Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Late Tuesday

Well past my bedtime.  Half way through the night for me, in fact.  I've usually been in bed for a good two hours or so by now.  However, my friends have gone home after a very pleasant evening and my brain is a-buzzin'.  It was a big success food wise, with both recipes winging their way across the ether via Facebook so that they can make them again.  However, be warned - the Delia recipe for chicken basque that says it is for four - well, we three had a good portion each, my guests had seconds, and they have taken two portions home for tomorrow.  And there's still some rice left over for me for my evening meal (I'm out for lunch).  Those portions are VERY generous!
It was very, very easy to make and tasted absolutely wonderful - packed full of flavour and great texture.  One I will definitely be making again.  I meant to take a photo but forgot.  Sorry.

And now I am starting to yawn so may as well try my luck with sleep time.  Sleep well, gentle readers.


Today will be a day of little things, just like yesterday, ending up with a not so little having-friends-around-for-a-meal!

I got a fair bit yesterday in between watching the Olympics.  The car is now booked in for its service and MOT.  Not today, unfortunately: they couldn't take it until Thursday, but not to worry, I just won't drive it tomorrow and I believe it is legal to drive it to the garage on Thursday.  I picked up my parcel (which was the perfume) but had a mildly embarrassing experience as I did so.  It's ages since I went to the main parcel office in town and I didn't realise that it has changed.  You used to be able to drive right in, find a parking slot and then pick up your parcel.  Not now, oh dear me, no.  They've created a little car park (without any large notice to say what it is) just before you get to the entrance.  Of course, I didn't see it, drove merrily up to the entrance to find that there was a barrier.  Couldn't reverse because there were five or six post vans behind me, all glaring at me (the drivers, I mean, not the vans) so I buzzed and was let in.  After giving me my parcel, a very polite post chap gave me a gentle ticking off so I explained that it had all changed, I hadn't known, there are no large signs to warn until you're committed to going in and I couldn't reverse out again.  All very amicable with a line of people behind me chuckling and one said 'I did that too, the first time', which was very nice of him.

Back home I made the dessert for tonight and then started doing a bit of tidying up which will continue today.  I also need to remove the protective dust cover from the furniture and scrape the mould off the carpet!  My desk could do with a tidy up as well.  And I have a chicken basque to make.  I think I will cook it in advance and then warm it up before we need to eat.  I also think I will create a spicy tomato sauce to go with it, as it is a one pot and is rice based, so might possibly be a bit on the dry side.

Better get started then . . .

Monday, 30 July 2012

Monday morning

After a good old whinge to DD about the cottage cheese that wasn't, she went home and found that mascarpone is dead easy to make at home.  I dug out a few links and a you tube clip and yes, it looks a doddle (is this famous last words) so it's something DG can make when we go on holiday!

Apart from that, yesterday was as ordinary as usual.  I went shopping in the morning and bought the stuff I need for Tuesday's meal plus other stuff, then came home and cooked jacket potatoes for lunch with DD and DG.  We all love jacket potatoes and thing there's nothing better as a topping that butter and good flavoured grated cheddar.  We watched a bit of Homes Under the Hammer (love that programme) and chatted about all sorts of stuff.

That was it really.  Gentle and ordinary!

Today I have to book the car in for a service and MOT.  HAVE to.  I meant to do it last week and totally forgot.  So the rest of the day depends on whether they can take the car straight away or whether I have to take it back another day.  I feel quite cross with myself for forgetting last week!  I also have to pick up a parcel which has to be the perfume I ordered as I'm not expecting anything else, so I'd better do that first, in case they can take the car straight away.

Better get ready then.  An early start would seem to be the best bet for today!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Menu planning

I'm hoping to have some friends around on Tuesday evening so needed inspiration for what to cook.  I fancied something with chicken, olives and chorizo, so Googled these three ingredients and up popped a load of ideas, including a Delia recipe called Chicken Basque which appears to be a one pot (always a good idea) and, while the instructions and list of ingredients look long, basically it eems to be pretty straightforward.  It is a compete meal so I need to do nothing else, although I might knock together some garlic bread or perhaps a simple side salad to accompany it.

For dessert, I remembered a really super and easy cheesecake recipe that I found on a recipe card in Sainsbury's when the children were young.  I couldn't find the card anywhere (which is hardly surprising, seeing how long ago it was when I last made it) so I Googled for mascarpone lime and cheesecake and up it came.  A real blast from the past.

How would we manage without Google?


I'm losing count of the days: I've just had to check that today is Sunday before remember that George was round yesterday so that must have been Saturday!  George has now left school and is studying car mechanics at a local college - or he will be come September.  He answered my tentative query as to whether he would want to continue here with a resounding yes, so that's good.  And give him a few years and I may also have a mechanic to help me out with minor car problems, you never know!

I enlivened the ironing yesterday by watching the Olympic opening ceremony which I enjoyed more or less from beginning to end.  The children's singing brought tears to my eyes, there were a lot of nostalgic chuckles and some of the dancing was wonderful.  As for the staging - wow!  A good start!  The most boring bit was when all the athletes walked in - it always is - but the lighting of the couldren was truly an inspiration from the hand over of the torch to the teenagers all the way through to the firework display as the cauldon was formed and blazed into the night sky.  Truly a creative way of doing it.
And it all made light of the ironing!

Today the sun shines.  iGoogle suggests that we are going to have storms today.  If they're as accurate as they were about this on Friday, it should be a glorious day.  The temperatures are predicted to be just at a comfortable level, thank goodness.  We will see.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Cottage cheese

Well that was a dismal failure, wasn't it!!  It all ended up getting poured down the sink and I have no idea what went wrong except that it ended up a cloudy mess of slightly separated mush rather than a clear split into curds and whey. 


Saturday morning

Still dull.  No rain apart from those few drops I mentioned yesterday.  Maybe we will get some today.  It still feels quite humid although, as I wasn't particularly active yesterday, it didn't feel as hot and uncomfortable as the previous few days.

I really got stuck into the washing and ironing.  There's still a bit more but not a lot and it will feel wonderful when everything is done and dusted.  I also started the cottage cheese which takes a darn sight longer to make than the recipe I posed a short while ago.  The first bit was easy enough - heating up the milk to 25C (which took no time at all), adding the rennet and the yogurt and leaving overnight for 'flavours to develop'.  Today, however, it is a gentle heat to 45C (I think, I must check), then rather a long time of stirring gently.  There's no way I will be stirring for half an hour so I will use that time to get the kitchen properly sorted while stirring now and again.  That will have to do.  Then it's straining, etc and it's done.  And yes, I remembered how to use the digital thermometer!

Apart from that, it's just a bit of shopping and that's the day done!  Have a good one, everybody.

Friday, 27 July 2012

An update

Just as I sent my last entry I looked out and it was raining!!!  So I rushed out and dismantled the gazebo and it was a doddle.  It took about five to seven minutes all together and there were no tricky bits.  The poles are now in the shed and the cover is drying out in the living room (fortunately a large room) before I fold it and put it in the useful bag provided, together with the connecting bits.  Easy peasy!

Still feels very hot though!


Is it really Friday already?  Where on earth is the time going?  And what a lazy week it has been, to be sure.  Long may it continue. 

Odd, isn't it?  I've actually done quite a lot in terms of catching up on stuff, but because I haven't left the house, gone to my place of work, done stuff and then come home again, I call it lazy.  Maybe lazy isn't the right word but I can't think of any other - this blog is quite late for me because I woke early and managed to get back to sleep again.  As a result I now have a slight headache and a muffled brain!  Serves me right for being - there's that word again - lazy!

Isn't it funny how a damaging label sticks.  As a child I always felt I was the lazy one and I probably was.  At school, at home, the lazy one.  I have often wondered, especially since teaching became so much more reflective and individualised, how much the label defines the person and how much the person defines the label.  I know darn well that I work jolly hard, although I do procrastinate quite a lot and if I can find an easier way, I will take it.    I changed the instructions for putting up the gazebo to make it easy for me to put it up unaided.  I prefer making microwave lemon curd because it is easier and faster.  My inner sensible person tells me that this is plain common sense, it is silly to deliberately take the harder route when the simpler and easier does the job just as well.  My inner critic shouts 'lazy again'!

So anyway, enough of introspection.  Yesterday I tackled that great pile of ironing, some of which was left over since goodness knows when and was the devil to iron, even with my useful spray water bottle working overtime.  Still, I got to the bottom of the ironing basket and all the hanging clothes are ironed - well, they were, until I did a fresh lot.  I reckon I have about two more loads to wash plus the load in the machine and some will need ironing, but not all.  I would feel great if I could get that all done and dusted today.
I did it the lazy - less hassled - way, sitting down, irong board lowered as far as it would go, watching rubbish telly.  If I just have one or two things to iron I just stand, but when there's loads and loads, and I really NEED it to be done, sitting and telly is the way to go for me.  It stops my back and legs from aching too badly and I am happy to continue for as long as it takes.
Lazy or practical?

For the first time this week there is no sun.  It's dull out there and the atmosphere is somehow lowering and oppressive.  The forecast is for storms and I wouldn't be surprised - it feels sticky and humid.  I guess that means I need to  take down the gazebo - or at least take off the canopy.  Ah well, I shall keep the poles together so that all I need to do is fix then to the corner mountings, so it will be easy to reassemble when needed.  Lazy or practical?  :0)

The lemon squash in the making yesterday.

Thursday, 26 July 2012


A bit difficult right at this moment, isn't it?  So here's something that might help.

Lemon squash

three lemons
2 lbs granulated sugar
1 and a half pints boiling water
1 oz citric acid dissolved in 1/4 pt boiling water

Slice the lemons thinly and place in a large bowl (plastic or glass) together with any juice that escaped during the slicing.
Add the sugar.
Pour over the boiling water and stir until all the sugar has dissolved (it doesn't take very long).
Add the citric acid liquid and stir well.
Cover and leave to cool.
When cool, go in with your hands (as Delia says) and squeeze the lemon slices well to get the juice out.
Pour through a fine sieve or muslin, then squeeze the remains to get the last of the flavour.
Bottle and keep in the fridge (I used old Pimms bottles).  It makes roughly a litre and a half undiluted.  It keeps for at least three weeks chilled and never lasts that long.

Dilute to taste.

I like it long with sparkling water over ice or with chilled sparkling white wine, but it makes a nice still squash and goes well with gin or vodka.
I dilute it about one part syrup to four parts water but it really depends on the lemons used.

You can get citric acid from anywhere that sells wine and beer making equipment.  I get mine from Wilkinsons.

Edited later to add:
It's also jolly nice half sparkling water, quarter white wine, quarter lemon squash.  All chilled, of course.  And served in a birthday goblet with an owl painted on the front.

Thursday morning

. . . and I gather it's going to be another very hot day today.  I'm quite pleased that there seems to be nothing in the diary so I can take it easy at the hottest times, so thankful I'm not sweltering in the classroom at the moment and even gladder for my colleagues out in the flat roofed demountable classrooms.  I did two years over in them and it was a nightmare when the weather was hot.  I remember when there was a fire in town and there was concern about a 'toxic cloud' heading our way.  We were all told to stay inside with all the doors and windows closed on one of the hottest days of the summer term.  Never again!!!  Now, I'd take the class over to the main school and into the hall (which now has air conditioning) and we'd watch some DVDs.  The parents came to collect the children, the toxic whatever didn't materialise and I suppose you could say I had a free sauna!  Ah, fond memories!!!!!

I bought a load of milk yesterday so need to peruse my cheese book and see what I fancy making.  I could make the cottage cheese.  That looks very easy and I would eat it up fast enough.  I have my eye on the feta, but it's the most complicated recipe in the book so I will be patient.  I wonder if Diane has had more success with the mozzarella yet.  And can I remember how my digital thermometer works?  Good question.

After I got the gazebo up yesterday - all on my own (yay for Girl Power) - I spoilt myself.
I took out a TV dinner table
I took out my comfortable padded recliner
I took out a snack
I took out my rubbish magazines
I took out some chilled white stuff
I took out the fan and connected it to the outside socket.
I sat down, reclined and - went to sleep!
(all under the gazebo, of course)
And I snored fit to waken the dead.  I even woke myself snoring!!  I blame the cold (virus, not temperature) and I hate to think what the neighbours thought but never mind.  If you can't snore a bit (lot) at my age it's a poor show!  ;0)

So - today.  Well, there's a pile of washing and an even bigger pile of ironing which, if I do it today, I will have to start fairly soon, before it gets too hot for comfort.  The kitchen is still rather a tip so I will need to sort that.  Dinner will just be a light salad and some strawberries and yogurt, I think, so easily made.  No idea about dinner but I do have some salmon and that takes next to no time to poach or bake.

And now I must have my bath, get dressed and put things out for the refuse collection.  I wonder if they will bring my new brown bin today.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Problem? What problem?

Slight problem

Gazebo instructions:  We recommend assembly by two persons.

Darn it!!!


Wasn't it hot overnight?  It was here, anyway, even with the fan blowing all the time.  I suspect sleep was slow in coming and rather fitful for many people and not everyone is going to be able to catch up today.  I now have the front landing window open and the back door wide open so things feel good and fresh, but I envy my parents who have air conditioning in their living room and bedroom. 

I have to pop down to the post office this morning.  It seems that someone tried to deliver a parcel yesterday and they've left it down there for pick up.  I'm hoping it was some garden stuff I ordered a while ago now because it includes weights for the little gazebo I bought after the jubilee celebrations.  It would be nice to be able to set it up and not worry about it blowing over.

Apart from that, it's going to be another gentle, lazy, pottering day.  Finish the bedroom, do some ironing, start on the living room - in that order.

I like holidays.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Just a little bit later!

One of the facebook private groups I belong to, called the Happy Chatters (because we are) has been chatting about perfume. 

Yesterday I was going to buy a camera second hand from someone I know.  I withdrew the money in the morning and after lunch, as previously arranged, I drove right across town to take a look, stopping off on the way to buy the necessary AA batteries, in case the seller didn't have any.  When I got there I knocked, waited, knocked, waited . . . and finally put a note through the door saying never mind, let's leave it and came home again, feeling disgruntled (probably mostly because I was feeling rough as I don't normally get so cross), only to find an email message saying that he was taking his children to the park.  Still no problems - no see, no sale, he obviously wasn't too concerned about selling.  But then another message came through almost pleading with me to continue with the sale because he was 'depending on me' (my money, I guess that meant) and would take off £5 for the petrol.  OK, said I, I'll be over tomorrow morning if that was OK, and no need to take any petrol money off.  A couple of hours after that I got a message to say that his father-in-law had bought the camera.
After all that, I was pretty irked, but sent a reply saying thanks for letting me know and  I was glad he'd managed to sell it.  I thought it very rude though, to sell elsewhere while in negotiation with me.  Caveat canem, I guess.

Anyway, that long speil is to explain that I had money not spent (oh dear), so when the conversation came up about perfume, I realised that I was right out of nice smelly stuff apart from a little bit of Aromatics Elixir, which is really much too heavy for summer daytime wear.  So I went on line to Cheap Smells (which is nicer than the somewhat unfortunate name indicates) and treated myself to some L'air du temps and some Yardley's lavender, both of which are big favourites of mine.

Nothing like a bit of indulgence to get over the irks, is there?

Tuesday morning

. . . and I've found out the reason for the lethargy and the aches and pains over the last few days.  I've got a summer cold.  Darn it, you'd think I'd had enough colds this year, one way and another.  The blocked nose, the sore throat, the sinuses and resulting headache, the croaky voice . . . ah, well, it's good that I can rest and relax and do not-a-lot this time if necessary.

I was very impressed with my local council.  They often get criticism for incompetence but credit given where due, I think.  On Sunday I emailed what I hoped was the right department to let them know that my brown bin has disappeared.  I've asked around the rest of the witches and no-one has it in their garden by mistake.  Soon after nine yesterday morning there was an email copied to me, asking the right department to help and by soon after lunch there was another email to say a new bin should be arriving within ten days.  Fast work, well done that department.

I fell asleep yesterday afternoon (I know - so what's new!!) and was woken up by a sharp knock on the door.  It was my maslin pan!  Well, no, not literally, it was the delivery person with the pan.  Now, again, credit where it is due, I only ordered it on Saturday and it was free postage, so I wasn't expecting it for days.  Now I HAVE to go strawberry picking so I can christen it with some jam, don't I?

Not so good news.  That golden pear drop tomato plant is dropping its fruit.  Grrr.  I'm hoping it's because it has been so wet and, being a bush variety, it hasn't dried out underneath as it needed to but it could be blossom end rot (I think that's what it is called) as it's not a grafted plant, which are supposed to be more immune to nasties like that.  It's not blight, as most of the plant looks extremely healthy, it's just underneath that's having problem.  I will see how things go before dumping the plant.  The other plants are going great guns still (fingers crossed) but are very slow to start ripening.

Today's plans are extremely vague.  I was going into school but given that I'm feeling mildly yuck, I have shelved that plan.  I have to make some bread and I might do it the old fashioned way - by hand.  I might also make some muffins.  Ages ago I bought a book called Muffins Fast and Fantastic, within which there was a recipe for oatmeal yogurt muffins.  They were delicious.  Then I lost the book!  I looked high and low for it without success.  Yesterday I wandered into the yellow room where my books are kept, looking for something to read, and there it was, in totally the wrong place.  So, as I have yogurt that needs using up, I guess I will do a batch for the freezer.

I'd like to welcome two new 'members' to this blog.  Sue and Valerie, welcome,  it's good to have you on board, so to speak, and thanks for letting me know.   Sue is that 'lovely checkout lady' from Lakeland (best shop in town, in case you hadn't realised) who I mentioned yesterday and Valerie is an Open Uni and Facebook friend who has gardening and food blogs and who takes lovely photos.  I now have forty followers - not a lot in blogging terms, I know, but I'm well happy with it given that it's a no-theme, whatever-I'm-thinking-of-at-the-time, inconsequential, streams-of-stuff blog with no over-riding message or point except, perhaps, that generally life is good, it is fun and that I appreciate how fortunate I am to be able to say that.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Spend, spend, spend

I did only intend to go to Lakeland, honest.  But on the way I had to go through Bhs and they had summer sandals at half price (really reasonably priced) that fitted and aren't too uncomfortable.  And then I went past Evans and they had a sale on and actually had skirts in my size.

So by the time I got to Lakeland I had several bags to carry.

And I did have fun!  I got the cheese book, some rennet (vegetarian version), a couple of moulds and several other things I've been pondering over.  A new mini chopper because my old one broke and I did use it a lot, some cleaning-wipey-over stuffs, some pan protectors, some more fruit puree for the yogurt . . . and so on!  The vouchers are no more but I've not wasted the money. 

The checkout lady was lovely too.  We had a good old natter while she rang up my purchases and, Diane, I told her about your blog and how you wrote about the cheese things.  I have given her the URL for your blog, so you might have gained another reader!

 Now to read the cheese book while I have lunch.

This is part of the flowers my parents gave me.  It will make a nice wedding card, I think.

Monday morning

The first proper day of the holidays and it looks as if it is going to be warm and sunny.  Excellent!

Yesterday I found I was getting muddled with the commitments I already have this holiday so I sat down to produce a diary, all on one page of A4, which should make things easier to manage and keep organised.  The rest of July already has something on nearly every day but August is looking pleasingly blank right now.  It looks good.

Yesterday was nice.  Warm and sunny all day but not unpleasantly hot.  I made the soda bread, as I said earlier (very successful) and I made pizzas for lunch for DD and DG although I'm afraid I cheated and used bought bases.  They proved very popular though and by the time they had both finished there was not a scrap left for DG to take home.
I also made a sponge cake and that was delicious although we didn't eat all of that, of course.  DD was going to take some home but she forgot so I will slice what's left and freeze in individual portions.  That should see me out for a few weeks.

She forgot because she had a bit of an OU crisis, sort of.  A TMA was due in and she had lost her log in details, etc.  Fortunately, I know my way around bits of the OU site and I also have some work she did when DG was a baby on my computer within which she wrote her student number.  With that and other info, she was able to get in to change her password, so she rushed home to get the assignment submitted successfully before the deadline.

Today I am off into town this morning.  Lakeland beckons and I have vouchers burning a hole in my bag!  Then I might head off to Lathcoats, depending on how I feel.  Finally, this afternoon, I am popping over to Baddow to look at a camera which I might buy.  Buying second hand is always a bit risky but I know the people concerned and I know that I can access the manual online, if it's missing. 
The main chore today is my bedroom which has become a disaster area again.  If I do just one room a day the house will be fine by the end of the week.  In theory, that is . . .

So all in all quite a busy day.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Using the milk whey

Well, I've tried it with a favourite (and easy and definitely not totally traditional) soda bread.
This is the recipe:

Soda bread
250g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarb
2 tsp sugar
225ml yogurt

Put the dry ingredients into a bowl, add the yogurt and mix gently, first with a spoon, then with your hands, until it is a dough.
Shape the dough into a round loaf and place on a prepared tray.
Bake in oven at 230°C for about 12 mins, then reduce the heat and continue baking for another 15 mins or so, until cooked.

I replaced about a third of the yogurt with the whey.  It has risen beautifully and looks very rustic.  Don't know about the taste yet but will let you know.

I think I will Google for more info about recipes.


Second day in and I'm still feeling achey and lethargic, but getting more relaxed and laid back by the hour.  Yesterday was a strange day in that I must have spent as much time asleep as awake.  I slept in the morning and then again in the afternoon, the latter a long sleep that involved a dream about feeling so tired I couldn't open my eyes and kept having dreams about it.  Dreaming about dreaming is weird!

Between times I did a few things.  The orange curd for starters, which produced a gentle, warm flavoured softness, delicious on scones or sandwiching a sponge cake.  I had a go at making cottage cheese which was a doddle, even though I misread the instructions and added too much lemon juice, silly me.  It seems very nice - soft curds, smaller than the shop bought variety and with a very subtle flavour.  I will see how the residual whey works in some soda bread although it seems so thin and 'weak', I'm not so sure.  Buttermilk, which I usually use, has more substance to it, but waste not, want not.  I ought to google for some recipes because there's a lot of whey.

I found a reasonably priced maslin pan on Amazon and bought it.  I've been promising myself one for absolutely ages and now I have one!  After I had bought it I remembered that if I had entered Amazon via the Nectar site, I'd have got points on the purchase.  Darn it!!!

Today?  Well, DD and DG come to lunch and I'm making pizza.  I cheated and bought the bases this time, but it will still taste good enough.  With that we will have salad and I have some old bread that isn't soft any more so I will make some garlic bread by spreading over garlic butter and then toasting.  Dessert will be cake if I get round to making it, apples if I don't. 
If I can get my act together, I may go strawberry picking or I may go to Lakeland.  We will see . . .

And now I have some cottage cheese for breakfast.  I think I will have it with melon, assuming the melon hasn't gone over.  Cottage cheese goes well with fruit.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

A little bit later

Well, I've made some orange curd and it tastes, as always, scrummy.  I halved the amount but it's still made rather a lot, so I guess I have to make a Victoria sponge now, to use some of it up.  Oh, the hardship!!  Fortunately, I have a grandson who will happily shovel any amount of home cooking down his throat so there will be no waste.

Having Googled around, I have found a recipe for making cottage cheese using ordinary ingredients and equipment, no special stuff needed, so I think I will have a go at that and see how it works out.  Cottage cheese is not my favourite, but it's OK and I want to have a go.  As with yogurt, I'm hoping it will taste a whole lot better than the shop bought version.  Fingers crossed!
The process results in unwanted whey but it says whey can be used in any recipe requiring buttermilk so I guess I can feel some soda bread coming on too.  Soda bread and lemon curd.  Soda bread and cottage cheese.  Yup, sounds nice, doesn't it?

A message has just pinged through from Lathcoats, saying there's strawberries for picking.  Now what was I saying about an easy weekend?  I think I will schedule that for tomorrow morning and hope that there's still plenty of fruit - or perhaps later on today, seeing as I want to go to the farm shop anyway.  After all the curding, I'm short on eggs.

Anyway, here is the recipe for the orange curd.  I used half quantities, sort of.  Two oranges but they weren't huge.

3 oranges
1 lemon
1 lb (450 g) caster sugar
6 eggs
4 oz (112 g) butter

Finely zest one orange and the lemon
Squeeze the juice from the fruit and sieve to remove pips and bits.
Beat the eggs.
Place all the ingredients in a microwaveable bowl.
Give it one minute on high and stir well (I use a balloon whisk).  The butter should be just about melted.
Then cook for about 40 seconds at a time, stirring well after each 'cook', until the mixture has thickened.  You can tell when it's starting to thicken - the texture and the feel of the mixture changes.  You might want to have a shorter interval of cooking towards the end.  I reduce it down to about 20 seconds once the thickening has begun.
If you don't stir after each burst of cooking you will end up with rather expensive citrus flavoured scrambled eggs!

When thickened, pour into sterilised jars, cover and store in a cool, dark place.  It keeps for about four to six weeks in the fridge, but only for one week once opened.  I've actually put mine in plastic pots.

Saturday morning

. . . and it's not raining.  That's a positive start.  Of course, today is not the first day of the holiday - Monday is.  But with no planning, no assessments, no marking, no resources to make, no evaluations of progress, etc, it's going to be a lazy, carefree weekend indeed.

Yesterday was fun.  Officially it was my SEN day and yes, I did a bit of SEN stuff, but mostly it was meandering about, sorting stuff out, trying to tidy things up and generally slowing down to point Zero!  And then there were the pressies.  I know there's a big debate at times about whether teachers should be given presents from their children and parents and I can see both points of view.  For myself, I expect nothing but am jolly grateful and appreciative when people do feel that they would like to say thank you.  Every teacher I know goes way, way above what is expected of them in terms of time and effort and absolute commitment to the well being and learning of those children in their class, so I don't feel that a thank you, however expressed, is a waste.
So, speaking for myself, I will enjoy the wine, appreciate the flowers, read the cards and the appreciative messages with great pleasure, enjoy the thoughtful little gifts and whatever I buy from Lakeland and Debenhams with the vouchers will serve to remind me of just about the nicest little class I have ever had.  But I will never assume and never take it for granted.

And what will I buy?  I have no idea about the Debenhams voucher so will spend a pleasant time wandering around the shop when I am next in town.  As for Lakeland, well, there's several things within my sight.  I would like a proper maslin pot for my jamming and preserving activities but I will probably be able to get it cheaper elsewhere.  I do have my eyes on a new mini-chopper (as mine has broken), I'd like a proper microplane zester thingy and they've just started selling cheese making stuff including a book, a soft cheese mould and some vegetarian (yes, DD, vegetarian) rennet.  My blogging friend, Diane, is a very bad influence on me - I'd possibly not have noticed if she hadn't written about these things in her own blog - so it's her fault really.  :0) 

Beautiful, aren't they?

Poor old DG.  His last day at Columbus School and he has to go and break a toe and have to spend half the day in A&E!  I remember his uncle doing the same thing at more or less the same age but at a less inconvenient time.  Unfortunately, DG was due to go off to Wales for an adventure holiday (provided by a charity for people with disabilities, I believe) but there's no way he can go now.  Very disappointing indeed.

Well, the sun has just come out and I'm feeling remarkably cheerful.  I have a house that needs sorting out, from top to bottom and I will need to plan for that (or it won't get done) but right now I intend to potter.  Maybe make some orange curd, if I have enough eggs, maybe sort out the kitchen a bit, maybe do some ironing, maybe shift some rubbish from my bedroom to the bin.  Or maybe not . . .

Friday, 20 July 2012

Friday evening


One.  Just one!  Woohoo!

I had a mega lemon curd making session yesterday evening.  I made three times the recipe amounts and used the microwave method and it took for ever.  I think, with hindsight, it would have been more sensible and less time consuming to make three separate batches.  You live and learn.  However, it's all ready now and the gifts are all but done - just a few bunches of flowers to get before school. 
I have some oranges left over so I think I will make some orange curd, just for me!  :0)


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Thursday evening


I have a very nice plumber.  The radiator in the hall sprung (?sprang?) a leak.  Round he came at about five to take a look.  A quick tighten of a nut or two and hey presto, no more leak.  Now I know it didn't take him very long and it was hardly a difficult thing to do and he would have been more than entitled to charge for the call out, but he didn't.  Just waved it aside.  Now that's nice.
And apart from that, in this area he is known as a jolly good plumber.  Matt Hickey - I recommend him.  If you're local, just Google his name if you need a plumber.

Er - did I say - just one to go?



Yesterday was nice.  very pleasant indeed.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn't so good and the children missed some of their lunch time play, but it could have been a lot worse and we had fun.

Yesterday evening was fabby.  It was DG's Presentation Ball.  As I think I have mentioned, he is leaving his special school and going to a mainstream secondary so, although he wasn't school leaving age or anything like, as he was with a KS4 class who were leaving, he was included in the ball.  DD immediately turned into a prom mum.  No, we didn't quite have the stretch limo, but DG had all the sartorial trimmings including a tartan cummerbund and bow tie, a very posh shirt and a carnation buttonhole. 
And he looked WONDERFUL. 
After the presentation, DD and I left them to is, jiving the evening away, while we went to the Hare for dinner and that was also jolly nice.  We both went for their small plate meals.  I had steak this time and it was very tender and tasty.  DD had the macaroni cheese which she said was very good too.  The timing worked out very well and DD didn't have to wait here for long before going off to pick DG up at the end of the ball.

Today?  Well, there's a special assembly, I have my coordinators time, they're watching a dvd of the Bugsy Malone show in all its glory and they have some cards to make for their reading partners.  That should keep them going.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012



The last biggie is now over.  Open evening is always a very pleasant time, albeit very tiring, with all books out on display, children proudly showing their parents every single thing they have done this year, visits from the children an we will be teaching in the new school year (and their parents) and people who are generally interested in looking around the whole school.  All very friendly and encouraging.

No idea what we're doing today - but it will be something nice!!!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012



Sorry about yesterday.  So tired and brain dead! 
It was a bit of a nothing day yesterday with me out of class all day doing interviews.  Today I have my class ALL DAY.  Amazing.  I shall make the very most of it!  :0)  Especially in maths . . . supplies can be lovely but the children seem to know when they can - er - take it easy!!

Today we sing songs to the rest of KS1.  Yes, it's the annual great Jack and the Beanstalk performance.  This year we have not had time to turn it into a proper show, so it's a sing song to the rest of the key stage.  Nice, fun, the Y2s will join in because they did it last year and the littlies will try to join in with the actions.  Should be fun.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Lemon curd

. . . or, to be strictly accurate, lemon and lemon and orange curd.

It's taken me all morning because I kept stopping to sit down, but I've done it.  I now have pots of strawberry jam, pots of seedless blackberry jam and pots of lemon/lemon and orange curd.  Enough for all my lovely mummy helpers and other folk too.  All fresh made and, thought I say it as shouldn't because I made it all, absolutely delicious.  I'm whacked out now and ready for a snooze but the feeling of satisfaction is priceless!


Five (still)

After another damp night, the sun is shining and the garden is shining brightly.  It looks delightful and is a very cheering sight indeed after days of gloom and doom.  I'm not sure how long it will last but I'm enjoying it while it does. 

While shopping yesterday, I indulged in a mini 'boxed set' of the first Merlin series.  When this series was first broadcast I enjoyed it very much, but by the latest series I felt it had really lost its way - or maybe I mean it couldn't find a new development that worked.   But the first couple of series were great fun and I had a very pleasant evening watching.  I guess I will be watching more today.

But first there are some chores.  I have a kitchen to tidy, lemon curd to make and I'm still not feeling all that well, so I guess I'd better get started . . .

Thank goodness for no planning.
Taken last Thursday

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Saturday morning

Five now.  All weekend too!

And, typically, yesterday was fine, sometimes sunny, not wet and with a very pleasant evening, so we could have BBQed without any problems.  But this morning I woke to rain and it's still chuckling it down, determinedly and steadily, putting paid to my plans for strawberry and raspberry picking.  Maybe tomorrow?  Who knows.  It's all in the lap of the weather god!

However, we didn't try to have a barbie, we ordered a Chinese, and very nice it was too, with just about everyone able to come.  June did a 'guided tour' of her allotment which is just behind her house, so couldn't be more convenient.  There's a gate in the back fence so it is just as if their garden goes on and on adding twice as much again to the length.  I think I am jealous!
I didn't feel too good though, so left after about an hour, but I should imagine everyone went great guns and they all had a fab time together.  Me?  I went to bed . . . 

When I got home after school yesterday, I had intended to have a sleep before the party, but remembered that I had a pan full of blackberry puree and sugar, so I set to and made seedless blackberry jam.  Fortunately, it didn't take too long before it reached setting point so now I have eight nice little pots for gifts.  I'm now definitely relying on Streele Farm to replenish my stocks of frozen berries again as I'm right out!

I guess George won't be round this morning, not if it carries on raining like this, so the weeds will have a few days' respite and the lawn will continue to think it's a jungle.  It's nearly holiday now though and after that I can pop out whenever the weather permits to do the necessary.

So: (singing)
one day of interviews
two concerts to watch
one assembly to give
one 'special' assembly
one 'leavers' assembly
one open evening
and a whole lorra tidying up!!!

And now I have to go shopping!

Friday, 13 July 2012



Well, we were right to change the BBQ to a Chinese.  It's been chucking it down all night and is still spitting.  We'd have worried all day.  We can still sit out if the weather permits, without worrying about cooking food, etc.
As a result of our decision, yesterday evening I used Just Eat to make an Internet order.  Very simple, very straightforward and the others just pay me what they owe.  I checked the date very carefully - 13-7-12 - and put J's name, address and phone number on the order as it's being delivered there.
You can imagine her shock when she got a phone call from the takeaway shop with a query about the meal they were supposed to be delivering a short time later!  Eeeeek.  However, they got it as soon as J pointed out that it was for delivery tonight, not yesterday evening.  Phew!!!

SENCO time today.  There's lots and lots of bits and pieces to sort out and I guess I will be on the go all day.  Keeps me out of mischief.  :0)

I'm just sitting watching flowers in the rain . . .

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Thursday evening

I was pondering today.  I have made lots of lovely pots of strawberry jam but, somehow, one little pot doesn't look much of a gift to lovely mums who have helped out a lot all year.  After all - I get paid: they just do it for love and commitment.
So I thought 'lemon curd'.  Everyone likes lemon curd and the home made version is beyond delicious.  But it would take ages to make so much and it does have to be eaten pretty pronto!

And than the brainwave landed.  I don't get one all that often so let's make the most of it.  I remembered that lurking in my freezer were several bags of blackberries.  OK, picked last year but the jam would be fresh.  So as soon as I got home I pulled out the bags and the contents of those bags are now warming gently in my big pan to soften and release the liquid.
So I will have a choice of two from from strawberry jam, lemon curd and blackberry jam, all freshly home made.  Anyone who doesn't appreciate that doesn't deserve a gift at all!  :0)
And in about seven weeks' time I will have more blackberries to freeze!

And finally, Bugsy Malone was brilliant again this morning!!



Yesterday was very much enlivened by a tour of our local special school' in the afternoon.  It was supposed to be a tour for local primary heads but our head has already seen around it so she asked S and me (the SENCOs) if we would like to go instead.  To explain, this special school is the result of quite a long time of planning, amalgamating and generally moving forward.  There were two (three actually, but the third wasn't involved) special schools, one was an MLD and the other for more profound disabilities.   The MLD is where DG went when he started school, as it had an autism resource base.  A while ago now, the primary part of the MLD joined with the PMD school and moved to their site.  Then that site had a huge, mega-amazing building project which has just finished and now the whole school/college is there on one site.  This was what we were shown round yesterday and, believe me, it is truly amazing.  Jealous doesn't even begin to describe it when I think of the space and the facilities.  It is a model of how this can be done.  They are very eager to share their expertise and facilities with the local schools too, which should be very helpful.  Here's the link to the website:  http://www.columbus.essex.sch.uk/

Today is also going to be good.  The juniors are performing their show to the infants.  Then, after play, we spend half an hour with our new classes.  This afternoon is 'normal' (whatever that means in our school).  We have some work to do, some thank you cards to make and deliver and some tidying up to do.

The garden seems to be coming on, despite the wet and cold.  The tomatoes are further ahead than they were last year and the golden peardrop plant has millions (OK, maybe slightly fewer) of titchy tomatoes, one of which is turning yellow, yay!  Can't wait for the first taste.
These are just the ones you can see.  There's plenty hidden too, including the one that's starting to ripen.

And here's the tayberry I was on about yesterday.  It's grown already so I'm speaking nicely to it each time I walk past! 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012



I got a lot done yesterday - stuff that needs to be done by the end of term.  This is definitely a Good Thing!!  Anyway, the biggest thing was sorting out some work that needs sticking into their books.  Guess what we will all be doing after play today.  Yup . . .

It's nice to be feeling less panicky about the work that needs finishing before the end of term, but regardless of that, there's a high spot each year that takes precedence over all other stuff.  That's the KS2 show.  This year it was Bugsy Malone, a challenge indeed.  It was very good: the usual number of blips, wrong entries, semi-forgotten lines, wonderful dances, excellent props, etc.  However, something happened that means it will never be forgotten.

It was obvious from the first dance that the sound system was having problems.  We use a secondary school hall (ours is waaaaaaaay too small) and they provide support for miking up, playing the dance music, etc.  The problem was that the music kept cutting out.  At first and most of the way through the show dances it was only momentarily so apart from a few worried little faces, it was OK.  However, that all changed in the final big number, starring the Y6 children.  The cut outs became longer so they started humming the tune to keep themselves dancing together.  Then it cut out completely so, without any hesitation, the whole kit and caboodle of them rose magnificently to the occasion.  They took up the words, la-la-ed the instrumental bits and sang and danced their socks off.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the place and I've never heard such cheering in a school production before.  The teachers' face were a picture.  Proud doesn't even start to describe it!! 

Well done, year 6s!  Well done, everyone!

I'm getting ambitious in my gardening.  Well, ambitious for me, that is.  After reading about tayberries in another blog (My Tiny Plot - worth a visit), I googled and bought one.  A tayberry is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry, but much larger than your average raspberry.  I gather they are very prolific and long fruiting and dead easy to care for.  Most are also very thorny and hard to handle, so I bought a thornless variety that seems to be very highly regarded.  And before anyone in the family says 'where on earth will you put it?' let me say that a) they can be grown in a pot and b) once that hedge is down and a fence up, they can be trained along the new fence.  You treat them like blackberries - to one side the first year and to the other side the following year and they fruit on the previous year's growth.
When I lived in London, the last house we owned hasd a loganberry patch at the bottom of the garden.  Not being much of a gardener and also with two very little children (plus three others who came round fairly regularly), it was dreadfully neglected (the berry patch, not the children), but every year it produced masses and masses of berries, most of which went to waste.  I'm ashamed of this now because I gather they would have made wonderful jam/jelly but there you go!  I gather the tayberry is a much sweeter version of the loganberry, to which it is closely related. 
The only thing that I might have to do is rig up some sort of netting but I will deal with this as necessary!  Oh, and maybe protect it over winter.
Anyway, it arrived yesterday.  A nice, healthy little plant in a small pot.  It will need potting into something bigger and the growth (which will be next year's fruit) will need to be supported until I am able to put it into its final pot destination and train it along the fence (that isn't there yet!).


This is what they look like.  Whether mine will remains to be seen!  But I reckon it's worth a try.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012



A busy day yesterday, finished off by a 'new intake parents' meeting which I had sort of forgotten about - well, pushed to the back of my mind anyway.  Well past seven before I got home but at least I managed to use the time between school and meeting to get some paperwork done.  Something ticked off the ever-lengthening list!

Tonight is the first performance of the Juniors' show.  They're doing Bugsy Malone this year and it is just as well the head/pianist extraordinaire is fit and well this year because, unlike last year, there's no way I could take over and play the piano for that.  So this evening I will just sit in a prime place in the audience and enjoy.  Yay!!

Have a great day, gentle readers!

I liked my strawberry photos so here's another one!  And on Saturday (weather permitting) there will be more!

Monday, 9 July 2012


Strawberry jam - scrummy.
Strawberries and cream - scrummy
Curriculum wheels - spit, spit!

Sorry, but it really was a day of contrasts yesterday.  Sun and lashing rain, warmth and cold, strawberries and curriculum wheels! 
That's life.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Sunday morning

I can't stay for long as I have a pot of potential strawberry jam bubbling away on the hob.  Five minutes and then it needs testing for set.  I use the saucer in the fridge method which seems as simple as anything and has never let me down yet.

The rest of yesterday was spent watching old episodes of Escape to the Country and Homes under the Hammer whenever I wasn't sleeping - so I didn't really see very much at all.  In the evening they were showing back to backs of that Professor Brian Cox science series, most of which, even at its obviously very simplified level, went either right over my head or in one ear and out the other, but it was interesting all the same.
I did remember one thing.  Gravity is not a force.  Can't remember what he said it was because I didn't understand it so I Googled it and it seems that it results from the warping of space and time by the object itself.  Sounds very Star Trekky to me.  So the National Curriculum is wrong and Spock is right - yay!!!

Five minutes up, saucer of potential jam is now chilling in the fridge!

And it's still ten!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

I NEEDED strawberries . . .

. . .  I said in my earlier entry.  And I HAVE strawberries.  A big bowlful of them, perfect, sweet smelling, luscious berries destined for the jam pots.  And maybe a few for me too, seeing as a pot of pouring cream jumped off the shelf and into my trolley at Lathcoats Farm.  Yes, it did: I saw it!  I didn't want it really . . .

They've 'done up' the farm shop and it's a lot easier to negotiate now.  I'm afraid I did rather fall for some things in there - very fresh eggs, for a start plus other things destined to make life more pleasant although, strictly speaking, not needed.

So - I need to check my top shelf where I suspect I won't find enough jam sugar, which means a quick trip to Morrison's before I start hulling and layering the berries with sugar before leaving them overnight.  That's always the way I do strawberry jam.  Delia knows best!

What a pleasant morning.
Aren't they gorgeous?

Saturday morning

It's not raining.  While the skies don't look clear, they certainly don't look threatening either so maybe we will have a fine day.  Actually, yesterday was dire in the morning but the afternoon was warm and sunny - fairly humid, in fact.  So much so that early evening I sat on my recliner with the fan blowing on me because it was so hot, reclined (as you do) and when I woke up, I was cold.  The humidity had dropped while I was snoozing!

It was a busy day yesterday.  Two meetings in the morning and two in the afternoon, lots of associated paperwork and an IEP to write with very little information to inform it.  Amazing how one can fill several pages with very little info, isn't it?  Things certainly are not easing off as the year draws to a close.  Quite the opposite, in fact!

It's not all doom and gloom though.  I've just been out into the garden and picked my first little gem - well, two, in fact, because one had the temerity to start bolting.  It's a very uplifting experience.  Picking the lettuce, I mean, not bolting.

And today I have to do the curriculum wheels.  No, don't ask, you really don't want to know!  And then, maybe, a trip to Lathcoats farm although I need to check their web site first to see whether the strawberries are OK for picking.  After all this rain they might not be but  I NEED strawberries to make the thank you pressies for all my lovely parent helpers.


Friday, 6 July 2012

Friday evening

Ten days!!

Reports went out this evening and isn't it so nice when people are pleased that their child is going to be in your class?
And say so on Facebook.
Very encouraging and confidence-creating.


I seem to be doing at lot of apologising at the moment.  This time it is for lack of a blog entry yesterday.  There is a reasonably good reason though.  Lack of time/energy/brain power.

Firstly, to answer the question I know you're all asking (yeah, sure), sports day did happen.  We were all on tenterhooks (whatever they are) after some early rain but out came the sun and dried it all up again.  I don't know about incey wincey spider, but we certainly made the most of a very sunny, pleasantly warm afternoon to get our sports over and done with.  In honour of the Olympics, the whole school was divided into sixteen countries and was dispatched to different parts of the school grounds for track, speed, throwing and jumping activities that finally tired out even the most energetic of older juniors.  The infants, especially the younger ones, found it somewhat bewildering, but they joined in cheerfully and the older juniors were very good at looking after them.  And now, right at this moment, it is raining hard, the weather forecast is lousy and everything is dripping wet.  So if yesterday hadn't happened, today (the fall back day) certainly wouldn't have and as the timetable is somewhat heavily blocked with 'things' for the rest of the term, that would have been that.  And that would have been a shame after such a lot of hard work from key staff to get it all organised and ready. 

And I caught the sun!

In the early evening I went out.  Most unusual for me to be going out on a school day but this was an early out, a girly get-together with two dear and old friends (no, not that kind of old, although I think I am the oldest.  Not by much though).  We went back to the Hare which, apart from anything else, is wheelchair accessible and does those lovely 'small plate' meals I mentioned about three weeks ago.  So I had mini-pie (pork, apple and cider and very nice too) with peas and chips (an indulgence) followed by two scoops of absolutely delicious ice cream, which filled me up good and proper.  None of us had alcohol as two were driving and the other can't have much anyway.  They had a fish dish - a whole something (can't remember which fish it was) and I was rather disconcerted to discover that whole really meant whole - head and all.  Being somewhat squeamish, I'm glad I didn't order that!!!  I gather the flavour was absolutely wonderful though.  My pie was very nice but something of a cheat as the filling and the pastry had quite obviously not been introduced until they met for the first time in the little pie dish.  I didn't mind though - it tasted good and that's the most important thing.  And we had such a lovely time, we've set a date for the next one, yay!!!

So when I got home, it was almost straight to bed.  I'd intended to blog in the evening but my brain wasn't working well enough to get my thoughts together! 

Eleven days to go!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Ooops, just realised I didn't post a blog this morning.  Apologies to my regulars who came in expecting a rambly read and didn't get one.  As the term closes I am getting more and more forgetful!

It was wet and miserable this morning and the children arrived in macs and wellies with brollies in some cases.  This afternoon it was gloriously sunny and it's quite humid now.  It feels almost thundery and, in a way, a good storm would clear the air, as long as it doesn't soak the field too much.  School Sports is still on tomorrow, fingers crossed and weather permitting.

We did have fun today.  I introduced them to Beebot, a cute little programmable robot bumblebee who goes forward and backward, turns left and right and beeps merrily as he does so.  We learned how to tell left from right:  hold your hands up in front of you, nails showing.  If you can see an 'L' it is left and if you can see a tick, it's right (a tick means you got it right - geddit?).  Well, it seemed to work pretty well and we were all doing turns left and right for all we were worth.  Then on to writing instructions for programming Beebot and a lot more fun.  And finally this afternoon they worked in twos, learning though experimentation as they 'played' with Beebot.  It was lovely.  And the others had structured activities and kept finding ways to make things that turned.  Super, and how it should often be in year 1 - a comfortable mixture of the formal and the investigative.

And here he is - Beebot.  Isn't he cute?

And, looking for the above picture, I've just found a lovely idea for making a Beebot jacket that will convert him into something else - a police car, Elmer, a ladybird, etc.  I've printed off the outline and will keep it for a nice, not too difficult, end of year activity during the last week.  Excellent!

Teaching is rarely boring!  It's a great job.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


Fourteen days!

Not a long entry today as there's not much to say really.  It's dull and wet outside, everything is soaked and it is starting to look a bit dodgy for sports day on Thursday.  The field has to be dry, after all.  The tomatoes grew magnificently last week, when we had warmth, sun and showers, but they seem to be sulking at the mnoment.  Can't say I blame them really but maybe this is nature's way of balancing things out.  For several years we have had dryer than usual summers: this one could be the wettest ever.  I gather June already has been.

After that profound thought I must go and start getting ready to earn the daily crust!

Edit:  I've remembered something else.  On Sunday DD noticed a mouse in the carden.  It was busy picking up bits and bobs and taking them back to the hedge between my house and next door.  It did this several times which seemed to suggest there's a nest in the hedge,  Yuck.  So I emailed next door (they were out at the time) to let them know, because the hedge is their respoonsibility.  As a result, we're all having a rethink, the 'mouse man' is coming this afternoon, the hedge will go and we will put up fencing.  I'm glad.  The hedge is the dreaded leylandii and grows very fast, it takes a good metre or so off the width of my garded, shades one of my beds way too much (and the rest of the garden too, come the evening) and has been a right pain for quite a time..  I will, of course, help to pay as I will very much benefit from the change.

Monday, 2 July 2012


Another new week.  Fifteen days to go.  Not long at all, is it?

I did do that ironing yesterday and feel a lot better for a nearly empty basket  It felt like it took for ever because things were so very dry, but once I got going and with old versions of Home under the Hammer to watch, it all moved along at a good rate of knots.

The lamb was delicious.  It wasn't a particularly expensive piece of meat (as lamb goes) and it was on special, but slow roasting really does bring out the flavour and DG and I ate a lot.  There's more left over too.  Excellent.
With it we had broad beans, mange tout and new potatoes from DD's allotment or garden and the roasties were from the freezer with potatoes that were origionally grown in the allotment, so we did rather well.  I roasted them slowly, in the same oven as the lamb and they crisped up a real treat.

We then went shopping for new shoes for DG, an ordeal which passed surprisingly easily and then DD and DG went home for a while before coming back here for tea.

Just an ordinary day.  Nothing exciting, nothing dramatic, but very pleasant most of the time.  Not boring, just . . . normal!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Sunday (not Saturday as it originally stated - I must be going nuts!)

After waking ridiculously early yesterday morning (two am IS ridiculous, even for me), I managed to get some good stuff done in the kitchen, which had got a bit out of hand over the last week.  It's still not totally right, but at least I do have a shiny sink again  I hate it when the sink isn't shiny.  Having a good clear out enabled me to see what I needed to put on my shopping list too - always helpful.  I also sorted out a dreadfully, shamefully large pile of clean stuff that needed ironing and managed to reduce it down to something that looked manageable.  It's amazing the difference a bit of proper folding can make, isn't it?  No, I didn't iron it as well - but I did look at it every time I walked past it!  I think I need to get going on it today!

I'd managed to run the petrol in the car down very low, to the point where I was getting worried about whether I had enough to get to the nearest filling station.  A very long time ago now my car just stopped as I negotiated a corner.  Friends helped me to push it to a safe place and I called the AA out.  To my utter embarrassment, I'd only run out of petrol - rarely have I felt so silly.  So now I'm a bit neurotic and usually don't leave it until it gets so low.  So DD, on her way home, drove behind me, just in case it ran dry, but it didn't!  I don't have to fill up very often and was amazed at how much petrol prices have dropped since the last time I filled up.

Having filled up, I happily pootled off to do my shopping.  B&Q first, but they had no runner bean plants - it's rather late and I'd not have thought of buying any except for those arches I bought.  Never mind, something to remember for next year when I can grow them from seed.  The passion flower plants have arrived for the other arch so they need to go in.  I will have to make some space for them and am hoping I can do a bit of jiggling.  If I can, I will put one close by the French lavender and leave both growing until the new lavender growth is enough to take cuttings.  After I've taken the cuttings, I will then cut the lavender right back to the ground.  Hopefully that will deal with that and the roots will rot down over time.  The other side is the bush that thinks it's a tree and I have now taken four cuttings which are on the window ledge in the kitchen so I can talk nicely to them every now and again!  I'm afraid its time has come and, whether the cuttings take or not, it has to go.  I'm cutting the branches on the arch side right back and then planting the other passion flower there.  At the end of the season the sambucus will be cut totally back to the ground.  Hopefully that will work.  Fingers crossed, anyway!
If the cuttings do take I will treat myself to a very large pot and zillions of litres of soil for them (or one of them anyway) because it's really too large a plant for my small beds but I do like it and would like to have one in the garden somewhere.

At B&Q I also got some cat deterrent and some more granular salt for the water softener after which I zoomed over to Sainsburys to do the weekly shop.  Then home to put things away at which point the early start caught up with me.  I sat down in my comfy recliner and was out like a light.  I vaguely remember DD and DG coming back at about half past four but finally came to just after six.  Fortunately, dinner was just about prepared so that was no problem.  I slept like a log all night too so I muat have really needed that sleep!

As for today - well, I've been out to feed the tomato plants.  Their population has been increased by four after A brought round some mini plants that they had left over.  They are very small (the plants, not A and DS) but I'm sure I will get some fruit from them and they were a gift which is lovely!  The first generation of tomato plants continue to grow amazingly well, especially since the weather warmed up. 

I decided that it was about time we had a roast Sunday dinner, so I got some lamb for DG and me which I think I will slow roast on a rack over white wine after rubbing the outside with garlic butter and laying over some sprigs of rosemary (I LOVE slow roasted lamb).  DD has a nice little vegetarian pie made with feta, spinach and pine nuts.  With it we have broad beans from DD's garden, mange tout (ditto) and some potatoes (new and roasted).  Dessert will be fruit salad or maybe a mixed fruit yogurt.  That should all make a very acceptable Sunday lunch.

And now I really MUST face that ironing.  The sun is shining, the sky is clear, it promises to be a fine, warm day and later on I won't want to be slaving over a hot iron!