Saturday, 21 July 2018

Saturday and some butter

Good morning, everyone.  Disappointingly, we had no lightning, no thunder and, worst of all, no rain!  So the dryness continues and I gather it will get hotter again this coming week.  So much for my prediction of rain when the schools break up.

I went to the leavers' assembly yesterday.  Because I teach - I mean taught - down in infants, classes I had are still working their way through the school so I knew a lot of the children taking part and most of the parents coming to watch.  It was a great presentation, funny and sad at the same time and a lot of the kids were in tears as they sang their last song, setting some of the audience off too. 
Bitter-sweet is just the right word for it.

I had a few things I just HAD to do.  First of all, the other day a friend brought round some redcurrants she had picked so yesterday I got going with a fork to remove the berries from their stems.  It's a fiddly process but not too bad and as I am making jelly (or seedless jam) with them, the occasional stem won't matter. 
They are now in the freezer until I can see to them.  I wonder if they would go well with blackberries.  Blackberry and redcurrant jelly.  Sounds good, doesn't it?  In a few weeks |I'll have loads of blackberries because Dad's canes are ripening fast now and he's asked me to take some fruit once it builds up.  What he does is pick and freeze as required.

The other essential was butter.  I saw some large pots of cream on yellow sticker at 10p a pot so I got two pots.  You can't refuse at that price.  Yesterday I made butter.  Given the price of butter nowadays, I got myself a bargain!
It's easy to do - just whip or zizz the cream until it splits into solids and buttermilk, using something electric as by hand would take all day.  I used Thermione but an ordinary processor would do.  It took about two minutes to get to that point.  Then you wash the butter in very cold water to get rid of any residual liquid.
What you get is unsalted butter so add salt if you want to.
I spooned the butter into some little pots with lids before bagging and freezing.  Now I can just take one out whenever I feel like 'a little bit of butter on my bread' as the king said to the queen. 

Even better if the bread is homemade and the jam is redcurrant and blackberry!

Friday, 20 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  It's back to dull this morning, comfortably cool so the windows are all open and I've just put a load of washing out!

After allotmenting yesterday, I went round to Beth's and finally got started on helping Al to clear his room of junk.  We started but it will take more than one session, especially with all his uni stuff to go through as well.  I came home with two bags full of washing, most of which has now been done.  Thank goodness for the warm, dry weather - perfect for drying on the outside line.

I'm sure there will be more but it is a good start!

I've officially finished the last tuition sessions of the school year apart from the 11 plussers who will carry on because the test is in September (it used to be February when my two were that age) and a couple of catch ups because of missed sessions.  A nice long time to get ahead with resources and ideas.

Today, this morning will be quite busy, this afternoon less so.  One of the books on Essex churches that I ordered from Amazon might arrive today (impressively quick) so, if it does, it will be nice to start looking through and planning a few more trips.

I may not post tomorrow or Sunday, it all depends, but I will definitely be back on Monday.  I won't vanish!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Thursday and some plans

Good morning, everyone.  A quick one today as time is flying.  The sun is shining this morning and it looks glorious out there, not too hot yet and with no haze.  Really lovely.

I've been having a good think about what I'm doing with my retirement, not in any 'worthy' way, just because I don't want to be too routine bound.  I was inspired by Sue from The Cottage at the End of a Lane who has a book about Suffolk churches and is sort of working her way through them.

I don't have any such helpful books (yet) but the idea stuck and I've been thinking round it for a while and now that tuition and school responsibilities have more or less stopped for the summer, I think I will do something very similar (hope you don't mind me copying you, Sue).  There should be plenty of info on the internet.

So next Tuesday I am off to Willingale which is not too far away at all.  Willingale has two churches on the same site, both old and interesting looking, both open for visitors and I can be there in fifteen minutes.  Hopefully it will the start of something good.

We have a cathedral in town, of course, and while it's not a village church, it's worth a visit, especially as the bus stop is right outside - cheers.  In Little Maplestead, there is a Round Church that looks fascinating and I would love to go back to  St. Andrews Church, Greensted, the oldest wooden church in the world (says their site), and the oldest ‘Stave Built’ timber building in Europe.
My friend, J, has expressed an interest in coming with me sometimes which will be very nice and she tells me that Gosfield church is worth a visit.

I think I have a plan here, don't you?  Thank you, Sue.

One of the Willingale churches, photo borrowed from the Churches Conservation Trust website.

Edited to add a screen shot from Google Maps.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  We're back to dull mornings again, quite fresh right now but dull.  Not a patch on yesterday's sun-filled delight (see photo below)  but then yesterday had turned dull and humid by the afternoon so maybe today will be the opposite.

(It does look so much more friendly with the cushions, doesn't it?)

It was a busier day than I had expected.  I made lunch, whizzed into school to sign a few cards and make a few donations, whizzed over to Morrisons for a few bits and bobs, whizzed home, made a frittata for dinner (to be had cold with salad), made mayonnaise for the coleslaw as a treat on a day when both remaining meals had guests and welcomed my first guest.

It was very pleasant to stop whizzing and chat as we ate, catching up on all sorts of stuff.  She brought me some nectarines, I gave her some golden yellow courgettes from the allotment.  Fair exchange!

After she had gone, I looked over my planning after tidying up the kitchen and then had time for a read.  Not outside, it was a bit humid for that and the sun had disappeared, but never mind.
Tuition, as usual, was fun and I was proudly shown another report.

Then Beth arrived.  We scooted down to the allotment, dug some potatoes, pulled some courgettes, did a little bit of weeding and came back for dinner as Beth didn't fancy eating down there.  I have to say the courgette frittata went down well, accompanied by cold new potatoes (allotment), salad and coleslaw.  All very delicious.

Not totally the day I had planned but you know what they say about plans.
“The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley.”
How true!

On to today.  I'm back in school at 9:30 to finish the meeting from Monday afternoon and then I'm staying for the 'Goodbye assembly' to say farewell to some staff who are moving on to pastures new.
After that it should be a quieter day and I'm dithering between allotment and swimming; there's not time for both.
Then some tuition and finally an evening in front of the telly watching  Back in Time for Tea (repeat) and then either some more Next Gen DVD or some Doctor Who on iPlayer.     
(Or, more likely, gently snoozing in my comfy chair)

Should be good!

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan

The book I mentioned yesterday is called 'Bookworm',recommended by Sue in her blog, The Cottage at the End of a Lane(  and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

This is what Amazon says:
"When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.
She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.
In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.
Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm."

Reading it has made me realise how fortunate I have been in my childhood reading.  Many of the books and authors she writes about are old personal favourites of mine too and, of those books that have been written since my childhood, I have met them in a book-rich school environment and have had the privilege of introducing 'my' children to a range of them, one way or another.

The author reminds me of myself.  For example, I was the one who went to a friend's home, found the book shelves and disappeared into a corner with one I hadn't yet read or wanted to re-read.  I was the child who kept her torch under the bedclothes to read after the lights had been switched off.  I though my parents didn't know but, of course, they did.
Mum, in particular, encouraged me in my reading.  She was a librarian before I came along and loved books.  Not only was I taken to the library every fortnight; remember when you could only borrow three books at a time and each book had a ticket inside(?), I had a home filled with books of all kinds, old books, new books, classics, all sorts and mum took the attitude that if I was old enough to want to read it, then give it a go (I guess they just didn't buy the more 'mature' type books or, at least, kept them out of sight of us children.

Reading Bookworm is like going into a house and finding it a home, the one in which you grew up with all the old furniture, furnishings and rooms.  It is beautifully written and is giving me many a 'stop and appreciate the language' moments as well as chuckles and quieter smiles.
I will certainly read it again - and again and again and again.  It is already a favourite.  Not everyone will like it but I most certainly do!

Here's more reviews.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  So here I am, back home having slept in my own bed again and it's a gorgeous morning.  Sunny, clear blue skies, not a hint of humidity and a lovely breeze keeping the air moving.  So different from the weekend which was solid heat and very humid.  If it were always like this, I would be a happy girl.  Well, OK, rain too, but that would fall overnight in my ideal weather world.

The journey home was slow-ish - it's a country route and there are lorries and farm vehicles - but no real holdups.  Even the road works outside Bishops Stortford seem to be more or less finished and the road is clear again after months of frustration so thank goodness.

I stopped off at the allotment to water and to dig up another potato plant and there were also raspberries and four good sized courgettes.  Once home, after throwing open all the windows and turning on all the fans (it was SO hot), I gave the plants a welcome home drink and found three runner beans ready to go with the one dad gave me and very delicious they were too, with the new potatoes and chicken for dinner.  There will be more in a few days.

After lunch, I went into school for a meeting at which I was wearing my governor's hat.  The head's room is air conned so we were extremely comfortable.
Then it was home for tuition and more good news about school reports (my students seem to have done rather well, which is most satisfying) and after that, sone Dave came round for a quick financial get together.
Finally it was a late dinner and a few more episodes of Doctor Who before bed!  Perfect.

This morning I've already given the garden its morning drink and picked the ripe blueberries which will go with yesterday's raspberries on my muesli.  There's not loads but they will taste great and those golden berries look so colourful.  I must remember to put some more yogurt on to make or I will run out and that mustn't happen.  I love my yogurt!

I have a friend round for lunch today, arranged ages ago and only just remembered (yesterday).  I'll make a load of salad so there will be some for dinner tonight which will be a picnic at the allotment with Beth again.  Unfortunately, the weeds took advantage of my weekend away to grow behind my back, cheeky things, so I guess I will be weeding while Beth waters.

It should be a very pleasant day and I have put the arbour cushions out in expectation of time to read my newly acquired book while the wind rustles the birch leaves, the birds sing and the insect hum busily around my tomatoes and runner beans.


Edit - Eloise, I have left you an answer under Saturday's entry which you might find helpful.

Monday, 16 July 2018


Good morning!
It was so hot here yesterday.  I've coped with this hot weather pretty well really but yesterday was a bit too much, it really was.  It didn't help that I had three loads of washing to dry and iron and, yes, I needed to because I'm at my parents and coming home this morning.  If I go up to help out, I'm not leaving them with a pile of ironing!  :-)

While ironing, I watched Wimbledon, turning over at three to avoid the World Cup.  Why they couldn't just have the football on BBC2 beats me.  It's not as if people don't have access to BBC2!  Anyway, I felt that it was something of an anticlimax really.  I suppose they would have been tired after such long semis.  I enjoyed it, but it wasn't edge of the seat stuff.

Today feels like a busy day.  After driving home, when I will stop off at the allotment to water (not great timing but probably the best I can do).  I have a meeting in school this afternoon followed by tuition.  I'll probably crash out come the evening!

Have a lovely day - maybe the weather will be less fierce today.  Fingers crossed.