benn
Kate Hudson-Goldie Hawn
Miley Cyrus -Billy Ray Cyrus
Stella McC-Paul McCartney
Kiefer Sutherland-Donald Sutherland
Not to mention the acting dynasties - check out Samuel West's relations, the Redgraves, the Cusacks, the Foxes...and all those Katdashians
Well, as of this week, there's a new NEPO  out there on the BBC. Son-of-celebrity-chef, Jamie, Buddy Oliver is hosting his own show on CBBC. I watched on i-player whilst working through the ironing mountain. And I really did enjoy it. 
Buddy is approaching 14, and has been making short YouTube cookery clips for about 4 years. This new show, Cooking Buddies has this lad teaching another young teen to prepare a simple dish - and then his guest teaches him a skill [boxing, football, karate] I thought it was fun. These young people were patient with one another, complimentary when things went well, and encouraging when they didn't - with plenty of good humour thrown in. 
I know some people think there's altogether too much Jamie O on TV - but personally I thought this personable young chap came across really well. And he has clearly learned much more from his dad than just knife skills! I shall definitely be talking to Rosie about this show next time I see her.
Today the BBC is designating "Just One Thing" day, in tribute to the late Michael Mosley. I hope there is not too much unctuous hagiography,[I suspect MM would have hated that] but I shall try and catch a few of the highlights on TV and radio.

Thursday 11 July 2024

The Cover Version

In musician's terms, a 'cover version' is a reworking of a song, maybe by the original singer, or perhaps by someone else. Occasionally the cover version becomes better known and more popular than the original. If I mention the theme song from the 1982 animated film "The Snowman" "Walking In The Air" you will probably think of Aled Jones - but his was a cover version, whilst the original, used in the film, was sung by a choirboy from St Paul's Cathedral, Peter Auty. [Aled's version led him to instant fame. I'm pleased that Peter also has a great career as an international operatic tenor]
Then there's that song "Unchained Melody". First written in 1955, The Righteous Brothers achieved a hit with their cover version in 1965. At the time I was baffled- there are no chains mentioned anywhere in the lyrics. I found out later that the name came from the fact it was the theme song for a prison film called "Unchained". This has had over 1500 cover versions recorded in the last 70 years, by loads of people; BBC DJ Jimmy Young 1955 , Elvis Presley 1977, Robson and Jerome 1995, Gareth Gates 2002, Barry Manilow, Bono...
Kirsten and I decided our next project ought to be something other than just a stitched piece of fabric, and as we are both collectors of notebooks, a pair of notebook covers [A5 size] seemed a good idea. "You could call it The Cover Version" said Bob.
We have both been making notebook covers in recent months. First Kirsten did a lovely handstitched patchwork cover.
And then I created a machined cover for a sewing journal, to record all my projects, as try out the fancy stitches on my new machine.
These had regular square pieces - for variety we are going to attempt different sized rectangles. A bit like Victorian Crazy Patchwork.  Each piece will be sewn down with neat almost invisible stitches and decorated as it is affixed.

We will work in a hoop to keep things flat and not the decoration over the seams till the very end. There will be flaps folding inside to hold the covers in place, and one will have a blank panel where we can add names, dates and details.
This our third collaboration. Watch this space!

Wednesday 10 July 2024

Because I Can...

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations says that volunteering is: “Volunteering is someone spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit the environment or someone who they're not closely related to. Volunteering must be a choice freely made by each individual.”
Or there’s this shorter definition; “Volunteering is doing more than you have to, because you want to, in a cause you consider good.”
Back before Christmas, I saw that Voluntary Norfolk were advertising for somebody to do crafts with patients on the Rehab Ward at Dereham Hospital. So I made enquiries about what this entailed. The wheels were set in motion - but boy did they turn slowly! This is quite normal in the world of volunteering - references, DBS checks, training, induction, "shadowing" etc etc. I finally began the job a month ago, and this week actually did something approaching a 'craft activity' with just one patient.
There were 4 volunteers in the team, and we are having a "Sport" theme for the next four Tuesdays. I helped one lady make herself a medal, and then she coloured in a poster. Another gentleman painted a picture of a banana [he was not interested in the theme!]
It is a small unit, and this crafting is a new initiative, but we are hoping interest will grow among the other patients - we work in the day room/dining area. Patients who can walk, or go into wheelchairs, come into this room for their meals, so maybe the Olympic Display my colleague put up will stimulate more craftiness next week. 
When I applied, the first question was 'have you done voluntary work before?' and I said I had been volunteering since about 1970. 'What was the first thing you did?' I said I was doing my Queen's Award in the Girls' Brigade. One requirement was doing 2 hours voluntary service each week for 6 months. So I used to cycle up the hill to Dereham Hospital each Saturday morning. I had to sort out the flowers, help patients with their elevenses, and chat to them. 
Obviously the patients are quite limited in their abilities.They are all OAPs, some in their 90s, and many have few fine motor skills, others have arms/hands strapped up, due to falls. Finding appropriate activities is a challenge. But just chatting with them is a positive exercise. The nursing staff are really appreciative, as they do not have time to sit and talk with these folk.
If giving up 90 minutes on a Tuesday morning can help brighten someone's day, give them more confidence in their abilities, or just relieve the pressure on nursing staff, then I will be a volunteer. The important thing is to pick up the correct lanyard from the hook on the back of the study door. It would confuse everybody if I arrived with a badge saying Bob, Chaplaincy Team! Finding an appropriate photo was a challenge. The picture is four years old - after that haircut, I stopped dyeing the grey hairs! 
Do you volunteer? And do you find it rewarding?


Tuesday 9 July 2024

The Customer Is Always Right...

 ...In Matters Of Taste.
People usually forget the ending of the quote from Harry Gordon Selfridge, the American business magnate, who opened his huge London store on Oxford Street in 1909.

Here is Samuel Bonner, who runs the little shop next to the Museum. He is very neat and tidy, always wearing a collar and tie, and his shopkeeper's apron, as he stands behind the counter. 
Samuel would not dream of stocking anything which could be considered in 'poor taste'. Quality, Honesty and Good Value are Sam's guiding principles.
None of that "Pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap" here! Samuel knows that his customers are not only people of good taste, but wise shoppers who look after their pennies. They can trust him to supply good merchandise at fair prices. 

Monday 8 July 2024

Wet, Wonderful Weekend

A new cabinet in Number 10,  ready to get to work. So much to do, but great enthusiasm for their task. Hopes for a brighter future
Lewis Hamilton, weeping with joy in his father's embrace, after winning the Grand Prix at Silverstone. A stunning, well deserved win ending his run of losing. It was very emotional. I'm not really into sport, but I found it so moving. Hopes for more podium places
After a terrific thunderstorm, a stunning double rainbow over the Close in the late afternoon. A sign of joy and hope. 
May the week ahead be a good one for you 



Sunday 7 July 2024

Post Election Prayer

When I was a child, my father showed me the statue of Boudicca outside the Houses of Parliament. 

Being Dad, that meant he told me her story, and the importance of freedom, and justice - and the significance of the statue being by "the Mother of Parliaments". He told me that there was a time when people like me [a Baptist and a female] would have been denied the vote, and that brave men and women had fought for suffrage. He talked about democracy, integrity and truth. And he reminded me that even if we didn't agree with what our politicians were doing, we had a duty to pray for them. That they would have wisdom and grace to make right decisions, putting the good of the people above the advancement of themselves and their party. And that God would bless our nation.
When Rosie was born in St Thomas' Hospital, I carried her in my arms to the window and looked across the river to the Palace of Westminster. I whispered to her that when she was older I would take her to see Boudicca, and tell her of the importance of democracy and justice. And the privilege we have of being able to vote. She opened her eyes and looked up at me. Only a few hours old, how on earth would she understand what this batty grandma was saying? But it mattered to me. I was delighted to hear from Liz on Thursday that at Nursery, Jess and her friends were having an election too!
Bob and I stayed up till 5.30am on Friday morning [a perk of retirement!] We drank tea as they began to fall like dominoes - Shapps, Mordaunt, Keegan, Rees Mogg...we heard Rishi concede defeat and listened to Keir's victory speech. We watched amazed and excited LibDems and Greens winning seats. Then we went to bed [and woke up later to find Truss had gone too...] Parliament has turned over a new page - and there are fresh challenges ahead. I remember my Dad's words 60 years ago. And so I pray
Lord bless this new Government
Bless all those, of whatever party,
who have been elected to serve
Give them your wisdom
Help them fight for justice, 
to work for the underprivileged
the lost, the least, and the lowest
to care for our nation 
and our land
Bless those who have lost their seats
Help them find new purpose
and new ways to serve
Encourage all those behind the scenes
who worked so hard during the Election season
- especially those who feel defeated and uncertain
Thank you for the men and women of integrity
those who put the good of people first
who demonstrate morality and honesty
in their actions as well as their words
And we pray for our new Prime Minister
as he takes up this new role
We remember his wife and family
facing all the upheaval ahead
as they move into a new home
and into the public eye
In a world where many people are oppressed
Denied a vote and a voice
Never let us take our democracy for granted
And help each of us, whoever we are
To play our part in our communities
bringing the change our society needs
that Britain may become a better place

Saturday 6 July 2024

Let's Have A Beanfeast!

Nobody's quite sure about the origins of the "Beanfeast". Some say it came from old Twelfth Night celebrations, when a cake or pie was baked with a 'bean' in it. Whoever got the portiuon with the bean was proclaimed King for the Day. Here is a painting from around 1640 by Jacob Jordaens, the Flemish artist, called "The Bean King"

But in 1725, a man called Daniel Day, in Wapping, London, declared the first Friday in July to be a Beanfeast, when he gave his employees a holiday and a  open air feast of beans and bacon.
In 1773, King George III visited the Woolwich Works [ the Arsenal] where beans and bacon were being served to everyone. He enjoyed himself so much that he declared July 7th to be the official Beanfeast Holiday. Many businesses continued this tradition for years - there was even mention of "George IIIs Beanfeast" in Hansard in1930.


Today, 251 years later, they are celebrating the first Modern Beanfeast. at the Woolwich Works.
I'm all in favour of beanfeasts, where friends and families enjoy food and fun together. Last Sunday's church lunch was great! And as we're supposed to be eating less meat these days, protein from beans/legumes is a Good Thing. I've harvested some broad beans from the Raised Bed this week, and the runner beans are growing steadily up their pyramid support.
My favourite bean dishes; fresh green beans, steamed, with a pat of butter served as a side dish,  butter beans in salads or tapas dishes, kidney beans in a chili con carne, and good old beans-on-toast.  Do you enjoy beans?