Wednesday, 20 September 2017


Good morning!  It's chilly (socks and dressing gown chilly) and dark and lovely and peaceful.  It's almost officially autumn now, summer is past, but I want good weather for next week!

I dashed into town to the bank after seeing a payment that I thought I didn't authorise - but it turned out that I did.  How embarrassing is that?  Never mind, I did the few bits and bobs I had been intending to do this morning, including withdrawing my holiday spending money that I moved over from savings, so that's OK.

I went into Foyles and found a lovely little AA book of the Peak District so it will be my constant companion next week.  I also got some deep fitted sheets for my parents, John Lewis being one of the few shops that sell them at a reasonable price.

Things are nearly ready now.  I have to prep the guest room and get a few things in, finish my piles of stuff I am taking and keep the house tidy.  That's about it really, apart from planning the tuition for the first week in October.

Should be a nice day!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017


Morning, everyone.  I overslept just a bit this morning, waking at six, which was rather nice.  The heating had clicked on so it felt cosy but means it must be quite chilly out there.  It's obviously been raining, the wind is blowing and I am glad to be snug and warm inside with no need to go out whatsoever.

I have nice warm toes too.  I do have slippers but am not terribly fond of wearing them really and they are getting old.  The pair I bought to replace them didn't fit comfortably at all and I haven't really worn them.
So I invested in some sock-slippers (or do I mean slipper-socks).  In other words, socks that have a non slip sole and a nice fluffy turn over at the top and could pass for slippers.  They're snug and cosy, soft and fluffy inside and easy to walk in and I love them.

My printer certainly took a battering yesterday.  I completely sorted out my route to the Peaks yesterday including enlarged printouts of any tricky bits and I even 'drove' the roads up there using Google road view.  How did neurotic route finders like me ever cope before Google was born, eh?

It did help though.  I am sure there's some deep, psychological reason but I have a real fear of getting lost in the car.  I tell myself I'm not lost, I just don't know where I am for a while and I know the sat nav will give me clear instructions once it stops trying to get me onto the M1 but it doesn't help the fear much.  What has helped is seeing that some tricky looking junctions are traffic light controlled and that there are very clear road markings too.  I will laugh at myself once I am there, I know I will.

This looked horrible on the map but perfectly manageable now I've seen it!  Just a shame the roads don't REALLY have their names marked on the surface in large, white lettering!

Today is gathering things together day.  All the bits and bobs I am taking will find their way to one place in the living room, all the clothes I am taking will be washed and ironed (if necessary),stacked up and I will wear rags until Friday.  I will top up with petrol.  I might even be very good and clean out the car, you never know.

All part of the fun!

I made a really nice crumble on Sunday.  Mind you, it is hard to make a crumble that isn't nice, isn't it?  This was strawberry and apple.  The strawberries were leftovers from the day before and the apple was an old eater that was looking wrinkled and unappetising.  The topping was a plain and simple basic one: butter, flour and sugar.  So tasty!

I'd better stop now.  I need to do some Facebook adminning and then start the day's work.  That should keep me warm, even if the heating didn't!
Have a great day.

Monday, 18 September 2017


Good morning, everyone.  I hope you all slept well.

I'm on the last lap before my holiday now.  My house sitter is all arranged and I am creating lists.
Food to take
Equipment to take
Things to buy
Things to pack

The last two are self evident, I hope.  I don't take a lot when there are laundering facilities but I do like to take things like my lovely big, white towel, etc, so I make a list.  When I get there, there's a little village shop a few steps along the road but I will take my first night's meal with me, I think.  After all, it is holiday!

When it comes to the first two, it's a bit more complicated.  Don't laugh - I always take Thermione with me on self catering holidays.  I am so used to having her around and now I have the Cook-Key, I can load it up with my favourite recipes (it's a bit like a Kindle for cooking, I suppose).  I also like to take two sharp knives because I cannot bear using blunt knives.  I will give them a good sharpening before I pack.  Then there's things like one loaf tin as I can't expect a holiday cottage to have one, tea towels (my experience is that there are never enough tea towels), poly bags, cling film, etc.  I see no point buying new packs when I have plenty in drawer or cupboard.

I apply the same principle to foody things.  There's no way I am going to buy new packs of things like salt, pepper, sugar, herbs, etc, when I already have plenty at home.  I doubt I will eat out much of an evening as I much prefer snuggling down at home with telly, a good book, some knitting and a glass of the chilled dry white stuff and anyway, eating out on your own isn't a lot of fun.  I've paid out for a very comfortable little cottage and I intend to get the most from it.

Yesterday I went online to plan my route.  The AA route finder is very handy here.  You can input the roads you want to use as well as the destination and it gives detailed directions that you can print out.  I'm joining the A1 at Baldock (using the cross country way, via Bishop's Stortford) and then across to Mansfield, Chesterfield and Baslow from Newark.  It looks simple enough and the signposting seems clear enough.  What with that and the Sat Nav, I should only get lost a few times!
I could join the M1 and go that way but I know the A1 and it's a good road nowadays so I will risk it!

Not long now!

Sunday, 17 September 2017


After a wakeful time in the middle of the night, I woke just after seven this morning which is ridiculously late for me.  So now I am in a bit of a rush and this will be short.

Really, I just wanted to wish my friend, Diane, a safe drive to Italy and a wonderful holiday there with her family and friends.  I'm looking forward to seeing the photos.

Better go.  Back tomorrow.

Saturday, 16 September 2017


Good morning, everyone.  It has just turned five of the morning and I know from experience that I most likely not get back to sleep again so I'm sitting up in bed, laptop on knee, for an hour or so of social media-ing.  It's chilly because I have the windows on tilt but not bad enough to make the effort to get up and close them.

Just think - in seven days I will be sitting in bed in the holiday cottage, laptop on knee, coffee to hand, enjoying the unfamiliarity of what looks like a very attractive and comfortable little cottage. Planning is well and truly on the way.  I have bought one of those plastic folders with inserts and I shall be devoting each insert to a different thing I want to do.  The Chatsworth exhibition - no problem.  Pre-booked evidence will be there but no map as the cottage is right on the doorstep of the estate.  Haddon Hall - the map is already there with a print out of info about the place.

On holidays, my Kindle is a very useful piece of equipment indeed.  One of the items on my Things To Do list is to load her up with reading material.  Lots of books for very little weight.  I won't have the normal distractions so expect that I will have plenty of time to read, perhaps with glass of wine to hand and music in the background.

Oh, it will be fun!

I got round to half sorting out the problem with my laptop.  It was all my own fault.  I spilt a glass of water over the keyboard part and then, stupidly, pressed some of the keys rather than just leave it to dry, so now, of course, those keys don't work.  I don't think there's anything one can do about that so, in the meanwhile, I have a separate keyboard that is resting on the connected one and it is working fine.  My main PC needs another keyboard anyway so, while I was buying it, I decided to get two of them as it was very reasonably priced and without too many bells and whistles (not needed) and here we are!  At some point I will investigate having the connected keyboard replaced but at the moment I need it too much and too often to hand it over to a shop for weeks.

I've been looking for lamb recipes.  Leg of lamb is so, so expensive that I haven't bought it for years but I have a good excuse (guests) so indulged.  I want to do it slow roasted because I love it that way and it is as I thought.  Rub it over with some herbs/spices, slam it in, covered, and leave it apart from basting for hours and hours.  I can manage that.  With roasties, runner beans and courgettes, it should make a very acceptable meal.  I might even stretch to a fruit crumble for dessert, that would be nice.

Well, it is first-coffee time so I will stir myself, potter downstairs and get the kettle on.  What a self indulgent life I live at times.  It's great!

Friday, 15 September 2017


Good morning, everyone.  It's Friday, last day of the working week for most and with the weekend before us.  At the moment it's crisp, clear and cold outside but it will probably warm up soon enough.  Yesterday was a real mixed bag - first fine, then lashing with rain, especially (of course) at the end of school when all the parents were waiting in the playground.

Thankfully, the car got through its MOT without any hassles or issues so that's it for the year.  Road tax comes at a different time, for which I am duly thankful, although it's not a huge amount of money nowadays.

I set to and made the tea loaf and another batch of shortbread, the first batch having mysteriously shrunk somewhat.  Strange that!

That's about it really.  A much 'smaller' day but still very pleasant as today will be too, I'm sure.  And now I'd better start living it!

Thursday, 14 September 2017


Good morning, everyone.  Yesterday was a lovely day: a bit blustery and a few showers but nothing to write home about.  It's been a clear night too and, therefore, chilly.  I've turned the heating up, utter softy that I am.

Yesterday was a filled day.  I got into town before the underground car park became too full.  Not as early as I had planned but it was OK.  After a trip round M&S food hall (always enjoyable), I went to the bank and deposited that cheque.  Oh, that did feel good!

Then I promptly ploughed some of it back into the retail economy.  That was fun too.

In Lakeland - can't go into town without popping into Lakeland, can I? - I invested in a square baking tin which is just the right size for my shortbread.  My old one has gone all manky and a bit rusty and I chucked it out, so it was one in and one out.  Better for the clutter situation that way.

Then on to the White Company.   You won't remember but almost a year ago, just after the shop had opened, I treated myself to a couple of posh room sprays from there as a treat.  They may have been expensive but they've lasted almost the whole year and are just starting to run out so I got some more.  A couple of citrussy ones and one called 'winter' which is a cooler sort of fragrance.  It's quite an experience shopping in there apart from the general luxury of the place as they do up your shopping in a lovely little gift bag with cord handles and a bow to tie the tops together and the sprays were swapped in matching tissue paper.  Worth it just for that!
And they are very good sprays that are dealing with the remaining residual paint-pong very effectively too.

Then it was on to John Lewis for a general trawl around and there I found something I have been looking for for a considerable time (I'm talking years here).  For ages I have wanted (a first-world thing here) a small, rectangular oven dish that has higher, vertical sides for things like lasagne or cannelloni.  There are loads around, I know, but they are all too big, even the ones that are labelled as 'small'.  I just wanted literally a single portion one.

And, in John Lewis, not only did I find a ceramic one that was white to match my other things, I also found a lovely, coppery coloured dish that I have coveted ever since I saw it in photos in Miguel Barclay's 'One Pound Meals' book.  So, guess what.  I bought both!  Thank you, Mr Tax Man.

I finished off my indulgent spend with a single bed duvet that will go inside my patchwork cover, when I finish it.  A good quality one that will last and last and which will spoil my visitors.  I now have to look at the duvets I have and decide which one I want to lose to the Salvation Army recycling bin.

After all that spending in town, I needed to do something a bit more productive so I made some shortbread and mixed up the first part of my tealoaf recipe which was soaking the dried fruit in cold tea and sugar.  I shall finish making the loaf this morning.

Then it was coffee-and-chat time with a friend.  When I got home, I was delighted to see that the new passport had arrived.  Very impressive, that; it's just a week since the paperwork was sent off.

And I even remembered to clear the car as it's got its MOT today!  Fingers crossed for that.

Today I have to stay in and plan to have a good tidy up, do some baking and deal with the remaining apples that Jackie gave me.  Very different from yesterday but very pleasant all the same.

And I suppose I'd better update my bank records too and get some of that cheque into savings.  After my coffee, of course.